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Sunday, September 08, 2013

Watch and pray!





The Spirit of David Attenborough is alive and well and thriving in us!  Never has such a small sample of wildlife been studied with such attention and intense speculation.  Why?  Because it is now beyond the first week of September and it is a Sunday.

This is the time of year when, traditionally, an extra level of tranquillity is added to our lives by the departure of the neighbours who only come to their house for the two months of the holiday season.  Their stay is characterised by smoke and noise and arrogance.

The older female of the species seems intent on smoking herself to death as she has approached the summer as a opportunity to smoke full-time.  As a refinement on her usual inconsideration she has chosen to smoke while sitting half way out of the window in her living habitat, allowing the breeze to take the noxious fumes into the window of the next-door neighbour.  Thanks to a cunning countermeasure the infinitely resourceful neighbour has constructed a stand for an electric fan to keep the fumes moving towards the neighbour on the other side.  By such means is one’s integrity preserved!

But now is the traditional time for them to go.  And with all the intensity of fanatic twitchers we are watching for those tell-tale signs in the behaviour of the creatures that departure is immanent.

There are some key activities which, to the trained eye, betoken the start of the migration to winter quarters.   The taking in of the plastic chairs carefully positioned around the pool that have been placed in a proprietorial way to mark out territory during the summer is an important event.  The desperation of the step as the last snatching of sunshine is garnered for the dark days in the city.  The frantic cleaning as the house is to be closed up for its winter rest.  All of these are indications that the Plague is going to move on.

But the most important feature is the Bringing Out of the Large Suitcases and seeing them placed firmly in the boot of the car.  Then, and only then, the chilled bottle of Cava can be brought out of the fridge and be prepared for The Celebrations.

Until that final stage of jubilation can be reached we have to go through the TAGS of the Last Day.  Already we have said TAGS (That’s A Good Sign) on a number of occasions this morning as the slightest speech or action of our observed creatures has been analysed to discover how soon they may be going.

I might add that we have no contingency plan for their not going today.  That is truly unthinkable.

On a more human level I have now completed the second of my half credit OU courses with only the examination left to complete next month.

This “Introduction to Material Studies” has, in my opinion, been much more stimulating that the first course, though this one does not necessarily play to my strengths so my revision will have to be much more intense that it was for the last examination.

The one thing that I have, of course, is time – and I fully intend to make the most of the time available to ensure that I am as fully prepared for the test as I can be – though this time I will not have the tension deflecting opportunity to be teaching in the morning before the exam, this time I will have the space to worry more fully before I start writing!

There is a short overlap between this course and my next, but that is only of five days, though it has to be said that the first few days of a course are fairly work directed because you have to make your mark in the tutor group as soon as possible.  But that is something to look forward to rather than worry about.

Toni’s course forum has now opened and he will be working on his course by the time that I have got started on my next, so our paranoia will match and boost our work rate.  At least that is the idea.

As preparation for the next course I have had to do something that I have been threatening to do for the last few years: sort out my books!

Obviously this has not be done with any degree of finality, but a Start Has Been Made.  And it took me two days to recover from the exhaustion that accompanied it.

Sorting the books is made much more difficult because I do not have enough shelf space for the books that I have.  No matter how inventive I am about their arrangement, they will never fit.  So, although the books are more organized that they were - they are still double stacked, and therefore although I still have to hunt for books that I know that I have, at least I am hunting in a smaller geographical space.

In spite of the fact that books are still double stacked, I still have three plastic bags full of “small books” and “notebooks” that have to be sorted out.  Given the paucity of space I have decided to get some box files and put collections of small books in those as the only way that they can be economically stored.  And no, I cannot throw them out!

Our hated neighbours have not left.  They have broken the tradition of past years and not returned from whence they came.  We are now in uncharted territory.  Who knows when they will finally do the decent thing!  I feel like Mister Kurtz.  How right he was!

Tomorrow (in spite of the presence of the neighbours) revision for the present OU course must begin.  The tutor for the course lives in the wilds of Scotland and has been without telephone and wi-fi – the modern equivalent in the OU of having your tongue ripped torn from your mouth and eyes gouged out and stuffed down your throat.  She said that she had been contacting us via an Internet café to try and continue the service!

As far as I am concerned – and indeed as far as the procedures of the university state –she has still got until the middle of the month to get our essays back to us.  In fact, allowing for weekends she has a little more time.  It is just that she set a rod for her own back by being very swift in her general marking, so that any reversion to normality looks like omission.  Bless her!

Meanwhile I have been glancing at the notebooks covering past holidays that emerged back into the daylight in the organizing of the books.  It really does make things much slower when you get involved in some tome that you haven’t seen for a long period of time – especially if the writing is your own!  And untrammelled by the dictates of public publication!

Part of tomorrow will be the organization of the three plastic sacks of “small books” which Toni noticed and asked hopefully if they were all for throwing out!  Foolish child!

Candy Crush has become even more devious.  I understand from the Internet that there are hundreds of levels.  I am at level 26 or so.  When I reached the level the program asked me if I wished to unlock further levels.  When I did so and clicked to continue it gave me options, one of which was to pay (!) for the continuation of the mind rotting game.  Pay!

I refused of course and was then given the option of gaining keys to mysteries to continue my progress.  I was allowed one key a day and then I was blocked.  To continue was to pay, so I have spent two three days waiting for my daily opportunity to continue.

I was successful and am now in the land of Chocolate Mountains (don’t ask) and the clearance of the obstacles to further progress seems to me to be virtually impossible unless you pay.  What a clever game!  It must be making millions! 

Though not from me.

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