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We escaped!

First warm and sunny day of 2021, and oh how good it was to feel sun on my face. March might still have an ass-kicking stored up for us, but Winter has definitely turned the corner. They’ve turned the ewes into the field behind us and the lambs will be popping around on the banks soon.

Hang on, folks! We’re almost there!

February 26, 2021 — 6:34 pm
Comments: 12

I ain’t even mad

Lookee who tried to pull a fast one, Steve. Nice try, Steve.

What do you guys even know about Ferlinghetti, anyhoo? I remember my mother talking about this guy.

Never mind. I didn’t have anything to post about tonight anyway. So thanks, Steve. Dead Pool 141 still stands!

February 25, 2021 — 8:04 pm
Comments: 20

And then there’s this

Suffolk has a giant devil dog named Black Shuck who made his first appearance in Blythburgh in 1577, when it broke down the door of Holy Trinity Church, killed a couple of people, burned claw marks in the floor and scampered off. He has reappeared on the usual occasions ever since.

Seven miles away at the site of Leiston Abbey, a dig in 2014 unearthed this big boy. And by big, I mean a vet estimated it would have stood seven feet tall and weighed 200 pounds. A very big boy indeed.

Here’s an article putting the two together. I mean, honestly – if you can’t trust a site called ufoholic.com, who can you trust? And here is a less breathless account in a local paper.

The dog was buried under the site of the monastery kitchens, which would have been demolished some time after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1537. Which would draw a delightful straight line from a very big dog to, decades later, a legend of a very big dog.

But the second article says indications are the dog may have been alive in the 18th C. and was buried with some ceremony. In which case, I’m surprised there isn’t a record of him in some local estate’s accounts. Further (expensive) analysis is probably way down on the county archaeologist’s priority list, which is a shame.

I think we can assume he was a very good boy.

Bonus: my first thought was a turnspit dog. But it turns out, that was an actual breed of little dog with a long body and short crooked legs. Which makes perfect sense for a dog that climbed inside a big hamster wheel and ran for a few hours a day.

The dogs were also taken to church to serve as foot warmers. One story says that during service at a church in Bath, the Bishop of Gloucester gave a sermon and uttered the line “It was then that Ezekiel saw the wheel…”. At the mention of the word “wheel” several turnspit dogs, who had been brought to church as foot warmers, ran for the door.

Queen Victoria kept a few retired turnspit dogs as pets, which wasn’t enough to rehabilitate their reputation. Poor things were considered so ugly and common they were allowed to go extinct.

February 24, 2021 — 7:32 pm
Comments: 5

More Boo!

Meet the lady from Grave 6705 in the bronze age city of Shahr-i Sokhta, now southern Iran. She died between 2900 and 2800 BC. She may have been a foreigner. She was aged between 28 and 35. She was surrounded by rich grave goods. She was six feet tall.

AND SHE HAD A FALSE EYE. Earliest found so far. It wasn’t a sphere; she wore it like an eye patch. It was made out of pitch and animal fat, so it is now black, but some specks of white paint on the surface means it may have been painted white like an eyeball. It was inlaid with fine gold wires radiating from the center, and there are some incised squiggly lines that may be imitation capillaries. I’m unclear whether they were inlaid.

It wasn’t a grave good; she wore it in life for quite a long time. There were two little holes where fine threads attached and held it in place. Both the prosthetic and the threads left marks on her bones. In fact, it looks like she had an abscess possibly caused by this thing.

That’s all we know and that’s cool enough.

But it’s been reported that she was a noblewoman or a priestess and she used the eye to convince people she could see into the future. Which is fun and all, but there’s not a scrap of evidence.

It’s part of an odd contradiction I’ve found since I’ve gotten interested in prehistory. We have never had better tools to examine the past. Radiocarbon dating, DNA testing, chemical analysis of teeth and other organic finds, ground penetrating radar, aerial analysis – it’s simply stunning the good, hard data we can glean now.

But the reports often come packaged with completely unsusbtantiated, fanciful conclusions. I mean, the official reports do (don’t get me started on where journalists go). I mean, we all like to speculate, sure. Maybe if you do the hard work to get a PhD in prehistory, your reward is that your wild-ass guesses get listened to.

February 23, 2021 — 9:32 pm
Comments: 9


Comes a curious little story from the Isle of Man. It’s about a family on a remote farm haunted by a ghost/poltergeist/magical animal. As is often the case with stories like these, it’s hard to see how the affected family had any reason to lie about it or got any advantage from it. But, of course, it’s even harder to see how it could be true.

On one occasion he said he was merely ‘an extra, extra clever little Mongoose’, but on another he said ‘I’ll split the atom! I am the fifth dimension! I am the eighth wonder of the world!’ But the first time he was asked this question, Gef replied ‘I am a ghost in the form of a weasel. I will haunt you.’

It departs from the usual poltergeist narrative in a number of ways. What it reminds me of most is the Bell Witch. No, not the movies, though I did enjoy this adaptation based on the story.

The Bell Witch was a poltergeist tale from early Nineteenth Century Tennessee. So, naturally, I grew up with a copy of the Red Book, the nickname of the classic description of the phenomenon, written in the late 19th C by a descendent.

It was, you will not be surprised to learn, a little book bound in red cloth. And because of when it was written, the prose was almost completely impenetrable to me. But I do remember the pictures. And the description of the little girl who playfully bent over and put her heels behind her head and the witch made her stick!

I love stories like these. I don’t believe a word of them, but that almost makes them more curious than if they were somehow true.

February 22, 2021 — 8:23 pm
Comments: 8

Dead Pool Round 141: we’re all sad over here

BullDawgGuy takes the prize with Rush Limbaugh and we’re all very sad.

I’m afraid I’m all tributted out. Let us move on to a celebration of the bright line between life and death, better known as the DEAD POOL!

Right. 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. Plus (Pupster’s Rule) no picking someone who’s only famous for being the oldest person alive.

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’m fresh out of fairy shit particles.

February 19, 2021 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 93


Watching Perseverance land on Mars in realtime. Laterz, y’all.

Remember, Dead Pool tomorrow!

February 18, 2021 — 9:03 pm
Comments: 8

All too soon

Farewell to Rush Limbaugh, the man who taught me to put butter on steak. Gosh, he just turned 70 this month. How sad.

Social media will be completely unusable for a day, between righties being sad and lefties being inappropriate. I didn’t feel right posting the usual nonsense tonight, so have an open thread. Talk about anything you like.

Wonder if them poor Texans have thawed out yet.

February 17, 2021 — 7:03 pm
Comments: 13

Rejoice! There’s a new blue!

Okay, but it’s kind of a big deal. Blue is a rare color in nature, and stable blue pigments even rarer. For a long time, all we had were ground up semi-precious stones like Lapis, which is why they saved it for the Virgin Mary’s robes. You probably knew that.

Even now, many blue pigments – the cobalts, for example – are expensive and a bit toxic. Cerulean is a cobalt color and very expensive and I have to have one tube on hand, because it is exactly the slightly lemony blue of the sky at the horizon. I still have the same tube from art school because I don’t paint landscapes very often.

This new one is called YinMn Blue but it is not, as it sounds, Chinese. It was discovered by two guys at Oregon State University twelve years ago. They were looking for novel electronic components. The name is from the three elements that make it up: Yttrium (Y), Indium (In), and Magnesium (Mn).

In the improbable event you find this at all interesting, there’s a good article on it here.

It looks like a good blue. Strong and opaque, but not overwhelming when mixed with other colors. I was once traumatized by a tragic pthalocyanine raw pigment spill. It stained me and everything I touched a vivid blue.

Sad to inform you that BullDawgGuy has won the pool with Rush Limbaugh. Fare thee well, Rush.

February 16, 2021 — 7:44 pm
Comments: 19

It’s a gingerbread duck

From our local bakery. For whom we are very grateful.

They fled town a couple of years ago because the rents were exorbitant. Now they’ve opened back up in the middle of all this (in a much smaller shop without an eat-in section) and we make a point of stopping there every few days.

Their bread is excellent. They make a mean doughnut. I’m a little iffy on the gingerbread ducks.

More to the point, we’re trying to be as thoughtful as we can about where our money goes.

No matter how good your intentions, you can’t avoid buying goods from China. I doubt there’s a zipper factory left anywhere else in the world, and I don’t look so good in a toga.

But I can certainly avoid giving my money to Bezos. We’re still lucky enough to have a local butcher and greengrocer and several excellent farm shops, and now our baker again, so we can cut down on supermarkets.

I don’t have much power, but I’ll enthusiastically swing my tiny axe.

February 15, 2021 — 7:55 pm
Comments: 11