Resting my Leg…

Sometimes things work – sometimes they don’t.

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Life is a silly thing…

 

Boy 2020 is a year to remember.

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Ordinary Photos for Ordinary Lives…

 

Whilst many of us try to pretend it isn’t the case deep down we know it is true.  We lead ordinary lives.   Not for us the highs and lows of others but rather the mundane.   Occasionally some extraordinary thing happens to us but as with a summer breeze it passes and we return to the mean.   The one lesson that time teaches us is that this is the case – replacing the restlessness of our youth with the inner acceptance of the old.  Life is what it is and we are what we are.

 

It is strange what passes through one’s mind in the freshness of a summer dawn.  This morning I was able to enjoy the freedom of being able to stand in an empty field watching the changing skies of a summer sunrise.  Over the past few days I have marvelled at the stupidity of the world in which I live.  Stupidity?  Well maybe pointlessness at least.   The cause of this bemusement was not the continuing collapse of Donald Trump’s Presidency nor the daily exposure of most of the British government to being just frightened  little boys, they are mainly boys, in the face of the oncoming storm.  You almost hear them crying out ‘Mummy’.

None of this really affected me in any real sense.  Leaders come and leaders go but life carries on.   No what has been agitating my consciousness was something totally trivial – the release of the latest Canon  hybrid mirrorless camera the R5.  I have no idea whether it is a good camera as I don’t understand what it means to be a good camera at all.  Yet I watch the talking heads explaining why this feature or that will make a difference knowing it won’t.  The only thing that will make any difference at all is the poor fool who presses the shutter release.

I’m sure I have written about this before but I have given up on modern hybrid cameras.   I use a Sony A7 Mk 2 which is inferior, so the talking heads tell me, in so many ways and yet I mostly manage to create the photographs I want.  The hearsey here is that the camera technology I use is nearly 6 years old.  The talking heads would protest that just about everything about the camera is wrong:  The menus are confusing; The custom buttons fiddly; The focusing system was a joke; The grip too small; The battery life is pathetic  and the video functionality was beyond primitive.  None of these things matter one little bit to me.   I have found work arounds to all of the problems that stop me from making the photographs and as I am a photograph rather than a videographer I have no need for the video function at all. (Come to think of it how many would buy just a still camera unencumbered by the latest 8k video capture or whatever is the latest craze?   As far as I can see the drive to hybridisation was done mainly at the behest of the camera makers rather than photographers. I am no doubt wrong but it matters not.)

The point of all this rant is that all of the latest cameras for most of the people are more than adequate for their needs.  It has been the case for at least 6 years to my knowledge.  Would I love to own a Canon R5?  Of course but I wouldn’t spend one penny to achieve that because it wouldn’t allow me to do anything me current camera wouldn’t do (not for the £4000 plus it would cost for me to buy before considering the cost of replacing my Sony & Zeiss lenses for Canon).   Now new lenses are a different matter and they can be worth every single penny you spend.

This doesn’t mean that there are aren’t some specialist needs that these new camera bodies help, of course there are.  However, most of us aren’t special we are ordinary.  On any distribution curve we would be clustered around the middle.  One of the reasons why we watch professional sports is because we are watching a freak show.  They are a small elite in their endeavour who are the exception.  They may be ordinary in so many others ways but in one specific area they are unique and that is what makes us watch them.  Perhaps these freaks of the camera world will find a use for the Canon R5 but most of us around the middle won’t.  Maybe one day we’ll come to realise that – maybe we already have with the collapse of camera sales.  The one thing that this pandemic has shown to us all is that much of lives have been filled with nonsense maybe the new normal will lead us all to accept that and find a new way to live.

Strange how the fresh dawn air of the empty fields of east Leicestershire can make one’s mind wander.

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The Leicester Lockdown….

So we are approaching decision day – will the Leicester Lockdown Continue?  If it does will the outer suburbs of Leicester which, whilst not within the boundaries of the city, are still part the lockdown be included or should they be released from the restrictions?   As I have mentioned before I monitor this lockdown closely, for obvious reasons, using the only publicly  available dataset – the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK dataset published every day around 4pm in the afternoon.  This dataset is only accurate to the local district council level and whilst there are clearly more detailed datasets in existence these have not been made public.

The first problem I  have tried to overcome is to provide some context for the data.   The main data set is the number of people that are  lab confirmed infected with Covid 19.  I have looked at the rate for Leicester (obviously), Oadby and Wigston (fully in the lockdown area), Blaby (partially within the lockdown area), North West Leicestershire (a local district in Leicestershire with reasonably sized urban areas and yet not  close to the city of Leicester) and finally the Rest of the East Midlands (This is the infection rates minus the above – the City of Leicester is geographically located in the East Midlands.).  (Note: Charnwood Council, was partially included in the restricted zone,  was not included because of the complicated spread of the population within the council area would have made data meaningless.) All the data was then presented as a rate per 100k of the population to try and give very disparate sized datasets some commonality.

New Cases Per Day

It is clear that the number of new cases recorded in the City of Leicester has significantly reduced from 18.66/100k on the 1st July 2020 to 3.16 on the 13th July 2020 (It takes a couple of days for the numbers to settled down hence I have chosen the 13th). However, when this is compared to the Rest of the East Midland line it is clear that this is still much higher than the rest of the East Midland number.  Nonetheless it does represent a four fold reduction in new case in less than 14 days which it has to be said is impressive.

Cumulative Number of People Infected

Individual new case per day is an important indicator.  However, those people stay infectious for a number of days.  It is far from clear as to how long this might be or how long the individual might have been infected before being tested.  What is clear is that there is a cohort of people at any day who we know are infectious and so I have decided to use the quarantine guidance i.e you must isolate for 14 days to give an idea as to the size of the cohort of infectious people.  To do this the previous 13 days number of recorded infected people have been added to current day’s infected to provide a number.   This is somewhat crude but without any greater understanding of how the infectious spreads it is the best I can do.   So the first graph shows that the City of Leicester has reduced the size of the cohort from 267.87/100k population to 168.82 – a reduction of just over one third.  However, when compared to the rest of the East Midlands performance over the same time it can be seen that there is a significant way to go.  The graph below illustrates this very well:  Whereas Blaby District Council is for all intents and purpose the same as the Rest of the East Midlands Leicester is still 11.7 times larger.

So what do these data picture tell us?   Firstly, Leicester has reduced the number of new infections by a significant number.  The trend is clearly down.  However, when compared to the trend in the Rest of the East Midlands it still has some way to go.  Equally, Oadby and Wigston is doing much better but is higher than the Rest of the East Midlands.  Blaby District Council has seen the most improvement and is really no different to the Rest of the East Midlands and certainly better than North West Leicestershire, which is outside of the lockdown.  From these figures it would seem to indicate to me it might still be too early to drop the restrictions on the City of Leicester and Oadby/Wigston but Blaby should no longer be subject to the restrictions at all.  If it were me I would extend the restriction on Leicester & Oadby/Wigston for one more week to ensure that the reductions are real but Blaby should be released.   This is what Leicestershire County Council leader Nick Rushton is saying, and the County Council were responsible for the extend restriction area outside of the City of Leicester.  Whether London will listen is another matter.

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15 Minutes by the Climbing Rose….

 

I always find that I am fighting a losing battle trying to capture bees – especially with my antiquated equipment.   Hoverflies on the other hand are far more obliging.

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If you Build it, they will come…

 

There was a time when I was the only person whoever ventured into the damp paddocks and fields of Ratby Meadows.  This was a self deceit of course but that is how it always felt as I explored the common.   As with many such places it was surrounded by the modern world and yet it had its own peace.  No more.

 

Today it is a modern pleasure park known as Everards Meadows.  Gone are the scrubby grasses and the forlorn horses replaced by clear paths and freshly cropped grass and people flock for reasons that are something of a surprise to me.  But then I am looking at this with old eyes: Eyes that have seen the past and cannot be totally reconciled with the present.  The one thing is sure:  The Everards Brewery company knew what they were doing when they moved across the road and decided to build this family entertainment brewery.   Even in the lockdown and the brewery not yet complete   there were plenty of people enjoying the first proper summer sun we have enjoyed for several days.   Goodness only knows what the place will be like once it is fully open?

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How to Kill the Buzz…

So two weeks in and what little reserve of fun I had has totally evaporated.   Every day around 4pm I hit the UK Covid dashboard for the latest figures on just how the infection in Leicester is doing and I have to say the data publicly available is encouraging.   The above graph shows the real problem that city of Leicester, Oadby/Wigston & Blaby were facing (I know parts of Charnwood are included but they don’t really affect me – selfish I know).

At the height of the problem in Leicester, a city of around 350 thousand the infection rate was 10 times higher than the rest of the East Midlands region which has a population of around 4 million – you can see that Oadby/Wigston & Blaby were really bad as well.  Now we can argue about where the boundary line was drawn but clearly something had to be done.  Fortunately, it would seem that the semi lockdown is working and we can only hope that the current position of zero infections continues.

This doesn’t really help me because the lockdown this time has all but drained any creative drive I might have and I find myself in a limbo.  This is made all the worst because I know many people are not sticking to the rules (although the guidance is so wolly that at times I have difficulty knowing whether I can do this or that).  Whatever the case I feel becalmed waiting for 4pm to come around for my next stats fix.

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Any Old Day….

Another day in lockdown (sort of).

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Be careful what you wish for…

Was it just one week ago?  Was it really? Well yes it was and boy have things changed since I moaned about the tiny heatwave we were enduring at the time (by we I mean me!).  Since that day it has been dull and drizzle all the way with just the occasional downpour – oh the joys of the British summer.  To top all of that I find myself back into some form of lockdown as a result of administrative Fiat.  I say lockdown but it would seem that many people are just ignoring its existence and as usual central government have covered themselves with a big bucket of…well you know what.   It would be uncharitable to suggest that playing mandarin games are more important than actually saving lives – am I being too serve? Probably.

So it is time, once more, to catch up with things I had not gotten around to (this is a much smaller list). The one thing I have noticed is that the second time around it isn’t anything like as much fun(?) as the first.

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Lines on the ground…

So here we go again…we are back into lockdown – sort of I think – but as I sit here writing this the nearby major road seems to be just as busy as it was yesterday when weren’t back in lock down ( I could go on about the nonsense line drawn for the boundary of the lockdown area  but what would that achieve?) .   I get the feeling that this whole thing was rushed by central government who don’t seem to want to talk to the people on the ground and provide them with the data they need to make informed decisions – perhaps it would be different if it was part of London or County Durham?

Anyway, we are where we are and I guess we’ll just have to get used to a return to something approaching the situation a few weeks ago – I think?

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