web analytics

Happy Memorial Day

It’s a long weekend here, too, but for no particular reason.

Saturday was the first day of 2021 that we didn’t have the central heat on. I must say, though, it was gorgeous this weekend. When it’s nice here, it’s perfect – hot in the sun and cool in the shade.

I blew out my arms gardening, so please be content with this nice picture of senior cat, snoozing in the freshly turned earth of the back flower border.

I hope you observed appropriately.

May 31, 2021 — 8:14 pm
Comments: 5

I kind of like it…

…but I can see the townspeople’s point.

It’s a statue of a púca (also pooka, phouka), a shapeshifting spook from Irish folklore. All the Celts had a variation. The little town of Ennistymon commissioned it to impress tourists.

Well, they commissioned something. This thing skeers them. They don’t want to live with it.

And then social media got involved, and social media likes it. Stay tuned.

Good weekend, everyone! We finally had a day without the central heat on – it’s going to be a good one!

May 28, 2021 — 7:26 pm
Comments: 19

I have to share

I received the most charming letter to work today. I have blurred it a bit, but I don’t suppose the writer will ever see it for reasons that will become apparent in a moment. She begins by saying she’s planning on visiting the town some time in the near future and will our collection be open for viewing. Then the corker:

Of equal importance so far as I am concerned at least, can you perhaps note that I don’t have the benefit or luxury of a computer here so I’m afraid it would be pointless, futile and impossible trying to urge and direct me towards such things as websites, emails or other similar fancy devices and hence for this reason I do, therefore, eagerly look forward to hearing from your good self in these respects in due course.

I am stonked. Naturally, I wrote her a nice letter and tucked a brochure in the envelope.

So what do we have here, an old person, a young person or merely an odd person?

May 27, 2021 — 7:16 pm
Comments: 13

A dumb phone is £17. Just saying.

That’s the beginning of a very interesting Twitter thread. Since I know some of you (wisely) won’t go to the bird site, I have copied all the tweets and I shall paste them below. I love you old Luddites that much.

First of all, your social media apps are not listening to you. This is a conspiracy theory. It’s been debunked over and over again.

But frankly they don’t need to because everything else you give them unthinkingly is way cheaper and way more powerful.

Your apps collect a ton of data from your phone. Your unique device ID. Your location. Your demographics. Weknowdis.

Data aggregators pay to pull in data from EVERYWHERE. When I use my discount card at the grocery store? Every purchase? That’s a dataset for sale.

They can match my Harris Teeter purchases to my Twitter account because I gave both those companies my email address and phone number and I agreed to all that data-sharing when I accepted those terms of service and the privacy policy.

Here’s where it gets truly nuts, though.

If my phone is regularly in the same GPS location as another phone, they take note of that. They start reconstructing the web of people I’m in regular contact with.

The advertisers can cross-reference my interests and browsing history and purchase history to those around me. It starts showing ME different ads based on the people AROUND me.

Family. Friends. Coworkers.

It will serve me ads for things I DON’T WANT, but it knows someone I’m in regular contact with might want.

To subliminally get me to start a conversation about, I don’t know, fucking toothpaste.

It never needed to listen to me for this. It’s just comparing aggregated metadata.

The other thing is, this is just out there in the open. Tons of people report on this. It’s just, nobody cares. We have decided our privacy just isn’t worth it. It’s a losing battle. We’ve already given away too much of ourselves.

So. They know my mom’s toothpaste. They know I was at my mom’s. They know my Twitter. Now I get Twitter ads for mom’s toothpaste.

Your data isn’t just about you. It’s about how it can be used against every person you know, and people you don’t. To shape behavior unconsciously.

Apple’s latest updates let you block apps’ tracking and Facebook is MAD. They’re BEGGING you to just press accept and go back to business as usual.

Block the fuck out of every app’s ads. It’s not just about you: your data reshapes the internet.

The internet is never going to be the wacky place it was when I had a Livejournal and people shared protean gifs in the form of YTMNDs. Big business has come to suck the joy (and your dollars) out of it.

At least make it hard for them.

May 26, 2021 — 8:35 pm
Comments: 10

A departure from his usual work

Do we have these in the States? Their website says they sell over there, but I don’t remember ever seeing them. They’re basically Tootsie Pops without the Tootsie. I am fond of them.

They’re Spanish. Chupa means “to suck” (like chupacabra, that old goatsucker). Chups doesn’t mean anything, but I like to translate it in my head as “Sucky Sucks”.

They were invented by a man named Enric Bernat in the Fifties. The Wikipedia article makes it sound like he invented the spherical candy on a stick, but Tootsies go back to 1931 and Dum Dums to 1924.

Indisputable, though, is that the logo at right was designed by Salvador Dali, who was, improbably, a friend of Bernat’s. He whipped it together in an hour after a chat with Bernat over coffee. It has been called one of the most durable logos in brand history, having undergone one small change in all these years. It’s intended be seen on the top of the pop, not the side, and the things are usually sold stuck into a stand.

I once alarmed a cashier at the grocery story by asking if it’s pronounced choopa choops or chuppah chupps. I don’t know why she found the question disturbing, perhaps because she couldn’t answer.

Turns out, you can go to YouTube and type in “pronounce Chupa Chups” and get a whole page of videos. What a time to be alive. I recommend this one. Such a soothing voice. I’d like him to read me a bedtime story.

So the Spanish speaker says Choopa Choops. But this American-sounding chap seems to be saying Choopa Chupps. He also claims Telly Savalas ate one per episode of Kojak, but I’d be astonished if those weren’t Tootsie Pops.

Their slogan was “Es redondo y dura mucho, Chupa Chups” which translates to “It’s round and long-lasting, Sucky Sucks.” Their Wikipedia page lists other unintentionally amusing slogans centered around the word “suck”.

I have no idea why I’m bringing this up.

May 25, 2021 — 7:13 pm
Comments: 9

Yo Ho Ho!

Oldest known Jolly Roger. 18th C. It’s in the National Museum of the Royal Navy. It’s red, which apparently means they take no prisoners if you resist.

Curiously, I found several sources and they all described it as “one of two surviving Jolly Rogers” rather than the oldest. But the only other one I could find is in St Augustine, and I read somewhere it was from 1850. Which is really after the classical pirate era.

I think it’s charming that we have taken a group of history’s most bloodthirsty sadistic mass murderers and repackaged them as a funtime play identity for children. Sweet!

May 24, 2021 — 8:34 pm
Comments: 7

A Mr Peabody sort of day

Elbow pain woke me up this morning. Elbow pain. Then I discovered my hands didn’t work properly. Then it travelled to my other elbow (which was a relief, I could stop thinking ‘stroke’). And then it dawned on me I had a trapped nerve.

Radiculopathy, which sadly doesn’t mean ridiculous and pathetic. Had it before, went to a physio, got some exercises which I do with enthusiasm until the pain goes away. Never had symptoms all the way down to my fingers before. This sucks.

So while I’m a monkey (my thumbs are no longer opposable), please enjoy this illustration from my favorite contemporary cartoonist, MK Brown. I see she’s fleshed out her website since I last checked. Start with cartoons.

Look at a bunch. You need a biggish dose to get the flavor.

May 21, 2021 — 7:33 pm
Comments: 14

Why is everything so complicated?


Well, Ebay let me down on the whole egg coddler thing. It seems 99% of the ones listed are Royal Worcester collectibles for stupid money that don’t look all that practical for actually coddling eggs.

Which is weird, because people are definitely still making practical dishwasher-safe ones. I found one I liked from a cookware shop. (The knobbly one, not the ones with the chickens. I like the knobbly one somehow).

If you can find it online, you can usually find it on Ebay.

In the same kitchen shop, I found this thing. It’s an egg clacker. They come in a variety of styles under several names. I know this because somehow in a surreal alternate universe I found myself watching YouTubes of people clacking eggs.

You put the thing over your soft-boiled egg and pull up on the knob, which is spring-loaded. When you release it, something goes clack and neatly decapitates your egg. Must be made in China.

I mean, there’s still egg in the top bit (soft-boiled eggs are weird to me), but at least you don’t have to tap all around it with your spoon. I guess. I would have thought that was the fun part.




May 20, 2021 — 5:30 pm
Comments: 13


I didn’t have an idea for a post tonight, so I decided to take a bath. Now I’m clean and I don’t have an idea for a post tonight.

So here’s a picture of my lunch. I had a lively discussion about egg coddlers with some of my old lady friends the other day and I’ve been craving coddled eggs ever since.

I don’t have an egg coddler, but I have some little ramekins. I thought if I put them in a saucepan with a lid, I could get a similar effect. I love poached eggs but I’m really terrible at cooking them (yes, I’ve tried all the little devices. The one that works best is evil to clean).

They were nice. The egg stuck to the bottom a bit, so I should have added more butter (my solution to most of life’s problems is ‘add more butter’). But it is an experiment I shall repeat. Maybe even buy myself a proper coddler.

When you keep chickens, you learn to improvise.

May 19, 2021 — 8:50 pm
Comments: 9


In the thread below this one, MikeinFairfax pointed me to this web cartoon. Johnny Optimism. If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you like.

I have helpfully linked you to 2010. Scroll to the bottom to read from the beginning. Blogspot is hopeless at letting you read a thing in sequence, but I checked and he doesn’t mirror on a more comic-friendly site. He does, however, have book versions for sale.

Because I am thick, it took me a minute to realize he was cutting and pasting old illustrations to make his comics. They are funny to very funny, and the Public Service Announcement pictures only make it funnier.

Did I ever tell you about the time I had to write and illustrate an 8-page booklet on business hygiene because the special needs hire in the company kitchen smelled really bad and no-one had the heart to tell him?

May 18, 2021 — 7:54 pm
Comments: 14