31 October 2014 (Friday) - Feeling Particularly Miserable

I have insomnia because my right sinuses are full of polyps which prevent me breathing when asleep. I have been given a course of prednisolone to shrink the polyps. The drug *has* shrunk the polyps so I can breath at night. However the stuff has side effects. It causes insomnia itself so I have trouble sleeping. And it is a diuretic (makes you piss more) so as soon as I nod off I wake up needing to go to the loo. Several times.
As an added bonus I am experiencing many other side effects of the stuff including having hot flushes, experiencing noticable weight gain, and feeling particularly miserable pretty much of the time (even more than usual!). It also suppresses the action of my immune system, so I am on antibiotics to counteract that. Pills for my pills (!)
So I am now in the position that my insomnia is worse and I am paying for pills to make it so, and to also make me uncomfortable and disagreeable into the bargain... only three more days of them.

Over brekkie I watched "Family Guy" and while trying to waste an hour or so before work I browsed the Internet. A couple of years ago I did an on-line course about astro-biology. The course provider emails me with matters of note from time to time. This morning they sent a frankly nonsensical article explaining why we haven't yet found any aliens. The crux of the author's argument is that *if* life does advance and proceed by natural selection, then biological life will be supseceded by artificial intelligences and life forms.
An interesting premise until one gives it thirty seconds thought. Leaving aside the fact that the author of the paper has (like everyone else) avoided making any definition of what he means by "life", his theory explains nothing. Rather than asking "where are the aliens?" we should instead be asking "where are the robots?" Fermi remains unanswered.
Mind you it was rather apt for astro club day...

I was on an early start today, and set off to work shortly after dawn. As I drove the pundits on the radio were discussing the pros and cons of putting the calorific value of beers and wines onto the labelling of bottles and cans of the stuff. Apparently people have been observed in pubs and restaurants each consuming some four hundred calories less (on average) per piss-up when menus giving out calorific contents are made available to them. In these days of combating obesity, putting the calorie content onto a label is demonstrably a sensible thing to do. But will the drink industry do it? Apparently not because beer and wine is not "officially a food stuff".
I can't help but wonder how many faceless administrators have to be given a back-hander to re-label a bottle of Spitfire.

Perhaps equally nonsensical is the revelation (from our old friend science) that dogs tend to align the direction in which they are facing with the Earth's magnetic fields when having a dump. However when it comes to having a tiddle, only girl dogs point themselves in a north-south manner; boy dogs tiddle in all directions. One lives and learns.
I shall take a compass on my next dog walk and see if "Furry Face TM" craps in a northerly or southerly way. Having established this I can then use him as a makeshift compass should the need arise when next out on a long walk.Who needs a compass when one has a shitting dog? If nothing else it's another reason to hurry his recovery.

My lunchtime was (mostly) spent on another sax practice. I managed to blag my way out of having to waste any more time with "Goose on the Razzle" at last night's sax lesson. I am now on "Hello Dolly" and a famous American piece of music which everyone has heard, but of which no one knows the name. It starts with a "da-da-da daa-daa" in ascending note order kicking off from a G (I think). "Hello Dolly" has promise, but the other one is still leaving a lot to be desired. It don't help that he sax keeps going squawky.

An early start made for an early finish, and as it was the last Friday of the month I had an appointment in McDonalds with Luke Warm for McScoff before going round to the new-look new-format astro club.
It's no secret that the attendance at the astro club is noticably down on what it has been. A lot of the once-regular members haven't been seen for months or years. We need to do something to bring back the old hands and retain the new ones. So there's been a change to the way the evenings will proceed. The idea is that during the winter months we'll start with a quick welcome and intro session. Then go out with telescopes, and then tea, coffee, raffle, and end with the lecture.

Now *perhaps* (!) I'm biased here. I admit I have no interest whatsoever in looking through a telescope at a faint splodge of light that might be absolutely anything. (And judging by the rather poor attendances at so many organised observing sessions over the last five years, I would say that neither have more than half a dozen other past or present club members). I'd rather have the talk earlier in the evening. Because that's the bit I like, and for which I go along to the club. And when people go out and shiver round telescopes later in the evening, make polite excuses and go home five minutes later, that's when I put all the chairs away and then go home myself. Leaving a few hardy souls to stand around shivering out in the cold whilst I go home to where it's warmer.
The whole plan hinges on the premise that people want to look through telescopes. Personally I don't. And from experience I don't think many others do either. Perhaps that's why I'm not keen on the idea.

(And doesn't that little rant sound negative.... I wrote it this morning over brekkie. I considered deleting it, but I shall leave it as a reminder to myself and the world of the mood-altering power of prednisolone.)

There's no denying I went along tonight expecting the worst. But I thought I'd give the idea a go before dismissing it out of hand. After all, if nothing else, over the years this blog has catalogued many instances of me being completely wrong. And was I wrong this time?

On reflection I wasn't *entirely* wrong. The evening started according to plan with a welcome and introduction session. But it wasn't quick... with a lot of interesting news it went on for forty five minutes. According to the schedule that only left fifteen minutes for stargazing, so the schedule had to be rapidly re-vamped.
The stargazing session went... I wouldn't say it didn't go well, but a good quarter of the people present didn't go outside at all, and over half of those that had gone out were back inside within twenty minutes. Mind you I do sometimes feel that the first part of the evening involves too much sitting about. And tea time can be something of a scrum; tonight's observing session with people coming and going was much more relaxed so maybe having the observing session earlier wasn't a bad thing.
Completely contrary to what I had been expecting, pretty much everyone stayed after tea when usually half the people present go home. People then had the choice of carrying on with telescopes or listening to a lecture. Exactly as I had thought, judging by how many seats were taken for the lecture, I don't think more than half a dozen people could have stayed outside telescoping (on the clearest night you could hope for). People *do* go along to listen to the speakers.

Mind you I was wrong in that I had gone along expecting the worst. For all that we tried a radical departure from our usual plan, it was a really good evening. With a couple of very minor tweaks this new format might just work. Change isn't necessarily a bad thing...

What a rant today has been.... did I mention that this Prednisolone stuff I'm taking is a depressant...?

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