Saturday, 6th March, 2021

[Day 355]

Before we came out today, I received a text from one of my church friends indicating that church services were to resume in about a couple of weeks with a type of ‘rolling start’ but a booking system was being introduced so that would-be worshippers can ‘book their place’ several days beforehand. It looks as though things ought to be in place by ‘Palm Sunday‘ which will be on Sunday, 28th March i.e. in three weeks time. I got onto the church’s website to download some particulars of the new procedures that we have to follow before we can attend services again and I am glad that things are starting to move again. It looks as though a new priest may be installed before the Easter celebrations start but so far information is exceedingly sparse.

Because we were slightly late this morning we popped into the park first of all where there was a mini ‘gathering of the clans’ – well six of us anyway. The conversation got a little esoteric e.g. how likely is life on other universes? At what stage after the ‘singularity’ (i.e. the ‘big bang’ which may have started off the universe given that it is still expanding) did the laws of Newtonian physics start to apply? – the consensus view is that can be measured in milliseconds but needless to say, all of this is conjecture by the cosmologists. Anyway, we were fairly relieved to break off from these lofty not to say esoteric discussions, collect our newspapers a little late (although they had been kept in the back room for us) and so on up the hill. On the way home, we bumped into two more of our church friends and, again, we swapped whatever information we had concerning the resumption of services.

I had a heavy ‘computing’ afternoon where all finished very well in the end. The Apple operating system contains an app (‘Time Machine‘) which, once running correctly, will save backups hourly for the past 24 hours, daily for the last month and then weekly for all previous months (with the oldest being deleted when your backup disk becomes full). Although this seemed to be working OK for the first few days after I specified it be saved on my newly acquired portable drive, then I kept getting error messages to say that Time Machine had encountered errors and could not save. A quick search of the web indicated that the backup disk needs formatting in a particular way (Apple has about three different types of format, just to be confusing) Then I couldn’t ‘unmount’ the disk (make it invisible to the operating system) or reformat it so the whole disk seemed to have become useless. I was just on the point of packing it up and sending it back to Amazon and make a claim for a new one when I suddenly had a brain wave and managed to get it reformatted in the way I wanted on an ‘old’ i.e. legacy Mac that I have. In the meanwhile, I pressed an a former (very high quality) backup drive into action (made by a firm called GTech) and this seemed to work like a charm i.e. just as it should. Then I used the newly reformatted 2TB drive to store backups of most of my ‘every day’ files which must go aback about 20 years by now (e.g. all of my old lectures and teaching materials that I really ought to throw away but can’t at this stage!) Things seemed to back up more quickly than I might have imagined (I managed nearly 1½ Gbytes a minute using only USB 2.0) so I am well pleased. So now I have a Time Machine system which seems to be working the way I want and a more ‘personalised’ backup system if there is anything I desperately need to get hold of. Hopefully, everything will be fine from this point onwards with no more hassle.

Tonight, we were going to treat ourselves to a Mozart opera (‘The Marriage of Figaro) via YouTube but it would clash with a police series which we are watching on Saturday evenings, so we need to postpone that pleasure until tomorrow night.

There is a big row going on tonight over the pay-rise to be awarded to NHS staff i.e. 1% when the rest of the public are having a pay freeze. What is making the nurses and others so angry is that they had been promised a pay-rise of 2.1% (which only just about compensates for inflation) and Teresa May had indicated that this would be covered by the NHS revenue settlement announced in June, 2018. So having had expectations raised, they have now been dashed on the grounds that ‘we can’t afford it‘ which wears a bit thin when £22 billion had been spent on a barely functioning ‘Test-and-Trace’ regime. Again, the Sunday newspapers might play an interesting role if they carry opinion polls which the government might choose to ignore, being several points ahead of Labour following a ‘successful vaccine rollout’ bounce for the Tories.