Eigg-speriments with Carragheen

So, we decided to make Carragheen Pudding (or Hebridean Jelly). We got this way back when we were on Eigg back in 2019, but it’s sat in our cupboard mainly because it’s vanishingly rare that we have 750ml of milk kicking around which we don’t have a use for.

I mean, it’s pretty rare that we have that much milk in the house at all. Certainly dairy in that quantity is uncommon. Oatmilk, maybe. But anyhow, we realised that after xmas we had a most of a half-gallon container left over which we had no specific plan for, along with some extra half-and-half and some extra cream. So that all got thrown in.

Carragheen is, apparently, a specific variety of seaweed (which I didn’t realise until looking it up) and the recipe we have is a little different:

10g Dried Carragheen
750ml Milk
2-3 Strips Lemon Peel
1 tsp Lemon Juice
2 tsp sugar
1 egg yolk
Lemon slices to decorate
Double cream to serve

You rinse then soak the carragheen for 15 minutes. Then plop it in a saucepan with the milk and the lemon peel. You bring that to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.

At this point the carragheen should be “quite gelatinous” and the mixture should start to thicken. Then you force it all through a fine sieve, rubbing until the caragheen is through.

Return that to the suacepan, stir in the sugar, egg yolk, lemon juice and bring it up to a simmer for about a minute or two, stirring continuously. Then you pour it into a wetted mould and leave to set for 2-3 hours (or in our case, in the fridge, overnight). It’s served with lemon slices and whipped cream.


Now, we’d never had Carragheen pudding before, so I’ve no idea if what we made is correct, but it came out with a texture like a firm mousse. Or an American pudding, I guess. And it’s… interesting. It’s not bad. It’s just, well, we felt it was lacking something.

We added a bit of honey on top to it as part of our experiments in fiddling with it, which helped. It cut through the creaminess with some sharpness that helped, but texturally it was a bit lacking for our tastes. So today we’re adding a Graham Cracker / cheesecake type base. I’ve just baked that, so hopefully that should fix the texture thing. If it does, I’d happily make it again. It’s really pretty easy – and it doesn’t taste like seaweed, which was a concern. I’d also be tempted to make some kind of sharp-fruity glaze to go on top once it’s set – again, to cut through that milkiness with some sharpness.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing how this experiment goes :)

Took you long enough…

So just before we moved to the states I embarked on the giant ripping project. See, our CD and DVD and now Blu-Ray collection, along with our downloaded media, had become… how shall we put this: A bit of a state. I was once, in my shining youth, someone who kept their file folders on the computer quite delightfully organized.

And then things started to slip.

And then my music files got merged with various friends and various exes, (as opposed to .EXEs) and the result was what can be termed a “hot mess”. There are folders for the same artist with different spellings (Beatles, The Beatles, PJ Harvey, P J Harvey), there are folders with mp3s and FLACs in one place, there’s just… well, it’s abysmal. Some folders have cover art, some don’t. Some have corrupt files from disk problems over the years. At least one has a track where bitrot got the track, but the CD ROM (and it really was almost certainly an actual CD-ROM drive) decided it was good enough anyway, and what you get is a wild second or so of white-noise with a screech in the middle.

So before we moved, as the CDs were being ripped asunder from their cases and placed uncermoniously into DJ Cases (where I’d stored some, but not all CDs after it started to become apparent that I rather like music and apparently want to have a lot of it), well I started ripping them. Only, I ran out of time, and also energy and… and so well, the hot-mess situation got if anything worse.

Because now there’s the “Clean Rips” folder and a separate “Digital Downloads” folder. And then there’s the old “mp3” folder. And while I *tried* to make sure I deleted the duplicate audio files (I’ve ripped this CD, so I’ll delete the old digital copy of it, and just have the new lossless audio copy)… well, I don’t think I hit them all.

Probably in part because of the “hot mess” situation that was going on with the audio files in the first place.

Now we haven’t got to the visual media yet, but a similar problem exists there.

So since I’d given in and ordered two new hard disks (Finally adding Parity! Yay! (as well as some more space)) for the media server, I thought now might be the moment to… actually restart that project. But there were some hurdles to overcome. First was that I used whitelabel disks (these are reconditioned hard drives) because I’m a cheapskate.

Now these drives are warrantied and all that jazz, but they come with a serial number that’s all zeroes. It turns out that – somewhat irritatingly – UNRAID (and apparently a lot of RAID servers), and in fact various OS’s – can’t deal with having more than one of these drives. That’s because they use the serial number for a unique drive ID and in these drives the serial numbers are all zeroes.

However, the drives to provide a unique ID – it’s just not in the serial number tag. Thankfully Nikki found this guide which I kinda of baulked at, at first, because the media server at that point was just one hard drive. No backups, no parity, nothing. Buuuut. When I reminded myself how much cheaper the whitelabel drives had been than new or even used drives I realised that maybe, actually, I’d like to take a terrifying risk with my media server. So I went back, read the guide, decided it wasn’t really that scary and lo, the drives work.

So then I let it do its parity drive build. Then I added the second drive to the array, and then I spent a while discovering that my old DVD drive doesn’t play with UNRAID. I of course discovered this by spending ages trying to work out why UNRAID wasn’t showing a disk in the drive, before just giving up and trying my other portable Blu-Ray (which I bought because this one seemed to not want to read Blu-Rays (before I discovered that they’d been dicks about the BluRay format. Giant media conglomarates really suck arse). So I got that all up and working, then discovered that “Ripper” was doing an abysmal job of recognising audio CDs and decided that I’ll just have to rip them on my Mac.

So then I decided that y’know what? Let’s do the DVDs. Do the DVDs, then the media server can go back up in the loft (until the summer when we’re going to have to work out an alternate plan, because it’s really too hot up there. It was too hot with one drive, with three I’m a bit concerned about longevity).

And that’s when I found out my drive has Riplock. I think I’d vaguely heard of this when it came in, and I thought “arseholes”. So it’s a thing which stops you from ripping DVDs and BluRay disks – which are recorded in video, rather than data formats – at more than about 4x. Usually around 2x. The fig-leaf claim for this is that the drives won’t spin-up to high speed noisily while you’re watching a film – which is bollocks, of course. I mean, if you wanted to do that without interfering with people’s right to legally format shift then you’d make a bit that you set when you asked for data. Is this “playback for viewing” or is this “retrieving data”.

But no, instead they just made it difficult.

So media ripping is going, but slowly. But I’ve now set up Handbrake, so that I can dump the ripped file that I want into its watch directory, and it will then automatically turn it into an H265 file. That might take about 20 years given the fact that the media server is powered by a 4 core Athlon. Buuut, I’m doing the thing I said I’d do. Which is good.

Image showing processor load at 100% on 3 of four cores and at 96% on the fourth core.

Also good is the fact that its on a UPS considering the power went a bit flickery earlier.

Not so good – my awesomely terrible Bootleg copy of Minority Report (screencam, with the world’s most hopeless subtitles) appears to have died of bitrot. Whodathunk that bootleggers would use cheap, grotty media?

Multiple lines of Error: SCSI error - Medium Error - EC Uncorrectable....

It’s twenty-twenty-two…nearly

I used to do these kind year in review things. I’d usually trawl through my posts, find moments of interest, horror or joy and then put together a bit of a year in review.

I actually can’t remember the last year I did this. I thought I’d stopped more recently, but having made it back to about December 2014 it seems I didn’t have one – at least not obviously even then. I mean, it was always a somewhat lackadaisical process. And I suspect part of me not seeing them is that they might occur in February or midway through January. They were more for me – to help my crappy memory store things that had happened. But having written this blog since… err, about 1999 in various forms, there are habits that have come and gone and when exactly that happened is a bit vague.

To some extent that seems more important at the moment. Without the accoutrements of our ‘normal’ happenings; holidays and trips, visits to restaurants and museums, all the regalia of a fairly middleclass existence (I’m fine with that, btw), it’s easy for life to just blur into one long chunk.

I mean, to be fair, the year has mostly consisted of being at home. I’ve read a bunch of books in the last few months (having finally got back some enthusiasm to read, not just to think about reading) of which The Premonition was quite definitely the most disturbing. I think I read A Deadly Education, this year, too, which was an excellent read. Glitter up the Dark was fascinating, but is very academic if you’re thinking of reading it – which is not belied by its cover. Nothing wrong with academic, I enjoyed it loads, but it’s not a light pop-culture read.

Also excellent was the Annalee Newits A Future of Another Timeline. At the moment I’m reading Blowout, then we’ll be doing some alternating fiction / non-fiction for a bit.

But pandemic notwithstanding, we did get away. We headed out to the Kanascat-Palmer state park with our tent during a period when the pandemic was less intense, and when we were both vaccinated and things seemed to be looking up? At least I thought they were. I mean, they were. Objectively, people were getting vaccinated, they were masking and fewer people were dying.

So we had a lovely little trip – although it seems I didn’t ever actually write up what happened. Mainly we didn’t do much, we read and played games and sat outside in the world. Which was lovely.


We’ve also had various chicken adventures, from Pippi getting something stuck (no idea what) and having to be fed some olive oil and softened bread, to a case of bumblefoot which we – much to our rather basic veterinary skills surprise – managed to treat successfully at home. Trying to manage the very hot summer weather and the now startlingly cold winter weather (actual -6C, “real feel” -10C)

I spent weeks and weeks trying to find a Mars II EV – a 1960’s Renault based car that had a range of 120 miles and a 48 minute to 80%, 50kW charger. I would still love one. That was because it turned out to be time to replace our BMW i3 with a car less likely to die in a spectacularly expensive way. We bought Imp, our Kia Soul EV. Not as luxurious, but much cheaper to fix.

I’ve also poked at working on Rebecca, transitioned to doing more (and actually paid work) for Transport Evolved, and done a bunch of semi-successful geekery. I’ve a half-working Mycroft Prototype (of course *immediately* after I ordered the bits they completely changed the form-factor and now mine is…irritatingly not ideal). I half-fixed the Ankarsurum mixer. However, unfortunately I think it needs a new belt – which I’ve failed to order because I’ve moved on to other projects and the space is currently taken up by other things.

Mainly, at the moment, the inverter for Rebecca which is absolutely, totally and utterly unwilling to damn-well split in half.

I’m going to try heat next – heating part of the casing and seeing if with some differential heating and more whaling on it with an inappropriately wielded screwdriver I can get it apart.

I also have done some things that have been waiting quite a while to get done – I’ve put new disks in the media server (granted, today. And they’re still getting set-up to be used), tried to finish the 3/4 bath.

Kathryn and I also started work on her art studio. That was meant to be about a week-long project but as you might expect with us it’s… well, it’s taken more than a week and it’s not exaaaactly finished just yet. But it’s coming along. Or getting there, as we say to each other about most things.

I also – in a step which astonished me as much as anyone else – completed becoming an American citizen. This was celebrated in a typically understated way by my colleagues…


(…you should have seen the state of my desk, too).

I also spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with Miele and our dishwasher which is now (touch wood) working, and delighting me with the much reduced number of dishes that have to be hand washed.

It has though been an incredibly tough year – I’m tired. I’m so fucking tired. I’m tired of the pandemic – and of people who cheerfully act as though there isn’t a pandemic until they get sick, can’t breathe, and then demand that we magic them better with drugs and medications that just don’t exist.

Or fucking horse dewormer.

We live in the stupidest timeline*.

Since it’s now clear that we’ve screwed the pooch on this one – humanity – we had a chance to stop this back at the beginning of 2020, but we didn’t. Then we could have got everyone vaccinated – by which I mean everyone in every country – but no, drug companies need their pound of (dead) flesh, so we kept fucking patents. So now we’re at waiting for it to mutate into something we can more-or-less live with, at least maybe not die with, and become endemic. Or – if we’re phenomenally lucky – we might come up with a general Coronavirus vaccine – which sounds great, but at this point I’m assuming we’ll fuck it up too.

So, yeah, I’m a shining ray of positivity.

We’re trying to decide if next year we just bite the bullet and book tickets to see my mum. She’s not the wellest human in the world, and this pandemic has already robbed me of 2 years worth of visits. She’s already had COVID twice thanks to her compromised immune system. So I worry about visiting her, but I also get that she wants to see me.

I went to a press event not long ago and spent the entire time from arrival at the airport to departing the airport wearing a very stylish N-95. I took it off briefly for some quick swigs of water, and y’know what, I hated every living minute of that flight.

So yeah.

Enough of that.

So next year? Next year I’m hoping to get some things actually finished. I’d like to get Rebecca moving (and have just forked out $400 for a tool to help with that), I would like to get the record deck…

…to not do that. Also to run smoothly and at the right speed, because at the moment it warbles like a yodeling thing.

So that’s where we’re at as 2021 rolls to a close. Or whines. Or whatever god-awful thing its doing.

Here’s to 2022 being better (and not, as the current joke is, twenty-twenty-too).

* Granted that’s because many of the stupider timelines humans have already eviscerated themselves out of existence.

(in)adequately laid plans

So we planned, today, to finally overcome inertia. To start the final push on getting the bathroom done. We planned to put down the microcement coating – today on the floor, tomorrow on the walls.

That was the theory.

Unfortunately, we weren’t suuuper quick off the mark this morning, then we had to revise the process for laying it – being as its been over 2 years since we last tried to do this. Then we realised that there were some things we needed from home depot (namely masking tape). And since we were going to home depot – we should pick up some other tools that might increase our chance of success (round ended finishing trowel*, for example).

Then there was clearing the stuff out of the bathroom – the tile saw, the radiator that’s been sat in there forever, the this, the that. Not that we’ve been using it to store stuff, I wouldn’t want you to think that.

Then there was masking off so we don’t destroy the plaster or the wardrobe just outside the bathroom in the process (something we’ll need to do more of when we get to the actual bathroom walls. Oh gods, the walls).

Anyway, by the time cleaning and masking was done it was peeing with rain outside and juuuust beginning to get dark.

So we concluded discretion was the better part of valour and put it off ’til tomorrow. It just seems silly to start when we’re both at the wrong end of the day – knowing we’ll have to stop, clean everything up, then repeat it tomorrow. And that tomorrow we can’t go on to doing the walls because the floor won’t be dry anyhow.

Overcoming inertia is definitely one of the most challenging things right now. I mean, the weather is grey and wet, and also cold, which makes “doing things” like, say, oiling wood for trim, difficult even if I was feeling motivated. Because to get it warm enough to do that, I need to spend time getting the garage warmed up. Which is posssssible, but not easy.

But on top of that – in case anyone forgot – we’re still in a fucking pandemic. Which I now just find depressing and tiring. Work is intermittently horrendous. And people still won’t just fucking wear a mask. I mean, it’s such a small amount of effort to potentially save the lives of the people you (at least notionally) care about.

So… Just. Fucking. Do. It.


Also I’m working two jobs. And while one of them is super flexible about time in one regard, the other is the opposite, and just being busy and tired also makes finding enthusiasm for a job that I’m not able to do to a standard that I’m really overjoyed with? Well, it’s hard.

The studio is more or less watertight now, which is good. Still some important jobs to do, but it’s looking good. Hopefully we can get it finished fairly soon :)

So that’s news from the mines :)

* Annoyingly, they only do this in blue steel, not stainless steel. Bleh.


We put in another fairly solid day and a half on the studio shed this weekend. We had an unusual 2 day hiatus in what’s been an incredibly wet streak of weather. I mean, it’s not unusual for it to rain that many days in a row in the PNW, but the actual quantity was a bit beyond.

Anyhow, last I left you it didn’t have a roof – but a couple of weeks back we worked after Kathryn’s work days a few days and managed to get the roof on. Annoyingly, the only edge-metal flashing that Home depot stock for metal roofs turns out to be ridiculously small – at least, the only one they list on their website as being edge flashing for a metal roof – so we’ll need to replace that.

But otherwise the roof is on and functioning. We used the recycled roofing that we pulled off the car-port. Dear reader, ( ;-) ) remember that when you recycle materials, it’s best if they’re not a heap of crap. It took quite a lot of work to get them into a shape that’s fairly functional and should mean that it’s waterproof for a not insignificant amount of time. They weren’t in great shape when they came off the car-port roof, and I’m not going to be the one to claim that 3 years sat in a garden did them a lot of favours. Because it didn’t.

Anyhow, we managed to get it up and onto the roof which was good because it then proceeded to pour with rain – more or less – for 2 weeks.

But yesterday and today we had a break in the weather, so we took the opportunity to get the main window in, the door in, and cut the rest of the siding. The window went in pretty smoothly – in fact the only way it could have gone better is if we’d ignored the advice from the internet about how big to make the rough opening. But, it slotted straight in – and, it turns out, is actually a really rather nice brand of window (albeit probably about 20+ years old).

The door however, that turned out to be… a bit more of a challenge.

So, the door is salvage, same as the windows, but much… much older. Probably 1940s? Maybe older even than that. The frame is clearly shaped for the house it came out of – which clearly had a somewhat loose relationship with right-angles. I mean, I think it had probably heard of right angles, I’m not sure it had met any of them.

So putting the door frame *in* to our rectangular hole? Well, first there was the rot problem – the bottom of the door sill was fairly rotten. We saturated it in rotten-wood-hardener, which should also kill anything in it. Hopefully it should do enough to keep the frame intact a while longer.

Then there was the internet enabled problem – which is that the site that we double checked for rough framing suggested making the door frame *much* bigger than it turned out we needed – which meant we ended up filling in a massive void above the door with some cut lumber. Then, because the sill was steeply angled – and our floor isn’t, Kathryn had to cut some angled shims to sit under the sill step.

Eventually we managed to get it in – it was remarkably level across the top of the sill step and both the side pieces were pretty bang on vertical.

Then we tried to open it. Now I was convinced that the door had opened a bit as we were loading it in the vehicle. I stuck to this belief for quite some time, which turned out to be ever so slightly erroneous. Or wildly wrong. You can take your pick on that one.

So it wouldn’t open. But it looked a bit tight, so we tried various things to un-tight it. Finally undoing basically all of the work we’d done to fix it in, losing all the fix for the twistedness of the frame…

…and it still wouldn’t open.

I even whaled on it with a mallet for a bit – still wouldn’t open.

Then Kathryn noticed a screw. A small screw sticking through the door frame into the door. To stop it swinging open. Removing it…allowed the door to open no bother, and so as the evening wore on we quickly threw the door back in – this time checking for rubbing and problems as we went along.

Today – after a quick trip to the market – we loosely put up the rest of the siding and tried (and failed) to coat the whole thing in waterproofing. Originally the plan had been that I’d continue the festival of the nail gun, attaching the newly cut siding to the building (and finishing off the east wall which is still only partially nailed) while Kathryn started applying the stain.

Unfortunately, time was against us – and so to hurry things along, instead of nailing I applied myself to the task of putting stain on the building. We’re using a super environmentally friendly, renewable whey based stain. Which goes on basically like throwing milk on the building. It was really nice to use, but we only managed the east and south sides, and a little bit of the north side.

So there’s still the nailing to do, and the bird blocks and mesh and associated baffles, but once that’s done the building will actually be properly weathertight. It’s more-or-less weather tight as is, unless the wind is being particularly awkward.


In other news that’s quite exciting – I’ve tiled the shower in our en-suite. I still have the remainder of the floor and walls to coat, but… it’s coming along:


I’ve also been noodling on writing again. Which is interesting. Wonder if the urge will come back to me. It’s still the same story I was working on a few years ago, but I feel like I might have the beginnings of a notion about how to fix some of the things that bugged me, and maybe even how to finish it. Or at least, get to another point I’ll be stuck at. It’s nice having the characters back, though :)

The house, but writ small

When we cleared out the storage unit there were some things that really needed somewhere else to be. I mean, I suppose it all needed somewhere else to be. But there were some things which we didn’t have space in the house. Some of those things – like the two bed frames we were hoping to sell (but failed to sell) that are now sat in the garage – they we had a plan for.

Granted the plan failed, but… we had a plan.

The other big thing that won’t fit in the house (or it would, but it would be somewhat of an imposition on whatever space we chose to put it in) was Kathryn’s desk. This is a large, oak architect’s drawing table that I picked up back in the UK as a gift for her.

It lived – back in England – in Kathryn’s studio:


But over here it’s basically sat in storage. We had it out for a while when we were staying in George and Tom’s – when they were away – but otherwise it’s been kept out of the way. And this house just doesn’t have space for it. But Kathryn loves it and I am rather attached to it as a gift that I got for her… so the plan, such as it was, was that we’d put it in Kathryn’s studio here. Which is a building that, at the time we brought the desk to the house, existed purely in our imaginations.

It wasn’t even down on paper, I don’t think. Maybe there was a sketch of the general concept? Anyhow, it certainly wasn’t planned out beyond “it goes there, on the foundation that we had poured when we had the garage foundation poured”. And it’s about yay big.

But as the weather’s got colder and wetter, there’s been increasing concern about the vintage oak desk sitting in a cold, unheated garage. And so this past week we set about building the studio. The weather last weekend was predicted to be fine, and so on Thursday last week we scheduled a delivery of a large pile of wood.

It didn’t come ’til Friday (thank COVID for that) – but it all worked out more or less okay (although Kathryn had to cover the lumber up by herself because I was at work). Come Saturday we started work, cleaning off the someone chicken-decorated slab, and made a frame to raise the studio up off the concrete. It took a while – and was interrupted by me going to do a motorcycle skills test for my WA licence, which I’d booked without realising what a pain in the bottom it would be. We were also somewhat interuppted by me having to go to home depot to get some bits that we didn’t have (foundation bolts to stop it escaping in a quake, timberloks to hold the frame together and so on).

Anyhow, by the end of the weekend we had some confused chickens and two-ish walls (the east wall, visible in this picture was missing a triangular segment that meets the shed roof).


We might have got further – we would have got further – but we went to our local habitat looking for windows, and were sadly disappointed. Their range of windows has never been fabulous but there just wasn’t anything there that would really work. Eventually, having stared at them for a while, we accepted that it wasn’t happening, and went back home. We found what we wanted (up in Tacoma) – but that took a while and then I had to run up to Tacoma on Monday morning to get them. Which also took a while because it turned out the one of the tyres on the trailer had perished…. It was one of *those* processes.

But Kathryn took some time off work on that same Monday so that we could do the next two walls – and on Tuesday – in a fearsome sprint – we got some of the roof joists up. That meant that we could throw a tarp over the building – which was handy because the next few days were very wet. Unfortunately, the only tarp we have that’s large enough is… shall we say “leaky”, and though it’s definitely far less wet in there than it would have been had we not thrown a tarp over it, it’s wetter than we’d have liked it to get.

Especially since the floor is shop-grade ply – one chunk of which seems to have deeply resented the damp and decided to delaminate somewhat (poot). The roof is too, but the walls are actual factual building code standard. Granted that’s only because they didn’t have any shop-grade. ;)

Buuut, today? Today we piled on the labours again – putting in nearly a solid 10 hours of work which got us to a chunk of the roof boarded. The reason we only got to ‘a chunk of the roof boarded’ and not ‘the whole of the roof done’ is that unfortunately, due to the way we structured the overhang on the roof it was really preferable to get the siding up before we could make the overhang. And that meant that we had to install the window.


Which meant revising “how to install a window”, and also cleaning the window up a bit that’s sat in the garden for several years, and yes, it’s a shed. I mean, it’s Kathryn’s studio, but for structure purposes it’s a shed. Just a very nice shed. I mean, it’s a shed that’s being built with decent framing, being insulated, and then also being wrapped in Tyvek. And once you’ve done the first bit of the ridiculousness then you might as well go the whole hog and properly flash the windows. So we did.

But that takes time.

So now this week we’re hopefully going to get the roof deck up and finished, the tar paper down and then maybe even get the metal roofing up. Once that’s done, the door and other window are in, and the fascia boards are up (and ideally the bird blocks, too)…oh and the last bits of siding… then we’ll be able to take a breath because it’ll be weathertight.

But that’s still a little ways away.

But it’s coming along and I’m really quite proud of how much we’ve achieved.

Other news

Since my last post devolved into an unrepentant rant, I thought I’d come over here and write something less awful. So – other news. We’re transitioning from having a range extended EV (with it’s gas engine) to a pure EV (in this case, a Soul EV).

The used car market here at the moment is intensely overheated. Positively ridiculous. So it’s taken a few months to find a car that was only moderately overpriced, rather than ridiculously overpriced. In this case, we found a dealer that had a 2015 Soul EV (which has the 27kWh SK Innovation battery). We were leery of anything with an LG Chem battery after the battery fires debacle, and having driven the Spark – yes – it has CCS rapid charging, but it really feels like a cheaply put together car.

The Soul EV does not feel anywhere as nice as the i3, but parts for it are much cheaper, it runs on standard tyre sizes, and many of the parts are shared with the petrol sibling, so… And unlike the Spark EV which feels like the Daewoo it is underneath, it is actually a pleasant, quiet place to be.

Unfortunately, the one we could find in our pricerange turned out to be ‘somewhat foxed’. It’s got a hole in the front bumper – a couple of minor parking dings, and smells strongly of dog. Particularly in the rain.

We’re going to get a detail done on it and ozone it – if I can ever get anyone to give me a call back. I do find it incredibly frustrating that I still can’t ever get anyone to give me fecking call back. Well, that’s not true. I often can’t get a call back.

I’ve called the mobile detailing place twice – so far – and got nothing back. I’ve called the motorbike training place – and got nothing back.


I did call a painting place, the guy came around, but has yet to send us a quote… And yes, we’ve given in. We don’t want to paint the eaves. But we want them painted. So the solution to that is clearly to actually pay someone to do it. This is because while there is enough time for us to do it – it would involve sacrificing something else that we’d rather be doing.

I must admit I’ve not made any more progress on the bathroom since putting up the tiles. They need to be cleaned and grouted – but I bought the wrong colour grout, so I need to go back to the B&Q and swap it for the right colour. Which is annoying – but since I need to get some runners for our sliding attic access doors and a shower drain I suppose it doesn’t really matter :-/

Anyway, yeah. So there’s lots of little bits of life progressing. No adoption news, though. Sadly.

Oh, I have been working on Rebecca Mog a bit – Kathryn’s doing a class on Wednesdays, and so she’s busy for a few hours in the evening. Since I’m at a loose end during that time it’s encouraging me to actually get on with Rebecca. I have started assembling the fancy adpator board for the inverter and bought myself a new power supply so I can power the board to do its test.

I feel like there’s more.

Mymble, incidentally, seems to have recovered from her bumblefoot. So that’s super positive.

I came up with a metaphor for being an adult which I’m pretty proud of:

It feels like I’m constantly juggling – and just when I feel like I’m doing okay, I look down and realise I’ve dropped a bunch of stuff.


It’s been a minute

I’ve been thinking about what to write here for a while. Not that things aren’t going on – they are. Life continues much the same as it has for a bit. It’s finally raining today after a ridiculously long dry stretch – it rained yesterday too. In that way that the weather seems to be now. All or nothing.


And I’m fully aware that the weather has always done this. We’ve always had extremes. It’s just the frequency of extremes that’s increased. We’ve always had occasional hot periods, it’s just the frequency of that’s increased.

But it’s hard to separate that out from the shift that we’re seeing in our weather patterns. It’s hard to find balance right now. And so life goes on – in a small and enclosed way. People won’t get vaccinated, so people keep dying.

So I don’t go out. We were talking today about how nice it would be to eat in a restaurant. We haven’t had a chance to do that for years. We sat outside a restaurant with Kathryn’s family, which was nice, but it’s not the same as the experience of going out for a meal and sitting inside – of service where I don’t grab my mask to protect the worker (and myself, if I’m honest), but mainly in that case for them.

I’ve recently had to take Raven to have – well, I took it for a warranty repair (the sun visor broke) and a ‘service’ (which being an EV consists of them staring at it) but they hadn’t ordered the part – so it had to be rinsed and repeated.

And so both times I went and sat outside a coffee shop and had coffee and cake – as far from everyone else as I could – because I had an hour to kill and there’s nowhere nearby to sit. It’s that very odd combination for me of being near normality, but knowing it’s not normal. And watching a lot of other people behave like everything’s just fine.

We drove past a restaurant yesterday which was fairly full — and it’s a pretty small space. Being it’s a place I used to enjoy going to now and then I’m also aware that it doesn’t have amazing airflow. And… I just…

COVID cases for our county

…I know the hospitals are — effectively full. I know that people are dying.

And I was talking to Kathryn yesterday about how the UK and the US*’s cultural history of people dumping their sick relatives at the hospital and then leaving (which is super-encouraged now, when we’re not allowing visitors – for obvious reasons), has done us a huge disservice at this point. Because people have no experience or context for illness. They’re going off what it’s like to have a cold, or a cough.

Maybe they had flu once. But the impacts of severe illness or long-term disability aren’t talked about. They’re not allowed to be a part of life – unless you, yourself, have a loved one who’s experienced those things.

People are so disconnected from illness that now – now when we need them to do some simple, basic, minimal fucking things to protect others, there’s a cadre of selfish shits who won’t get vaccinated because [largely insert bullshit reason]** or won’t even wear a mask because – ‘why should I’.

Why should you?

Because it’s the least you can do to stop someone else dying. It’s the least you can do to stop someone who can’t get vaccinated from spending their last days suffering on a ventilator. It’s the bare fucking minimum to be a decent empathetic human.

But no.

Let’s run around waving a flag for our vile bigoted king-god claiming some kind of religious freedom (although no major religions actually have a vaccine restrictions, because unlike the GOP they’re mainly not death cults).

Moral Majority Report - From Jerry Fallwell - 1983 - with headline regarding AIDS and photo of family all wearing masks.

Funny how y’all were fine wearing a mask when it was something else killing people.

If I sound angry, it’s because I am. I’m livid. I just want these people to grow the fuck up, get some compassion, some understanding of science and then behave like members of a society. Either that or they can go live on a fucking island and take their plague-love-in with them, so the rest of us can get back to trying to build a better world.

We have real – difficult to solve problems. Climate change is coming faster and harder than everything but our very worst estimates. Interlocking feedback processes that speed our path towards a climate that’s completely unlivable continue to be revealed. We should be working on this. We should be working on stopping the police killing black and brown people. We should be fixing the fact people don’t have healthcare.

Instead we’re fucking around with trying to stop something that we could have resolved in 2 months 2 years ago.

* Who aren’t alone, I’m sure, but are the only two I can safely give real comments on.
** And there absolutely is a very real conversation to have about the vaccine hesitancy seen in some minority groups who’ve been underserved or abused by the medical establishment. Who have every reason to distrust vaccines. Also for those who can’t afford the time off work sick if they have a worse vaccine reaction and feel lousy for a day or two – because particularly in the US the worker protections and safety net is non-existent. For them, I have all the time in the world to try and resolve those problems.


I think yesterday broke me a little.

I mean, the pandemic has broken me a lot.

Not that I was in an all fired fabulous place before this. I have worked in the Emergency Department for about fifteen years, a significant chunk of that being in charge of emergency departments, so I’ve been tired for a while.

But the pandemic? The wilful disregard for others’ safety? The repeated complete obviousness of how bad things are going to be followed by the inexorable slide towards it? The complete willingness of the public in many places to put “the economy” ahead of lives? When it was obvious to anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together that just paying everyone to sit at home for a month -maybe two – and stopping or quarantining for all international travel – right at the beginning- could have more or less ended this quickly and with minimal deaths.

But no.

Now we have this hydra like disease that we’ve got no way to get a handle on that’s ripping apart the fabric of society, and that we’re having to focus on instead of the very fucking urgent fact that we’re destroying the planet and we need to fix that.

Almost every patient I saw yesterday had COVID. Half our board was bright red with isolation symbols.

And I spent 7 hours watching someone slowly slide to what will be a horrific death. Watching their oxygen level dropping and dropping.

Knowing that there’s nothing we can do. Even if we were in a big, fancy hospital with shiny, shiny equipment there’s very little that could be done. But in a rural hospital? We tried to make her a little more comfortable.

But that’s it.

We “optimised” her breathing within the bounds of what can be done in a small hospital with limited ICU facilities. And a full ICU. So she sat in the ER for the full 7 hours of my shift she was there – on a ventilator – and presumably long afterwards – because when I left there was no-where for her to go.

And at the same time I met that — and other patient’s relatives -who had bloody COVID — who decided to come into the hospital. And who didn’t mask.

And told them that they needed to mask. And isolate.


I want to say to them “How many people have you killed? How many lives have you destroyed? How many families will lose a loved one because you couldn’t be bothered to have the slightest ounce of compassion or care for others?”

When people tell me they “Haven’t got around to getting the vaccine”, they no longer get some kind of chipper response about how they should take it to protect themselves and others. Now they get “Well, this won’t end until people do, and I’m sick of watching people die, so I encourage you to get it as soon as possible”.

I doubt it does anything.

But I’m too tired to care.

Learning experiences

There have been a few learning experiences of late. We won’t say failures because most of them are still in progress… things.

So, what have I been up to? Well, let’s start with the house because I’ve singularly failed to finish doing the trim. I’ve kind of…taken a break from it. It’s not my most fun making job, and that combined with being tricky and the fact I… well, I haven’t got back to it after the jumble sale.

But today I did start tiling the bathroom. Because if we get the bathroom installed and the two doors on the attic we can be signed off, and done, and finished. Well, with the permit part of this experience, which hasn’t been onerous exactly, but it’s a thing to keep track of when I don’t really… need more things to keep track of? Anyhow, I got it about half done today, which isn’t bad since I didn’t actually get started until after lunch.

Bathroom tiles, in blue, covering the lower half of the wall more or less

It’s quite pleasing to finally see the tiles up – and it looks like we should have enough to do the job and have some above the sink, which’ll be nice.

So that’s not really been a learning experience. Just more of the same.

No, the learning experiences have been a mixture of self-inflicted (the Mycroft AI build, and the record deck I bought); and not so self-inflected (the chickens).

Shall we start with the chickens? First up Pippi decided to get something stuck in her throat / en-route to her crop. She made a very unhappy sound – which we came back to after leaving the house for an hour. Now, literally none of the discussions I’ve seen about chickens having ‘crop’ issues mentioned this noise.

Chicken with something stuck in her crop

We recorded her so that we could ask people. She was clearly distressed, wasn’t eating or foraging, was just standing unless we went near here when she’d run off (she always runs off). We caught her and after some helpful advice fed her some wet bread (initially with water, then with some olive oil on it). Which more-or-less sorted her. Then she went to bed and the next day was fine.

Then the next day? Either then or a couple of days later Mymble… well, she got bumblefoot. We suspect this is related to us cutting back the brambles and her frantic hunt through the cut-back-brambles for anything edible. We noticed her limping on Sunday evening – obviously – at which point we discovered there’s no emergency vet in Oly for birbs.

So… we broke out google, and Monday morning I raced around to Target and Tractor Supply (I’d’ve preferred to use our local urban farm store, but they don’t open that early); got the run set up to separate Mymble during the day; and then with Kathryn we set about the soak-to-remove-the-lump-of-eschar/clean/dress.

During which process she poo’d on me several times, and in the water we were attempting to use to clean her, and I got thoroughly soaked. We didn’t get as much of the eschar out as we’d like – but hopefully got enough out – slathered it in antibiotic ointment and a dressing and then vet-wrapped her foot.

Mymble looking disgruntled

I think she rated the process as about a minus fifty-million out of ten, but she got a bunch of mealworms out of it *and* has been treated to a higher protein diet (she got a whole cooked egg today), since they say she should have a higher protein diet.

Plan is to check her tomorrow (which I’m sure will delight her even more) and assuming it’s improving we’ll leave her be ’til after the weekend.

Vetwrap rocks, though.

So then there’s the technical learning experiences – first up is Mycroft AI which… is being somewhat recalcitrant. While I’ve kind-of-got it working it’s… well, watch:

Mycroft AI OTS Build with 3D printed case

He’s… I mean. Some things are cool. It has Emby – which I’m trialing as a replacement for our previous media server. Buuuut – he did play an entirely random song when I asked for another song.

Then there’s the record ‘deck’ (it’s a tray-loading auto-reverse double-sided record deck, because I love ridiculous things). This is a Sharp RP-119. Now, for no reason that I could imagine I assumed that the RP-119 would be fairly similar to the RP-117. But it isn’t.

I’ve now found dismantling instructions (having had to guess at it using the RP-117 instructions and copious amounts of swearing). But the accursed object is still misbehaving. I’m pretty sure the disk speed is, well, somewhat variable. And I’ve not managed to work out how you get to the spindle to lubricate it (although I may have to revisit disassembly now I’ve found this). I tried the optimistic ‘poke-and-spray’ with some penetrating lubricant, but that didn’t improve things. Or at least, to get it to approximate the right speed I had to adjust the variable speed adjusters… quite a long way.

But the thing that’s definitely problematic is that the drawer doesn’t close. At least, it doesn’t close if you press the drawer-close button just once. If you press it twice, though, a second or so apart:


If you press it twice super quickly it will close more than if you press it once but not all the way.

I have NO IDEA WHY IT IS DOING THIS. It is driving me batty. I’m contemplating getting stili for it (because it needs two, so it can play both sides… obviously…). BUT I don’t really want to do that until I can work out this closing issue. My ‘best’ guess so far is that the motor has a run-time (I’m going to try measuring the voltage on the motor and see if it switches off when the drawer stops because I feel like it’s the motor stopping because it hasn’t managed to close the drawer.

If that’s the case maybe it’s just a lubrication issue? And the motor’s not running quite as fast as it should?

Ooooor maybe something in the supply is failing and it’s not getting the volts its needing so the motor’s running slow, then it’s running out of time? But since it’s all IC controlled, I’d figure that it would have more problems if voltages were off. So, yeah. Seems unlikely.

At any rate, I’m still working on what I’d thought would just be a quick application of some new belts and a good clean. Sadface.