Surprisingly unusual headphones

2017-Jul-21, Friday 06:41 pm
mtbc: maze G (black-magenta)
[personal profile] mtbc
I had commented that on the cross-trainer my headphones mostly stay in my ears. It would be less distracting if I could do better than that while exercising. I don't want headphones that clip around my ears, that would be bothersome, but the usual band over the top of my head or whatever would be fine. What I want is much like some over-the-head in-the-ear headphones I had as a teenager, except for having ends with more isolation as my current earbuds do.

Those over-head in-ear headphones I once had held themselves in quite well and with the close fit of my current isolating ones I suspect would do well indeed. However, I am surprised to find that at first glance I cannot find for sale headphones with both properties. The ones with a band over the top all seem to be over-ear rather than in-ear. There also seem to be ones with a band at the back of the neck, which might work. I guess I will just keep looking. It always feels odd when I can clearly imagine the product I want but the combination is not easily found. I am reminded of when a car salesman suggested I buy a particular car model but I observed to them that it comes as either all-wheel-drive or stick-shift but not, as I then required, both.

Ongoing road construction

2017-Jul-19, Wednesday 09:55 pm
mtbc: maze D (yellow-black)
[personal profile] mtbc
On the way into work this morning I again waited at a traffic signal that protects a pit in one lane of a two-lane road. There is usually no activity around this hole in the road and whatever work is being done there by Scottish Water appears to be taking them many days.

I wonder what it costs utility companies to block roads. I imagine that the city council charge them more, the longer the work takes, but how much? I am reminded of living in Massachusetts. There, the police union seems to have wangled some neat deal to get officers paid plenty for watching traffic around road construction. Whatever I think of that, I wonder if the ongoing expense is a sufficiently non-trivial fraction of the project cost to help hurry the work along.

BBC on-air salaries

2017-Jul-19, Wednesday 08:06 pm
mtbc: maze K (white-green)
[personal profile] mtbc
The BBC has published information about how much its top on-air personalities earn. Some of them earn a considerable sum indeed. I can buy that the market for such celebrities is competitive. However, I wonder what the BBC is for.

Many of the current better-paid personalities do not seem to me to be all that uniquely remarkable. Worthwhile, even innovative, entertainment need not be expensively produced, though I am one of those viewers who does not mind if the sets sometimes wobble a bit.

Perhaps it is fine for commercial television and radio to poach away the most popular BBC talent. Those willing to work for rather less than £200k, especially outside London, may not be significantly inferior to those we see now and we could benefit from the BBC being able to afford a larger roster of presenters and hosts. Alternatively, it may be that the best of the BBC presenters bring more outstanding value than I recognize or that many viewers care more about seeing one of a few best-known celebrities than I.

The appeal of meaning

2017-Jul-16, Sunday 11:59 am
mtbc: maze L (green-white)
[personal profile] mtbc
I am noticing how attractive I find the idea of subscribing to some coherent ideology. That I have not done so may be much more due to an inability to accept such a belief system rather than my reluctance to. The idea of being persuaded of some unambiguous meaning in life, some goal that tells me what to do and what is worth it to get there, especially if somebody else has already done the hard thinking for me and provided like-minded comrades, is very appealing. In this year's elections I had to again research parties and manifestoes and candidates not because I am proudly independent but just because I have a hard time buying others' thinking, certainly as a complex package. I already knew that I am persistently doubtful about everything from theism to capitalism but I do not think that I had properly noticed how much I would have liked more certainty about fundamental beliefs.

A nice thing about having children is that I find I can draw some confidence in action from that I want to serve their interests. That feeling may be an irrational product of natural selection but at least it is guidance that I actually feel able to buy into.

Personal computing projects

2017-Jul-14, Friday 08:56 pm
mtbc: maze H (magenta-black)
[personal profile] mtbc
Since I am now exercising for an hour on three days per week it occurred to me that I could try setting aside that same hour on other days for the computer programming that I have been wanting to do for a long time. We have a houseguest at the moment but next month once I am back from the US I should give this a try.

I had mentioned that a problem I have had is that it takes me a good while just to get back into such projects so when I do set aside time I make little progress. It occurred to me that if I try more frequently then my startup time may soon be much reduced. Sometimes it takes me a while to think of the obvious.

Exercising more gently with music

2017-Jul-14, Friday 08:42 pm
mtbc: maze G (black-magenta)
[personal profile] mtbc
I have settled on three longer workouts per week, never on consecutive days: two on weekdays, one on weekends. They run for a round hour as determined by the duration of BBC Radio's playlists, especially Radio 2's Wednesday Workout and Upbeat. While those feature a good mix of classic and modern tracks it amuses me that the former is such that one is not surprised if something from, say, the soundtrack of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) is played.

I am using Betron B-25 headphones that mostly stay in my ears and do well at blocking the mechanical clanking and squeaking from the cross-trainer so that I can use fairly low volume. The isolation is such that spoken-word audio would also be viable.

My power output is down to around 21½ of the machine's calories per minute but I think that suffices as I still work up a sweat and do not want to overly tax myself. Rather than aiming for particular performance I instead just check the readings every song or so and increase the resistance if I am drifting over 55 RPM, which typically happens a couple of times over the course of the hour.

The lively popular music and lack of performance target certainly help my workouts to pass somewhat pleasantly. If facing another workout requires little willpower then I am more likely to continue with them.

Confusing drug naming

2017-Jul-13, Thursday 09:37 pm
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
[personal profile] mtbc
I notice that in my past I have been separately prescribed terbinafine and terfenadine. To me this feels ripe for confusion among the overworked, especially in handwriting. I wonder if there is consideration given to maintaining a safe distinctiveness in drug naming.

Sermons and popular media

2017-Jul-12, Wednesday 07:30 am
mtbc: maze M (white-blue)
[personal profile] mtbc
I often pay some attention to church services, not least the brief Daily Service that has been broadcast on BBC Radio for many decades. I am occasionally amused by a surprise perhaps arising from not always paying full attention. A recent example was the minister's sermon apparently slipping into song lyrics until a moment's thought told me that the song that had come to mind had itself been quoting from the Bible.

A dream in which I am widowed

2017-Jul-11, Tuesday 05:53 pm
mtbc: maze L (green-white)
[personal profile] mtbc
My dreams rarely feature much emotion. I often dream of perilous situations but, despite the mortal danger, they are not frightening, just excitingly tense. I had mentioned how I often dream of people who are not part of my real life. For example, I sometimes dream of Anna with whom I have a good romantic relationship. I can be sad when I awaken because I thought that Anna existed and now I am awake I realize that she is fictional so there is a sense of loss but during the actual dream I am doing fine and life is good.

I had a surprise last night in dreaming of a different romantic partner where I experienced great sorrow in the dream itself. She was quite different from Anna: more cheerful and energetic, helpful and encouraging, less intellectual and sophisticated, in looks a little darker and heavier with broader features. She feels familiar but I cannot yet think of anybody on whom she is obviously based. Also, she was quite clearly contemporary, English-speaking and we lived in the West; with Anna it is always in Russian and possibly many decades in the past.

Anyhow, in the dream my wife had died quite suddenly, maybe in her late thirties, and I was thus widowed. I was visiting her family and in the course of that visit I was arranging and cleaning something for her grandmother. The grandmother remarked on how my late wife had always kept that item of her grandmother's so clean and nice and this comment felt very much like her, that she would be doing thoughtful but practical things for her family, so that caused me considerable upset in vividly reminding me of how she used to be and how lucky we had been to have her as a positive force in our lives.

As it is, that she had been such a joy to share life with turns out to be entirely fictional; I do not even remember her name. This journal entry becomes her only memorial. How strange our brains are. I did have a headache arrive yesterday evening and mostly depart this morning so perhaps that pain somehow became an emotional discomfort in the dream.

Update: Fortunately the night after I am back to dreams about non-scary peril. The following morning when I awoke, in my dream I had reached my laboratory and was turning my attention to barricading the door after sending one of my students for bottled water in anticipation of having to hold out against the sudden spread of aggressive zombies.
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