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Phone woes again

I was driving home yesterday when I spotted a coil of wire by the side of the road. "That doesn't look right", I mumbled to myself.
Sure enough, it wasn't right.

Yet again, a phone line spanning the access to a farm. Yet again, torn down by somebody I'd be inclined to not trust to drive a Scalextric, never mind heavy agricultural machinery.

I started up the app Orange et Moi on my mobile, and told it to test my landline. It did a number of tests, and a little dodah spinning, spinning, spinning... until it reported that there was a fault on my line (phew!) and an engineer will do the necessary repairs at no cost to Saturday evening.

But it gets better. There's a guy up with a cherry picker matching up about fifty coloured wires one by one right now (as I write this). Okay, I'm impressed.

Not only that, but this lunchtime Orange sent me a message saying that due to the problem with the line, they were unblocking an extra 200 gigabytes that I can use via 4G to replace my internet services.
I should add, this comes days after my contract was bumped up to 130GB. I pointed out a while back that I had little need for 80GB so for me this was essentially "unlimited". Now it's 50GB more!?!

Let's put it like this - yesterday I downloaded three episodes of "The Uncanny Counter" on Netflix, it took about five minutes. This morning I downloaded two more while at work (it took about ten seconds!). It has barely made a dent in my allocation.

And, right now, I have 330GB available to me. Which is like 10GB a day. Or about 600MB per hour every single hour of a 16 hour (awake) day for an entire month. It's... ridiculously more than I'd ever need!


Anyway, the guy is up the road fixing it the next day. Yup, I'm impressed.


Even when I'm alone, I'm not alone

Some nights I can't sleep.

Some nights I wake up with a click that gets my entire body going in a way that I know means that I'm just not going to be able to get back to sleep.

Last night was such a night. I went to bed shortly after eleven (because of working a half hour extra, my alarm now goes off at 6.45am).
Just before quarter to three, "click!" and I'm more awake than I usually am at any time before noon.

So I get up, bag up the rubbish, toss it into the wheelie bin, and walk the lot up the driveway. Half a kilometre there, and then the coming back. At three in the morning. In the dark (because there was enough moonlight to see).

When I do that, I go without headphones on. It's not because I'm afraid of wild animals or anything, it's because those animals are part of an entire nighttime ecology, so it's nice to once in a while pay attention to that which is normally invisible.

I was led all the way up by an owl. I can't tell you what type of owl, except it goes "wooooowowowooooo!" like owls are wont to do. It would fly to the electric pole ahead of me, wait until I caught up, then fly to the next one. Repeat all the way up the road.
After a few minutes of missing owl on the way back (probably miffed that I'd turned around), it caught up and did this again all the way home, finally sitting atop the chimney watching me watching it.

The other wildlife was not as friendly. There were deer (that bark!) and bunnies. But since this is a rural community and people hunt them, their attitude was more "argh! human! panic!".
I keep trying to tell the pine martins in the not-pond that I'm not bothered by their presence, they're basically oversized (about the size of an adult cat, only without the legs) vegetarian guinea pigs. They're also hunted because they eat the crops. But for me, it's amusing watching them roll over and over in the water and frolicking in the sunlight.

A few years back, a neighbour set a number of lethal spring traps along the edge of the pond. Flamin' bloody cheek! I took the mop handle and sprung each of them.
Cue irate neighbour who figured out that it was either mom or myself who sprung them. I told him that I cannot do anything about what he does on his land, but if I ever discover traps for any animals on my land in the future, not only will they be sprung, but they will be neatly piled up in the middle of the boggy mess that used to be a pond.
Don't you dare put your traps on our land. In case y'all hadn't noticed, we're critter friendly here. Hell, I haven't even taken a shotgun to the mole that's leaving annoying piles of dirt all over the Western Wilderness.

Anyway, rant aside, it was a pleasant walk, all presided over by my guardian angel owl.


Winter is coming

I have a simple distinction between "the cold bit" and "the warm bit". It's when the sun sets after 9pm.
The latest the sun sets here is about ten past ten, for a sixteen hour day. But those days don't last so long. On Tuesday, the sun set at nine, to give a day that the a little under fourteen hours long. By the 5th of September, it'll be more like thirteen hours. We lose daylight really quickly this time of year. Clearly, winter is coming.

For what it's worth, the transition into "sun sets after nine" is around the third week of April. So it's about four months of warm and eight months of not-so-warm, such is living up in the middle-north, especially when winter is coming.
The best last day recently? Well, very nicely, that was the day I went to Nantes! ☺

But, alas, I'll need to check the hat and scarf now that winter is coming, wash them if necessary, and check the heated blanket, and all that sort of rubbish. Because those lovely warm summer days? I think they're done now. Accuweather doesn't have anything over 23°C, slowly going down as we head into October.
It is predicted to be a second La Nina year, which often has a side effect of a high pressure system over northwestern Siberia. North of the equator, high pressure systems rotate clockwise, which will take the cold Siberian air and dump it over eastern Europe. It's hard to find reliable information, mind you. I came across a site that predicted devastating winters as the planet entered into a global cooling phase after about 800 years of a global heating - I think the main aim being to "demonstrate" that man made climate change isn't a thing. Whatever, hardly a useful source of information.
So I'm going to guess that this winter, which is coming in case you hadn't noticed, will be much like last winter. Not especially cold, but will go on for ages.
Alas, winter is coming.


PS: If you wonder why I have mentioned that winter is coming a load of times. Well, partly because it is, but also partly because of this. We're heading towards the arse end of the year. The days are getting shorter. The temperatures, colder. Winter is coming is a statement of provable fact for those of us in Europe (well, it's the opposite In A Land Down Under).


Boiled potatoes

I peeled, cubed, and boiled some of my potatoes in the rice cooker, along with farfalle (bow tie pasta) and frozen sliced carrots. Add a chicken stock cube for taste, and let it all cook for a while.
The potatoes were a little mushy (they were cooking for a long time as I was busy so I left it in keep-warm mode for about an hour!), but otherwise okay.

I have bought frozen chips for today (fish and chips tonight) because, well, I don't have a fryer so couldn't turn mine into chips even if I wanted to.
Mom... I don't know if she witnessed a chip pan fire in her life or something, but she was very much against the idea of having one here. I got the impression that she'd consider it safer if I decided my life's goal was to disarm grenades... The closest I ever got was a toy, a dinky little fryer that could manage about two mouthfuls of chips at a time (and was probably only "safe" because the thing was barely capable of reaching any sort of useful temperature).

The reason I've not got myself a fryer is, well, basically I have nowhere to put it. Besides, not having rapid access to a supply of greasy chips is probably a good thing, health wise! ☺

I mean, think about it. Cold miserable winter night. What could be better than to settle into bed with a heated blanket, Netflix on the tablet (bigger screen), and a nice bowl of chips to nibble on?
Damn... I'll need to look in the supermarket next time I go in to see how much these things cost...
That said, no amount of temptation is going to magic up a space for a piece of kit larger than the rice maker that is filled with oil. Still have to find somewhere large enough for it.


Phone woe win

Just went in to put the kettle on for more tea. Partly because I'm kind of tired after a really early start, and partly because I'm writing this outside and it's a little chilly.
I noticed my Livebox was showing a green light, not a blinking red one.
Prodding the buttons, it is reporting a 4.3megabit rate. That will probably drop over the next few hours to around 3.7ish (it seems to like to start off at around 4.3), but still, damn. That was a quick fix.
Speedtest reports 533Kbyte/sec down (4.27 megabit) and 65Kbyte/sec up (0.5 megabit), with a 16ms ping. The box itself is reporting 0.7 megabit up, and since the download rate is correct (and sustained), I'm inclined to suspect the speed testing is glitchy. I say this because it seems to report what the speed is at the moment the test finishes, rather than report an average of what was achieved during the test, which seems odd. But, still, it's fast (for here, that is!) and it was fixed really quickly.


Speaking of cooking appliances...

...somewhere I have a George Foreman grill. I have no idea who George Foreman is - he looks like a boxer - who has leant his name to a clamshell design grill.
Now the idea of this grill is good. Both sides of the grill heat up, and you close the grill over the meat, so it cooks both sides at once. No faffing around flipping the meat. At the same time, the actual cooking area is a row of grooves. This is partially to reduce the area in direct contact with the meat (as well as leaving those well liked griddle lines), but more than that, fat is supposed to drip down into the well, then trickle down to the front. Basically removing the fat from the meat.

The problem, and there was one, was that it should have been called THE BRIAN BLESSED GRILL as it had no subtlety. It heated up nicely, it removed fat reasonably nicely (it was a bit of a pain to clean), but it was perhaps a little too good at the grilling thing meaning that anything thicker than a burger joint burger (and you know they're pretty thin) would be liable to end up incinerated on the outside and near-raw on the inside.
I probably ought to see if I can dig it out (and see if it's gone rusty!) but the thing is, I don't actually eat that much red meat. The processed meals I took to work this week were either salmon or chicken. Beef, that's what burgers are for.
I also like the taste of lamb, but I don't much like the price of it. It seems, to me, to be the meat equivalent of printer ink. A little tiny bit of something attached to a huge bone (that is part of the weight) that costs more than half a pig.
Speaking of which - the Jews are right. Pork is awful. I will "tolerate" it if it's in a quiche or carbonara sauce (tolerate being defined as "eat about a third, maybe, then pull out the rest and leave it"), but I do not - of my own volition - eat pork. It has a bad taste and a naff texture, it's only barely more pleasurable than throwing up in your mouth and having to eat what came up all over again. It's just all 'round icky, I can't find a nice thing to say about pig pieces.
I know the Jews avoid pork for a bunch of religious reasons, but whatever, we've both more or less reached the same conclusions about it. The only difference is that I know God won't strike me dead if I should eat a little bit of it. The Trichinella spiralis parasite, on the other hand...


Right, weekend!

Finally. It's been a long week, the first one back at work. I have nothing planned. Yes!



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Rick, 28th August 2021, 08:00
Yup, it's gone down to 3.5Mbit. That's fairly normal (and depends upon the weather), as I think that while the line *can* run at 4.x, it's not necessarily entirely reliable at that speed, so the system backs off a little in order to find an amount of data that can be sent reliably without hiccups.
David Boddie, 28th August 2021, 18:07
I think an air fryer would be what I would go for if I wanted an appliance specifically for cooking chips. Techmoan convinced me:
David Pilling, 28th August 2021, 23:12
"By the meteorological calendar, the first day of autumn is always 1 September; ending on 30 November." 
Pine Marten are fake vegetarians, flexitarians "The diet of the pine marten includes small mammals, carrion, birds, insects, and fruits." 
Seemingly they put gray squirrels to flight, but not reds. 
Maybe you could take up roast potatoes, which only need an oven.
Rob, 28th August 2021, 23:54
With that amount of bandwidth, I'd be considering if I needed the landline at all...! 
Second vote for an air fryer! Chopped potatos, tablespoon of oil, and you get lovely chips out of it! Quicker, I find, than oven chips, and considerably less trouble and much safer than deep fat frying in any form. 
Pork... I couldn't do without bacon, and possibly ham, but large chunks? Meh.. 

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