Funkenflug aus flammenden Synapsen.

And this weekend's moment of pity...

... goes to the young lady in her 20s who was crouching in front of the lube section, having a bit of decision paralysis. (I hear that consensual ethical enjoyable sexual acts involving more than one person exist, but I think that's just a rumour.)

It's all about mi, mi, mi!

So, one of the things that has kept me amused since I got back Thursday evening is that I had ordered a Xiaomi Mi band, one of those cheap fitness tracker things, and it had arrived by the time I got back. Luckily for me, the parcel was small enough for the postman to stuff it into my mailbox and they skimped on transport insurance … I've had cases where I needed to go to the main post office downtown to sign for, well, my color-changing toilet bowl light, for example.
Aaaaanyway. The installation process, in bullet points. The thing arrived uncharged, so it needed putting into its tiny USB cradle for a couple hours, fair enough. It even uses the three LEDs it has to give an approximation of charged it is.
I make sure the band fits around my wrist. I ascertain the band does not fit around my ankle by about an inch and a half. (I had heard about people's trouble with step counting by arm movement, and I didn't really buy it for the heart rate measurement, so I figured I might as well look like somebody out on parole, but maybe not, if the strap is too short. There's a third option (note: third option not available to all sexes), which will probably make the daily goal celebration vibration very interesting.)
Anyway, wrist it is. I have no idea how it wants to measure my heart rate on the top side of my wrist when the veins are more on the bottom, so let's put it on the bottom.
There's no clients for desktop systems, just Android, iOS, and unofficial clients for WinPho. OK, I have this Android-based media player thing hooked up to my TV, which is how I wanted to use it anyway. (No, this does not mean I'll only be jogging around my TV, tempting as that is, given that Homeland box set, the wristband can do some stuff on its own without having its hand held by its mother(ship)/phone, and you can sync it later. Frankly, as far as I'm concerned, the whole thing would be pointless otherwise because sufficiently smart phones have accelerometers, which measure how close you are to the next green stalk of the parsley family can be used to count steps.)
So, official app in the play store says "I'm not compatible with this device", no further explanantion. My tablet is too old to have the requisite low-calorie wireless required to talk to the wristband. (I found out my neighbour seems to have a bluetooth-enabled TV, though. Which seems to mean I can pop up a "your PIN to enter is XXXX" window on his TV at will? Oris that my TV only that's not unlocked?) My windows laptop sees it, though.
Go look at alternative software, and try to find one that doesn't scream "7eet, please enter your credit card n0mber h3r3!". Not available through app store. Download, copy to thumbdrive, put thumbdrive into media thingy, install, start. Searching for wristband… failed. Take a walk, just in case. Come back, try to manually pair wristband with media thingy first. (IT is full of pairing and mounting and male and female plugs. Make of that what you will.) Seems to have found... something. Start app again. Wave arm around, see if steps are recorded. Nope. Find a debug menu. (Did I mention that the media thingy, of course, is not touch, but only has cursor keys on a remote, with optional mouse emulation mode? More on that below.) OK, Debug mode can make the band vibrate. Debug mode has a live step mode, and if I now wave my arm, after a couple seconds, a curve goes up. Debug mode has a "measure heart rate now", and if I do that, I see the green light come on on the wristband, and after a few seconds it tells me I'm dead. Fair enough, it's not what I bought it for, maybe it collides with the toasty tan. A smarter device would probably automatically call an ambulance, aren't I lucky I'm cheap?
Somewhere in here, I un-paired the thing again, because I tought maybe it would help with accessing counts and all that, and then couldn't get it to re-pair. I looked around the web in panic and was almost resigned to putting it in the fridge for a week to try and kill the charge on it (this thing is supposed to last a month between rechargings in usual conditions), but the next morning, it worked better again.
Abort experiments (at this point, it's sometime Saturday evening-ish), but wear wristband during jogging on Sunday morning, just in case. Funnily enough, it seems to be counting steps OK, because at some point after about probably 8k or so, I get a buzz signal, which I take to mean it thinks I've done 10k steps today. (Beat that, AA!)
Return home, sync with software, no steps. Think more about installing official app (that appstore says is incompatible, but what can possibly go wrong?)
I think it is at this point I also try to run Android on VirtualBox, which technically works, but for me only got as far as "please choose your WiFi network" and seemed to do nothing after I said "no thanks" (the virtual machine should already see the host network, but I can forgive a mobile device operating system for not being good about "I already have a wired network connection")
Google around, find a downloadable copy on apkmirror. Download to thumbdrive, thumbdrive into media thingy, install, hooray. "Please create an account." OK, whatevs. I read that not all mail domains work for this, chinese firewall and all that, so I don't even try my usual spamfodder address (or maybe I do?), and then I try gmail, which people said should work, and it doesn't. Funnily enough, what did work was a spamgourmet address :D :D :D.
So now I have an account, and I can sign in in the app (which is a bitch if your username is now and you need to type it twice with an on-screen keyboard you navigate with cursor keys). And now I'm in the app, and I can pair the wristband again, I swear my wrist has never seen that much pairing action in a day, and I can try stuff out in the official app. Only not really, because they have a bunch of custom UI widgets, like "we now make the thing vibrate as part of setup. Tap the icon if it does vibrate", only that didn't work with the mouse emulation for the first three tries or so. And then it wants useful data like height and age, and the pickers don't work. (As it turned out later, the pickers only work through dragging, you can't tap anywhere to change the setting, and I physically can't keep the tap button pressed on the remote and use the cursor keys around it at the same time.)
I cave in and hook up a mouse and keyboard to the media player thingy, which makes everything much less of a drag (ba-dum-tish! Thank you, I'll be here all week unless the chemicals in the wristband kill me).
I set a demo alarm on the band, and it goes off. I think I'm ever out of bluetooth range at that point, so I'm fairly confident there's enough of a clock mechanism in the band to do that autonomously. For fun, I've turned on all the bells and whistles (like, improved measurements during my sleep? Warn me if my heart rate goes over 170? Warn me if my jogging pace goes below whatever was the default, though I guess that won't work without GPS? Whatevs, all I want is a rough estimate of how much jogging I do, to hopefully make me do more. I hear this is called gamification, which is somewhat appropriate given the smell of my jogging gear.)
And so, ladies and gentlemen, that's my getting a Mi Band 1S into a vaguely working state.

Day 5: unarmed and dangerous

On a whim, I looked at hiking ideas provided by the council. One of them was around 9k along the River Yare to Berney's Arms. (Or rather, the other way around, but I figured I could go it the wrong way and turn back in the middle or something.) I got past all the cows, and cow pats, without incident. Yay go me! And of course, I go all the way, and after around two hours and change (the council estimates people do around 2km/h), I'm at Berney Arms, formerly a pub, now closed. OTOH, sunshine, cows, water (and enough tide, in fact, that the picnic table I sat at a while to read at Berney Arms was in waterwhen I came back fifteen minutes later).
On getting back to Yarmouth, I spent while in a dazed walk around Asda (but managed not to buy any donuts, even if it's two packs for a pound).
Spent a bit of time sitting near the beach reading. (I find my left-side hamstring is giving me trouble, if I actually sit down in the sand, I might never get up again.)
Dinner: a cheese and onion pasty. And maybe a cornish pasty later. I did not go out of Asda's bakery section empty-handed.
Oh, and happy Talk like a pirate day, everrrrybody. Yarrrrrr!

Day 3: cosmopolitan

Today being Saturday, we have an influx of new guests: a middle-aged couple from France and a young couple from the UK who seemed to spend the breakfast looking at their electronic handheld devices, and a family of four.
It's weird how that changes the whole breakfast dynamics, if you will -- the husband of the french couple speaks almost no english, the young couple is occupied with electronics and the family, well there's always plenty of stuff going on with a family. (The day before, we had the single retired lady who had worked in the US for decades, two men in their fifties here for the racing, so we had a big cross-chat of tips, horse and tourism, and things. I suck at this sort of thing, but that doesn't mean I dislike it.)
Weather today was dry and cloudy, so I walked a lot (there's a California here, too! There's a Kalifornien near Schöneberg, Kiel, too!)
Got through my book, but failed to find three interesting books for a 3 for 5 at The Works, but hey, I have a kindle.
Currently enjoying a hot apple and blackberry squash and dark chocolate digestives. (I couldn't resist.) Not-enjoying "Ninja Warrior UK", which is even more idiotic than the German version because they have commentators they wouldn't even take for Come Dine With Me. (There's something brewing in me here about how this is a society that seems to have a lot more jostling and heckling compared to Germany.)
Oh, and I might as well put this under cosmopolitan: they have a bathroom that is not trying to kill me! (I.e. no dodgy electrical heater inside the shower cubicle. Still bum water pressure, though, and I feel very lefthanded about the faucets.)

Day 2b: zombie weather

i.e. it raaaaaains, so I'm back inside even though it's only 1:20pm, because the constant drizzle is just wearing me down, pearl izumi jacket or no. (Also, it's slightly cooler today and I fancy a mince pie and hot tea.)
Not seen so far: the "Finding Dory" kids' menu offer (fish fingers and chips) because I'm mean that way. Spent 74p on gambling. Watched some of the bowls semifinals, realized I don't understand the scoring.
Also, what's this thing with brits and weather? A good day out for a brit seems to be mucking around with a metal detector along the beach while getting third-degree sunburn. Unfortunately, the weirdly-shaped canopy over the bowling ground benches, which yesterday at least provided some shade, was not designed to provide shelter against rain when combined with even the mildest of breezes.
I'm sure there's more, but first, there's tea.
ETA: rain let up around 4-ish, went out in search of the local games store, which looked a. closed and b. games-workshop-only.
Oh, and some home news joke: Kiel is in talks to get twinned with San Francisco. I know which side is getting the rougher deal with that. :D

Day 2a: not much so far.

My accent apparently now classifies as "weird and difficult to locate" with people. I blame for that. (Adjective not-anniversary-anymore!)
People with rooms to the front are complaining about party-goers having arguments on the street. I am so blessed with a room to the rear with nothing worse than a washing machine directly under the window in the extension below. OTOH, I now realize that the sudden cracking noise I woke up to this night was my cheap sunglasses snapping in two under their own weight. No srsly! They were fine when I put them down last night, they were broken this morning.
Rain forecast for today. Better look up where the cinema is, just in biebercase. Turtles or Ghostbustresses (Ghostbusts?), the choice may be mine. Also, put aside small change for penny arcade, if need be. (Luckily, I don't have a gambling problem. Just a craving to re-watch Blackpool. Possibly with singing along, but alas, I didn't bring it with me. In a world where I didn't care about money, my home NAS would be in reach and my home DSL would have enough upstream to, err, stream.)
Had a careful stab at the mushrooms this morning (I think Leslie might have mixed up the two plates she brought in at the same time, because I may have overheard a "oh you can have some of my mushrooms if you want" from the table behind me), and I don't think I've missed anything in the past 30 years, thankyou. (36-year-old me realizes that accidentally getting a poisonous mushroom in your tin of Tesco value is impossible, but some habits are hard to shake, as the actor said to mother superior.)

Day 1: sundried sundries

I got my ticket fixed, hooray. After three tries calling the hotline (which will personally come over and give you a pedicure while changing your ticket, going by the rate at which they did not become available to be handled by me), I went to the local tourist information which doubles as a NatEx ticket agent. As fate has it, I went there around 10:30, now wanting to book onto a coach less than 7 days in advance (Thu 8:30), so I ended up paying 12 or 13 pounds instead of just a five-pound fickleness fee, which the lady was more worried about than me.
What else? Skipping back to breakfast, which was nice (after a nice and quiet night, too -- my room is facing out towards the alley and the worst were a couple of seagulls in the distance at dawn -- much quieter than living on a cobblestone street that is a shortcut between student dorms and a night club), it transpires that several of my co-guests are here for horse or dog racing. For those of us not into that, there's a bowl tournament going on. (I've not inquired further as to the rules, because I think they'll tut if I compare it to the french game. ;) OTOH, maybe there'll be prizes awarded by the mayor, wearing an amount of ornamental bling that would not seem out of place on carneval de Rio.)
What else? While I'm skipping back and forth anyway, expect three pictures to come up at some point: "Holiday Camp", "Disapiered" and "You can 'quote' me on that". Maybe the Empi, too -- one thing that's rampant here is signs missing letters, and while I can see how that happens on a side window of a snack bar on the pier, how about the big illuminated signage at the Nelso 's Hotel, or more impressively, a huge stone block easily 40ft above ground at the Empi(re).
I'm a spork. If you expect me to cut steak, it's not going well, and saying "we will just need to cut steak every day ever and all people who have previously eaten with you are idiots and I hate them" does not make me less of a spork. So in the end, I told her to spork off, and that's all you'll hear about that today.
Anybody have any writer friends in sci-fi? I had a thought about Dyson spheres. (A Dyson sphere is a shell built around an entire star, being able to hoover up (pun intended) all the star's energy.) But of course, energy doesn't go away, unless you manage to convert it into matter, you just convert it to less useful energy, from electric energy, electrons marching in lockstep to do your bidding to heat, atoms having a bit of an uncoordinated wibble around. So if your advanced species has a dyson sphere, you will not, at first, see the star anymore, but as the energy has to go somewhere, you'll probably see something warm and dark. (Bonus inappropriate sidejoke: like your momma's butthole. Why is it never your daddy? Wouldn't that be more insulting?) So anyway, once we think about the radiation going out, here's the plot kernel: what's telling us there's not already a advanced civilization living in a dyson sphere in what we think of as sun?
What else? Food -- I found me a Sainsbury's, so my dinner just now was a family-size, if your family is fairly small, rhubarb pie. Because I can totally have pie on my own, and also, pie is not something that really exists in Germany, so I have to make up for years and years of lack of pies, savoury and sweet. I also have a bunch of tiny beef pasties, some "ripen in the bowl", i.e. just nice and crunchy, and half a dozen mincemeat pies. I am amused to see that the UK is just as good at puttng christmas stuff intostores in September, but in this case, I'm happy, as I've never had mincemeat pie before. (I bought a jar of mincemeat once before, but since I'm not Simon, I'm not eating it directly out of a jar (again).)
So, lots of bad food for me :)
And that's all I can think of for the moment, so I'll stop and make myself a nice cup of decaf tea.

Day 0b: numbers are hard, let's go shopping

Wow, this morning feels like a long time ago. So I made it to Hamburg in one piece. (This does, today, not go without saying: I was about half an hour early, and made sure to amble around away from three drunken people who were very close to getting inot a fistfight with a taxi driver.) Having checked in online (note to self: pay with paypal and they can't have a mismatch between name on credit card and name of passenger, which in my case is a missing middle initial), I had a bit of time in Hamburg to sit around at the gate. Flight was uneventful (tomato and cream cheese croissant).
Transfer from Heathrow to Victoria Coach was ... amusing, since there were three fairly loud Germans in the same carriage, who were planning to change at Lay-chester Square and were otherwise talking in German (so it's kind of hard to pretend you don't understand). Don't know if that was the world's smallest stag do or just a lad's week off -- the only plan I heard them mention was visiting a Tank museum.
And I will mention at this point that I think the signage from Victoria underground to Victoria coach is, errr, suboptimal, with tiny signs and crossing a street or two without any sign at all. (Note to self: it's a block further than you think, and behind you. Free suggestion to TfL: put a colored line on the pavement all the way from one to the other. Works for Kiel and its four cruise quays.)
So, to come around to the title of the post, I'm sitting in VCS waiting for my bus with approx. an hour to spare, and I apparently look at it properly the first time -- why is the return trip on a wednesday when my flight and my room are until thursday? Fortunately, Great Yarmouth is not cut off from the mainland by high tide when the moon is full or somesuch, so this problem can easily be solved by throwing money at it. Dates are hard, apparently, let's go shopping! I try to further use the time by getting a bit more cash out of an ATM there (I avoid ATMs in Heathrow, I figure they have no interest at all in giving you a good rate or low withdrawal fees since they need to refinance the most expensive rent ever), and find out the hard way that apparently the PIN on my CC isn't what I thought it was?
So I spent four hours in a fairly run-down NatEx coach to Yarrrrmouth, going through plans B, C and D. (I have my Maestro debit card with me, and fortunately, that gives my money over here, but I didn't know if it had a foreign transaction limit. Or, in fact, I know that my bank does impose a foreign transaction limit, and that it has different limits for "Europe" and "otherworldly" (my phrasing, not theirs), but I recall when I went there six years ago to have them adjusted, the bank clerk basically could not tell me if "Europe" is Euro-zone, EEC, or SWIFT-zone. (At this point in my travel, I was worried that the nice people at Copperfield's would very strongly prefer cash -- on my first trip to Blackpool oh so many moons ago, the b&b charged me their banking charge of 2%. With a guessed daily tx limit of 100€, it would have taken a few days to pay my board/with the card not working in their machine, I was prepared to leave a 200€ deposit while I go find an ATM.)
Anyway, all this turned out to be inconsequential -- I got to the b&b, nobody was there, but they had left a phone number to call (it's very possibly I've not made a phone call with it since Bournemouth last year, calling the guy about how to get into the flat we rented, when it turned out we were looking at a number-combination-locked box that was not the box we were supposed to be looking at), and people turned up about ten minutes later (they were on their way back from the hospital). And yes, my Maestro debit card worked, and the room is nice and the bed doesn't have a footboard, which is very useful, and it's right next to the shared shower/WC.
And so I dropped my stuff, tried to re-deodorate as best I could (no spray allowed on planes, and the roll-on I have had the miraculous quality of not giving lcohen asthma attacks, but does buggerall about transpiration and smell) and headed out to the beach. The beach is maybe a hundred meters down the road, and there's arcades on the corner and stuff, even if some of the stored seem to already have closed for the season. Talking of closed and weird, there's an oil rig sitting here in spitting distance. I will venture out and get the angle right and take a picture of the oil rig and the big ferris wheel.
And I had a bit of sniffle, because I miss Prawn, my offspring which I will never see again (because custody being what it is), and we could've built little tidepools and have father-son bonding moments. (GY beach is sand and shell fragments on the land side, but the tide actually drags in lots of pebble, so the actual tidal part is pebble.) I think he would've enjoyed that. (For those of you not following this closely, Prawn is lcohen's and my common offspring, a stuffed orange seahorse I gestated in time for her second trip to Germany, I think.) Since vacations are my pondering-time, expect more maudlinity along those lines. I'm sad she took a "do this or I'll never ever talk to you again" attitude, from pretty early on.
And now I have more cash and some basic shopping to get me through to tomorrow: decaf tea bags, roast lamb and mint crisps (rather nice actually), some granola bars and new deodorant. Still need sunscreen, though -- it's around 28C and sunny here, which is why I'm now hiding inside to write this, even though it's only half past five.
In other news, I have a problem: people here have a vowel enunciation and triggers my brain into thinking they're talking German. Something about the 'a's, I think. On the bus, I thought it was the two indian-looking guys speaking some third language altogether, but even here, people in the mid-distance sound like they say "Ja" and "Nein".
What else is going on here? There's going to be some sort of festival ("Out and about" or so?) this weekend, there's already a couple of trapeze artists training on a huge swingy ropy contraption on the beach.
That's all I can think about right now, but I guess that's plenty.