Lifehacks 2017

Ok, I start my day without an alarm clock, I hate being forced awake. If important I have my phone and a clock radio to make sure. 

I’ll set two alarms with a twenty minute gap, first one is a ‘false’ one, too early second is real.

I need coffee to jolt a start, I have a dolce gusto maker with the Nescafé pods. It’s easy to use and pretty much does job.

To plan myway to work I use Realtime Trains website to plan the train I’m going to catch. There are others but that’s easy and I calculate in my regular walk to station when looking at departures. 

It shows which platform I need to get on at and which platform the train terminates at.

I use a travel pass bought monthly for train and bus. Minimises ticket buying and simple enough to use. My area doesn’t yet have a smart card that works like a London Oystercard on all modes.

Once at work in morning I drink Coconut Water (Potassium) and have a Plain Yoghurt (Gut Bacteria), 

I try to take these at home on non workdays. Yeo Valley natural yoghurts taste okay to me and have active ingredients.

Longer term, I think the yoghurt helps with regular use. It’s helpful for the irritable bowel and toilet issues I can have.

For lights and things I have blue lenses on my glasses and my eyes were tested for colour sensitivity and colour is correct for me.

They help with seeing, depth perception, distance, balance and dealing with non natural light in rooms and spaces. Also very useful in navigating through people at busy places.

I have Flare Audio earplugs to cut noise. I will still hear a bit but it cuts out noises that irritate, humming sounds from electricity, burrs and beeps. I carry one set with me and I keep another in my bedroom.

If more active sounds are present I use wireless headphones paired with my phone for music. Mine were on offer and worth looking around, long term aspiration is for a better set.

For smells that irritate, get a small tin of Vaseline and rub inside your nostrils. Not perfect but helps.

To have human contact I tweet and write here. I’m much better communicating by text.

My vacuum cleaner is a Miele it’s one of the quietest out there. I can bear using it.

If I need to use washing machine on full program I set it before leaving the house. The noise and vibration are better not experienced and good timing helps.

I use soft drinks for energy crashes and I tend to like chocolate chip cookies in a five pack from supermarkets as a booster too.

My phone is optimised for my blue glasses and the brightness and tint of display can be set. 

I use one screen for all apps. I group apps in bundles rather than needing to scroll the front page.

Daily little things can help with anxiety and backward planning from when I have to be somewhere to when I must leave house helps.

It’s a series of little things that I do and have changed in my life since diagnosis.

I’m currently seeing if green tea instead of coffee in afternoons helps sleeping pattern at night. It seems to, but I’ll give it a few more weeks to be sure.

Processing

Some things take time. 

My head works around things, sometimes and necessarily avoids the issues. Coping enough to allow day to day function and a whole ability to just be.

The face doesn’t drop and it doesn’t rise. The problems are there. The days pass and move on.

I get there, I realise what I’ve done or not done. It hits hard. The emotional crunch. A bite of humility, a torn piece of pride, sadness at the pit of my stomach, shallow and almost worthless breathes.

I grieve and fixate and the possibilities burn in my mind and weigh at me. It bites my mood and appetite and desires.

The functioning continues, days and weeks and work and home.

Days go into weeks and months and years and I think whether I can raise my head again, regain the ‘mojo’, the essence, the bits of me subsumed in that hurt and dealing with it.

Tears at random times. Inexplicably not when I’d like them to happen. 

Bursts of frustration and anguish. Minutes of darkness. Days of numb.

Does it lift? It’s like a cloud blanket screening the sun, it’s like fog. 

Permission isn’t granted to escape it. No driving thoughts of renewal or restoration. Merely existing and being.

It’s hard to explain, it’s hard to see through the moments clearly, it difficult to replay the pictures in the mind and hard to admit the loss and the pain and the defeat.

It’s not for talking over and making a public sport. Random sympathy doesn’t quite help. Hearing stories or being patronised won’t cut it.

Rising again isn’t that straightforward but the processing completes and the emotions dull after a while.

Tonight’s joy of strangers harrassing me.

I get on train plenty of time. Walk all way to front to avoid people.

Put headphones on and was in middle of registering for smartcard when saw man gesturing.

He was drunk and had Burger King bags and his girlfriend. Clearly wanted the 4 facing seats where I was.

A minute later he’s sat on the 5 flip-up seats nearby with her. I notice him looking at me for some reason.

I get my stuff together and walk to front of train. Stand in the vestibule.

They take the seats.

I don’t know why I attract grief and people like that. I wasn’t doing harm to anyone. I’m tired after working and had a bag of food shopping. It was nice for a few minutes to be comfortable.

Generally I find that people have to harass me. I don’t understand it. I don’t look for it. I don’t look at people commmunicate with people if possible.

Icing on cake was a twitter follower thinking it was fucking funny. Unfollowed and blocked. I take enough shit from people.

I’m admittedly not in good spirits, not feeling very good. 

My elderly father is in hospital and I’ve had a hell of a time getting up and back to visit him. A Paisley bound bus deliberately didn’t display correct destination and left me and others standing best part of an hour last night. Very much could have done without that.

So, I was tired this morning, tired tonight and just wanting peace and left alone.

Sometimes I do despair. 

Sometimes I want to beat people’s heads in until they are bloody. 

That’s why I walked to the front of the train. I considered walking back to the man and woman a number of times as I was angry and frustrated at being hounded.

Sense holds me and stops me from that as I can’t lose my job, my kids, my life over people that are ignorant lie life scum.

As usual between Glasgow and Paisley, no conductor visible, no one to say I was harassed out the seat.

I have no idea what pleasure people get from that. I can only hope that they die an unpleasant long slow death one day. Hopefully soon.

Anyway back on with the living stuff.

Rambled musings

Days and hours flow, moments change into others

Time passes, minutes fly, hours drag.

Things get done, sometimes by being avoided.

The time works onward. Light comes in and it fades again.

Being and doing, sensing it all.

Focus and out of focus, it all come in.

Wind, movement, noise, speech, brightness 

All to process and adjust for.

Sometimes rightly sometimes wrongly.

Does it make sense? Did it have to?
I see myself, in mirrors, I look and look at myself

Is that me? Aged and fatter and grey.

It doesn’t match inside my head

My vision of me, not him.

The lines on the face, the eyes, the hair

Details and a life all shown there.

But mine? 

Not the thoughts that sore, not the crush of feeling and memory. 

Not the heartbreaks and disasters, not the little wins.

Doesn’t show the goodness and the hope and the..

But it’s there and it’s rounded and broken up by that nose

It’s shows no energy, no vitality.

The smile is offset and squeezed and doesn’t look right.

It doesn’t carry the lightness and deftness of thought.

Of the inside speed of thought and slowness of tongue.

It’s the face I see, the one I have, it looks at me.

I raise an eyebrow, puff up the cheeks.

Always end up at the eyes and the colour and the shine.

It lifts the rest of the face, but shows it’s own story

I rub my face, hands in hair. I look at the screen.

Sometimes the reflection, othertimes just that light.

What can I say here, what can I type? 

How do I be clever or funny?

What do I say? How I feel?

What words mean empty?

How do you express the pit of the stomach.

The sighs that aren’t sighs, the air that’s blown outwards?

The dreams, the hopes and wishes.

The desire to be friendly, to get to know.

Wanting to understand and see and get the point 

Wanting to hear and experience.

She’s had many forms, a girl, a women.

Many ages and hair colours and figures and shapes.

Dresses and trousers and colours of tops or blouses.

Hair blonde or brown or black or red

Eyes blue or green or brown.

Arms long or short and hands and fingers.

She doesn’t exist, or maybe she does and is and has been 

I imagine the touch gentle, the words soft and knowing.

Perfect and right and just so.

Knowing me and giving me hope and courage.

The mistakes to come, the time forgotten, the minutes passed.

Holding me, wanting nothing, understanding.

I drift off to see her, a dream, a memory.

A sunny day with just a breeze.

Not thing wrong in the world and no distractions.

I wake and I don’t remember. I don’t see the face.

I don’t know the detail or the where and how or anything said.

It’s just there. It’s unconscious thought and dreams

HLOS SoFA and a bi-mode future?

July 20 was the deadline date for the UK and Scottish Governments publishing their HLOS  (High Level Output Specification) and SoFA (Statement of Funds Availible) for the next railway control period (CP6) between 2019 and 2024.

Neither government produced what was expected. 

The outputs specified by the Scottish Ministers were generic but highlighted failures by Network Rail in project delivery, project management and overview and the ability to deliver as promised and on time. 

The Scottish Ministers also took NR to task on asset knowledge and gauging of lines for different types of trains. The gist being that there’s nowhere near enough knowledge and resource on the Scottish network. 

Scottish HLOS
It’s on Transport Scotland website under ‘publications’.

At the time of publication of this HLOS, the UK Government has advised the Scottish Ministers of its intention to change the basis of funding for Network Rail in CP6, but the first formal proposals about how these new funding arrangements will work in Scotland were not received from the UK Government until the evening before the publication deadline of 20 July 2017. This has not left time for prudent consideration and the necessary negotiations to confirm satisfactory arrangements. Therefore, it is not possible for the Scottish Ministers to publish a Statement of Funds Available at the same time as this HLOS.

The final paragraphs indicates a fundamental change is coming to the way Railway Projects are funded and that there is a further reform or announcement to come.

The DfT published a screed of information together with the HLOS for England and Wales. 

Documents on Bi-mode trains, the East Midlands Franchise renewals and new instructions for the ORR as regulator. 

The ORR instructions were detailed requests for a new way to oversee the maintenance of the railway and to place measures of activity and measures to oversee issue flagged by passenger focus as the consumer or travellers champion. It takes the railways of England and Wales closer to the Scottish SQUIRE regime.

The trumpeting of bi-mode effectively curtails further electrification of the network in England and Wales after existing projects are concluded. 

This is the result of delays increased costs and other issues in electrifying the Great Western Route. Further extension from Cardiff to Swansea is  ruled out. The Midland Mainline to Sheffield will see bi-mode trains and revised Service patterns 

We are unlikely to see the transpennine routes electrified further and It means further electrification of freight routes are unlikely.

Overall it means that once the SoFA for England and Wales is produced in October that Scotland’s SoFA will be proportionately affected.

The EGIP project was a matter I was going to blog about and particularly in terms of appearances by the Network Rail chief at a recent Scottish Parliament meeting. 

The feeling that I had was that EGIP has spiralled away in timescale and cost despite items being removed. 

A significant factor is the SDA project for the Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa section of Electrification being a different team to the ‘main job’. 

We were told of a limited service initially over EGIP but it looks more likely that October 2017 will see a bigger introduction of the class 385 units.

The potential for cascading diesel units in Scotland can then be realised.

The other Scotrail Big Bang of the HST’s from Glasgow and Edinburgh northwards now seems wise. Refurbishing the carriages has been done effectively elsewhere and the engines have already been renewed, although further modernisation will be welcome.

Bi-mode will come soon, the Hitatchi produced Class 800 units are regularly under test, production is progressing. It’s easy to say it’s unproven but they have run on Diesel and under the wires regularly. 

It’s not likely that squadron service will see any failure. England and Wales will see the trains improve the offer on mainline routes.

The Midland Mainline is likely to follow with new bi-mode trainsets and for services into the Lake District, refurbished class 319 sets are most likely to operate.

Dirty Diesel remains the issue in terms of Bi-mode. It’s an environmental issue, it’s an efficiency issue as the Diesel tanks and engines are carried under the wires. 

In fairness, the Diesel capacity means units aren’t stranded if there’s a failure and it adds options to routes that are partially electrified.

Long term, bi-modes could use stored electricity batteries or hydrogen power cells as greener and cleaner power off the wires. That technology is progressing and longer term it could deliver a solution.

Politically, it removes cost of wiring up routes, perhaps transferring costs to the rail franchises and the rolling stock ownership companies. 

It maybe takes out investment from the infrastructure and whilst the DfT talk of improving signalling and the physical routes for linespeeds, Electrification ensures that it happens. 

The monitoring and oversight of improvements by Government and Network Rail will need a continual oversight and whilst the ORR and Commons Transport Committees can do so, the travelling public has a role in questioning progress.

Successive Westminster administrations have dodged investment in electrification and a move to bi-mode could be another one.

Whether Scotland follows Westminster and the DfT is questionable, the HLOS is clear in its ambition of further electrication and further reopenings through the investment pipeline. 

We don’t yet fully know what the pipeline is. I assume the idea remains of electrifying north of Dunblane, initially to Perth, if not Dundee through progressive electrification. 

It’s a guess that East Kilbride would benefit from improved infrastructure, electrification and more services. 

The North Commuter line might benefit as an infill scheme and offers operational advantages in removing stock from Queen Street.

In conclusion, it’s a switch in investment priorities in England and Wales. It’s uncertainty for Scotland. It’s a post brexit effect, questions on questions until October and the final knowledge of what will happen to Network Rail 

Having a bubble.

I’m having a tear in my eyes. I’m bubbling. I did what I needed to do today and now I’m indulging myself with a cry.

I don’t often indulge myself, as the years have went on I’ve realised my dreams in my youth and twenties wouldn’t be realised. I wouldn’t have the perfect true relationship, I wouldn’t have the life I wanted.

So, things change to here and now, little need for regret or wishes.

Practicality. What next. What’s to do? I keep going. There’s not much philosophy behind it. It’s a steady will not to give in, not to be beaten. 

I used to say ‘broken’ but, that’s sort of wrong. I’m can take a lot of emotional punishment, but I still hurt. 

The ‘bulletproof vest’ might have dents and marks but it still works. I don’t take it off, slow to engage, slow to trust, hard to get past the outside.

I do care, maybe I never show it. I do feel and hurt the same as others. 

I’ve taken a real emotional going over with the last year. I’ve had so much to contend with. I’ve plowed on.

Alone. No one with me, no one there for me as friend or family.

My family are my kids. They are my world and my everything.

I enjoyed being with them today. Had a good day, but at days end, it’s me and a screen. 

I take comfort from ‘online friends’, I know they are real/not real, I know it’s a link to the world I wouldn’t have otherwise, i know it’s not the same as a phone call or a text or a chat. 

I bubble and cry from feelings and mood and loneliness. 

I miss touch and feel and contact and nearness. At same time I can be awful at that, cold to those near me that need it.

I try very hard with the kids and to be at their level. I’m maybe different as ‘dad’ to ‘me’, I don’t have the skill set to do that as a friend or more.

I don’t think there’s a fairytale female figure who’s like me and understands and is my age and the right fit. The person that could pick me up, fix my dents, make me happy.

I don’t want meaningless contact with people, I don’t want to push myself into looking for someone or someone that doesn’t probably exist.

Deep under it all, I’m a soppy romantic and I think of soulmates and that sort of instinctive love. It may well be s product of fictional movies and merely just a writer ‘s creation. I guess I’d rather believe in it than not.

So, a soft core with a hard outer shell, older, weathered, grounded and real. Bubbling for could have been different and I wish I could.

Tomorrow, I rise again. Do what I need to do. Be ‘dad’, be me. 

I advise myself that time heals, hurt is temporary. Nothing is always forever and things change and move on. I know my cod psychology and my motivators and stressors and my impacts and to tread lightly as everyone has something going on.

It’s not unfair. It’s not just me. It’s not my fault, it’s not all for me to ‘own’ or be responsible for.

But right now, I’m not the self actualised Warror or Wizard figure. I’m the Orphan just needing to have that time to be hurt and to process it. 

I’ll be fine, always am. Right now just isn’t that moment though.