You'll recall from the previous Blant that my broadband went ***s-up the other day, when the wall-plug power supply unit (PSU) to my TalkTalk-supplied Huawei HG521 modem/router failed.
Now, the part in question that failed was a mass-produced power supply unit that probably cost less than two quid to mass produce, and which took the mains-supplied 240 Volts Alternating Current at 13 Amps, and sent it through a built-in step-down transformer in the plug, down to the required output of 5 Volts Direct Current at 1 Amp, with voltage and current regulation built into it. Variations of these units, differing only in output voltage/amperage, are bog-standard mass-produced bits of kit that, these days, come with most modern personal electronics devices you buy in the shops (such as mobile (cellular) phones, cordless phones, and so on). So, you'd think that suppliers would carry spare or replacement units, given that unit longevity appears to be a tad lacking.
Following the circular illogic of talking over the phone to their 'customer care' person the other night, I found the @talktalkcare twitter feed, and complained there instead, then having to fill in a form to get them to be able to email me directly (ye gods, so much for existing customer databases!), I finally got hold of someone who actually followed what I was trying to get them to understand. However, even though they now understood the problem, they wouldn't help. "Unfortunately your router is now out of warranty. We are unable to place orders for power supplies independently of a router. If you require a replacement router they can be purchased from..." was the reply.
You'll note that there was no form of empathy, no apology, not even sympathy for the problem I was experiencing, just a words equivalent to a flat "it's out of warranty and we can't help you. We can sell you a new modem, though". Now, I will freely grant that companies exist to make money, but bloody hell, this was taking the bodily fluids. By now, spitting nine-inch nails through the walls, and turning the air a vivid shade of electric blue as a habit, rather than a hobby, I was beginning to understand what all the ire about their lack of customer service was all about.
Previously, when dealing with other companies customer service departments, the response has usually been something like "OK, sorry to hear that, but that unit is no longer supplied by us, and is, at two and a half years old, no longer in warranty; we can supply a new PSU, but it'll cost £xx". This, I would have swallowed without fuss had TalkTalk offered it up, as the unit, being two and a half years old at the time of installation, was well and truly out of warranty. Never the less, given that this was needed to access their services, one could have been forgiven for thinking that they'd keep a few spares lying about their warehouse, in case of failures. Guess not. Silly me (add more nail purchases and a new can of vivid electric blue air paint)...
However, given that the output voltage is a common one (5 Volts is, by the by, the same voltage supplied by the USB sockets on your computer to to devices you plug into it, although they only give half an amp to those per socket), and that the manufacturer, Huawei, still use the same PSUs on other devices they currently manufacture, I find it a bit bloody rich that TalkTalk cannot get hold of spares for the damn thing. Frankly, it's beyond ludicrous, and well into the scale of Victor Meldrew-isms.
As a result, and given that they weren't about to help, I had to get a new router or PSU. Huawei don't, from what I could find out, sell replacement PSUs to the public, instead preferring to push mobile phones to their customers over here, so that meant finding an alternate PSU.
Before I did that, however, I decided to check that the router still worked. Using my variable output PSU (most hobby electronics buffs will have something like this, and - like me - most radio amateurs likewise), I supplied the unit with 5VDC, variable draw current. Nothing. It failed to power up. Typically, this meant one thing: When the PSU had died, it sent a surge of unregulated power to the router, and fried its circuitry somehow. It was now just a paperweight (and a light one at that).
So, I needed a new broadband modem/router. I wasn't about to reward TalkTalk for their complete lack of help, humanity, or empathy, so decided to get a new one from anyone other than TalkTalk.
In the mean time, I was accessing the net from home using my 3G mobile dongle from 3, which, while being effective (full strength signal at home, unlike Vodafone on my mobile - and guess who's getting my business come the current mobile phone contract expiry?), was a tad costly in the long run, compared to home landline broadband costs.
This wasn't an acceptable long-term solution, so I started in on my homework, and researched routers. I'll spare you the details of the saearch, but the short version is that I settled on a Netgear N300 N300 Wireless ADSL2 + Modem/Router, specific Netgear model number DGN2200. I found, exceptionally, that instead of it being cheaper from online sources such as Amazon.co.uk, that it was cheaper, when you factored in shipping costs, and the fact that there is a store on my route to work, to buy it in person from PC World - by a tenner!
So, Off I trundled to PC World, bought it, and installed it that evening (after a long eleven and a bit hours long shift at work) - it was a doddle to set up, with the manual being clear, simple, and straight-forward to follow, to the point that within ten minutes of unboxing and laying out the router, stand, filter, PSU, and two cables (phone and ethernet), I was again surfing the internet!
This was practically a first for me - most times with a new bit of electronic kit, I find that I'm buying stocks of nails and air paint, but not this time, so kudos to Netgear! Whoopee!
I chose, by the way, the Netgear DGN2200 for a couple of reasons; first, as a well known and respected brand, Netgear has a reputation for making good quality equipment, and for having excellent customer service; second, the reviews of this model mentioned that due to the chipset used in this model, it had good resilience with higher than average signal-to-noise ratios on telephone line copper-based broadband (as opposed to fibre-optic broadband, or cable); high signal-to-noise ratios tend to happen when you're a fair distance from the telephone exchange (as is the case with my phone line: I'm close to the maximum ADSL range from the exchange); it's to do with the way that the signal over a copper phone line degrades over distance; this doesn't affect speech to badly, but digital signals are very susceptible to this degradation over distance, which is why fibre-optic cables are all the rage - and why those fibres can increase the speed of your broadband tenfold or better over copper.
Since I'm on a copper wire telephone-based broadband connection, the signal-to-noise ratio is somewhat important, and the DGN2200 has good reviews on that score - they weren't wrong. I wasn't expecting miracles, but checking my broadband speed today showed that my throughput had increased slightly, from around 5.2 Mbps to around 5.85 Mbps, over the failed Huawei RG521 - this during the daytime on a weekend, when most hardcore network gamers are online - at the times I'll normally access the net (when I get home in the well small hours, after a shift at work), I'd imagine the speeds will be even better, so colour me reasonably pleased and impressed!
Sunday, 19 May 2013
Posted by Roger at Sunday, May 19, 2013
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
...not vein-poppingly aggravating. At least, that was what I thought, until I got home this morning.
IT has taken a couple of hits over the last couple of days, and since bad luck comes in threes, here we go...
Gmail suffered a series of outages over the last couple of days, which they have now, it seems, fixed for the most part. Nice job working on it, guys; I didn't notice until today, when I got a 502 error for all of five minutes; there's a note on this on their status page, by the way.
Then, my home broadband decided to go and fall over; seems the wall wart (a step-down transformer and voltage/current regulator with a moulded three-pin mains plug on the back) died. I haven't a clue if fried the router as well, since I can't get power to the router. So, I tried called TalkTalk customer services. No joy. the woman there, who didn't speak English as a first language (in yet another outsourced foreign call centre, I suppose), got locked in a loop of trying to test my broadband connection. Well duh, I have no broadband connection because the router has no power, as the wall wart is dead. "I'm going to test your connection again" God, it's enough to make you beat your head on the desk.
So I hung up, and sent a frustrated - but printable, thankfully - plea for help to the @talktalkcare help desk. They've asked what kind of router I use, and at the time of writing this Blant entry, they have not provided any other response.
And I'm still without home broadband, so to get online, I'm having to use my emergency 3G dongle from "three" to get online. And that works out bloody expensive, compared to home broadband.
And then, later this afternoon, while I was in a Skype conversation to my better half, bemoaning this TTU (that's electronic engineering shorthand for "Technical T*ts-Up"), the PC at the other end borks, requiring my other half to reboot it. Joy. "IT problems untie the world", or something. So, while awaiting my better half's return to the ether of the internot (well, that's what I'm beginning to call the world-wide web, anyhow), I decided to update my Gmail contacts lists in Skype.
Imagine my irritation when I discovered that Skype have removed that facility. Completely.
After damn near popping yet another vein whilst turning the air in my flat a vivid shade of electric blue, I will freely admit that I'm not at all impressed with their decision to stop allowing Gmail contact imports; it smacks of senseless and meaningless obstacle emplacement, with only one end result: Annoying your existing customer base.
Granted, Google are touting their own VOIP solution (Google Chat, part of their raft of "Google+" offerings), but for pities sake, for Skype to react by throwing their toys out of the pram, and launching their dummy (US Translation: pacifier) into low earth orbit is not the way to endear themselves to their existing customers. It's more like a challenge to those customers to tell Skype to (for lack of a more suitable and industrial set of words) bog off, and use the self-same Google Chat service that Skype are whining about instead.
Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!
The most intelligent thing that Skype could do, right now, would be to get over their over-inflated ego problem, and restore the Gmail contact import wizard.
You KNOW it makes sense.
I'm bloody glad bad luck only comes in threes. Any higher quantity, and I'd be about ready to do a Freddy Kruger!
Posted by Roger at Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Monday, 6 May 2013
A self-styled Crypto-anarchist (what the hell is that? In English, please?) has just proved that he can produce and successfully fire a handgun, through the medium of 3D printing.
Click for article on the BBC.
Click for article on Forbes.com.
Yes, it's a huge advance for 3D printing and the uses it can be put to, but for pities sake, why the hell did this person of questionable common sense have to print a sodding gun? And then make the 3-D template plans for it freely available online?!
Granted, you need the use of what is currently an expensive 3D printer, and ammunition that is more (I damn well hope) conventionally produced, but for a one-shot weapon, that you can then replace the barrel (3D printed) and shoot again, this is quite honestly a bloody bad move. Think about the funds that your average drug dealer has at their disposal in places where firearms controls actually seem to work reasonably well (such our fair shores), and then think of what they could do with those funds (over and above what they already do, that is). Frankly, the possibilities are quite horrifying.
There are those who scream "plastic gun" at the top of their lungs. Fine, it is, indeed, a plastic gun. But it's still detectable by conventional airport X-Ray machines - and if those can see a plastic childs toy gun (made of considerably thinner plastic, I might add), then they can see this thing, obviously.
However, such x-ray machinery cannot be used to scan people (it's unsafe through excessive x-ray dosage, remember); so, I guess we can look forward to a reintroduction of those pervert-view Airport body scanner machines again, thanks to this apparently socially short-sighted and quite probably self-centred (I want to use stronger language, but don't want to get sued, obviously) person.
Now, it's all well and good you saying that he wouldn't have been the only one to try to make a gun using a 3D printer. I quite easily agree the point. But not only is he is the one who designed one, and then printed it, he's the only one who then stated that he'd make the template available to anyone who wanted it through the mechanism of the internet. In my view, that's irresponsible at best, and quite probably criminally reckless at worst.
It's highly probable therefore, that until firmware systems can be put in place to prevent a 3D printer for making a firearm or its parts (a bloody unlikely prospect, given the Artificial Intelligence in computing that would be needed in such a stand-alone system), that it's only a matter of time before 3D printers are added to the list of export control restricted items (can you say "End User Certificate"), thus putting the kybosh on the legitimate world-wide uses that 3D printers were originally intended for, such as allowing small firms to make out-of-production spare parts for such things as home domestic machinery, such as old washing machines etcetera, or even small-run production of items such as bicycles, cars and their 'pattern parts', and so on.
At the very least, Mr Cody Wilson has a hell of a lot to answer for. To say that he's set a lot of peoples' tempers on a setting of 'Fusion Reaction' (mine included), is likely as not the understatement of the damn century: he's quite probably buggered up a huge advance in small-scale engineering manufacturing.
He's done the world a massive disservice, and no amount of excuses or fringe political clap-trap can forgive his colossal misjudgement.
Posted by Roger at Monday, May 06, 2013
Saturday, 4 May 2013
I hadn't got that good a nights sleep, truth be told. Not really surprising, all things considered. I had, thankfully, taken the time, yesterday, to do a final check on my suit (clean and still sharply pressed out of it's wrapping), shoes (highly polished, close to the military standard that I learned over two decades ago in the T.A.), shirt clean and pressed, tie likewise, and so on; I even printed off two copies of the Eulogy I'd written for Dad onto cue cards (the second copy for a friend who had agreed to be my 'back up' if I found myself unable to deliver it myself at the service), figuring it would be easier to use those, than a sheet of A4.
And today, after close to a month of running around like lunatics, playing catch-up with my Dad's life to write the Eulogy and do the man proiper justice, without seeming to rush it or leave out important details, I have a weekend to relax. To do my own thing. To get on with what I need to get on with.
And yet, I suddenly find that it's a strangely empty day.
I go back to work next Tuesday (the day after the May Bank Holiday), after a week of leave that was already booked before Dad passed away; I was intending to join a 4x4 weekend over at Salisbury Plains this weekend. That got the kybosh as events unfolded, of course. One of those things, regrettably. There'll be other 4x4 weekends, though. That week of leave was, instead, spent helping my better half move home, then coming back here to get the final details of Dad's funeral arrangements - like getting a new suit - in place, and making sure the Eulogy was just right.
So, I've not really had time to just stop, and relax. And now, when I can do my own thing, when I have no demands on my time, I find that I'm actually bored out of my tiny mind: I have no challenges to overcome, no tasks to accomplish, no-one I really need to go and see (that all having been done yesterday or in the last week, of course), absolutely nothing at all to do.
Oh yeah. I'm doing that right now, as I write another Blant entry!
SO... *looks around the living room for inspiration*... what next...?
Posted by Roger at Saturday, May 04, 2013
Thursday, 2 May 2013
I'm not in a very charitable mood today, as it's my Dad's funeral tomorrow.
I've gone out and bought a new suit (I haven't needed a suit for decades until now, so didn't have one), I've got a decent shirt, I found my old regimental tie (buried at the back of the sock drawer, of all places: how the hell it got there I'll never figure out), I've polished my shoes to the highest shine they've had in years, and now I'm sitting around with naff all to do except wait.
So, I hit the news feeds.
And found that Friends Of The Earth were at it again the other day.
Now, don't get me wrong: They can do wonderful and much needed things, but they do tend to bleat on about a hell of a lot of things that they've a snowballs chance in hell of doing anything about, either by choosing the wrong target, or by choosing the wrong audience. Or both.
Take their latest "campaign". It's about the tin used in - amongst other things - mobile phones. Apparently, they were in Croydon last Saturday, getting in the way of Joe Subject on this. Thank the stars I was in the West Country, depressurising with my other half or, with me in the upset mood that I was in earlier this week, there may have been a protester with a clip board stuffed sideways up his backside. Messy would not have been the word to use, trust me.
Here's the link to the story in the Croydon Guardian newspaper:
'Your mobiles are destroying lives': Croydon phone shops told by Friends of the Earth campaigners
These days, with everyone and their dog having a phone (or two, or three), and with them being used all the time for both work and leisure, and in a recession as well, where jobs are well and truly on the line, Friends Of The Earth trying to bang on at the ordinary Joe Subject in the street is a sucker move, writ large. Frankly, they're so way off target it's amazing they even thought it possible to have a chance at making a change.
Let's look at a few things. Gold, Silver, Lead, Aluminium, Nickel, Chromium, Carbon, Copper, Gallium Arsenide, Mylar, Silicon, Polystyrene, Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polyvinylchlorate (PVC), Antimony, Bismuth, Cobalt, Fluorite, Garnet, and Magnesium, are just a general selection of typical materials used in modern consumer electronics, not just mobile telephones. And Friends Of The Earth're going after tin? I would have thought the Chinese open-cast mines would be a better target for their ire, but hey, tin's an easier target, I guess. Less chance of being arrested by over-zealous Chinese Ministry of State Security goons with sticks as well, as well, come to that.
Here's the thing: Tin is used (most often in combination with lead) in something called solder, which once heated and applied, then allowed to cool and solidify in place, holds the components in a both solid physical and electrically-conductive join on the circuit-boards of pretty-much ALL consumer electronics, not just phones. Try getting the vast membership of the population of this country to stop using their kettles, Fridge/Freezers, and microwave ovens for example: you've got no chance.
So, until Friends Of The Earth - or, perhaps, a scientist would be a better choice in this endeavour - can come up with a viable, cost-effective, and ecologically-friendly alternative to tin/lead solder, I suggest Friends Of The Earth stop their ranting at ordinary people, and redirect their verbal bleeding to the people failing to finance the primary research into suitable alternatives.
That'd be the politicians, by the way.
Who, in a double-dip recession, aren't likely to say anything favourable - or charitable - to FOtE, in all likelihood.
Which is probably why they were bleating on at the poor sods in Croydon, as they knew that they were s*** out of luck with anyone else.
And I'm still sitting here, waiting for one of the worst months in my life to be over.
Posted by Roger at Thursday, May 02, 2013
Thursday, 18 April 2013
It's been a hard week for us, following Dad's death.
Life was practically on hold for all of us; I was able to get a couple of days off work (Bereavement Leave), but really and truly, they aren't enough. There just isn't enough time to figure out solutions to all the problems, when your mind is travelling at a million miles an hour in all directions at once, you're in shock and grief, and trying to figure out something becomes a gazillion times more difficult. How the hell do they expect people to cope with it all in a few short days?
The family has, of course, rallied round to support Mum (we're a fairly close family, thankfully), and try to figure out how to proceed; the guide that the A&E department gave us was helpful as far as it went, but it's become horribly apparent that it's woefully out of date in several key places; likewise, the list the funeral directors gave us for venues was unfortunately slightly misleading - not their fault - as one venue that I will not name at this time flat-out refused to accept bookings unless you worked in a specific profession, despite that fact that it was advertising itself as a conference and event venue.
Things like that really don't help when you're experiencing severe grief, and I'm glad it was my sister to discover this on the phone to them, rather than me, as I suspect - hell, I know - that my temper would have snapped. I strongly suspect we'll be following this up with certain people after the funeral, when calmer heads will be in place, but it's still got me - and many family members - extremely incensed.
The meeting with the parish priest went well, at any rate, and we've got the order of service for Dad's cremation organised, with a couple of small details to finalise (music, in the main). The job I dreaded, but feel I need to do, delivering the Eulogy, has been split in two, thankfully; there'll be two, the first from a member of one of his main pastime groups, which will take that pressure off me to do those justice, given that I was never involved in those - my pastimes are substantially different than Dad's were.
This will leave me free to deliver the second eulogy, which will be the family side of things; it wasn't easy to write, and anyone who tells you writing their father's eulogy is easy didn't do him justice at all. It took more rewrites than I care to number, but I came up with one that both my Mum and Sister, and I, come to that, are all agreed on; you obviously can't be happy with a eulogy, but it does the job of expressing what we want to express, while giving Dad a fitting tribute that everyone else can understand and follow.
A couple of hints to others reading this, who will eventually write a family eulogy for their loved one - give yourself a lot of places to pause and breath; you'll need them. And practice reading it aloud as you write it. You'll need the time and practice, trust me.
Anyhow, we've got the first available slot at the crematorium booked, and now it's a waiting game, and that's going to wind up being more wearing as the days march on - it's not for a fortnight.
Dad had more friends than you could shake a stick at, and the funeral is likely to be a ten-ring circus, standing in the isles in scale. Not withstanding the disgusting response from that venue mentioned above that we approached, finding a venue for the wake was a trial, but has also finally been accomplished, and booked.
The paperwork search goes on apace; my brother-in-law - he's rather good at this sort of thing - managed to find a lot of the required paperwork, insurance, assurance, utilities, and so on, but several things still elude us, and it's a nightmarish lesson for me; for all the organisation that Dad had, his filing system is really testing us, it's so totally counter-intuitive that it almost beggars belief. Still, it worked for Dad, so we have to dig in and try to get to the bottom of it. I'm reorganising my paperwork so that anyone picking up the pieces after my own passing won't have quite so trying a time in putting it all together.
My sister has an appointment with the Registry Office people today, and she'll collect the Death Certificates - ten of them - to pass to the various agencies and companies that'll need them; it seems the Registry Office can deal with a lot of these for us - it's a service that they offer, which take a large weight off the family's shoulders, but there are some, such as the bank, funeral directors, insurance and assurance companies, and so on, that we still have to notify and provide with a certificate; my sister, a book keeper by trade, is dealing with those - she speaks the language they understand.
And then there's me. I'm on hold until the funeral.
I find that I'm going to work, coming home, and brooding; I'm remembering times we had together, things we enjoyed, holidays, and. brutally, realising that there was so damned much that I should have said, that I thought we had oceans of time for, that I can never now say or discuss with him, both serious and light; it's a hell of a kick in the guts when such realisation sinks in. I know it's a process of grief, but that doesn't make it any easier to suffer.
Writing about it all, as I'm doing now, helps, but there's still that gaping void in all our lives where he once stood, that we have to get used to, and that's not going to be easy.
But then, it's not supposed to be easy, is it?
Posted by Roger at Thursday, April 18, 2013
Saturday, 13 April 2013
This is a bloody nightmare. We expected it, of course, but not for a fair few years yet; at least, I thought that was the case; not so my Mum or Sister, who apparently knew better than I did.
On Thursday, 11th April 2013, my father died.
I was just about to hit the sack at around 6am, when I got a call from my brother-in-law. "It's not good news. It's your Dad." Mum had tried to call me, but had called my mobile, and the signal here sucks massively; I'm binning my current provider when the contract expires, but that's not for something like six months yet. And Mum hit the wrong button on the speed dial, or something, so her next call was to my sister, some ten miles away from her; I'm three miles distant.
We both arrived at the same time; I'd have got there sooner if I didn't drive a land rover: They're not built for speed, and my sister pulled out all the stops - literally, by the look of it, as she seemed to have driven in a manner most unlike her normal sedate driving habit. Amazing the things you notice when tragedy strikes. We found the ambulance crews (one Paramedic fast responder, and a crew of two from an ambulance), bringing him out of the house, with CPR still ongoing, and our mum in utter shock, as you'd expect. Never being one to like hurrying up and waiting, I got my sister to help mum get ready to come out to the hospital (she actually had her head on a damn sight better than I did, and had mum grab some food and her daily meds), while I leapt back into my Landie and shot off to the hospital, to meet the ambulance when I arrived. I didn't want him to not have anyone waiting for him, odd as that might sound.
I beat the ambulance there by a couple of minutes, and legged it through the minor injuries reception to A&E, to find them still performing CPR as he was wheeled into the Resuscitation Unit. A couple of minutes later, one of the ambulance crew came out, wheeling the stretcher back to the ambulance, and I introduced myself, and asked what the situation was.
Over the last couple of years, Dad had suffered from a really painful leg problem, which occasionally woke him at odd hours. This appears to have been one such occurrence. It seemed that dad had tried to stand up, and then pitched forwards and landed heavily. My mum found him like that seconds after he'd landed, not breathing or having a pulse. This was sounding horribly familiar: My uncle had passed in a similar manner almost twenty years previously. Mum called the ambulance service, and to instructions provided to her, over the phone by ambulance control room staff, had performed CPR until the ambulance crews had arrived, who then took over, intubating dad, hooking him up to the ECG monitor, and doing their level best to resuscitate him. They'd then taken him to the hospital, still performing CPR in the back of the ambulance, where we now were. I thanked the man (I think his name is Dave), and the rest is a bit of a blur, but half an hour later, I was given the bad news by the A&E doctor.
Dad was gone. And for me, in that horrible instant, time briefly stood still. When everything started up again for me, I was sitting in the small family room, clutching a blue-roll tissue, with the Doctor waiting outside for me to pull myself together.
One of the things they don't show you in all those hospital dramas is what happens next. The hospital staff expect this, of course, but not the dramas. They remove all the medical paraphernalia they've used from the person they've tried to save, and ask you, if you don't ask first, if you'd like to say goodbye. I beat them to this question, which I think was a bit of a relief to them, as some people have a fear of seeing dead people. I'm not about to describe what I saw. It's personal to us, and will stay with us until we, too, pass on. Suffice to say, dad was finally out of pain, at peace, and gone. I said my goodbye, and checked to see where my mum and sister were; turned out they'd only just arrived at the main entrance to the hospital. I made my way to them, and brought them to A&E to allow them to say their goodbyes too.
I also took the time to thank the Ambulance crews for their help and professionalism, even though the efforts were in ultimately vain. I'll have to write a letter to them before long, but the important and immediate thanks were given, and that's important.
I also thanked the hospital staff. They see this every day; the rest of us are in blissful ignorance, of course, until the worst happens. It's so routine to them - as it should, I suppose, be - that they've quite literally got everything down on paper. There's even a booklet, "Information for bereaved family and friends" that they give you, when someone close to you passes away in the A&E department. It's a useful reference for what comes next, telling you what to expect, what you should be doing next, and so on.
As dad died in A&E, the coroner would have to be informed, and he or she would then decide whether a post mortem was required, or if a notification of death form could be signed by the hospital and so on; we were to call them and make contact.
I did this just after they opened for business - ye gods, "Business?!" I guess that's what it is, but bloody hell! - and was told that the coroner had ordered a post mortem, due to dad's medical history. Fair enough, I suppose, and it'd give us a proper reason, and thus closure. I asked when this would be, guessing that it's take a few days, at least, to get organised, but was surprised to find that it'd take place on Friday, and that we'd had a summary of the findings on Friday afternoon.
The rest of the day was, understandably, somewhat disjointed for us; Mum, wanting to be alone to pull herself together - our family is made of tough stuff at times, what can I say - managed to shove us out the door, so my sister hauled me off to grab breakfast, call my works, and start making notifications to the rest of the family and friends.
Time passed, a not very restful nights sleep, and it was Friday. And I got a call from the coroner at around half past ten that morning, informing me of the results of the post mortem - incredibly fast, that, for which I was grateful, I, like my dad before me, hate waiting.
It transpires that dad had a truly massive heart failure due to something called Ischaemic Heart Disease. He would, likely as not, have been gone before he hit the floor, for which we are all grateful: It was mercifully fast. There were other non-direct, but contributory causes as well, but the important reason was known. We'd been wondering if it was a stroke, or his ticker.
Closure is variably rated by most everyone I talk to about the topic; some think it's not necessary, others believe it to be a vitally required thing. But however you look at it, it has its uses; for us, it answered the most important question of all: Did he suffer? The answer was, thankfully, no, not much at all, if he even could feel anything at all, in his last few moments.
This now opened the way forward for us.
We knew that dad had written a note to us, which was in his study, describing how he wanted his passing to be run, what his funeral arrangements were to be, and so on.
Could we find this damn thing? Could we bleep. For such an organised man, his filing system was, to put it charitably, unique. My brother in law's over there today, trying to make sense of it all, as I type this before I go to work.
Thankfully, dad had told us all, at various times over the last few years, how he wanted things to go, so most of it we already know, and the funeral directors have been appraised.
Dad was a popular man; he had more friends than I can shake a stick at, many of whom I'll be meeting at the wake; the funeral will be for family and close friends, as per Dad's wishes; he wanted us to celebrate his life, not be dismal about his passing; it's an oddly refreshing view from a man who was in many ways, very traditional and old-school in his thinking on so many different topics (and you didn't want to push his button on trains; By God, he could lecture on that for bloody weeks at a time!).
It'll be a good way to send him on his way to eternity, whatever your views on God (Yes, I'm a believer) and Organised Religion (and I have a fair few opinions on that, which I tend, for the most part, to keep to myself as well), it all has a place in our lives. It had a major place in my Dad's life as well, and I like to think that Dad's now looking down at us from above the clouds, having a laugh at the antics we're up to, and pointing to the place in his study that none of us have even thought of looking, yelling "It's in there, you idiots!"
However. all levity and other stuff aside, at the end of all of this, despite all the agreements, disagreements, discussions, arguments, laughs, and all the other moments and things and stuff that Sons and Fathers share, there is one, inescapable, irrevocable, unshakable truth that I know:
I'll miss my dad.
Rest in peace, mate, and put a beer on that heavenly bar for when I eventually get up there to join you.
Posted by Roger at Saturday, April 13, 2013