Old Wives Tales are Officially Medical Advice

There’s a popular phrase in the arsenal of village newsletter writers which fills more column inches than “rained-off”, and that’s “due to inclement weather”.

Due to inclement weather, I went along to baby clinic with Katrina and Lucy today. Despite several disappointments in the past (actually, make that disappointments every time we’ve seen one), today was really good. The clinic woman was very pleasant, seemed to show a genuine interest in children (surely that’s a requirement to joining up?), and offered useful advice without being downright condescending.

My main beef with the health visitor people is that they appeared to be simply passing-off old wives’ tales as medical advice. Take for example the large patch of dry skin across Lucy’s forehead during weeks 3 to 6. It came up really quite nasty-looking, but was nothing serious – only really a cosmetic issue because it didn’t bother her in the slightest. You would assume a reasonably common complaint with a tried-and-tested solution. Apparently not.

The first advice we were given was from a midwife, who suggested the use of olive oil. Being parents for less than three weeks, we dutifully basted our daughter twice a day. That is, until the health visitor suggested we just use plain water. OK, let’s try that. That lasted a week, then another health visitor suggested the use of baby lotion. Independently, Katrina spoke to one of her friends (another health visitor), who recommended E45 cream. Four people, four different solutions. We ended up using baby lotion and it cleared, but whether that was simply due to clearing itself in the goodness of time or the BL actually helped we will never know.

The check today went well and all is good: a 5.30kg (11lb 11oz) baby who’s giggling, smiling, and holding her head up fine.

By the way, it’s going to be raining tomorrow – the health visitor told us. She saw some cows lying down in a field this morning.

The Personal Touch

Companies are falling over themselves these days to provide “excellent customer service” by pretending that each customer is individual and personal to them, but sometimes they just get carried away with themselves.

For example, I was in a shop the other day and saw a sign:

These premises are patrolled by security officers for your protection.

No they’re not. These premises are patrolled by security officers to prevent people taking a slice of our ill-gotten profits.

Another one was the latest updates to my Firefox browser. Upon restarting it said:

Please wait while Firefox installs your updates.

Again, that’s wrong. They aren’t my updates. They are your updates, and that’s because your product didn’t work properly in the first place. There’s nothing about me that requires an update (discuss).

First Doctor’s Appointment

Yesterday was Lucy’s first official doctor’s appointment. Basically it was a general check-up of health on both mother and daughter.

Lucy is doing fine and has an official weight of 5.18kg – that’s 11lb 6oz.

It was slightly worrying because the doctor needed to check her hips for something (he appeared to be testing her legs like I would check for play in a CV joint) and she really didn’t appreciate it, but all was good just a minute or two later. We even had some happy smiles and giggles.

As you could have predicted, she managed to have a wee on the bed during the 15 seconds her nappy wasn’t underneath her (she still needs to be weighed naked).

Next week sees the first of her injections, which my wife isn’t looking forward to. Lucy isn’t bothered though.

Finding Your Way Around the Sat-Nav Stories

Why does the media appear to have it in for sat-nav systems?

When the portable systems first came out, they were responsible for fuelling car crime, which in turn increased drug use, which in turn increased drug smuggling, which in turn funding Al-Qaeda*. Now there seems to be an ever-increasing number of stories (including today’s Sat-nav takes cabbie into river) blaming sat-nav for drivers ending up stranded or in a tricky fix.


Sat-nav does not take cabbie into river. Cabbie takes cabbie into river.

What’s long and wet and 30ft wide? A river.

Exactly. Hardly the most inconspicuous of natural phenomena, a river is probably even marked on his sat-nav in the first place.

Same with the older “fuelling crime” arguments. People were leaving (at the time) £400-worth of pocketable electronics in full sight when their car was parked in a dark alleyway and wondering why some thieving toe-rag nicked it. Yet they wouldn’t dream of leaving five crisp twenty pound notes on the dash – what’s the difference?

My sat-nav system (built into the car) has a “nag screen” which appears every time you start the engine. Paraphrasing, it says “make sure you follow all road signs and use your own good judgement“. Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong – assuming that people possess such capabilities.

* And don’t they know that a ‘Q’ is always followed by a ‘U’? (and a Q is always following a caravan)?

Back in Time (A Serial Thriller)

I complained at the start of the month about how much of a faff it is to put my mini-ITX PC in maintenance mode. Obviously, it’s Linux, so maintenance mode is used very rarely. In fact, power outages and system reconfiguration have caused more restarts in the past year than software crashes. But I digress.

To sort things out following an unscheduled reboot when it encounters problems, I need to unplug from the mini-PC:

  • the power
  • the network cable
  • the USB printer
  • the USB HDD
  • the power to the external HDD itself

I then need to move everything across to the computer desk on the other side of the room, swap the keyboard and power leads over from the main PC, plug in the external HDD again, plus dig out the analog VGA cable from the cupboard so I can connect it to the monitor (normally connected to my PC through DVI cabling). Understandably, that’s a pain in the backside.

So what can I do about this? Normally, everything is remotely administered over the network, but during boot time, the network isn’t available, so I can’t monitor startup messages. The solution lies in technology that literally pre-dates me: an RS-232 serial connection.

My main PC does have a serial port, but it’s hidden away round the back of the tower which is hard to get to. A better solution was to purchase a USB to serial port convertor. This was bought from DealExtreme.com for the small sum of $7 (about £3.50) delivered. This means I can just plug in the convertor as and when required.

Next up, we need to run a cable, so I bought a 2m null-modem cable and a 5m extension cable (£5 delivered for the pair) which ought to cover the space between my main PC and the mini-ITX. A bit more messing later with Windows Hyperterminal and I managed to get the boot messages scrolling up on my main PC via the serial link.

So there you go, 1960’s technology finds a useful place in the home of a techno-geek some 40 years later. Laughably, the link only runs at 115,200kbps, which isn’t even enough to stream an MP3 track. Some progress.

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