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The peaceful way to write a blog

Following some comments by Jean-Michel, here's a little video of how I'm writing this - expanding upon the photo that you saw on Thursday.

Because I'm just using a word processor (Zap), with the display scaled for easier reading, I canmake do with my old Pi 1B. This, being a single core 700MHz device with only two USB ports and no WiFi/Bluetooth etc, uses a lot less power than the newer and more capable models. When I'm outside, battery life is important, so it's a tradeoff. Certainly, the machine is spending most of its time waiting for the dozy meatsack to prod keys, so whether it's running 700MHz or 1700MHz won't make the slightest bit of difference. I have gone from 71% to 26% and it has been running for about four hours now; which implies "about 11% per hour" with this battery, though obviously mileage may vary...

The battery is a 15,000mAh pack that I picked up in the sales of a local supermarket. And the display is that seven inch Uniroi panel. Easy to use (it has a casing and it accepts HDMI) and inexpensive.


The end of my holiday

As quite a number of muscles hurt after working in the garden at the start of the week, I decided to take it a little easier.
I'm already expecting chaos and catastrophe when I go back to work. I don't really want to confound that by feeling rotten.

So, on Thursday, I enjoyed the sun and wrote about the screen redraws and buffering/banking. This is because it is a topic that crops up from time to time, but I didn't really see any information on it. Certainly, nothing that would pertain to RISC OS. The "other" site (ROLtd) had an example, but it just let you switch banks as opposed to explaining why you would want to do such a thing.

Friday? I made a cake. Okay, this meant that I was inside in the kitchen a lot, but on the other hand I was able to have the front door and back door open to allow a breeze to pass through (much more than with the windows open). The kitchen was about 8°C, and after three hours of everything being open, it was about 12½°C. Quite an improvement.

I wasn't inside all day. While the cake was cooling, I washed Caoimhe. After, I sat outside to eat it (of course). Then played with Anna, watered the plants in pots and the recently sown grass (that, after a week and a half, is doing nothing)...

Today, I went shopping in the morning. Me and everybody else. I'm sitting outside now to write this. I have no specific plans for today. Just potter around, enjoy the weather.
Sure, there's work to do in the garden, but that never ends and it will never be finished, so aside from the regular mowing, I'll just do bits here and there. The ground has been turned for the onions and carrots, and prepared for the potatoes. These will be planted in a few weeks when it's less liable to freeze.
I bought a grape the other day. Special offer end of line, but it was growing.
Planted it at the end of the barbed wire fence by where I'm sitting.
The night before the heat arrived, the night temperatures plummetted. It read 1°C on the weather box, but the wind chill left a frost on the grass.
The growth has withered. Okay, it was most likely forced and might not have sprouted leaves this early naturally but still...
If it doesn't do anything this year, I'll cut it back and see what happens next year. And, yes, we're a little too north for reliable grape harvests. The nearest is the vignoble nantais around the area of Vallet/Clisson. Perhaps you're seeing a theme here? ☺


No anti-preggie pills for Anna

I stopped by the vet this morning, looking for... I think it was called maggicat? Basically pills to stop her having heats. I'd like to let her out a little bit more often, but not when she's going to be attracting the attention of every male cat in the vicinity.
Also, while she seems quite adept at catching the lizards, my little furry manic murder machine just tortures them to death. She does not seem to understand that they are edible.
Ditto mice. In her entire life, she has caught one mouse. That she sat down and bashed on the head repeatedly until Wawa put it out of its misery by eating it...while Anna sat nearby looking horrified at the idea of eating something that didn't come out of a pouch marked "Felix".

In short, Anna hasn't really sussed the whole "cat" thing, other then the part about attempting to slaughter anything that moves.

But, alas, the pills are only available with a prescription, and he doesn't want to write a prescription for a cat he's not seen. Fair enough, but it's a pain in the ass. He was also pushing me towards getting her sterilised, which is a better option (though terminally so), quoting me €126 for it. I would imagine that if I was to book her in, that figure would magically double because innoculations, chip, and a whole host of other things.

I do not want to pay to have my cat chipped. Cats roam. Anna might go other places, just as a furry white thing turns up here from time to time. They aren't like dogs, they don't respect boundaries or orders. They are... cats.
Furthermore, as happened with our first cat many years ago, if it should be shot by a hunter then there's a pretty good chance the hunter will collect the cat and dispose of it themselves. This isn't so much to save the owner from seeing their dead friend so much as it saves the hunter's arse. Cats don't look like wild boars, pheasants, deer, or rabbits. So shooting one would be a deliberate act. No cat, no bullet. No bullet, no ballistics. No ballistics, no evidence.
There is, I should point out, quite the argument raging between hunters and non-hunters in France, especially given their propensity for shooting before thinking, leading to stories of people being killed in their own gardens, hikers and ramblers having their faces blown off, and so forth.

So anybody who wonders why she is locked up when I'm not outside with her, that's why. Active outdoor cats (as opposed to the fat lazy type) don't tend to have a particularly long lifespan, whether it be hunters or vehicles or wildlife fighting back... and given that Anna is very much of the mentality of "charge!" without attempting to have a plan, she's better off out of trouble. It might be a great life, but it's life.

I'll give you one final example. Anna decided that she wanted to explore the loft. There is a gap between the wall and the roof structure that is easily large enough (the roof is lying on wooden battens and it is open under the eves). The problem? It's about three metres up at the front of the house (about two at the rear as that roof comes down lower).
Anna's solution? A running jump at the wall, attempting to scale it, making it about two metres, before falling off, taking too long to realise she was airborne, and only just managing to land on the legs of one side before rolling over and looking somewhere between stunned and annoyed.
Effort: A. Execution: F. Grace: Ungraded.


Mom was Nostradamus!

On Tuesday I got myself a 50 metre hose to be able to water the potato patch, which this year is going to be up along the entry way next to the stream.

The problem is that it was quite a thing to lug around, especially if there's still some water in the pipe. So I looked on Amazon for ideas, and one that came to mind was a little trolley sort of thing.

On Wednesday evening I took the old HP printer (not my current one, the ancient one that has a very old implementation of IPP) out to the shed. I dropped it down where I keep the old electronics that I am not yet ready to part with (you never know when ... might come in handy!) and...

Mom had left me something.

Here it is, a bit dusty but with the hose fitted.

Hose roll, with hose
Hose roll, with hose.

It was left there, all assembled, with this little note tucked into it.

A message from beyond?
A message from beyond?


If I had anything that resembled a functional emotional response, I'd have burst into tears.
Instead, I simply want to ask... how the f...?

What gives, that she died in September 2019 and wasn't really that functional for most of that year and a large chunk of the end of 2018, so what gives that she thought "I think Rick will need something to roll a hosepipe on, three years after I've gone"?
I can sort of understand her leaving a multicooker behind (well, two!) in order to try to tempt me to making food rather than copping out and microwaving something. But what the hell... a hosepipe roller?
Don't think that I'm not very grateful, it's exactly what I needed, but... my head hurts. It's not that I'm overthinking this, it's that I cannot think this.

Kind of makes me wonder what else is lurking around here that will make its presence known when it is required.


Copping out of cooking?

Yup. I do. A lot.

It's not that I don't like cooking, or that I suck at it, though both are true. The main problem stems from boarding school.

The juniors ate from 12.40pm until 1pm. The intermediates ate from 1pm to 1.20pm. The seniors ate from 1.20pm to 1.40pm but since they were last it didn't matter so long as they were done by 1.50pm when kitchen closed.

So as a junior, you had to leave your lesson (which ended at 12.40pm), run to be early in the queue, get served, sit down, and eat an entire meal in what time remained.
When eating time was up, the prefects would clear the room for the next group of students. Their method of clearing was to pick up trays, scape the food into a plastic bucket, then make you take the tray, cutlery, and plates to be washed.
Of course, being prefects, the order in which they did this was not the order of who was first to be served. No, the order was who they didn't like first. This, coupled with their queue management blatantly allowing those who they did like to jump the queue, often meant that if one wasn't part of some popular crowd, or "the weird kid" (guess my category), between being served and having the tray yanked could be as little as eight minutes.

So I am a fast eater. I fully get that it happened three decades ago, but you know, sometimes habits formed in childhood stick around. I bet you all know a nutter that picks his nose and then looks admiringly at what he's pulled out. Granted, my habit is nowhere near as objectionable, but still...

I simply can't justify spending potentially hours in the kitchen for a meal that I'll finish in around ten minutes.

It used to bug mom when we went to that burger place. She would be finishing her chips, which she ate first as she doesn't like cold ones, and I'd be looking at the menu wondering what else to get having finished everything and still not feeling full.


Don't forget the clocks change

Because the EU has failed us, so we still have to bugger around with the clock and adjusting our rhythms, twice a year.
It is coming up to 5pm as I write this. Tomorrow it'll be 6pm at the same time. Which means an extra hour of daylight and heat. Sweet.
But really, we should just stay like this from now on. We were going to, all across the EU, until they twiddled their thumbs and decided "uh, um, er, oh, uh".


Cherry buds

The apple that I call GC-161 is starting to unfurl. No flowers yet. The bramley is also alive, but a little further behind. Will it flower this year?
This morning the oaks had a sort of red glow around them (the buds), which is now becoming a green glow. Leaves are on the way.

The hybrid cherry out front?

The cherry out front
The cherry out front.

Soon, soon. That and the Sakura cherry.

I wrote about this on the 4th of April last year, which is nine days from now. I think we might be slightly ahead this year, but late compared to 2020 when the cherry blossom was out by the 22nd - of course we know the heatwave that followed - assuming you could benefit from it, given all the lockdowns.

The first swallow arrived here on the 30th last year, so I'll have to keep an eye out for them.


I'm done

Time to copy this article onto the FAT part of the SD card (not the FileCore part), pop it into a card reader attached to my phone, to then upload via 4G.
I really ought to get a second Vonets so I can do it directly from RISC OS, using my phone as a hotspot.
Maybe next month...?

Now to shut the windows before the nasty bugs (the ones with teeth) arrive, and water the flowers.



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Zerosquare, 26th March 2022, 18:36
Both the "can't write a prescription for a pet they've not seen" and the "your pet should be chipped" have been legally required in France for a few years. So your vet is not to blame for that. 
And 8 minutes to eat your meal? That's awful. If anybody tried to implement that in France, there'd be riots!
Rick, 26th March 2022, 20:12
I'm not saying the vet is wrong, it's just a douleur au fesse given all the extra stuff that involves. 
Still don't get why cats need chipped, though. 
Yeah, I've been to a French meal. Started at 13h. About forty five minutes before everybody turned up. Then twenty minutes talking and smoking. Then first course, that took about half an hour to actually serve. Then more smoking and talking. The main course came out as if it was being made strictly one after the other. 
Very long story short, it was a work do. It started at 13h and finished (for me) around four hours later. Others hung around for more cigarettes washed down by whatever red hadn't yet been drunk, coffee, and what looked like cheese several years beyond its use by date... 
You have NO idea how bored I was, not smoking, not knowing if I was supposed to wait before starting (it's rude otherwise, isn't it?) and eating it in minutes to then daydream for about three quarters of an hour while everybody else talked about... I think it was something on TV about a bunch of people in a villa down south that were always involved in some drama or other. 
Rick, 26th March 2022, 20:13
Ah, just Googled a few words I remembered - I think it was "Plus belle la vie".
J.G.Harston, 26th March 2022, 20:34
I'm a fast eater as well, and again from school. Every minute taken eating food was a minute I couldn't spend in the computer room, so wolf down, dash off to the Beebs.
Rob, 1st April 2022, 10:49
Chips in cats. We got ours done through Cats Protection offers - either free or £5 depending on what offer is running at the time. 
One cat went missing. December 13th 2020. We did all the usual - posters, websites, even Facebook. Had a couple of sightings at the other end of the estate, but he was not to be seen when we got there. 
December 3rd, 2021, almost a year later, we get a call from a vets *9 miles* away. Family had been looking after "a stray" and decided they were going to get him chipped, after law change over here. Vet scanned him as a matter of course, and found our chip already there. Looked it up, and phoned us. 
Cat was confused, but soon glad to be home, fell into all his old habits. Sits and stares at me for hours! 
Of course, if the people who found him had had the sense to get him checked for a chip in the first place.. Sigh..

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