Here we are the last day if the month – I have always wondered when those individuals born in a leap year on February 29th actually celebrate their birthday and I suspect March 1st which day it is tomorrow. The day started cloudy and with a band of rain threatened to sweep across the country later in the afternoon which it duly did. Meg and I decided to go down into town by car as we needed to call into Waitrose to collect a few things. Whilst there, we managed to make contact with one of the old established staff and ascertained that the coffee lounge facility will definitely reopen on 30th March which is in just over four weeks time. After this, we made our way by car to the park and chose a carpark near to the park’s café just in case any of our regular friends were lodged in there. As it turned out, there were not, so we made our way to our normal park bench in the upper reaches of the park where we consumed our coffee and were immediately visited by several dogs, liberated from their leads, who bound towards us hopeful that there may be a titbit coming in thir direction, which there never is. We got back home relatively early after all of this as we were quite keen to watch the latest news available from the Ukraine where it does appear that the remaining population in the Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, are being subjected to the most horrendous bombardment. For a start, the Russians appear to be using cluster bombs (which are, incidentally, illegal) and the Ukrainian authorities are admitting that dozens have been killed. The Russians may well utilise what is termed as a ‘Thermobaric‘ bomb, otherwise entitled ‘The Mother of All Bombs‘ This is the largest bomb yet manufactured short of an actual nuclear weapon. It is exploded in mid-air and sucks all of the oxygen out of the air for 300 metres around, as well as having the destructive power of 44 tons of TNT. Thermobaric weapons are considered to be one of the most brutal war weapons that exist and their destructive power, via the shockwave that they create, is immensely destructive both of people (whose internal organs are shredded to pieces) and to buildings. By some accounts, this weapon has been authorised for use in Ukraine but whether it has actually been used has not yet been reported upon.
As I write this blog, I am half-listening the Radio 4’s PM programme in the background. There was an interesting discussion whether the Russian population, subject to the most heavy of censorships, had any idea what was being done in their name. After all, the Russian government has banned the use of words such as ‘war’ or ‘invasion’ but are instead speaking of ‘military operations’ But in the absence of any real information, how do the Russian population react to the fact that all of a sudden interest rates have risen to 20%, the rouble has collapsed, that football matches are being withdrawn as well as cultural events such as Eurovision, that all of. sudden people are abandoning the ‘normal’ ATM’s that only dispense roubles but instead are queing to access any sources of money that are not roubles? The same report which was trying to assess the mood and knowledge of the war in the Ukraine reported the response of one citizen who, years ago, was asked their opinion of the fact that the Crimea had effectively been annexed. The response was ‘Do you want me to answer ‘offically’ or ‘unofficially?’ Meanwhile there were heart- rending scenes of refugees at the Hungarian and other borders. About ½ million refugees have already fled the Ukraine but at the borders, as there queues of people up to 20 miles long, they were letting individuals through about 50 at a time. So when the barriers went up, the women and children were let through but any of their husbands or sons who had helped to flee now had to turn back into the Ukraine, perhaps to their deaths, in order to fight the invaders.
And now for some slightly more cheerful news. I have been gradually getting my MAC computer to run at somewhat like a decent speed instead of an incredibly slow crawl. A major step forward was updating the operating system to the latest version which is called ‘Monterey‘ (a mountain range in California) This has the advantage of clearing out a lot of system junk but the present age of my machine (2015) means that it is only just capable of running the new operating system. I have now adopted the practice of only turning it on/off about once a week or a fortnight, the rest of the time resorting to a ‘Sleep’ mode which keeps all of the programs still in memory with a trickle charge of current. This makes it easy and fast to turn on, with no long waits and the system even updates instead whilst it has having a ‘sleep’ or, as Apple say, a ‘power nap’