Time Passes, Things Change

28 August 2020

Whilst walking along a corridor at the Care Home here one day, I saw a few Carers all standing at the doorway to an inmates room. It made me wonder just what the collective noun for such a group of Carers might be. A Cluster, perhaps? No, not likely, that would be too easy! A Conglomerate of Carers? The jury is still out on that one…

Meanwhile, a Facebook friend tells me a man has been injured at a teddy bears picnic. He’s ok, but he’s not out of the woods yet… I told him, no big surprise there, then!

(Yes, I can hear you all sighing from here – it wasn’t that bad a joke, surely!?!?!)

Anyway, back to reality. I was chatting to a Carer and saying how quickly time now seems to pass as we get older. As a child, I soon learned to occupy my time with a lot of reading, as well as making stick-together kits like Airfix models – I really enjoyed those. To begin with I was putting together small aircraft, but I then went on to making the bigger items like old sailing ships, using black cotton to imitate the rigging. Once done, those took pride of place on a shelf! Making all these was good therapy for my weak right hand – I guess it also kept me quiet and out of any trouble!

As I got older I carried on reading, finding certain authors whose style I enjoyed. Of course I was also going out with friends, I was singing in a couple of choirs, I found I enjoyed ten-pin bowling (sadly that place was closed down), but still the time flew by. At one point changes at work meant I had to think quickly as we were told that computers were to be introduced! With my weak right hand I couldn’t type, but my father kindly let me have the use of his typewriter so that I could at least learn the  layout of a keyboard. That way I could type fairly well with my left hand, as I was not searching for the letters all the time! I found it helped a great deal.

Then in 1981 I saw a small computer in a shop, it was a Sinclair ZX81 but unlike the computers we have nowadays, this had no ‘permanent’ storage capability for any programs or personal data. All it had was an operating system. The programs had to be either typed in manually each time the computer was used, or they could be loaded in using sounds stored on a tape via a cassette recorder. The sequence of sounds were recognised by the computer and cleverly converted into a program. The output volume from the cassette recorder had to be set exactly right, too! I used to buy a few computer magazines where programs had been printed and I spent absolutely hours copying the computer code into the computer. Except sometimes there would be a mistake on the printed page and the program would not work – it was extremely frustrating, especially when the error was corrected (with an apology!) in the next edition of the magazine.

The ZX81 had a memory capacity of one kilobyte, or 1,024 bytes. Each ‘byte’ then equated to a single character, which was a letter or a number, a comma, full stop, a space even, so that was not much. There was an extra 16k RAM (Random Access Memory) pack that could be plugged in to the rear of the computer, but that wasn’t ideal as moving or knocking it even a little bit was enough to lose a connection, so that the computer had to be restarted, the tape wound back and the loading process begun all over again! Oh yes, and the computer didn’t have a screen – to view and run the programs, a small black and white tv was needed.

Happily the following year a much better computer came along, this was a Sinclair Spectrum. It had a colour display rather than black & white, although a separate tv still had to be used. My ZX Spectrum had 48k (49,152 bytes) of RAM memory, but just as with the ZX81, as soon as it was turned off all the programs were lost and they had to be loaded back in when the computer was switched on again. I was delighted when Sinclair Computers were taken over by Amstrad, who made a Sinclair 128 with 128k of memory. I’ll let you work out how many bytes that was! It also had a disk drive and this meant all programs and data could be stored and reloaded much more quickly. But this was still before the days of CD’s, DVD’s or any kind of storage on the computer itself.

In 1993 I bought a modern computer with a monitor, keyboard & mouse which had a huge amount of memory compared to the Spectrum 128. It had four megabytes of RAM memory as well as in-built storage for both programs and data, which was retained even when the computer was turned off! Ever since then I’ve continued to enjoy using a range of computers, I’ve learned a basic computer language, but as with most things, the more I learn the more I find there is to learn. Actually I shouldn’t have written the computer language name as basic, as it is actually BASIC – Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code! My computers to this point were using an operating system made by Microsoft which they called ‘Windows’. Later on I had to learn about computers made by Apple and they have a slightly different operating system but it is easy to get used to.

Nowadays the latest computers have a really massive amount of storage space, gigabytes and even terabytes! For more detail on this, have a look at the Data Measurement Chart at: http://www.wu.ece.ufl.edu/links/dataRate/DataMeasurementChart.html

Technology has changed, there are clever people out there, but what I find so very entertaining are the people who come along with what they think are new ideas, but quite often they are in fact the same ideas as we had when we were younger. I am reminded of a fun item in an old radio series done by the late, great Douglas Adams, called ‘The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy’, where a group of people from another planet were inventing the wheel. Before getting it into production they were having a bit of trouble agreeing quite what colour it should be! There are times when the simplest of things can be made to be unnecessarily complicated.

Time passes, the world turns, many things change but many things remain the same. We are presently dealing with Covid-19, so I wonder what our lives will be like in, say, one years time!?!? I’ll let you know, please watch this space….

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This Web Page

21 August 2020

I have been asked “Why is this web page so named?” You may have seen in the Introduction at the very bottom of this page I explain the origins of the name ‘Diary of an Inmate’. But the web page name? That’s different. It goes back to 1979, when a singer called Judi Tzuke released a song called ‘Welcome To The Cruise’. I liked the song.

Much later, in 2010, I had a heart attack. I had to have regular check-ups, but I was doing well so when I reached sixty years of age in 2013, I treated myself to a proper holiday, something I’d not had for quite a while. Now, when I say a ‘proper’ holiday, it was the like of which I’d never had before! I’d managed two weeks in Portugal a couple of times, I’d also been to the USA twice, but for no more than two weeks maximum.

So when I phoned my dear Mum to tell her I was going to be on holiday for a while, it came as something of a surprise to her when I said I’d be away for three months, because I was going on a round the world cruise! I agreed to send her details of the 99-day journey and I thought I could also write a daily diary. I’m sure you can guess what title I decided to give that!

As it turned out, I did send over the details of each days journey to Mum and these details were well received, as she shared them with the other inmates of the Care Home she was in at the time. I learned a while later that they used to talk about all the places I visited, it gave the folks there something very different to chat about. I’d never considered that. But I didn’t do a full diary each day, as many of them were spent simply travelling at sea and there was little to report on. I also enjoyed having a proper break, doing as much or as little as I wanted to do each day. It was a real holiday. But I kept the web page and decided to use it for this, my journey as I cruise through my life as it is now!

Interestingly the journeys are surprisingly similar as I am having excellent meals, I’m being well looked after, meeting all sorts of different people, the temperatures vary, there’s rain and sun and I get to have a walk round as much or as little as I can or wish to do. The view from my window doesn’t change, there’s green grass rather than blue sea outside and the building doesn’t move like a ship does – that took a bit of getting used to when I was back on dry land again, as after 99 days at sea I was very used to the ship moving around!

As a result, when I came up with the idea of writing this blog, I thought here we go then – ‘Welcome to the Cruise!’.

I cannot leave this weeks writing without sharing the tale of what happened to me one evening this week. My supper arrived as usual, it consisted of a mug of tea along with a plate of bread & jam, also a packet of crisps. The usual night-time snack. But the packet of crisps had been placed on top of the bread & jam, so one side of the packet now had jam all over it! My weak right hand made it difficult for me to hold the packet and clean it with a paper towel, so I pointed the problem out to one of the carers, who kindly cleaned the packet for me. I thanked them, but to me it was the best way I knew to resolve the problem in a kindly way and at the same time highlight just how unthinking someone had been! Ah well, these things happen don’t they! The folks here have a great deal to do and it isn’t easy for them.

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Sunshine and Showers

14 August 2020

We know that on this lovely planet there are days of sunshine, of showers or a mixture of both. Occasionally we can get storms with thunder and lightning, though not everyone enjoys those as much as perhaps I do. I know of a dog in one Care Home who definitely doesn’t like them!

But come rain or shine, we get good days & nights along with some not so good ones. Over the years, first working for a large company and then running my own business, I learned that I really did need a better work/life balance. I also had to learn to slow down and realise that if I wasn’t here, the world would not end.

So a combination of age and poor health  meant that I retired. However, that retirement was not the beginning of the end, to me it was a whole new beginning! I began to learn to try and take better care of myself, so the other day after a lovely shower I was given a haircut as my hair was getting long again! The carer did a brilliant job and I felt so much better as a result. My thanks, you know who you are.

Our lives can be like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, except we don’t always know what the big picture will be until nearer the end! Some bits can be really boring at times, like fitting in bits of plain blue sky, but then the sun will appear and (literally!) shed light on the proceedings. Often we work with others, some can be a help whilst others a hindrance, insisting they know exactly how and where certain pieces should go. But that’s often to suit their big picture, not yours.

It sometimes feels like I’ve been working on several different jigsaw puzzles, but only now do I begin to realise that they are in fact all part of the same, big picture.

Now, I hope I’m not revealing any secrets here but I’ve discovered that where I am at the moment, they are looking to start a ‘Carer of the Month’ scheme. It sounds like a good idea, but I wonder what prize the winner will get! We shall see… Good luck and well done to all the staff as they do a difficult job very well here. I know the inmates (as I call them) may not all show their appreciation for what is done for them but the thanks is surely there and they would express it if they could. If not, they really ought to!

One of the reasons I say this is because downstairs in the dining room some days there are inmates calling out for a cup of tea, despite it being lunch time. Normally we get a choice of either blackcurrant juice or orange juice, but plain water is provided if asked for. However, one day an inmate tipped some of his soup into the jug of orange juice that was on his table. He thought it was funny, but naturally the staff were not amused! There are times when some of the inmates here truly are behaving like children.

Just as the days are a mixture of sunshine and showers, so must our lives be. It would surely be a boring, robotic life if every day and every thing was the same. I feel for some of the inmates here as they may not now see how things truly are, but they are alive and being well cared for. So many of us can look back on how things used to be, perhaps wish things had been different, but things happen the way they are meant to. I am a firm believer in that.

Many years ago I moved to a house near Chesterfield, even though my work was in Nottingham. This was a decent place and my fiancée approved so all was well! Later on when our marriage didn’t work out, I stayed in the house I’d bought (well my bank owned it really!) but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because although to begin with I was doing a good deal of travelling to and from work, most especially when work got me moved to Birmingham,  it made life easier when I got a job working back in Sheffield.

That led to me becoming a ‘trainer’, able to teach others in the firm. When work was moved, this time to Manchester, I was part of a team of trainers teaching others there all about the work they would do. Sadly some of the folk in Sheffield weren’t too happy, I think they thought I’d been brought in to assist in getting their jobs moved, but that wasn’t the case at all.

Happily a good friend told me about jobs with the same firm but in Leicester, where my training skills would be utilised. I was able to get a transfer there and later on these same skills enabled me to start up my own business, which I did for a few years.

Throughout all of this upheaval, moving to different places, coping with changes, all the time I had a mixture of good and not so good days, of sunshine and showers. In the next few days we are likely to get some thunderstorms here, but they will clear away, the rain will dry up and the sun brighten up the sky again. It will always be so, even though we may not see it that way sometimes! I have even suggested that I might try doing a ‘rain dance’, but that might not be quite so easy for me to do whilst I am holding on to a walking frame!

Sunshine and showers, grey skies and blue, life may not always be quite as we would wish it to be but we can, as I have said before, change things as necessary. I’ve had to move house, I have had to accept the things I can no longer do but I look upon these things as page turners, a new chapter each time in my own book of life. Perhaps we might all try our best to enjoy both the sunshine and the showers, as they can all be refreshing in their own way.

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Healing

07 August 2020

As humans we are not just a body, we are a mind too. Whilst not everyone may agree with me, I believe we also have a spirit within us. So when it comes to the question of healing, for our body we see a doctor or go to hospital to seek specialist help. Likewise if our mind is troubled we seek help from a trained specialist. The same is true for the spirit and we can seek help from spiritual healers.

Covid-19 is creating so much extra work in hospitals, but it is also having a knock-on effect in other places. Lockdown means no visits by relatives or friends to Care Homes, so patients and their families are suffering as a result. We are limited as to how close we are allowed to get to each other and for many that can be most frustrating.

Spiritual healing may be done in a few different ways and there are a number of therapies available nowadays. One which has been and continues to be good for me is a particular relaxation therapy called Arka Dhyana. It has been taught to me by Srinivas Arka, a man who is also well-known around the world as an author and philosopher.

Some healers use their own hands to heal those they are caring for, but Arka Dhyana uses a combination of ones own touch, sound and breath. The sound is a unique one and the breathing is done in such a way as to make the person more aware of it, as under normal circumstances our bodies breathe automatically. As with some other healing techniques it is known that there are certain energy centres in the body. In this technique, by simply touching these centres and making a particular, unique sound the healing is energised.

I will mention at this point that this has nothing to do with any religion, I have not altered in any way my belief or faith in God, nor have I been asked to do so at any time. What I have found is that this healing technique works for me and for a great many others around the world, in many different countries.

As a result of all this I am a much calmer person, learning to adapt to all of the changes that have occurred in the last few years and most notably those in the last few months! My body is getting healthier, my mind is clearer and I am now much more at peace spiritually.

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