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Note to self: don’t piss off Farmer Brown


Okay, I’m no Marlin Perkins, but I’m pretty sure that there’s a fox. And I’m damn sure it’s dead. And I do not believe foxes habitually climb trees to die, ergo…the French must have perfected the foxapult at last.


We drove over to see Farmer Brown (not his real name) this afternoon. Mrs Farmer Brown, actually. Very important people ’round these parts (we invited them to our wedding on the general principle of suckuppery). As we turned into the lane, we saw this jaunty fellow smiling at us from the hedge. I didn’t ask, but I would guess the country folk regard corpse-festooning as a deterrent to others.

Between you and me, I doubt it has the slightest effect on fox behavior. Makes the farmer feel better, at most. If the gibbet didn’t work on people, with our honking huge fearful brains, what is this supposed to do for Mister Sneakyboots McCleverpants?

Our local town still has a cage gibbet, by the way. And a pillory. Neither has been used in a couple of centuries, but there’s a piece of the last guy still stuck in the gibbet. I think you have to make an appointment to see it. I don’t know. It’s busy, I guess.

March 31, 2009 — 7:46 pm
Comments: 24

Cheap at twice the price


Shhhh…I’m trying not to annoy Uncle B tonight. He’s working. (Hey, one of us has to!)

Today I mailed off my FLR(M) application. It’s the second visa I need. The first one let me enter for the purpose of marriage, and it’s good for six months (I’m legal on that one until the end of May). The second one lets me work and be a sort of semi-person, and it’s good for two years.

It’s taking an average of 14 weeks to process those ones at the moment, so (assuming all is well) I expect to remain blissfully employment-free until July, mayhap.

Mayhap longer. The visa fees go up (again!) on Wednesday, April 1, so I imagine the Home Office will be buried in applications tomorrow. Heh heh heh.

The picture? That there’s a Thermionics Vacuum Products FLRM Series Push-Pull Linear-Rotary Feedthrough. It’s a linear-rotary feedthrough based on the FLM series push-pull linear feedthrough mounted on a standard 2.75″ O.D. flange. Strokes of up to 36″ are feasible, dependent upon payload, orientation and acceptable deflection. All metal construction for bakeability. It costs about three grand. It turned up on a Google Images search of “FLR(M)”.

I have no fucking idea what that sonofabitch does.

March 30, 2009 — 8:40 pm
Comments: 23

Do you know why the Brits talk about the weather so much?


Because their weather is fucking psychotic, that’s why.

I was minding my own business, weeding the driveway (my driveway is BRICK! Hahaha! But it hasn’t been weeded in a thousand years). It was sunny, warm, if a bit windy.

And then this spooky bastard blew up, pelted me with hail for five minutes, and flew off again.

I was like, “WTF?! Did anybody get the number on that bus?”

Then it was sunny again. Stupid England.

Happy Friday, everyone! (Yeah, funny that. Even when you’re unemployed, it matters).

March 27, 2009 — 8:47 pm
Comments: 41

This is my job. It’s what I do.


Nothing. Nil. Nada. Bupkis. Sweet fuck-all. I have been a complete and utter waste of human skin since I was rousted out of my nice warm bed by a hammering at the door at the cruelly early hour of one. Pee-em.

Near as I can piece it together, we set fire to the chimney last night. Again. A small fire this time, but apparently scary enough to make me grievously overdrink myself afterwards. Apparently.

Apparently, Uncle B was able to get the sweeps out on an emergency basis. Apparently. Again. That was them hammering on the door. He didn’t hear it because he was in the back of the house doing…I don’t know…his job or something. I’m unclear on this point.

So I answered the door like Mad Madam Mim, with one open eye and my jeans-front wadded up in my fist. I’m becoming heavily dependent on this crazy American woman gambit, you know.

Anyhow, the chimney really shouldn’t have sooted up this fast (our last chimney fire was on January 8). So, we probably need a bigger-diameter chimney lining (>£1K) and/or a new stove (>£1K). Probably both.

We think the old stove was Frankensteined together from pieces and is missing some bits. You might think a stove would be a simple thing with few important constituent elements, but you’d be SO WRONG. Jesus, what’s the matter with you?

It’s supposed to have some fire bricks and the air intake probably isn’t working right, which means our combustibles aren’t completely combusting but are laying down a coating of flammable soot on their way up the chimney.

Or some shit. I don’t know. We’re coming to the end of the heating season, so I refuse to think about it yet.

If you’ll excuse me, I’ve waited patiently for twelve hours for some hair o’ the dog…

March 26, 2009 — 9:02 pm
Comments: 31

Beer. Sale. Two great words that go great together.


w00t! Our local market had a beer sale today — three bottles for…shit, I don’t know. It’s not like I pay for anything. I’m a foreigner; when I want something, I point and grunt.

Poor Uncle B hates beer, but it was a sale on brew exclusively from the Badger Brewery, so he was cool with it. (You’ll notice there are seven. Spot the one that isn’t Badger).

Tonight, we’re putting together the paperwork for my next visa, the FLR(M). It’s my Married Lady License (though it will cover civil unions and homosexualists, also). I intended to do this the day after we were wed, but I didn’t on account of I’m a lazy sack of shit. Also, it’s taking 14 weeks on average to turn this one around, and I can’t work until it comes through. So you can see why I’m in such a hurry.

Asking Uncle B to interface with government in any way involves a good deal of throwing things and saying the f-word. So I’d better go.

And drink some fucking beer.

March 25, 2009 — 9:43 pm
Comments: 16

Take it away, Glenster…


I had to go into the hospital this evening for a routine diagnostic — no, no. No big. I have a family history of bum kidneys and they like to give ’em a poke now and then. They’re fine, thanks. I saw them myself on ultrasound! They’re totally shaped like black-eyed peas. But now I’m off my shed-yule tonight.

So why not visit Glenster’s site? He makes nice clean MP3’s of vintage big band 78s and he’s put up ten brand spanking new tracks today — all of ’em from the UK!

My very first web site was dedicated to MP3’s of my 78 collection. There’s all kinds of deeply cool software you can get now to depop, dehiss, rebalance and otherwise restore funky old recordings. It’s like magic. It’s like magic that is a hell of a lot of hard work, so I gave up after the first dozen.

Also, if you can’t bear to listen to Teleprompter Jesus — Greatest Orator of Our Age — stumble through somebody else’s words in primetime one more time, why not listen to this guy talk off the top of his head? He’s a Tory MEP (a British conservative member of the European Parliament). Giving a squirming, smirking Gordon Brown a procto exam. With a rusty garden weasel.

That’s what the thing looks like.

March 24, 2009 — 9:01 pm
Comments: 18

My mama always said…


…for a fresh start, a fresh banjo head.

Okay, I’m lying. My mama never said that. My mama was a music hater in a family full of loud, enthusiastic bad musicians; she flippin’ hated the banjo. (It didn’t help that my dad practiced in the bathroom “for the acoustics”).

You’ll note my banjo has an arched top; it gives the instrument a treblier, screechier sound. Great idea, no? That curious design feature is probably the reason I was able to afford this one. When I was in my twenties, I burned up Nashville looking for a decent banjo within my budget — a good one, even then, was upwards of a thousand bucks (which was, like, a thousand bucks to me in those days). And no more great deals to be had in pawn shops, nossir.

On my way out of town, I stopped at one more music shop…and found this Epiphone deluxe marked down to $300. Seventy-something percent off. Flamed maple, arched top, fake abalone inlay.

It’s gaudy as shit.

But it is a pretty decent banjo. And trebly. And LOUD. Needs a new head, though. The old one’s go-bust, so I’m not *really* getting the volume out of it.

While I was unscrewing the brackets tonight, I said to Uncle B that I’d like a good banjo mute for my birthday.

And he goes, “what’s a banjo mute?”

And I’m like, “if you value your happiness, I suggest you find out. Soon”

March 23, 2009 — 8:43 pm
Comments: 37

The O-Man, always with the smooth talk


Obama replied, ‘No, no. I have been practising… I bowled a 129.’

The audience roared with laughter, and the late-night talk show host assured Obama ‘that’s very good, Mr. President.’ To which Obama interjected, ‘It’s like – it was like Special Olympics, or something.’

Mr Leno appeared noticeably flummoxed – and swiftly moved the conversation forward as the audience laughed.

Hey, you know the seven words I’ve said a THOUSAND times and I totally wish I never had to say again for the rest of my miserable life? Yeah, you know them:

        “Imagine if a Republican had said that…”

Happy Friday, everyone! Click to embiggen and becolor.

March 20, 2009 — 7:35 pm
Comments: 42

Voyez le musée de papier hygiénique!


Uncle B is kind of a hoarder. Not the pathological kind of a hoarder, thank goodness, but…let’s just say we have sufficient canned beans to qualify as Mormons in good standing.

He says he got the acquisitional bug in the Seventies, when Britain lived through a series of strikes and Soviet-Union-style goods shortages. The kind of deal where he’d call friends and say, “ZOMG, there’s sugar in the market on my corner!” and everybody would swarm over and buy them out.

This is before the Blessed Saint Margaret of Conservative Principles rode into town and started kicking socialist butt, obviously.

Anyhow. Dude is stuck on buy.

Toilet paper is a particularly desirable inventory item. Lots and lots of toilet paper. I have to admit, he goes through it at a great clip. I’m pretty sure he goes into the loo in the morning, constructs a warm, soft nest, curls up for a nap and then flushes the lot away. This scenario meets the known facts exceptionally well.

Even after we moved and I discovered the hidden Federal Reserve of TP, I couldn’t convince him enough was snuff. So I took all the rolls out of the pantry and arranged them on the handy display shelf in the back bathroom. Why the hell there’s a shelf near the ceiling of the back bathroom, it doesn’t bear thinking of, but it worked. Beholdening his great stocks of fluffy non-wovens turned off the toilet-paper-buying machinery at last.


So today we have this exchange:

UB: “You know, we actually need to buy more toilet paper soon.”
SW: “You just bought a twelve pack two days ago! I couldn’t fit it on the shelf.”
UB: “Oh, that doesn’t count.”

I see. It has now become a shelf-stocking exercise.

Sometimes weasels are too damn clever for their own good.

March 19, 2009 — 7:30 pm
Comments: 29

It had to be ewes…


We’re having unseasonable warmening around here this week. Sunny, low fifties (you have to poke extra buttons to make the BBC forecast tell you degrees Fahrenheit, but I make the effort). England is famous for its relentless rain and gray, but when it’s good, it’s heart-stoppingly fabulous.

I intended to be an good weasel and continue weeding the walk around the house — the place stood empty for some years and there’s shrubberies growing up between the slabs — but I’ve weeded my way around to the shady spots now. As my old mother used to say, “honey, get out in the sun more.” And she’s dead now, so her wishes are sacred.

I spent most of the day sitting in a lawn chair with a big cup of coffee, propped up with Uncle B’s best zoom lens watching wildlife. Some of the ewes in the neighborhood have dropped lamb already, but the ones in the fields around us haven’t yet. They time the lambing so it’s all staggered.

These ladies are from the field directly behind. They are sporting a fresh Brazilian bikini wax, so I’m guessing their time is about nigh. At least, I hope so.

When the neighbor’s sheep turn up with freshly shaved bottoms, you don’t like to ask.

March 18, 2009 — 9:22 pm
Comments: 15