Visited Fliss (13th June 2009)

It was a nice day so I took the frisbee and football for us to play with, like previous Summers. Also took a beach towel and some little cakes so we could have a picnic. But Fliss was tired, so we stayed in.


We considered going to a cinema. Fliss seen the recent Star Trek movie, which I have not. I’ve seen the Terminator Salvation, which Fliss has not. Going to see either would work for me.

We weren’t sure how to get back, since neither of us drive. A taxi is all I could think of. No idea how cost-effective that would be, though.


Fliss has several days off at the end of this month, going into the start of July. She’d like to visit London together and soak up the city atmosphere.

Camden is one place Fliss wants to go, for the shopping. Apparently my style “needs to be worked on” so she’ll probably have a field day with that. Maybe I would, too.

Sue’s Garden

Lots of cultivation has been happening over the past few weeks. The paved areas are clean, plants have been neatened and lots of new ones are growing in pots and planters. There’s even some trellis!

Sue showed me a trowel with the handle mounted perpendicular to the blade. Looked like a small version of the ancient but effective tools still used by peasant farmers in the dry areas of Africa.


He’s a lovable pest! Played fetch and tug with a bone-shaped rubber rattle an his small tyre.

While sitting on a bench in the garden he came up and cuddled me. Found a sweet spot behind his ears to rub and he almost fell asleep on me.

Fliss joined us and we had a quiet moment together.


I had brought over 2 Bird’s Eye Breader Fish, 2 Tesco chicken Pies and 2 Strawberry Cornettos. I cooked the chicken pies using their microwave oven. It suffers one of the all-too-easy usability mistakes: having oodles of buttons for everything, with options in discrete steps which usually require repetitive pushes.

Our microwave has one dial for time and one dial for temperate, with one button for Start and another for Door Open. To it’s credit, their microwave oven’s door can be opened by simply opening the door, since it has a handle.

Their microwave oven has a preheat cycle which, it seems, has no thermostat. It simply runs the oven at the temperature you set for some hardcoded amount of time. You set a temperate by repeatedly pushing the Temp °C button at the top of the button panel, ignoring the up and down control marked Temp at the bottom. Naturally.

When setting the oven to run at a set temperate for a set time, it runs the preheat cycle even if it only just ran a preheat cycle. (Hence my suspicion that it is not a true, temperature-controlled preheating cycle.)

A countdown timer was never shown in its LED segment display. If you were making a microwave oven which already had an LED display, why wouldn’t you display how much time was left?! I didn’t notice a button to switch display mode but there might well be one on it, somewhere.

The electric induction hob has similar usability issues in comparison to a self-igniting gas hob. The strength of the heat is given in a digital readout going from 1–10. Do these numbers correspond to anything? The domestic Gas Mark scale stops at 9 and only makes sense inside an oven, afaik.

The energy efficiency of these devices is entirely seperate to their ease of use. This puzzles me, since I would expect more ecological devices to also be more ergonomic. Much like the way accessible websites tend to be more usable for everyone, not just for people with disabilities.

As I explained to Sue at the time, “This kitchen is like another world.”

Fliss’s New Clothes

Earlier that afternoon Fliss had gone shopping, picking up some trendy threads from the town. She ran a bath while I was in the garden and changed into one of her new outfits.

With some retro white sunglasses and a couple of shiny necklances, it was a striking look. A very different style from the eclectic tastes of her usual ensembles. (Indeed, calling them “usual” is a misnomer.)