Thursday 8 February 2024

Henry Porter and the Wizard's Rock

 I don't know very much about the Harry Potter cannon (I'll be Link if you are Gannon) but there are a couple of things I'd like to share with you.

Firstly: In the same way that adding "in bed" to the end of a fortune cookie message often makes it funnier, the title of pretty much every scientific paper is improved by adding "Harry Potter and the".
Harry Potter and the Structure of Deoxyribonucleic Acid
Harry Potter and the Computability of Numbers
Harry Potter and the Unskilled and Unaware of it: How Difficulties in Recognizing one's own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-assessments

Secondly: The sorting hat.

If I remember correctly each of the children are sorted in to one of a few houses when they start their magical studies. To start with this seems like a wonderful and fantastical invention by the author, but it happens in real life too. It doesn't happen to absolutely everybody, it's more men than women, and it happens at a later age, but it's the same. Something intrinsic about your character identifies you with your house. There's some degree of family lineage which might affect which house you're in. Each house has its own culture and heritage. Once you're part of a house, you can never possibly change.

I know you're sceptical, and you can't remember being sorted, but you will when you see the names of the houses:

De Walt. Makita. Ryobi. Bosch. Milwaukee.

Richard "De Walt" B

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Problem Neighbour

 I have been burning hedge trimmings in a garden incinerator. I thought it was too difficult to light and burned too slowly so I modified it. There's now a hairdryer blowing fresh air in to the bottom like a blast furnace. This is what it looks like in oepration.

It was a qualified success, but I had to turn the hairdryer off shortly after this photo was taken because the incinerator was glowing red.

Richard "Max Power" B

Tuesday 9 January 2024

Cheese plane

 I have a couple of unusual phobias. Door handles and cheesegraters. These aren't crippling anxiety inducing phobias, I'm just slightly more wary of these things than most people. They're not irrational either, I nearly broke my wrist when it got stuck behind a door handle, and I once cut then ends of my fingers on the grater while grating cheese.

One of my brothers used to live in the Netherlands and gave me a cheese slicer from there (he either thought I would find it interesting, or that it would be a safe alternative to a box grater). It's a bit like a smoothing plane, but the sole is short and wide, and the tote is before the throat (like a German plane). I have found this contraption singularly useless. The cheese crumbles rather than slices, and it binds up on the sole.

At the weekend I had a bona fide Dutchman in the house, and by coincidence the cheeseboard I put on the table included gouda – which is a Dutch cheese. "What you need is a cheese slicer" he said and I was able to find the one which has been cluttering up my kitchen drawers for the last 15 years. On the hard, solid and slightly waxy gouda the slicer worked like a charm – effortlessly producing thin uniform slices of cheese. I now think it's rather excellent, but not compatible with cheddar.

Richard "Grchghouda" B

The Bleaken

 In the run up to Christmas I was disappointed to see how many people in the shops were in a bad mood. Everybody is trying to live up to an impossible ideal of Christmas day and it causes a lot of stress. I've since been told that this is very common and that if you work in retail you're most likely to get shouted at or mistreated in the run up to Christmas.

I have to admit that I must have been one of those disgruntled shoppers because I started to find myself very critical of the rest of the general public with their miserable faces and short tempers.

On Christmas day itself I was walking to the pub with my sister and her husband and we were discussing Christmas stress and people being in a bad mood. A young woman stamped her way from her car to the front door and shouted "HOW THE F!*£ IS IT MY PROBLEM THAT..." and then slammed the door behind herself. I've thought about it many times, and I'd love to know what problem she'd got caught up in. I think it would be rude to go to a stranger's house and ask then if they could remember what they were arguing about on Christmas day.

Richard "that the mince pies are made with suet" B

Monday 18 December 2023

Slippery When Wet

 Motorists using roundabouts are too impatient. A couple of years ago my sportscar shed its luggage on a roundabout and a lot of it got run over before I could retrieve it. A couple of weeks ago I slipped off my motorbike on a wet roundabout. The second that I had picked myself up and started pushing the bike towards the kerb people started using the roundabout again, paying no heed to my top-box, the bits of my mirrors that were left behind, or the items which had fallen out of my pocket.

It was the classic low-side and it happened at a nice low speed. I was dressed very defensively and I was pretty much uninjured. I took most of the impact on my right hand and right hip, but somehow managed to bang up both elbows!

Richard "leathers" B

Tuesday 12 December 2023

Fridge Magnets

 In my old house I sort of collected fridge magnets. In my new house there is nowhere to stick them. The fridge-freezer is concealed and everything is made from wood, plastic or stainless steel. I have found one small place on each oven that will support a magnet so I have picked two which are dear to me for the kitchen and left the rest on steel shelving in the workshop.

I chose the Osborne Bull (from a holiday to Spain) and the Legendary Cock of Barcelos (from Portugal). Sadly they fit in so well with the d├ęcor that it looks more like one oven is specifically for meat and the other for poultry.

Richard "magnetic attraction" B