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Topics - Gyppo

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1
Just the right size to add an extra pull-out/tuck away shelf to my desk to hold my scanner.   And a strip of wood to make two runners. Until now it's sat in a corner,  awkward to reach and a pain to set up  and put away again each time.

Simple and functional.

Left click to enlarge.

Gyppo

2
Karl - who made this entire forum possible for us - has waved his magic wand and we can now post pictures with out text again, and view the pictures in existing posts.

Good man.

Gyppo


3
The Bar & Grill / New Toy (Now with picture.)
« on: August 07, 2022, 04:32:32 PM »
    It's one of those kneeling chairs.

    Strange looking thing.  I tried to 'blag' one from Staples many years ago for a month's trial so I could write a review for PCW Plus magazine, but the manager there didn't want to co-operate.  He was polite enough about it, but it was a definite no.

    I'm trying it out as I type this and I'm not totally convinced by it.  But I'll give it  a decent trial and see how it works out.  Alma will be fascinated by it, whatever I decide.

    It may just be that it suited a half-Chinese lady, (the seller), with a cute little bum, but simply doesn't fit a five-ten English body, even if I do have short legs.  There's scope for a little tweaking though.

    The theory is sound.  Chiropractors suggest they shouldn't be used for more than a couple of hours at a stretch, but if you have one of these and an ordinary office chair you can swap around.  The trick will be to get them at about the same height, to maintain the comfortable and familiar typing position.

    I can always sell it on again if it doesn't work out ;-)

    We shall see ;-)

    I nearly got a free one a few weeks ago, which put the idea back into my head.  It was sat outside a local house with a 'free to a good home' label.  But I was on my way to catch a bus, and when I came back up from town it was gone.  That one would have needed re-upholstering if I took to it, but it would have been good enough for 'proof of concept.


4
The Bar & Grill / I shall be glad when the jam-making season arrives.
« on: August 05, 2022, 10:58:44 AM »
Like a dutiful dad I carefully wash and store all my jam jars, not of all of which originally contained jam.  Some had pickles or honey, or whatever.

I tuck them away in a crate for when my daughters phone up and ask, "Dad, I don't suppose you have any clean jam jars around?"  I can usually give them the lids as well, apart from a few which get sidelined for other little jobs around the house.

I have a similar crate full of plastic containers or bottles for Alma's 'Junk Play' projects, or sometimes my own schemes.  Plus a  few tin cans of unusual size.

But once the crates are full I throw things out, or ask around for other recipients.  There's a limit to how much space I'll willingly give up.  I've not intention of starting a third crate because there's no cupboard space for it

During lockdown I gave away several carrier bags full of jars to a jam-making lady I've never seen.  She collected them from my doorstep, like a thief in the night.  Although I said they were 'free to a good home' it wouldn't have hurt her to drop off a jar of jam as a little thankyou ;-(  My girls always do.

It won't be long before we go 'foraging again;-)

Gyppo

5
The Bar & Grill / Fun with a new pen.
« on: July 30, 2022, 10:35:21 PM »
Despite writing almost exclusively on my keyboard nowadays  I do like having a good pen around.  I've tried all sorts over the years, but many of them aren't reliable.

One of the best was a Papermate ballpoint.  But around the time I bought my twelfth refill I found I'd worn through the barrel where it rested against the 'scribe's bump' on my finger.  I bought another, but it was lost or stolen early on.

I was taken by the adverts for the Fisher Space Pen, but jibbed at the price at the time.

Well, I finally bought one, for the best part of thirty quid and here's a review, in which I test some of the claims they make.

I don't get paid for this, I'm just sharing my impressions.

=====

   Fun with a new pen

   I bought myself a Fisher Space Pen, as used by Astronauts.

   These come in several varieties. Some of which are insanely expensive and rather flamboyant .  All come with the pressurised ballpoint cartridge, guaranteed to work properly under extreme conditions, such as zero gravity or underwater, and over a ludicrously wide temperature range.

   I bought the bullet pen, in matte black.  It's a delightful little thing, and little is the word.  When closed it's a bit under four inches long, which feels small.  But once you stick the cap on the back end it's perfectly balanced and sits in your hand with a reassuringly solid feel.  It comes with a 'lifetime guarantee', which will still only be 29 years for me if I live to be 100.

   This pen is beautifully engineered, with an under-stated elegance which is a major part of the appeal to me.  I can see no reason - apart from loss - why it won't be around for my girls to argue or negotiate over as part of their inheritance.

   We did, of course, have to test some of its claims to fame.

    My granddaughter and I soaked a sheet of paper, smoothed it out on the work top, and yes, it writes on wet paper.  Over the years this would have been really useful on my various soggy 'reporter's notebooks'.  If you press hard enough to break through the paper all bets are off.

   We soaked a sheet of printer paper and pressed it down on the bottom of the sink, then filled the sink with water.  Yes, it writes underwater.

   They claim it writes at any angle, unlike most ballpoint pens which tend to stop when you are writing on a sheet of paper held against a wall.  I held a sheet of paper on a clipboard and my granddaughter wrote on it from underneath, arms well above her head.

   It writes on polymer paper, like the new 'plastic' banknotes, and on every kind of plastic bag we could readily lay our hands on for our brief tests.

   It even wrote on a kitchen sponge, and has failed to wash off despite much use afterwards.

   Just for the sheer exuberant hell of it I signed a few biscuits which were out on the side, which my granddaughter then ate, 'just because she could'.

   In more pragmatic everyday tests the short length of the closed pen means it will sit snugly across the bottom of most shirt or trouser pockets, and not wriggle out and away as longer pens often do.  This is a useful trait as modern pockets tend to be cut increasingly shallow, compared to those of my childhood.  (There is a reason I like army surplus clothing with capacious pockets.)

   The clip seems very secure.  Certainly locks tight against cotton and denim.  Not tested against slippery nylon or silk.

   I am currently fighting the temptation to deliberately put it through the washing machine on a hot wash, which the specifications suggest it should survive with no damage and no ink leakage.  The only reason I haven't so far is because, with its low 'pocket profile', this is probably going to happen anyway, sooner rather than later.

   Finally, for those who know what a kubotan is, both smoothly rounded ends of the capped pen would work if 'misused' in this way.  Or as a massage tool for unlocking cramped muscles, if you know where to poke without doing further damage.

   Gyppo

PS:  Once the backroom boys sort out the current inability to post pictures I'll show you what it looks like.

6
Poet's Corner / Reference
« on: July 22, 2022, 05:37:20 PM »
Reference

When Dad left the Royal Navy
he discarded most of his stuff.
His uniform symbolically shed,
thrown from a train window.

He boarded the train as a matelot,
clutching his discharge papers,
stripped naked in the compartment,
threw out cap, jacket, and bell bottoms,
and arrived home in his demob suit.

He kept his 'watchkeeping coat'.

A freshly minted 'Civvy',
looking for a job.
With a simple hand-written reference
which said it all,

"This man is punctual, hardworking,
 and can be trusted to work without supervision."

Years later I earned something similar,
but it was only verbal,
passed between two foremen.
I wish I had it in writing.

"That man can shift some fucking work."

Gyppo

7
   Micro-waved Bacon

   I buy thick sliced bacon, from a proper butcher, not the supermarket stuff which is sliced so thinly it could almost qualify as Kosher.  One slice of this makes a decent lunch with a homemade half baton, and splash of appropriate sauce, or even naked.  Good tasty bacon doesn't need to be slathered in sauce.

   In the current heat wave firing up the frying pan or the electric skillet can feel a step to far and encourage someone living alone to not bother at all.

   Following a you-tube tip I've found I can quickly zap this thicker bacon on a plate with a couple of layers of kitchen roll underneath it and another on top.  These absorb the fat and splatter very nicely.

   NB: I use decent thick kitchen roll.  The ultra cheap 'budget' stuff sticks to the bacon and you either lose a meal, or end up eating the paper as well.  Neither outcome is what you were looking for.

   In my 900 watt microwave a single slice cooks nicely with one minute and fifteen seconds on full power.  One minute and thirty makes it start to shrink and go crispy if that's how you like your bacon.

   Adjust timing if you have a lower-powered microwave oven.  After the first minute I suggest checking at fifteen second intervals,  until you know what works for you, and keep in mind that micro-waved food carries on cooking for a minute after the power is off.

   In my machine two slices take about two minutes.  I've never tried to do more.

   The tissues can be used to wipe off the cooking plate, so very little fat gets into your washing bowl or dishwasher.

   This is one of those win/win situations.

   Gyppo

8
The Bar & Grill / HELP! Request from Gyppo - PROBLEM RESOLVED.
« on: July 22, 2022, 10:54:29 AM »
PROBLEM RESOLVED:  My thanks to those who gave feedback.

=====

Please will any of you who are interested in such things either attempt to see any previous pictures you may have posted, or attempt to post a new one.  Even if you just do it as test and then delete it straight away.

If a few of you confirm it's a universal problem, and not just something at my end,  I'll raise the issue with Karl.  Probably a spin-off from the recent loss of service for a few hours.

I'll be off-line for a few hours mid afternoon (UK time) but will dive back into this mystery when I arrive home with my new glasses, and rucksack full of shopping :-)

Thanks,

Gyppo




9
The Bar & Grill / Mouse in a box
« on: July 20, 2022, 12:24:18 PM »
   I shall call him Jack, although I have a feeling it's probably female.  In which case it's Jacqueline  I haven't looked that closely yet and quite possibly never will.

   My neighbour knocked on the door and seemed rather amused that I was swanning around almost naked to cope with the heat.  After I'd made myself a bit more respectable I opened the door and found she had a lovely little brown wild mouse in a plastic box.

   She'd rescued it from her cats, who had it cornered and were batting it around between them.  Doing what cats do.

   She grabbed it and the mouse bit her.  So she quickly slipped it into a plastic sandwich box and then held the lid on but with one corner up so air could get in.  She said it was moving badly, which it was at that point.

   "Could you put it behind your shed, seeing as my cats don't seem to go into your garden.  Or kill it painlessly, if you know how.  I just can't do it."

   I told her I'd put it in a cardboard box, with plenty of air holes, and a little bit of food.  "We'll give it some peace and quiet for a few hours, see if it starts looking more lively.  Then if not I'll do the necessary.  But we'll give it a chance."

   In the time it took to find and perforate a suitable box it was already moving much better.  The box is outdoors, where I can see it, and if it looks much better when Alma gets here we may take it down and release it in the woodland.  Plenty of perils there as well, but a better chance of escaping.

   It's current home is a laser toner cartridge box.  Big enough to let it move around, but small enough to feel like a secure hiding place for a bit of recovery time.  I'm hoping it's more frightened than damaged

   We shall see how it goes.  Alma will want to keep it as a pet, but that's not going to happen.  I have a deep-rooted aversion to caging 'wild things'.  My Ex would say she understands why ;-)

   Gyppo

10
The Bar & Grill / First Spud Harvest of the year.
« on: July 16, 2022, 12:29:26 PM »
    There's plenty more still in the container, protected from the sunlight so they won't turn green.  This is more than enough for today's slow cooker offering.

    Left click to enlarge picture.   

     In the pot, along with gammon and other assorted veggies, within an hour of being dug out.  If they taste as good as they look I'll be a happy man.  (Nay, delirious with joy even.  Although this may present itself as just a little smile.)

    These are just one of the three varieties my Sister gave me to plant out.  The others look promising but they can sit in the ground for a bit longer

    I was initially worried they might just produce a massive spread of foliage like last year's attempt, with very few veg.    But if the other two pots produce like these I'll not be grumbling.

    Next year I'll cut back some of the leaves a bit sooner, once they're established themselves, so they can concentrate on producing spuds rather than the sprawling green 'hedge' alongside my fence.

    Will definitely put the containers in the same place though, they seem to like it under the partial shade of my Birch tree.

    Gyppo (Who apparently can grow spuds after all,  as well as trees.)

11
   The Roar of the Crowd   

   I currently have a taste of deafness, hopefully temporary.

   Not hearing the timer on my oven was the first clue.

   Just recently my hearing has rapidly deteriorated.  I realised a while back that some of the higher frequency sounds weren't registering well, but face to face conversation, except with those possessed of a really high piping voice, were still okay.

   There used to be a short and skinny girl at Royal Mail whom hardly any of us could hear, with a voice like a bat, high up in the ultra-sonic range.  She'd be stood in front, mouth frantically flapping, and we'd all make lower the pitch gestures until we could hear her.  She was a naturally angry and aggressive person at the best of times, so always thought we were taking the piss.

   I won't pretend it wasn't funny at times ;-)

   But when I struggled recently to hear my own Grandaughter I knew something wasn't right.

   =====

   This near-deafness has happened a few times before, so I've arranged to have my ears de-waxed.  As a result I expect everyone to be shouting at me for a while until my brain adjusts.  If the clean-out doesn't do the trick I'll be off to the doc with no further hesitation.

   Previous times I've been syringed, washed out with warm water, which fairly roared through the ear canals.  Bloody uncomfortable. too.

   This time, after softening it with oil for several days, (which is already improving things a bit so my self-diagnosis is probably correct), it's going to be sucked out with a vacuum tool.  This will be interesting at least - no research opportunity is ever wasted on a writer - so I'll have something new to write about.

   My Grandaughter is positively eager to teach me sign language, at which she is quite adept, having acted as an interpreter at school for a little friend with profound deafness.  Also useful for telling private jokes about the teacher ;-)

   I have to say this is one time when I truly want to disappoint the earnest little soul.  Assuming all goes well she'll probably enjoy the inevitable storyteller's version of 'Grandad had his ears Hoovered.'

   =====

   A little over forty years ago I suddenly went totally deaf half way through a weekend engagement performing at Southampton Show.  Two days.  Three half-hour performances a day.

   Leaping around amongst swinging swords, axes, and quarterstaffs etc you need all your senses working properly.

   Mum talked a doctor into coming into the surgery and doing the syringe trick on the Sunday morning, because 'the show must go on'.

   When he was finished I told him he no longer needed to shout at me.  "I'm not, in fact I'm deliberately talking very quietly to see how efficacious the treatment has been..  It will take a day or two for your brain to adjust to the improved input."

   That afternoon the slither of feet across grass behind me, and the wind rush of close passing weapons was borderline terrifying.

   And the 'Roar of the Crowd' took on a whole new meaning.

   Gyppo

12
The Bar & Grill / My pigeons have flown.
« on: July 11, 2022, 09:13:41 PM »
    My two young pigeons have finally left their nest.  It was beginning to look a bit crowded in there.

    Over the last couple of days they had been 'sitting out' much more, perched on the edge of the nest, stretching up and trying their wings, with greater frequency. and more movement each time.  Feeling out their balance.   Kind of like 'tai chi' exercises for pigeons.

    When I opened the door to check on them at 7AM this morning the nest was empty.  I did a quick check around for bodies on the ground etc, or evidence of a cat or hawk attack but there was nothing untoward.

    A bit later, as I ate breakfast and watched through the window, I saw what I took to be the parent pigeons sat on my fence making a bit of a fuss and I saw a juvenile pigeon appear from somewhere - possibly on my roof - and make a few short flights from fence to fence across the garden.

    After this all three of them seemed to be haranguing another juvenile perched higher up in one of taller trees at the bottom of my garden.  That one was a bit of a reluctant flyer, but when the other three flew off in disgust he launched from the tree and followed them.

    So all is well, but I shall miss their presence in the bushy Fire Maple right up against the house.  I watched the whole cycle from  the parents building the nest, right up close to my back door, the parents taking turns to sit on the eggs, to seeing them fly away.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if the ungrateful little sods come back and peck hell out of the two Curly Kale plants which are currently sprouting so well.  A small price to pay.

     Left click to enlarge.

    Gyppo


13
Poet's Corner / Pigeons
« on: July 08, 2022, 05:58:57 PM »
Pigeons

Four feet from my back door
two pigeons have built a nest,
in my Fire Maple.
Deep thick leaf cover,
nothing to betray it
save a few dropped sticks,
and an increasing lime-splatter
on the paving slab below

Two baby pigeons, spiky headed
like hair-gelled punks,
parent birds busy feeding them.
The young sit tight and low,
heads barely visible.

Difficult to photograph,
without trimming the tree a bit,
which would expose them too much,
to hunting Magpies or Crows.

So I watch what I can,
speaking to them softly,
stood below in dappled shadows.
Mummy Pigeon 'Coos' back at me,
a gentle sound with no alarm.

Their 'spikes' have softened,
they perch on the edge of the nest.
'Sitting out.'
Not yet ready for flight,
but flapping their still-stubby wings,
feeling out the air around them,
the larger world soon to be theirs.

Gyppo 

If there's any sign of them rebuilding the nest next year I'll try to get a web camera up there before the eggs are laid.  It's within stepladder reach, but I discovered the nest too late to risk disturbing them this time.

14
From one of her 'dragon rider' books...

Gratitude is like an ill-fitting tunic.  It begins to chafe and smell if worn for too long.

Gyppo

15
Word Play / From 1972: A song about Erectile Dysfunction?
« on: July 02, 2022, 05:40:05 PM »
It's true.  The 'glam rock'  group Sweet.

Listen to this track, and when they hit the chorus you'll see what I mean.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM6I-pmV0RA

Gyppo

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