Soon to be gone

This is the bandage that the nurse installed on Friday.

It’s looking rather grubby and tattered by now but I was told I could remove it on Tuesday (tomorrow) so I will not have to put up with it for much longer.

It has taken rather a battering from me pulling on a kitchen glove over it to allow me to wash and do the household chores.

I’m not too sure what I will find when I do take the bandage off but on Friday the wound seemed to be healing nicely and, all being well, that process will have continued.

I don’t know whether there will be any scarring but, to be honest, I’m not bothered about that. I’m not intending to enter any beauty contests!

No more crepe

My appointment with the nurse was this afternoon. She removed the bandage carefully but there was still one ouch moment when removing the adhesive tape across the wound.

My hand seems to be healing well and the bandage should be able to come off for the last time on Tuesday.

Instead of the crepe that caused me so much trouble, there is now a square of gauze held in place with a larger square of adhesive tape. I shall be able easily to put on a kitchen glove over it for jobs involving water. This makes me feel a lot better.

My face still resembles that of a red panda but those marks have already begun to fade. I will still look a fright for a while to come but there is visible progress.

After my appointment, I met Tigger for coffee in Jusaka. To my surprise, the staff all came to our table to ask what had happened to us as they had not seen either of us for several days. We had to rehearse the story of my Saturday aventure in all its details. We ended up promising that in future we would let them know if we were going away for a while so that they need not worry about us!

I was really touched by their concern.

Wireless power

There were several reasons why I bought a new iPhone 8, including a collapsing battery in the old iPhone 6. The iPhone 8, however, can perform a party trick that the iPhone 6 cannot. I had forgotten about this until Tigger made me a present of a Qi charging pad: the iPhone 8 represents Apple’s first foray into the brave new world of wireless charging.

Other manufacturers had already adopted wireless charging and your phone, dear reader, whether or not it is an iPhone, can probably use this method of battery replenishment. Do you find it useful? I do, up to a point.

To start with I was intrigued by the novelty but there are a few practical advantages too. Once you have plugged your charger into the power socket and tucked away the wire tidily, you can simply put your phone on the pad to recharge it. You can pick it up and work with it without the inconvenience of unplugging it or coping with the trailing wire. Some public venues, which have for a long time provided power points and even USB sockets for use by customers, now also offer wireless recharging. One of these is the Starbuck’s chain of coffee shops. This means that when you are out and about, you can recharge your phone for the cost of a cup of coffee. This also dispenses with the need to carry a charging cable – and perhaps a charger and plug as well – with you.

Apart from these minor advantages, though, wireless charging does not really take us very far. We still do need a charger to restore a flagging battery and the battery still remains the mobile phone’s most vulnerable feature. What is needed to end the slow torture of constantly recharging our devices is a new approach. The good news is that one is on its way to us.

The sort of wireless charging that we currently use with our phones is called “near field” because the charger can transmit its power only over very short distances. You need to place your phone very close to the charger, preferably in contact with it. Even an extra thick phone case can prevent recharging from taking place.

However, there also exists “far field” power transmission in which electrical power can be transmitted over larger distances. The problem with this is that so far, the power has needed to be “aimed” at the receiver which obviously makes it impossible to use with a mobile phone that moves here, there and everywhere with its busy owner.

Now consider radio and TV. The signal for these is sent from high-powered transmitters and travels far and wide to be picked up by receiving devices, that is, your radio or TV set. So far, radio and TV signals carry only data, namely the encoded sound and pictures of your radio and TV. The receiver needs its own power to decode the signal into a form useful for listeners and viewers.

What if, instead of just data, broadcast signals could also carry power? This would mean that your radio would receive both the data and the power to decode it from the broadcast signal. Is this possible? Yes, it is, and this represents the next big step in powering our mobile phones: power sent over wifi.

But wait: if my phone is being recharged by wifi, does it need to be charged up in the first place? The answer is no and this is the good news: once power by wifi is fully implemented, phones will not even need batteries! They will simply work when exposed to wifi whose signal will carry both data and power. The most vulnerable feature of mobile phones, the battery, will be gone for ever. So will chargers, portable power banks and the cables to connect them to our phones.

The only problem that I can see with this is that if you had no signal – as might happen as it does now when you are in remote areas – you would not be able to use the phone at all. So if you wanted to play Tetris while camping on top of a mountain you would perhaps be wise to take a wireless power bank with you!

When will power by wifi become generally available? Ay, there’s the rub: I don’t know. The sources I have consulted don’t know either. So far it is a tantalising glow just over the brow of the next hill and it’s anybody’s guess when it will become a reality.

Nor have I seen any estimates of the cost to consumers of using such a system. It will call for large investment in infrastructure, which the customer will pay for, one way or another, and there will be running costs. Presumably we will have to pay for the power we use much as we pay for domestic power now. Proponents of power by wifi claim that it is far more efficient, and therefore cheaper in the long run, than present forms of power supply.

Won’t we need new devices to take advantage of wireless power? The article I have cited below claims that existing devices could be retro-fitted with power receivers. Nice idea, but I honestly cannot imagine Apple, Samsung, Google et al. passing up the chance to sell us new phones. Apple certainly never offered to adapt my iPhone 6 to take advantage of wireless charging! No, I think we shall have to stump up for new model.

Finally, would all that power sloshing about constitute a danger to health? People who claim to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity will no doubt feel concerned by the prospects but proponents claim that it is safe.

For more details, see 11 Myths About Wireless Power


One of my heroes is Eratosthenes of Cyrene, the Greek philosopher, poet and sometime librarian of the Geat Library of Alexandria. He lived between 276 BC and 194 BC (approximately) and his main claim to fame is a remarkable piece of mathematical work that he performed in 240 BC.

Eratosthenes knew that at noon on the day of the summer solstice (about June 19th), the sun at Syene (modern Aswan) was in the zenith, that is, was directly above the earth so that it left no shadows. Accordingly, he measured the angle of the sun at noon on the day of the solstice at Alexandria and found that the angle it made to the vertical was, as he expressed it, one-fiftieth of a circle (7.2° in modern terminology). This, together with a value for the distance between Alexandria and Syene, enabled the philosopher to calculate the circumference of the earth, being the first recorded person to do so.

Erastosthenes obtained a value of 252,000 stadia for the earth’s circumference. The exact length of the stadion is not known with certainty and there have been arguments among scholars as to how accurate this result was. Moreover, Eratosthenes took the sun’s distance as infinite, meaning that its rays were parallel at all points on the earth’s surface. Also, he rounded up his figures to make calculation easier (they had no electronic calculators in those days!). Depending on your choice of values for the units, his result is in the region of 44,100 km (27,400 mi), which differs from the modern value of 40,008 km or 24,860 mi (meridional circumference) by about 10%, a very creditable result.

What I consider important about this famous piece of scientific investigation is that Eratosthenes worked from direct observation and measurement of the phenomena with which he was dealing and did not rely, as was so often the case in past ages, on scholastic or mystical beliefs about how thing “ought to” be. In other words, he proceeded as a scientist. This is a principle which is still often forgotten or glossed over in our own day by people with some sort of axe to grind.

For example, we are told by some that the earth is flat and that the moon landings were a gigantic hoax or that to immunize your child against infectious diseases is to inject them with poison or that evolution is a spurious theory and only the Biblical account is true. To support these views, they have to assert that scientists are talking nonsense or are engaged in a vast worldwide conspiracy to delude the public.

It always amuses me when such a person assures me that the knowledge set forth by scientists is invented rubbish and then pulls out his mobile phone to take a call, send a text or take a photo. Or recounts some programme that he watched last night on TV. How marvellous it is that invented rubbish can achieve such useful results!

Stories like that of Eratosthenes shine like beacons along the road that humanity has travelled from its obscure beginnings to our own day. The darkness seeks always to encroach and we rely on men and women of genius and courage, like the Greek philosopher, to keep it at bay.

Temporary recluse

Apart from my visits to the doctor’s on Monday, I have stayed at home this week, not wishing to show my ugly mug to the world.

Several of Tigger’s colleagues, noticing that I did not come to meet her from work, have asked after me, which is kind of them.

I have an appointment tomorrow with a nurse who will presumably repackage my damaged hand and then comes the weekend when I expect we will go out and about as usual.

When I walked in the street on Monday, I felt rather nervous. I kept my gaze on the ground, watching where I put my feet. When I crossed the street, the opposite kerb seemed like a trap waiting to catch my foot and throw me to the ground. I will need to recover the confidence that I can walk about safely.

I have been wondering whether I should take my walking stick with me when I go out but I really don’t think that would have saved me on Saturday. Everything happened too quickly. A walking stick is an encumbrance, too, and I have to remember not to leave it behind when I stop off somewhere. On balance, I don’t think it would serve a useful purpose.

The bags under my eyes have deflated somewhat, mutating into dark patches around the eyes, reminiscent of a raccoon. Progress of a sort.

Despite this, I remain grateful: I am lucky that it was not worse. I will leave it to you to imagine what forms “worse” could have taken as I prefer not to think about it!

I must ask the nurse to make the slimmest dressing possible to enable me more easily to put on a kitchen glove over it. That way I can wash, do household chores and perhaps even take a bath.

An injury like this, minor though it is, reminds us how important are the small transactions of life that we normally perform without thinking until they suddenly become hard or even impossible to do.

Hand in glove

On Sunday I developed bags under the eyes. They are infused with blood and do nothing to enhance my appearance. The hospital had said that I should see my own doctor after a few days but I decided that the sooner I did so, the better it would be, for reassurance if nothing else.

On Monday morning, therefore, I went to the medical practice to see whether I could obtain an appointment, preferably sooner than the usual waiting period which can be from 10 days to two weeks or even longer. Happily, the receptionist was able to arrange for me to see a doctor that very afternoon. How she magicked it, I do not know, but I was duly grateful.

I returned at the appointed hour and was seen by not one but two doctors, a young, and I imagine new, doctor and one of the practice doctors who sat in and observed. As the report filed by the Newham hospital had not yet arrived, I needed to recount my accident in detail and answer many questions about it. This was followed by a physical examination and the making of an appointment on Friday with one of the practice nurses to examine the wound on my hand and rebandage it as necessary.

My question as to when the bandages could be removed was answered only vaguely. Perhaps on Friday the nurse can give me a better estimate.

The problem that remains is that my hand, from the wrist to the base of the fingers, is wrapped in a crepe bandage. This means that I cannot even wash my hands properly or do domestic chores involving water. I had already tried putting on a kitchen glove over the bandage but had desisted when I saw that this inevitably pulled the bandage out of position. This morning I tried again because I had realized that the crepe in fact merely acts as a first line of defence against dirt and knocks whereas the wound is covered with adhesive tape and adhesive patches.

By persevering, I managed to ease the glove onto my hand this time and was then able to have a proper wash.That made me feel a lot better.

Home again

Having checked out of the apartment (an operation which consisted of no more than saying goodbye to the young lady on the reception desk), we made our way to the bus stop. A succession of three buses brought us to King’s Cross Station where we took a late breakfast at Leon.

After breakfast we crossed the road to St Pancras International Station where we saw Tigger’s nephew to his train. A final bus ride brought us home.

The outing obviously did not go as intended. Spending Saturday afternoon in A&E was not in the original plan. Apart from that, everything went well.

Docklands is not the most entertaining neighbourhood in London but for someone seeing it for the first time it is not without interest, I suppose. Also it has good connections by bus, tube and DLR with other more stimulating districts.

Shall we stay here again in the future? I think it unlikely but you never know!