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Work woes

I'm watching the news and seeing that Christmas might be cancelled. Whether it's the lack of deliveries, or a possible Covid lockdown, it seems that things aren't all rosy in England.

Here? The company I work for is running behind. Like, a lot behind. Because of this, and also random people whinging, my boss changed my hours so I start at 5am on Saturday.
I could sort of see this coming. Everybody is always so concerned that somebody somewhere might have something they don't have. It was actually amusing to listen to one of the plonge workers saying how it wasn't right or correct that I started at 7am, completely disregarding that the normal daytime worker starts at 7am. So right and correct is, actually, them working alone for the first two hours. But, whatever. I guess it was good while it lasted.

On Friday, I got up at quarter past five (instead of 6.45), so getting up at 3.40 on Saturday wasn't going to be a big shock.
Two teas later, I was ready to go and... be bored out of my mind. Picking up things coming out of a machine and putting them on a pile has a lot less job satisfaction than cleaning the bog. I could easily be replaced by a robot.

The journey in, at that time of the morning, was a different world.

Driving to work
Driving to work.

The only people I came across, before I got to work and joined the queue of everybody else entering, was a group of people, maybe four or five, standing by the side of the road. There were no cars nearby. Some sort of drug deal, maybe? I can't imagine why a small group would be standing in the middle of nowhere at twenty to five in the morning.

I've messed with the screenshot so you can see things.
I've messed with the screenshot so you can see things.

After work, I came home, handwashed my top, and then sat out in the sun with more tea. A little later, I made myself a special comfort-food meal that I got. It was a leg/knee/bit of lamb (I'm not sure what a "souris" is when it comes to meat pieces) that was pre-cooked and marinated in thyme, rosemary, and garlic. Six minutes in the microwave. That went with a mixed pack of pre-cooked frozen veg (cauli, broccoli, fractal broc, and carrot). Nine minutes in the microwave (two sachets).
I really lucked in with the lamb. For some reason I put back the first one I picked up, and took another. This one? It had the obligatory massive bone in it, but I plopped the big lump into the bowl to pull out the massive lump of fat in the middle.
But there wasn't any. In fact, I think I pulled off about a tablespoon of fat. The rest, asides from the bone, was just meat. A lot of meat. That was a lucky choice!

I started watching Another Life, I think it is, on Netflix. Weird alien thing lands, a group of people leave on a space ship to make first contact. I am maybe four episodes in and it's already starting to get annoying. It's like the writers have a big set of cards with every "bad things that can happen on a spaceship" trope, and they're just pulling out cards and writing them into the story. I stopped watching when it was like "well, we're not going to die but we're now all sterile". It is starting to remind me of that movie "Life" (alien thingy about a space ship) where they make so many fundamental mistakes that you're actually cheering for the alien blob thing because the humans are beyond stupid.

Right, we were talking about work. Sci-fi can come a little later. They are looking for volunteers to work the two public holidays (1st and 11th November). The pay is pretty much normal pay. Some people say "it's €90 for the day" but that's brut. In our pocket? Probably closer to sixty-ish. Which is normal pay. But, now here's the thing, the day is actually being paid at 200% because this public holiday has already been counted in the allocation of hours to be worked and days in which to do that.

I'm not available on the 1st. I will be going to the local church service, and then to the graveyard. Towards the end, Mom made it quite clear that if I didn't manage that once a year, she would come back and haunt me. I'm not superstitious, but if there's anybody who would defy the known laws of science just to stand outside the front door with a bedsheet over her head, it's Mom. So... Toussaint, not available.

The 11th is a maybe. I'm not up for remembering The Great War and The War To End All Wars because... WW2, Korea, 'Nam, Iraq, twenty years of Afghanistan, The Middle East, Yugoslavia, most of Africa (and the endless civil wars), Syria... The First World War was a horrible one, but it was far from being either the deadliest or the last. War is a rather senseless occupation, but it's not a lesson that our species seem to take much time in learning. Those who prefer peace and understanding are more frequently mocked, derided, and ultimately it's the guy with the gun that wins any fight against a girl with flowers.
I say that the 11th is a maybe. I'll go in if I can work my habitual hours (more or less). I'm not interested if it's a 5am start. As it's a holiday day, I can always say "nope".
The confusion at the moment is because nobody knows, yet, how many people are interested. Which will affect whether it's two shifts (5am-1pm-9pm) or one in the daytime. As I understand it, the day will be 'paid' in hours in hand rather than extra in the bank. If that's the case, those who might have done it for the money are less likely to be interested. But, again, there's another week for management to have plenty of meetings to work out how to do this.

Suffice to say, we have a massive pile of work to get through, because over here in France, Christmas is not cancelled.
Do we have problems with deliveries? Yes, a few. But this isn't so much a lack of drivers as a lack of raw materials. Covid is having knock-on effects on the global distribution of things, and prices are going up (petrol and diesel especially). But fuel keeps on flowing. Supermarket shelves are stocked. There may be a few hiccups and delays, but this is to be expected when there's a problem of global scale and everybody is relying upon JIT. JIT is not a fault tolerant system.

In fact, I'm not aware of any fuel shortages in the last decade that were not a local problem as a result of protests. A nearby fuel depot is up the road aways in a place called Vern, and when protesters are annoyed and want to distrupt things, they go blockade the place so the fuel trucks can't get out. This in turn causes people to panic buy because France has a long standing culture of protesting things, so nobody knows how long the blockade will last. Which means fuel runs out, and ultimately the protesters cause the intended chaos. It's not an external issue. The fuel is right there, it just isn't in the pump. This nonsense happens... oh, at least once a year (except 2020 when other things were more important). Some people are on the side of the protesters, some give them the arm of honour. It's just how it goes.

So, as much as the English might want to celebrate Brexit and even hold a special celebration, the fact is that it's hard to look at what's going on in the country without wanting to mention Brexit. Because, yes, Covid is a problem everywhere. And yes, there's a global shortage of truck drivers, and yes containers are piling up in ports because there's nobody to transport them around the place. But other parts of Europe don't have the same degree of problem as England. So at some stage one has to ask "what is France doing that we aren't?" (or Germany, or...). What's different? Better leadership? Or did they simply not shoot themselves in the foot?

A recent poll has showed that while Britain is as divided as ever, the Leave voters are generally pretty happy with how things are going. This is the danger of a populist government. People were fed up with the virus containment measures, so Johnson did away with them. People feel a bit depressed, so let's have a big celebration. It's what the people want, so screw the consequences.
The consequences of doing away with face masks and distancing are now becoming quite clear. The consequences of distancing an entire country from its neighbours, both politically and economically, are now becoming quite clear. The consequences of setting up an immigration system that is actively foreigner-hostile are now becoming quite clear.
But, don't worry, go put the kettle on. Christmas won't be cancelled as even if the shelves are bare and everybody is dying, Johnson knows that he can just declare an extra public holiday and everybody will love him.
You have to feel for Cummings (a sentiment I never thought I'd have!), as he has tweeted and held interviews and released information that in any normal time would have caused scandals that risked bringing down the government. But these are not normal times. Few people seem to care.



Not even Samhain yet, and the supermarket is packed out with toys.
Lots of Playmobil!
Lots of Playmobil!

I don't think I'll be getting an advent calendar this year. The ones that are available are all ones I've had in the past (except the princess one), and the few new ones seem to be additional stuff for existing kits - like stuff for Back To The Future or Pirates, which is only really of interest if you have those sets.
Still, there's a month to go. Something interesting might turn up, you know, like the NHL set I got a few years ago.....and who knew, Mom was not only a hockey fan but was also remarkably familiar with the sport, including pointing out the technical differences in the skates worn by the players and the goalie.


Storm Aurore

Last Monday, when I got to work at quarter past eight, to say the sky was peculiar would be an understatement. It was foggy, and magenta.
I have only edited this photo to drop in some black lines to obscure licence plates. The colour that you can see is accurate. A collegue took a photo on her phone, but it came out looking "normal" because her white balance tried too hard. For mine, I locked it to daytime/cloudy so that the colours in the photo matched reality.
If red sky in the morning is a warning, what's this?
If red sky in the morning is a warning, what's this?

It rained a lot. Hard.

The following day, upon returning home , I found corn stalks all over the place. The farmer had brought in the corn. A day after it rained quite heavily. That seemed odd.
That evening, a yellow alert for heavy rain, and winds along the coast.

The next morning, it was quite breezy. The weather alert? Orange all over the place. Something bad was coming.

That evening, I got soaked walking across the field to feed the cats. The wind was moderate, but the rain was heavy. Anna, who is quite sensitive to weather, was completely freaking out. I told her "I know, I saw the weather forecast", and she was like "no, human, you do NOT know".
That said, I suppose rain is a bigger deal to a furry creature that hates getting wet.

The wind blew through the night. Nothing, to be honest, that worrisome. I'm down in a dip which offers some protection from the winds, and anyway it looks like it missed and went further to the west than originally thought.

So, if you wake up to a purple sky, it's not a sign of anything good.


A hedgehog in the garden

As I was writing this, I saw something out of the corner of my eye...

I'm inside now. The wind was a little stiff, but it was okay in the sun. But it's come over cloudy and the no longer okay. So I picked up the table, took it all inside, and...guess what? I put the kettle on! ☺



Got myself a pumpkin in the supermarket yesterday. It even comes with instructions!
Disclaimer: It is not recommended to carve a pumpkin with a chainsaw, firearms, or explosives.
Disclaimer: It is not recommended to carve a pumpkin with a chainsaw, firearms, or explosives.

I can't help but feel that a person young enough to need to be told how to carve a pumpkin mightn't be a little too young to weild the sort of knife required to cut into it.


An interesting winter for sci-fi fans

Amazon has recently just released season two of Homeland: Fort Salem (the shouty witches), though this may not be available in the UK (I think ITV might have the rights?). I know what I'll be doing this evening. ☺

Coming soon to Amazon (November 19th) is The Wheel Of Time, a high fantasy series based on a set of novels. I'm not familiar with the novels, however the promotional video seems to be following in the tradition of Game of Thrones and The Witcher.

Speaking of which, The Witcher season two will be coming to Netflix in December (17th), and you will see that puberty has changed Ciri...quite a bit. I hope this season of The Witcher plays out in a linear fashion, as series one was a bit of a mindscrew, what with hopping all over the timeline, and most of the main cast looking exactly the same in each part. Hey, what's more, it feels as if Geralt says more if this promo video than he did in the entirety of season one!

And once you have finished that, it'll be time to pop right back to Prime to watch the final season of The Expanse, the sprawling story set on two planets which recently discovered alternative universes... not that anybody on either Mars or Earth cared about the beltalowdas, eh beratna?

As for Netflix, Shadow and Bone should be coming back for a second season, perhaps towards the end of next year. Along with season two of Fate: The Winx Saga.
Massively overlooked, but hopefully going to be renewed, is An Uncanny Counter, a quirky but surprisingly amazing Korean drama. But, then, since everybody and their kitten knows about (or has already watched) Squid Game, it seems as if Netflix and Korea have worked together to make some unique gems.

I haven't watched a lot of streaming over the summer. But as the nights draw ever closer and the days dissipate, it looks like there will be plenty of options to replace this sick sad world with something a little more interesting.



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David Pilling, 26th October 2021, 23:15're lucky to see the day when it is fresh - better in Summer though. 
Oliver Cromwell cancelled Christmas - look what happened to him. 
Great magenta photo. 
Pieter, 29th October 2021, 07:30
Souris d'agneau, isn't that lamb shank?
J.G.Harston, 3rd November 2021, 02:51
There's also a TV adaptation of Asimov's Foundation series, but I'm slightly nervous they'll have done a "City Watch" to it. With a narrative spread over centuries and most of the plot being talking and no action, it's always been said it would be difficult to transfer to a visual medium. And with the time spread you're going to be looking at recruiting actors who will only ever appear in one episode.

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