I think yesterday broke me a little.

I mean, the pandemic has broken me a lot.

Not that I was in an all fired fabulous place before this. I have worked in the Emergency Department for about fifteen years, a significant chunk of that being in charge of emergency departments, so I’ve been tired for a while.

But the pandemic? The wilful disregard for others’ safety? The repeated complete obviousness of how bad things are going to be followed by the inexorable slide towards it? The complete willingness of the public in many places to put “the economy” ahead of lives? When it was obvious to anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together that just paying everyone to sit at home for a month -maybe two – and stopping or quarantining for all international travel – right at the beginning- could have more or less ended this quickly and with minimal deaths.

But no.

Now we have this hydra like disease that we’ve got no way to get a handle on that’s ripping apart the fabric of society, and that we’re having to focus on instead of the very fucking urgent fact that we’re destroying the planet and we need to fix that.

Almost every patient I saw yesterday had COVID. Half our board was bright red with isolation symbols.

And I spent 7 hours watching someone slowly slide to what will be a horrific death. Watching their oxygen level dropping and dropping.

Knowing that there’s nothing we can do. Even if we were in a big, fancy hospital with shiny, shiny equipment there’s very little that could be done. But in a rural hospital? We tried to make her a little more comfortable.

But that’s it.

We “optimised” her breathing within the bounds of what can be done in a small hospital with limited ICU facilities. And a full ICU. So she sat in the ER for the full 7 hours of my shift she was there – on a ventilator – and presumably long afterwards – because when I left there was no-where for her to go.

And at the same time I met that — and other patient’s relatives -who had bloody COVID — who decided to come into the hospital. And who didn’t mask.

And told them that they needed to mask. And isolate.


I want to say to them “How many people have you killed? How many lives have you destroyed? How many families will lose a loved one because you couldn’t be bothered to have the slightest ounce of compassion or care for others?”

When people tell me they “Haven’t got around to getting the vaccine”, they no longer get some kind of chipper response about how they should take it to protect themselves and others. Now they get “Well, this won’t end until people do, and I’m sick of watching people die, so I encourage you to get it as soon as possible”.

I doubt it does anything.

But I’m too tired to care.

Learning experiences

There have been a few learning experiences of late. We won’t say failures because most of them are still in progress… things.

So, what have I been up to? Well, let’s start with the house because I’ve singularly failed to finish doing the trim. I’ve kind of…taken a break from it. It’s not my most fun making job, and that combined with being tricky and the fact I… well, I haven’t got back to it after the jumble sale.

But today I did start tiling the bathroom. Because if we get the bathroom installed and the two doors on the attic we can be signed off, and done, and finished. Well, with the permit part of this experience, which hasn’t been onerous exactly, but it’s a thing to keep track of when I don’t really… need more things to keep track of? Anyhow, I got it about half done today, which isn’t bad since I didn’t actually get started until after lunch.

Bathroom tiles, in blue, covering the lower half of the wall more or less

It’s quite pleasing to finally see the tiles up – and it looks like we should have enough to do the job and have some above the sink, which’ll be nice.

So that’s not really been a learning experience. Just more of the same.

No, the learning experiences have been a mixture of self-inflicted (the Mycroft AI build, and the record deck I bought); and not so self-inflected (the chickens).

Shall we start with the chickens? First up Pippi decided to get something stuck in her throat / en-route to her crop. She made a very unhappy sound – which we came back to after leaving the house for an hour. Now, literally none of the discussions I’ve seen about chickens having ‘crop’ issues mentioned this noise.

Chicken with something stuck in her crop

We recorded her so that we could ask people. She was clearly distressed, wasn’t eating or foraging, was just standing unless we went near here when she’d run off (she always runs off). We caught her and after some helpful advice fed her some wet bread (initially with water, then with some olive oil on it). Which more-or-less sorted her. Then she went to bed and the next day was fine.

Then the next day? Either then or a couple of days later Mymble… well, she got bumblefoot. We suspect this is related to us cutting back the brambles and her frantic hunt through the cut-back-brambles for anything edible. We noticed her limping on Sunday evening – obviously – at which point we discovered there’s no emergency vet in Oly for birbs.

So… we broke out google, and Monday morning I raced around to Target and Tractor Supply (I’d’ve preferred to use our local urban farm store, but they don’t open that early); got the run set up to separate Mymble during the day; and then with Kathryn we set about the soak-to-remove-the-lump-of-eschar/clean/dress.

During which process she poo’d on me several times, and in the water we were attempting to use to clean her, and I got thoroughly soaked. We didn’t get as much of the eschar out as we’d like – but hopefully got enough out – slathered it in antibiotic ointment and a dressing and then vet-wrapped her foot.

Mymble looking disgruntled

I think she rated the process as about a minus fifty-million out of ten, but she got a bunch of mealworms out of it *and* has been treated to a higher protein diet (she got a whole cooked egg today), since they say she should have a higher protein diet.

Plan is to check her tomorrow (which I’m sure will delight her even more) and assuming it’s improving we’ll leave her be ’til after the weekend.

Vetwrap rocks, though.

So then there’s the technical learning experiences – first up is Mycroft AI which… is being somewhat recalcitrant. While I’ve kind-of-got it working it’s… well, watch:

Mycroft AI OTS Build with 3D printed case

He’s… I mean. Some things are cool. It has Emby – which I’m trialing as a replacement for our previous media server. Buuuut – he did play an entirely random song when I asked for another song.

Then there’s the record ‘deck’ (it’s a tray-loading auto-reverse double-sided record deck, because I love ridiculous things). This is a Sharp RP-119. Now, for no reason that I could imagine I assumed that the RP-119 would be fairly similar to the RP-117. But it isn’t.

I’ve now found dismantling instructions (having had to guess at it using the RP-117 instructions and copious amounts of swearing). But the accursed object is still misbehaving. I’m pretty sure the disk speed is, well, somewhat variable. And I’ve not managed to work out how you get to the spindle to lubricate it (although I may have to revisit disassembly now I’ve found this). I tried the optimistic ‘poke-and-spray’ with some penetrating lubricant, but that didn’t improve things. Or at least, to get it to approximate the right speed I had to adjust the variable speed adjusters… quite a long way.

But the thing that’s definitely problematic is that the drawer doesn’t close. At least, it doesn’t close if you press the drawer-close button just once. If you press it twice, though, a second or so apart:


If you press it twice super quickly it will close more than if you press it once but not all the way.

I have NO IDEA WHY IT IS DOING THIS. It is driving me batty. I’m contemplating getting stili for it (because it needs two, so it can play both sides… obviously…). BUT I don’t really want to do that until I can work out this closing issue. My ‘best’ guess so far is that the motor has a run-time (I’m going to try measuring the voltage on the motor and see if it switches off when the drawer stops because I feel like it’s the motor stopping because it hasn’t managed to close the drawer.

If that’s the case maybe it’s just a lubrication issue? And the motor’s not running quite as fast as it should?

Ooooor maybe something in the supply is failing and it’s not getting the volts its needing so the motor’s running slow, then it’s running out of time? But since it’s all IC controlled, I’d figure that it would have more problems if voltages were off. So, yeah. Seems unlikely.

At any rate, I’m still working on what I’d thought would just be a quick application of some new belts and a good clean. Sadface.

…and then I’ll take a break

There was this great tweet – which I think ended up being a meme – that I saw a while back:

And that feels a lot like it’s been here the last few weeks.

I mean, it feels like that a lot of the time anyhow, but moreso the last few weeks. Kathryn and I made the decision to clear the storage unit completely, which meant going through every box that we had in there and deciding what stays and what goes.

Y’all know how amazing I am at getting rid of things. I totally don’t have piles of semi-sorted crap that I should have got rid of years ago… and lots of things that have emotional attachment to my dad or mum, that because my dad died I have a lot of weirdness about getting rid of things.

Also, my dad worked for companies that have vaporised – digital and CTL/ITL – companies who had some awesome achievements. One of which people give a fig about, one of which no-one remembers.

Anyhow, so it was kinda stressful, and also there’s a bunch of stuff related to my childhood that brings back not great feelings, but that I kinda want to keep, bits of my history. Things that may or may not bring back the pre-out angst, but that also bring back some of the moments I had joy. Because I may have been struggling with my identity back then, but I had/have awesome parents and I felt loved and safe at home. Not everyone gets that.

So. Yeah, it was kinda vaguely stressful and also long. There were a lot of boxes. And trying to decide what should stay and what should go… Some things I left to the gods. Like, my oscilloscope – that I said “if it sells, it goes, if it doesn’t, it’s mine”. It’s now sat on my bench :)

Some things I thought would go didn’t and I was okay with them just leaving my life – so they ended up in the free pile at the end of the day. It’s kind of a relief though, letting some things go. Some things I couldn’t quite let go. The AA Book of the Car! I mean, why didn’t that go? It’s awesome. So I kept it.

Anyhow, at the same time you may have noticed it’s July. Gardens do some growing in July – and that’s been horribly neglected as we organized the yard sale. The tomatoes are horribly overgrown, the grass around the will-be-pond and will-be-rain-garden has got to about a meter tall. And had the yard sale. And then slowly are working on getting rid of the last few things (which really need to be listed).

The house also feels pretty… in need of a clean. I mean, it’s not terrible, but it’s cluttered and in need of a hoover and a dust. The bath got a quick going over yesterday, but the rest of the bathroom needs a clean. It’s getting a lot better – Kathryn spent a lot of time when I was at work making it more habitable.

Anyhow. There’s also been more socialising than we’ve had for nearly two years – because we have sensible / privileged friends who are all vaccinated. Which means we feel safe to actually *go* to see them. I mean, going anywhere else is a bit of a toss-up. Going to get coffee? Well that’s still going to be masked… eating or drinking outside though, that’s a possibility.

So we’ve seen family here, and chosen-family in Oregon. Of course, the UK is still a hot-mess of Delta variant and that fucking idiot Boris trying to make Britain lead the world in variants of COVID. So that’s still out – although their half-arsed middle path of quarantining all those who don’t live in the UK makes it financially and vacation leave availablly impossible anyway.

So I’m still missing my mum, dreadfully.

At least we can talk on the phone.


Then there’s the usual adulting along with all of that. We’ve decided that we’re going to sell the BMW – it just has the potential to eat too much money when something inevitably goes wrong. That and we really don’t need the range extender. So it’s just consuming petrol for no good reason now . That means finding a replacement – which would have been easy – we would have had a Bolt. But now bolts are periodically catching fire, that has put the kibosh on that. We’re contemplating other options — maybe a Chevy Spark? Or a not-too-ancient Soul EV?

But then, EA just announced they’ll no longer be installing CHAdeMO chargers – so a CHAdeMO car doesn’t seem like such a hot idea. Kathryn mentioned that if we can get a classic EV with modern batteries that’d work – and then I found out about the Mars II! I’d never heard of the Mars II!

And there was one for sale just 3 hours away.


A Mars II! A 1960’s 70-120 mile EV with 48-minutes to 80% recharge time. No, I’m not kidding.

It was for sale in March, and I don’t know if it’s still for sale. The Craigslist listing has gone. I managed to find out the street I think it was on – but given that it’s 3 hours away that’s a bit much to ‘just drop past and see if it’s still on the street’. Kind of somewhat far into the creeping mode.

Which is a shame – because putting some LEAF cells in that would be enough to get it mobile, and much lighter, for the same capacity battery. Or Spark cells from a deaded Spark. Really anything modern with a modern rapid charging connector.

I’d love to get it working *as it was meant to be*, but the number of lead-cobolt batteries handily available is probably quite small. And getting people to service the silver coated contactors might be tricky.

In other, other news I’ve been working on the Mycroft – trying to get that project working enough to take it off my workbench and for it to live inside. It’s looking much closer today… I’m just trying to coax it all into at least more or less working, although the audio is very noisy.