Friday, 24th November, 2023

[Day 1348]

Today turned out to be quite a full day. As it is a Friday, it is the day when our domestic help calls round but she was feeling a little under the weather so we offered her one of our various preparations to have along with her customary cup of tea, hoping that this might sustain her. We started off on a trip to Droitwich which we often make on a Friday but having started out on the right road, soon realised that we would not have time for a visit if we wished to return home by 12.00pm midday. Our Eucharistic minister from the local church had arranged to visit us just after she had playing at a funeral and we realised that we had better move on to ‘Plan B’ Accordingly, we went to our local Waitrose which was quite full of ‘oldies’ for a Friday morning and thought it best to do things this way so that we could arrange to be at home when the minister called around. Whilst in the cafe we received some not very pleasant news from some of our Catholic friends who live just down thw road. The husband already had one suspect eye and the other was running into severe problems so several visits had to be paid to the local specialist hospital to ‘patch him up’ It looks as things are slightly improving but he had to exercise a condiderable degree of caution to ensure that he lay on the ‘correct’ side for so many minutes an hour which is more easily said than done. Just before we went out onto the road, I thought I would study the configuration of my newly commissioned IBM Thinkpad and, in particular, ascertained the number of USB ports which it sported. This proved to be two which is quite a small number and one is located immediately over the other making it quite difficult to use two devices as frankly, they might not fit. In the past I had bought a little USB port extender which was only a few pounds years ago and this little device plugs into one of the ports but effectively extends the number of ports from one to three. Now one of these was used so that I could utilise a cordless mouse, whilst another provided a home to one the small, less than thumb-nail size flash drives that you can buy this very cheaply these days. This provided me with another 114 GB of storage which is not that much these days but I also had in stock a 500GB Samsung credit card sized flash drive which I had intended to use as a backup at one time or another but other solutions had been found. I thought this was an excellent time to bring this into use as the original hard size of the IBM being so dated was incredibly small and the new drive would multiply the existing hard disk by a factor of 12.5 times. This fitted very neatly behind the open lid of the ThinkPad that I was kicking myself that I had not thought of it before but there we are. When I left my employment at Leicester Polytechnic, we had a computing laboratory filled full of Olivetti M24s (an IBM clone) with admittedly dated hard disks of some 20MB each. When I calculated the number of machines by the number of laboratories by the number of universities, I calculated that the little credit card flash disk I had brought into use would have supplied one half of all the laboratory based computers in all of the universities and institutions of higher education throughout the UK in 1997. Of course, we are now a quarter of a century later on but it still quite a thought that the storage space I had brought into use this morning was some 25,000 times greater than the typical computer memory size in 1997.

Just before lunch, the Eucharistic minister called around and we had another very satisfying little meeting and mini-service. Afterwards we lunched on a bought haddock pie and then got ready for our little venture out this afternoon. Some of Meg’s medication was proving problematic to source as the Lloyds Echo service which delivers to the door had indicated that we needed to contact our doctor to see if alternate medication could be prescribed. I phoned through these supply difficulties to the surgery who passed a message on to the community pharamcist. I got a telephone call late in the morning from this person who said that a new prescription had been issued and I could go to my local pharmacy who could then supply. This sounded suspiciously too simple and so it proved.When Meg and I got to the pharmacist, they could not find us anywhere on the system. So I was directed to go next door to our own doctor’s reception areas who eventually gave me a piece of paper with three sets of six digit numbers on it which I should then take back the pharmacy. They informed that that the request had been placed ‘on the spine’ and could I give them Meg’s NHS number to get access to the system. Eventually, after a wait of some 40 minutes and having incurred a car parking charge of £1.80 we got the medication that we wanted/needed but at the cost of considerable frustration. This well exemplifies that when you have a failure in quality of a transaction, it is nearly always at the point when systems interface (or fail to properly interface) with each other.