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I'm now on holiday... sort of. It's the weekend now. We're off on Monday, creating a "pont" (bridge) between the weekend and the public holiday of the 14th of July. And since Wednesday is the first day of the sales, I've taken that off as well.

So... apart from going out on Wednesday, I have nothing planned for the next five days. I was supposed to mow the grass, but had that sorted yesterday when I came home from work.

So, I'm sitting here out front with the tablet, a bluetooth keyboard, a Dr. Pepper, some little lemon tart things, and PPN Radio. Under the shade of a tree, that's a given.

Out front


Marte's steering

Of course, there's this part of me that wakes up in the morning and wants to do something. The rest of me just wants to stay in bed. But no...

Marte's steering is 'wobbly'. I can turn the steering wheel about an eighth of a turn before the wheels make any movement. It's a dead simple rack and pinion. I'm guessing the bolt holding the pinion needs to be tightened up.

Rack and pinion steering

Getting access to this from underneath was a non-starter. Could hardly see a thing. So I put my gardening gloves on, lined up the little metal barbecue (that I use as a table when sitting outside) and...

WTF dude?
To be honest, I'm actually surprised that I managed to lift it. It's not light. But a little bit of physics to choose the right place to lift, and some brute force and it happened.

Unfortunately the thing is bloody American, isn't it? So my 14mm spanner is too small and the 15mm too big. It'll want stuff measured in eighths of an inch. <sigh>
And a large hammer to hit it with, as I doubt these bolts have seen any action in twenty odd years.

Now I was smart. I rotated the mower to the left to keep the dipstick up so no oil would leak out.

But I wasn't that smart, for there's some weird pipe between the crankcase and the carburettor that basically dumped a load of oil into the carb. So I had to take the carb apart and burn through an entire roll of paper towels cleaning up the mess. I stripped the carb right down and wiped it all clean.
This carb is a non-adjustable "automatic" type. An automatic type that seems to work by throwing endless amounts of petrol at the engine. I wonder if my cleaning the gunk out (as well as the oil) will change anything there? I wonder if it'll be easier to start than before? At any rate, all these tubes and levers... the thing is risking being overcomplicated. The Suffolk Colt mower I had back in the UK? A really simple carb with an adjustment screw. Nothing fancy. Never failed.

Since I wanted Marte to start without a lot of cranking to get the fuel through the carburettor, I cheated. I removed the spark plug, sprayed some WD40 into the engine, and quickly put the spark plug back in. WD40 and a spark tends to be a combustive mixture. This gave the engine the kick it needed to get itself going. A few clouds of smoke later, and all the oil was through the system.
I turned the engine off and cleaned the blade mechanism (as I felt too knackered yesterday). Twenty minutes later when it was all back in place, I turned the key and the engine fired immediately, sat happily on idle, and even (slowly) carried my fat ass back to the shed where it's parked with the engine still in idle. Well, that's new. Usually idle is the "engine stalls" setting.


Tea shop, 1 year

The "new" tea shop in town, that I sometimes stop by at after work (for an organic hot chocolate, there are many types of tea and coffee (also organic) but I like my tea the brickie way, and French tea just isn't) was celebrating one year. I was invited to a celebration that she was putting on. It was at 7pm. She normally closes at half six, so it was a private thing.

I turned up after work at five, had a chocolate, went for a walk around town (and bought myself a half-dead Mock Orange) for a euro, I'll see if I can coax it into happiness.

Well, 7pm arrived and things were starting to be set up. This was clearly a French 7pm, not a British one. ☺

What I did notice was that the tables were lined up inside, with everybody (maybe fifteen people by now) to be sitting side by side inside, in a small enclosed area.

I gave her, the owner, the bag of Celebrations that I got, made my excuses, and left. A number of people in a small space doesn't sit well with my introvert personality. I mean, I'd probably enjoy going to HellFest, especially if groups like Epica, Nightwish, and Amaranthe are performing. But the closest I'm ever likely to watching performances on YouTube.


As I was heading home, it occurred to me that it was... a really bizarre thing to do in the middle of a pandemic. One of the current growing COVID hotspots in France is a town called Laval. To put that into context, that's the next département over. It's where we used to go for KFC. It's maybe a little over half an hour by road (in a real car).
France is trying not to have to reconfine, but if things don't get better, the shutters may yet come down on Mayenne (and there are people at work from there - lovely).

We're currently in déconfinement, but this is because the number of new cases was brought under control by the strict lockdown. This doesn't mean COVID has gone, or is no longer an issue. It seems lots of people want everything to get back to normal (some girls at work are going on summer holiday in Spain) but nothing is normal. It's just everybody trying to pretend that things are okay.
Meanwhile along comes news of the damage that the virus does to the brain, including in asymptomatic people, which could become a problem a few years down the line. There is no normal. The situation is still an emergency, it's just not enough of an emergency that the government tells everybody to stay at home.
For now.


Warrior Nun

Let's face it, the brilliant title alone is worth either looking at the series or avoiding it. I mean, there's always loads of things on Netflix's menus, so much it's easy to end up with a watchlist longer than your remaining lifespan. But that title - Warrior Nun - it just cuts through all the otherwise forgettable titles. There are some great things with "meh" titles. Buffy, Firefly, Stranger Things... they just pale against Warrior Nun because those are two words in the English language that really don't belong together.

The entire series is beautifully filmed in Spain, Andalucía, and like Ragnarok, is chock full of scenery porn. You might find yourself hitting the "10 secs back" button multiple times just to "whoa, look at that building!".

The story opens with... well... nun knights (another two words that don't go together) involved in a gunfight in an old church. They're trying to save a dying colleague. It doesn't work. One of the nuns yanks out a big glowing ring from the dead nun's back and tries to flee with it. That doesn't work either, so she does the best thing she can think of, which is to shove it into the body of a newly-dead girl (arrived from a nearby orphanage) in the morgue. Said girl comes back to life, understandably confused, sees the nun slaughtered, a demon made of smoke comes through the wall and gets into a man who proceeds to attack her. The newly resurrected teenager grabs something solid (a large spanner?) and swings it at the man, who explodes into burning embers. The teenager, obviously freaked out, heads outside, bumps into some concerned guys, one of whom she pukes over. Taking a few steps back, into the road, she's hit hard by a truck, that throws her through a solid wall and into a shop. Unharmed.
And that is perhaps the first five minutes.

The series is ten episodes long, and as has been noticed before, it does slow down the pace for the next few episodes as we follow the parallel stories of the secret order of nuns who want to help halo-girl, while the girl herself (formally paraplegic and confined to a bed in an orphanage) just wants to go out, party, be a brat, and get off with the hunky guy who's basically a professional squatter surrounded by mostly dull people who follow the same lifestyle. Then there's the exposition in the form of voiceover. From the mouth of a brat. A cute brat, but still a brat with really screwed up life priorities.
Even so, there are some great moments along the way, like smacking a smoke demon out of a guy using a poultry and rack of ribs (taking Combat Pragmatist up to eleven), a sister walking around Málaga asking if anybody has seen a person in a drawing and nobody comments on the sword she's obviously wearing, and when Sister Beatrice puts on a veil made of chainmail watch out. In fact, dammit, anything Sister Beatrice does.

And then we reach the final episodes. All the world building, annoying-protagonist character development, and world building out of the way, the series can really cut loose with the insane concept and just go for broke. And that it does.



A thought after the end of the series - it's ROT13 to avoid spoilers.
Tvira gung gur Natry'f unyb cbffvoyl vfa'g, gurer'f fbzr bgure qvzrafvba vaibyirq, naq gur ovt-nff qrzba guvat ybbxvat zber ebobg guna betnavp... V jbhyq abg or erzbgryl fhecevfrq vs frnfba gjb yrgf hf xabj gung gur "qvivar" guvatf ner vasnpg negrsnpgf bs vagreqvzrafvbany fcnpr nyvraf...



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VinceH, 11th July 2020, 23:05
I watched Warrior Nun this week. Loved it. 
V pnzr gb gur fnzr pbapyhfvba, ohg V svtherq gung'f gur qverpgvba vg jnf tbvat jura fpvragvfg ynql fubirq ure unaq guebhtu ure zvav-cbegny naq gura jr fnj gur vapbzcyrgr ovttre bar. V fnvq gb zlfrys fbzrguvat yvxr "Gur Tbn'hyq jvyy unir gb qhpx naq pbzr guebhtu gung bar be gjb ng n gvzr."
David Pilling, 12th July 2020, 20:01
Cat typing
VinceH, 12th July 2020, 20:23
No, the Cat's in Red Dwarf - a completely different programme.
Rick, 12th July 2020, 20:33
Funny thing is, how that ROT13 text so very nearly looks like a legitimate language.
VinceH, 13th July 2020, 22:38
Especially words like 'green' (terra).

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