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Lookit me! I’m a tree!

This is how I know it’s Chicken Bedtime: when they fly up and settle on my shoulder. It’s not because they love me, it’s because they are roosting birds and I’m the next best thing to a tree.

And no, thanks for asking, they don’t have little chickeny accidents very often. Let them hop down onto my keyboard and they let fly the chicken plop, but they haven’t decorated my shirt yet. They’re ladies.

I was going to go with Rachel Jeantel and her apologists tonight, but then I thought, “it’s the weekend. I don’t feel like having a conversation about race. Chikkens!!!”

And for the record, I’m pretty sure Nelson Mandela has snuffed it and they’re keeping his chest going up and down until Obama is ready to enter stage left, but I won’t call the Dead Pool until the official announcement. It is The Law. It’s okay; gulliblepratt’s dick is surely safe for a few more days.

Have a good weekend!

June 28, 2013 — 10:56 pm
Comments: 25

Chilly in here

I got that email from LinkedIn again today. You know, that monthly “people you may know” email.

I signed up for LinkedIn when it was pretty new and felt obligatory. And perfunctory. Honestly, to this day, I have no idea what you’re supposed to DO with it. The last time I signed in was maybe…seven, eight years ago? I was a whole ‘nother person then, profile-wise.

So. Thing is, that “people you may know” email is always people I *do* know. And people LinkedIn has no business knowing that I know. Okay, one is a former boss at my corporate gig in the States. But the rest? No idea.

They keep recommending Uncle B to me, for example. There is no business based reason they would connect his name to mine. I’m cautious about real names and the internet. Maybe they…bought some data off FaceBook? It’s the only place I can think of that his name and mine appear together.

One recommendation is — I suspect, from the name — the granddaughter of a close friend of my parents. From, like, forty years ago. LinkedIn makes similar astonishing connections for Uncle B, too — and he keeps a WAY lower internet profile than me (deletes his cookies several times a day, he just told me. Imagine!).

So if a useless Web app like LinkedIn can scratch up enough data to make such obscure connections, what can a powerful data mining operation do? What would happen if somebody mashed together your supermarket loyalty card data and your medical history? What if somebody had all of it — credit cards, bank statements, social media, phone records, the lot — the hardware to store it and the software to sift through it?

I’m just a nobody. No reason anybody would be interested in anything I’m up to. Until and unless I tried to do something interesting, like run for office.

I read too much science fiction as a kid. This stuff is scaring me juiceless.

June 27, 2013 — 11:40 pm
Comments: 31

Ooo! Buy me it, please

This beautiful object is described as “Antique Taxidermy Weasel Stoat with Tiny Saint’s Crown Perched on a Golden Branch Cabinet of Curiosities Wunderkammer.” For sale on Etsy in Spain for a mere £117.59 (that’s $176.38 of your yankee dollars). Be sure to hit the link and check out the side view. Stoatily majestic!

Yeah, you know how I got there. I got there through a Google images search for “snarling weasel.” But, to be honest, my heart isn’t in it tonight. Oh, I’m cranky enough, I just don’t have anything original to add.

It’s not so much gay marriage per se, it’s this observation of Ace’s (and Allahpundit’s): by this ruling, the court has invalidated the whole idea of the state referendum. They can’t have meant to do that, can they?

The arrogance and detachment of our masters is on par with royalty of old. Then it was all, “clearly God wanted me to rule men, or I would not have been born a lord. Plus, look at all this gold and this big house and shit!”

Now it’s “I went to the right schools, I learned the creed, I smooched the proper asses, I crawled up the greasy pole and so have clearly proved my right to tell lesser men what to do.” If I said the Tree of Liberty was looking a little droopy these days, I’d probably call down the NSA on my ass, wouldn’t I?

Hmmm. You know, every time I look into that sweet weasel’s face I hear Peter Lorre laughing.

June 26, 2013 — 11:05 pm
Comments: 34

And this fabulous can of soup

We went to a church flower festival this weekend, one of England’s zanier natural disasters. How it works is, they pick a theme for the festival, and a dozen or so people make flower arrangements and little tableaux on the subject and scatter them around the church. There’s usually a helpful program.

That doesn’t sound weird? Well, this is how it usually ends up: say the theme is “summer activities”, you’re going to find a vase of zinnias and a grubby sneaker in the pulpit. And a bowl of badminton shuttlecocks with petunia in the baptismal font. (Hello? Salvador Dali called: he’s a lit-tle creeped out and he’d like a ride home now, please).

There’s usually refreshments and some stalls and other fundraising things outside, in aid of the church building. Bits of this church are 900 years old. It has clearly been extensively renovated many times over the centuries. There’s a sign on the tipjar by the door that says it costs £100 a day to keep the building together.

And that’s the thing. This is a little community to pony up a hundred smackers a day. And, without breaking a sweat, I can think of a dozen villages around me with small populations and beautiful ancient churches to keep afloat.

The big ‘C’ Church helps with the costs, of course, and there are various architectural grants and things. But these great old buildings are mostly kept alive by locals. I don’t know if it’s a Christian thing, this bedrock devotion to the church building. I suspect not. It’s very powerful, though.

Oh, I won that can of soup in the raffle. Only cost me a pound in tickets. I like to imagine some nice old English lady shrieking, “oh my lord — the flower festival is today! Quick, go into the kitchen and grab something. Anything!”

June 25, 2013 — 10:54 pm
Comments: 22

Yup, pretty much what I thought would happen…

Did you see the Drudge link to the Mail yesterday, the guy who tried to pay the property taxes on an old Oddfellows Hall by selling the coffin (and bonus enclosed skeleton) he found in the basement? And now the police are all after him because that shit’s illegal?

There but for the grace of God, ladies and gentlemen, go I. The seller, not the skeleton. Well either, I guess.

When I was in art school, my roommate and I were browsing our favorite junk shop when we overheard the owner talking to his brother about the skeletons they had just moved into the basement. And my roomie, who was a certifiable dangerous crazy person, hissed at me that we must have one. Because art school.

They were cagey as hell about it, but we were regular customers and we finally talked our way into the basement. It was stacked with coffins. I don’t know how many in total. I’d pulled an all-nighter finishing a project and it’s all a bit hazy. Anyway, three stacks of four I remember for sure, because the guys were shuffling them around to look inside.

One of the skeletons was papier-mâché, the rest were real. Several were children. The coffins were all different kinds. They were clearly very old (late 19th, early 20th maybe). We were told they had come out of an Oddfellows Hall, where they had played a part in some ritual (this is repeated in the Mail story).

Anyway, we picked the best skeleton (he had all his teeth) in a not very nice felt-covered coffin and paid $125 for it. I kept the receipt for years (“1 body in box”). We called him Uncle Wallace. I got stuck with him after school, of course, and dragged him around several apartments, still in his box. That was fun, said nobody.

At some point became aware that that shit’s illegal, but I didn’t know quite how to get out from under. I couldn’t imagine a scenario that didn’t ultimately lead to me and a big serious policeman in a little cement block interrogation room. I sweat bullets over that thing.

In the end, I…gave it to some guy. A long, long time ago. I don’t think I want to be any more specific than that. That article made my hands go clammy.

June 24, 2013 — 9:51 pm
Comments: 21

Happy Solstice!

‘Tis the Solstice! And you know what that means — Cosplay for Seniors at Stonehenge. Please enjoy the Daily Mail‘s photo essay on same. Now don’t you feel more dignified?

Also in the Mail, Are Chickens Smarter than Toddlers? I take their point that chickens are not stupid, I surely do, but I think describing them as having an innate grasp of structural engineering is a bit rich (this because chickens prefer diagrams of workable machines over ones that violate the laws of physics, would you believe). I’ll leave you to decide if you’d cross a bridge design as approved by Mapp.

First day of Summer was damp and cold here, but next week it’s going to be…damper and colder. Stupid global warming.

Enjoy the weekend, folks!

June 21, 2013 — 8:54 pm
Comments: 25

My chicken has fleas

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but Mapp has gone broody again this year. Like every year. Right on schedule. Laying season comes, she squeezes out half a dozen, and then locks herself in her room, screams at everybody and won’t come out for three months.

A couple of times a day, I take her out and put her in the grass and make her eat something. I had a neighbor over this afternoon to gawp at the babies. When I pulled Mapp off the nest, neighbor peered into the nest box and said, “it’s crawling with fleas!” And it was.

Chicken fleas. Who knew?

Time for some diatomaceous earth.

Diatoms, for those who have long ago forgotten middle school life sciences class, are microscopic, aquatic algae with beautiful silicate exoskeletons, like tiny crystal paperweights. (Paperweights! Not very poetic, but I’m going with it).

In some places in the world, old busted dead diatom skeletons have settled together to form a soft sedimentary rock that crumbles into a fine floury powder. This is diatomaceous earth, and it has a number of interesting uses.

One of which is insect control. You can sprinkle it around the chicken house, the perch, the run, even the grass and it will kill tiny bugs. It’s perfectly safe for the birds — in fact, it’s recommended to put up to 10% food grade DE into their feeds for intestinal parasite control — but it’s hell on insects. I’ve heard different descriptions of how it works. Some say it abrades the outside of the bug, causing it to dehydrate. Other say they swallow it and it cuts up their little innards.

Which is why I haven’t used any before. It’s one thing to poison a flea, it’s another to feed your local bugs broken glass and razorblades.

June 20, 2013 — 11:08 pm
Comments: 28

Royalty, then and now

Not trying to make any profound point here, I just happened to see these two pictures within the hour.

The bottom shows our lords and masters at the G8 summit today, looking every inch the shabby mediocrities we know them to be.

The top shows nine inbred show ponies gathered for the funeral of Edward VII in 1910. Standing, King Haakon VII of Norway, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, King Manoel of Portugal, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, King George I of Greece, King Albert of the Belgians. Seated: King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King George V, King Frederik VIII of Denmark. They probably share more genetic material than Stepford wives.

Not sure I have a preference. On the one hand, if you’re going to lord it over me, it helps if you treat me to a little theater. Shiny boots, awesome whiskers. On the other hand, no. No, I want to take each of these swaggering hams by the back of the neck and slam his or her face repeatedly into a giant pile of mashed potatoes while chanting You. Are. Not. Special.

Whoo-pah! I think I might be a republican.

June 19, 2013 — 10:34 pm
Comments: 33

Backing into the news

Aw, Vlad and Barry don’t look like BFFs, do they? I love this picture. Lifted as is from this Telegraph article on the dress code for the G8. ‘Smart casual.’ Shit thee? I do not.

The news (including the punditry), still making me crazy mad at the moment. I avoid things that piss me off, especially if I’m helpless to do anything about them. But I don’t want to ignore news completely, lest something important sneak up behind me and smack me upside the head. So I basically go to all my old news sites and scan the headlines, but I don’t read the text unless it promises to offer me a crumb of comfort. A scintilla of schadenfreude. A fragment of fuck right off.

So, what about youse guys? Anyone want to share news-ignoring strategies, or perhaps links to some especially uplifting reads?

June 18, 2013 — 9:45 pm
Comments: 43

So, we got buzzed by this thing on Saturday

Last airworthy Vulcan bomber. After the Trooping of the Colour, where members of the armed forces drop by to wish Her Maj a happy birthday, this little number (XH558 to his friends) zoomed down to Hastings and then up the coast and right over our heads.

It was billed as the last flight of the Vulcan, but engineers have since found a way to strengthen the part of the structure they were worried about. So, not the last, but it doesn’t have a whole lot of juice left.

Not RAF. It’s in private hands. It was built in 1960 (like me!), decommissioned in the Nineties and bought by a private family, in unflyable condition. Since restored entirely by private donations. First flight after restoration: 2007. It takes eye-watering money and volunteer work to keep this thing going, so it stands a real tribute to the love Brits have for their feats of engineering.

It was a beautiful thing. It circled over our heads for a while and then took off up the coast with a roar like the last judgment, the kind of sound you feel in your breastbone.

Oh, the poor sheep.

June 17, 2013 — 10:30 pm
Comments: 35