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2017-04-11 05:12 am
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Incidentally

This site (at in my web server)  has been under attack a lot recently. Tediously so. If anything super weird pops up on here I’m sorry, and I’ll fix it as soon as I know. 

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-04-11 05:10 am
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I am sure that I am not the first

I am somewhat concerned that members of the Russian federation are going to use the fact they have a puppet / weak / blackmailable US president who has weakened western government cooperation, and the Brexit which has weakened and distracted Europe to commit mass genocide on LGBTQIA people. 

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-04-08 06:02 pm
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Each time it gets worse.

Animated image from 'Brazil' by Terry Gilliam.

So, it turns out that now our county planning technician is asking us to obtain a surveyor’s report to delineate the high groundwater risk for our property. Because the county think it’s at risk of flooding. Despite the fact that it’s almost the highest point for the entire street. But no, it’s at risk of flooding.

Today we went out because the hydrogeologist has put markers in the areas he would like us to identify the high groundwater risk, when we went out he strongly implied there was no significant problem. But left open the ‘We need to have an internal discussion before making a decision’ get out of jail free card.

And then we got our answer.

It’s a fucking disaster.

The county requirements would force us to move our house to chop down at least 1 of the beautiful old maples (at least 50 years old), and a large number of firs, cedars and assorted other trees. At least, that’s the only way we can interpret them.

The county is also asking for a permit that requires has a potential 128 day processing period (which probably means at least 2 years, given that our 8-12 week permit process is now running into it’s 6th month).

So the answer is, we can’t build.

We might be able to argue it. We’re considering legal options because the county told us, provisionally, that it would be an easy plot to build on.

So yay.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-03-29 04:24 am
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Oooh, shiny.

So I ordered another Razika album (direct from Norway, because no one locally could get it) which arrived yesterday.

Razika - På Vei Hjem (Album cover)
Cover from Razika – På Vei Hjem

It’s on white vinyl and handily came with a CD copy. So that’s pretty easy to rip. The white vinyl and my SL-6 are not close friends, I have to turn off the autosense mode for it to play the record… but even ignoring that, yay! Yay for more Razika.

I need to stop buying records however* because I’m nearly** out of record storage space

Also, what is overjoyously cool is hearing those few words I understand and going “Yay! I understood that!”

* I may have bought a second hand Desmond Dekker record a couple of days ago, having listened to him on 6 Music and having realised I didn’t have enough…
** By which I mean that all the gramophone records are packed away in storage because there’s not enough space in the house, and despite that, the shelves are kinda full. Full in an ‘oh, I might need to obtain a new record storage thing. Or make one. I’d love to make one. If only there was more time!

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-03-27 04:40 am
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Not a disaster, but not a raging success

So it’s Spring Break here, which I get the impression should be capitalised. I continue to believe that the US does holidays wrong. It’s not like the UK is any great winner on the holidays front, the rest of Europe has always been way better at that kind of stuff, but the UK is less terrible than the US by a long way.

I say this because the students (and staff) get one week off between winter and spring quarters, which is quite clearly insufficient. But then holidays in the US are generally ridiculously inadequate as far as I can tell. The presumption appears to be that people can rest when they’re dead.

Anyhow, so it’s holiday time for me, although I’m actually going to end up working through most of it (perhaps this working thing is infectious?) because otherwise there’s no way in hell I’ll be ready for next quarter. That said I decided to take this weekend to do some of the long delayed jobs on the cars. Kathryn’s mother and her wife kindly let us use their garage, because… it being Washington, it’s raining and the main job needed the car to be dry. First up was the swamp-mobile insight, which has been leaking since we got it, had sprung a new leak early in winter, and had continued to leak in a most distressing way.

Indeed, frequently getting in to the car was unpleasant in the extreme, with it smelling like you were hopping into a cozy swamp, the carpet on the driver’s side smelling distinctly less than fresh. It turns out that first generation insights are notoriously leaky beasts, with Honda essentially building a car with many large holes which they filled with caulk and then painted over.

So I ordered a billion small plastic clips, some fresh silicone sealant, and this weekend (having had the clips for nearly a year) set to. It turned out that the person who rebuilt the car after its accident had decided to just slather glue on to hold the trim in place…

IMG_20170325_122547

There were literally no intact clips except for the ‘special’ ones at each end. So, I pulled the broken clips out* with my newly purchased ‘trim remover’ tools, dug out the cracked caulk from the passenger side, and tried to clean up that and the driver’s side as much as possible. That done I laid down a bead of silicone that I then realised I had no means of making as smooth as I’d like, because it’s fairly thoroughly recessed.

Still, it’s normally hidden under trim, so I wasn’t too worried. While I was doing this, Kathryn set to on the seat with the hot/wet/but not steam cleaner**. She pulled out a fearsome amount of filth, and it actually doesn’t look quite as horrendous as it did before, but it still looks pretty shitty. She also had a good go at the carpet which now smells much less bad than it did.

That done we went out for a nice curry and then headed home. Today I headed back over and started reassembly, which went okay although the driver’s side trim still doesn’t sit quite the way I’d like it to, which I suspect is that I didn’t bend the metal clips to quite the right place before reattaching it***. Well, I say it went okay. That’s a bit of a lie. There are two small pieces of trim that go at the back, and the sticky pad that attaches the (brand new) metal clip that holds on the small piece of trim is not sticky. It’s slightly tacky if you push really hard on it, but it’s not sticky. I’m assuming this is because it was probably made around 2006, when the car was last being built new.

Obviously, because it comes with a sticky pad I’d not bought any of the ‘trim attaching sticky shite’, so I had to abandon sticking it on, and it’s now sat lacking that part. When we get a dry day I’ll clean it and stick it on, but I’m rather peeved by its absence. Although I suppose it means that if it proves to still be leaking I can do a more vigorous removal of caulk and try again.

So anyhow I then traded the insight for the Rav, for which I had purchased a shiny new radio. It claimed to have bluetooth audio, bluetooth hands free, CD, and MP3 playback. It lacks AM, which the old radio did have, but frankly I don’t think we’ve used the AM feature on ours.

This installation did not entirely go smoothly, however.

First up, it turned out that I’d ordered the wrong gender of adaptor. I had bought female Toyota adaptors, and (if I think about it, it’s obvious) I needed male. Of course I realised that after I’d crimped all the sodding joints together with my crappy cheap crimping tool, and also after I’d pulled the old radio out of the Rav. So then I had to throw the radio back in, go and buy a 4x as expensive adaptor (which is just the same as the cheap adaptor I got from china for $2, but $16 and in a box), more crimping doohickies, and I also opted to fork out for a better quality ratcheting crimping tool (because the cheap one I was using kills my hands and produces crappy crimps).

Then I got back home and set to a second time. Then I found that the new radio required different mounting screws for its ISO mount than the original Toyota one, and that they weren’t included, I then ransacked one of my boxes of stuff and (thankfully) found some that fit.

Then I finally installed the benighted object only to find when I powered it on that it seems to be suspiciously lacking in actual bluetooth functionality which was the entire damn point of installing it. Looking through the manual bluetooth is not mentioned…and checking the box it doesn’t have the bluetooth logo anywhere on it. I’ve lodged a complaint with the supplier**** on Aliexpress although I’ve allowed for them to just tell me how to turn it on. I’ve also screencap’d the current listing which still states that it has bluetooth.

All of this has left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied with my progress. Especially as I had plans to also fix the broken heated rear window in the Rav as well, and that’s not happened either.

All in all, feh.

* Working on modern cars really is a world of hideousness, isn’t it. I’m really not used to ‘removal’ meaning ‘snap it in half and replace it’, leaving the broken bit rattling around inside the car somewhere. Ugh.
** I thought it was a steam cleaner when I bought it, but it turns out it’s not. Damnit.
*** Did I mention that I really am not fond of working on modern cars?
**** This is the first time I’ve got something from Aliexpress which wasn’t as described. I’ve bought things that didn’t work well, or were shonky ass crap, but it’s the first time I’ve received something which outright is not what was advertised.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-03-13 04:30 am
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If you’re wondering about how the house is going…

This might give you a clue:
Central Services Logo

…they’ve requested what appears to be a logging related form (which we have said we don’t think we need to do), and a form that appears to be related to the construction of a subdivision, rezoning a site, or constructing a large retail development…which we’ve also said we don’t think we need to do.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-03-13 12:33 am
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Bokashi Update (Again)

I know you’re all dying to know how it went… well, we managed to find a composter* and trundled out there with our Bokashi bin. Something was clearly horribly wrong, however. When the bin came out of the house, the smell produced as it was moved was… bad. Exceptionally bad. We bagged it up and even still could smell the foetid odour.

So, we pulled up at our land (after visiting a garden store, ACE hardware, and finally the Eastside Urban Farming place**) and plonked the composter down, unceremoniously, as the rain poured down on us. And then I opened the bin. Oh good holy fuck did it smell.

Even as a seasoned emergency nurse, I was concerned I might hurl. With fine technique I launched the contents into the compost bin, and then we piled wet leaves on top, damping the smell down a bit. I had planned to take a photo, but the horror of the scent was beyond comparison so I skipped that step. Then using one of the puddles of water around the place I rinsed the bin, wiped it out with bio-degradable cleaner, rinsed it, rinsed it some more, wiped it some more, rinsed it some more, and eventually conceded that it smelt less-bad-enough that we could bag it up again and throw it in the back of the car.

So raging success it was not.

Having googled – it may have been too wet, or our stuff may have sat on the counter too long, and we possibly want to be better at draining it. The white fuzzy fungus is apparently exactly what we want, which it was showing… so I’m not sure exactly why it went so horribly wrong.

We’re going to continue with the other bin, and when we’ve cleaned the other bin out more thoroughly, we’ll try another attempt without anything wet-ish. I’m wondering if the wet tea-bags and wet-coffee-grounds are the problem.

And hopefully it’ll rot down quickly, because I really don’t want to have that smell again next time we go out there.

Bleuch.

*which it turns out is harder than you’d think if you’re trying to shop at independent stores
** oh such a bad place. So bad. I will spend faaaaaarrrr too much money there.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-03-11 06:26 am
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Sadness

It is with some sadness that I announce the passing of my swimming costume (or swim suit, if you must). It’s withstood my lackadaisical care for 15 years, more or less. Normally I’d not be so attached to a piece of clothing, but I bought it as a gift for myself before I went into hospital. I still remember riding my motorbike to Stroud’s one and only sporting goods shop and grabbing it in my lunch break a few weeks before I was admitted. And wearing it was pretty much the first time I went swimming as an adult. 

So it’s a slightly sad feeling to know it’s been replaced. But the elastic was rock hard, and had gone very, very yellow. 

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-03-09 06:51 am
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Minor league annoyances 

I did not in fact get to watch tank girl, because the box I thought was filled with DVDs was in fact not. Instead it’s a box containing a few random CDs. The film archive is clearly still in storage. Sadly that also means no ???????? Katakuri-ke no K?fuku, at least not for a while. Which is a shame as there are a big group of new people to break. 

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-03-08 05:44 am
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Events of late

The ongoing disasters that are the US and the UK seem to be continuing unabated.  As I watch the UK continue to debate the validity of my existence and the US continue to demonstrate that a large proportion of citizens want me to be gone,  or alternatively dead, I’m finding it harder and harder to remain positive about the future. 

We have reached the point where we’re actually making bigger spends on our house project (on top of the original big spend of buying the land). This week we’re paying the designer (I’m assuming he’s not an actual architect) which is a not insignificant chunk of our remaining money that we can’t get back if we suddenly have to flee the country. Which worryingly is not an impossible situation.  

In our state this week a Sikh man was shot for the mistake of being brown in the US.  And in various places people have been shot for being brown and foreign. And I know for many people of color this is just another normal day. And I sincerely apologize for not doing more to combat it before, although I’ve been pushing along nudging in my quiet British way. But still. Way below good enough. 
But to actually be concerned for my safety on a regular basis is, quite frankly, shit. To have that aching paranoia – should I be here? Should I stop here? Is that someone I need to avoid? Its exhausting.

And to do that while we try and make decisions about building ourselves a home? Well, it’s not great. Let’s put it that way. 

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-03-05 03:50 am
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Break (of sorts)

So today we headed out with the intention of going to a march. Specifically, an ACA march which had some link to Danny Heck – our local congresscritter. So we hopped in the insight and drove on up to an area of Tacoma. We had actually decided not to go yesterday, for a variety of reasons, but this morning our conscience won us over – we headed up there.

And… were disappointed by the lack of diversity. I am aware that Tacoma’s way more diverse than a lot of Oly, so we were hoping to see some non-middle-class and non-white faces. And I know that I have little that I can say to criticise others. I have never organized a march in my life, nor have I done overly much political – I keep trying, but work is overwhelmingly busy and I struggle to get everything needed done in any given day.

But seriously, in the middle of Tacoma, in a park which is clearly being used by a non-white local community, and virtually every person in that march that I saw was white and (from the vehicles, clothes and people, and my stereotyping) pretty much middle class. My beloved is right, we need to be reaching out to other communities. Making connections with other groups. The fact that the left has so staggeringly failed to bring our message to groups that would actually benefit enormously from leftish policies is one of the most disappointing things about us.

It’s also one of the things that scares me the most.

Still, having made the trek we debated some other actions that were going on, but my immigrant status means that caution tends to be the better part of any kind of valour, and instead we decided to engage in a day of self-care.

We went around Point Defiance Park, for a bit of a wander. We had lunch at the Antique Sandwich Company which was one of Kathryn’s occasional haunts as a child. Visited the world’s most depressing nursery (more dead plants than alive ones). And then meandered down to the Tacoma Art Museum for an utterly amazing exhibit. The Outwin 2016 exhibit had some incredibly powerful portraits. I’m not usually that interested in portraiture, although I have more space for modern portraiture than classic imagery.

But this was truly exceptional work.

And then, occupying the flipside of culture, we headed to Tinkertopia, which is kind of along the lines of what we’d like to do as a store. Not exactly, but it’s in that region. And I picked up a record player for my office (because that’s what my office needs, obviously). It’s a 1950s Decca P-903 that needs a *lot* of love. The case isn’t too bad, although the handle is missing (sadly). However, turning it on it does make a pretty awful noise (they’d already turned it on, so I was feeling daring).

If anyone has a P-903 service manual that’d be handy, because I suspect things are sad internally. The motor’s certainly running but ooooh that deck needs (at the very least) lubrication.

Still, it’s another thing I won’t have time to tackle for a while, but when I do it should be fun.

’til then…

And now I think it’s time to watch Tank Girl :)

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-03-02 05:25 am
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App / Browser extension concepts

Concept the first: When you hover over a Senator or Representative’s name (or an MP’s name in England) a little pop-up box appears (like the spelling corrections one) which identifies major companies that have donated to that individual (or PACs that support that individual). Also major individual donors. Also a little percentage of “small donations” vs “large donations” for their last re-election campaign.

Concept the second: Further extension such that if you visit one of their websites a scrolling banner with the branding for every major company that donated to / supports them trundles across the bottom of the page.

Anyone with better coding skills than me want to make it happen?

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-02-27 02:53 pm
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A Bokashi update, and other shite.

So Bokashi first, since I’m aware that this is basically a Bokashi blog now. So the first bin is most of the way through it’s two week fermentation. It’s producing less and less of the vicious orange slurry that you can apparently use to keep drains clear. We have been tipping it down the drain, usually just before doing washing up, because it smells fierce.

The second bin is not doing so well. I suspect this is my fault, I transferred the squishing spatula from the first bin, which I’d made the decision early on not to bother to wash. This, I suspect, was an error. In the new bin with all that space it more or less instantly turned into a giant puffball of mould. I scraped it off, and shoved the mould well down into a layer, but the next time we opened it, it was the same. And since then, each time it’s been worse smelling. The first bin smelled vaguely fermenty, but this smells – like a food waste bin. Today I’ve fished it out and washed it fairly thoroughly, and I suspect that it’ll just be another bokashi job. Chop the veg up, squish it down, wash the masher.

Next week we can take it out of the bin and see what the fermentation process has done. Not sure how we clean it, given that we have no-where outside to wash it… Still, we can face that problem down when we get there.

Despite the challenges, and the amount of time it takes, it’s something I can do.

Which feels important.

Read the rest of this entry  )

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-02-24 04:58 am
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This is…

…awful, and exactly what I thought would happen when that repulsive orange molerat started spreading hatred.

Fucking awful things that have happened in Kansas.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-02-23 04:06 am
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Non-delights of adulthood

Kathryn pointed out the inherent falsehood in the phrase

“I am so entirely done with this”

Which we both often proclaim, just before we go on to deal more with whatever is causing the doneness.

On which note, I’m so entirely done with vile petty bigots persecuting transkids, and transpeople, and anyone who’s not exactly the same as them.

I hope they are haunted every waking moment – and I hope their sleep is entirely nightmares filled with the traumatised and beaten people who commit suicide thanks to their bitter, evil campaigns.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-02-20 05:12 pm
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Gently frustrating

So one of the things I miss from the UK is relatively clear pricing.

It’s frustrating to never actually know how much something will cost – you pick it up off the shelf and then some tax is added. Depending on the item it might have more than one tax on it… which means I never know until I get to the till how much things will cost.

More annoying though is the habit of places (mainly car places) advertising big-ticket items with completely misleading prices. Like, oh, this car is $15900 to buy. Only, it’s only that price if you get it on finance, qualify for every rebate they can come up with, oh, and it’s actually lease to buy which means that it’s $15900 over 5 years – then you get to pay the $11,000 residual value. Which… as far as I’m concerned means its actual price is $26900.

I’m used to car places advertising the lowest possible price which is only available if you get the base-level trim in which the seats have been replaced with milk-crates and you have a few hundred quid of registration fees and delivery fees on top. But deliberately misleading pricing where you say it’s to purchase, but exclude over $10k of cost from the ‘purchase’. This is what I call bullshit*.

* Our insight is not getting looked after properly, because I don’t have time to look after it’s many hand-built quirks (i.e. it’s leaking and I don’t have time to fix the now three places it seems to be leaking from**). Also I *hate* burning petrol. So I’m constantly trying to wheedle a way to actually afford an EV to replace it.

** ETA: Apparently it’s probably leaking from the same place as it’s leaking on the passenger side. Which means another $100 worth of clips and time. I really need another me to fix this.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-02-20 03:42 am
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Playing with plastic

So, out on our land things continue… not exactly apace, but there’s definite progress. Kathryn’s been working with various people – a wetland biologist, builders, etc, to try and move our project forward.

This involves the fun things like getting quotes for groundworks, which after the astonishing amount of water that fell from the sky, first in snow form then in rain form, have taken on a new level of complexity. Our first plan didn’t really include a lot of drainage around the house site, this updated one does – at painfully increased expense. We’ve also moved the house site forward, it’s now closer to the road. Practically, this should save us a little on the cost of the road, but also it’s slightly higher ground that’s not being assaulted by the flow of water from the county culvert.

As part of that, one of the groundworks folks went out to flag the land, but there seems to have been some miscommunication, in so far as the building he flagged was about twice the size of the one we’re intending to build. So we went out yesterday and looked at the land, and tromped around in the rain, and ended up deciding on a slight shift in position of the house. That meant that we also needed to tweak the position of the driveway…

IMG_20170218_115139

…and we also pondered that, for the sake of costs, we should perhaps move the well closer to the garage…

We’ve also had fun debating where we’re going to put the biogas digester – although given the cost of various other things, I’m tempted to go for the kit rather than the drop-in-thingie. I’d wanted to go with the drop-in-plastic thingie, because time-wise it’d work better, and frankly because we’ve enough to do, but as other costs increase something has to give elsewhere. Although this looks like a cheaper, less longlasting, but perhaps good-enough-for-now option…

We’ve trimmed our building down too – since our current design (and frankly, the situation) calls for us to have a garage straight away (because that’s where we’re putting ‘the machine room’ (laundry, geothermal, hot-water heater) lives). It’s faintly amusing that the garage is almost as large as the house, although anyone who’s known me for any length of time probably won’t be hugely surprised by that.

House interior layout

We finally seem to have come up with something that we’re a bit happier with. There’s this really awkward wall that is required for structural purposes – which we’ve had real trouble with working around. Finally, a momentary flash of cunning meant that we’ve created a sort of den in a space that was otherwise a complete pain in the arse. We’d tried really open-plan, and really not open plan. And this seems to be a moderate compromise which also makes the room more interesting shapes (because square rooms are not really very interesting).

Anyhow, we’ll see how achievable/affordable it works out…

At least I’m feeling a bit excited about it again. While we were out on the land I was reminded just why we like it so much*.

* No matter if our groundworks person says “uh, I wouldn’t have bought this…”

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-02-13 05:21 am
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Formal complaint

I wish to lodge a formal complaint about this past weekend. Not only did I spend it endeavoring not to vomit,  I also still had to prepare a lecture for Monday, and proof an exam, and then to top it off I missed the meeting I wanted to go to because I was still feeling like a delicate little (no vomiting) flower. 

Kathryn was very lovely (and is still being very lovely) which is about the only thing that made it bearable. 

-500 points out of a possible 10.

Meh. 

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-02-03 02:40 am
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Bokashi Update

I realise that many of you are probably unable to sleep, worrying incessantly about how our Bokashi experiment is going. I know that given how peaceful and calm things are, you’ve little else to occupy your minds.

Let me put your mind at ease. It’s still progressing. The first bin is nearly full. It’s pretty astonishing the quantity it will take (you kind of skoosh it down, because it’s meant to be anerobic fermentation, rather than the normal rotting process). Each time we transfer stuff from the minibin to the biggie bin I think it’s going to be full, and each time we can squeeze a little more in. I think the next one’s going to be the sealing up day though.

Then there’s just the two weeks of waiting…before we get to trundle the compost out to our land and dig it in.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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2017-01-31 05:04 am
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Um, *quietly* This is absolutely fucking terrifying.

Trial Ballon for a coup

*now* I’m scared.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.