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w/e 2022-05-08

I just spent twenty minutes figuring out why the page to add a new blog post was broken on my site – while trying to fix something in the creaky front-end assets build process a while back, I’d apparently deleted a CSS file, the absence of which caused an internal server error – and this is a good reason never to write your own website.

§ A while back I saw Arooj Aftab’s Tiny Desk Concert recommended and recently I got round to watching it and it was great:

I’d never heard of her before but then I always seem to be coming to musicians late these days. Never mind. So this week I’ve been listening to her album, Vulture Prince, released a year ago, and enjoying that a lot. Beautiful.

A photo of some metal 'cloakroom hooks' screwed to a piece of wood painted gloss white, fixed to a white wall. The hooks are made of a silvery metal and look a little tarnished with age.

§ One of the final parts of the process of redecorating the utility room was restoring the five metal “cloakroom-style” hooks screwed to a piece of wood, that was screwed to the wall. All of them were painted with the same cream-coloured emulsion paint that was used on the walls but, inspired by @housedoctoralex on TikTok, I decided to put that right.

It was a lot of work. The first one came up OK with half an hour of vigorous brushing with a wire brush but the others were more stubborn. Eventually I boiled them in water in an old saucepan, and then pulled and scraped off most of the now gooey paint. Then there was a lot more brushing, scraping and sanding to get rid of the paint remnants and the layer of rustiness. A polish with Silvo and, while they don’t look new, they look so much nicer. Extremely satisfying!

And, to round that achievement off, I managed to fix it all back to the wall, in a different position, with fresh holes and Rawlplugs, and that worked! Which is never a given. Phew.

§ The village hall in our village held a plant sale this weekend, which we went to. I believe it’s the first public event hosted there since covid began, so the first we’ve been to. It was great to see somewhere that’s usually an almost deserted little village so bustling! Cars parked all along the road, people chatting and catching up with each other, plants being bought, tea and cake being consumed, the sun shining, and the sheep across the road baa-ing at it all. People! Amazing.

§ I’ve now made five loaves of bread using the process in Flour Water Salt Yeast and the loaves are not getting better.

A round loaf of wholemeal bread, with several slices cut from it lying to the side. The crust is dark brown and, while it certainly looks like bread, it's all a bit flat.

They taste fine but they do not rise much. And the past couple, when I’ve coaxed the dough out of the proofing basket, ready to go in the oven, have been more like the consistency of cow pats, rather than anything resembling a would-be loaf of bread.

Maybe the yeast is a bit old. Maybe… some other reason? 🤷🏻‍♂️ I’ll keep trying although, recently, the results do not warrant the amount of effort involved.

A photo of a roughly rectangular pizza, taken from above, with peppers, mushrooms and olives visible on the cheese and tomato that sits on a crispy-looking base

On the plus side… I usually make pizza once a week, and have been using dough made by the bread maker machine in 45 minutes. Which is OK but has never been quite like a real pizza.

But, even when I cocked up two parts of the process this week, the pizza dough from Flour Water Salt Yeast is much better and, coupled with a pizza stone, our pizzas are suddenly a leap towards real pizzas, with crisp, tasty bases.

Also, because it was so cheap – 79% off! – I got a pizza peel so I can now ridiculously, and slightly desperately, shuffle the pizza onto the hot stone while standing on the other side of the kitchen.

§ Our internet has been extra slow this week, the 4G box persistently connecting to one of the slow cells and being extra reluctant to switch to a different one no matter how many times we reboot it. Because, despite much googling, this seems to be the only way to make it change cell.

All the masts are a long way from us and often the connection isn’t too bad: from a few Mbps up to as high as 50Mbps on a good day. But some cells only give us less than 1Mbps and, while I might too often be nostalgic for the internet of the 1990s, the speeds of dial-up modems is not something to which I wish to return.

A directional external aerial might help and maybe we’ll get one… Fastershire, the organisation that had the contract to supply fibre-to-the-premises around here, discovered a while back that – surprise! – it’s a bit difficult and expensive to connect lots of rural areas, so they won’t bother after all. Given no other ground-based broadband is going to happen here for years, there is funding to set up 4G connections with aerials, as some kind of compensation. So, one day, maybe we won’t need to turn the internet off and on a dozen times in the hope it gets back to a reasonable speed.

§ Having taken up the offer of three months of free Apple TV+ that accompanied my iPhone, this week we watched Severance which I enjoyed a lot, only frustrated by the ending of the season. Maybe because we’ve watched a lot of older series through all of their seasons, I forget that they’re obliged to cliff-hang so that you want to watch another. But there isn’t another, yet! Curse you Tim Apple! Make nicely self-contained miniseries!

Anyway, entertaining and interesting. Always nice to see something that’s trying something a little different, whatever the result.

But there’s something slightly icky about a drama that’s “ooh satire!” about corporate workplaces, or about the outsourcing of the labour that supports our lifestyles to people we never see or know anything about, coming from any massive corporation, never mind Apple. But I tried not to think about that, willfully oblivious to the contradictions inherent in blah blah our downfall blah blah collapse of everything blah blah ourselves to blame.

§ That’s it. Have a good week.

Mentions elsewhere (Webmentions?)


    Phil Gyford capturing the mood of 2022


    Following last week’s bread chat a correspondent suggested using less water…

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  1. I think I've seen that pizza picture three times now and it looks even more delicious on every occasion.

  2. There are LTE routers that will allow you to lock your connection to a particular cell. I'm familiar with MikroTik (…) and am generally very happy with their products and they continue to get security/feature releases for a very long time (unlike lots of other routers). However they do expect you to have a reasonably level of networking knowledge.

    There are a number of products they do that support LTE and some of them also come with high gain directional antenna.…

    Anyway, not really a cheap solution, good luck.

  3. @Matthew - Very interesting, thank you! It looks like I could get into no end of trouble SSHing into my router but we'll have a think about that. When it's all working OK we don't worry, but on bad days (or weeks) an expensive solution sounds perfectly fine!