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They’ll grow anything here

Giant redwood trees were imported into the UK in the 1850s. They became a status symbol and were often planted at the gates of great parks, cemeteries and estates. As a result, there are half a million giant sequoia growing Britain today. There are 80,000 in California.

Many of Britain’s trees are known specimens – they know when and where they were planted. Knowing the growth rate, they’ve been able to determine the trees do just fine in the English climate.

And they’re still planting ’em. Greenies love them because they suck up so much CO2. At 150, though, none of them have yet reached ‘giant’ status – not like the ones we saw in those old postcards from the Fifties, anyway.

We have to go out tonight, so I’ll leave you with that happy tree-hugging thought.

April 11, 2024 — 2:56 pm
Comments: 6

Help a weasel out

I have reached a state of spiritual purity: I no longer desire material things. This is a problem because my birthday is next month and Uncle B is pestering me for ideas.

There’s nothing big I want and anything small I want I buy as I go, so it will have to be something novel. Bought any interesting knick-knacks or gadgets lately? Nothing too dear, please.

I did the first mow of 2024 this morning. The grass was way too wet and I kept having to pull wads of clogged vegetation from under the blades in a process that gives me the willies, safety release or no safety release. But it is done.

And this little puffball snoozed through it on the other side of the fence. Not so the chickens, who know for a fact lawn mowers are the very devil and the only way to ward him off is to scream and run in circles.

It still knocks me out that I can see behbeh sheep from my lawn chair.

April 10, 2024 — 7:30 pm
Comments: 7

“Maybe not quite so heavy”

Just watched a Portal fan film called GLaDOS – which, frankly, wasn’t very good. It had lots of fun call-backs to Portal (and Half-Life), but it needs a tight edit and it’s not really for normies.

But it made me think of the night I finished Portal for the first time. I was sitting in this very spot. Uncle B had gone to bed, but I knew I was close to the end and wanted to stay up and see it through. It was a stonking experience. And then the credits rolled.

I think Still Alive is the cleverest passive-aggressive manifesto from a deranged and murderous AI ever written. It’s brilliant work, and you’ll enjoy it even if you haven’t played the game.

Want You Gone from the credits of the second game is also good.

I’ve been thinking about the mess DEI is making of AAA games in 2024. There are 186 games in my Steam account (most of which I’ve never even looked at). If they never make another game I want to buy, I can still play vidya for the rest of my miserable life.

April 9, 2024 — 7:31 pm
Comments: 5

Is it over? Did you die?

From this side of the pond, it looked like everyone in America was running in circles quacking. Why the overreaction – anyone know? Or was the news deceiving us again?

Photo from NASA.

Yesterday, we had a bumble bee stuck in Uncle B’s greenhouse. We like bees and we’re always being told how endangered they are. We had to try to free him.

Problem was, he’d gotten himself stuck under the bubble wrap that serves as insulation and it was going to be tricky to free safely (female bumblebees can sting, though rarely, the internet tells me).

I know, a soup ladle!

There I am, skipping around the greenhouse trying to scoop up a bee with a silver ladle without breaking any glass and I thought, “I don’t even know why I’m playing the Hogwarts game.”

April 8, 2024 — 6:42 pm
Comments: 11

My TV has a [Magic Explorer] button, y’all

But only when the pointer color is changed to purple, I guess. Another learning curve. Swell.

We got a new TV today. Our old Sony was rock solid, but it was 15 years old – right at the dawn of the smart TV era. It was kinda dumb. We saw an OLED running in a shop and thought…yes, please.

This somehow has a bigger screen with a smaller footprint (the Sony had a thick frame around the outside). It weighs about a third what the old one did and costs £0.19 a year to run all the time on standby.

We spent the afternoon watching 4K videos of cats and forests. Whee!

Have a good weekend. Any smart TV tips?

April 5, 2024 — 6:52 pm
Comments: 10

But I could if I wanted to

It blows me away what you can buy here. These four 18th C glass goblets have come up to auction for guide price, left to right, £300 – £500, £100 – £200, £50 – £100 and £500 – £1000. The engraved ones are naturally worth more because each is a unique work of art.

I can’t say I was even aware of 18th C glass before I moved here, but I’ve developed a real taste for it. Not sure why. If I bought these, I’d only contribute to their rarity by breaking them. I am a very clumsy woman. But it doesn’t mean I can’t window shop.

These four auction lots start here, if you’d like to see them big. Plenty of other things to enjoy in that auction too, if you poke around.

Me, I’ve been fighting technology all. day. long. I am exhaust.

April 4, 2024 — 7:51 pm
Comments: 5

Leaning into it

In contrast to several recent expensive AAA flops – corrupted by the dour influence of blue-haired “story consultants” – an unabashed shoot-em-up leaning into the Starship Troopers theme has been the surprise hit of the year so far. Helldivers II.

Seriously, watch the trailer. It’s funny as hell, in a fascistic sort of way. Is there a word when someone is tongue-in-cheek, but really sort of means it, too?

The motto of the studio is “a game for everyone is a game for no-one”. Sadly, it’s probably not a game for me.

It’s a co-op you play online with up to three friends, and all my friends are frail, elderly Englishwomen. I don’t think I can get them on board. So anons it would be, then.

Also, it’s hard. I avoid any game that requires good reflexes and not completely losing your mind under pressure, especially online where I’m likely to play on a team of anonymous 14-year-old boys. I got a lot of poop kicked out of me before I learned that lesson.

“Managed Democracy” – still chuckling.

April 3, 2024 — 7:39 pm
Comments: 4

My brain hates me

I woke up at 5 this morning – which, since our clocks went forward this weekend, was 4 o’clock Brain Time – and could not get back to sleep. You want to know what I was fretting about? I knew that Topeka was in Kansas and Santa Fe was in New Mexico, but where’n the heck was Atchison?

Kansas. It’s in Kansas, dear reader.

So, while we’re here, “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” was written in 1944, climbed the charts in 1945 and was used in the film The Harvey Girls in 1946, where it won an Oscar for Best Original Song (though if it had been around for two years, it’s hard to see it was original original.

If you’re looking for the earworm, here it is in the movie version with Judy Garland, which sounds curiously sluggish to me. I think it must be the Andrews Sisters version I remember.

Naturally, I don’t remember remember it.

April 2, 2024 — 6:52 pm
Comments: 6

Tea time’s over

I had a wonderful Easter. I spent the sunny hours – of which there were many – sitting in the garden watching the new lambs gambol.

I spent the less sunny hours – of which there were also many – wearing my magic spectacles and playing games in VR. Specifically, the Hogwarts game. Yes, I got the plugin working that makes non-VR games into VR.

It’s an astonishing piece of work. I’m not a fan of the books, which were derivative as hell, but the visuals and the scale of this thing are amazing.

There’s a sort of giant junk room in it that contains thousands of individually-modeled items – I know they are because they animate as you walk past them. That’s the room in the picture above, but it’s many times larger. There weren’t any loading screens, either. How they fiddled the memory management for that, I do not know.

It should have been Game of the Year but wasn’t because JK Rowling.

Sadly, though, I have to run it at the game’s lowest resolution. In VR, games have to render three times: once for your left eye, once for your right eye and once for your monitor (I think there’s a way to turn off the monitor render, but I haven’t found it yet). My five-year-old rig coughs and wheezes at the prospect.

April 1, 2024 — 6:51 pm
Comments: 1

Mugged by a lamb

We had to help our neighbor fix her wifi, a trip that included a drive across a sheep field.

This one little lamb was in the near end by himself. His mother was some yards away not paying attention and the rest of the flock was way down the far end. He came bounding up to the car like it was the most awesome thing he’d ever seen in his life. It probably was, but lambs are usually shy wee beasties.

I got out to shoo him away and he walked me backwards around the car shouting “MEHHHHH!” in my face like he had to tell me something RIGHT NOW. It was honestly adorable. Weird but adorable.

Sooner or later, though, we had to go home and I had to run him off. Pictured above. Excuse quality; it was dusk.

Happy Good Friday. I’ve got three more days of this!

March 29, 2024 — 7:12 pm
Comments: 3