Monday, April 13, 2015


Apple – The Great Satan


I think that I am moving into my apostate stage in my relationship with Apple.
You must understand that this is being written on a MacBook Air, that there is an iMac upstairs, the iPad is on my left and my iPhone is in my pocket.  If I had to find an analogy for my situation I would suggest that it is like a Spaniard living in Spain.  This is a Roman Catholic country in which the church has an unfortunate political and social influence; where people cross themselves without a second thought – but where most Spaniards do not go to church and have what I regard as a healthy loathing of the institution.  So, while I am surrounded by Apple stuff I feel myself more and more distanced from it – even as I continue to use it.
And, of course, it really has to do with money.  Which at the moment is trumping aesthetics.
The Great Turning Point for me was the latest iPhone.  A beautiful thing with some interesting features – but the price!  The price is, I think, disgusting.  It is Apple at their grasping worst, confidently expecting to exploit, fully, their dedicated customer base.
And the Apple Watch!  I have followed the development of this item with all the avidity that one would expect from a person who was converted to Mac when the Windows experience was one of continued frustration.  My Mac (in those long lost days of customer consideration) was a friendly machine which usually did things that I expected it to and when I wanted something to happen I could follow simple logic and it usually worked.  Programs didn’t of course.  How cruel those words “Also works with Mac” were on most products.  It encouraged you to buy and then to cry and the things refused to work the way they did on Microsoft.  But that was then and this is now.
To me, the Apple watch looks like a thing of beauty – a rather big thing of beauty to strap to your wrist admittedly, but something you might (ha!) want.  Especially if you were an Apple aficionado com yo!
The first, and for me, crucial flaw in the Apple Watch enterprise was that it was not waterproof.  They produce a sports version of the watch and it isn’t waterproof!  Go figure!  The second was the absurd battery life.  They tried to take credit for it lasting a whole day!  Which means that you have to charge it each night and so the apps which monitor sleep are impossible with this watch.  The third was the fact that the watch came to life when you lifted your wrist, not in other words with a permanent display.
The more information that came out, no matter how well presented it was (and it was) just added to the disquiet.
And then there was the price.  Quite apart from the obscenity of the solid gold version of the watch, the regular price is high.  We are being asked to pay for a fashion item which is going to be out of date and sneered at in a year.  Few people look at television via the cathode ray tube anymore and, with the increased pace of fashion technology obsolescence wearing a first generation Apple Watch is going to be a faux pas in months!
I am no Savonarola, I have no intention of jettisoning the vast amount of money invested in my Mac stuff, just to make a point.  And, my MacBook Air was, and remains, a thing of beauty and elegance.  But my next computer is not going to be a Mac.  I now recognize that I can get a damn sight more bang for my buck by turning towards the dark side of PC, Microsoft, Windows and Android than I can ever expect from the profit generator that is Apple.
I still feel a bit of heel saying it though!

2001 – A Blog Odyssey

Meet the stars of 2001: A Space Odyssey

My stats tell me that this is my 2,001st blog entry!
            It’s difficult to know where to go after an opening sentence like that – though having written a couple of thousand blog entries it really shouldn’t be that difficult.  I do, after all, have something of a back catalogue to draw on!
            It is daunting though – as much for my readers as for anyone – that the sheer number of words generated means that I have probably written the equivalent of the books in the Old Testament!  Though I now realise that the comparison I have made is a little sweeping, almost as if I am claiming the same profundity – which I am not, by the way!
            I have never pretended that this blog is anything more than an opinionated, prejudice filled, occasional diary, dedicated to the oddities that I find around my day to day life – but it is also a time capsule, like any diary, and I can read certain parts of this ‘journal’ with the same sense of discovery of a stranger!
            Sometimes reading parts of this extended reflection does not necessarily bring back my specific memories, but it does generate responses and some humour, almost as if I were another me reading what the former me was thinking and doing.
            It is amazing that these words are read around the world and it is humbling at the same time.  Quite what people make of them is also part of the pleasure of writing.  And as long as I have a single reader other than myself, I will continue to add to this quotidian saga!
            And to my readers: a heartfelt thanks!

What next?
 Car Park Line Marking
Toni, as a steadfast non-reader of my poems, is constantly appalled at my choice of subject matter.  On being told that one of my latest poems was about a car park (Car Park Country at he asked when I was going to write a poem about underpants!
            Which I think is a fair point and, given the range of subject matter that I find appropriate for my muse, I feel it is only a matter of time!
            Meanwhile I am hoping to have sight of the first few poems of Autumn Trees translated into Catalan.  If my plan comes to fruition they will form part of the complex centrepiece of my forthcoming book Flesh Can Be Bright which, as I say as a sort of mantra in the hope that it will be true, will be published on United Nations Day, the 24th of October, 2015. (DV)

Pillow talk

There are many hardships that I am prepared to undergo with silence and dignity, but uncomfortable pillows are not one of them.
            For me the pillow is the central feature of the bed and where I lay my head is central to the experience of rest.
            At the moment the experience is not restful.  Which is not to say that I do not go to sleep.  That is one thing that I do with expedition and profundity – but it is the lead up to oblivion that is taxing me at the moment.
            I prefer feather pillows and always have.  I know that there are authorities (there always are) that tell me that feathers are nowhere near the healthiest option you can choose, but that has never been an overriding constraint on my behaviour.
            The most comfortable pillow I have ever discovered was in El Corte Ingles and I was all for buying it, when I was told the price.  I can no longer remember exactly how much it (it was only one) cost because of the psychological counselling that I have had, but the sum was vast!  And more!  And even I have my limits for self-indulgence!
            I have been searching for a reasonably priced alternative ever since.  I thought that I had found a perfect compromise between composition and commodification (I wanted to say ‘price’ there, but it didn’t start with a ‘C’) in a local supermarket.  I thought that I have found the perfect pillow for price and performance (see, I got the word in!) until I needed to change the pillow and found that the store did not stock that particular type any more.
            I bought a feather alternative and it is like sleeping on rock.  Every time I put my head down I grumble.  Silently, just before unconsciousness.  Toni maintains that my entry to the Land of Nod is synonymous with my head touching the pillow – but that is not true and the ‘grumble period’ is becoming more irritating and therefore Something Must Be Done.
            I have geared myself up to sally forth after my swim and take in the shops (never a hardship for me) in pursuit of the perfect pillow.  Again.

The British Library

After a number of years I am going to re-join the British Library – or at least get a Readers’ Card (one feels that it deserves capital letters) so that I can use the facilities when I visit London at the end of the month.
            In theory, I have been told over the phone by a very nice lady form the membership department, I will be able to get a temporary Readers’ Card and order books which will be ready for me to read when I am in London.  I should also have full access to the digital catalogue.  All of this in theory.
            Today I intend to put the theory to the test and find out if such access is real.
            The best part about it will be to watch Toni’s irritation as I am prepared to bet that such a thing will be totally impossible with the National Library in Spain.  We shall see.  And, as always, I live in hope!

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