Akkk, it's raining again, so I am sitting at the computer waiting for it to ease off a bit. I blame it on global warming, although the bit I'm getting is just weather, the climate is generally bringing cold wet Springs to Scotland.
I blame Shell for trying to drill holes in the arctic, though hopefully the first big spill, if they can't hide it, will bring an outcry of 'Told you so.' and a political recoil. Still, it's a pity to have to wait for an environmental disaster before anybody takes any notice. You'd have thought the Gulf of Mexico, Canadian Tar Sand pipeline spills and Siberian pollution would be enough.
One little ray of hope though, the internet and the mobile phone are making it harder to hide things now. Perhaps personal financial risk might give shareholders of one of these Internationals enough pain to make them think?
Meantime, check that your pension fund is divested from fossil fuels, and next time you are in the bank, ask if they have. The idea is to get more investment into renewables and research and to make fossil fuels less profitable.
I do fret somewhat about my Midge and Tractor habit, but the truth is I spend far longer working on them than driving them, and they are basically recycled.
On another matter entirely should we be doing some research into flat food? The subject being raised in a conversation recently. This would include biscuits, toast, pizza, crackers and possibly sandwiches. I'm excluding plastic cheese slices and food that is simply sliced off a lump. The first I'd deny the classification 'food' (the fact that people put it in their mouths isn't enough), and the second is too inclusive. Where the concept of a frozen puddle of soup came from, I know not, but it falls into the same category, as would beer disks. I'll leave such oddities to Mr Blumenthal.
Most flat food seems to be pleasurable, certainly convenient and possibly unhealthy, rice-cakes are the work of an unidentified supernatural being with a misplaced sense of humour so I'll just ignore them.
There is a form of Dwarf Bread which can be thrown with lethal force, rather like a discus, or fired like a clay pigeon, but otherwise flat food seems to be reasonably harmless, and can be used to supply prisoners, clinically isolated patients and trapped miners. Papadums can be a bit risky, but eye protection is easy to arrange. Surprisingly most flat foods can be rendered dangerous if prepared carelessly. The Pitta-bread is great with cheese in, but the ones storing darning needles and carpet tacks can prove difficult. Rip-saw pizza is another best kept away from the incautious. Conversely rice-cakes make rubbish armour, but reasonable insulation on the steppes, when worn under waterproofs.
A technical point, quite unrelated, on lighting. I have recommended LED 'bulbs' to replace compact fluorescent ones, and incandescent where they still exist. They are becoming more reasonable in terms of cost, and of course only use 10% of the energy that an incandescent (hot wire) bulb. However I have been disappointed in one, the 'corn' type. So called because of its similarity to a maize or sweetcorn head. The unreliable ones of this type tend to buzz and burn out, or flicker and die. All the ones I have had fail have a total lack of writing on the outside, so I think that is the thing to watch for. Other types have given no trouble as yet, including corn types which have some specifications and identifiers printed on the bulb, usually on the bit of white plastic. Like most stuff they come from China, as do incandescent and compact bulbs. I would prefer to buy British bulbs, but haven't found any yet, because it would be easier to make sure they were being produced with some sort of attention to the environment. Not that I think we can blame the Chinese for their pollution particularly, the pea-soupers of London were quite as bad, even in the year of my birth. Like London back then, they are starting to do something about it, but the concept of having a screen displaying dawn as it should be, is a bit weird.
Listening to the wind howling, rather muffled with the new insulation but audible through the Velux window of my garrett, and having the rain battering off it, I am pleased to be retired. It is a Saturday so I probably wouldn't be working, but that doesn't make much difference as I rarely remember where I am (temporally) in relation to the weekend. I'm sure those of you who are also retired will agree. An ex-colleague of mine retired a few days ago, and others either have taken the plunge or are bouncing on the springboard. Most have made sure they have indoor and outdoor hobbies and interests, the weather outside underlines the importance of that. The lucky few who are working at a 'job' they like, are the real answer. I work a full day even now, but don't get paid for it, because I know that when you stop moving they bury you. Obviously commuting and bosses can be a pain even when you do like a job, although I think, if you have the brains to get a job you like, then you'll probably go the extra yard to deal with those two. This turns my thoughts to philosophy or, as you might put it, staring out of the window and day-dreaming.
I guess the main component is the fact that most of our lives can be spent doing what we don't want to do, for people we don't like, and getting too little money to buy things we don't want to impress people who don't care. Speaking to the Youf of today (not that they listen - I wouldn't) I have trimmed down the words of wisdom to "Don't stop looking for a job until you have found an activity you actually enjoy."
Took a lot of trimming, but at least it doesn't waste too much of their time, the one completely irreplaceable asset.
A short glance at history shows that there has always been a tendency for the elite to keep the majority in their place. This is why it is so important to keep the 'ruled' bits small, that way you can reach the rulers. The Russian revolution was really just a regime change, the peasants may have been told they were in charge, but the second world war must have given them a hint of 'plus ca change..' It has been suggested the reason the North Americans keep voting to oppress the majority, tax the poor and comfort the rich is because they all think they are millionaires in waiting, just going through a rough patch and they don't want to mess the system that will shortly boost them to glory.
The British, on the other hand are just too polite to complain, and maybe a bit scared of being out-spoken, they never really believed that the king was just a man, although Cromwell gave them a hint. It goes back to the romance of Arthur, and if the king says his friends are righteous, then who are we....?
The end product however is that most people are unhappy for most of the time. It's a bit like wolves and deer. The average deer does not get killed by a wolf unless it is sick or very silly. What does the bright healthy deer do? Avoiding danger, It keeps out of trouble, maintains a low profile, doesn't get caught out in the open where the best grass is, and is so nervous that it loses a lot of mating opportunities, loses weight, loses out. This, the fear of wolf, rather than the actual wolf, keeps the population stable. The wolves in turn are dependent on the alpha male, and the alpha male of either species never realises that he'll be replaced, and not missed, on his first mistake. That's assuming he doesn't burn out first.
Remind you of anything?
Remember that alpha Minister you just elected? Does he care about you more than himself? Does he get eaten by wolves if he fails? Just a thought.
And the daft thing is that any sophisticated society (like Meercats) can regulate it's own numbers, and co-operate in the face of a threat, will be better off from top to bottom.
The status quo, however (and I'm not referring to that excellent group) tell us that we must achieve eternal growth in population and productivity and beat the other pack. In spite of the evidence that the plan leads through over-population to starvation, stress and, in our case, through pollution to extinction.
I should admit that as I don't have any children, I am disinterested or "don't give a rat's ar5e" in the long term survival of my particular species. I know quite a lot of people who do though, and I think we should try to get our act together for them, some are quite nice, and several are human.
See what happens when it rains? Vote green, the rain will stop, small children (Max 2 per family) will play in the streets, and I might not write as many newsletters, unless somebody mentions the pope.
In terms of non human activity, today the moth man Jo, set up his moth trap in the garden. I've got a feeling that the previous sentence could be mis-read, but you know what I mean. The device is seen to the right. I took the photo with the light off, for obvious reasons and I'm hoping he'll get rather more than the limited number of 'Hebrew characters' achieved last time, though if the wind doesn't drop I wouldn't hold out a lot of hope. Fiona says the forecast indicates a mild calm night, so there is a reasonable chance of a few other types. The miracle of retrospective hindsight lets me report 6 Hebrew Characters, one Clouded Bordered Brindle and Brown Rustic, On the first of June, in keeping with the trend, the mid day temperature dropped to 3 Celsius (or is that Centigrade? I can never remember). It went up to 12 today, so it is getting warmer. The bird feeder seems to be really popular however, I don't know if that means the birds are doing well and raising chicks or suffering and needing the extra. Either way we were visited by a Jackdaw, which is a first on our peanut cage, as was the Woodpecker (Green I think) a month or so ago. A Sparrow-Hawk turned up about then too, much to the distress of the Collar-doves, and a Tree creeper a couple of days ago. Quite a busy garden, but mostly Sparrows arguing loudly and throwing the less desirable seeds out, (mostly wheat I think). Pheasants and Pigeons used to eat them, but seem to have wandered off recently. No sign of rats yet, but I may have to sweep up soon, just in case. Perhaps I can persuade the Jackdaw to eat them. Here's a rather indistinct picture of him (or her).
As long as (s)he doesn't start cutting through the wires it should be OK, but the small brown jobs were a bit worried for a while, remembering the Sparrow Hawk perhaps.
On the self sufficiency front, the Polytunnel is sprouting all sorts of green stuff, and I've put in four lines of ground soaking hose to keep it doing that, even if I haven't a clue what they are. There should be a loaf coming out of the bread-maker soon and Fiona has started another batch of Home-brew beer. I don't like gassy beer, and prefer what is called 'real ale' though this is actually called Victorian Bitter by the company that makes the 'kit'. It has the advantage of being much cheaper than buying the stuff rom a pub, and doesn't encourage drink-driving. It is certainly much better than the crates of tasteless gassy beer bought in supermarkets, imported from Belgium and frozen so that you cannot taste it. This stuff is made from Water, Malted barley sugar and yeast. bound to be good for you, it is practically Muesli. We could do the whole thing and malt our own barley, but frankly you need a full sized brewery at one end of the process and a pub at the other. This is a reasonable compromise. My apologies to those of you who can't, don't or won't drink it, but cheers anyway.