Again I was tired when I went to bed yet found it difficult to nod off to sleep. Finally I did of course but ended up only getting five hours. That in itself was never a problem before as I had been very used to having only four and a half hours of sleep for a number of years. However on Friday morning when the alarm woke me at two I lay in bed for another hour! Now that was unusual for I normally get up straight away. I still felt tired and was about to go for my early morning walk. Despite it being an hour behind my normal routine I left the house only a half-hour later than I usually do. It was quite warm outside as I left the house and I could feel no wind at all. It was only as I reached the seafront later that I could feel a welcome breeze for by that time I was feeling too warm having walked briskly the whole way. By the time I had reached home I had cut around ten minutes off my usual time for that particular route. 

My tiredness had disappeared and I now felt great. How long would that last I wondered? When working at something I never feel tired until I stop and then I sleep well but if I have nothing to do I get tired yet can’t get to sleep. At the moment I am doing very little work at home except routine stuff. My latest project cannot be completed until I receive the pebbles I ordered which will be weeks away. I will need to find something to do in the meantime but the weather is warm and I don’t feel like it. 

Shirley Anne


Something chilly to cool me down


English: Series of air conditioners at UNC-CH.
English: Series of air conditioners at UNC-CH. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuesday was another hot day. It isn’t so much the temperature that I don’t like but the humidity. When I was involved with air-conditioning work I learned much about humidity, temperature, dew point and such things. I was also trained in heating, ventilation and refrigeration which allowed me to understand how to achieve and implement ideal conditions for computer equipment, machinery and people! The former things just didn’t work well if the air-conditioning was not right and the latter voiced their opinions and complaints! As it happens the ideal environmental conditions for both computers, printers, storage of paper are identical to those for humans, though to hear some people they are never satisfied. I was constantly in the firing line when it came to meeting the air-conditioning requirements of the people in one of the offices where I was employed as an engineer many years ago. Although the temperature and humidity levels were kept to 21 deg C and 50% relative it made no difference to some people who simply wanted to complain. Those levels are in fact the ideal requirements. I played their game though and when they complained that it was too cold when in fact it was 21 deg C I adjusted the humidity up a couple of notches to say 53% and the complaints stopped. An increase in humidity you see restricts the body from cooling down by reducing the ability for perspiration to evaporate which results in a feeling of warmth. Pushing the humidity higher though results in conditions becoming unbearable. This is why on hot and humid days we feel drained and lacking in energy. One of the worse things we can do to alleviate the discomfort is to wear too much clothing whilst taking a cold shower will give temporary respite. The body needs to evaporate its perspiration naturally and the only real way to do that is to move into another environment that has a lower humidity. An increase in perspiration can help if the humidity isn’t too high so it would seem to make sense to increase the ability to sweat. So it was that I found myself making a chilli-con-carne on Tuesday morning! However as Tuesday is a day we like to go dining I had to leave off eating the chilli until the next day. Fortunately it keeps for a couple of days, especially if kept in the fridge, because of the spices in it.


Shirley Anne



Smart Meter
Smart Meter (Photo credit: Tom Raftery)

There has been much talk lately about smart metering and the proposal to fit every household with smart meters. My current supplier is British Gas who supply both my gas and electricity or rather sell it to me from those producing it. There is nothing wrong in having these new meters of course and the whole idea is to encourage energy-saving. I have received mail shots both over the Internet and so-called ‘snail mail‘ encouraging me to make an appointment to have these meters installed at home. On Wednesday morning a letter from British Gas dropped through the letter box. I read it and telephoned the free-toll number and made an appointment to have the meters installed, which will be on Monday 10th March between 8 am and 1 pm. The woman to whom I spoke explained everything I needed to know and what I would be getting by way of a monitor to keep tabs on our fuel consumption. Well it all sounds good and indeed if I were able to reduce my bills it would be wonderful but as I said to her there comes a time when it becomes impossible to reduce energy consumption any further unless we do without! She concurred. She also mentioned that they would give advice on how to save energy losses through insulation and other means but I explained that all that has already been attended to. It would seem therefore a little pointless in having these smart meters save for the fact that they may encourage a greater interest to the recipients of such devices on how energy can be wasted or saved. I didn’t make the appointment because I want them to be fitted but more to get it over and done with now rather than later. The inevitability is best dealt with sooner. For a while no doubt there will be a great interest in the monitoring device but after a while I can see it being left on a shelf somewhere gathering dust! One thing in the smart meter’s favour is the fact that we  won’t have meter readers knocking on the door or we ourselves will not be required to read the meters and submit the readings over the Internet either. It appears the meters send back the information through the mobile telephone services without our assistance. How wonderful, how smart is that? It will feel a little ominous to have a couple of meters in the cellar ‘spying’ on our energy consumption. I wonder what they will think of next? Maybe the possibility of getting the meters to switch off the supplies whenever it suits them!

Shirley Anne

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Shelf life

Shelf Life (Kallisti)
Image by Topsy@Waygood via Flickr

No, I am not about to write something on foodstuffs. When I am out at work and sometimes elsewhere I often joke about my shelf life and how it has expired or about my sell-by date having passed on by. Sometimes I will laughingly blame my age whenever I make a mistake. It’s all my way of acknowledging that I am not getting any younger and more specifically how I am getting older. I am asked how long I intend to carry on working when people discover how old I am. I have been in continuous employment for forty-nine and a half years and mid-July will mark my fiftieth year in the electrical industry. I am slowing down but I can still work at a pace and often surprise not only my clients but myself too! Since the beginning of the new year I have been gainfully employed but I seldom work a complete day now. Last Friday however I did work for most of the day altering existing wiring and installing new circuits and light fittings in a house which had recently been extended to form a third floor apartment. The contracting electricians had omitted to provide outlets for a cooker and other things so I had the task of putting that right. I might be thinking that my shelf life has expired but in reality I seem to be just as active and effective as I always have, albeit maybe a little slower. There’s plenty of get-up-and-go left in me yet I think. I am one of those people who will probably just switch off like a light bulb rather than become slowly dimmer each day. What motivates me? I take an interest in what I do and it gives me a sense of achievement. It is a job that is never the same each day and sometimes it challenges me. I get to meet people and work in different places. I get time off whenever I want it and I get paid too! For the time being my shelf life has been extended.

Shirley Anne

Another brown envelope

Much as I am filled with a certain amount of trepidation when I receive brown paper envelopes I was taken by surprise this afternoon when opening another one. Rather than being one bringing shall I say less welcome a message, this one was informing me of my forthcoming annual fuel subsidy by virtue of a deposit by the government into my current account. Usually they are taking money out by way of taxes! In light of my recent fuel bill hike to £309 per month, that comes as a pleasant thing. My gas bill was until a couple of months ago about £182. That was until my youngest son returned to live with us and also because of fuel price rises in general. I estimate that my son was responsible for half of the increase and my supplier for the other half. My son has just moved away but I am not sure if that is permanent, in the meantime my bill should drop down a tad.

Shirley Anne

Back to work

Basic overview of energy and human life (See a...
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These last two weeks have found me very busy at my electrical work and has provided me with some extra income which I shall put to good use, when I stop working of course! I have a small job to do this morning, Friday but I shall have to decline further work, if I get any, for this afternoon as the other post below indicates. Although I am working part-time I am finding that I feel tired in the afternoons and don’t much feel like doing anything. I have been spending a few late afternoons and evenings in the pub lately and although I enjoy the escape I find it an effort to actually walk there but I do. Wednesday was a fine example, I hadn’t been working in the morning as I have been doing but nevertheless I had to make a concerted effort to go out. Admittedly I had been on the treadmill and perhaps that had made the difference. It was quite windy on Wednesday, not the kind of weather to go walking in if one didn’t have to but I wanted to spend some time at the pub and so I made the effort. It’s funny really but when I am working I seem to have the energy to do all the work I get but as soon as I stop I sometimes feel exhausted and just want to sit down and rest. It may be more psychological than physical but I am not getting any younger am I? Already I have work planned for next week and no doubt the phone will be ringing throughout the week but it’s nice to be back working after the recent bout of having almost none.

Shirley Anne

A commodity we cannot do without

Icon of Wind Turbines
Image via Wikipedia

I sometimes watch a program on television called ‘How it’s made‘. Each half-hour episode gives an audio/visual explanation of how everyday objects are made, usually three separate items are covered in each program. They show the various and diverse processes that are involved in the different stages of manufacture. Almost anything that is manufactured can find its way on to the program. I find it very interesting but then I have always wanted to know how things work and how they are made. It’s a sort of electromechanical inquisitive curiosity I have built-in and hard-wired into my brain. It sits there with all the other strange and wonderful things that make up my psyche. I also like cosmetics! I digress. In our modern societies the things we use have to be produced using machinery and usually electrical machinery. What factory doesn’t use electricity? From computers and control equipment and the automated production machinery electricity is the essential driving force, the only driving force, apart from the boss, in a factory today. What would we do without it? There is almost nowhere in the modern manufacture and processing industry that doesn’t involve the use of electricity. Even in our homes we find electricity an indispensable commodity. We use it to cook with, to drive our entertainment equipment, our televisions, radios, computers, games consoles, telephones, lighting and security systems. In fact the whole infrastructure of society depends upon this commodity being available. Imagine our world without it. How long would we last? I remember hearing how we could have an almost free supply of electricity about forty-five years ago. It was suggested that if everyone used electricity to power their needs it could be produced more efficiently. What went wrong with that suggestion? Today prices are soaring and yet there are ways of producing electricity at a low-cost to the consumer. Most of our electricity is produced by using coal to make the steam for the turbines attached to which are the electricity alternators. Unfortunately coal or rather the burning of it produces a lot of pollution and in the early years of its use the air we breathed was highly contaminated. Todays coal-fired burners are much more efficient but still they produce some undesirable pollution. There are enough stocks of coal in this country, the UK, to last more than three hundred years which makes it a tempting source of power. There are other sources of power too, gas for instance and also nuclear. As gas is used elsewhere besides generating electricity it would seem logical not to use it for that purpose except that if we switched completely to using electricity there would be no argument. Nuclear power generation has its own problems too, the danger of a leakage of radiation and the disposal of the more dangerous waste products which produce even higher levels of radiation. There may be a future for nuclear powered generation if these issues can be overcome to the satisfaction of the population.  Legislation and the dictates of the European Community have restricted the amount of pollution that any member state can produce without severe penalty. This is to encourage producing electricity by other means. One of the best ways of producing electricity is by using water to turn the turbines, the hydro-electric generating system. All that is needed is a constant flow of water and this usually comes from huge man-made reservoirs or natural lakes where the natural flow of water is governed by the use of a dam. It is a way of producing electricity without pollution and one would think its use would be widespread. Unfortunately it isn’t. There can be no excuse for that when there are numerous lakes around that could be utilised, even more than once if the lakes are at altitude. There seems to always be objections to this sort of suggestion and yet the generators (alternators) can be hidden from view underground. It is the same problem with wind-powered generation, no-one wants to see them dotted about the country or even at sea if it spoils the view! Everyone wants electricity but not everyone is prepared to see their environment spoiled by the equipment needed to produce it. It need not be that way and indeed government has dictated in some situations that the need far outweighs the objection. Personally I agree. Does it really matter if when we look out of a window we see the blades of wind turbines rotating gently in the breeze especially as they are usually situated far enough away from residential areas? Most objections are raised by people who seldom visit areas in which wind turbines are placed anyway. If we cannot live without electricity then we must be prepared to put up with some inconvenience or stop moaning about it.

Shirley Anne

Not well again

The angle of His is formed between the oesopha...
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On Sunday evening, after a late dinner I began to feel uncomfortable. I could feel the symptoms of trapped wind in my stomach. I do suffer from this occasionally and now know how to deal with it but this time it just wouldn’t go away. I thought it might be not only trapped wind but perhaps food poisoning. I spent a very restless night but did manage to get some sleep. When I awoke yesterday morning I was feeling decidedly out of it! My arms, shoulders and upper torso as well as my head were all suffering pain. I am the kind of person who resists taking pain killers, pumping medications into my system unless I really need to do so. Needless to say I had no breakfast as my stomach was still in pain but I did sip water which seemed to help by bringing up the occasional ‘burp’. I struggled through the morning and when it came to lunchtime I was still feeling queazy. If it was food poisoning I didn’t want to eat more food, however I think on reflection it was due to other things, trapped wind, tiredness, mild ‘flu and the after effects of working on the garage all day on Saturday. I had wanted to go out and purchase paint and a few other items but E found two full cans of the paint we needed and some other materials so anything else I wanted I would have to go out and buy. E had her lunch around 1.30 but she wanted to watch a program on the television until 2.15 and wasn’t ready to go out just then. We had expected the boys to arrive early in the morning to finish off the paving in the rear garden but they arrived at noon. I fell asleep on the couch whilst E was watching television but aroused myself and ventured out to the shops with her to buy some things. We bought a parasol to fit over the wooden dining table (part of the garden furniture, I will post a pic later if I remember), a bamboo door curtain that we can hang over the door space when the door is opened in Summer (just to keep out the flies!) and plenty of beer for the weekend. When we arrived back home the boys had finished the rear garden and had started preparing the area under the window at the front of the house. They are supposed to be returning at 8 o’clock this morning to complete that work (finally!). The weather seems to be getting better, just like I am. I hate feeling unwell when I know there is much to do but I never do work when I am not feeling well.

Shirley Anne

A bit bruised and tired

Observing the shabbath closing havdalah ritual...
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I was very tired on Friday evening and couldn’t get to bed quick enough. My arms were aching and I was generally feeling weak from all the work I have been doing. E had gone out with her mom for the evening and I was home alone. I had a nice long soak in the bath and had a good night’s sleep. When I got up yesterday my upper arms were still aching as were my shoulders. I think E was wanting to do more work but I suggested we wait until the afternoon both for myself and for her sake too. After lunch I made the decision not to do anything but to rest completely. This is why I try to observe the Sabbath day of rest, we are not supposed to burn ourselves out seven days a week and it is wise to take a break. However whilst I remained indoors relaxing E took it upon herself to go and shift some soil in the vegetable plot! We need to move the soil where we have piled it up after sifting it and it has to go back in the space from whence it came. We have placed a barrier between that space and the remaining soil which hasn’t yet been sifted. This will enable us to get at the remainder of the wall that we ‘bagged’ on Friday and do the same there. I went to bed last night with my batteries fully recharged ready to do some more work today. Fortunately the weather has been very good lately else we wouldn’t have done as much as we have. I am hoping it will remain so at least until the heavy work is completed but of course we have no control over that.

Shirley Anne

Not quite in the mood

After a restless night and several trips to the toilet I was very reluctant in having to get out of bed yesterday. I finally came downstairs at 9.30 and had breakfast. I was still feeling tired. E had been up around an hour already although she seldom gets dressed until after she has eaten whereas I never come downstairs without getting dressed first. I sat at my computer for a short while and nodded off to sleep! It was almost lunchtime and E had returned downstairs after dressing and doing her exercises which she does every day because of her physical ailment and we both went to the greenhouses to do some ‘potting on’. Just as we had finished in there I heard the noise of the front gates being opened. E’s nephew and his mate had arrived to deposit yet more hardcore from a building project they were engaged in locally. Most of the hardcore we have has been ‘donated’ this way. They went on their way and we came indoors and had lunch. It was now 1.15. After lunch E watched her favourite daytime ‘soap opera’ and I did some reading. After half an hour she went to do her weekly shop with her mom and I went into the rear garden and did some levelling of the new hardcore in the now almost filled patio base. I then continued with filtering the soil and removing the roots in that area I’ve been working in these last few days. It is almost done but I hadn’t the strength or willpower to continue much further than the hour or so that I gave it and I came indoors. It was one of those days when I just couldn’t get motivated and it was mainly because of tiredness and maybe overworking. I have a small electrical job to go to this morning. Perhaps I will feel more in the mood to continue with some work at home when I return.

Shirley Anne