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w/e 2022-07-31

What a week for live TV: I watched two programmes as they happened. First, the opening episode of the Commonwealth Games (which was a bit odd) and then the final episode of the women’s Euro 2022 football (hence these delayed weeknotes). I would also have watched the very last episode of Neighbours – which I haven’t seen in 25? 30? years – but I’ve saved it for when Mary’s back.

Watching the football was nice. While the commentary was predictably tiresome (maybe just… stop… talking sometimes?) watching women play, watched by a stadium full of loads of women and girls (and men and boys) was more pleasant. I don’t know how much of that is a genuine difference in tone or due to my own biases.

If I’d watched men celebrating as the women did, including dancing and singing in and out of a press conference, I’d probably have thought, “What a load of entitled dicks!” Instead I thought, “Brilliant, they look so happy! Good on them!” Of course, the women were also celebrating winning a battle in the centuries-long war against suppression of women, so had all the more reason to celebrate.

§ I spent about six hours scything this week, mostly in 20 minute chunks – any longer and I start losing the knack. I’ve got a lot better over that time, even from one day to the next. On Saturday it took me an hour to mow a ten metre stretch, two metres wide, but the same length only took 35 minutes on Sunday.

A photo looking along a ten metre long strip of short grass cut through knee-length grass. On the left is a long row of the piled cut grass.

In terms of time and effort it’s still at the level of stupid hipster hobby rather than a practical method of cutting a lot of grass. We have around ¼ acre, or 1000 square metres, of “meadow” which at the latest rate would take me about 25 hours to mow. But hopefully I’ll get quicker and more effective. This video shows someone calmly mowing 25 metres in eight minutes.

When it’s going right it’s pretty satisfying. Then, it doesn’t take a lot of effort, and with a single nice swish a good amount of grass lands on my left, leaving behind a uniformly-cut inch or two of grass.

But there are so many little ways each stroke can be less-than-just-right. Maybe I’ve tried to cut too much and it takes more effort, or my stroke comes to a halt part-way through. Or I cut too little and I’ve swung the scythe with little to show for it. Maybe the blade was tilted a little wrongly and the grass wasn’t cut short enough. Maybe I didn’t pull back enough at the end of the stroke, leaving some longer grass on my left (which will now be hard to cut because it’s been bent over away from the scythe). Maybe the blade is getting blunt and the grass isn’t cut well enough (the blade needs a quick sharpen every few minutes). Maybe I’ve revealed an ant hill which will require some cutting around and flattening.

Let’s see if I can transcend the realm of daft affectations and make it a reasonable way to mow a relatively small meadow.

§ On Monday we had an external directional 4G aerial installed for free, as part of the Fastershire Digital Household Grant, intended to make up for the long-promised plan to put in fibre-to-the-home coming to nothing because – shock! – it’s quite expensive to connect rural locations.

So far it’s been good compared to the internal omni-directional aerial we had (or no aerial, which was about the same). With that we would get between 500Kbps and maybe 30Mbps, depending on which cell it was connected to, with the median perhaps 10Mbps. Now we seem to get 25-35Mbps consistently, with it focused on a single cell. The connection has occasionally disappeared completely for a couple of minutes but hopefully it won’t get worse.

§ As well as the live telly I watched a few films this week:

  • Nous (Alice Diop, 2022) – decent documentary observing various people in Paris.
  • First Cow (Kelly Reichardt, 2020) – Lovely. Another great one from her.
  • Undine (Christian Petzold, 2020) – Sign me up for any slightly mythical, very romantic, European story, especially with several lectures about Berlin’s urban history.
  • Pleasure (Ninja Thyberg, 2021) – Good but, unsurprisingly, pretty grim.
  • Swimming Pool (François Ozon, 2003) – Quite good, but probably says something that I can’t remember if I’ve seen it before.
  • Petite Maman (Céline Sciamma, 2021) – Really lovely.

§ That’s about it. Did some computing. Applied some caulk along a gap that turned out better than feared thanks to @martyncoops on TikTok’s entertaining tips. Watered a lot of plants. Have a good week!

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