Saturday, 12 October 2019

Forgotten Treasures


From time to time I go round the house, exploring each room in turn , looking in every cupboard, drawer and box to see what's in it. Each time I find something useful or interesting that I'd forgotten.

I'm in the middle of such an exploration now, and have already found my collection of spare shoe laces, and an old address book I stopped using about 40 years ago. The latter contains names I'd completely forgotten, including someone said to have died while laughing at the television news.


Monday, 30 September 2019

Unwelcome Plastic Bags


We are often bidden to avoid using plastic bags, and to pay for any we do use, yet plastic bags from charities often come through the letter box uninvited. We are bidden to fill them with unwanted clothing, but I guess that the great majority are just thrown away.

We are charged 5p for even small and very flimsy plastic bags for shopping. The charity bags are both larger and made of thicker material. I guess they use around 20 times as much material as the small supermarket bags. I suggest charities are charged one pound for every univited plastic bag they push through our letter boxes.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Charitable Parasites


Every week or two someone delivers a large plastic bag in which I'm bidden to put unwanted clothes. As I wear clothes until they disintegrate I never have a contribution, but I do note the large number of rather specialised charities begging for my discarded rags.

I think they are over specialised. There are many charities each devoted to a particular form of cancer. Finding out how to deal with cancer requires detailed knowledge of the genome and the immune system, so general research into those subjects should help the treatment of any form of cancer. Segregating researchers into separate compartments is likely to produce a wasteful duplication of efforts. It will also increase the number of administrators and publicists, the bureaucrats running the charities without making any direct contribution to the well being of those the charities are supposed to help.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Expensive String


I've just paid £3-95 for a pair of quite ordinary shoelaces.

I remember that in the mid 1950's I bought a new pair of shoes for not much more than that - about £4 10/-

I'm considering using ordinary string in future!

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Planning a Family


When I was achild my parents liked to tell me how they'd bought the house we lived in just before they married. I was particularly delighted to hear how, taking possession of the house before there was any furniture, they'd celebrated by eating fish and chips sitting on the floor.

I remember that story when I hear talk of homeless families. If only people woukd plan as my parents did, there'd be no homeless families.


Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Paying for the BBC


Five years ago I was quite pleased to learn that I no longer needed to pay for a Television license, though I wasn't sure that I deserved the concession. Recently, when I heard that from next Summer I shall have to pay I was quite irritated - it will be one more bill to keep track of, and losing something one has grown used to is annoying and much worse than never having it.

Do we need television licenses at all? Most of the television I watch is financed either by advertising, or through my Virgin Media Subscription.

The BBC news services may be a special case and coud possibly be financed by a governemnt grant, but I think that the great majority of BBC's output is entertainment, and could be financed in the same way that other entertainment is financed.


Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Solving our Irish Problem


Mr Trump appears to be very upset at not being allowed to buy Greenland. I suggest we offer to sell him Northern Ireland. Then he could deal with the border problem and we'd no longer need to worry about the Backstop.




Sunday, 18 August 2019

Harvest



I've just eaten my first home grown tomato of the year - of a heritage variety called Whippersnapper

My tomatoes seem to be ripening a bit later than usual, but now they've started there will be many more to follow.


Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Feeling diminished.


After years of idleness I've started to bring my web site up to date. Today I uploaded a new garden page  with pictures of the new garden. Looking through the site I realise how much less I do these days than I used to do. If I deleted everything that's out of date my site would be much slimmer than it is.

Alas!!


Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Puzzling Names for Elusive Entities


I've been reading some theoretical Physics and thought the names of the various quarks most misleading.

Up and Down are the pair that make up most of the matter we usually encounter, but there are also Strange, Charm, Top and Bottom quarks. The names are entirely arbitrary, but four of them misleadingly suggest some geometrical significance..

It would be much better to use names that are clearly arbitrary. I suggest  the names of foods.

Up and Down could be replaced by Bangers and Mash, Strange and Charm by Strawberries and Cream, and Top and Bottom by Haggis and Nips.

If we want to make  a concession to transatlantic tastes we could replace one of  those pairs by Peanut Butter and Jelly.


Saturday, 27 July 2019

Innumeracy in High Places.


M. Jacob Rees-Mogg has commanded his minions to use only Imperial units for measurement, and to avoid the word 'equal'.

Imperial measurements may amuse people who enjoy vague chatter about quantities but they are quite unsuitable for calculation. Compare the conversion of litres to cubic centimetres with the conversion of gallons to cubic inches. Anyone asked to make the latter conversion is likely to start by asking 'which gallon?' and to struggle even when that question has been answered

Abandoning the notion of equality would make Mathematics extremely difficult.

I find it even harder to believe in Mr. Rees-Mogg than in the other Westminster Folk.




Friday, 26 July 2019

Westminster Folk


I no longer believe in British Politics.

I don't mean that I don't trust British politicians - I don't but my disbelief is much more profound than that.

I've lived through many governments and political leaders outside government. I've disagreed with most of them about one thing or another, and have disagreed with some of them about almost everything, but until now I never struggled to believe in their existence.

Now public affairs look and sound like a comedy act mostly performed by distinctly mediocre actors.

Perhaps we could call the sit com 'Westminster Folk'

If someone wrote a computer game we might call it 'Confidence and Supply'

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Fans


As hot weather arrives, people start to tell of sleepless nights spent surrounded by fans. The fans may be more of a problem than a solution.

Fans consume electrical energy and release it as heat, partly in the mechanism of the fan, and partly in motion of the air. The stream of air generated by a fan quickly dissipates into eddies and soon fades away into random motion of individual molecules, what we usually call 'heat' So a fan is likely to make the room as a whole warmer.

Sometimes parts of a room may be cooled. If one part of a room is cooler than another a fan could be set to move air from the cooler part of the room to the warmer thus changing the distribution of heat but the cooling effects of a fan usually depends on evaporating water, so a fan blowing air over a moist sweaty body may cool that body. That will only take place while the sweaty body exposes itself  to the output of the fan. Sometimes sweaty bodies leave fans switched in their absence, expecting the room to be cooler when they return. They are likely to be disappointed.






Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Sorting Out Ireland


Concern about the status of Northern Ireland is the principal impediment to persuading Parliament to approve arrangements for Britain to leave the EU.

I propose a referendum in Northern Ireland to decide whether or not to accept the so called 'back-stop' Were Nothern Ireland to approve its partial separation from the rest of Britain, there would be less reason for the rest of Britain to object.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Confusing Abstraction and reality.


I wince every time I hear someone say something like 'hot temperature' or 'expensive prices'

I suspect there's a name for such confusions, but I can't recall it. Perhaps some reader of this blog will enlighten me.

There is one context in which there's case for calling a price expensive. People who trade in financial futures buy or sell the right to trade in stocks or commodities at a certain price. If the cost of a particular option seems rather high, one might say' that's an expensive price', but so far as I know futures traders never do say that.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Chats with cats


I often talk to the cat, even though she is deaf. Perhaps she can lip read!

In her way she talks back.Sometimes it's clear that she wants something - either food or a door opened, but sometimes I think she's just acknowledging my existence. A meow then signifies something like 'I see you and accept your admiration'.

We humans often struggle to think of something to say in circumstances when saying something is considered polite. It would be so much easier if, instead of having to formulate a vacuous sentence that just appears to say something, we could simply meow.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Breach of Copyright ?


The debate about a newspaper's publication of an ambassador's emails has not so far mentioned copyright. I imagine that copyright belongs to the Foreign Office, so that publication without their permission would be grounds for at least a civil action.


Sunday, 30 June 2019

A Challenge to Relativistic Orthodoxy, or Just a Statement of the Obvious?


Several times recently I've heard it asserted in television programmes that:

"It takes five years to grow a five year old oyster"

The only circumstances in which I can imagine someone making an even slightly plausible case for denying that, is in some involved relativistic time paradox, but why oysters rather than clocks, physicists, or cats?


Saturday, 29 June 2019

A Homemade Mint Infusion.


Since I revived it by changing its soil, my mint has grown with astounding vigor so I decided to find a use for it.

I took about five stems, stripped off the leaves, washed them, put then in a small teapot and poured boiling water over them. the result was an excellent infusion.

I wonder why I've never done that before.


Friday, 28 June 2019

Strange Devices


Yesterday I visited the National Gas Museum in Leicester. It was awarded the title 'National' because it is the only gas museum in Britain.

There was a remarkable collection of gas powered devices. Most people would expect to see gas lights, gas fires and gas cookers, but there was much else as well.

There were gas refrigerators, one of which still had the label explaining how it works - roughly speaking applying a gas flame to  a solution of ammonia in water drives off ammonia, starting a circulation of ammonia through various tubes and chambers.

There were also gas powered irons, gas hair curlers, a gas waffle iron, and a device that looked like a cooker with an eye level grill, but behind what one took to be the oven door was a refrigerator.

Quite sinister in appearance was the gas hair dryer. It looked like a black helmet on a tall stand. I gathered that the brave individual whose hair was to be dried placed his or her head in the helmet, where there was also some sort of miniature gas fire.

Most exciting for me was the gas powered radio made in 1938, though I gather that did not sell well, so I guess there has never been a gas television set, or a gas computer!.


Friday, 21 June 2019

Journalist's Arithmetic


37 - 19 = 20

That was affirmed several times by a BBC announcer reporting on the recent selection of candidates for the post of Conservative leader. One candidate's vote increased from 19 in the first round to 37 in the second and was reported to have increased by 20.

 After giving the figure the announcer paused for thought, repeated the figures 37 and 19 and said. 'that's right 20' so the error was not a momentary aberration.




Thursday, 13 June 2019

Shivering in June


Today it was so chilly that I put on gloves when I went out. I don't recall ever before wearing gloves in June.


Friday, 31 May 2019

A Strange Ambition


I'm surprised that so many people are trying to become leader of the Conservative Party.

Whoever does become leader is likely to be blamed for a catastrophic departure from the European Union, and may well also preside over the extinction of the party.

Why do that want it ?




Monday, 13 May 2019

The Varieties of Compost


I usually buy special compost for sowing seeds, but this year absent mindedly helped myself to potting compost instead. I mixed it with some sand and vermiculite to improve drainage and sowed my tomato seeds. They grew much better than usual, so I may not bother with a special medium for seedlings in future.


Thursday, 2 May 2019

Slowing Down


This morning I timed myself preparing to go out to vote in the District Council elections.

I arose at 6:45. I bathed, dressed, breakfasted, washed up, said 'hello' to the cat and by the time I'd made myself presentable to the world it was 10:15, so it took me three and a half hours to get ready even though I omitted my usual morning check of emails and CIX messages.

I resist a temptation to generalise about the ways of the ancient, but this ancient at least lives slowly:-)


Wednesday, 1 May 2019

An Annoyingly Tentative Invitation


This morning's post included a poll card for the European Election scheduled for 23 May. Yet there will be no such election in Britain if the Prime Minister can avoid it.

How would we react to an invitation to a wedding between two people who hope to get out of it somehow or other?

Supposing the election doesn't take place, how many people will appear at the polling stations because they don't know about the cancellation, or to protest, or because they want to see how many others turn up for one reason or another?


Sunday, 28 April 2019

Questionable Motives



I'm not sure what to make of  children abandoning school to protest about climate change. School is quite a chore for many children so demonstrating about something may be an attractive alternative for many, regardless of what they are demonstrating about.

I'd be more impressed if great numbers of school children abandoned their usual weekend entertainments to demonstrate on a Saturday afternoon.


Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Overreaction?


The loss of a venerable old building is a sad event, and the threat of such a loss is worrying, but I thought the reaction to the fire in the cathedral of Notre Dame excessive. It seemed reasonable to report the catastrophe while the fire was burning, but there were far too many replays and interviews afterwards.

Mighty ancient buildings make me uneasy. I think how much money would have been levied on people who could hardly afford to feed themselves, and how many builders must have been killed in accidents, just to produce a large building to impress people with the power of whoever had it built.

Money and effort would have been better employed building aqueducts, sewage systems, libraries, or museums, all of which improve the quality of life in one way or another, but a huge church just symbolises the power of priests

.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Puzzled by Food Collections


Here and there one sees containers in which people are bidden to place food for the hungry.

That seems strange to me. Do people contribute odd tins that have long lain neglected in dark corners of their pantries? If so some of the food may be too old to be edible.

On the other hand if people buy tins of food specially to donate them, it would be more useful to contribute money. With money those running food banks could buy whatever was most needed, negotiating lower prices by buying in bulk for a good cause, and they would not have to sort a  miscellany of  battered tins.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Laziness Rewarded


After the clocks changed last Autumn I never got round to changing the time on my mobile phone, so now I don't need to change!!!



Saturday, 30 March 2019

Paddling Gently Along the Stream of Time


The loss of an hour's sleep is a shock from which it takes me a while to recover, and if I go to bed an hour early I'll find it hard to get to sleep so I plan to adjust to British Summer Time in installments.

I intend  to be in bed tonight about half an hour earlier than usual by Greenwich Mean Time  and to rise a few minutes later than usual, measured by BST. I hope that by tomorrow evening my internal clock will have reset itself to BST.




Friday, 29 March 2019

Spring has Come - for the Time Being



Today, for the first time this year, I walked into town without an overcoat, rejoicing in the Spring sunshine.


Friday, 22 March 2019

A Fragrant Survivor


My wallflowers are coming into flower very early. I'm especially pleased with a plant that flowered last year, and survived the Winter to flower again. It's about three times the size of the plants I bought last Autumn.


Thursday, 21 March 2019

Attached to EU Citizenship



I rather like having a passport in the name of the European Union, and feeling myself a member of an  entity larger than the fading former imperial power that is Britain. I'm upset to think that will soon be taken away from me by an ill considered decision of rather dim individuals living in my vicinity.

I wish it were possible to have dual citizenship, remaining a member of the EU even when Britain is outside it.



































Friday, 15 March 2019

Is it Time for a Referendum in Northern Ireland ?


Arrangements for Ireland seem to be the main obstacle to agreement with the EU. How much would the people of Northern Ireland mind partial separation from Britain in exchange for an open border with the Republic? Northern Ireland did vote to remain in the EU, so there might be a majority there in favour of the so called 'Back-Stop', absolving the rest of us from worrying about it.


Monday, 25 February 2019

Thirsty Plants


I have a lot of plants in pots and have had to start watering them rather early lest they wilt in the warm Winter sunshine.

I'm delighted., especially as I use rainwater collected in various water butts.


Saturday, 23 February 2019

Basking in the February Sunshine.


Walking to the shops in the sunshine I felt quite hot, shed my scarf and left my overcoat open.

The daffodils are in full bloom and the cats frolic in the driveway.  It may soon be time to put away my Winter overcoat.



Saturday, 16 February 2019

Early Spring ?



I have a daffodil!!

For a week or two daffodil buds have been visible in the garden, but today I noticed a flower fully open.

In my youth daffodils usually didn't flower till April, or sometimes late March. Things are changing !!!


Thursday, 14 February 2019

Obsolete ?



A new Telephone directory was delivered today, though for several years it's been called 'The Phone Book' and is much smaller than it used to be. As  I recycled the old one I tried to remember when I last looked up a number in a directory. I couldn't remember but am sure I haven't done so since moving into my present house more than four years ago.



Thursday, 31 January 2019

Cumbersome Procedures


Many people are amazed that Mrs. May is still leader of the Conservatives.

One factor is the complicated time consuming process of selecting a new party leader The complication results from the involvement of all party members.

Conservative leaders were at one time elected by MPs, and the process took less than a week. I wish all the  major parties still did things like that. It is in Parliament that government is scrutinised and there that it needs approval for its plans to change laws and levy taxes. Prime Ministers depend of parliamentary approval to survive. Member of parliament observe ministers in action, and they are the ones best placed to assess their suitability for office. With the procedure that made Mrs. Thatcher leader, Mrs. may would have been gone long ago, but to remove her now would leave the country leaderless for months.



Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Tasty Puddles


Last night there was a fall of moist snow which melted as soon as it reached the ground, leaving little puddles here and there.

Today I noticed the resident cat lapping up a particularly muddy puddle, ignoring the various receptacles of clear water placed here and there for her refreshment.

I've never tasted a puddle. I wonder if I'd enjoy it if I did.

Perhaps gin and tonic may eventually give way to gin and puddle, or even puddle and tonic.




Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Folding and Cutting: an Intriguing Diversion.



The Economist recently mentioned applications of origami to Mathematics and Engineering.

The inspired a web search that yielded this site that indicates ways of getting interesting shapes by folding paper and then making a single cut. Apparently it is in principle possible to use this method to obtain any shape or set of shapes, provided that the boundaries are made of straight lines. The star is easy, but I had quite a struggle  folding for the swan.

There's also  a course of lectures here.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Malice or Stupidity ?



The greatest obstacle to settling our affairs with the European Union seems to be the special provision for Ireland. To complicate further a tricky problem by entangling it with the affairs of Ireland was always likely to magnify the difficulty

 Were EU negotiators deliberately making things difficult to punish Britain for the perceived impertinence of trying to leave, or were they too stupid to anticipate the problems they were creating?


Thursday, 3 January 2019

A Perverse Choice of Units


Recent warnings about sugar consumption have told us how many lumps of sugar we may safely eat in a day. Yet we very rarely use lumps of sugar these days.

Occasionally, at elegant tea parties, people may use the sugar tongs to help themselves to a lump of sugar. I suspect I have a pair of sugar tongs somewhere, but I haven't used them for many years. I've never heard of anyone putting lumps of sugar on their breakfast cereal.

When people add sugar to drinks or to food they are about to consume, they usually use spoons. When cooking we often weigh ingredients. Spoon fulls of various sizes or grams would convey more to most of us than lumps..



Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Recovery


Reviewing my postings here I notice a sharp fall in their number in 2014, the year I bought the present house and started to renovate it. In every subsequent year the number of postings has increased as work on the house has progressed. I wonder how energetic I shall be online this year, now that work on the house is almost complete.