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So in the last post I mentioned my phone… I feel like I really need to add a short addendum. I did mention I did not like the phone, as it was not a very good one; well, one of the major issues is that a finger-width band on the screen is unresponsive. So I’ve got all this awesome computing power, a CPU with multiple cores, and no way to run games (the only things that actually use this power on a phone), since you need the full screen normally to interact with the software.

But it gets worse. I was on a job interview yesterday, and when I tried to unlock the screen afterwards I realized I cannot. There’s a character “1” in my pin; and since it happens to be placed in the area of that particular strip, I could not actually enter my pin. It used to work -the area was not completely unresponsive- but now it became absolutely impossible. It was maddening and ridiculous at the same time. So that’s it: I’ve got a phone I cannot get into unless I have the screen replaced.

No, not that kind. (We can talk about it, too, if you want to.)

 

I had to reboot my phone the other day, and for that I needed to remove the battery; so the phone came out of its hard protective shell which made it look like a big, flat, rubber brick.

I just realized how nice it actually looks. Designers poured countless hours to make it look aesthetically pleasing, from the brushed metal surface to the curved lines on the side, and then to make sure it does not get damaged should I dropped it onto some concrete walkway, I hide it all in layers of plastic and rubber. (By the way the phone is bad; I’m never going to get another LG again. But it does look good.) It was like having a brand new phone, so I did not put it back to the protective case. At least not yet.

 

Anyhow, this  lead me thinking about the whole issue of protection and function. We use protective cases, protective mats for sofas, carpets and chairs; essentially disfiguring these items in order to make sure they stay beautiful (or at least whole).

Just look at this thing.

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You spend two grands on a leather sofa, and then cover it to make sure it does not get damaged. The fact you have a beautiful leather sofa can only be deducted from the presence of the protector, but now, what you have, objectively looking, is a butt-ugly sofa in the end.

We are weird.

 

 

I tried to get rid of everything that was left over from my relationship long gone. I did throw and give away most of the reminders (except for the regrets and bitter memories which are not so easy to discard), but there’s one thing I just can’t part with. Not because of any emotional value it might have -it was never used by her-, but because of how it looks.

Just take a look at this crazy Chinese kitchen tool. Does it look like something you would use in a kitchen, or does it look like something the elite Chinese special forces would use behind enemy lines?

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I think the answer is clear. I kind of want to mount this thing in a frame and put it on the wall.

Here I am, holding the door to a lady working in the Incidents team at my office. We have been in touch during exercises (work related, not physical exercise done in a gym), we say hi every morning; you know the drill.

So I hold the door for her going back to the office from the powder room, when she says “hello Mr Cool”.

The response was a slightly slack jaw and a somewhat confused face. She smiles at me, and says “we call you Mr Cool because you’re cool”, and walks away.

So yeah. That’s me. Mr Cool.

I’m still trying to find my jaw as it dropped, hit the ground and bounced away somewhere.

Well, after two years in the Civil Service I have come to an unwelcome realization about my choices.

When I joined up I expected I would be involved in decision making- setting the course on the fight against antibiotic resistance, being part of an advisory team, you know, being part of something that has an impact on the future.

Little did I realize that I would essentially be writing briefs and lists, doing finances and managing ongoing projects. Greasing the wheels so to speak. I know, I was naive.

So now I see that what I wanted was to be able to make decisions.

I realize now my error. I did not want to be a civil servant. I wanted to be a king.

Well, this is about a literal present to myself. I turned forty (Jesus on a bicycle!), and I decided to finally treat myself with an automatic watch.

My grandfather had an old, 1949 Omega Seamaster, and that was the watch for me for as long as I’m aware. Well, my uncle had laid claims to it, so that one is out. (It might be better this way; it’s really a delicate item. What I do feel sorry about is, however, that it’ll be eventually sold – if it wasn’t already.)

So that leaves me buying a new watch. Why do I like automatic watches? After all they are not as robust as the quartz watches, they are more expensive, and you actually have to maintain them. In other words: they are regressive. They represent a technology that has been surpassed long ago. There were no breakthroughs since the beginning of the 20th century in how mechanical watches operate. Mass production has been introduced- even Rolex uses robots now- but that’s about it. So essentially I have bought a steam engine in the era of jet propulsion.

Yet… they are more than just an item that tells you the time. They are incredibly complex mechanical contractions that have been around for about three hundred years; this in itself makes me want to own one. It’s a piece of history, after all.

Now, if I could have chosen any, and I mean any watch,  I would have gone with the simple Rolex Submariner. I say simple, because it only costs £6000 -as opposed to certain watches that cost up to 200k. (By the way I would totally buy that watch, even though I still cannot figure out how to read the time on it.)

But as I said I turned 40, not turned into an idiot- I’m not spending a sizeable portion of my salary on a watch.

This leaves me with an alternative: a Seiko Sdx007. Great pedigree, very sturdy design, waterproof and cheap.

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It is automatic, so it winds itself up as you move about, which has also a hidden benefit… If I’m not active enough it will stop at night. I now essentially have an activity meter as well as a watch. It’s digital (yes or no answer), but it works. Just saved a hundred quids right there.