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I was quite surprised this evening to see that my speedometer was working. Perfectly.

Sadly, my surprise was short lived. I have to back up to put Felicity away, so I thought "what happens if I go forwards again?".
What I sort of expected - the needle resting firmly at zero.

So. It works. Sort of. When it feels like it. As long as I don't go in reverse.




Hunters can hunt on Sundays in the official hunting season. And sometimes Wednesdays (depends upon the local by-laws). And farmers on their own land? Pretty much whenever they like. Unfortunately one such neighbour is a fat bloke that reminds me of Boss Hog, and he's an avid hunter.

Gunshots (listen to the audio).



Yesterday I must have thrown out around twenty to twenty five kilograms of food. It was mom's shelves which contained a lot of honey, Spam (really mom? didn't you watch Monty Python?!?), and an unholy amount of Cream of Chicken soup...all out of date.
However, I am concerned about the possibility of another lockdown - France just recorded a new daily infection count of 8,975 cases in 24 hours, the highest daily total, ever.

So I have been buying things like tinned food, long life ready meals, pasta, and of course water. I had enough stuff now that I wanted some shelf space.
The result?

The larder.
Take me to your larder, I'll see your leader later.

Not a bad start, huh?


Long life meals

Alison asked me what the meals look like, does it look like the packet? Nothing ever looks like the photo. From ready meals to Big Macs. Photos are... optimised wish fulfilment.

As mom had two (now out of date), I opened the pack. Here is reality:

Long life meals - the reality.
Long life meals - the reality.

They might not look particularly appetising, but they taste okay. And unlike ready meals that go in the fridge and only last a couple of weeks, these can sit on the shelf until required. They're good until February-June 2021 (you'll note that the use by dates are all visible). I will rotate these, replacing as I eat them - they're useful for those times when I don't want a quick meal without the hassle of actually making something to eat.
Plus, keeping some stock will help me ride out the zombie CoViD apocalypse.


Stupid bugs

When it is warm (as it has been recently) and damp (as it has been recently), lots of little bugs appear. By the thousands. They appear to wander around sort of aimlessly, passing through the stages of childhood, stroppy teenage years, shagging, alzheimers, and eventually death in the course of a week or two. Then they go away until the next time the conditions are right when they do it all over again.
Little bugs.
Little bugs.

Seems like a rather pointless existence, but there's a part of me that thinks that the bugs would probably think the same thing about my species. "At least", they would point out, "we weren't dumb enough to invent Facebook". Touché.

Technically, they're either flour mites or wood mites. I've seen them in other people's houses, and they tend to turn up in stuff like badly stored flour and yeast (including stuff bought from shops!). I will, some day overzealously tidy and disinfect everything in sight, but not now. I've seem them come and go for years. I think when you live in a damp billion year old stone house, you'll have to accept that you're only one of the many inhabitants. The only time they're a problem is when they get into food (so keep stuff in sealed containers!) and when they manage to wiggle their way between the LCD panel and the backlight of a monitor. Well, it's either that or a pixel is wandering around. Given it's 2020, either excuse is plausible.


Engine stopping?

It is good to be aware of potential issues with a car, especially if the problem is unusual, so one can have some sort of idea of what to do should the problem occur.
Well, I found a right doozy.

With a normal petrol engine, stopping the engine is usually achieved by grounding the coil so there's no more spark. This basic principle works for everything from lawn mowers to cars. My strimmer has a switch. Marte (ride on mower) is supposed to have a set of electrical interlocks like seat switches, but they got disabled a long time ago.

But what about a diesel engine? The thing is, it pretty much runs independently. Glow plugs heat up to allow combustion to start as the engine is cranked, but from that point onwards, engine heat and compression sustain combustion. The glow plugs are no longer active, and there's no spark.

In the case of the Aixam's Kubota Z402 engine, when the accelerator is in the idle position, a spring keeps minimal clearance so the engine can idle and not stall. Stopping the engine is performed by a solenoid that pushes the throttle to idle hard. This hard push compresses the idle spring, and effectively starves the engine, leading to it stopping by stalling.
The obvious question is... what happens if this solenoid fails? Well, it is theoretically possible that one could put the car into Neutral, apply the handbrake, remove the key, lock the door, and walk away with the engine still running!

I rather hope this never happens to me, but now that I'm aware of the possibility, turning the engine to off and nothing happening won't be an "oh my god!" moment, more an "oh FFS" one.
The engine can be stopped. You just need to carefully put your hand down the back left side of a burning hot engine in close proximity to the burning hot water pipes of the cooling system to locate the lever and push it by hand. So, nothing to worry about, right?

The solenoid that stops the engine.


Top classic songs

Classic Radio, or whatever Eagle has become, did a rundown of the top 500 songs as voted by listeners. They play "classic" songs from the seventies, eighties, and nineties.
The 90s are "classic" now? My God. That was the decade of Boy Bands (Boyz II Men, Take That, East 17, WestLife, Boyzone, Oasis, Blur...), Kylie Minogue, Spice Girls, B*Witched, S CLub 7, Peter Andre releasing the same song multiple times, Ricky Martin, A Brimful of Asha, and the last of Cliff Richard's cheesy Christmas songs. And let's not forget Chesney Hawkes, Hanson, Aqua, and Mr Blobby. On second thoughts... some things are probably better forgotten! But, my God... I feel old if the 90s are now considered "classic"!

Anyway, the top five were revealed as:

5Imagine, John Lennon
4Mr. Blue Sky, ELO
3Every Breath You Take, The Police
2Starman, David Bowie
1Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen

Probably not a surprise that Bohemian Rhapsody came out on top. It's been number one four times in its 45 year history.
Speaking of which, raise a glass to Freddie Mercury tomorrow. It would have been his 74th birthday.


And there seems like a good time to end. I think I'll fire up some of my Queen songs just because...



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David Pilling, 6th September 2020, 02:26
Turn off the fuel - often lawnmowers will stop if you move the throttle to minimum.
Rick, 6th September 2020, 06:58
Easier said than done. I think the fuel system is a mechanical suction handled by a pump driven by the crankshaft to the injection nozzles at something like 2000psi! 
It may be that the idle spring handles fuel delivery rather than air? Either way, that lever is the thing that can stop the engine. 
Rob, 6th September 2020, 16:18
I was given a lift once, many years ago, in a rundown van that had the "wouldn't stop" thing going... Switch down, turn everything off, and the engine would just keep going, albeit with the occasional cough. I /think/ he got it to stop by putting it back into gear and letting it try to drive off, which, which no throttle, actually stalled it ..
David Pilling, 9th September 2020, 00:23
Yeah good point, petrol cars are super easy to stall. For beginners it is a big problem. 
It is best not to dwell on it - you're moving out at a busy junction, the only way is rapid acceleration, and oh dear you've been to busy worrying about the traffic and left the car in high gear, the engine stops and you roll slowly a few feet forward. 
My current car has an economy feature, out of gear, let out the clutch and the engine turns off. Push in the clutch and it instantly starts. 
Anyway a side effect is that if you manage to stall it, pushing in the clutch does a restart. 
I have managed to stall this car quite a few times, at speed. Just letting the clutch out after changing down. 
Part of being a learner driver is handling a stall, calmly and correctly. 

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