Never Feed Them After Midnight (Quick Links 111)

It’s been a fairly busy week. I’ve had a couple of appointments to attend with my Mum, and a couple of others for myself. Around that I’ve managed to fit in a haircut, pancakes and of course Valentines Day.

It’s interesting that Shrove Tuesday has become more of a culinary event than the start of Lent, and I’m not sure whether the fact that it is still observed in at least that way is good or not. An acquaintance of mine has decided to observe the period as plastic free, and is recording her adventures here. I admire her, but don’t envy the task. In my own way I’ve been trying to cut down on single use plastics in the home, and it’s not easy. Just too much comes ready packaged in plastic or you are encouraged to use a plastic bag or container of some kind.

We don’t go too mad for Valentines, exchanging just small gifts. For mine this year I received a book (see more below) and a glass hummingbird ornament. I’ve left the latter wrapped up for the time being as I don’t want to break it, and as yet I’m not sure where I can safely put it.

A couple of times this week I nearly wrote an extra post or two, but in the end didn’t and those thoughts ended up getting lost, so I think I might pick up the frequency again, if the mood takes me.


 

Work – I’ve been  finalising next weeks presentation, it sounds good in my head, and I hope it will turn out the same when I come to do it in real life!


Allotment – Sorry to sound like a stuck record here but the ground down there is still too wet to do very much.


Currently Reading – I’ve finished a couple of books this week that I started some time ago and put to one side for various reasons. Not quite sure why I did at the time because both were pretty good and one I really enjoyed. The first is “Spirits of Place” which is an anthology [GoodReads], and the second “Deep Country” by Neil Ansell [GoodReads].

The latter is the authors story of five years in an isolated off-grid cabin in the Welsh hills, and it is this book that really got under my skin. I’m not quite sure why it didn’t when i first started it, although I do remember it was when my Mum was having her knee replaced and I was reading it on the bus going to and from the hospital. I guess I just got too busy after that. However I did finish it this time, and found it rather magical, although the author didn’t hold back about how some of his time in the cabin was quite hard where he was effectively isolated from the rest of the world for long periods. The descriptions of the wildlife and the landscape were particularly captivating, and I was both happy to have finally finished it, although also a little sad.

I also received a copy of “Icebreaker” by Horatio Clare [GoodReads] as a Valentines gift, which I devoured in a couple of evenings (it’s only a short book, but very good). Again another magical book. I didn’t really appreciate the role of the icebreaking ships, but I certainly do now, and the author managed to capture his time on one icebreaker, and weave in stories of the crew and Finland throughout.


Furby Organ – We’ve got a few of these things around the house. I’m not tempted to make my own, but this guys done the job so we don’t have too. I would have liked it more if they had sung in unison and what have you, but it’s still an amazing bit of kit.


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Ant Man & The Wasp – I really enjoyed the first Ant Man movie, so I’m looking forward to watching the sequel too.


Troy: Fall of a City – I heard an interview with the writer of this when I was in the car the other day. I’m not sure how this will translate to screen but the writers knowledge of his subject alone really demand that this be brilliant. Fingers-crossed!


So that’s me out for this week – although if the mood takes me there might be something before next Sunday, who knows. Have a good week everyone.

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Nothing Much To See Here – Move Along (Quick Links 110)

This week seems to have flown by, but looking back I’m not quite sure what I’ve actually been doing. I know I’ve been busy with lots of little things, which I guess add up. I’ve had a couple of personal appointments as well as work things but that’s about it.


Work – A couple of meetings this week, I’ve got a presentation and a pitch coming up so I’ve been working on the presentations for both of those events.


Allotment – Still too wet to actually get on the plot again, so only a couple of quick visits just to check everything is okay.


Currently Reading – I finished reading “The Long Walk” by Stephen King or rather Richard Bachman [GoodReads]. I also caught up on the excellent “Injection” graphic novels as written by Warren Ellis [GoodReads].


I hear that Donald Trump wants a military parade. Here it is as portrayed in this New Yorker cartoon


Strike – looks like there’s a new series coming. If you haven’t watched it before the first two were really good, so hopefully this will continue. Worth watching.


I’ve been meaning to mention  The Aimless Walker for a couple of weeks. It’s walked & written by Joe Minihane who wrote “Floating” [GoodReads] which I read last year. I enjoy the simple premise.

I’ve been doing my own aimless walking too recently. I read an article about exploring you local area more, so I’ve been doing just that on my afternoon dog walks – trying to walk new routes each afternoon.


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]




I hope the week ahead  is good for you. See you next week.

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Sick Dog In The Nighttime (Quick Links 109)

Well after finally seeming to have shaken off my lurgy we’ve had a sick dog to start the week off. Monday night / Tuesday morning was the urgent rush to the garden with an upset stomach on two separate occasions. All is better now, but the lack of sleep was telling at the beginning of the week. I have had a couple of work related meetings this week (see below) and I’ve been doing a few other things.

I spent some time at my Mum’s – I went to just sit and have a cup of tea and a chat – and ended up having to make some repairs to broken glass in one of her greenhouses. The storms of the last couple of weeks had blown out a couple of panels. I had to make the repair temporary however as although I found some glass which was suitable for the repair (greenhouse glass is often thinner than regular window glass), it needed to be cut, and despite searching high and low in my Dad’s shed I couldn’t find a glass cutting tool. I’m sure that there’s one in there somewhere, but it eluded me. I did find an old fountain pen though which I bought home, cleaned and got working again. Not quite sure why that was in the shed, but then I’m not surprised.


Work – This week has been a continuation of the prep-work from last week. A couple of meetings that have seen some progression with a couple of related projects, and potentially another one either next week or the following week to pitch for some work. I don’t want to get my hopes up too much but this is progress in the right direction (I think).


Allotment – Still pretty wet out there at the moment so not much to report. The broad beans that I sowed a few weeks ago have now all germinated, so I’ll bring them along and plant them out when they’ve got a bit bigger.


Currently Reading – I’ve been reading “The Wrong Side of Goodbye” by Michael Connelly [GoodReads] this week.

I also started reading The Long Walk by Stephen King or rather Richard Bachman [GoodReads]. This was one of the books that was amongst the list [LINK] I mentioned last week as being unfamiliar. I haven’t read it before, but I did have a copy in an omnibus of Bachman books, which was in our attic. I bought it, plus Skeleton Crew and Firestarter down to read again.

I used to read a lot of Stephen King when I was about thirty years younger than I am now, and have kept most of them, although they are in boxes in the attic. I’m planning to maybe work my way back through them slowly again. Some real treasures up there that I purchased for a few pence each when ever I came across them, and some that my Mum spotted (Skeleton Crew – above – is a UK first edition that she found in a charity shop).


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]



Nigel the Gannet’s story is a little sad [LINK] one of those to make you go ah. It’s a sad tale no doubt, but you have to wonder why as the concrete decoys have been so unsuccessful they are still being used?


My diary is pretty empty for the week ahead, so if you’re looking for some help on an environmental project let me know.

Have a good week.

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Days of Wet Dog Walks (Quick Links 108)

Feeling better this week but not 100%, so I’ve been easing back gently. This virus has really knocked me for six, but I think I’m over the worst of it, although not pushing too hard.

Although it’s been a quiet week, I’ve been doing a couple of things for my Mum. I still have some odd jobs to do for her, but the weather hasn’t been co-operating so they’re waiting for drier  days.

We’ve had a couple of pretty stormy days and it seems that my coat barely has a chance to dry out from my morning dog walk to the one in the afternoon. They’re not really fans of the bad weather either, but I’ve never known them say know.


Work – Been a bit busier this week, although mostly this has been preparing for meetings that I have in this coming week.


Allotment – Total wash out with the weather  this week. I’ve been down a couple of times to check that nothing’s blown away in the strong winds we’ve had this week, and to harvest veg for dinner but that’s about it.


Currently Reading – My reading has slowed down again, as I’ve been a bit more active again this week. I have however read Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant [GoodReads] over the course of the  week and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not sure what will be up next as yet.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Do What You Say You Are Going To Do – Over the years this is something that I’ve said time and again to members of staff, friends, colleagues, people I’ve coached and to myself. If you say you are going to do something, actually do it. If for some reason you no longer can then let people know.

It would seem however that the UK government, within only a few weeks of promising to reduce plastic pollution as part of it’s 25 Year Environment Plan, is about to take a different course, and oppose new recycling targets [LINK]. Now of course these are EU targets and I can already hear all the Brexiteers saying that this is exactly what we should be doing – charting our own course, being masters of our own destiny etc. etc. – but seriously our recycling is already inadequate. The ability to recycle varies depending on where you live, particularly with kerbside collections, but the proposals for 65% of urban waste recycled by 2035 is achievable, but it requires better infrastructure, markets for materials and many things to make it a reality, and obviously this is more than just plastic recycling, but it feels that if the government is simply going to say it can’t support this, it  won’t actually be meaningful target set. It’s not going to wash saying that we’ll set a tougher target – if you were going to do that why don’t you sign up and exceed the EU proposal, that is after all something that you could boast about.


Is This The End Of Civilisation? We Could Take A Different Path – Interesting commentary by George Monbiot [LINK] and I look forward to reading what his proposals are. I am struck by just how selfish we have become as a race, and how governments across the globe seemingly driven by capitalism are continuing to take us down this route, rather than showing true leadership.


I enjoyed reading this  Twitter stream about Tokyo by @craigmod.


So YouTube have written to all of their “creators” – of which I am one – telling them that if they don’t reach new criteria for monetisation then the ability to monetise their videos will be removed [LINK]. I note that they don’t actually say that there won’t still be ads placed before or during their videos, just that they won’t be able to make any money from them. Now I do monetise most of my videos already, but I don’t receive any income from them because I don’t currently meet the criteria either (min. 500 subscribers). The new criteria (min. 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours/year), I won’t meet on subscribers numbers obviously but I do get the minimum watch hours (by quite some margin).

On the face of it, this makes little difference to me (unless I can magically find c.700 more subscribers before the cut off date of 20th February), but what annoys me is this is (allegedly) in response to some fairly high profile failings of YouTube in managing the creators who are making an income from less than savoury videos i.e. ones that don’t meet their eligibility criteria for monetisation. Some of these are creators who have massive followings and are able to make a living from their videos. These new criteria won’t actually affect them one bit.

So instead of properly enforcing their existing criteria YouTube are simply doing something for the sake of doing something and not actually tackling the problem. They claim that they have consulted creators like me in arriving at this decision, and whilst I can only say that I haven’t personally been contacted, if I had been I certainly wouldn’t have agreed to this sort of proposal. It would be a little bit like turkeys voting for Christmas.

Anyway as it won’t make any difference to me, I’ll still be making the occasional allotment video, which I will no longer be able to monetise, but as I’ve said above I suspect there will still be adverts placed on it. If there are then I will be moving to a different platform. The alternative is to try and reach 1000 subscribers by Feb 20th. If you fancy subscribing to me channel you can find it here.


This Stephen King Book List [LINK] is an interesting take. On such a large body of work it must be really difficult just to pick one or even a small selection. I’d add Firestarter and IT – I wonder if the latter wasn’t included simply because of the recent film release, but it is one I vividly remember reading long before it was a TV movie let alone a blockbuster.

I’m pleased to see Skeleton Crew on there though, my favourite collection of his short stories. There’s also a couple that I haven’t read (Revival and The Long Walk), so I might have to keep an eye out for those.


That’s the lot for now. If you’ve enjoyed this post please consider giving it a share on social media via one of the links below.

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Have a good week and I’ll be back soon.

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Cough, Cough (Quick Links 107)

I’ve spent nearly all week feeling unwell. Fortunately not the dreaded flu, just a virus of some kind, with a hacking cough that has kept me awake at night and generally feeling like my chest and head are going to implode. The usual combination of rest, plenty of fluids etc. seems to have been working, and hopefully I’ll kick it relatively quickly. Other than reading (see below) I haven’t done much else this week, so this is going to be short.


Work – I’ve been keeping on top of my emails, but that’s about it this week. Fortunately I didn’t have any meetings or phone calls booked in so I’ve been able to get away with a relatively low profile. With my persistent coughing it’s probably a good thing that I haven’t had to do too much talking.


Allotment – I’d planned to cover the fruit bed with mulch at some point this week, but between being sick and the weather this hasn’t happened. I did manage to sow a few onion “pillules” into some modules – these are normally directly sown into the ground around March, but they didn’t do too well last year, so I thought giving them a headstart might work better – we’ll see. Other than that it has been a quiet week on the plot.


Currently Reading – I’ve had plenty of time to read this week while trying to fight off whatever lurgy it is that I’ve caught.

I’ve read:

Creole Bell by James Lee Burke [GoodReads]

The Happiest Days of our Lives by Wil Wheaton [GoodReads]

Spaceman by Mike Massimino [GoodReads]

and I’m currently reading Pax by Sarah Pennypacker [GoodReads]

I would recommend all of them, although I did find Creole Bell hard going, but that might just be because I was at the worst of being sick when reading that book.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Well I said that this was going to be short, and that’s about it for this  week. Hope to resume normal service next week or as soon as I’m feeling better.

 

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May The Force Be With You (Quick Links 106)

I finally went to see Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi on Monday. I’d been waiting until the schools went back after Christmas to go to a showing that I could be pretty sure would be quiet – there were only about a dozen of us in the screening. I’ve also managed to avoid all spoilers.

I really enjoyed it, there were a couple of things that felt a little weak, but overall a good film. It made me miss my Dad a lot, as were he still alive and healthy we would probably have gone to see the film together. I guess those days are gone for good.

I spent some time doing some odd jobs for my Mum, as so often happens these things turn out to be more involved than when you start, so weather permitting I’ll be going back this coming week to finish off as I had to get a couple of things in order to complete one of the jobs.

We seem to have a lot of houses up for sale in our road at the moment. There are three currently (including one of our immediate neighbours) and two others have also recently sold. These things seem to happen like that, but whatever happens it seems likely we’ll be getting new neighbours soon.


My plan of cutting back non-essential spending seems to be going well, early days though. The plan is to go at least until March.


Work – Most people seem to be back at work now, and things have been a little bit busier. I’ve been mostly bouncing emails backwards and forwards discussing a couple of projects


Allotment – Potato season starts again. I picked up my seed potatoes from the allotment shop on the weekend, and I’ve set them to chit (grow shoots). I’ll probably be planting them in a couple of months time, depending on the weather.

The weather has been a bit drier this week so I’ve also been weeding the fruit bed. The main problem as ever, is the creeping buttercup, but at least for the time being, I’ve gotten it all out, and now the area is ready for some mulch – I’ll probably be using some straw for that.


Currently Reading – I’ve finished reading  “Tamed: Ten Species that Changed our World” by Alice Roberts [GoodReads]. A really good read and I’d recommend it. Since finishing it however I haven’t really been able to settle into something else yet.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


I Cooked this during the week. Lovely:


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Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan – This plan has been promised for such a long time I’ve lost track of how long it has been awaited. Ultimately it wasn’t worth the wait, yet another opportunity by government missed. As and when a plan of this duration is published it is always going to be difficult to get things right, but this plan needs more short term action and mechanisms to deliver (including legislation). Sadly the plan just doesn’t go far enough or look at some of the other areas where action is needed and not just those that are currently in the headlines. [Guardian Article]


Carillion Crisis – How this has been allowed to happen is one thing, but whether or not the government should bail out the company is quite another. In my view there shouldn’t been a simple bail out. It needs something more sophisticated. Companies fail everyday, and I don’t see the government stepping in to bail them out, so I don’t think this should be the exception. The problem is of course just how big, and how many important contracts the company has (which again raises the question as to how this has been allowed to happen). Some, dare I say HS2, could be retendered, others need some immediate action to allow them to continue e.g. health service catering and facilities contracts. Not an easy problem to fix, but something needs to happen quickly.


Was this whale trying to save a life? – Fascinating footage of a whale seemingly trying to keep a diver away from a Tiger Shark.


Not sure what the coming week holds, as I have a few things that I want to do but they’ll be a little bit dependent on the weather. Have to wait and see I guess.

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Chickens Outnumber Humans 3 to 1 (Quick Links 105)

It’s been a very wet and windy start to the year, with the arrival of Storm Eleanor and a general period of unsettled weather. By and large we seem to have escaped the worst of the storms although we need see some rather high tides when walking the dogs at Portchester Castle (see above). The moat is normally dry but the high tide had pushed water most of the way around to a reasonable depth.

We had a little rodent visitor during the week. A little mouse found it’s way into my office, and although I tried to catch and release it back outside, Wilson caught and ate it before I had the chance.


A Slight Change to the layout of these posts. I thought I’d start to number these posts rather than use the date. Looking at the records in the admin part of my blog software there are 106 “Quick Links” entries, but two of these weren’t truly quick links so deducting those means that this one is Quick Links 105. I’ve also included something from one of the books I’ve been reading to add something unique to the post title. I’ll follow this layout for a while and see how it goes.


Work – It’s been a quiet return to work for me this week. Catching up with a few contacts and trying to get the ball rolling again. It seems as if quite a few people have elected to take the extra few days and don’t return until Monday 8th.


Allotment – The strong winds and accompanying rain have left the allotment a little bit the worst for wear, and exceedingly wet underfoot. I’ve had to resecure the netting over the brassica cage which had been blown open, but that’s about the worst of it.

As I’ve not been able to get on the plot, I’ve been making sure I’ve got all the seeds, plants etc. I need for the upcoming season. I’ve placed an order to fill some gaps.

I’ve also planted the remaining broad bean seeds that I had, so that I’ll hopefully have some extra plants to fill any gaps in the bed on the plot.


Currently Reading – I finished reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s “New York 2140” [GoodReads] on New Years Day, which means it’s technically the first book I’ve finished in 2018, even if I was reading it for most of the week before Christmas and up to New Year. It was good and very believable in terms of a potential future for New York with ice caps melted and sea level rise and the city becoming Venice like.

I followed that by reading “Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions”
by David Attenborough [GoodReads]. This very much reads like a Gerald Durrell adventure and is similar in many respects, but is a great read.

Following that I started reading “Tamed: Ten Species that Changed our World”
by Alice Roberts [GoodReads]. These latter two books where both Christmas presents from people who know me well, and the quote in the title of this post comes from this book. The ten species – dogs, wheat, cattle, Maize, Potatoes, Chickens, Rice, Horses, Apples, Humans – all seem to have interesting backstories and it’s entertainingly written.

I’ve set my Good Reads reading challenge to 3o books for 2018, a little bit higher than last year but not significantly so, and still quite a bit less than the number I eventually managed to read in 2017. It’s not really about the numbers for me, so I’m not sure why I bother with the challenge in this way, but I do like to keep track of what I have read.

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