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A tale from the Kattholt

This saucy Icelandic lad is Birkir Fjalar Viðarsson. The cat is Örvar. Seven years ago, Birkir got a puppy, and Örvar said, “see ya!” and boogered off.

Reykjavík is a smallish place, Örvar was microchipped, so Birkir checked with the shelter regularly hoping to get him back. No joy.

But here they are, reunited, seven years later. It would have been sooner, but when Örvar turned up at the shelter, all his microchip info was outdated and they had to Google for Birkir. Cat is skinny but otherwise well.

A pretty ordinary story, I realize, but it does give a small glimpse into the feline brain. The cat reacted strongly to the first sight of Birkier, apparently — lept to his shoulder and obsessively sniffed his hair and beard. If you scroll down this Icelandic version of the story, you’ll see pictures of the cat burying his face in the man’s hair.

Be careful if you translate the page, though. You’ll get a bit more information and a bit more weirdness.

For example, Google Translate tells me Kattholt is Icelandic for shelter. But Birkir Fjalar Viðarsson means Green Helen Foster Hematology. And, you know, I’m not sure that’s entirely right.

April 24, 2014 — 10:10 pm
Comments: 4

A place of dignity and refinement

This iconic image shows Michael O’Brien, an Aussie, the first brave innovator to run naked across the field of a major sporting event. It was a rugby game in 1974 between England and France. The bobby’s helmet (the one covering his junk) is on display at Twickenham, where this event took place.

I always thought of streaking as an American phenomenon, but it ain’t. The first recorded running-naked-on-a-bet was on July 5, 1799 when a London man was bet ten guineas he wouldn’t run naked from Cornhill to Cheapside. The flesh was willing, but the police were uncooperative.

The first recorded incident of streaking by a college student in the United States occurred in 1804 at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) when senior George William Crump was arrested for running naked through Lexington, Virginia, where the university is located. Robert E. Lee later sanctioned streaking as a rite of passage for young Washington and Lee gentlemen. Crump was suspended for the academic session, but later went on to become a U.S. Congressman.

I lifted that from the Wikipedia article whole, because I couldn’t say it better myself.

Oh. Right. Let’s not forget Lady Godiva, the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, who rode naked through the streets of Coventry in the 11th C to protest her husband’s taxation policy. Everyone kindly looked away from the spectacle except one probably apocryphal swine named Tom, whose name comes down to us through legend.

In her honor, Coventry will be hosting the country’s first national streaking contest next month. Genitals optional, looks like. It’s sponsored by a food manufacturer to celebrate a microwavable hamburger called the Streaker, so named because it is topped with streaky bacon. Or, as we call it in the States, bacon.

Just in case you were thinking it was all Masterpiece Freaking Theatre over here.

April 23, 2014 — 9:43 pm
Comments: 9

Damn.

Well, dammit, I found a hen dead in the run this evening when I went to lock up. Chickens do that; they just fall over. But this was a shocker because it was Coco — the biggest and youngest bird in the flock.

She was the all black hen, and a lovely iridescent thing she was, like a fat raven with a big red comb. We were admiring her earlier today, pecking around in the sunshine. Not even a year old.

Her sister — these are the only two of our birds that probably were biologically sisters — is the paralyzed one. Frightened by a fox in late Summer (we guess), she hurt her spine somehow and can’t stand. I decided I’d stick with her as long as she was alert and had an appetite, but I didn’t truly expect to see her live out the Winter.

She’s fine. She’s hanging in there, hard. I mean, she’ll never mature, but I feel rather fiercely that if she wants it, I will give it to her. Goodness knows she’s no extra trouble.

Stupid mortality wins too many as it is.

April 22, 2014 — 9:24 pm
Comments: 21

Wishful thinking

David Cameron was stung by a jellyfish in Lanzarote. No, he’s fine. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

Welcome back. Our holiday was lovely and we have lots of leftover turkey, if anyone’s interested.

Also, I have managed to eat a giant Ferrero et Rocher crispy Easter egg all by myself. That is all.

April 21, 2014 — 10:12 pm
Comments: 15

Happy Good Friday

Photo by Mark Duncan.

The term “looker” for shepherd originated on Romney Marsh, next door in Kent. Romney Marsh is a fascinating place. It’s the sticky-outy bit of Kent that waggles suggestively at France.

The little building there is called a looker’s hut and they once dotted the marsh all over. They were mostly used during lambing time, when very close tabs are kept on the ewes and newborns. The typical example is one room, brick, with a chimney and maybe a window. Little cosy places appeal to me mightily. A looker’s hut would be just the thing.

When lookers keep an eye on the flocks these days, they pull up a trailer. Or drive the fields all day. The old huts are falling down, being vandalized or deliberately demolished (when no-one is looking; they’re all protected by order). I can think of a couple that have disappeared just in the years we’ve lived nearby. Very sad.

Here’s a Wikipedia collection of photos, and another from Google Images.

Have a good weekend, all. It’s a four-day holiday here (no separation of church ‘n’ state for the Motherland), but I promise to turn up on Monday and share the leftovers.

April 18, 2014 — 10:09 pm
Comments: 27

Mutton honey

They found a ewe drowned in the canal in our back garden yesterday. How they noticed one missing and went to find her is beyond me. It’s a big flock. The looker pulled her out with a rope.

In our area, a shepherd is called a looker. You might think a looker looks, but he doesn’t. He lookers. Generally, he goes out lookering in the morning and lookering again in the afternoon.

Anyway, the looker told us a ewe will suicide if she’s ill (although another looker told me a ewe wakes up every morning and thinks, “how shall I kill myself today?”).

The looker (the first looker, I mean) also told us a ewe will reject a lamb if she senses it’s wrong. He had an apparently healthy lamb this season, rejected by its mama, was feeding well on the bottle and looking robust. Found him stone dead next morning in his pen.

On the other hand, most bottle-reared lambs thrive. You can tell who in the flock was raised by humans: they run up to you happy instead of away from you scared. I think I’d feel pretty awful sending off a sheep that thought I was great.

When they fish a sheep out of the ditch, it’s called drowned mutton. Used to sell it cheaper at the butchers, so it was prized by the poor (I can’t imagine it’s legal to sell these days). I half overheard one of my neighbors tell a story about an old lady who preferred drowned mutton, so they pitched one in the pond for her every year.

Lookers, eh?

April 17, 2014 — 9:11 pm
Comments: 15

Giant hovering thing over Warwick turns out to be something not very interesting after all

This thing baffled people for days, after some girl captured vid of it on her phone (I like the picture that goes with. “Hi, I’m Georgina Heap and this is a phone.”).

Turns out they were firing pyrotechnics with a trebuchet at nearby Warwick Castle and accidentally blew a giant smoke ring.

Wait, hang on, that’s kind of interesting after all.

April 16, 2014 — 10:27 pm
Comments: 8

Such a bright looking lad

London barber posts pic of Kim Jong Un under the headline “Bad Hair Day?” gets visit from Nork embassy goons. Both sides reported to to police. Nothing will come of it.

I love the Kims. I mean, I don’t, obviously — they’re vile and horrible tyrants. But I love the way they confirm my theory that no checks and too much praise invariably turns humans into monsters.

April 15, 2014 — 9:44 pm
Comments: 12

Welcome, fuzzball

I was out doing a bit of weeding in the garden this afternoon, when I heard a lamb kicking up a terrific fuss. I thought perhaps one had gotten stuck in the ditch so I sidled over to check it out. Found this: newly hatched lamb struggling to take his very first step.

So, awesome.

We don’t own the field behind, but it shares a name with this house, so they were obviously together once. It’s a long, narrow field — flat as a table — and the sun rises spectacularly at the far end of it.

A thought experiment: imagine you are a lamb in Badger House Field, born at midnight. A chill, windy midnight (last year, there was snow on the ground when the lambs were born). Yours is a world of darkness (which it has always been) and cold (this is new and not very welcome).

A few hours into your life, just when you’re getting the hang of tottering a few steps behind your mother in the dark, this THING — this great, bright sun — blazes down the field in a streak of glory.

What must that be like?

Thinking on it is darn near enough to make me religious.

April 14, 2014 — 10:17 pm
Comments: 9

I’m back. I think.

In case you missed it, yesterday’s routine Windows update totally boogered my computer. It booted, looked normal, but none of the icons worked. Eventually, it would throw up a series of error messages and fall right over.

“No problem,” thinks the intrepid weasel, “I’ll just do a system restore.” There were no previous states to restore to.

See, it’s supposed to do a little backup file before it installs updates, so you can step back if there’s a problem. I worked out later why it hasn’t been (all these years, apparently): backups were somehow allocated 0% disk space. Thanks for the error message, Bill.

So I had to sort it the old fashioned way, with a hammer and brute ignorance. I’m not absolutely convinced everything is totally back to normal, but I can run Photoshop and a video game at the same time, so it’s got to be good enough.

Meanwhile, tomorrow’s Dead Pool was never in any doubt. I got internets in all kinds of places these days. See y’all back here tomorrow, 6WBT.

April 10, 2014 — 8:44 pm
Comments: 15