19 February 2012

What on Earth have I been doing...

Hello worldwide audience of 3.
My first blog of 2012 and what a mind numbing journey this year has been so far. Let me say here and now, I simply love the routine honing of perfection that is the modification process I exact on errant TCs... what a vile sentence that was. More than a tad pretentious...
I like what I do, to TCs. I find it relaxing... however I have been inundated with them since just before Christmas. I am presently up to number 233 and that is a high number of conversions.

I could with little effort grow to dislike what I am doing, and I do not want to do that, since then I would have other things to pursue that would probably be less rewarding.
For example on the dislike... why oh why are some people incapable of understanding the phrase “warm the rubber mat with a heat-gun or hair dryer until it is uncomfortable to touch” --- which is a paraphrase for the instructions I give on the removal of the rubber base mat. I think I do this in the ‘send minimal stuff’ section of my complicated website layout - probably hidden in ‘FYI’.

I mean to say, how hard can it be? I’m not the only one to advise this; Ray Haverfield does (bless him) and he should know, he has been doing this longer than anyone else. Use a heat gun to soften the binds-tighter-than-shit-to-a-blanket glue that Apple inflict on the base of every TC seen so far. When it is cold it clings harder to the rubber base mat than the rubber of the base mat clings to itself - result... the mat tears. Sometimes into many many weirdly shaped fragments and shards - all of which are complete sods to glue back together into anything like a semblance of order.

Some (who shall remain nameless) counsel that the removal of the rubber base mat is a healthy thing and lets the air flow freely amongst the hot bits of the TC, thus helping to keep it cool. I say utter tosh. This is about the same as making a 1960s Cortina (British made Ford Car) more streamlined by removing the hubcaps and pushing the car aerial back into the wing. Not very effective. ALSO removing the rubber base mat makes the TC look like a 1970s Hewlett-Packard Spectrum Analyser; that is something that belongs in a laboratory. What the TC is, beyond its electronic excellence (except when it overheats) is a living room computer accessory that is minimalism with perfect functionality in one pleasing-on-the-eye shape.

I try to keep that minimalist look with the most neat and elegant cooling solution I could attain. I do though need to make the fan run more slowly. It is too noisy. I mean to say, in a very quiet room I can hear the fan working. I need to make it run so slowly that a hiss of moving air cannot be heard. Trying to control the fan controller chip on the main board will be a nightmare I suspect, since it receives its settings from the main firmware on the central ARM controller processor. Digging around in that would be possibly more tedious than rebuilding rubber base mats! Moving on...

My personal life has hit a point that I am surely not alone in having? My aged mother, now 86, has dementia. My father of similar age is trying to care for her, in her gradual decline. This is a hard hard thing to have to do. You never expect your parents to become so frail and forgetful that they become like children. My Mum simply has forgotten my name. She has her coping strategies and will listen to others calling me by name and then ask me a question with the name heard. But, if I ask a seemingly simple question like “Mum, where do you live?” there is struggling embarrassed silence as she says ‘4 Oliver Street?’ from where she moved when she was 18, when she joined the Army and became a driver in the ATS. Sorry Mum, you have not lived there for ages... do you know where you live now? She does not... and brushes it aside.

What is a son to do? (or daughter). I started looking around ‘care homes’ and if ever there was an unhappy activity this must be near the top of the list. There is no way I could care for my Mum in the way she needs. The Mother-son relationship can never be that close with dignity or comfort. Neither of us would want that. I know I don’t and if my mum could remember how to say it... she too would say ‘no way’.

Dementia is weird. It removes the character of the person one small piece at a time. Well, not necessarily removes, but loosens in a way that is the vanguard of permanent departure. What becomes hard to recall today will be gone forever next week. The mood swings are the most pitiful thing of all, stripping away all dignity and creating panic, fear and hopelessness in their wake. If this is what I have in store some 25 to 30 years from now, I dread to grow old. However my Dad is a clever man. He has a sharp mind but a weak heart. He had a quadruple bypass 15 years ago, giving him many years of happy strength. He has to have a hospital check-up and whatever the outcome, he will need 1 to 2 weeks of top-quality care in a care-home for ‘people of our age’. We found a belter of a care home just outside York, where the tag-line on the sign was ever so true ‘Care without compromise for the elderly’. Dad and I looked round and were greeted by happy smiling staff and happy but frail old ladies and gentlemen for whom this was now their home.

One magnificently frail old lady of 93 (apparently) I went over to say hello. “Hello, I’m Chris and I’m thinking my Mum and Dad might like to come and stay here.”. The reply was with a very faint but steady and s l o w voice that I shall not forget...

“Hello Chris. I’m Margery Greenwood. If your mother comes here..... there is no finer care home around.” a little sparrow hand shook my own. The young lady in charge was a complete delight and could not have been more helpful, reassuring, friendly and generally capable. She genuinely seemed to be liked by everyone there - and if this was a put-on act, it was skill beyond compare.

Dad and I came away elated and the following day arranged to have a midday meal there for Mum and Dad. Mum loved it. Dad was relived. Me too.

We will see what happens as things unfold...

By the way... the wood burning stove is worth every penny spent. It lights first time, gives off loads of heat and looks good. Very Happy.