Day 569 – Experiments gone disastrously wrong

If you’ve been in science for any length of time, you’ll have had plenty of these. They’re sometimes expected, often annoying, and occasionally soul-destroying, but it’s all part of the learning experience. I tried two experiments yesterday. One of them was documented in some detail here, and the other one was simply enjoying a small bottle of Castle Milk Stout with dinner.

Both were fun experiments to do, and both seemed like really good ideas at the time. But in retrospect, neither of them have gone particularly well. I woke up last night at 3am with a towering hangover of note, and despite the best efforts of a combination of paracetamol, ibuprofen and codeine, I then woke up at a more reasonable time this morning with a collection of symptoms best described as “being completely broken”. Head, joints, muscles…
And my brain is not working again. Argh.

Let’s get the learning process going, then. No more alcohol experiments for a while. Not even a little CMS. And that’s disappointing. Not because I need the alcohol, but more because I like the taste (now that I can again). Sure, there are the well-advertised 0.0% alternatives (although thankfully(?) not for Milk Stout), but they are often very disappointing in the taste department.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room. The one which seemingly rolled over me in bed last night. Because in 11 days time, I have to go back to the rock and do three days of stuff, back to back. Based on the results from yesterday, this is is going to be very difficult. And that’s got me very worried. The first rule of Parents Assisting With School Visits To Robben Island Club is that you do not talk about Parents Assisting With School Visits To Robben Island Club, but I generally ignore that one. However, the second rule of Parents Assisting With School Visits To Robben Island Club is that you need to actually assist with the school visit to Robben Island, rather than being a liability.

And honestly, this morning, I would be a liability.

Crap it all. To use a well-used South African phrase: What must happen now?*

* The use of the phrase “What must happen now?” often then followed by an awkward silence, purposefully shifts the burden of the decision-making process – and therefore all responsibility for any negative outcomes resulting from that process – onto someone else, immediately absolving the protagonist of any blame, guilt or accountability.
I am fully aware of the implications of using it here, and despite that, I am still using it here.

Almost desperately.

Day 568 – Long lighthouse

568mls in a pint… (just saying, Cape Talk).

What a morning.

I went across to Robben Island earlier today. Just a recce. I’m both inspired and knackered. And now rather concerned about the actual visit in (less than) a couple of weeks. Could be exhausting.

This was a whistle-stop tour to discuss wants and needs and plans, so there literally wasn’t any time to stop and take the place in. However, it could also be a whistle-stop tour to look at what I might get some photos of when we actually go. I was using my old kit lens to play with and we were rushing, so I had to do a bit of messing around with some of the photos when I got back, so I went full messing around. These pictures never looked tremendous, so why not have some fun?

They did not come straight out of the camera like this, ok Ian?

The lighthouse needs a coat of paint. And this photo needs less HDR, but we all have our issues. This is deliberate, honest RBOSS. And I’m actually ok with that.

Then there was this smart guy by the sea:

This was taken through the window of a moving minibus. Yes, I know it shows a bit. But not too much, right?
I was also impressed.

With the right lenses, (ok, and possibly a lot less messing around in post) these would be much better images. And so that’s what I’ll try and do next time around.

Here’s one that I’ve left just about “as is”:

And it might look bright and colourful, but it was actually a very bright and colourful scene.

You can’t blame me for that. (Artificial) saturation = 0.

The real visit is going to be very hard work, but it’s also going to be very rewarding in a lot of different ways. Hopefully one of them will be some amazing photographs.

Day 561 – Around the world

Geoguessr (see 6000 miles… passim) have updated their UI and their overall offering, including new games, new challenges and more points for doing well.

It’s easier to use, more fun to play, and I’ve become readdicted.

This week, I have mostly been trying my hand at maps of Sheffield and Cape Town.

I should have a decent knowledge of them both, but actually I’ve only managed full marks a couple of times and I really need to improve my speed.

Practice, as they say, makes perfect. So I’m back to it right now.

Day 560 – It’s gone again

Yesterday wasn’t great, but it did pique my scientific interest:

But how interesting is this disease? Yeah, you might have the odd off day while you’re getting over any viral nastiness, but to get the whole package again so quickly? Fine last night, rubbish this morning?

And then just disappear again overnight. Full on and then full off again. Entirely transient.
Because today I’m back to where I was the day before yesterday. You’d never even know that anything had happened, (well, aside from all the stuff that didn’t get done because I slept through yesterday morning).

The most interesting part for me is the brain thing. I have no means of accurately measuring it, unlike my heart rate and sats, but really, my brain was completely useless yesterday. I couldn’t remember names, couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t find words, couldn’t finish sentences. It was as bad as it’s ever been, and really, really frustrating.

And while the aches and pains were manageable with some medication, I couldn’t fix my brain that way.

And yet today? It’s every bit as good as it was before yesterday’s nonsense. Not perfect, but it’s had a rough few months. But it is working again.

But why? What happened yesterday and how did it cause all those – often very specific – symptoms and then where did it go today?

“Immune and metabolic dysregulation” is a very convenient, yet likely answer. But why “immune and metabolic dysregulation” in some people and in some instances and not others? Well, as with all novel conditions and pathogens, nailing the exact cause will come in time and will be key to stopping days like yesterday happening again.

In the meantime, get vaccinated, because yesterday’s unpleasantness is just another thing to add to this long list of stuff that you’re far more likely to avoid if you go and get jabbed.

Day 556 – A day by the pool

Not outside, because it’s 14 degrees with occasion rain showers. Eww.

There’s no fun in that.

So a morning spent spring cleaning, and then once that was over, some of this:

I started out with the simple niftus fiftus:

An affordable, high quality lens that’s perfect for creative portraits and low-light photos. Blur backgrounds to make your subject stand out, and enjoy smooth near-silent STM focusing when shooting movies.

…and the intention to produce something truly incredible, but then the light was all difficult (I need to try it at night, when things are much more controllable) and so I changed my mind and decided to hit some pool balls instead of togging them.

It looks a bit #RBOSS, but I promise that it’s really not. I just need to work out a better way of expressing the bright colours. I’m still popping this up onto Flickr as a marker of how much better I will be able to do once I decide to plan better and put a bit more effort in.