The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Tuesday 21 February 2023

Artificial intelligence!

I've been trying to stay away from the news again these past few days (it's been over a year since I turned my TV on), but still dreadful current events make their way through. There was another earthquake in the Turkey/Syria region the other day (those poor people), the devastating cyclone on New Zealand's North Island, and then the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, where the powers that be decided to blow up the deadly chemical spill from about 50 carriages and then told the locals it was "safe to return to their homes and even drink the water" only three days later! Yeah, sure, if my neighbourhood looked liks this I'm sure I'd be dashing back!

East Palestine, Ohio

This picture was taken by a passenger in
a plane that happened to be flying overhead
at that moment (can you even begin to
imagine how scary that must have been)!

Whenever I see a news event like this I google it to see where it is and realized that East Palestine is only 45 miles away from my MIL's home just outside Pittsburgh! So yeah, I don't care what the Governor is saying, I'm pretty sure I'd be drinking bottled water (at the very least) from now on!

In more upbeat news (for me, at least), yoga started back up on Monday and I learned that we would be doing exercises to "encourage spring's rising energy", including breathing exercises which would help anyone who suffers from allergies! The physical exercises were tough but good (I sense she's upping the ante a little), but those breathing exercises!!! Crikey! I've always been a bit of a sceptic but my bloody nose ran like a dripping tap all day after leaving class! I also managed to get in another walk down at the lake at Passy and while it was better than the last time, the far, shaded side of the lake was still icy and slushy so I came back feeling great but looking like I'd just done a tough mudder! And remember I mentioned previously that on a whim I'd bought Japanese foot patches that "detoxify the body", well since I'm still finding them absolutely great and really good for relieving aching feet, I gave some to my neighbour today when she was complaining about pains in her feet. I'll be curious to see if they work for her too, but either way, I'll definitely be buying more!

I also decided to bite the bullet and have booked a trip to Mallorca (Spain) for September - which will be the first time I've been away since my brother's death in January 2019. Well that's not strictly true as we're going to Holland in April, but I'm definitely looking forward to Mallorca! My friend and I are also off to pay for another day trip to Turin's market in June and I offered my (unhappy) neighbour to come with us as a way of getting away from her husband for a bit. I'm still working on that and trying to get her to join our Monday night sewing club as I know she would really enjoy it. I fear she'll be a hard nut to crack but I can but try!

In other news (and any gents out there you might want to skip this bit), I decided that it was about time I bought mself some new underwear (bras, specifically) but had no idea what my size is. So I went onto the Triumph site and was somewhat intrigued to see that using "artificial intelligence" you can scan their QR code, do something resembling the highland fling and in theory it will then tell you what your bra size is!!!!!! Soooooo, the site has you strip down to your bra, turn your camera on (sounds kinky doesn't it but it was definitely not a pretty sight) and then position your entire body between two specific lines - though why the AI needs to be able to also see your feet in order to estimate your boob size is beyond me. I mean, I've heard people claim that foot size can be an indicator of the size of another appendage (though not a female one), but boobs???? So I'm standing there (in my underwear and praying the neighbour wouldn't walk through my back garden right now) and the mechanical voice has you raise your arms and then turn slowly through 360° - looking something like this, only nowhere near as cute!

Then you have to wait while it whirrs and caclulates - and apparently I need to buy a size "xy16-41z"! Yeah, that sounds about right! Would you believe I did the highland fling five times and still didn't know what size to buy so ended up deciding the best thing would be to go into town and try a few on! Artificial intelligence - pfft!

Mind you, the other day I decided I needed to make up some home-made washing liquid and fabric softener, and while the fabric softener works wonderfully, every time I've tried making the washing liquid I end up with something akin to a solid brick of soap. I finally went through the instructions one last time and realized when I converted X cups through to X ounces and on to X grams I'd managed to quadruple the amount of savon de Marseille (soap flakes) so it's no wonder I couldn't pour the bloody stuff out of the bottle! So now I'm starting to rethink which is worse - artificial intelligence or mine!

Going off on another tangent, the past couple of weeks I've been watching Clarkson's Farm on Amazon Prime (see series 1 here), and tonight I finished series 2 (here) and have absolutely loved it. He's a straight-talking, no-nonsense, absolute non-farmer - sometimes controversial - but the show was a hoot and in a relatively short period of time he has been able to highlight some of the many difficulties facing British farmers (and also what a bunch of jobsworths East Oxfordshire District Council are)! There's apparently going to be a series 3 next year and I'll definitely be watching that!

Anyway, what with all the painting, decluttering, yoga-ing and walking, the other day I decided that I would give cooking a miss for a while and just buy a bunch of fairly (al)ready meals from a wonderful frozen food place near here. And of course I went slightly nuts because although what I bought is pretty good, I don't have space in the freezer for it!!!! Yeah, I know, it's like when you go to IKEA and buy an entire bedroom set expecting to get it in the back of your Mini Cooper! So add "empty freezers" to my task list, just ahead of finish painting the bathrooms before the plumbers get here and take a carload of stuff to the charity shop. Again, artificial intelligence or mine? The jury's out on that one!

And finally, talking of IKEA, I saw this the other day and somehow I just knew where they were coming from!

Tuesday 7 February 2023

Plodding along!

The weather these past few days has yet again been lovely - in my opinion at least. Cold, of course, but sunny and that's when I start thinking about spring and all the seeds I'm going to be planting (and killing) in my garden shortly. I was in LIDL last week and stopped to look at the veggie/flower seeds on display and got chatting to an older gent, who was doing the same and telling me how much he was looking forward to getting back out in the garden! I laughed and said that I was too but in reality I think I spend way too much money and time to get those "free" veggies and plants from my garden. Ain't that the truth! We chatted for a little while and he told me to pick up a couple of packets of zinnias as they seem to do really well in this climate! I tend to plant most of my veg in a few raised beds at the top of my garden and don't actually have much decent soil for flowers, but I'll give it a shot and see if they actually do turn out well under my regime of total neglect!

On Saturday Jen arranged for a few of us to meet up for dinner at a Lebanese restaurant in Cluses. As I was about to get into my car I heard a cracking sound and dived back under my porch just in time for a fair sized dump of snow to fall off the roof right where I was standing. My first thought was that it would have been quite funny if I had gotten clobbered but when I saw the solid sheets of ice that fell, I'd say I had a lucky escape as they would have hit like razor blades!

I was chatting with AndrĂ© over dinner and he was telling me that his work trip to Istanbul has been cancelled (although it was cancelled before the earthquakes) and he would now be going to Bangkok in March instead. He leaves on the Sunday and the conference finishes on the Friday, so he's going to ask for a week's leave in order to spend some time in Thailand. He's been before and loves it, and the jammy devil is flying business class with Emirates so I think he's really looking forward to it! He also told me he'd met a young woman who, it turns out, is Portuguese and works at the UN. They've been out for drinks a few times and he really likes her, but she doesn't like the UN so who knows what - if anything - will happen there! Still I'm glad for him that he's met someone he likes after the bitter blow that was his very much unexpected and unwanted divorce!

The neighbours a few doors up are in the process of moving out as the young woman who owns the house is selling it. When we first moved in that house was owned by M. Lesoeur, a divorcé with two teenage kids called Diane and Vincent. Vincent was 17 and as soon as he turned 18 he got his driving licence, bought a motorbike - and was killed a week later in a motorbike accident! Dad moved out and Diane has been renting the place out ever since - well until now, that is! The neighbours seem to have overlapped leaving this place with moving into their next place as they are taking their time to move (and seem to have loads of friends helping), but seeing all that work yet again makes me determined to keep getting rid of as much stuff as I can!

I've actually been on a roll again this week, spending every day painting in the bathrooms before the plumbers/tiler come (in early March, all being well) and I've also been either down in the basement sorting stuff for the tip or pulling kitchen cupboards out and throwing anything that's way out of date! I suppose I'll crash and burn in a couple of days, as that would seem to be my pattern, but even though there is loads more to do, I actually feel like I'm starting just slightly to break the back of this stuff!

In other news I would guess there is unbridled panic in some quarters where now bankrupt FTX (Sam Bankman-Fried) are demanding the return of donations made by Bankman-Fried to "numerous political figures and action groups" prior to FTX's bankruptcy in November last year (see here). Then tonight I started watching the Netflix series on Bernie Madoff. I'd always heard he ran a massive ponzi scheme but didn't know much more about it than that, so I'm interested to learn more about the whole fiasco! While I know many of the Madoff victims were smaller investors who were scammed out of relatively modest nest-eggs, boy am I glad I don't move in those kinds of circles!

And finally, seeing the horrific pictures coming out of Turkey and Syria after yesterday's devastating earthquakes, it hammers home just what is important in this life, and it sure as heck isn't the Bernie Madoffs and the Bankman-Frieds of this world. (And T'Pol, I really hope that by now you've gotten word of your family and that they are safe)!