…in which I surprise everyone by buying a piece of exercise equipment.

I’ve always been a bit of a skinny weakling. Somehow I’ve managed to get this far in life maintaining a reasonable level of fitness without doing all that much, but I’ve never had anything much in the way of strength.

And once in a blue moon I have a half-hearted attempt to do something about that. Heck, I even joined a gym once, back in my twenties. (Not forgetting that my twenties were quite some time ago now.)  There have been more recent attempts: back in 2013 I wrote here about an attempt to start doing some press-ups. (That lasted about a week.) A couple of years later I wrote again, this time telling the world I was embarking on a regime of Planking. (That one lasted, I seem to recall, a couple of weeks.)

So what’s happening this time? Having seen them in lots of houses while I’m working, I’ve been thinking about getting a pull-up bar. Today I stopped thinking about it:

Actual exercise equipment. In my house.

And here’s where I’m happy to accept any advice that people would care to give. I can do a few chin-ups. Five, I’d say before it gets too much of a strain. But what’s the best way to go about this? How many repetitions? How often? If you know about muscles and training and stuff, I’d love to hear from you.

Since I put it up earlier today I’ve been past a few times and done a group of five each time. Maybe four or five times spread over the evening. But I need a plan.

Also not really sure how I’ll measure the effectiveness and success or otherwise of this little scheme, but for sake of completeness – and with apologies to anyone eating –  this is the starting point:

My not-so-sculpted self

The gaps

So, what happens, you see, is this.

I write something on here. And I enjoy it. And I think, “I really should do this more often.” And, occasionally, I’ll write two things in quick succession. But then a week or so goes past, and nothing appears. And then, increasingly often, months.

In my head, I’d not been too bad lately. But I see it’s been over three months. In fact, just five posts on here since last November.

Perhaps I’ve got nothing worth saying.

Broadcast fame again.

Hey, remember four years ago when I got read out on Simon Mayo’s show two nights in a row? (Here if you need a reminder.)

Well, I’ve only gone and gotten read out again. Not a three-worder this time, but a reply to one of the homework questions.

And, yes, I really have fainted after hitting my non-funny-non-bone – twice. It’s a thing.

(BBC copyright acknowledged.)

Customer Service award of the week #1 goes to IKEA.

I’ve bought a lot of things from IKEA over the years, and just a couple of times I’ve needed to return something for some reason or another. It can be a slow process if you catch them at a bad time, so when we had to return something last weekend we expected it to take a while.

This week, you see, I was building some big heavy mirrored sliding doors. You know the sort of thing; the IKEA PAX wardrobes are pretty ubiquitous these days, so you’ve almost certainly seen some somewhere.


A bit like this. Image from IKEA website.

Well, it was going okay until I heard a crack. Yes, I managed to break one of the mirror panels. A corner joint slightly out of alignment and disaster.  And they come in packs of four, so I thought it was an expensive mistake.

Ikea Family Card

But then I made a discovery. Something I didn’t know before. When we’d bought it we’d scanned our IKEA family card. It occasionally gets you special offers, but I’d never given it much thought. And what did learn? It also gives you free insurance for damage to products in transit or assembly!

Free insurance! Yes!

Mirrors promptly pack up and returned to the store with our receipt, and within ten minutes a new pack had been brought down to customer collections for us. Thanks IKEA, and IKEA family.

IKEA family card photograph from Little Ant on Flickr.
Used under a Creative Commons license.

Verbal Creativity

Collected Haikus from (I think) early 2015-ish

Previously published on Facebook and/or Twitter. Some were replies to things, so the context is lost. Thus mystery is added.

Collected here so I don’t lose track of them. (Though they may be best lost track of.)

I tried a Haiku
I’d not written one before
it turned out rubbish.

Maxine says it’s good
but does she not realise
just how poor it is?

Does a haiku fit
in one hundred and forty
characters? It does.

A thought crossed my mind
to write Haiku business plan.
Tutors won’t approve.

Business plan writing?
Photoshop tutorials?
Deadline on just one.

The art of avoiding work
by writing haikus.

Ben’s ceramic art
Inspires mind and soul alike;
Geometric bliss

I had a heart attack
a misunderstood deadline
so I passed it on.

Status was not planned
to follow haiku format.
Try harder next time.

I stay up too late
when at last I aim for bed
I find I’m hungry.

Had a banana
Snuck quietly into bed
Woke raring to go.

Business plan is in
two modules yet to complete
then degree is done

A book of haikus. 
Sixty-seven, bound as one. 
A brotherly gift.

My bed is upstairs.
I, conversely, am downstairs. 
I need to change this.

Too long for haiku.

Haiku syllables:
Five, seven, five. Then no more.
Unless you bend the rules.

And now I have learned
that five-seven-five is wrong
unless Japanese.

I enjoyed writing these. Why did I stop?

How my brain works

I’m doing a Christmas Fayre tomorrow. I may have mentioned it. Selling prints and cards of some of my LEGO™ photographs.

About two weeks ago, it occurred to me I should organise a float. You know, so I can give people change.

About a week ago, I remembered that I needed to organise a float.

Two days ago, I remembered that I needed to organise a float.

Yesterday, I remembered that I needed to organise a float.

This evening at about ten o’clock, I checked an email to see what time I need to be there. The email answered my question (9:30, as it happens).  But importantly, the email also mentions something else: I need to organise my own float.

And that’s how my brain works.

Anyway, come along. Even I struggle to give you change there’s plenty else to enjoy.



Artificial Intelligence?

applechatHad a productive ‘chat’ with Apple Support today. But tell me this: Does “Keidra” sound like a computer that’s been programmed to sound human, or a human that’s been trained to sound like a computer?

Here’s the transcript…


Thanks for contacting iOS. My name is Keidra. How can I help you?


Hi there.

Just wanted to check if my iPhone 6S is one affected by the battery replacement programme. 


Just to make sure we’re on the same page you would like to know if your iPhone 6s is eligible for the battery replacement program, correct?


Exactly that. The serial number is: XXXXXXX (Redacted for security)


I know if my iPhone was on a recall list I would be checking into this also. I’ll do all I can to resolve this for you today.


I would like to confirm the version of iOS on the device. Go to Settings > General > About and tell me what it shows for Version. I want to make sure your account is up to date.


10.2 (14C5077b)


Thank you! I’m showing that your iPhone maybe eligible for battery replacement. Would like to know your service options?




Sure thing! May I know what country are you located in?




You’re service options are take the device to an Apple Authorized Service Provider or schedule an appointment with an Apple Retail Store. The battery cannot be replaced until after December 5, 2016.


There’s an Authorised Service provider in a nearby town – closer than any Apple Store, so I’ll give them a call. Thanks for mentioning the date – didn’t know it hadn’t started yet. 


You’re more than welcome! Is it OK if I send you an email with some articles on what to do before you take your iPhone in for repair?


Think I’ve found all that online already. Back up, disable Find my iPhone. 

But do feel free in case I’ve missed anything. ;o)


Great! Overall, how do you feel about our chat today, have I addressed all of your concerns? Are you satisfied with the support I provided today? I want to make sure I’ve answered all of your questions before we finish up!


I had one question, and it’s been answered perfectly. So very satisfied. 


Perfect! You enjoy the rest of your day and your Family Sharing! Again my name is Keidra. If you ever need help, AppleCare chat is here 24/7. Feel free to chat us anytime. You can also use Twitter as a way to contact us! Tweet @AppleSupport for help answering your questions.




Not a problem, Trevor! If you have no other questions or concerns please feel free to click the “End Chat” button or simply close the internet browser window. If you prefer you can also say “OK” to confirm it is fine for me to end this chat session. Have a wonderful rest of your day.