Human warmth

I have been living in Southampton for two-and-a-half years now, but have never had cause to use the heating in my flat.  I can usually get by living parasitically off the heat of my neighbours (one of the advantages of flat living: just ask Edwin Abbott) and waste heat from my culinary adventures.

There is now a hint of traditional winter in the air: a nip, if you will.   I’m also finding that visitors to my demesne are starting to arrive wearing ALL of their clothing in a desperate attempt to stay warm.  Offers to share my rather limited body heat have generally been re-buffed as (a) inadequate and (b) wholly inappropriate.  People also seem to take little comfort when informed that shivering is an excellent route to weight loss, though no-one has (yet) tried to deck me.

So, on returning from my last sojourn across the Irish Sea, I resolved to at least test the heating system to ensure that I knew how it worked and could (if suitably motivated) dispel any frost forming within the flat.  In this way, I may narrowly avoid becoming some sort of social pariah in the winter months.  I can move away from being considered ‘cold and unfeeling’ to merely ‘unfeeling’.

My flat does not have central heating but, in a throwback to my childhood, is equipped with night storage heaters: though unlike in the 1970s I believe these can be encouraged to produce heat without 24 hours written notice (if you are willing to eat the cost of the peak electricity consumed).  Yesterday evening, and more importantly last night with its promise of frost, was the time scheduled for the first heating test.

In theory, storage heaters have pretty basic controls: you choose how much heat to store during the night on a scale from 1 to 6 (with no link to a more widely known unit of energy) and the rate at which you would like it released on an apparently similar (but probably rather different) scale from 1 to 6.  However, puzzlingly, my flat has a rather flash looking controller with up to four programmes for when to turn on and off some sort of heating device.  How could this fit into the heating system?  The documentation that came with the flat gave no clues and the device itself gave nothing away, save its manufacturer.  As a result, I was forced to use an internet image search to discover what purpose the controller served.  I now know it to be an RF07T Towel Rail Controller.  Yes, my flat is possessed of a radio-controlled heated towel rail with a more sophisticated control system than the central heating for anywhere I have ever lived.  What the internet is unable to explain is why I need such an exquisitely controllable towel rail.  I would also have to say that in my tests last night, the towel rail seemed to be on regardless of what I did to its controller.  I think I shall have to download the instructions if I wish my towel rail to follow bow to my will: to- date, I have merely hung my bath towel over it while it was entirely quiescent and relied on ambient heat to dry my towels (after they had, in turn, dried me).

Having identified the RF07T as a red herring, my attention turned to the storage heaters themselves and I can confirm that my tests were a success.  When I awoke this morning, the flat was unnaturally warm despite only choosing 4 for storage and 3 for recall.  Unlike my childhood, the first use of the storage heaters for the winter (or in this case last three winters) was not accompanied by the dreadful smell of burning dust: so perhaps the technology has moved on.  Future visitors need only give 24 hours notice of their arrival and I have the option (but not the obligation) to ensure that they are toasty warm throughout their visit (or until the storage bricks run cold).

I think we can all now agree that I am a splendid human being and an excellent host.  The possibility of a warm welcome awaits all who visit and suggestions that I spend my spare time farming cold comfort can now be put to rest.

Idiosyncratic additions

As you will discover, I am not all that enamoured of personalisation – but before we can all make that discovery together, I think we need to tackle the mastodon in the chamber (and no, I did not call upon M. Roget for aid).  I refer, of course, to GofaDM itself.

Some might suggest that this blog is the ultimate act of personalisation: claiming as I am a small strand of the web hanging, as it must, between a couple of its less travelled interstices.  I will own that there is some element of truth in this viewpoint, which could no doubt be winkled out using an epistemological mass spectrometer, but I would view GofaDM as a work of ex nihilo creation rather than being representative of the lesser vision needed for personalisation.  Hopefully, having confused the readers with that polymer of polysyllables I can now move on.

I am not a chap who goes in for much personalisation of my stuff.  This may be because, as a lone wolf, I already organise, plan and (whisper it softly) personalise enormous amounts of my time on this earth – and so like to leave some of my existence to the whims of others.  This doesn’t always work out perfectly: my new gaff has black granite worktops and my kitchen scissors are also black, so I spend an annoyingly large part of my life looking for them.  Despite their silvery blades, their camouflage is surprisingly effective.

It may also be that I exercise (or, indeed, exorcise) my ego via other routes than the making of transitory changes to the appearance of my desktop.  I suspect that The Library – or rather its real world instantiation – is one of these thoroughfares of the ego.  This may itself merely be but a single lane of the far wider boulevard, laid on by my superego, whereby I attempt to stuff my head with as much data as is feasible (and try not to worry about any surplus being forced dripping from my every cranial orifice).

I have owned laptops for years and yet the desktop is still as chosen at the factory and the icons are in whatever default order is provided.  I am, as noted before, quite unable to write in books – and am even somewhat averse to the authors doing so (I am generally willing to take on trust their ability to write their own name).  The walls of my garret are plain white (to match the ceiling and woodwork), though I will admit they are adorned with some rather fine art (largely produced by friends) which takes the edge off my apparent asceticism.

It is only after nearly 5 years (and 620 posts) that I did anything to personalise this blog – and so over-riding the decision made in summer 2010 to pick the first theme on the list provided by WordPress.  Some of that latest customisation only occurred after my blog soul brother led the way, bringing to my wayward attention whole swathes of functionality of which I’d never dreamt.  I am still very much the Padawan to his Master in this field (though, controversially, remain unbraided), but my age should spare me from some of the opprobrium which would be heaped on a younger blogger with such a basic presentation.

As I was marshalling the thoughts that would be shunted together for this post, it struck me that I have no idea how (or why for that matter) anyone should stumble across this blog.  I rarely encounter the blogs of other – unless they come knocking at my electronic door – and GofaDM makes few concessions to the casual reader or seeker of either enlightenment or entertainment.  The post titles are (if I’m honest) wilfully obscure and my attempts at tagging are little better.  Even should a fellow human be washed up, like driftwood, on these shores he may find his new island home a somewhat hostile environment.  The posts are packed with the nichest of allusions, baroque vocabulary and needless excursions into foreign tongues.  As an example of the hostile local wildlife: in a relatively recent post I parenthetically stated that “wry can lead to egotism” – a phrase which I still think is genius, but does require the reader to know that the consumption of rye bread can lead to ergotism (caused by a fungus) and to find a weak pun (weak, but there probably aren’t many more out there in this field) about this worthy of their time.  So, I am mystified as to how folk arrive here and, even more baffling, why a few (and evidence is growing that at least some of these are conscious entities) choose to stay (other than their excellent, if inexplicable, good taste – obvs).

Why has he chosen today, or all days, to write on this topic you might wonder (if you haven’t been drained of the will to live by this stage).  Well, I saw a car with the licence plate MR 61 AND this morning.  This strikes me as probably having been personalised in the hope of being read as Mr Gland (or Mr Bland – but even, if this were your name, would you pay to advertise the fact?  Unless it was personalised by an enemy…).  As a result, I decided the driver must be an endocrinologist and (more relevantly) began thinking about the topic of this diatribe.

Aha!  Revelation has just taken me forcibly from behind: I have no time for customisation of my stuff because all my free mental and physical resources are engaged in personalising my mind!  Given that it worked for the Bible (which I think can still boast more readers than GofaDM), I shall finish with my Revelations.