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Brexit - WTF now?

Just when you think that finally people might start to take negotiations seriously (Britain's participation in the EU finishes in a mere 111 days), the crusadingly inept Conservative government manages to find yet another way to scupper any sort of reasonable discussion.
Clearly Britain seems firmly stuck in the past where it had power and influence. International law seems to be an optional thing that will be disregarded when it fits the political narrative, and it's perfectly acceptable to unilaterally ignore or alter agreements already made.

The thing is, while the Tories might be under some delusion that this ridiculous behaviour might hold some sway with the EU (it doesn't), what about the wider implications with respect to all those many lucrative trade deals that were supposed to happen post Brexit? The Tories are signalling that they don't have intention to honour or respect agreements if they don't feel like it. That they are, fundamentally, untrustworthy.

This is not how a small isolated nation of ~67 million people makes it alone in the world, especially when you don't have an internationally respected currency to fall back on.

Unless, of course, the secret plan is to ruin Britain to the state where whatever governance exists will go begging to America to be absorbed as the 51st state... assuming that the Americans would even want it, or are willing to provide all of the benefits of being American rather than a sort-of-not-quite measure (as in Puerto Rico).

Is that what you voted for?

Assuming, of course, the Union itself survives that long.

Leaving the EU has turned from a retrograde step in international relations into an existential threat to everything that made Britain "Britain".
The nationalists might believe in self-determination and the ability to do things their way, however it seems to me that a lot of this is predicated on the belief that Britain calls the shots. It did. Once. Hundreds of years ago. This is no longer the case, and continuing much further down this path may ultimately destroy that which you are trying so hard to protect.

Be careful what you wish for.


Face masks

I opened a box of face masks at work the other day. Took a moment to consider that each sachet of fifty masks probably still retails for €25, so in my hands was a small box of plastic and fabric worth more than a mid-range laptop. Or that the eight boxes in front of me are worth more than my hideously expensive car. It's insane. And very sadly, probably cost the company a pretty penny too.

The box was written in French all over it. Face masks. Some sort of woven textile with elastic strings. 20 sachets of 50 masks. Blah blah.

Inside were instructions... in English.

Sadly, several of the employees that I spoke about this with were of the opinion that "English is the international language". Fair enough, I know my boss speaks English as a lot of the Q&A stuff she has to deal with is in English (we export, so...). But below the level of the high ups, most of the people at work have an understanding of English that is somewhere from non-existant to a few phrases. So providing them with written instructions in English isn't going to be terribly helpful.

Furthermore, isn't there some sort of legislation that stuff sold in France is supposed to have instructions in French?
Furtherfurthermore, what kid of dummy puts English instructions into a box written in French?


Having said all of that, who actually needs instructions of how to wear a face mask? Is it not somewhat self-evident?


Here, allow me to help.

This is wrong - and anybody wearing a mask like this needs to be smacked across the head with the pointy end of a mouldy crustacean:

Face mask - worn around the chin.
This is wrong.

This is wrong - albeit a potentially appropriate response to what's going on in the world in 2020:

Face mask - worn across the eyes.
This too is wrong.

This is wrong - but might be a modern meta fashion statement for girls:

Face mask - worn as a hair band.
This is also wrong.

This is wrong - and you don't want to know how many takes it took to get this photo. The slightest breeze and... so I think we can consider this as being both wrong and extremely impractical:

Face mask - worn as earrings.
This is wrong as well.

This is wrong - but at least one could argue that the mouth and nose are properly covered:

Face mask - worn around the entire face.
This is ridiculous.



In response to a comment posted about my playlist, no, I'm not a Goth. However when I was younger I used to hang with some Goths because, to be quite honest, I found them a lot more interesting as people than the sort that felt that shouting "Man Yoot!" ("yoot" being an attempt to pronounce the "Utd" part of the shortened name of Manchester United!) being the high point of culture.
In general, I found that Goths were not just "gloomy", but had solid reasons for their outlook on life, plus often more than capable of articulating the reasons for their disillusionment or desire to choose not to follow what everybody else considered "normal". As somebody who thinks that "normal" is way overrated, and prefers individuality to collective homogeny groupthink, I could appreciate this.
Plus, they listened to way better music.

So, no, I'm not a Goth. But I understand it, and I have no problem with it, and given that the single most important person in my life died less than a year ago and 2020 has been kind of shit for myriad reasons, maybe just maybe that outlook isn't entirely inappropriate?


Mini dehumidifier - first 24 hours

I recorded this earlier in the week but have been too busy with other stuff to write a blog article.

Osami mini-dehumidifier.

Now, Saturday morning, about 64 hours later, this is what the dehumidifier had extracted from the air:

Dehumidifier extraction in about 60 hours.
60 hours of operation.
It seems to be making around 150ml per day. About half its quoted rate of 300ml, but then the conditions aren't the specified 30°C/80%.

I have just dug up an old little weather station of mom's, and installed it. After an hour to settle into the situation of the kitchen, it is telling me that it is 18.4°C with 72% relative humidity.

Temperature and humidity in the kitchen.
Temperature and humidity in the kitchen.



The only heat in the house is a 1kW oil-filled electric radiator. When we bought the house, there was an oil burner that heated water and supplied several radiators. We used it one year, but it was scary-noisy and actually took ages to heat anything up. It was a wide bore system, with pipes maybe an inch or so thick (not like any central heating I've seen in the UK).
One very cold winter cracked a radiator - it was drained! The tiny amount of left-over water at the bottom is what froze. That combined with the rising cost of oil and the costs of maintaining an old boiler mean that it hasn't been used in 20-odd years.

When we first came out here permanently in 2002 (our one-way ticket!), we had an open fire in the fireplace in the living room. Very rustic. Shortly after, mom got a little enclosed burner with a glass front. This allowed for a better heat build-up so it actually gave out some heat. The problem, however, is that the fireplace has been mucked around with (part of it was cut away to put a door through to the bedrooms when they were added later). As such, it doesn't "draw" properly, meaning that the door or a window needs to be open to have the correct airflow to have smoke go up the chimney instead of into the room. Which, as you can understand, sort of defeats the purpose of having the heat!

We have not been able to use the wood burner for many years now. The insurance won't allow it, as it is a burner with a small section of pipe, that opens into a chimney. What is necessary now, probably due to way too many chimney fires, is an insulated pipe that goes all the way up the chimney. It is massive, and high up. The last quote I'm aware of mom getting was in the ballpark of a grand and a quarter. For a metal pipe!
I think all of the electric heating since then hasn't added up to anything like €1,200.

There's no cooker in the kitchen. Well, I lie. There is one, but it is rusted to oblivion. The gas pipes reached their expiry dates in 1999, and when I used it briefly in 2002 to make lasagne, the oven door fell off right in the middle of cooking. Yup, it had rusted that much. I use a little electric oven, a microwave, and a camping stove, and more and more my rice cooker. It's not a hardship, I've never been the sort of person to cook a meal with three pots on the stove at once. I'm far too lazy to want to contemplate all that washing up! Indeed, when I make pasta I brew the linguine, strain it, then throw the sauce in on top and stir it in. A perfectly functional way to do it, so why use two saucepans?

Anyway, I am progressively tidying up (and throwing out) a lot of the rubbish that has accumulated in the kitchen. There are probably tins of soup dating back to the Napoleonic days. I hope to get some sort of little wood burner gizmo. Not to act as a device for cooking (although I would not have any disagreement with the ability to put a foil-wrapped potato on top) but more as a device for heating. It will need an outlet, either punched in the wall or through the roof (which, luckily, is directly above). A professional will be needed for messing with that sort of thing, I at least know my DIY capabilities don't extend to structural modifications. Run out some electrics to add a few more sockets than the one that exists (I actually run an extension cable from the bedroom with a three-way adaptor on it as the older electrics simply weren't designed with 2kW loads (kettle, oven...) in mind) and maybe, just maybe, I might be able to create a little cosy space for the winters.

I'm sitting outside to write this. It's still nice and warm and sunny. What will I do when it's grey, -2°C, and there's snow on the ground and the sun sets before five? Currently, I would get into bed, pull the heated blanket around me, and watch Netflix.
Wouldn't it be nice to sit in a warm kitchen with a hot chocolate and something to write on? Like, writing this? Or just listening to some music?

It won't be this year. Maybe not the next. Priority right now is having enough money for a replacement car should anything happen to Felicity. Then there's the title transfer of the house to consider (it's not an urgent thing as I'm the only direct relative). Then... well, by then I'll probably need a replacement passport. Some god-forsaken "we want our BLUE passports" nonsense. A new grinder for the toilet. Maybe, just maybe, something that resembles a functional washing machine. The water from the well is slightly brown and smells like rusted nails. So either the pump is about to fail, or more likely, the well needs a good clean. We have iron seams around here (in the slate/schist) so there's probably sediment. Oh, and that scary tree out front ought to be cut down before a storm does it in a less salubrious manner.
As you can see, there's always something. A never ending amount of somethings. And this isn't even considering stuff like fixing the tarmac out front or repointing walls. Given that I'm unlikely to win the lottery (a useful amount, not seven euros!), things will need to be prioritised and sorted out as and when.

But a cosy kitchen. It's a dream that I hope to have achieved not for this winter, probably not the next, but definitely by 2022. Assuming the unforgiving plague doesn't get me first. ☺


Old fart?

I received this in the post yesterday:
Publicity for residences for senior citizens.

I know my hair has lost its colour (as seen from the photos above), but my teeth are intact (just!) and I don't pee when I sneeze (which, frankly, is a miracle given how much tea I drink). So... uh... exactly how the hell old do you think I am?
Dear Karine Bachelier, I think somebody somewhere has made a typo in a database. I'm still under fifty, employed in a physically active job, and in reasonably good health (for a person that enjoys a daily Mars Bar and has a sugar intake that would frighten medical staff). I don't drink, smoke, or take drugs... my only vices are caffeine, theobromine, and sugar (and a sugary tea hits that sweet spot every time!).
So, thank you Heurus, but I don't think I'll be needing your services just yet. I mean... I have another decade and a half before I retire!



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John, 12th September 2020, 18:57
You would have to dye those locks now to pass as a goth! 
Il était une fois…
David Pilling, 14th September 2020, 17:37
A healthcare professional pointed out to me the other day that I had my mask on inside out, blue to the inside and not the outside.
David Pilling, 14th September 2020, 17:49
Back in the 70s you would have got good odds against NI still being part of the UK. Demographics.  
When the devolution of Scotland came in, I felt independence was inevitable. 
Brexit or not, they're going, and both will be cost savings for the English tax payer. 
Scotland is interesting since its independence has so many parallels with Brexit. Like much else Covid has pushed things forward. 
Breaking international law - err like this is the first time ever - Diego Garcia, the Iraq war... 
The EU is also a violator. 
But the current spin does remind me of Tony Blair's dodgy dossier. 
Rick, 14th September 2020, 18:52
Our masks are blue on both sides. 
I think the issue of whether or not it will save taxpayer money is complicated. Sure, there won't be money from England being given to Scotland, but on the other hand resources in Scotland that are enjoyed by the UK as a while will then need to be paid for. 
Oh, and you'll need to find somewhere else to dump those rusty nukes. 
Yes, countries can and do break laws and treaties, but I think few (that aren't crazed dictatorships) signal intent to renege on an agreement made less than a year ago *whilst still trying to make further agreements with the same people*... 
It'd be like telling your bank that you're going to pay half of your mortgage monthlies whilst asking the bank for a loan. It's... dumb. 
As for the spin, the British press is so heavily politicised that I'm not sure it's possible to trust *any* of them; but if one takes an overview from a distance, it's extremely clear which outfits have an agenda (Telegraph and Express, mostly, right now). 

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