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Yet more heat

The heat is back. Not quite as ridiculous as before, but it's low-mid 30s which is hot enough. Yesterday was tolerable, I sat outside again wasting time with my phone and the internet and/or reading Paper Girls. But it's a hard book to read in a reclining chair because of the size.
Yeah, I know, first world problems. ☺

I'm staying inside today. Didn't feel too great at the end of yesterday, and today - ugh - the wind has started hot so there's no respite outside. So best to stay in.

I have, however, rigged up a little something to help.

I'm going to have to tear it down this evening. A few days of open well water without chlorine, it'll start getting a bit... iffy. But, it's been a pleasant way to cool down. Just go sit in that for a few minutes. And having a wet t-shirt afterwards, also useful against the heat.

It is supposed to be 26°C with thunderstorms tomorrow. If the storms have cleared by mid afternoon, I might go for a whizz with the mower. I've avoided using any engines at the moment as everything is so dry. If the blades hit a stone, sparks. Not a great idea right now.
There's not actually much to mow. Most of the grass looks dead. The only things growing are some clunky looking white lace-like flowers, and something that resembles miniature thistle.

So, it's halfway through my first week and I have... relaxed. But effectively done nothing. Hmm...

 

Shrinkflation

As part of the whole "sitting on my arse getting fat" routine, I grabbed one of each Twix - the regular ones, and a pack of the much pricier white chocolate ones. For some reason I held them end-on. Perhaps so they wouldn't go melty?

That's when I realised... the white ones were actually shorter. Okay, granted, on the pack it does say that it's 2×23g rather than 2×25g, but without actually looking you might think that they're the same.

Twix sizes
Twix sizes.

The sizes are consistent. A regular Twix is about 95mm long. Divide 95 by 25, that gives 3.8 which is millimetres per gram. Multiply by 23, you get 87.4 which is more or less the size of a white Twix. Yup, nearly a centimetre shorter.

But that's not all. Just for the fun of it, I decided to weigh the ones that I had (or rather, the ones that I had not yet eaten). I'm not sure how much the wrapping weighed, but I guessed a gram. I've not actually weighed it.
Either way, 51g (or more) for the regular Twix is acceptable. 47g (or more) for the white Twix likewise.
The weird little 'e' next to the weight means that it is an "estimate". This is derived from either measuring a sample from a batch, or by measuring a bunch of them and dividing. At any rate, it indicated that the bars are not individually weighed. Instead, it's a representative weight.
Legally, I think the tolerance can be something in the order of +/- 8 or 9%. Which is, actually, quite a bit.

I had nine bars. Only three measured as acceptable. All of the rest were underweight, with two of the white ones being notably underweight (44g including wrapper).
Not a single one was overweight.
Funny, that.

Twix weight
Twix weight, left (3) good, right (6) bad.

 

Washing

As I'm writing this, the washing machine is running. I now have a laundry basket in my room piled up with clean clothes, as my Friday evening wash of my work clothes doesn't fill the machine, so I tend to rummage for "other stuff" to throw in.

It makes such a huge change to before when it was handwashed. Everything is very very well washed, although the machine can damage things. I have to be careful about washing anything with a zipper as the zipper can cause damage even when zipped up). It's just so much better than it ever could be by handwashing, and it's pretty much a case of "chuck it in, come back an hour later".
Plus, having a spin (even if "only" 500rpm) means that things are much drier coming out of the machine, so will take less time to dry. This isn't a big deal when it's thirty outside, but it can make a huge difference in the colder months.

But, then, automation is like that. The reason I persist with a half-dead comically wonky mower is because it can do everything in around two and a half to three hours. With the push mower, we're measuring in weeks, not hours.
And that crapped out rotavator that probably predates me? It's still running and it can turn the ground in a way that I'm just not strong enough to manage, in a fraction of the time it would have taken me.

So it's good to have a working washing machine.

Inside the washing machine
Inside the washing machine.

 

Swallowtail caterpillar

The Woodland Trust says They are only found in the Norfolk Broads, as this is the only place milk parsley grows.

Yup. We have plenty of this, and the larger one that is often mistaken for hemlock, though as I appear to have some sort of allergic reaction to it, maybe it is hemlock? Nasty stuff, anyway. I hack it down as soon as I see it.

Anyway, Hannah (the article editor), let me tell you... they are pretty fond of carrots. Which probably shouldn't be a great surprise. Milk parsley is an Umbelliferae (also known as Apiaceae, which seems to me like blatant abuse of vowels). Parsley, including the wild ones, cumin, coriander... and of course carrot. They're all related. And interestingly, quite a number of the species are phototoxic or just plain old drop-dead poisonous. And carrots.

That said, the green that can appear on potato is quite toxic as well, given it's a member of the Solanaceae family along with tomatoes, eggplant, chili pepper, deadly nightshade, mandrake, tobacco...

So, yeah. It's pretty weird to think that the generic carrot, a staple ingredient of beef stew since people made stews, is related to that nasty crap in the garden that makes your skin explode. And the spud, without which fast food would be unimaginably different (seriously, can you imagine a world without chips?) is related to belladonna?
That name, by the way, is Italian for "pretty lady". Back in the 15th-16th centuries (the Renaissance), a certain type of lady used to use drops from the berries in their eyes to cause them to dilate, making them seem so much more attractive.
So, yup. To catch a good guy, they used to drop poison into their eyes. Sucks to be a girl, doesn't it?

Back to the caterpillar. Here it is in all it's glory.

Swallowtail caterpillar
Swallowtail caterpillar.

I've probably been watching too much animé, but I find it easier to think of this as being about twenty metres high, slowly lumbering through the countryside eating trees or any other wood that looks tasty (including buildings).

 

Rees-Mogg was wrong, and the folly of Brexit

Long political rant follows. If that's not your cup of Tetley, go read XKCD.

In an article in The Guardian, the Minister for Desperately Trying To Make Brexit Not Seem Like A Total Cockup has admitted that he was wrong to say that there would be no delays at Dover caused by the UK leaving the EU.

Astonishingly, back in 2018, and showing a complete lack of understanding of what leaving the EU would actually mean, Rees-Mogg insisted "there will be no need for checks at Dover" [...] "the delays will not be at Dover, they will be at Calais".

And, of course, he blamed the French.

Now, there is a rather unusual quirk here in that the immigration into France (and thus the EU) takes place in Dover, in the UK. And the immigration into the UK takes place in Calais.

So far, it's not been particularly bad at Calais because the British have more or less waved a lot of things through. British businesses complain because the EU rules are stringent and the UK rules are barely applied. They, like much of the rest of the people, blame the EU. The actual issue here isn't the UK rules are somehow lacking, it's that they just aren't really applied that much.
Because if they were, your supermarket shelves would be a hell of a lot emptier.

From the point of view of France, they had x employees doing n amounts of paperwork. Now, thanks to Brexit, that paperwork is n to the power of a large number. Perhaps also in some cases rather specialised. If you've ever tried to send a parcel overseas and got caught up with the "what the hell item code is this?" then you'll understand. There isn't an item for, say, a Marks and Spencer cardigan. It's a textile. But what's it made of? What percentage of wool? Synthetic? Blah blah, the list is long and ridiculous and it probably takes trained experts to correctly fill out the paperwork. Hell, I received not so long ago from the UK a box of decaf Tetley tea that had entirely the wrong type code (thought it was medicinal petroleum jelly).
So, yes. France needs to employ more people to help ease things. But, you know, out of what budget?

But, now here's the corker. While blaming the French, Rees-Mogg actually said "The point I was making was that the only delays would be caused by the French if they decided not to allow British people to pass through freely. They have decided to do that".

Please take a moment to think about that.

Britain voted for and implemented Brexit, the leaving of the European Union and the ending of the rights for the four freedoms fundamental to the concept of the EU, which includes the right to freedom of movement... and this complete twat is complaining that France is actually implementing "the democratic will of the people"?

No, Mogg, British people do not pass freely. Just like Europeans do not enter the UK freely. This is what Brexit means.

To further top the round of stupid, Rees-Mogg then suggested "going to Portugal is more fun because the Portuguese want us to go and the French are being difficult".
Well, Portugal is an EU country. Britain is not. So the only reason there aren't loads of problems in Portugal is because the volume of people who go is vastly less than those who cross at Dover.
Trust me, if the numbers were the same...
Plus, it might have slipped Rees-Mogg's mind, but there are actually rules regarding entry into the EU of non-EU people. For the Schengen area, you cannot... let me put that in bold, you cannot spend more than 90 days in any 180 day period within the entirety of the Schengen area. Once you have used up your 90 days, you have to stay out until the 180 day period expires. So if you spend 40 days in France and 40 days in Germany, that means you only get 10 in Portugal. Then you must stay away for 90 days, or however long it is until that 180 day period expires.

Each country has its own rules for overstay, typically it's a fine and then a notice to leave, and you may be requested to leave immediately. Overstay will be noted on your passport and this could complicate future entry. And this is just for tourists. British citizens no longer have the automatic right to work in the EU now, so being caught "working" (paid or not) will result in a much larger fine, potential imprisonment otherwise immediate deportation, and a possible ban from ever reentering the country (which will affect future travel into the EU).

Furthermore, the EU currently grants British citizens a short stay visa in order that they can make use of the 90/180 day rule mentioned above. Just like with the United States, the visa does not guarantee entry. Border guards are entitled to ask you for proof of support, where you are going, how long you plan to be there, and why you are entering. They can refuse you entry.

Whether France in Dover, or Portugal in whatever airport you land, it's the same non-EU lane checking for the same reasons. Y'all are now third-country citizens, who will be scrutinised and interrogated, not simply waved through.
This is how it is.
This is what you voted for.

 

Oh, and next summer? The EU is introducing biometric face recognition and fingerprinting under the new EES (Entry Exit System) which will electronically replace passport checks and stamping.
Not only that, but also next summer will be the introduction of the ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) which will be filled out on-line, cost around €7, and be valid for three years from the date of entry (but you will still be subject to the 90/180 rule).

Both are enhanced immigration systems more in line with the American immigration system. Both will apply to most of the EU and certainly the Schengen area. Both will be required by British citizens as of next year.
Neither are the fault of France.

 

None of this should be a surprise, however. Brexit was based on what was, to put it simply, complete bollocks.

More dynamism? What does that even mean? It's like "working for a young and dynamic team" in a job advert (usual translation: we're so horrible that it's a revolving door so don't waste your time learning anyone's name).

Greater wealth? Maybe, if you're rich. For the average Steve, well, watch how your money buys less and less. Hell, even the French are noticing that the Brits are going on strike now.

Less regulation? Kiss goodbye to your worker's rights. In fact, watch the Tories piss over most of the rights you thought you had, replacing them with something that has lots of nice sounding words but really means "we can do what we want".

Less immigration? Perhaps less of those who are useful seasonal employees. Now you get boatloads of refugees, and no, the "stop at the first friendly country" no longer applies, which means it's an even bigger free-for-all than before.

Less EU? Clearly that's not necessarily a good thing. Imports and exports are now a lot more difficult. Going to Europe on holiday is more difficult. Going there to retire? Damn difficult. The government's general answer to these sorts of things? We'll make the people happy by changing the passport colour and bringing back obsolete measurements based upon complicated number systems (to further set you aside).
Why stop there? Why not get rid of this stupid new-fangled money and bring back groats and farthings and florins. Just think of the fun foreigners will have when confronted with a price tag that says £1/1/-.

More freedom? Depends upon whose freedom you mean. The government certainly seems to be enjoying a lot of freedom, defined as "we can do what we like and you can't stop us". This is not a good thing.

Oh, and the general idea was that everybody would be beating a path to the UK to cut all sorts of epic deals. Go Global Britain!

Wait... put those pompoms down. The reality is that it's an island hanging off the edge of the continent of Europe that never quite got over not ruling the planet any more, that will happily talk endlessly about the Industrial Revolution and The War because, honestly, there isn't jack shit that successive Tory governments haven't either broken or sold off. It's necessary to trade on past glories because... well, I guess we could say it's pretty impressive that we had a 70th Jubilee.
But, really, the truth is that now, in 2022, there is no other country that thinks of itself as a major power that is as close to it's own dissolution as Britain is.

Britain's economic stability was badly shaken in 2008 when the world's finances went gonzo, which triggered a quiet social upheaval.
Then, in 2016, against all logic, the country voted to impose barriers with their largest trading partners and a part of itself.
The UK had a fairly good initial response to the Covid pandemic, which it then massively screwed up. And as if that wasn't enough, all those holes shot in all those feet mean that inflation is a serious problem and the economy is in tatters. Johnson, when he leaves, will leave a catastrophe in his wake. So... Broken Britain, never looked more broken than it does right now.

But the worst problem is that all of these problems stem from what is perhaps best described as a spiritual upheaval. What does it mean to be British? Politics (left or right) is incredibly polarised these days. EU or Brexit has rammed a schism through communities and families alike, the consequences of this continue to cause issues day by day so, no, there's going to be no kiss and make up. Those quiet social problems mean a lot of people despise the so-called "elite", while the actual wealthy (the real elite) are telling them who to hate. The gap between the rich and poor is insulting. The fact that zero hour contracts and delivery drivers paid per parcel are actually legal and used, is insulting.
The people, and by extension the country, is facing an existential crisis. And it's being led by a bunch of chancers who think that tossing even more worker's rights on the bonfire under the guise of "EU bad" is going to make things better. Better for them, perhaps. Better for their rich mates running companies that will be able to treat employees even worse than before, perhaps. Better for you? Not a choclate bar's chance in hell.

They'll keep on at it, making things better for their sponsors/donors and generally worse for you, all the while telling you it's a nasty EU thing and you didn't want it anyway.
But ask yourself this. If Rees-Mogg was wrong about that (even if he can't overlook the opportunity to bash the French), what else was he wrong about.

Several years ago, I think in response to "Brexitboy" or somesuch, I asked for tangible and real examples of good things that Brexit has done. Things good enough to make the downsides worthwhile.

I'm still waiting.

 

 

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Rob, 3rd August 2022, 22:43
If it wasn't for my family, I'd be seriously trying to dig up proof of my Irish heritage, and emigrate. I used to be proud of being British, especially compared to the guns-and-money-rule of the US, but we're fast destroying everything that I was proud of, and I am really quite fearful of what sort of country my kids will inherit. 
 
I didn't vote for Brexit. I actually read properly referenced research and scholarly articles, rather than the clickbait shit, and decided it was not a good idea. Personally, I'd much rather have had *more* integration with the EU. But now we're stuck with being a pariah and I watch the economy collapsing into chaos and despair of it all.
Rick, 4th August 2022, 00:29
Actually, Rob, thanks to the CTA (that this shambles of a government has not yet broken) you have the right to move to Ireland, and access healthcare plus education for children etc. 
https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/government_in_ireland/ ireland_and_the_uk/residence_rules_UK_citizens.html 
 
I understand that it is a lovely country but a little pricier than the UK. 
 
Moving to Ireland was my "backup" if things went to hell and a crash out Brexit happened (though it was never more than a vague plan as I didn't imagine the EU would tell three million people to get lost). 
Certainly, if I should ever leave France (not a plan) then I'll be very inclined to go to Ireland. 
Go to England? Over my dead body! 
 
I have many fond memories of growing up in the 80s, and working in nursing homes with an odd but friendly assortment of people. 
 
I have great difficulty in reconciling my memories with what I see happening in the country these days. 
 
But, anyway, if you're serious, the CTA is a thing. You can wander off to a little cottage in Galway, and let me tell you, you might miss the convenience of popping down to a shop whenever, but you won't miss the brick and concrete jungle. 
The other week when I was driving to that vide grenier (yikes, 1st May!) I actually pulled over twice *just* to admire the scenery. 
There may be nothing here except 🌽 and 🌾 and 🐄 with a few 🐖 and 🚜, but it's pretty. I don't ever want to have the mentality of opening the door and thinking "meh". Meh is Aldershot. That was a very meh place. 
Here? Let's just say that, with the exception of childhood, I don't think mom ever managed more than ten years in one place. 
Here? She made seventeen and had no intention of leaving. The way of life is quite different in a rural place, but that's not a bad thing. Well, unless you need a dentist. Not so many of those around. But otherwise, it's calm, it's peaceful, it's... that feeling you get just as you pour boiling water over a fresh tea bag, you know? That "aaaahhhhhh" feeling. 

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