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Other people's bugs are not my problem

From time to time I get comments and messages from people complaining that my feed description is too long and it's mucking up the display.
Or that there are too many items. As I write this I currently have forty, BBC News has sixty two and CNN has fifty, so it's not unreasonable.
And now apparently my RSS is broken and is displaying entities instead of Russian.
Sargasso bugs
Just another Sargasso bug.

Guys, please, enough. Sargasso is a good and fast RSS reader for RISC OS, but it has numerous bugs.
If it cannot handle displaying a two-line description in the feed list without overwriting the title of the following entry, that is not my problem. It's up to the reader to adjust the list positioning or truncate the text to fit.

Correctly encoded entities in descriptions are double-encoded (unless done the CDATA way). This means, for example, ampersand is written as "&" and not as "&" like in HTML. Don't take my word for it, read the damn specification.
If this is not handled correctly (as is painfully obvious in the screenshot above), that is not my problem.

Seriously, Google for an online RSS feed viewer (try this on a JavaScript capable browser) and if it is broken there then I've screwed something up. But that's not likely as I validate the RSS feed after every update. So, you know, consider reporting the problem to somebody who can actually fix things...


Marte's steering

As it was nice and sunny today, I had another crack at fixing Marte's steering. This time I had more success in getting the steering column into two pieces, and thus able to remove the big bit at the bottom.
I had less luck in getting the big bit apart. Removing that split ring did... nothing. The big toothed part is very firmly attached. Probably rusted in place.
I did note that the thing wasn't assembled in the same manner as the diagram. That wasn't my fault, when I put it back together last time, I put it together the way I found it. Which seemed to not be right.
So I put it together in keeping with the diagram and suddenly the two gears are pretty snug against each other.

It won't last, though. The rod that runs through the mechanism rotates as the steering is used, and the bolt that holds everything together rotates. Against a big washer holding everything in place that maybe isn't supposed to rotate? It's between the metal frame (that doesn't move) and the bolt (that does).
I'm honestly not sure how the hell this thing stays together. There's no washer in the diagram. So as these bits move, the bolt will come a little more undone.
After about an hour of mowing, the mechanism started clicking (skipping) as I was turning right. It was tight enough that I could finish - so it wasn't like it had completely lost the ability to turn, but it's still not right.
That being said, if I just need to stop every so often and tighten up the bolt, it's not such a big deal. Though in the longer run I probably ought to look into maybe seeing if I can fit a toothed washer or two, and greasing the big washer so it can turn without resistance. I've applied some oil, but oil isn't quite the same as grease.

Here's a video...


Garden photos

I saw this little guy in the supermarket for... I think it was €2,50 or something. It is made of painted metal, and I have screwed it down to an old tree stump. It can be a cheery welcome to anybody entering.
Red metal owl
Red metal owl.
Not quite the Beeb owl, but close enough.

There are daffodils and crocuses (shall I say crocusi just to annoy people who actually know Latin conjugation?) as is to be expected this time of year.
But the big news, and what mom always considered the first proper sign of Spring was the sweet almond bursting into blossom. Which it has.
I knew this was coming, the buds have been around for a few days, but this morning is when they all decided to unfurl.

Sweet almond blossom
Sweet almond blossom.

It's going to be about a month until Sakura. The local white cherries (proper and bird cherry) aren't looking like they're going to flower any time soon. Probably just as well, it's supposed to be a few mornings of freezing temperatures.



Speaking of which, as I was driving home yesterday evening I noticed smoke billowing out of the chimney of the house at the top of my access lane.

Me? It's somewhere between 9°C and 11°C in the kitchen/living room, and maybe 13°C in my bedroom. I don't turn the heating on, I just put a coat on.
I note with amusement that people are suggesting that to reduce our reliance on Russian fuel we should all turn the heat down a degree. In my case it would mean getting heating installed and then turning it up ten degrees!

This isn't really an economic issue, although I do feel that it's a waste of money and resources to heat a room to the mid-twenties, never mind an entire house.
Back at boarding school, it was fairly common to have one of the windows open in the dormitory, even in the middle of winter. Plus the old heating tended to only be capable of properly heating half the building at any one time. The senior block, being above where the boiler was, got heated. The junior end, not so much.
At home in the UK, my bedroom had a big window that was split into four. The two sides opened, the middle didn't, and above the middle was what was called "the little window". This was usually slightly open, like, always. Even in winter. The house was built with radiators on the ground floor. Upstairs on the first floor, no radiators. I think the plan was "heat rises". Not so much.

So I'm just used to putting a jacket or coat on rather than turning the heating up. It amuses me that somewhere (EDF?) rated the house horribly fuel inefficient as a mostly uninsulated stone house, when in fact I'd bet my carbon footprint is far lower than anybody around here simply because I don't throw money at heating. If I'm cold enough to be disturbed by it, I'll just crawl into bed, plug in the heated blanket (~30W), and watch Netflix on my phone.
Actually I lie. I spend so much time looking at what I might like to watch that by the time I've found something I'm too tired to bother. ☺

There is also a benefit. To me, Spring is here. It went up to about 12°C, and has been like that on recent Saturdays. So I open the windows and do stuff outside. Like fixing the mower. I pretty quickly lost my coat, and then went and changed my pullover for a lighter one. Not quite T-shirt weather, but a couple of degrees more and maybe.

But the starkest way to illustrate the difference between the guy at the top of the lane and myself? This was my "dinner" on Friday evening - totally healthy, oh yes!

Ice cream
Eye scream!

Ice cream doesn't usually agree with me, but this was a Carte d'Or rather than some generic cheap brand. It was essentially a raspberry ripple. And it was pleasing. So guy is sitting inside his heated house thinking "putin! c'est trop froid!" and I'm sitting outside eating ice cream.

'nuff said.


Kitchen shelves

I found a five level plastic shelf a while back, and set it up in the kitchen. It started to become a little too small for the things that were on it. So yesterday I bought a second unit and erected it beside the first.

The top shelf has some random stuff - crisps and teabags. Not Tetley, lemon green tea.

The next level down is for meals and non-sweet things.

The non-sweet shelf
The non-sweet shelf.

You can see on the upper right that I've added some screws and a pencil holder in order to have a place to store whisks, spatulas, and random cutlery. And, yes, I put the knife pointy end down.

Tidying the utensils
Tidying the utensils.

The next shelf down is for the sweet things. That's pretty much chocolate and cake/pancake mix, as well as oatmeal.

The sweet shelf
The sweet shelf.

The bottom shelf is a bag of potatoes, sachets of sugar, little bricks of fruit juice, and some bowls that I think were bamboo in a past life.


You might recall that I said it was a five level shelf. Well, the top shelf is at a height of 174cm. Not so useful in the kitchen where the ceiling is, I think, about 182cm from the floor. So what I originally did was to have the fifth shelf part free-standing and to the side as a place to put the multicooker.

Now that I had two fifth bits, a logical approach would be to put the second on top of the first. This makes a useful height countertop that can be used for measuring flour or as a place to put a mixing bowl in use. That kind of thing. And the shelf below? Well, finally I have a place for my giant white egg...because Vince is right. It's big and without a place to put it, moving it around quickly gets annoying. So now there's a place to put it.

The equipment shelf
The equipment shelf.


Self sufficiency

It is useful to have a level of self-sufficiency. Whether due to the risk of Covid lockdowns as happened in the past, or the potential outbreak of world war three, I feel it is good to be able to plan for "about two weeks". How this happens will depend upon whether or not there is electricity.
If there is, then I have more than enough food for two weeks. I could likely make three on what I have around.
Without electricity, things are a little more complicated. I have a little (camping) gas stove that I cook on, so most things that aren't baking will still be possible, though cleaning the pan may be an issue (the water is pumped from a well). Problems, not impossibilities.

The main problem is that I perhaps only have enough bottled water for a week. It's an estimate, it'll depend on many things like cleaning the equipment, whether I am eating the ready meals or boiling pasta/rice, and how much tea I'm going through.
So I'll need to stock up on bottled water. I've let stocks dwindle because it's a pain loading them into the car. Yeah, I'm that lazy. ☺

One of the best bits of kitchen equipment that I have bought recently has been a glass saucepan lid. Seriously, unless you have tried it you can't appreciate the difference that it can make.
Here's my pasta boiling away quite happily...

Happily boiling pasta
Happy pasta boiling happily.

And here's the flame under the saucepan, it's barely even on!

Gas flame, on low
Gas flame, on low.

Without a lid, the flame would need to be much larger to maintain a good boil. So this one weird trick should notably extend the life of my gas cartridges.

Talking of gas cartidges, I discovered a gas lantern on top of the fridge underneath some mugs and other crap. The mantle is partially broken (they're brittle once they've been heated). The lantern works, but it's not going to be as bright as it could be.
I have ordered some replacements from the tat bazaar. Ought to be here on Wednesday. It feels like there's a good amount of gas in the cannister. I ought to buy another to have as a spare - these are the generic pierce-and-use style.


Only two weeks? Yup. Two weeks of self sufficiency is a target. Because I feel that if more than that is necessary, the caca has really hit the ventilation device, and it may be that whether or not I have something to eat is not exactly a priority.
With respect to the current situation, France has Europe's strongest and largest army. It is also a nuclear-capable country. The downside is... that probably makes it a target. So you see what I mean about priorities.


As for all of those who don't seem to think Putin toying with nukes is a big deal, please go to your favourite pirate movie site and download Threads. No, not that American film with the naff special effects, the British film that plays it a hundred percent straight and is all the more disturbing for it.
Even bringing the possibility into the equation is a bad thing. So let's hope that there can be some form of resolution without ending up in all-out war.
Of course, it likely won't be helpful to the Ukrainians, who have been bravely defending their country. It's a Hobson's Choice, really. Do we leave Ukraine to it, knowing that Russia has more people and resources plus the ambition to plough through this until Ukraine is no longer, or do we engage in a military conflict with a nutter who isn't going to simply turn around and go home? For the moment we're supporting Ukraine from the sidelines and trying to piss off the super-rich in the hopes that their anger might make it back to the Kremlin. That's about all we can do without risking something that nobody is going to be able to resolve diplomatically.

The big irony here is that the neighbouring countries have been discussing NATO membership because of their proximity to Russia. It was mostly talk, as NATO had sort of lost it's primary purpose since the Cold War came to an end.
Russia, using incomprehensible tactics, seems to have decided that the best possible answer to the threat of Russian aggression is... Russian aggression. What?
To be honest, I don't think anybody should be surprised if Finland applies to become a NATO country. Yes, it will annoy Russia. Well, they brought this on themselves. I mean, if Putin gets his way and reclaims Ukraine as a part of Russia, well what's to stop him from being like "I'm bored, it's Thursday, let's invade Finland; and next week Moldova."

If anything, Russia's behaviour has demonstrated exactly why NATO exists in the first place, plus that Russia simply cannot be trusted...expecially when it's suffering an existential crisis about not being the USSR.


Anyway, I'm not going "aargh, gotta stock up on stuff for the coming war", it's more a case of living in the middle of nowhere, it's a good idea to have a stock that I can fall back on should anything happen. I know that plenty of people around here have the mentality of going out and protesting pretty much anything and everything. It's the French way. ☺
Me? Close the shutters, lock the door, and stay the hell out of the fray.



Macron is going to be the next French President.

The left is too weak to make much impact. The right? They were stronger, but are having to make excuses for their connections to Russia. Had the election been two weeks ago, it is likely to have been a second round between Macron (centre-slightly-right) and Le Pen (national front). But now? I'm not sure who will stand against Macron, if the people decide they want to have nothing to do with somebody that is Russia's puppet has connections to Russia. Whatever, whoever it is is unlikely to have enough backing to do anything other than hand Macron a comfortable win.

In these troubled times, this is perhaps for the best. Macron may have difficulty working out whether he's leading France or Europe, but he's stepped up to fill the void left by Merkel's departure, he is pretty big on the EU as a cause, and has been attempting to negotiate with Putin. A real leader, not that fop-haired joker in Downing Street. If you have doubts as to Macron's capabilities, well, just ask yourself how the other candidates would react. Especially the far right that were, until last week, all too pro-Russia.



As I was sorting out the shelves, I made dinner. I had bought a pack of frozen mixed veg, but decided that what I really wanted was bow-tie pasta. So I cooked that with a chicken stock cube and tossed them in butter and a light peppering.
At the same time, I did the fish in the air fryer turning them halfway. Beautifully crispy.
Farfalle and fish
Farfalle and fish.

What no chips?
Oh, god, no.
I got a nice big bag of chips last week. It was oh-so-simple to put chips into the basket, ten minutes, done. Nice bowl of chips.
And the same the next day because, let's face it, ten minutes and very little effort appeals to me.
And the following day, guess what.

So now the part of me where chips are stored is reading 'F'. I don't need any more chips...



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John, 5th March 2022, 22:49
I'm afraid it's verbs that conjugate; nouns decline - a bit like the rest of us!
Rick, 5th March 2022, 23:13
I shall decline to comment... 😂
VinceH, 6th March 2022, 01:38
Those fryers are indeed big! I took another look at the one mum offered me and decided, no, that's definitely too big. She did suggest that smaller ones do exist - but I haven't looked. There's no point until I have an income. 
Interestingly - and unexpectedly - I do now have a slow cooker. I casually mentioned to mum recently that I had been considering buying one, and when I popped down Friday, there was one waiting for me. It cost a grand total of £8 from B&M. 
I'd been considering it... for if I end up working full time - which, TBH, I hope to avoid! As such, I probably won't make a lot of use of it, although it wouldn't do any harm to start looking at recipes to see what I could use it for. 
Side note: the size of the slow cooker is just right for storing on my kitchen window cill. That's therefore the ideal size for any other gadgets! 
On saucepan lids, yes, better than without. I previously only had pans without but bought a set last year with. Much better - not just for the reason you give; although they have a hole to vent some steam, most of it recondenses on the inside of the lid. Result? Less water loss from the pan if on for a while. (Which reminds me... Another item for my shopping list when I'm working again... A steamer.) 
Gavin Wraith, 6th March 2022, 10:43
Yes 'crocus' is from Latin, but the Romans got it from Greek. But they could not decide whether it was masculine 'crocus' or neuter 'crocum'. So the plural was either 'croci' or 'croca', says my very battered abridged Latin Dictionary for Schools (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1889).
Rick, 6th March 2022, 12:40
Ah, a slow cooker. Great for tossing cheap beef and chopped veg into. 
I have a small one (two person size?) and somewhere around mom got a family sized one (it's huge, too big). 
These days I need neither. It's something else the multicooker can do (refer to 13th February). ;) 
One appliance, many uses! Even made a cake with it (21st February)...
David Pilling, 6th March 2022, 17:18
Croci is what the gardeners say. 
When Covid came on the horizon I seriously considered buying a years supply of dried goods and going to the wilderness. 
Would have been a disappointment. Water *is* a problem. 
Anyway Putin is sane, only tactics to say "I'm mad me, Donald Trump's act. 
"I'm gonna nuke you", click bait, sort of thing the press like to write to get clicks. 
RSS seems long gone. For me to say to people, well if you can't handle email follow developments using RSS - think I am mad. 
David Pilling, 6th March 2022, 19:01
All that grass, wheat is basically grass, plough it up, plant wheat. Certain profit and/or you'll want to eat it.
Rick, 6th March 2022, 19:13
Unfortunately I had to go to work and be surrounded by potential plague zombies, otherwise I might well have stocked up and stayed home as much as possible.
Rick, 6th March 2022, 19:14
These days blogs are long gone. You're supposed to spew random comments on the social media platform of choice, which these days seems to be creating thirty seconds of stupid on TikTok whilst begging people to throw you cash via Patreon. 
My social media? Here, mostly. From time to time on the forum. 
I'm old school. I write my own markup. The place isn't festooned with adverts for things you've already purchased, and the drivel you read here comes directly from the dark recesses of my mind and isn't algorithmically filtered to provide you with endless amounts of confirmation bias. No Russians involved either, not fat brown envelopes from whatever far right party hates the world this week. And last but not least I don't make billions from other people's contributions and then avoid paying a morally acceptable amount of tax on it. 
Social media platforms? 🖕 that.
David Pilling, 7th March 2022, 19:35
Zombies due to the work on the go nature of their calling are the only ones who can flee a Zombie apocalypse. 
Hey Rick do you ever look at your analytics and let them influence what you blog. That's the worry about the modern media, just playing up all the time to what gets the clicks, and not representing reality. Even worse they may have "AI" directing what they produce. 
When I were a lad, "AI" was a talking robot. Now it is doing a least squares fit on some data points. 
Rick, 7th March 2022, 20:28
What analytics? There's none of that tracking 💩 around here. 
I suppose I could read the server log, but my god, I'd rather go out and rake bramble stalks out of the ground I turned than stare at how many times Yandex visited... 
There are five things that trigger what I write about: 
1, current events 
2, something mentioned on the forum 
3, something mentioned here in the comments or in an email 
4, whatever I happen to be doing 
5, whatever other random stuff passes though my mind 
It's not done for money (ha ha) or popularity (ha ha ha) or getting clicks (uh, why?). It's just my way of communicating. I don't like speaking or, let's be honest, interacting. It's the way of the introvert. 😀 
If you have ideas of something you'd like to see talked about here, feel free to leave a comment. But keep it realistic - no asking me to describe my vibrant sex life, I'm not Antonio Banderas (twenty years ago)!
David Pilling, 8th March 2022, 15:46
There's implicit "analytics" - which posts get most comments, or other feedback. I find it gratifying when I get emails about things I have posted on my wiki.  
I do have Google analytics. 
But I don't sit down and think "what is popular, I'll do more of that" - because I am driven by what I have to hand and what interests me. 
Down on the n'th page of Google things are tough - stuff is just not ever seen by anyone. You may have one item on page one, but Google does not then promote all your stuff. 
Rick, I am happy with the balance of topics you cover. I pick up interesting bits from time to time. 
David Pilling, 9th March 2022, 00:16
"The mantle is partially broken" - forgot to say old style gas mantles are the most radioactive thing you will come across - well except... An interesting point is that luminous dials continue to be radioactive after the element that makes them visible has deteriorated.

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