Sunday, 16 July 2017

Doing it with Claas

Hanging on the wall just inside the front door is a little plaque bearing the phrase "This is our happy place".
Whenever we've been out in the big wide world, we come back and see it as we walk in the door and think "Yeah, it is - because it sure as hell doesn't exist out there".
Time has made us both incredibly world-weary, but we still force ourselves to go out and get involved for fear that otherwise we'd end up complete hermits.
We worry that we've made the boy the same as us, but as he's currently on holiday in Majorca with friends, he's still more adventurous than I am. For now at least.

I take anything on social media websites with a pinch of salt, because we all know they're full to bursting with people trying desperately to make their own lives sound full of fun and excitement, and generally showing off, but even so my own little life is (by most people's measure) incredibly dull and boring.
It does seem though, that whenever I make the effort to go to an event or to some attraction or other, I'm invariably disappointed. You turn up to something that sounds promising, you pay your money, and within half an hour you're thinking "Is this it then?" or "Why am I here?".
I want to believe that it's important to be out in there doing stuff, to be part of the big picture, but whenever I try it becomes obvious that the big picture was in fact drawn with crayons by a five year-old with ADHD.

This evening I'm going out for a meal with the family. It's very rare that we all get together, but anything involving a large group of people (even if they are family) puts me on edge, and frankly I'd rather not go at all. However, sometimes there are things you're obliged to take part in unless you have a staggeringly good excuse.
Given that I'm half way through my fortnight off work and haven't really done much, I'm beginning to feel under a certain amount of (self-imposed) pressure to make something more of my time off than playing Farming Simulator 17 on the PlayStation and going for the occasional walk with the camera.
I don't necessarily see this as wasting time - after all, I needed this time off to have a rest and it's hard to feel rested if you're running around like a headless chicken.
Anyway, living within spitting distance of open farmland means that occasionally I get to combine both of those interests, like the other day when I heard the harvest being gathered in the fields, so I picked up the camera and went for a walk to watch the rapeseed being harvested.
I may have trouble dealing with the world at large and the huge number of self-important idiots it contains, but provided I stick with my little corner of it I'm basically content with life's simple pleasures, and sitting in a field with a camera watching a field of crops being devoured by a large Claas combine and taken away in trailers pulled by Case tractors is infinitely preferable to being anywhere that involves being surrounded by people.


Update: The family get together turned out to be quite enjoyable in the end. I guess it goes to show that you need to have an open mind rather than preconceived ideas of how something will be.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Release the pressure

Chicken chow mein, special fried rice, hot and spicy squid, deep fried chilli beef, seaweed and a bottle of beer. Gone in record time. Now I'm sitting here clean and showered, feeling the tension of the past few weeks slowly ebb away as I come to terms with the fact I now have a fortnight off work.

Thursday and Friday were our annual open days at work, where prospective students get to have a look at what we do.
It couldn't have come at a worse time, given how much proper work is going on right now, but I suppose it's good PR.
On the plus side, I've managed to finish making the new high pressure particle seeder for laser doppler anemometry in the supersonic tunnel, which is a weight off my mind.
There's going to be loads to do when I get back and not having to finish that job as well is a relief.

 

We also managed to lighten the mood by putting a model of Starbug from Red Dwarf in the tunnel, and running it at Mach 2.5 while filming the schlieren image with a high speed camera.....



....and I've put the resulting video on YouTube:


So for now I can sit back and enjoy not having to endure the daily commute for a while.
I can remind myself what peace and quiet feels like.
I can take myself off somewhere picturesque with the camera.
And I think I'll book the car in at the garage to have that bloody clutch and flywheel changed.
Last weekend I spent a couple of hours in a car dealership psyching myself up to buy a brand new car. We discussed the options, looked at the figures and went for a test drive.
The car seemed perfectly accomplished, it did everything you want a car to do and it did it well, although it felt like there was something missing.
I walked away slightly disappointed with the pushy attitude of the sales manager (and greatly insulted by his part-exchange offer) saying I wanted to check out the competition before committing to anything.

When I got back in my own car and drove away, I realised what was missing from the one I'd just test driven.
Soul. That indefinable feeling a good car gives you when you drive it.
That car may have been brand new, but like most cars out there it's the sort of thing you'd choose in the same way you'd choose a washing machine. It was four-wheeled white goods. You didn't drive it and think "I've got to get me one of these!". Instead I just felt sort of .... well.... "Meh".
My Beemer might be ten years old and have suffered neglect by its previous owner resulting in a number of sometimes expensive issues, but it looks great and every time I get behind the wheel it comes to life and makes me feel good.
So I decided to just keep it and sort out the problems rather than pour thousands of pounds down the drain changing it for something I don't really want anyway.
Besides, my inner biker is starting to itch.....

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Premature winter blues

Outside it's sunny and warm, with a pleasant light breeze wafting through the numerous flowering perennials in the back garden while bees, hoverflies and countless other insects busy themselves around them.
Meanwhile, I'm sitting on the sofa desperately trying to summon the enthusiasm to write this post.
Truth be told, I can't really be arsed but if I don't make an effort I'll just sit here sinking into one of those inexplicable pits of despair that are so hard to climb out of.
That's the thing when you have issues with depression - those who've never suffered with it really don't understand.
They say unhelpful things like "just pull yourself together" or "you have nothing to be depressed about", but it's not that simple.
After all these years I can usually sense when the darkness is closing in and do the right things to combat it, with varying degrees of success. I've so far managed to avoid medication, but been very close to it at times.

It gets worse in the winter when you find yourself going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark, and only grabbing a few hours of daylight at the weekend.
Many people suffer with seasonal affective disorder, popularly know as 'the winter blues', and this can be helped with light therapy or vitamin D supplements.
However, for someone who has a tendency towards depression, SAD just exacerbates the problems they face all year round.
Of course, if there really is something bad lurking at the back of the mind, constantly nagging at you, then it gets a whole lot harder to prevent yourself sliding into the black abyss.

My father is pretty much at death's door now. He decided to go into a nursing home because he could no longer cope, and his health has declined dramatically.
There's nothing of him but skin and bone - because he can't face eating he's wasted away to the point where he currently weighs just six stone with a BMI of 17. At 15 BMI the organs are shutting down, which means he'll die of malnutrition before the cancer finishes him off.
At least this way it should be less painful. He signed a DNR (understandably) and I don't think it will be long before it's over.

I guess having this situation preying on my mind isn't helping my own issues, which would explain the recent surges of despair. I'll be in the middle of a job at work, when I'll be overtaken by sudden urge to hide in the corner and cry.
It has been pretty busy at work of late and I think I'm due a break, so it's just as well I only have a week to go before I'm off for a fortnight.
I've got our department open days to deal with on Thursday and Friday, then I'm going to walk away and remain incommunicado, hopefully with sufficient time to get back on an even keel.
Lots of countryside walks with the camera are in order, because when I'm doing that I usually manage to find some inner peace.
Anything that prevents my mind thinking too deeply and over-analysing things is always welcome.

Apologies to the reader, but getting it out is a helpful part of dealing with things.
With luck I'll get my shit together and ensure my next post is more upbeat.


Taken this morning - the hoverflies certainly love the clematis in the back garden.