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Laser pointers: fun toy or cat torture device?

I got this with loyalty points because I buy so gosh darned much catfood from an online place. It’s much cheaper and so convenient, but I’m getting really tired of the mountains of corrugated cardboard I have to dispose of. Allll the junk we order.

Training tool. Training cats to do what, exactly? Run psychotically around the house screaming in frustration and slamming into things? Mission accomplished.

That’s the image the laser projects, by the way. That little fish with “Training Toy” for a body. In blue.

It’s Friday! w00t!

April 30, 2021 — 7:32 pm
Comments: 10

That’s no lady

In the thread before this one, drew458 mentioned there was evidence of people in Britain going back 33,000 years, in the last interglacial. There’s not only evidence, there’s a person. This skeleton was found in a cave called Goat’s Hole in Wales in 1822, along with bones of various animals, including a mammoth tusk.

The man who first explored the site was William Buckland, Professor of Geology at Oxford. It’s a shame it was such early find – I can only imagine what modern scientists could do with a proper dig – but to do him credit, Buckland made excellent drawings and notes.

For some reason, he got it in his head she was a Roman prostitute. It became known as the Red Lady of Paviland. Modern archaeologists weren’t the only fanciful ones.

Actually, it’s the partial skeleton of a young man. It’s red because the body was covered in red ochre as part of the burial ritual. And, yes, it’s dated to 33,000 BP (before present).

HOWEVER, the earliest human remains found in Britain so far was a half million year old legbone of a Homo heidelbergensis found in a pit in Sussex. That, you probably realize, was several ice ages ago.

I heard it said at a history talk once that Britain has been colonized eight times, and seven times the settlement failed. That stuck with me. But it would be more accurate to say that Britain has been colonized eight times and seven times an ice age has come along and wiped them all out.

We’re just hanging out, waiting for #8.

April 29, 2021 — 6:47 pm
Comments: 5

Doggerland, sweet Doggerland

The Society of Antiquaries of London is an interesting bunch. Founded in 1707, their remit is the past.

That’s a pretty broad area of study. Just about everybody thinks something in the past is interesting.

Fortunately for lovers of the past, the SAL puts many of their lectures on their YouTube channel. There’s some awesome stuff in there, for free.

Even better – next week, they’re hosting a two-day exploration of Doggerland: Lost Frontiers and Drowned Landscapes in Britain and Beyond. And it’s also free!

I’ve done several study courses and online events via Zoom, and it’s just the best. Big thermos of coffee, comfy chair, feet up, tablet in my lap, smart people telling me stories. I could do this every day.

I don’t know how 9:30 to 5:30 Limey Time aligns with your timezone, but check it out if you’re interested. You are interested, aren’t you? *squints*

April 28, 2021 — 7:44 pm
Comments: 10

Poland Express ready for takeoff

My boy Po flapping his flappers.

It was nice out today. Warm in the sun, still cold in the shade.

I tried chasing the chickens around the garden with the lawnmower, but my mower is unwell. It’s the first mow of the year and motor catches but peters out immediately.

I know not to put old gas in it (it goes off), though there was a little bit left from last year. I’m now working on the theory the air filter is clogged. I have washed it and am waiting for it to dry. That gives me at least one more day of not mowing the stupid lawn.


April 27, 2021 — 8:14 pm
Comments: 11

Cold, anyway

Still bloody cold here. I did a search of “coldest April UK” and got a bunch of messy hits like “Britain shivers in coldest April day for 20 years” and “Third Coldest Start To April In The Past 110 Years” and “16th Coldest April Since 1697”. They’re all real, but wish I could find the tweet for that last one.

I didn’t know they kept temperature records in the 17thC. In fact, I didn’t know they could. The Wikipedia article on thermometers makes it sound as though they existed but weren’t common or standardized. I wonder if they’re reckoning the temperature based on something in nature.

Like the blooming date for this lovely branch of…some kind of thorn in our hedge. Hawthorn, maybe. May here is full of white. White hedges, white lambs.

White fingers and toes. Enough already.

April 26, 2021 — 7:43 pm
Comments: 15

Forty thousand of your English pounds

It’s a beach hut. Some of them are very nice and, with the weather we get, it’s not a bad idea to have a place you can duck out of a sudden squall.

This one looks like it has a gas ring and plenty of storage. I understand my in-laws owned one and made a large profit on it some years ago.

Alas, the sea has a habit of eating them.

Rejoice! It is the weekend!

April 23, 2021 — 7:44 pm
Comments: 12

Hello, Department of Useless Information?

If y’all don’t have the Google Translate plugin, I recommend. Wherever you are on the web, you can highlight some text and a little blue translate button pops up next to your cursor. Magic.

That’s how I accidentally discovered the Cebuano language, which is spoken in the southern islands of the Philippines and is called Bisaya or Binisaya by native speakers. For most of us, I can’t imagine a language we would less need to learn conversational phrases in, so here you go.

Sometimes, I just like to hear people speak to me in another language.

None of it sounded at all familiar until we got to kumusta? And I thought naw, that’s got to be cómo estás – and it is. Turns out, the Philippines were a Spanish colony for 300 years. *shrug emoji*

Hey, did I ever tell you about the faulty soundcard I had in my first computer? Or was it a modem? I forget. It picked up a local Portuguese radio station and happily chattered to me in Portuguese all day.

The only words I remember were an ad for el Mundo de los Licores – Liquor World – but confusingly that’s in Spanish.

I am not good with languages.

April 22, 2021 — 7:39 pm
Comments: 7

Get off my buttons, please

I’m getting a little weary of our friends in the media. No, seriously, our friends in the media. The ones on our side. I understand they have a product to sell and I’m here for that, but they’re leaning on my buttons now.

Various times I saw the above story tweeted, 100% of respondents believed Biden was forbidding people saying “Wuhan flu.” But muh First Amendment!

He’s forbidding it in government documents, and they wouldn’t have used “Wuhan flu” even under Trump. They’d use whatever CDC uses. Probably “covid-19”.

Because that’s all he can do with Executive Orders: give directions to his own cabinet and federal agencies. They’re incredibly narrow in scope. He can get up to a little mischief, but only a little. If you could do big things with EOs, every president would have.

It is a nothingburger. A nothing soufflé. Nothing on the rocks.

Man, I’d give a lot for a news source that tried to be absolutely straight and tell me when a provocative tweet was no biggie.

As an aside, this isn’t a very effective approach with conservatives, anyway. The left runs on rage. We like a pep talk. All of our most beloved communicators – Reagan, Limbaugh, Breitbart and, yes, Trump – were upbeat, happy warriors.

April 21, 2021 — 8:06 pm
Comments: 7

Possum stories

As I am stuck, immobile, under a very fat cat, allow me to tell some possum stories. Three times in my life I have encountered a possum, and all three times it played dead and I believed it.

The first time, I was about fifteen and on our small farm. I startled it, it fell over in the grass and just passed the hell out. I had a varmint gun with me but I just couldn’t shoot something limp at my feet. I am wuss.

See, a possum had been killing our chickens for days. And they don’t do a nice job of it, sometimes mutilating them without killing them outright. Gosh, was my mother mad at me! By the time I went inside and brought her out, possum was there none.

Second time, it was curled up at the bottom of a public trash can. Not my problem.

Third time, I was backing out of the garage and I went over something BIG with my right front wheel. Mind you, I drove a Miata, so everything I went over felt big. But this was genuinely a large and portly possum. Dead, natch. But it had blood trickling from its mouth, so I thought, “this time, for real!”

I was late for work, so I decided to deal with it when I got home. And yup, it was gone.

I don’t often sit around of an evening and reminisce about Possums I Have Known. Somebody mentioned possums on Twitter and it brought it all back.

Pic is from Wikimedia and the taker has kindly put it in the public domain.

No possum post is complete without another mention of the Opossum Lady.

April 20, 2021 — 8:40 pm
Comments: 8

My god, it’s full of stars…!

I saw something white scattered on the kitchen floor a little while ago. Being that I’m nearsighted, I got down on my knees and shined a flashlight on it. It was…tiny stars.

Dammit, they mice have got into my cake decorations!

April 19, 2021 — 8:00 pm
Comments: 7