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Batten down the hatches

After a dreary Summer, comes a miserable Winter. They’ve been bigging up shortages, and now shortages are coming to pass.

Partly self-fulfilling. BP announced gas rationing for their filling stations today and this afternoon our local (non BP) station had a brutal queue.

Meat, particularly beef, is getting scarce. I had a hankering for a slow-cooked beef joint and we couldn’t find a brisket for less than £8. (Still not eating the bugs, tho).

Tuesday we went into a supermarket – in person! – for the first time in…oh, fifteen months. It was fully stocked, but the online shopping has shown up some missing products. If they keep talking about it, people will naturally start to hoard toilet paper again.

Natural gas prices have exploded. Electricity also, and little suppliers are going bust. We’re preparing for blackouts.

That’s the second fire of the season. We’ve opted to go with all wood this year (instead of switching to solid fuel for the coldest months) because it’s much, much easier. Also we once had a delivery guy drop a literal ton of coal at the end of our drive, blocking it. We’re getting a little old and crunky for that kind of manual labor.

If it’s a cold one, I’m disappearing under the electric blanket for the season.

September 23, 2021 — 7:23 pm
Comments: 7

We’re all going to dieeeeeeeeprobably not

Twenty years ago, some dude wrote a paper about the volcano on La Palma in the Canaries. He thought the West face of the Cumbre Vieja volcano was unstable and, given another eruption, might shear off and fall into the sea.

You know, Cumbre Vieja. The one that’s erupting right now.

If the West face fell into the sea, he estimated it would generate a tsunami that would cross the Atlantic and reach the Eastern Seaboard seventy-five feet high.

Where the silly numbers in the illustration come from, I do not know. I found it here, but there’s no credit.

Only 23 feet for us, though it really doesn’t matter. We’re on the shores of the English Channel and slightly below sea level. A 23-foot wave hitting us might as well be 300 feet. We’d be goners.

There is precedent. They think Doggerland was sunk by a piece of Norway that slid into the sea 8,000 years ago.


September 22, 2021 — 7:11 pm
Comments: 18

Happy Equinox!

There is not really an equal amount of day and night, though. Because twilight. (The picture represents how wide a band twilight really is).

Kind of an interesting article. Apparently, there are two types of twilight. Civil twilight is when the sun is 6 degrees or less below the horizon and you can carry on doing normal daylight things. Nautical twilight is when the sea becomes difficult to make out, usually when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon. At 18 degrees below the horizon, it am dark.

Also, it isn’t really dark six months of the year at the poles. Because twilight.

Oh, and people? Summer’s gone. Bend over!

September 21, 2021 — 8:13 pm
Comments: 17


I was sitting at my desk today and I heard a clip-clop, clip-clop. Ran to the window, and I saw this ^^^

Not literally that. I whipped my cellphone out, but it didn’t wake up fast enough and the hearse clopped up the hill out of sight. I stole this picture from this funeral website.

I tried to find a picture from the actual funeral home, but I couldn’t because – are you ready for this? – there wasn’t a funeral scheduled in my town today.

Must be a private service. I’ll have to ask someone from church. I can’t possibly have seen a phantom hearse. I’m as psychic as a potato.

September 20, 2021 — 6:24 pm
Comments: 6


This is Kane. The internet tells me he is “the most successful masked wrestler of all time.”

He’s also Glenn Jacobs, Mayor of Knox County, Tennessee.

Why does a county have a mayor? I don’t remember counties having mayors when I was in Tennessee. Cities have mayors, counties are just…counties. I may never know. Knoxcounty.org appears to be down. Or maybe it doesn’t like my foreign IP.

Also, he’s just told Biden to pound sand on a vaccine mandate.

I am not ashamed of any of this. I find it delightful. Woohoo Tennessee!

Good weekend, everyone.

September 17, 2021 — 6:54 pm
Comments: 15


I had to host a really bitchy Zoom meeting tonight and I didn’t get to hit the ‘mute all’ button even once. I’m bummed. I really wanted to exercise raw power and stuff.

Back on the subject of the harvest, I went to two fruiterers today (I love that word) trying to by some plums for Uncle B and was told there weren’t any anywhere. The season was scarcely two weeks long. So there’s another fruit failure for 2021.

The second purveyor of fruits was really exercised about it. He put it down to a lack of pruners last year and pickers this year. He may have a point.

Who knew you couldn’t run a society that pays line workers to stay home.

September 16, 2021 — 6:53 pm
Comments: 13

Just terrible

You may recall that I have access to a neglected orchard (I tried to buy it, but oh well). I’ve just been apple picking and that is easily the worst harvest I’ve ever seen. Most of the apple trees had NO fruit on them at all.

It’s possible someone nipped in ahead of me and picked them clean, but I don’t think so. There wasn’t any fruit on the ground.

The plum trees had a little fruit. Not much. The quince trees were barren. Same for the cobnut. The only thing thriving are the blackberries.

I’ve heard the commercial harvest was similarly shit this year. The cherries earlier this Summer were scarce and sour (not enough sunshine).

I got these two buckets of sour green cooking apples.

So, any simple apple ideas? I tried an internet recipe: core it but leave the bottom in. Fill the hole with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Microwave three minutes.

It dissolved into a giant puddle of mush, but I have to admit – it was a tasty giant puddle of mush. Next time, I’ll a little less time, a little less butter and a little more brown sugar. And nuke it in a bowl.

Oooo…I bet that would be nice mixed with oatmeal.

September 15, 2021 — 6:10 pm
Comments: 15

The archeologists are at it again…

They’ve recently found two of these very round stone balls in an ancient tomb in Scotland. Yes, I am resisting the urge to make a stone balls joke of some description.

About twenty ancient stone balls have been found in the Orkneys and others across Scotland. I was sure I had posted about them before, but I can’t find any such post. The ones in the upper right corner of this Wikipedia article are examples of what I’m talking about.

So what are they?

Researchers say the stones were probably used as both weapons and symbols of power.

Symbols of power? Really? I get that it would be difficult to make such a thing with hand tools, so maybe it was a high status item but…a symbol of power?

Don’t they make more sense as a neolithic one of these?

September 14, 2021 — 6:42 pm
Comments: 7

I had to ask.

Spotted at the fish market. I had to ask.

The girl said, “the fridge is for winkles. They’re kept very cold before they’re sent off to Korea.” I think she said winkles; it might have been whelks. I spent a moment thinking what a silly name that was and wondering why they were all going to Korea.

So the lobsters don’t like the cold? “Oh, no” she said. “The lobsters like the cold just fine. But they all come crawling out and we lose all the cold trying to get them back in again.”

Hm. Here’s a 2019 article about whelks from Wales going to South Korea. The fisherman is quoted thusly: “Goodness knows why they like them – they taste like nan’s toenails – but it’s given me a living for the last two decades,” he said.

But it looks like the Koreans also have multiple words for winkles, see here for a handy pronunciation guide. 흔들 리다 also apparently means, wave, oscillate, whiffle, shimmer, waggle, wag, quake, quiver, waver, swing, rock, sway, shake and tittup. Yes, it’s a word. Despite the fact winkles don’t seem to do any of those things.

Seafood is confusing.

September 13, 2021 — 7:02 pm
Comments: 12

Well, my spreadsheet died and went to hell

It looked great on my computer. Then I uploaded it to Google Docs and it exploded. I picked bits of October out of April.

In the end, I had to simplify it down to a nub of its former self. It needs to be a collaborative document, so people can write themselves on to a calendar.

And now I think maybe Google Docs will only allow you to edit if you sign in from a Gmail. Annoyed.

Never mind. It’s the weekend! Enjoy yours.

September 10, 2021 — 8:30 pm
Comments: 3