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Slow internet

My internet is currently running at 2.1mbit (normal is around 3.7). I think this is either because on Thursday and Friday I unplugged everything when I went to work because of a risk of thunderstorms and the exchange misinterpreted it as a line fault or there was an actual problem that has been resolved and we've all been reset to the "working defaults".
When the line was fixed after the farmer broke it, my ADSL sat around 2mbit for about a week until the exchange decided it could bump it up to something better.

While Netflix and Prime Video both work, I was talking to a friend in the UK (helping him with his satellite dish) and the line cut out twice.
So I ran some on-line diagnostics and it told me that my WiFi was not good. Well, I know that. It's a metre thick wall. But it reported nothing about the line issues.

So I called 3900 and spoke to a very nice woman (even if she did keep calling me Madame - does it still say that from when mom was the contract holder?) who explained that something was done to the line which resulted in the DLM being reset (don't tell me they screwed up the line when putting up the fibre...!). She has twiddled a few things on her side and asked that I reboot the Livebox and then wait 48h for the DLM to perform its analysis. Not sure what that means with respect to the cutting out, maybe it's simply giving up at certain points rather than an actual disconnection? Currently 2.1mbit (and 0.6 up).
I am currently playing Antenne Symphonic Rock and for the moment it is mostly okay. A little glitchy from time to time, but sometimes that happens even when the line is good...

Later: Okay, it completely dropped out during "Live or Die" which is Apocalyptica and Joakim Brodén, and came back with 2.5mbit (and 0.8 upload) and a noise margin of 8.4dB. See? Even the frigging Internet rocks to the bloke from Sabaton!

Anyway, she will be calling me back between 7pm and 8pm on Tuesday to see if things have improved. Fingers crossed.



Saw an announcement for one in Big Town for €80. Says it is "bon état", which I interpret to mean working.
I have asked if the person is able to deliver it.

I'm not expecting miracles. The usual price of these things is much more, even used ones.

Petrol rotovator
Petrol rotovator.

He replied to say he can deliver, but I should come and see it first. So I replied saying that was okay. Châteaubriant isn't close, but it isn't far either. So I asked how we should proceed. I've never actually bought anything on the site before. He said I should come and see it tomorrow afternoon. Waiting on a reply.


Tax declaration

It's that time of the year again.

The actual process of completing the tax form (online) is pretty simple. The complication is in going through a year's worth of timesheets to count up how many days I worked (228), and in trying to make sense of the result.

The company has declared to the tax man that my annual salary has come to €19,083. This correlates to the net taxable for the pay of November (which is actually paid in December so it's the last month to be counted).

The reason I needed to work out how many days I worked is because we can choose from either an automatic deduction of 10%, or something called "Frais réels". In my case, the distance driven over the days that I worked adds up to a little under 5,500km. This, when put through some torturous calculation with my car's rated power (the site does this for you), grants me a reducion of just under €2,000 (slightly more than 10%). This brings my declaration down to about €16,300.
So my global taxable revenue is that €16,300. Which according to the calculation means my tax burden is €606.
How that is worked out is €16,300 (my taxable) - €10,777 (the cut-off point) which gives €5,523 (the difference). The tax is then calculated as 11% of the difference, which is the €606 given.

How is the discount calculated? Well, okay. As I'm a single person on a "modest income" (what a polite way to say it), I have a special allowance of €833.
So they take that €606 tax demand and then work out what 45.25% of it would be. €274 is the answer. That €274 is then subtracted from the €833 allowance, leading to a final discount figure of €559.

Which means my tax burden for 2022 is... €47.

Now the tax man has a rule. When collecting taxes, the amount to be paid must be at least €61.
Mine clearly isn't.

So my tax return says that my tax for the year is zero.

I wouldn't object to paying €47. Six hundred is a bit "OMFG" as that's like half a month's salary, but forty seven could easily be done on-line.
However, I guess it is economies of scale. When you're dealing with declarations from tens of millions of people, not to mention companies and all sorts (the full tax form has a list of special case entities several screenfuls long - fishermen and former soldiers, for example), maybe below a certain limit it's simply not worth the effort and resources to collect?

Which is fine by me. ☺



I did the mowing yesterday. It was a bit of a rough cut as the grass was wet. It had been raining during the night and the grass wasn't dry. But it had to be done. Any more growing and the mower would struggle to deal with it at all.

The mowing
The mowing.

But even though Marte struggled, she powered on through it and after a few hours (and less petrol than I was expecting, I guess fiddling with the carb helped there), it was almost all done.

I say almost all because there was a patch with lots of buttercups that I left as there was no tall grass there.


I also left the part at the end of the driveway where the picnic table goes, which was scrawny unkempt grass, buttercups, and daisies. Why? Well, firstly it's pretty. And the insects like it. Which are both perfectly acceptable reasons.

It started to drizzle lightly by the time I had stripped apart the deck to clean it, and just after I got the mower into the barn and parked, it chucked it down. I got quite wet going between the barn door and the front door. If I had any brain, I'd have remembered that I left the back door open so could have gone through that way.
Oh well...


An old gas lantern

When I got my A5000 out the other day, I almost knocked this thing flying. I had no idea that I had it.

A Camping Gaz T206 lamp
A Camping Gaz T206 lamp.

It's quite a pleasing looking lamp, I like the curvy design of the glass surround. But it's rather disgusting. So time to strip it down and clean it up.

A stripped down gas lamp
A stripped down gas lamp.

I had to be really careful with the mantle. It's old enough it's quite possibly both asbestos and radioactive.

Why? Because I think this is the lamp that I got for when I was doing the Duke Of Edinburgh camping thing at school.
I didn't last long with that. Not after... how do I put this... I think the instructor was not particularly interested in camping, but more in harvesting the souls of vulnerable young boys with no immediate family to warn them of the lurking dangers.

Much better after a good clean
Much better after a good clean.

I put a gas cartridge in and... nothing. The injector is blocked. I'm not sure if it's years of gunk, spider damage, or corrosion. But no gas was going to flow. The injector itself was 7mm and I don't have a 7mm spanner, so I tried with pliers and part of it sheared off, like broken ceramic. I've never seen metal do that. What is it made of?


I went to Amazon and ordered a 7mm wrench and a set of 0.4mm pokey-things for cleaning injectors. I don't know if 0.4mm is too big or what. One way to find out. If the "006" means 0.6mm, then that's good, the rod will fit so I can poke around to try to unblock it.
I've also located a source for replacement injectors, but I'm not going to look at that until I know whether or not I can unscrew this one.

Looking online, my model T206 is an old one where the bottom is a nice bayonet fitting. The problem with this is that it only works when a gas cartridge is fitted. If there's no cartridge, there's nothing to keep the bottom in place.
It looks like the next iteration had flap down metal legs that clip over the sides of the gas cartridge. I can imagine this being easily knocked to destabilise the cartridge.
The current model (with a cost of €50!) looks like a crappy plastic screw-together arrangement. Meh.
I'm not going to buy a new one, I'm only looking as restoring this "because nostalgia". And because it's made it from 1988(ish) to today with the glass and mantle intact, which is a bit mind blowing.

If I really wanted another, I'd get another of the Lidl ones. Much cheaper and has a spark lighter built in.

One of the more impressive things was that I unscrewed the gas cartridge outside and quite a bit of gas came out as the rubber seal around the spike is stiff (can I WD40 it?) so didn't keep the seal as I unscrewed. But beyond a certain point the gas stopped coming out.
The cartridge wasn't empty.
There's some sort of plastic safety valve inside so a one-use cartridge can be removed and used in something else. That's actually kind of cool.

Gas cartridge safety seal
Gas cartridge safety seal.


One bullet is enough

A mass shooting in a mall in Texas. The 198th "mass shooting" this year (defined as >= four people injured or killed). It's also the most at this point in the year since 2016, which is a bit "WTF?".

So I think it's time to call out Ryan Schuring. I have no idea who he is, nor do I especially care. However, his responses... oh my.

Somebody says that comprehensive gun reform is needed, with a list of bullet points.
"Only after we ban people like you from being able to advocate for fascist policies."

"The #allenoutletmall shooting is a prime example of why you should learn how to operate a firearm and carry one to protect yourself and others."

And various other posts that say that carrying a lethal weapon is the solution.


I used to think that gun control would be the best way to deal with the problem. But I'm not sure. I think there are too many guns, and I'm starting to think that guns aren't the actual problem.
The problem is the mindset.

Think about it. American media has, for decades, glorified guns. Instant "justice" (by an exceedingly skewed definition of justice). In loads of movies and TV shows, the cops pull out their guns to shoot first and ask questions later.

Caruso making it look effortlessly cool.

David Caruso, NCIS Miama
David Caruso, NCIS Miama.

Back in time a little.

Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly, Cagney and Lacey
Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly, Cagney & Lacey.

Even in quiet Rome, Winsconsin where most troublesome thing that ever happened was the cry of "Douglas Wambaugh for the defense!".

Lauren Holly, Picket Fences
Lauren Holly, Picket Fences.

This is parodied in the short lived "Cop Rock" where the title song is called "Under the gun", and taken to it's illogical extreme in "Judge Dredd".

In short, a country with many inequalities, a bad medical system for those who don't have private medical cover (thus, diminished access to, say, psychotherapy), access to the sort of weaponry that civilians in supposedly first world countries should have no need for, the right for said civilians to walk around carrying weapons (sometimes quite openly), and endless TV content glamourising the idea of "shoot first" and... yeah... it's pretty obvious to see how that can go horribly wrong.

I don't know what the "solution" is. I'm not sure there is any "one solution fits all" as we have to trade off stopping bad people getting access to guns while at the same time permitting people to be able to have guns to protect themselves (at least, in the short term) as it's patently obvious that "getting rid of guns" will disproportionately affect regular civilians whilst not making much of a dent on criminals. To be honest it's like being in a sinking ship that's mostly underwater and trying to work out if a bucket or jug would be the best option. In reality, neither. It's the same with gun control. I think before anybody seriously thinks about restricting firearms (although, I will say that an immediate ban on military style rifles would be helpful as that seems to be the gun of choice for mass shootings), they first need to look at the question of mental health, access to help (across all socioeconomic categories), and most of all to begin with trying to understand the mentality of people who would intentionally slaughter young children. Having a beef with a teacher, okay, it's never a solution but I can understand the "it's personal". But what kind of monster points the gun at a six year old and squeezes the trigger?

To my mind, the problem isn't that America has too many guns.
The problem is that America has too many nutjobs with access to guns.

I feel that that is what should be looked at before looking at what to do about the guns.



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Rick, 7th May 2023, 19:41
After uploading this, I went to take a look at my rotovator. 
I stripped down the carb and checked it. Some weird arrangement with no float but some flat membrane that flaps - a floatless "pressure" carburetor, where the fuel is literally sucked into the engine by the piston during it's intake cycle. 
That didn't help with starting it, but checking the carb is always a good move as that's often where problems lie. 
Along the way, I noticed the spark was very weak (practically non-existent). So I took apart the big coil as best I could and shined up everything with sandpaper. I wasn't able to get to the contacts as they're mounted under the flywheel/fan/starter and I really didn't fancy taking all that apart. 
I cleaned up the spark plug and checked the HT cable. Not in great shape, looks like a mouse tried eating part of it, but no exposed wires and not near any metal part. 
With the coil and starter reassembled, the spark plug now gave out a hefty bright spark. A massive difference. 
I fitted the spark plug. One hefty tug of the starter cord and the engine roared into action. So despite all the other problems (the oil, the feeling of weak compression, the valves are likely way out of tolerance...), there's life in it yet. Yes! 
I flipped the throttle to the kill position as there's no silencer and it's Sunday, so we're not supposed to be making such blatant noise pollution as an unsilenced four stroke. Plus I wasn't wearing my noise cancelling headphones and... bloody hell! 
I'm still interested in the one on Le Bon Coin. If the guy gets back in touch with me, I'll go look. If it works (it's good of him to want me to see it first, so I'm sure he'll fire it up to show it works), then I'll definitely get it. The thing about mechanical garden equipment (rotovator, tractor mower, etc) is you don't realise quite how damn easy it makes hard work until you have to do the hard work! 
Manually, I've sort of turned about five square metres before thinking "screw this" and making myself a comfort tea. It's a complete back breaker. 
I'm also interested in a petrol rotovator because the electric one I've seen on Amazon... I'm not sure how well it would cope with my ground. It's claggy and hard. My current rotovator, once it had chewed a hole into the ground then marched forward munching it's way through everything in sight. I'm not sure that even a 1.5kW electric one would have the oomph. Plus, I watched a video of it in use (uploaded to Amazon - the guy was dragging it backwards, am I doing it wrong?) and it seems that it's semi-lethal like blades hooked to a washing machine motor running on spin cycle. There doesn't appear to be any speed control. It's either "off" or "fuuuuuuu....!!!!". 
Last year's potato patch had never been turned and two passes sorted that from solid ground. Would an electric psychobot be up to that? 
As for my current growing space, it's already been turned twice (early winter and early spring) but weeds are all over so I want to turn it again to prepare for sowing the beans. 
Jeff Doggett, 7th May 2023, 21:03
<Pedantic Mode on> 
Lower case m stands for "milli", so 2.1 milli bits really is *very* slow.
Rick, 7th May 2023, 21:36
Some days it feels every bit of those two *milli*bits. ;) 
Kind of hard to imagine the days when 14k4 was high speed (*). But, then, in those days it was ANSI screens and archive files and pictures in the hundreds of kilobytes... 
* - I remember V.23, and that's enough about that! 
Rick, 7th May 2023, 22:36
I'm currently synchronised at 4.02Mbit (0.86 up) but had no phone. 
I did a diagnostic test from the My Livebox app and it restarted the phone, so all looks good now. Let's see if it holds out. 🤞 
(my usual speed goes from 3.5-4.5, but typically is about 3.7)
David Pilling, 8th May 2023, 12:27
"After Allen shooting, Texas Republican leaders downplay guns, focus on mental health"

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