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Ending the week on a chicken

Playing with my new phone camera. I did tell you I got a new phone for my birfday, yes?

I stuck with Motorola because I liked my old one and I figured it would have a shorter learning curve. Yes, sort of. Android has the weirdest insistence on tinkering with basic navigation in each new version. And taking away important features.

Like, this version makes it hard to customize the various alert noises. You can change ringtones easily enough, but the rest of the apps seem to do their own thing. I do not like this.

So I downloaded an app that lets me customize sounds, but now I get the default system sound PLUS my custom sound.

It gets better. The app I downloaded will let me assign text to notifications, so my email alert is ’email’ and my twitter alert is ‘twitter’, etc. But I didn’t like the robot lady voice. There was a knob to pitch tune it, so I tuned it all the way down to RASPY LIPLESS GOBLIN voice.

A bajillion times a day (I get a lot of spam), a baritone hobgoblin goes ‘bing-bong***EMAIL***’ or ‘woot-woot***WHATSAPP***’ and it’s cracking me up.

Have a good Friday the 13th and rest of the week, y’all!

May 13, 2022 — 6:59 pm
Comments: 8

This guy

Real name: Phil Heckels. Local Sussex artist. Describes himself as “rubbish” and has made quite a penny from it. You give him a photo of your pet, he gives you a guaranteed shit portrait in return.

Eh. You gotta have a gimmick. Most of his work seems to be for charity.

I didn’t think he was all that funny – until I saw his pictures next to the photos he drew them from.

Whenever you sit down to draw, you are confronted with a series of what we call “picture problems”. How do I position multiple figures so they look natural? How am I going to deal with this weird angle? How do I move the viewer’s eye where it needs to go? Ach, perspective!

It’s even worse when you work from photos. There are always “what the heck am I looking at?” picture problems working from photos.

But von Wolfwinkle says, “I can do this!” and lets rip with the boneheadedest solution to all his picture problems. Click a few to see what I mean.

May 10, 2022 — 7:29 pm
Comments: 6

Any pest control experts?


Anobium punctatum. The common furniture beetle. Pretty sure this is the beastie we are dealing with, on account of whatever this is leaves a very fine dust behind.

Picture nicked from Wikimedia.

The best treatment is prevention, but it likes damp and it’s in the bathroom, so good luck with that. That’s whar I take muh baths. Fortunately, I don’t see any signs of it in the ancient beams (we call this the Tudor Crapper) but only in one spot in the newer woodwork.

The professionals use permethrin, but I read not to use it in a household with pets, so that’s out.

The safe alternative is apparently boron, but I’m not sure if that’s elemental boron or a derivative like boric acid. I used boric acid as a powder fairly successfully with cockroaches, but I found my cat collapsed and foaming at the mouth late one night and always assumed he ate a boric-acid laden roach (I sat up with him all night and he was better in the morning). This is apparently a powder you dissolve in water and spray – and it has the additional advantage of being a fire retardant.

At least we haven’t heard from the death watch beetles lately. That shit was creepy.

April 27, 2022 — 7:24 pm
Comments: 12

Vintage adorable

I had to host a Zoom meeting tonight, so I turned to my Google photos for a post. This is the first image Google showed me, in that weird thing they do where they display a random years-old photos for no discernible reason – usually a cat that is now dead and gives me the sads.

This is Jenny, who was a fine chicken and wonderful mother. Eaten by the fox. I know this because the fox got trapped in the henhouse afterwards with Jenny’s sister screaming blue murder (she survived). This is my only confirmed chicken-eaten-by-fox and she was one of my best.

The adorable chick is Sam (hatched on the 4th of July), who is now a strapping great four-year-old cockerel. He was a bought egg. As was Mo. And Millie, also a fine chicken probably eaten by the fox. Perhaps not the same fox.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip down poultry Memory Lane.

April 26, 2022 — 6:48 pm
Comments: 6

Indulging self

I think I’ve mentioned this secret vice before: watching YouTubes of wretched miserable street dogs taken in, cleaned up and transformed into handsome, loving puppers. I’m not really a dog person and I do like the cat version of these videos.

But dogs, man. When they’re miserable, they pretty much melt bonelessly into the ground and when they’re happy, they laugh with their whole bodies. I’m too lazy to own one, but it cheers me up to watch them.

I am indulging self on account of two people in my inner circle tested positive for the ‘rona today, including the one I share the office with all day. So that’s that, then.

I feel fine. I certainly haven’t lost my sense of taste (or the appetite that goes with!), though Uncle B is considerably miserabler.

Any excuse to mooch around the house.

March 22, 2022 — 7:00 pm
Comments: 8

First egg!

All my girls stopped laying at once last year, really early. In fact, I strong suspect they have a hidey hole in the brush and some day I’ll find it and a gigantic pile of rotten eggs.

The girls (I have two left) were locked up today, so I got an egg. It’s a little early.

I’m pretty sure this one was from Spoon. She’s a poland and daft as a very daft thing indeed. I found this egg on the floor of the henhouse, and that’s Spoon all over. Wherever she may be, she squats and plops out an egg and moves on like it’s nothin’.

Not like the fussy, broody little pekins.

p.s. P. J. O’Rourke has joined the Choir Eternal. No, nobody had him.

February 15, 2022 — 8:07 pm
Comments: 7

Once you try alternator belt, you never go back to acorns

Several people sent me links to this article in the WJS yesterday (it’s paywalled, but I somehow have the intact version in a tab). To be more accurate, they sent me links to a tweet thread discussing the article.

Funny thing, it was published in 2019. Twitter works like that sometimes. People bring up old articles and other people don’t notice they’re years old and a pointless shit-storm ensues.

But that’s not the case here; it’s just a discussion of an interesting article. I could swear I read it back in the day, but I think it came up in a French nature program.

That’s not a weasel, of course. It’s a marten. Specifically, a stone marten. And they really do eat cars. No-one knows why.

Weasel damage is the fourth most frequent cause for non-collision auto insurance claims in Germany. Last year, drivers here filed 198,000 claims for weasel-inflicted damage, a 42% increase since 2005. And that probably underestimates the carnage.

Reports go back to the Seventies.

Karl Kugelschafter, now 64, interviewed hundreds of victims, locked up luxury cars in cages and watched as the weasels ripped them to shreds. “They go absolutely insane and tear everything apart,” said Mr. Kugelschafter, who today is better known as the inventor of a groundbreaking method of counting bats.

The most common solution is a sort of electric weasel fence (Weidenzaunprinzip – ‘pasture fence principle’). There’s also aerosol cans of weasel repellant (one is named Marderschreck – ‘Scourge of the Weasel’).

I salute you, Herr Kugelschafter. You and your marvellous bat-counting methodology. And thanks to @Cristiona and @quetzlovercoatl on Twitter for this trip down memory lane.

Have a good weekend, all!

February 11, 2022 — 8:37 pm
Comments: 12

New digs for Leon

In case you missed it when it made the rounds a few months ago, this guy took home a supermarket lobster and kept it as a pet. No, he’s not an eco-warrior – lobster is his favorite celebration food – he’s a saltwater fishtank guy with a camera.

It’s worth fifteen minutes of your time. Dude’s voice is oddly soothing and the lobster is a more interesting beastie than you might think. BTW, he has avoided stressing it by flipping it upside down to observe its tackle, so we don’t really know if it’s male or female.

Here’s an update from just before Christmas and here he is last week, moving into his new aquarium! Twice as big, with a coral cave and some fishes for company.

Brady Brandwood is his name. The man’s. The lobster is Leon. The man has made a bunch of videos about breeding koi, which I haven’t watched because I don’t care. Interesting, though, that he feeds his fish (and Leon) people food. Also videos about various motorcycle projects, a short documentary about an old moonshiner and one about exploring a small cave that almost made me hyperventilate.

It’s not that interesting. It’s just, my brother took me exploring a limestone cave in Tennessee when I were a lass and I came away with a lifelong terror of getting my ass stuck in a crevasse.

January 20, 2022 — 8:03 pm
Comments: 5

Fox watch

They look such little angels when they sleep, don’t they? I did try to find the owner of this image. I got 13 pages of hits on Tineye.

My next door neighbor did send me a phone pic of the actual fox, but it was an unreadable blur and now I can’t even find it. I don’t know which benighted app she used to send it to me.

Yes, fox. Two, in fact. In broad daylight. Canoodling.

Well, I don’t mind the canoodling so much. It’s the attempting to eat my chickens part I object to. Uncle B chased them out of our garden, then we heard reports up and down the neighborhood as two amorous foxes had appeared in back gardens.

Three. We got three reports. We’re rural.

This puts pressure on my housing situation. A certain amount of free ranging is necessary for me to cope with four adult roosters (swapping them in and out as necessary).

I’m going to try to give away one of my boys 🙁

January 10, 2022 — 8:02 pm
Comments: 5

The mirror

Oh, they know what they’re looking at. I mean, they couldn’t describe it to you in words of one syllable, but they are both intrigued and unafraid.

Rosie and Jenny as six-week-old mille fleur bantams. Rosie vanished one day, presumably taken by the fox. I heard a bark, but the other chickens didn’t react, so it was a sneaky one.

Jenny grew up to be a wonderful great fat mille fleur archetype and the mother of Sam, Mo and Millie. Not their biological mother, but she sat the eggs and raised them.

An even sneakier fox got her. He head-butted his way into the nest box and ate her right off the perch. I ran out to find him trapped in the chicken run. I opted to let him go to save the other chicken trapped inside.

What was I going to do, beat him to death with a banjo?

December 30, 2021 — 7:59 pm
Comments: 9