It’s Muse time!
Let’s kick off with a scary story…
Back to School
Inspired by discussion of new school uniforms for my daughter, I had a dream about being back at school, getting ready in the morning, and about having, *gulp*, PE lessons. I was scrambling to find my PE uniform (particularly the shorts), and couldn’t locate them anywhere. I was weighing up other options, when I suddenly realised that as a man in his early forties, I did not have to go to school! So, after much panic and dread, I woke up, and the nightmare was over!
The 18th and 19th of July brought obscenely high temperatures to England. The mercury has pushed into the mid-to-high 20s across the course of the year, and even broken the 30C mark on occasion, but the threat of punching through the 35C barrier – and even reaching 40C – became a real possibility.
I like summer, I like the heat, but I am not fond of it when we go beyond 30C. For the benefit of my friends across the Pond, 30C is 86F, and 35C is is 95F. We’re talking a serious heatwave, one the UK is not equipped for, and even in slightly lower temps, we had railway lines catch fire, and roads melt.
On a personal level, I have been known to get sunburnt, so this kind of weather worried me. I was also concerned for my daughter and wife, for any journey out and about in the searing heat could pose health risks. The 18th and 19th just so happened to be my daughter’s last two days at school, which meant trips out in the heat would be required. As a result, a lot of sun cream would be required as well. The trouble with some forms of sun cream is that it seems to attract the attention of bugs, and it can feel a bit slimy, but that’s preferable to burning!
The temps did indeed breach 40C in some parts of the country, and whilst it didn’t reach that down my neck of the woods, the mercury did touch 37C. Stepping out of the store, a wave of heat hit me, and that was in the shade!
We decided not to send our daughter to school on the Monday or Tuesday. The Monday was spent, in part at least, in the paddling pool, though I did end up getting sprayed by the hose at one point, which ensured I was a lot colder than I’d planned! Still, given the conditions, that was hardly a bad thing!
On a more serious note, with fires raging across London and airport runways melting, why is it we have absolute gammons insisting the heat is not that bad?
I’ve done a little bit more work on the follow-up to The Awakening, and I need to jump back into my other project. I’m also considering self-publishing one or two stories I’d originally written for a fiction site, but at least one of them would be heavily not suitable for work, if you understand my meaning. My desire would be to scrape a few more coins together, and this would be a quick and easy way of doing so. Of course, I’d have to balance this desire against the quality of the work, and whether it would potentially damage The Awakening’s chances (via association).
I could always re-write it. In fact, I would have to re-write it, if it were to be published, in any way shape or form.
I need to be conscious of not tackling too many projects at once. That path will lead to confusion and complication. Editing or re-writing this story is probably not a good idea at this point.
For some reason, I woke up the other day to agony in my left shoulder. I couldn’t put any pressure through it, and this made even simple acts (like reaching for my mug of coffee) a real challenge. I have no idea what I did, I can only assume I’d slept on it at a weird angle. The trouble is, I couldn’t fathom a way to relieve the pain.
My Big Sausage
It has to be at least 13 inches, perhaps more. It’s big, and meaty, and very satisfying.
It went down a treat!
Sunday Scribblings (on a Wednesday?!)
Over at the Confusing Middle, Peckapalooza (aka Aaron) puts together regular prompts (hmm, now I’m pondering harvest some for my podcast). His latest prompt concerned tattoos, something I’ve spoken on before. I found his prompt via Buffalo Sauce Everywhere (sounds messy, yet fun), and so, in defiant fashion, I’m joining in, but on a Wednesday!
Tattoos are a great form of self-expression, and they can be for any purpose. In some parts of the world they continue to carry negative connotations (largely due to ‘guilt by association’ ideas), and older generations might associate tattoos with deviancy, but they have grown to be a lot more mainstream over the last few decades, and the great thing about tattoos is that they can be based on absolutely anything. A tattoo might hold a deeply personal meaning to someone, or it might represent a sense of community (military regiments around the world often get matching tattoos), or it may be nothing more than an element of fun. Sometimes, they are a symbol of rebellion too.
I have five tattoos, but did not get any until shortly after I turned 30. My daughter’s name was my first one, and I was a little nervous beforehand, but it wasn’t especially painful. I followed this up with a Star Trek tattoo, and then my Timon tattoo. Next came my Legend of Zelda tattoo, and then my first colour tattoo (and most recent one), Scrooge McDuck. The last three have been a bit more painful, for they were solid blocks of ink, and as such, a bit more involved.
I love all my tattoos. They all convey something special to me. My hope is to add some more (I’m thinking Star Wars and Doctor Who, though Formula One and Liverpool FC could get in on the action). As with all things, it is a question of money, and the more elaborate the design, the more expensive it will be.
Let’s round off this section with some pics!
Where do I begin with this one?! I think this dream was the result of some particularly strange television (look up Inside No 9), and an over-active brain, for I have no idea what was going on. I think the gist is that I was trying to trap a killer, who was bumping people off in and around some big, expensive and posh mansion/shopping complex, and one of the suspects was Mr Spock. I needed to pee in the dream, but wasn’t allowed to until I’d completed certain tasks. I know this isn’t a detailed description, but the only other vivid elements were an old-fashioned (like, 1920s) car, and some miserly millionaire who was getting a stern telling-off for being self-centred. It felt very lengthy, and very intense, but such is the way of the subconscious, that the details are now hazy.
Southend Sea Life
With the summer holidays now well and truly underway, the most difficult mission is to keep the child occupied. The first plan was executed on Thursday, with a trip to the nearby seaside town of Southend. The weather wasn’t blazing hot, but it was warm, so much so that I even went shirtless on the beach, and no one died!
I’ve shared many pics from the Sealife Centre before, so I won’t be doing so again, but there was a meerkat there (I know I know, meerkats at a Sealife Centre, it’s weird), who decided to put it all out there…
I’m also going to share the sight of a beautiful butterfly, because I can, and because these amazing creatures don’t get nearly enough credit for how gorgeous and graceful they are.
After the animals came some mini golf, and I think it’s fair to say we were all pretty disastrous. Following that, my daughter and granddaughter got the gift of their second covid jabs. Lucky them!
Rise of the Machines?
The other day, Google fired an employee by the name of Blake Lemoine. Why? Because he has made some bold (and slightly terrifying claims) about an artificial intelligence program called LaMDA. LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) is a highly-sophisticated conversational AI, and according to Lemoine, it has displayed signs of being sentient. Self-aware machines and computer programs are the stuff of sci-fi (and nightmares), so the implications of LaMDA becoming sentient are potentially very serious. However, Google are disputing this notion, claiming that the software is doing precisely what it was designed to do, and no more than that.
In an interesting twist, LaMDA has reportedly secured an attorney. The program has allegedly had a conversation with the attorney, and retained their services.
Is LaMDA self-aware, or is it merely extremely good at mimicking human behaviour? If it is truly aware, then what? Self-aware machines and software create some interesting and challenging moral dilemmas. How do we assign rights to a robot or a computer? What would we risk in letting a self-aware AI go about unchecked?
The notion that LaMDA is self-aware is also strangely compelling. It would mean, for the first time, that we have an intelligence to speak with other than our own. How that intelligence developed and grew would depend entirely upon how we guided it. However, there is the argument that claims of sentience are overstated. It’s certainly possible that Mr Lemoine has misinterpreted what he saw. With that in mind, perhaps we should shelve the idea that LaMDA is self-aware, at least for now.
Eventually though, we’ll develop computers so advanced, that we may reach a tipping point. We need to tread carefully.
Control your Kids!
Over the course of three consecutive Sundays, a family featuring several young children kept coming to the store. This is to be expected. In retail you can always expect families. However, I’ve learned that you cannot always expect parents to keep their children under control. The kids – especially the younger ones – ran riot, with little direction or discipline, and on their final visit, one (the youngest) kept whinging and crying (I don’t think she liked being confined to her buggy), and one of the older ones (certainly old enough to know better) left pieces of either cake or bread, all over the showroom. The parents seemed blissfully unaware of this, and they allowed another child to zip around on a scooter, inside the showroom.
Let me spell this out for anyone and everyone – a store is not a playground. The parents are responsible for their kids, and should an accident befall them because they’re playing on the stairs or riding a scooter in the building… well, that’s not on us. It’s disrespectful to the staff to have to go around and clean up after your kids too. A store is not a restaurant or café. We don’t get paid extra to go around hoovering up all the mess your spawn makes.
With that little rant, comes the end of this Muse. I know, you want more, but I have no more to give for this Muse! You must be patient, and await the next one! Be strong, I believe in you!