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Uncle B’s new camera

Actually, this is a lousy way to show off his new camera. There was so much foliage in the image, the filesize was huge and I had to squeeze the .jpg down to stupid lossy.

Suffice it to say it’s awesome, and the first picture he took was this handsome shot of Jack.

August 12, 2014 — 9:40 pm
Comments: 13


You know that itching, burning, apocalyptic feeling? Yeah, me too.

Not our leaders, though. It’s not just Obama — Call Me Dave is on vacation, too. And it’s just grand to see snaps of him on the beach in the middle of this unholy shitstorm.

I get the feeling these guys think if they act like this is no big deal, it won’t be. Because if they act like it’s a big deal, it will be obvious how badly they’ve misjudged the ‘Arab Spring’ from the beginning. And that would be too, too embarrassing.

As part of a radio feature about WWI the other day, the BBC reeled off all world’s current war zones. With the exception of Ukraine and the Koreas, every single one of them was a case of Islamists versus the world.

They got around having to admit this explicitly by blaming ISIS in one place, Israel and Hamas in another, unnamed Islamists in another, Boko Haram in another, “separatists” in another, “militants” in another. Without ever acknowledging what all those fights have in common.

Odin help us all.

August 11, 2014 — 9:39 pm
Comments: 27


I leave you this week with a picture of the prize-winning onions at a village fête. Not our village fête, some other village fête from a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure these onions could tell us a tale of bitter rivalries and seething hatreds.

I spent my whole day doing something terribly familiar — attending pointless work-related training courses. Three of ’em. Data protection and workplace safety and the like. Yippee! I was afraid those old cubicle-monkey braincells would never come in handy again.

We’re expecting the ass-end of hurricane Bertha to dump on us this weekend. Oh, well…we need the rain desperately. Good weekend, all!

August 8, 2014 — 10:34 pm
Comments: 10

Gosh, it’s hard work being a nimmigrant

I’m selling my mama’s farm. Yeah, I don’t really want to talk about it. I got an offer I could, but really shouldn’t, refuse. She’ll come back to haunt me for this, I swear.

Anyway, the lawyer wants the papers notarized and FedEx’ed back. Easy, right? Pff! No.

I cruised by my bank — bank managers are usually notaries, right? — pff! No. The teller didn’t even know what a notary is. The local solicitors knew, but didn’t have one on staff.

Turns out there are only, like, 900 notaries* in all of Britain. The nearest one was miles and miles away. By appointment only.

He was nice enough. Semi-retired corporate lawyer. He explained why they’re so scarce — to start with, they’re usually lawyers, and then they get three years of specialist training in things like Roman law (!).

I told him my grandfather was a notary and the bar wasn’t so high in the States. In the old days at least, all you had to do was get five people to swear you were a pretty good guy.

Anyway, he made me swear on the Bible! Twice! Then he stamped everything and sewed my deed together with green ribbon and charged me £80 — which is, like, $120. Phew.

But at least shipping it back with be a breeze, right? Pff! No!

*That isn’t including the Worshipful Company of Scriveners of the City of London, which are lawyers who speak multiple languages for some reason.

August 7, 2014 — 9:45 pm
Comments: 30

Toilet bowl – badum*tssss*

Yes, the summer fête season is in full swing. This is a game that…gave someone an excuse to bring six toilets to a cricket ground.

Since I broke my D40, I’ve been relying on a little digital Pentax camera for blog snaps. For its age and size, it takes great pictures (this isn’t one — I saved the .jpg at low resolution because all that bitsy grass was killing my file size). I’ve also set it up to “meow” convincingly when I turn it on (got to love the Japanese!).

It was my exit gift from my old job, though, so I always think of it as the camera that cost 25 years of my life.

August 6, 2014 — 9:16 pm
Comments: 12

‘Member these?

Last of the nice days today, so we snuck in another field trip (Sissinghurst, old favorite). We stopped at a convenience store on the way to buy some sammiches, and Uncle B bought me a packet of these (see picture). And I’m, like, “whoa, dude…do you recognize these? They’re candy cigarettes!” Rebranded “candy sticks” for a different age.

Uncle B could do that one better. In his day, they sold Junior Smoking Kits — chocolate cigars, chocolate pipes, chocolate matches, chocolate ashtray and candy cigarettes. I managed to find a picture on this guy’s blog, from his visit to the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh.

Mind, blown.

By the way, all you gotta do is have your picture taken with Spiderman at the circus one time…

p.s. Yes! It came with a Spiderman tattoo! I shall be the envy of the office tomorrow…

August 5, 2014 — 9:08 pm
Comments: 21

Messing about in boats

Yesterday, the RNLI Dungeness had an Open Day (that’s the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to you). Per Wikipedia, the RNLI has 444 lifeboats at 236 stations. Since 1824, they’ve saved 140,000 lives at the cost of 600.

They’re entirely funded by private money (legacies, donations and merchandise), which I think is unutterably awesome, so we try to turn out when they have a fundraiser and spend some money. I bought a hat and Uncle B bought a burger and we put some money in the thing.

It was a lovely sunny, breezy day, and I didn’t go watch the maneuvers. I plunked myself down on the warm shingle with the complete works of Kipling (I’m up to 2% now!) and listened to them sing sea shanties in the boathouse. That there’s some powerful local atmosphere.

Uncle B did go watch the maneuvers and, even though he only brought a little handheld camera, he got some great action shots of the boats. Black and white doesn’t do ’em justice. He’s a better photographer than I am, and that pisses me off no end.

If you squint at the background, those are the white cliffs of…Folkestone, actually. But the white cliffs of Dover look just the same and they’re the next headland along the coast to the Northeast.

Fun fact: the RNLI was originally called the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck. Or NIPLS.

August 4, 2014 — 9:23 pm
Comments: 20

Dead Pool Round 67: Fish Jumping, Cotton High

Platypuss wins dick with James Garner (born James Scott Bumgarner). Give his Wikipedia entry a read. Among the highlights: he beat the hell out of his stepmother after she made him wear a dress to school, and he was married to the same woman for almost 58 years. Money quote: “Marriage is like the Army; everyone complains, but you’d be surprised at the large number of people who re-enlist.”

Okay, ready?

0. Rule Zero (AKA Steve’s Rule): your pick has to be living when picked. Also, nobody whose execution date is circled on the calendar. Also, please don’t kill anybody.

1. Pick a celebrity. Any celebrity — though I reserve the right to nix picks I never heard of (I don’t generally follow the Dead Pool threads carefully, so if you’re unsure of your pick, call it to my attention).

2. We start from scratch every time. No matter who you had last time, or who you may have called between rounds, you have to turn up on this very thread and stake your claim.

3. Poaching and other dirty tricks positively encouraged.

4. Your first choice sticks. Don’t just blurt something out, m’kay? Also, make sure you have a correct spelling of your choice somewhere in your comment. These threads get longish and I use search to figure out if we have a winner.

5. It’s up to you to search the thread and make sure your choice is unique. I’m waayyyy too lazy to catch the dupes. Popular picks go fast.

6. The pool stays open until somebody on the list dies. Feel free to jump in any time. Noobs, strangers, drive-bys and one-comment-wonders — all are welcome.

7. If you want your fabulous prize, you have to entrust me with a mailing address. If you’ve won before, send me your address again. I don’t keep good records.

8. The new DeadPool will begin 6pm WBT (Weasel’s Blog Time) the Friday after the last round is concluded.

The winner, if the winner chooses to entrust me with a mailing address, will receive an Official Certificate of Dick Winning and a small original drawing on paper suffused with elephant shit particles. Because I didn’t have any dinosaur shit particles.

August 1, 2014 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 89

I don’t know, I’ve never kippled

We’re determined to make the most of Summer this year. We didn’t get many days out last Summer, and this year we’ve been extremely lucky with the weather. So it was off to Bateman’s yesterday — Kipling’s last home.

There’s something sad about the house. And positively non-Euclidean — it’s somehow much smaller on the inside than the outside. But still, a good day out, and Uncle B found a much quicker route to get there, so we’ll probably go more often. Have to squeeze every entertainment penny out of the effing expensive National Trust membership.

They cleverly left copies of his books about, with “available to purchase in the gift shop” written inside the covers. So I tucked into Puck of Pook’s Hill while Uncle B wandered about on his own. I think that’s my favorite Kipling, but the man was hella prolific, and I got to wondering how many of his I haven’t read.

That’s when I discovered Delphi Classics. They’re an eBook publisher that specializes in “Complete Works of…” editions of out-of-copyright classic authors. Nicely formatted for a couple of bucks. Buy them through Amazon or right from the publisher.

I don’t know about you, but I’m crazy about owning an author’s complete works. Even in the days when that meant that nice mister Dickens took up five feet of shelf space. There’s something deeply satisfactory about having them all together in one clean set, not a hodge-podge of mongrel editions with half a dozen books left out. I have a feeling I’ll be visiting Delphi again.

They all come as one big Kindle file, but they have a table of contents, so that’s okay. I’m going chronologically by publication date, starting with the novels. I read The Light that Failed all afternoon, and I’m still at 1% of the collected works. See you in the Fall.

Oh, yeah — Dead Pool tomorrow! 6pm WBT! I’m going to set it up right now, so I *can’t* forget this time.

July 31, 2014 — 10:20 pm
Comments: 17

There goes another one…

And there goes Eastbourne Pier (photo nicked from the Mail).

It was one of three East Sussex Victorian pleasure piers designed by Eugenius Birch (1818-1884). The first was Brighton’s West Pier, completed in 1866. Burned down in two separate arson attacks in March and May, 2003.

The third was Hastings Pier, finished in 1872. Burned in 2010. Two were arrested for arson, but they never brought them up on charges.

Eastbourne Pier was finished the same year as West Pier. Bits of it have burned before, but this looks really, really devastating. There’s a big airshow in Eastbourne every August, and the pier is a favorite place to stand and watch the aereoplanes.

Nobody’s mentioned arson this time, but you can’t help but wonder. At any rate, it’s been awful seeing these three grand Victorian dames go up in flames.

July 30, 2014 — 9:29 pm
Comments: 11