Sir Jerry?

Then again, I don’t think you can knight a mouse – and as a US-citizen (or, occasionally French), it could at best be an honorary title.  Still, perhaps more chance here than with my earlier attempts to beatify one.

But no, it’s only a feeble pun – so no surprise there.  Yesterday, I was due to undergo a little minor surgery (Sir Jerry?) – not, I should make clear, to remove a trapped child.  No, my planned surgery had more to do with miners than minors.

I have a cluster of moles in the small of my back, and a few weeks ago one of them decided to bleed.  The location made it virtually impossible for me – even with a complex arrangement of mirrors – to see what was going on.  Bleeding moles are generally considered a warning (or a garden pest), so I went to see the doctor – though Humboldt squid have been exposed to more sunlight than this mole.

Whilst Sawston has quite a large surgery, it does seem to possess but a single magnifying glass – so I had quite a long, and topless, wait while it was tracked down.  The considered opinions of two doctors (and one student – though he kept pretty quiet) were that there was no problem with my mole, but that it should be removed anyway.  Rather a dangerous precedent, thought I, as the rest of my body is problem-free and I don’t really fancy any precautionary amputations.  Still, I figured I should follow the medical advice – and I was duly booked in for minor surgery.  I should make clear that I had nothing against the mole, given its location I barely knew it was there – though I suppose the small piles of earth I found between the sheets each morning should have been a clue.

Anyway, cutting to the chase, yesterday I headed to the surgery to have my little velvet gentleman removed.  Once again, it was inspected by a further doctor and a nurse and they also decided it wasn’t an issue – and as a result, that it should stay.  The doctor seemed concerned that my skin was quite tight, and that stretching would be an issue for my healing.  However, I do think I will still have to see a further doctor (the 4th) who, as a dermatologist, will have the final say.

Given that the primary doctor on both my visits was female, and I spent considerable time topless on each occasion, I am beginning to wonder if this is all a ruse to cop a look at my ripped torso.  If the dermatologist is also of the distaff persuasion – then I shall be convinced that there is some Diet Coke lurking just out of shot.  Perhaps I should just tell them that I am more than willing to pose for a modest fee (or cake) – there is no need for the medical subterfuge.

My only disappointment with keeping my mole is that it cannot be sent off for biopsy – well not unless I go with it.  Biopsy is one of my favourite words, which along with almost and chintz, has the unusual feature that all their letters appear are in the correct alphabetical order (with no repetition – nor, for that matter, hesitation or deviation).  These may be the only three six-letter words to share this property – and certainly, despite rather more thought than it really warrants, I have failed to come up with an example beginning with D.  Unless readers can think of any…

Laser Let Down

As a child growing up in the 1970s, lasers always seemed very exciting – but like so many views of the future from that period, the reality has been somewhat of a disappointment.

I will admit that lasers have achieved an unexpected ubiquity in our lives – though mostly reading spinning silvery discs (providing they are free of fingerprints) or used for pointing at rather dull business presentations (though, I still favour the stick or finger myself).  The US Navy have recently demonstrated a laser “gun” firing on, and disabling, a medium sized dinghy – which is more in line with the promises of science fiction. However, the video for this is not wildly impressive: a small fire starts on one of the outboard motors and slowly grows.  I think I could have disabled the boat faster using darts (or a sharp stick) despite my lack of skill with “the arrows” (never could manage to finish on a double, but this is probably less important in naval warfare).  It certainly doesn’t look like the action surrounding the classic rejoinder, “No, Mr Bond. I expect you to die,” is going to become a reality anytime soon.

I have seen a laser mouse on offer – but, it was only a computer peripheral.  On mature reflection, perhaps a laser-equipped version of Trixie (or Dixie) would be a bit of a problem around the house (and not just for Mr Jinks), at least until someone develops a fridge with shields so that I can keep my cheese safe.

I also fear the days of computer mice (laser or otherwise) may be numbered, now that the touchscreen has become so popular.  Am I alone in rather regretting this development?  In days of yore, one spent much time and effort avoiding fingerprints on the screen and cleaning them off should they appear.  Now many devices can only be controlled by touching the screen – and none come with those white cotton gloves beloved of archivists which I would view as an essential accessory.  I know the touchscreen has been in vogue in the science fiction of recent years, but I think that along with FTL travel and artificial gravity (or acceleration as I like to call it) we must assume that genetic engineering will produce people with grease-free fingers in the future (which may explain the lack of a Star Trek: CSI).  Lump me in with the followers of Ned Ludd if you will, but I like a proper button (or preferably, more than one) and a screen viewable without the distorting patina left by sticky or greasy digits (even if they are my digits).

But I seem to have strayed from the path of my argument, like a modern motorist with a broken satnav.  Earlier today I read about the final indignity for the laser: apparently, in future the spark plugs in our cars may well be replaced by lasers.  It is claimed they will be more efficient than the current system – but, if science fiction was going to enter the world of personal transport, I have to admit I was hoping for something a bit more exciting than a spark plug replacement.  Jet packs, rocket bikes, hover cars, cars that could travel through interstellar space and/or time – even the SPV, though I never understood why you drove it facing backwards – were what we promised, and all we get is a slightly better spark plug.

In so many areas, actual technology today far outstrips anything the science fiction of my youth could imagine (though, I think we should all be grateful that the forecast obsession with silver clothing (worn with a string vest?!) did not come to pass) but when it comes to transportation we are still pretty much using late nineteenth century technology. Perhaps the time has come to re-invent the wheel?