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w/e 2022-05-15

This week I’ve listened to this compilation covering fifty years of music by Beverly Glenn-Copeland, which is joyous and uplifting, and so, me being me, it’s not the kind of thing I usually listen to:

I’ve listened to it, and some of his other albums, occasionally since reading about him in The Wire a while back and it really does the trick. Russell blogged about him last year too.

§ I’m home alone for a week and, three days in, sanity remains. It’s quiet enough here that I usually look outside if I hear a vehicle about to go past, never mind if I hear the sound of human voices. Today it was the sound of horses’ hooves because, it turned out, we were at the half-way point for a rally of horses and… traps? carts? from a local branch of the British Driving Society (which I deduced later via googles):

A photo of a country road with two four-wheeled carts, each pulled by a large horse with long manes and hairy feet. The smiling drivers are wearing helmets and hi-viz jackets.

A nice sight and I sat outside the house on a chair, with something to read, to watch these occasional passers-by. While one approached the driver was singing what sounded like an old folk song. He pointed at our house as he passed, “Beats working in London doesn’t it!”

§ Given how little happens around here it’s been a dramatic week. Not only that 👆🏻 but a small wood of evergreens that we can see the tops of from our garden, and that form the horizon in the photo I use for a banner on various sites, was harvested this week.

It’s impressive to see the machine that fells a tree, picks it up, strips off the branches, and swiftly cuts it into lengths, all operated by one person. It’s something like one of these:

PONSSE Ergo on YouTube

Slightly terrifying, a giant unstoppable robot easily laying waste to things that had seemed permanent and unmovable.

So we can now glimpse some hills through the remaining trees, and see more red lights at night from the local army camp, and this is what was once the wood alongside one of my regular walking routes:

A wide-angle photo showing an open space with the ground covered in a few logs, and low plants and branches. A handful of tall dark evergreen trees remain in the distance.

It’s a shame to see it go, but timber’s got to come from somewhere I guess.

§ This week’s work was more than a little frustrating as I struggled to get a Django website up and running on the client’s cPanel hosting. These are not technologies that sit comfortably together and, despite having used several different shared hosting services over the past 25+ years, I’ve never used cPanel. It’s probably fine for good old HTML- and PHP-style websites but its support for Python-based sites (and Git, come to that) feels a bit bolted on. Thankfully I’ve just about got it working but, should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I would advise finding a different situation.

§ There are two squirrels that visit the bird feeders at the front of the house most days. It might be more than two – in the autumn and winter we’d see a lot of them, up to a dozen, digging in the grass at the back of the house – but I’m deciding it’s two.

One of them is very jumpy and I now only have to knock on the window or shout “SQUIRREL!” for it to jump off and sprint anti-clockwise around the house to the back. If I surprise it by emerging from the house, clapping my hands, it still runs off in the same direction, despite this requiring it to run right past me. This is obviously the only way home that it knows.

The other squirrel could not care less if I open a window and shout, clap or growl at it. Only when I run at it does it rush off, this one always running clockwise around the house, to reach safety.

I imagine these two squirrels comparing notes, one describing the source of nuts it’s found around one side of the house, the other telling of the food to be found in the opposite direction. But they both stick to the way they know.

Yes, I’ve only been home alone for three days so far.

§ A photo of a field of green crops, like long grass, with the twin tracks from a vehicle leading into the distance to the thick trees on the far side of the field

§ Some lovely blogging from friends this week. Tom Armitage wrote about how much he’s enjoyed cycling over the past couple of years and James Darling wrote about quitting smoking. I loved reading them both and, just… blogging is great isn’t it? You don’t have to write every week or every day. Just write when you have something you want to write about, and up it pops in RSS feed readers, or posted to Twitter, or whatever. Lovely.

§ Following last week’s bread chat a correspondent suggested using less water, on the basis that maybe European flours require less of it than American ones – like those used in Flour Water Salt Yeast that I’m using. Yesterday I reduced the water by 10% and it did seem easier to get a decent shape for the proofing and baking stage. And yet it still doesn’t seem to rise as much as I expect, and bread still seems denser than I’d like. Maybe newer, or more, yeast? Maybe it’s fine?

And having watched a few of Ken Forkish’s brief videos his dough does look pretty sloppy a lot of the time, so I don’t know.

§ This week I finished reading Hari Kunzru’s White Tears and I enjoyed it, which was a relief, because I’ve plodded through a bunch of books that just haven’t grabbed me over the past couple of years and it was nice to read one that I actually wanted to get back to. I’ve enjoyed all five of the books I’ve read by Hari (an ex-colleague from Wired UK days) so far; recommended.

§ Right, have a good week, you. I’m hoping to finally beat cPanel into submission and, all being well, see some friends. Hopefully I will still be sane after another few days here alone, chasing both the squirrels.

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    Useful advice, in any situation.

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