Sunday, August 28, 2005

The only thing better than a Right whale...

... is two Right whales!

Only 400 left in the world, and we've met two of them. After two hours of floating around in the cold and the fog, Keith finally spotted the spouts off in the distance, and it turned out not to be humpbacks, as we were expecting, but right whales. They lifted their heads right out of the water and looked at us, and we got to hang out with them for about half an hour before the next boats arrived. It was brilliant.

Loads of thanks to Caroline and Captain Dan at Norwood boat tours.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

There's nothing as empty...

... as a house with no dogs.

The lads are gone to stay with Kay at Happy Hounds for two weeks and the cats will stay here with their cat sitter while we're away.

It's very hard to be in the house without them here.

37: The end of the Empire

Fragrant Harbour is another quality page-turner from John Lanchester. It tells the story of a family's blah against the backdrop of blah in Hong Kong blah. Alright, it's more interesting than that, but any plot summary is going to make it sound like any other family saga, because essentially that's what it is, even going so far as to start at the present day and work back. But the characters don't get caught up in the turbulent times of post-war Hong Kong any more than the story requires them to, and there is no magic realism of any kind anywhere in it, nor does anyone turn out to be a hermaphrodite. This is just straight-ahead storytelling where the story and the characters and the historical backdrop are interesting enough to do away with any quirks or gimmicks. Knowing nothing at all about Hong Kong doesn't make it any harder to follow, and in fact now I suspect I would find the place a little easier to navigate, if I was ever thinking about going there, which I am not.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Anyone who had a heart...

...would buy me one of these for my mobile.

This is everyone's cue to tell me how rubbish they are.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Half a dalek!

Okay, it's not really, it's our composter.

Having read the rules for using the composter, I'm not sure we qualify for one. Fill with earth and then a layer of woody material? Do not ever put potato peelings in? WTF? I thought this was going to be the answer to all my waste disposal prayers. Instead it's yet another thing I have to learn to do properly or it won't work.

Posted Aug. 15 2005, at 3:00 PM
Comments (7)
We throw everything food wise into it bar meat, so that's all fuit/veg/bread/pasta cooked/raw etc. Dunno why it hasn't become a rat magnet, prob cos of all the cats....
Posted by eamonn on Aug. 16 2005, at 12:07 PM Delete
Right, but are you getting compost at the other end?
Posted by perfectlycromulent on Aug. 16 2005, at 12:20 PM Delete
Getting excellent rich compost, almost soil at that stage. Mind you - it's actually an old bin, so to get it out you have to first empty the top layers of fruity compost.
Posted by eamonn on Aug. 16 2005, at 1:54 PM Delete
In that case I won't worry about it. Except that yours is in a nice shady spot and mine isn't in a nice shady spot, but I don't have anywhere nice and shady to put it. Maybe I'll have to plant a tree next to it or something.
Posted by perfectlycromulent on Aug. 16 2005, at 3:33 PM Delete
We just put everything in a pile at the end of the garden, not even a bin. Took about 2 years to start composting propertly, but now it turns all raw veg, lawn clippings and some paper into rich compost in a month or so. It is amazing how small everything composts down to.
Posted by caelen on Aug. 16 2005, at 4:03 PM Delete
Nature, eh? It's pure mad.

Excitingly, I'm also going to try composting our cat litter. It's the wood pellet stuff so it should be okay, or else it will be a horrible smelly mistake and we'll have to clean the whole thing out and start again.
Fun times!
Posted by perfectlycromulent on Aug. 16 2005, at 6:14 PM Delete
But not the pooey bits of course as those are a bad thing.
Posted by Keith on Aug. 16 2005, at 6:29 PM Delete
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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Break out the champagne

We got our Sky+ and it is great. You really can do all the things they tell you about in the ads. And since I gave up watching Big Brother, I don't miss Channel 4 at all.

Chorus can kiss my arse.
Posted Aug. 11 2005, at 1:04 PM
Comments (5)
Posted by on Aug. 11 2005, at 7:40 PM Delete
Don't forget, "Services" menu, type 4,0,1 then and this gets you access to the secret installer's menu.
Posted by StevieB on Aug. 12 2005, at 12:17 AM Delete
Then ....4,0,1 then ....If you forget select it'll blow up
Posted by StevieB on Aug. 12 2005, at 12:18 AM Delete
Hey, your comment box won't allow select. Select. SELECT.
Posted by StevieB on Aug. 12 2005, at 12:19 AM Delete
Well, that's nice and clear. Thanks!
Posted by perfectlycromulent on Aug. 12 2005, at 8:21 AM Delete

36: Harry Potter and the Empire Strikes Back

Less than a month after its release, our first copy of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince showed up in the shop. Hooray for people. Sadly if you're going to read it you've probably read it by now, and if you're not then you won't care.

Maybe it's because I get out less than I used to, or maybe it's something else, but I've had less of a pod-people vibe from this book. When The Order of the Phoenix came out, it was everywhere. Every bus you went on, every park you walked through at lunchtime for the whole summer, there were people everywhere reading it. I haven't seen the latest one knocking around as much, maybe people remember back to how heavy it made their bags last time and they decided to read this one at home.

And what was the book like? Stuff happens that's supposed to be earth-shattering but I found myself not really caring. I listened to some children talking about it on the radio the other day and it seemed to me that if you are as young as Harry Potter was when the books started, you might find some of the stuff in this book a bit boring. If you're as old as Harry Potter is now, you might find the whole wizarding thing, well, a bit childish. It seems to me that Rowling's wizards are kids' wizards. They have names like Lupin and Dumbledore and even Harry Potter - almost Enid Blytonish names. They need a wand to do their spells. It all seems frightfully jolly hockey sticks and chalet school, which was great when everyone was young and they had adults to look after them. In order to move away from that and into the adult world of peril where Harry is now going, surely a complete change of language is needed? But won't that alienate some of the younger readers and their parents?

But of course I'm not a child and I didn't grow up with these characters and so I don't get particularly excited when cool things happen to them and I don't get teary-eyed when bad things happen because I don't love them like kids do. Perhaps it will be an exciting meme for the future. Where were you when...

Keith says:
I think people have their Harry Potter book space occupied by Dan Brown now. Certainly there isn't the expected decrease in DB book numbers and the expected increase in Potter. I did see a lot of people reading Phoenix before Prince came out, presumably to be ready for it.
Posted by Keith on Aug. 11 2005, at 1:07 PM

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Tutti frutti ice cream!

Did you even know that there was a huge shipping trade in ice in the late 1800s? Me either. Would you have said such an idea was crazy? Me too. But there it was. And Gavin Weightman's The Frozen Water Trade is the book to tell you all about it. I liked this book enormously, even though the subject matter is a little dry. Like a lot of overnight sensations, the ice trade took a very long time to be take seriously, but once it was up and running, it took its inventor out of debt and was making him $40,000 a year in profits. Ice was sold as far away as India, and it is this trade that explains why American drinks are so much colder than ours, and why they call their fridges ice boxes.Shipping, commerce, the industrialisation of America, it's all here in a very compact 200 pages. Recommended.

Sick dog

Poor Cody's not well, but he's battling through, bless him.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Moses supposes

Look, we have a rose in our garden!