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Oh, Japan!


I honestly do not know what I was doing when I found myself in this place today. I only know it scared me. Japan Trend Shop is superficially one of those silly gadget shops, like Brookstone, but being Japanese…somewhat more horrifying.

Like, in the cosmetics section, you can buy horse oil. Which, if you read the description, is clearly made from actual horses (“Son Bahyu also breeds only quality horses, so its creams do not contain oil from former racing horses or other steads that are no longer healthy.”).

You can spend $24 on a cardboard box for your cat to sleep in. An ordinary cardboard box, though I suppose it is “designed to look just like the boxes used to send and transport large bottles of soy sauce in Japan.” So there’s that.

Earplugs in the shape of tiny colorful dachshunds ($42). A plastic vase you can scream into to muffle your angsty cries $52 (reduced from $80). A machine that makes perfectly spherical balls of ice in seconds, $1,281 (I won’t lie, I really want one of these). Cotton Wife and Husband Hug Pillows (“We’ve seen plenty of hug pillows in Japan before but these have the most attractive and, well, huggable designs so far.”). $180.

None of those objects brought me to the site, though. I decided I just couldn’t bear to post a picture of the thing that caught my eye: the Bigan Beauty Face Expander. It’s supposed to be for exercising your cheek muscles. And there are other horrifying-looking beauty apparatuses in that section, but I just. No. No, I don’t believe it.

August 17, 2016 — 8:26 pm
Comments: 13

Long weasel is long


And on Sunday we went to a country fair and I mauled somebody else’s weasel (“no, ma’am, that’s a ferret,” said the woman). That’s a fully grown ferret. It’s a female. Big size differential.

Sadly, chickens and ferrets are like matter and anti-matter. Plus, the cats would kill me.

Oh, and.


I bought another Spong mincer. Uncle B was like, “you’re going to convert the house into the Museum of Spong, aren’t you?”

No, silly. I’m only interested in tabletop Spong mincers with the asymmetrical base. My fetishes are highly specific.

It’ll be the Museum of Tabletop Spong Mincers with the Asymmetrical Base.

August 16, 2016 — 8:59 pm
Comments: 17

Where are you, Winston Churchill?


Went to an airshow Saturday. There were several in the South of England this weekend. They do this so the Red Arrows (for example) can fly down the coast and do one show after another in one big go.

The picture is (part of) the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The RAF has one Lancaster bomber, one Hurricane and one Spitfire they’re keeping in the air and they fly them together to the various shows. People love them.

I hit up Wikipedia to find out when the Battle of Britain officially started and ended (answer: depends if you ask the Brits or the Krauts). I learned that it has the distinction of being (the only?) battle to be named before it was fought. Winnie named it in his “finest hour” speech:

What General Weygand has called The Battle of France is over. The battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of a perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour”.

Makes you nostalgic for a time when our leaders not only acknowledged a war for the survival of Christian civilization, but actually were on our side in it.

Anyway. Highlight of the day: watching a soldier teach a little boy to cock and fire a Glock, with his mother helping out. I could’ve wished for them all to show a little more barrel discipline, though — even if it was a dummy training weapon.

Low point: the little boy who ran up to his mother shouting, “Mummy, look! It’s one of those things cowboys wear to keep their guns in!” To his credit, he was super excited about it, but it was sad to see a ten-year-old boy who didn’t know the word holster.

Apologies to Uncle B for mangling his nice picture down to weasel blog size.

August 15, 2016 — 6:38 pm
Comments: 16

chicken problems


Not original. I pinched this off one of the many chicken groups of which I am an unashamed member.

I think all the eggs I’m getting from the new girls are coming from Jenny. She’s the only one I ever see on the nest. But damn, she churns one out almost every day. She’s the one that looks most like Lucia, too, so it’s no surprise she’s a superstar.

All my little peckerheads are doing well and loving the Summer.

Another weekend of good stuff lined up. I’ll report back next week. Have a good one!

August 12, 2016 — 8:33 pm
Comments: 3



Perseid meteor showers peak tonight; they’re my favorite! It’s supposed to be an especially good one this year. I can’t stay out for long, though — we’ve got skeeters the size of buzzards at the moment. Uncle B is a lumpy mess.

British skeeters don’t appear to have much of a taste for weasel, happy to say.

You know, I’m sure I’ve posted this exact picture before. But I’ve looked through the last four Augusts, and no. Anyway, Google Images identifies this as a picture from 2015, so it must be a different but similar diagram. Maybe from that meteor shower in December that I never see because it’s too freaking cold. Geminids. That’s it.

Hey ho, forget the celestial pageantry — I got thirty comments out of you people for a question about eating out of tiny cardboard cereal boxes.

August 11, 2016 — 9:08 pm
Comments: 15

I’m super cereal


I had a silly day today. I was going to stay home and do some chores, but I got a call that the phone was out at work. This is bad because the phone is tied to the security system, so I had to go in (so I could look up the customer number from our last bill) and navigate the help system of British Telecom. The hardest part of that is finding a live human. They’d rather open a vein than give you a phone number.

Anyway. Boring.

As today was screwed, we decided to get the weekly shop out of the way. Aldi had a special on a block of those little miniature cereals, so we bought one for nostalgia. And then the clash of cultures began.

I’m like, “these aren’t scored in the middle so you can use them as a bowl.”
And he’s like, “What?”
And I go, “you used to open them up and fold the sides back and the cereal was in a wax paper bag so you could pour the milk right in.”
And he goes, “didn’t you have bowls where you grew up?”
And I say, “sure, but these were for camping and, like, being in the woods and stuff.”

Long story short, he doesn’t believe me. Do you remember this? Was it really a thing? All I could find was that one picture, from a long-defunct breakfast blog.

August 10, 2016 — 7:36 pm
Comments: 35

Mister, Kipling


Nice day. Field trip!

We went to Burwash, to Rudyard Kipling’s house, Bateman’s, the farthest away of our regular National Trust jaunts. We’ve been there many times before (in fact, we first signed up to the National Trust there). Big, big Kipling fans, us.

It’s a desperately cool Jacobean house but, even better, his daughter left the whole thing — furniture, knick-knacks and all — to the Trust. So it’s as near exactly the way it was in Kipling’s lifetime, including all the shit on the desk and his trash can full of first drafts. The latter was emptied twice a day by a housemaid, who burned the contents. He was very, very controlling of his work and image.

Today, unexpectedly, they had a Kipling historian who was lucky enough to look a bit like Kipling (probably not a coincidence, that) giving a one-man show in the garden, telling the story of Kipling’s life. It was very well done.

It was full of fun Kipling facts. Like, he was born nine months after his parents took an enjoyable holiday at Rudyard Lake, Staffordshire. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

He was a kind of a pre-movie movie star. Before he moved to the country, a local pub landlord organized tours past his house. He wrote three times to complain about it before he learned the landlord was selling his complaint letters for cash.

In fact, toward the end of his life, tradesmen stopped cashing his checks (cheques here) — the autograph on it was worth more than the amount written.

We hope to do more of this, now it’s warmed up a bit. But it’s still very cold at night, like in the low fifties. It’s been such a miserable, cold Summer, even one of our dimmer acquaintances was heard to say, “I know they say the earth is warming, but…”

August 9, 2016 — 8:26 pm
Comments: 13

Whoo whoo!


Good lord, that was a huge steam rally! All traction engines (steam vehicles that don’t run on tracks, for you non steam geeks). We’ve not been to this one before.

I wouldn’t like to say how many engines were there. Thirty? Fifty? I like the two in the picture because the size difference. The one in the back is a German engine. Probably the biggest one at the show, but it was broken down for the whole day. Poor bastards; I don’t know how they’re going to move it out of there if they can’t get it going.

The one in front isn’t anything like the smallest, though.

There were so many of them zooming around, I’m amazed nobody got squashed. At the end, they tried to gather them all together in the arena. It was a sight to behold, but completely unphotographable.

At least, with the little camera I took with me. I’m holding out hope Uncle B’s came out better.

Happy Monday – here we go!

August 8, 2016 — 9:57 pm
Comments: 9

‘Merica intensifies


Yes, that’s a bald eagle. No, I don’t suppose most falconers are allowed to keep one, but these guys breed all kinds of endangered hunting birds. Though I’m happy to report that old baldy is no longer endangered.

Another pic from the fete over the weekend; a falconry exhibit. Cool stuff, but I realize these things are repetitious. That’s partly what I like about them; they’re the same every year.

This was the fete that has the miniature horses and the guy who herds Indian runner ducks with border collies. If that rings a bell, this one always happens on the same day as the one with the really good boot sale (read: flea market) and we dash to get to both of them.

It was followed on Sunday by a music festival we’ve never been to, and we haven’t been to it again. We got there and the whole village was full up. No place to park.

This weekend we have a steam rally and an event in aid of the RNLI. Can I take the pace? Good weekend, all!

August 5, 2016 — 9:36 pm
Comments: 10

Getting gay with the Freemasons


Oh, way to secret society, you guys.

Yeah, the Freemasons had a booth at a fete we went to this weekend. You can’t tell, but their logo is rainbow handprints, turned outward like a flower. Somebody done gayed up the Masons.

The slogan in the panel on the left says “honesty, kindness, respect, compassion, tolerance, benevolence, family.” Those five things in the middle are mighty close to the same thing, aren’t they? According to their English website, “Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.” Huh. Since when?

I mean, “secret handshake” came from these guys.

I did not know this. Wikipedia says, “While the number is not accurately known, it is estimated that between 80,000 and 200,000 Freemasons were killed under the Nazi regime. Masonic concentration camp inmates were graded as political prisoners and wore an inverted red triangle.” But ‘pedia doesn’t say when they stepped out of the shadows.

Anyway, I know all the old societies and clubs are having a hell of a time maintaining any kind of membership. Several of our retired neighbors are Rotarians, whom we’ve had to rebuff (noooo thank yoooo). It’s just weird seeing the Masons hand out flyers.

They better not have jettisoned all that secret symbolic shit, or they’ll be just another boring wasteful charitable organization.

August 4, 2016 — 9:36 pm
Comments: 12