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Effort vs Effort
It's all about amount and location
16 June 2020 . 5min read

It was the other day that I decided to go for a drive. Not a drive to a specific location, or a drive for a specific reason. I just wanted to go for a drive.

I guess it must be a family thing, as my father would often enjoy the actual drive bit of going somewhere.

So with the current restrictions of movement, I hadn't actually been out in the car for ... Well, if I think about it, I'm not quite sure how long; maybe a month or so.

The first challenge was locating my car keys. I've said on many occasions that I have specific locations for certain things; keys, wallet, glasses, phone, medication. Some think I've overstated the importance of that. Well, today it paid off. My keys were in the official place. (I've noted this for future discussions on the matter).

Flushed with success, and remembering to take my wallet for that, if something happens, you should have some bendy money situation. I exited the house and walked towards my car. For those of you who have been paying attention, it's a 2008 Mercedes E220 with (at the time of writing) 170,000 miles on the clock. It has been a long time, and it was with the familiar greeting, I opened the door and got in. It was its usual delightfully comfortable self.

Keys in the ignition, random set of lights appear, turn ... engine half turns over, and then nothing. Oh, guess the battery is dead. Perhaps I should have started every couple of weeks.

I was still determined to go for that drive to nowhere.

It was then I remembered I had a telescope. It's not a massive telescope, but it is of a reasonable size. You can use it for planet watching, as well as deep sky stuff. It has a set of electronic wizardry, which means that it knows where all the stuff in the sky is. Once stable on its substantial tripod, you just plug in the date & time, located 3 random bright things in the sky. It can then work out exactly where it is on the planet & present you with a database of things to look at or position on. It's actually quite clever.

I remember setting it up for the first time in the front room. Lots of bits and bobs, and cables, and remote controls, and glass eyepieces, and a heavy tripod. But it seemed straightforward enough. So, later that night I took all the parts outside, found a nice dark spot. Turns out that it is slightly more of a challenge assembling it all in the pitch black.

After some considerable effort, and a few bad words, it was up and running. It had its own power source, and we were cooking on gas, so to speak.

You can spend a heck of a lot of money on astronomy, and some of it is just expensive because they tag it as astronomy. You know, like a computer mouse that is 15, but when they stick the gamer tag on it paint it black, they charge you 35.

My 'scope needed a reliable power source. It could run on 8 small AA batteries, but in chilly winter temperatures, they tend to drain and be unreliable. The solution is to buy a special astronomy battery pack. It has the great branding on it, and costs around 120. That seemed a bit much. So, I decided to ignore that approach and get something else.

Back to the car that doesn't start. I bet you thought I'd forgotten that.

The astronomy battery shortcut was a car-quick-start device. A small/medium-sized battery, with a light, a standard cigarette connection, and even 2 USB charging ports. The standard connection, of course, connected to my 'scope. It also had 2 jump-start red & black grips.

It was in the garage, and ready to rock-n-roll, so to speak.

Now, the battery in a Mercedes is located in the boot/trunk. I think the rationale is that if you are in a head-on crash, then by having the battery at the back, there is a batter chance that all the electronics will still work. The weight distribution is also better, and it of course gives them more space up front to put other stuff.

So, all the stuff out of the boot. It's quite a large battery I have to say, and I was a little worried that the Jump-start wasn't up to the challenge. I know that large is a relative term. To give you an idea, using a current unit of measurement that you will be familiar with, it's around 408 boxes of matches size.

Jump-start connected, turn key. Started first time.

Disconnect, put it back into the garage, connect it up to charge. We are off on our random drive. OK, it took a while, but we were off.

The drive was lovely, and I didn't really go anywhere specific, just a nice 65 mile drive through some countryside.

After several weeks, the poor little jump-start battery is still charging. It obviously took one heck of a lot of effort for it to get the car going; it's still not fully charged.

Last Thursday, when I'm due to write this piece. I thought that I really should think about what to write. So I took a few minutes, in fact it was probably less than a minute, and I immediately came up with this idea. It was easy.

I had the idea of what I wanted to say. I didn't though, have how I was going to get there. I had no idea at all how I was going to get to the endpoint, the conclusion. No matter, don't panic. It will arrive in my mind soon. Well, I can tell you it took several days of effort to work that one out. In fact, I'm writing this on Saturday.

Starting was a breeze, but finishing it in a way that I was happy with was a massive effort.

Which thankfully gets me to my point.

Going on the random drive took one heck of a lot of effort to start. Once started, it was super easy to finish. Writing this piece was super easy to start, but was really difficult to finish.

They both required the same amount of effort. One required it all at the start, the other required it all at the end.

We often see effort in different ways. Often, it is just the same amount, expressed and positioned at a different time.

Putting a little effort into treating effort in the same way means that the overall amount of effort required seems to smooth out and somehow seems like less effort.

Tea has a long, complicated, and at times a morally dubious, history. In terms of a drink, it is the method by which I consume the most amount of liquid. I've taken to including it in my daily water-intake amount, which means I can easily reach my daily target. I would say that I drink 6 to 10 cups (mugs actually) per day. The process of making, and the act of drinking tea, enriches my life somehow. After completing this, I'm off to have a rewarding cup of tea.


Profile photo of Nigel Derbyshire

I'm a carbon-unit who writes; a Carbon Writer. Life & culture are my default topics, mixed with a little English wit & sarcasm. Full of mostly true stories, I occasionally remember to write them down. Found in a crowd, or contemplating in a corner. Habit of talking to anyone. Author.
- Nigel Derbyshire