Wednesday, 20 January 2021


 I recently serviced my sports car. It uses a very particular (and somewhat historic) grade of oil: 5W30 fully synthetic ACEA grade A5/B5. It's not wildly expensive, but it's hard to find. It burns through oil quite quickly if you substitute the more modern and easy to find C3 grade. I thought that I would save future-me some money and some trouble by buying a 20l barrel of the stuff. I tried to decant 5l into an old oil can and failed. The barrel is unwieldy and quite heavy, and it's mouth is large. When I tipped it over I got one large "glug". Most of it missed the funnel, and I got so much on my jeans that it soaked through to the long underwear that I was wearing.

I went out and bough the cheapest and crappiest pump to fit in the top of the barrel, which will be amortised over the next 5 old changes. The next oil change will be easy but I haven't saved myself a penny.

Yes, I should have tried to syphon it out with a clean length of hosepipe. I didn't have anything suitable.

Richard "oily long johns" B

Monday, 11 January 2021

Port Tongs

 My port tongs are finished.

I agree that I could have done a better job on the profile of the handles, but I have no suitable power tools. It was done with a hacksaw and a bastard file. Any further improvements would require hours of filing.

The welding was done quickly and inexpensively by the wonderful Chris Millar and sons Ltd. They said that if I were happy with their work I should recommend them. I do. To help you remember the name I'll leave this here: "Chris Millar - No! - We will not let you go (let him go). Chris Millar - will not let you go (let him go)".

It's hard to test the tongs and practice because each attempt involves a bottle of port that's good enough to have a thick walled neck and a driven cork.

These two videos show my partially successful first test

Richard "Colin Furzehatt" B

Monday, 4 January 2021

Brave New World (TV series review)

 This weekend I re-read "Brave New World" for the second or third time. I had recently watched the TV adaptation and I wanted to see how they compared. I first read the book as a schoolchild and saw it as a science fictions story full off incredible inventions and a different way of life. I read it later as a kind of companion to "1984" - here's one dystopian vision of the future, here's another. This time I think the book is about society, firstly how to control or engineer it, and more importantly about being excluded from it.

I seldom complain that an author expects too much of his reader, but in this case I felt a bit out of my depth. John the savage was taught to read, but the only things he had to read were what his mother could write, her employee handbook, and the complete works of Shakespear. His dialogue borrows heavily from Shakespear quotations, but as I don't know most of them I felt I was missing out. The four words "told by an idiot" did tip me off that he was quoting, but it also made me realise how few of the quotations I was probably spotting.

The TV adaptation did a fantastic job of bringing the world to life. Lenina, the fertilizing room, New London, ubiquitous helicopter travel, everything was better visualised than in my own mind. They made some changes to the world, but I didn’t mind them. The savages were white-trash Americans rather than American Indians. The world controller was a woman. A load of racial stuff had been removed.

Unfortunately the story had been butchered. They had added a load of unnecessary action and adventure to rescuing John the savage from the reservation. They had overcomplicated the riot. Instead of the rather dry discussion about keeping society in order, failed self rule, and sending free-thinkers to islands, they have added a load of pointless and confusing artificial intelligence and simulation theory elements.

My view is that the series was ruined, but that if it was about half as long and had just followed the source material it would have been a masterpiece.

Richard "The anime got ahead of the manga" B