Friday, December 6, 2013
The Greatest Statesman of the 20th Century
RIP Nelson Mandela. 1918-2013.
Long-term readers may recall that I was convinced that Nelson was going to die while we were in South Africa last December.
I took the above picture in Nobel Square in Cape Town on 14th December 2012. Nelson Mandela is on the right, with the man made from recycled bottled soft-drink crates appearing behind him (but, in reality, on the opposite bank of the Alfred Basin). His funeral will be on 14th December this year.
The Greatest Statesman of the 20th Century, undoubtedly.
But, there is still an awfully long way to go: the post-apartheid 21st century in South Africa is still a long way from where it should be nearly 20 years on.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
I'm completely innoculated. Utterly, totally unmoved and unwindupable. I will not engage, I do not care. I don't even feel like moaning about the waste of money and wrapping paper.
If people want to spend spend spend and run up debts they can't afford, then nothing I can say is going to stop them. Looks like the governmint is about to raise their state pension age again today anyway. If you're below 50, your state retirement age after today is now 68.
Yesterday, when I got to the old village hall where my Patchy Group meet, they were all waiting for an eruption when I saw the huge ceiling-high FOTCR™ in the corner, and the 2 foot one strapped to the wall. I took one look and said, "Well, it's cold in here; the heat from the lights will raise the temperature a few millidegrees."
I've realised that I honestly don't care any more. It must have been the fact that we were away in South Africa for the FOTCR™ last year. When it's hot and sunny and people don't indulge in over-commercialism, or indeed really pay any attention to the occasion, it makes you realise that you are not alone.
I've already stocked up on non-perishables, so I don't need to go anywhere near any shops again until the New Year, unless I choose, give or take a few pints of milk and some sprouts (they grow very poorly on our soil, so we can't grow as many as we like to eat). We had the same dinner we'll have on 25th last Sunday. Which reminds me, there's some fresh cranberry sauce in the fridge that needs eating up.
Second frost of the year here last night (first was November 12th). But, it's not windy at all here (yet). We were going to venture to Kent today, but in the light of the weather warnings (they're even planning to close the Thames Barrier later, to protect London from flooding, and 3,000 homes on the North Sea coast are expected to be flooded in tides to rival those of 1953), I think we won't risk it. How is it where you are?
What's with the snowflakes falling on umpteen websites? Last seen in 2004 or 2005, I thought... Recycling at its worst.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Thought for the day
It is one of the weird ironies of the internet that just as it can expand one's knowledge infinitely, it frequently encourages an arrested adolescence.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I don't do trendy.
It's now trendy to do almost all the things I've/we've been doing forever.
All the things I've been writing about here for nearly 11 years (although less so recently - see below).
- Value living
- Anti-celebrity-ism (and, indeed, anti- worship of anything or anybody)
- Complaining and getting things sorted/compensation from evil corporates
- Bargain hunting
- Home cooking from scratch, and preserve making
- Recycling and reusing
- Gardening and home-food production
- B33 and hen keeping
- Enjoying living lightly and seasonally in a rural place
Consequently, I don't feel much like writing about any of those things these days... as I said in a comment elsewhere a few weeks ago, there are so many frugal/downsizing blogs out there who are all jumping on a bandwagon anyway. Will they still be around in eleven years? I can read the unwritten sub-text - there's a book coming... send me freebies to review... place your adverts here... give me a TV show... Oh, sigh. Oh, yawn.
I've turned down over a thousand pounds worth of advertising in the past year. Everyone has their price apparently. Except me.
You need a particular set of ethics and morals to truly live lightly, as sustainably as possible, and in a Value way - read most of the back stories of the bloggers (or those in magazine articles, TV or radio programmes) and you'll see that they used to tread the over-consuming line and were in big debt. Anyone who over-consumes has an ethical problem, IMHO. Maybe they haven't travelled, or have only travelled on the tourist-path, and haven't seen the real world.
Once they have seen the light, then comes the preaching... a bit like born-again christians. And I have absolutely no time for them, either.
Strangely people seem to love them. Flock to follow, flock to follow, hang on the every word. Which I suspect says quite a lot about the ethics and morals of those people too.
I don't do trendy.
Or over-connected. It was fantastic to hear of Facebook founder's sister on Woman's Hour this morning talking of the need to unplug from all the gadgets and all the 'social networking' (although, if one looks beyond face value, she was actually plugging her website/book - another poacher turned gamekeeper, capitalising)...
Ah for a simple life.
Just walk away.
We've managed it.
Why can't they?
Thought for the day
Art...a soothing, calm influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
If it's December 1st...
... it must be Chocolate before Breakfast Season.
Mr BW hung up his annually-recycled Advent Calendar hopefully last night.
When he awoke this morning, his disappointment at the Advent Fairy's failure to replenish its contents was obvious. Personally I was disappointed that Comet ISON has faded away, but then one doesn't get Advent Calendars with cheese in...
We went out to the kitchen in search of porridge, and, on our return, some of the tiny socklets had been filled. But, there was also a large pile of chocolate pieces on the floor.
I deduced that the Advent Fairy had been taken ill during the night, so her cousin the Tooth Fairy had been called upon to help out, after she'd complete her own nightly tasks (and, given that it was a Saturday night, after lots of boys' football and rugby games, she'd been busy).
She gave up trying to fit overly-large chocs into overly-small socklet holes and dumped the required number, and a few extra as a 'sorry' for the DIY nature of this year's delivery.
In other news, we are still eating raspberries, lettuce, and tomatoes from the garden and polytunnel, as well as all the usual winter cabbagey and carroty veg. Someone gave me four gianty-huge quinces, so I made a dish of membrillo. We've made quince jelly for many years, but have previously wasted the cooked and de-juiced pulp (wasted as in, put on the compost heap or fed to the hens). If only we'd have known...
And I've made myself a new pair of winter slippers (as the old ones had holes in the soles, and I don't like solid-soled slippers from the shops). In Monet colours (the photo doesn't do them justice). I've seen that f1eece from sheep to feet.
Now I'm sewing up the matching waistcoat. Which has taken longer than knitting the bloody thing. It's not the knitting I hate, it's the sewing up. Next time, it's going under the machine.
In further news, Mr BW has taken up smoking.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Just in case it's not just me who is interested...
The latest on comet ISON (with lovely animated gifs lovingly made from the official data) is here.
"I can say that comet #ISON is still looking very much like a comet - though rather a dusty one!" say @SungrazerComets.
It's definitely not going to be the comet of the century now; indeed it's still not clear whether it will even be naked-eye visible, or how much of the nucleus remains. But, it is behaving as a comet, so it is unlikely to be just gas and dust as was initially thought.
Aaaaah. I enjoyed trawling through all the learned twitterstreams and forums to bring you that summary. I will admit to having also spent far too much of yesterday doing so. I even captured momentary flashes of the same excitement I felt during the Apollo programme and Skylab programmes when I was a Small Witch. Once I realised that you had to have perfect eyesight to be an astronaut, I gave up on trying to understand the maths that I'd need to understand the physics to get there (well, OK, I managed an 'A' in 'O' level Maths and Add Maths, but decided to quite while I was ahead and before I failed). I think what I've liked about this Comet is that it has been quite hard to put all the different information together: and, although modern communications mean that (even without huge mainstream media interest) there is lots available in real time, NASA was eating turkey, which allowed the little people (in the UK) to get in with the discoveries.
Also yesterday, I heard on R4 that the Chinese are off to the Moon soon (possibly launching tomorrow evening) and could be mining it, and using it as a giant solar array (power source), within 10 years. Beware the late starters for they shall inherit the Earth.
Friday, November 29, 2013
ISON or ISOFF?
It seems that some of it may have survived... but it's still unclear whether it is just 'dust' or whether any part of the nucleus still lives.
Update 08.52: it seems it lives and an Exeter astronomer was the first to put the evidence together to show, say CNN!
Reading the many astronomer and astrophysicist forums and twitterstreams last night (oh, the excitement - and disappointment!), in an attempt to get the most up-to-date information, I discovered just how many sungrazer comets there actually are (one discovered every 3 days, on average, apparently - many by amateur astronomers). But, my ignorance is nothing compared to some people's: I read questions like, "So what happens now, does it turn into a planet?" and "Has it hurt the sun?"
The Universe can always surprise. Now, all we have to do is wait.
I suspected that throwing that spell book on the fire might work. As a side effect, the governmint's Funding for Lending Scheme has been scaled back. Consequently, lenders won't be getting subsidised money, to lend out, from the tax-payer (which made not a lot of difference to the availability of mortgages to most home-buyers anyway), and so banks will have to start paying better rates to get money in from savers. Hurrah! 16 months of that (it started on 13th July 2012) managed to reduce rates paid to savers by over 2%.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Comet ISON hits BBC
But - 'cometisonnews.com' - yet another of those URLs that read so differently to what is intended (but, quite a good one in this case). I keep meaning to start a list, but never get round to it... there's probably already a site listing them anyway (CBATG).
For the Twits amongst you - it speaks here.
Happy Thankgiving to those of you celebrating today. Although - I shall ony be giving thanks if we get to see that Comet...
Update 19:00: he's dead. This appears to be his last picture (sequence). The NASA website has crashed. Someone please drag the webmaster away from his turkey dinner to put some more coins in the meter...
*cries* *chucks spell book on fire*
And here, it is claimed, is his dying breaths:
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Tails and tales
4.6 billion years old, from the time that the solar system was created. I defy anyone who believes in 'god' to watch that and explain it away. And besides, there aren't any dinosaurs in the Bible.
Given that I first heard (and wrote) about it in November last year (having been told about it while at the Kielder Observatory - which has suddenly exploded in popularity following its appearance on the Robson Green/Northumberland programme screened while we were up there), and again last month, I'm surprised at how little media coverage it seems to have attracted to date.
It's not as if there is much proper news around anyway. I
guess hope they'll all stop going on about the three 'slaves' from Sarf London soon. I jolly well hope so anyway: I've found the wall-to-wall coverage of that very annoying - this gives a flavour of some of the issues, but fails to mention the fact that many, many, people exist in relationships which are psychologically or physically restrictive. For instance, I know of many nice ladies in their 70s and 80s who cannot go out for the day, or away for a weekend, without first having had to prepare all the meals for their partner, and then come home to clear up the mess they have made (usually while their partner sits in their armchair watching TV or reading the paper). To me, that sort of inequality is equally unacceptable in a 21st century so-called developed country.
I have just discovered that the Cambridge to London stage of the Tour de France is coming right past our gate on 7th July next year. I'm not the least bit interested in cycling, or skinny men in Lycra, but I do admit to being just a tiny bit excited (and am wondering how many new friends we will suddenly acquire). But... how long do they take to come through? The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show Preview, that we always attend, starts at 5.30pm, and they'll be closing our lane for the duration, no doubt...
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Happy 50th Birthday
This is still my favourite cartoon of all time: