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Fat Free?

A major change to my diary this morning. The period for my daily walk increases from now on by 25%. The waist grip test provides encouragement. There is virtually no belly fat to grip.

Yesterday's new walking route, over what I had thought as a "ghost" route, on the map but non-existent in the real world, proved a success. A new set of people to wave at over their fence. And an opportunity to scratch the forehead of a friendly goat loose on the road (Note to self: Do not touch my face with that hand and extra hand wash when I return home).

The "ghost" road turns out to be a farm track, almost sans potholes, that runs for a bit over a mile. And it's inviting; a "Footpath" sign points the way.

The new route which includes it is twisty and scenic, includes a fair bit of up and down, good exercise, and because it is new, visually stimulating. And it is a bit further. The ennui of the previous routes is set aside pro tem at least.

Yesterday also started my fourth week of social isolation. And my diary now tops 21,000 words. I have always wanted to sit down and write. I might even fiddle around with writing some poetry. I have always found that a great way to unwind. But have yet to find a way of producing anything I would judge good enough to share.

I think that as a mathematician, not a very good one, I constantly look for patterns. Writing a poem where the initial letters of each line make a sentence is great fun. But probably removes the spontaneity and fluidity of expression that would engage others.

Writing my daily diary may be good preparation for writing better poetry however because I tend to sit down and just write. Not totally free-form. The walks are an excellent time during which to think and to plan. I always carry a small notebook into which I jot down ideas for writing or for research. And a couple of buttons pressed on my electronic watch opens up a voice recorder.

As I look at my electronic pin-board of ideas onto which all of this gets put, I see nine areas for future writing.

Nature can be an inspiration. A wisp of a rainbow on the horizon put the old aide-mémoire for its colours into my mind - Richard Of York Goes Battling In Vain (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). And made me remember others.

At the weekend, the clocks went forward - Spring Forward, Fall Back - yup, it works best if you are an American.

Why do we still do this? Not every country does. In Australia, not even every State does. Western Australia, Queensland and Northern Territories never change their clocks. Neither do China, India, Japan and South Korea. And closer to home, Iceland keeps its own time year-round.

In fact, only about a third of the world's countries shift their clock for "daylight saving". A very curious description as the period of daylight is entirely unaffected by any choice we make about how we set our clocks.

The Romans seemed to fight against nature in this regard 2,000 years ago. Night, no matter how long or how short, had 12 hours. And so did the days. But, rather obviously, the length of an hour varied from day to day, and night to night, and between night and day. I wonder why that system was abandoned?

A survey in 2019 showed that a majority in the UK wanted to keep this system that was first introduced in Germany in 1916 to save coal. And in Scotland, support for the status quo is even stronger.

In, I think it was 1967/8, we had an experiment whereby the clocks did not change in October. We kept "summer time" throughout the winter. It wasn't irrational to find coming out of the daily mathematics lecture, I was a student at the time, and seeing the sunrise, a bit odd. And that was in Aberdeen on our East coast. What must it have been like in Stornoway?

I wonder if that residual memory of that experiment underpins our desire to stick with the status quo. But if we had kept our winter time zone during summer, would we have noticed? And would we still want to be in the third of the world that fiddles around with our clocks twice a year?

I talked about being a pilot in a previous diary blog. In aviation, we use one single time zone all around the world. That time zone we abbreviate to "Z" (otherwise, Zulu). It is actually the same as Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). Did you know that formally GMT has been displaced by UTC? New name, same old time.

So when you walk across the tarmac at Perth, whether it be in Australia or in Scotland, the moment you start up that aircraft's engines, the clock reads the same time. And it seems to work.

And that brings me to another aide-mémoire. Like at sea on a ship, aircraft have a red light on the left wing tip, on the port side. And a green light on the right, starboard. The aide-mémoire? Have you any red port left?

We've lots of them as pilots. Every half hour light aircraft pilots check various settings - FREDA (Fuel [switch tanks], Radio [on the correct frequency], Engine [carburettor heated to remove ice], Direction Indicator [the gyroscope that drives the direction indicator drifts off as the earth rotates], Altimeter [check it's set for the local pressure]).

Aide-mémoires make the world go around. And take us around the world.

But in my previous profession, software engineer, they also created opportunities for confusion.

ATM could mean; AutoTeller Machine, Adobe Type Manager, Asynchronous Transfer Mode and, of course, "atm" is the International abbreviation for the atmosphere.

Now what I am supposed to be doing next? Maybe I should tie a knot in my hanky as an aide-mémoire.


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