Schrödinger’s Mouse

Its Thursday 9th July – I’m hosting another lockdown Zoom call for about 20 people at 5:30pm.  At 5:25pm, I bring up the Zoom App on my iMac with a couple of mouse clicks.  The call is set up on the Zoom schedule, so all that is needed now is to click the start button, but there’s still a couple of minutes to go, so I pop into the kitchen to grab a glass of water.  A minute or so later, I’m back at my desk, a quick check of the time, it’s 5:29pm, so I reach across for the mouse to click the start button, but the mouse isn’t there!!!  Where is my mouse????  Where has it gone???? WTF????

Confusion!  It was there 2 minutes ago, nobody else has been in the room, and all I did was to walk out of the room, across the hall, into the kitchen, get a glass of water and return.    What did I do?  Did I take the mouse with me and leave it in the kitchen? Would I do that?  The mouse (and keyboard) are permanent residents on my desk,  A swift return to the kitchen, no sign of the mouse anywhere – a quick check with my wife to confirm there’s no sign of the mouse on a work surface, by the sink, etc. I’m getting some very strange looks.  We both go to my desk and neither of us can see the mouse anywhere on the desk surface.  It’s a white Apple mouse that sits on my dark oak desk.  So, I’m down on my hands and knees, checking under the desk, in the rubbish bin, all around the chair, the shelves, the desk drawers and every other surface: there is no mouse: it no longer exists.

It’s now a few minutes past the scheduled start time for the Zoom meeting, and I’m getting messages!  Plan B – I start the Zoom call on my phone, and apologise for the delay, explaining that I couldn’t locate my mouse. Consensus amongst the attendees was that the cat had got it.  Thanks guys, that’s a great help.  Nevertheless, we got the call underway – Zoom works well on a phone, other than a few limitations due mainly to the size of the phone’ screen. About 20 mins or so into the call, as I’m watching/listening to one of the participants talking, I remember a question that popped up earlier that I couldn’t answer, so thought I’ll just Google that on the iMac, reached across for the mouse, brought up the browser on the iMac and clicked into Google.  Hang on!!!!  I am now using the mouse that is not there.  I just reached across and there it was, as always, sitting on the desk, to the right-hand side of the keyboard, where it has spent its entire life.  It’s now a case of keeping calm and rational, because screaming, running out of the room and shouting obscenities about poltergeists would spook the meeting attendees.

At the end of the call, it’s time for some serious thinking: what on earth has just happened?  The disappearing mouse – how can a simple object completely vanish, and then a short while late, reappear, without any human intervention?  Both my wife and I could not see the white Apple mouse before the call, in an area of about one square foot on a dark oak desk where it always sits, and yet minutes later it when I automatically reached across, without thinking what I was doing, it was right there, where it always is.

I have no explanation whatsoever of what, how and why that happened, and certainly not one I’m going to give credence to!!

The ‘missing object phenomenon’ – I even Googled it!  

  • Did I lose my marbles as well as the mouse?
  • Am I hallucinating?
  • Am I making this up?
  • Was it a marketing ploy by Apple to get me to buy another mouse?
  • Is it something to do with Quantum Theory?

Schrödinger’s cat is a famous hypothetical experiment designed to point out a flaw in the interpretation of the ability of a system to exist in multiple states at the same time.  The experiment was intended to make people ask themselves if it was logical for observation to be the trigger to confirm existence of a system in one of two realities.  I’m inclined to define my experience as an example of Schrödinger’s mouse: it was there, and it wasn’t there.  

Social Distancing

On each of the last three Sundays I competed in the Bentley Priory Social Distancing 8K Event. A fine event, held in Bentley Priory Nature Reserve, which provides a good challenge with its undulating, all weather pathways. As my days of participating in running events are history, I opted to walk. In the true spirit of social distancing, I was the only competitor, and I won! But I also came last!! The officials would have been impressed with my performance, if there had been any. Likewise, there weren’t any of the usual army of volunteers there to hand out water and medals at the finish. It’s a lonely life being a Social Distancing competitor.

. . . → Read More: Social Distancing

Where Have all the Loo Rolls Gone?

Solitary confinement isn’t a lot of fun, but today I was let out on special license, with a shopping list. My local supermarket isn’t the biggest, has an idiosyncratic stock control system, but the staff have a reasonable command of English and are generally quite helpful. Regular visits are a necessary chore, best dealt with as early in the day as possible, to offer the time to rehab, and seek alternative suppliers when their stock control fails you. But today, OMG! Armageddon – I still can’t come to terms with the fact I had to queue, just to get into the car park. The fight for car park places and trolleys, just to get a front row place in . . . → Read More: Where Have all the Loo Rolls Gone?

Only the Lonely

A few days into social-distancing, self-isolation, or solitary confinement, whatever the authorities call it, I was so looking forward to the neighbourhood throwing open their windows (not too many balconies around my way!), and bursting into patriotic songs, like ‘We’ll Meet Again, Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When”, “Only the Lonely”, “You Ain’t Going Nowhere“ or other songs from the self-isolationist’s song book.

But it was not to be. As we struggle to deal with Covid-19, it’s sad to report that my household has been struck down by the virulent Décor-8, known to induce back pain, angst and depression. There’s no known cure that doesn’t involve domestic violence: the symptoms generally clear up in time, but the scars can . . . → Read More: Only the Lonely

Taking pictures

I’m not too sure how this all came about, well I am really, but it’s the law of unintended consequences, if there is such a law. I can attribute photography to be one of the more innocent pastimes of my youth, which has now become an incredibly enjoyable ‘senior’ activity. I have vague, early recollections of wrestling with conventional film, loading it into a camera, retrieving it 24 or 36 shots later, and then sending it away to be developed and printed. At some stage, the acquisition of developing tanks and an enlarger, resulted in converting the bathroom in my parents’ house into a dark room (temporarily, after checking nobody would need the facilities for the next hour or . . . → Read More: Taking pictures

Spying on the Scammers

Somewhere in the depths of this blog is a personal account of one way in which I dealt with a potential scammer.  We all know that these guys represent some form of low-life, devoid of any sense of honesty, and who prey on vulnerable people to make money under false pretences.  BBC Panorama recently ran a programme exposing some of these practices, “Spying on the Scammers”.  The programme was based on material supplied by Jim Browning (not his real name) who was able to contact a scammer in Dehli, allowing the scammer to connect to his PC, but then using some technical wizardry, Jim was able to reverse the connection. This allowed him to see exactly what the scammers were doing, not . . . → Read More: Spying on the Scammers

When will they ever learn?

From today’s Guardian: “May held her farewell drinks in Downing Street on Monday night with MPs from across the spectrum of the Tory party and the Democratic Unionist party in attendance, telling them in a short speech that their priority was stopping Corbyn entering Downing Street.”

It adequately sums up a disastrous reign as Prime Minister – shouldn’t their priority be to represent our citizens and deliver a programme that builds a successful national infrastructure, and a platform for everyone to achieve a satisfying and rewarding life? But no, the priority is to engage in petty, nasty and spiteful inter-party battles, through fear of the gravy train coming off the rails. When will they ever learn?

. . . → Read More: When will they ever learn?

Staring into the abyss…

Bird & Fortune, from 15 years ago..

Stop the world, I want to get off

It’s reached the point where it’s impossible to find anything original to say about the absolute shambles this country has been led into by a succession of useless governments. The complete failure, and total incompetence that they have masterminded beggars belief, and leaves us wondering whether there is any hope of a solution or even a partial recovery.  The very fact that their complete and utter failure to achieve anything in the way of resolving the Brexit crisis has now left us watching in stunned disbelief as the next group of incompetents, vye with each other to ‘lead’ the train wreck of the Conservative party…… into what?  Cameron screwed up: May screwed up: and Johnson is waiting in the . . . → Read More: Stop the world, I want to get off

Ride the River

For the past few years I’ve had the privilege of serving London Youth Rowing (LYR) as a volunteer photographer. Photography was in my background: rowing wasn’t.  

London Youth Rowing is a remarkable organisation that works to:

Encourage disadvantaged young people to be active, and improve their physical, social and mental wellbeingHelp develop crucial life skills, which are necessary for success in the classroom and the workplaceEnable young people to participate in the unique sport – indoor and on-water rowing – across London, regardless of background, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability or abilityNurture determination and success in a new generation of rowers

I grew up with football: it felt as if it was in my DNA. It was easy – if you had . . . → Read More: Ride the River