Thursday, December 31, 2015

Misty Streets of Blue ...

Yeah, you got it. When we get fog in these here parts, we get the proper stuff: like a Palmerston North pea-souper, but redoubled in spades. You can wander around all day in a little bubble about 10m in diameter, anything further away fading into gray - or then again, maybe around 9:30 it will just clear up, for no apparent reason, and the sky's bright around us. Never can tell, bloody weather.

As the New Year threatens us with its imminent appearance (and being a year older but, like, maybe not actually a year wiser, just a few more memories you've had to chuck out to make room for fresh ones) I have made a Resolution to start seriously thinking about resolutions, maybe even making a list which is destined to disappear down the back of the sofa but hey! it's a start. So far, I need to dust the camera off, get out more often, throw a ball for the dogs and maybe update this blog in a more regular fashion. Like bowel motions - not necessarily at a fixed hour, but at least once a day. (In case of constipation you may be excused, with a note from the doctor.)

Of course, for this to come about requires that interesting things happen - for very few wish to read a blog the entire contents of which are simply time-stamped notes as to bowel motions (you know, comfort, consistency, crap like that ... "soft but cohesive let my offerings flow/not roughly swift, nor impudently slow") - and such things don't just pop up like that, you know. There are a couple of ways of dealing with this problem and the first - the most direct - ensures that interesting things happen by going out and damn well kicking reality until it kicks back.

Say, take the TGV up to Paris and then the RER-C out to Seine St-Denis, strip stark naked in the courtyard of a high-rise immeuble, indecently assault a pig and start eulogising the Front National and the le Pen family. I am pretty sure that fairly shortly afterwards things that could be considered interesting, from a certain point of view, would indeed happen.

The other way is, in some respects, rather more difficult: you just have to make it all up. You can't go overboard on this one, and so - unless it's a really really quiet week - you will never read in these here august pages something along the lines of "Mayor of Moux Abducted, Anally Probed by Aliens" because let's face it, even if at least part of that is actually true (and I have that on good authority, thanks to a couple of the neighbours who met some cute little green guys from some place called Roswell), who's going to believe it? Apart from Pox News viewers, or the couch-dwelling retards that listen to Rush Limburger. (Is that actually a name, by the way? Sounds more like a kind of cheese to me, one of the smelly runny ones that everyone says are really authentique, très typé but somehow never seem to actually buy.)

But still, just saying: be aware that on rare occasions during a dull week you may, from now on, find reported here certain facts that although true in a metaphysical sense, such as "would be true, were it not for inconvenient facts", may not be entirely congruent with reality such as we know it.

In the "entirely true, even if I wish it weren't" department: LibreOffice, the "open" fork of OpenOffice, is still crap. I mean, apart from the rendering problems, and the tendency of embedded images to migrate to godnose where in the document, and the all-too common habit of crashing and losing your work when you ask it to do something complicated, like copy the contents of one spreadsheet cell into another ... I would like to love open-source software, and I do not wish to denigrate the efforts of tens of pimply-faced programmers, but I ask you - who in their right mind would organise things so that a) it doesn't use the "default printer" setting that has been available since Windows 3.1 and b) setting the default printer within LibreOffice does that only for the current document? (And is, incidentally, considered to be a change to the actual document. WTF?)

(And don't try to tell me that it's all about preserving your precious bloody purity of essence, "it's a cross-platform thing and we can't favour Windows over anything else" - I think the last operating system I used that did not have a printer preference setting was VRX, on an NCR mainframe, and that was only because you could only afford one printer and that was a 132-column 66 lines-per-page monster of a line printer that made the whole damn building, all five floors of it, shudder when it was spitting out the general ledger printouts.)

I mean honestly guys, I know you don't mind being laughing-stocks, what with living in the family basement and not seeing the sun a great deal and all that, but really? Has the concept of "usability" totally passed you by? Yeah, yeah, you doubtless just have to go and edit some obscure XML file somewhere, using the editor that you have to download from some git repository that is probably offline and build, and all will be peachy. You go tell that to Auntie Gladys, because I'm not going to.

I guess that for the Nth year in a row, this will be one where I am not going to be recommending FOSS or Linux to anyone that needs more hand-holding than just helping keep their index finger steady as it moves along the lines of words in the manual. Hell, I might even go and pay money for a copy of Microsoft Office, which actually works, or at least does what it says on the tin. Sorry, but I have a job, not a religion.

The thing about cargo cultism is that it does, in fact, work. It was but last Friday that Cédric and I personhandled the poele up into the living room, and lo! this being Monday, what should happen but a nice chauffagiste turned up at the door. He did not do the sucking of the teeth, nor the slow indrawn sigh, nor did he do the tugging of the nose and the rolling of the eyes to heaven. No, he simply said "Ok squire, I'll order in ten metres of tubing for the cheminée, should be able to get it up and running next week". Or something to that effect, anyway. (Happily, the guy is lyonnais by origin, and consequently more or less comprehensible.)

So it's Christmas tomorrow and I'm kind of goofing off because quite frankly Ole Yurrup is now more or less closed until January 4th, and I'm looking through the site of CuisinStore, who sell decent pots and pans and useful stuff. They also have some articles that are rather less useful, in my opinion - I mean, does the world really need a special, specific tool, that looks suspiciously like one of those things for getting rid of nose hair, just to remove the stem and leaves from strawberries? Or, come to that, an ingenious implement allowing you to cut a banana into regular disks? Provided you only want five of them, cut I assume from the middle of the banana in question. Godnose what you do with the other bits.

Well, I hope you'll be pleased to learn that the fine old tradition of the Christmas Eve Barbecue has once again been upheld. It was sufficiently warm and pleasant last night, and I found myself - through no fault of my own - with a defrosted filet mignon de porc, so it seemed like a Good Idea at the time to set it to marinating in honey, red wine and soy sauce whilst I dragged the smaller of the Webers out on to the terrace. It went down quite nicely with the very last of the yams, thanks very much.

And then, if I can shake off the lassitude that usually sneaks up on me around this time of year and avoid dozing off in the armchair, I suppose I'd better go get that bit of venison ready for roasting. Which will involve nowt more complicated than untrussing it, getting rid of the sinews and sheathing (honestly, you'd really think that if you lot are going to export venison to Ole Yurrup at eye-watering prices, you could at least prepare it correctly), and then wrapping in smoked raw ham before retrussing and bunging it in the oven for 45 minutes or so. And then hope that it doesn't turn out dry and dreadful, or raw and wobbly. If the latter then at least the leftovers - and there will be leftovers, for 1.4kg is too much for two - will eventually meet their maker in a Thai-style salad on Monday night, when we're planning on hosting a little apéro dinatoire for such friends and acquaintances as have not fled elsewhere.

 As it happens I find myself with rather fewer leftovers than I'd feared, for Bob! came round and there were three of us tucking into the meat, which oddly enough I managed to get just right. Neither gray, nor bloody. Never mind, there is still an adequate deficiency for tonight. All is ready: the meat is thinly sliced and has been marinating overnight in soy sauce, nuoc mam, lime juice and sambal oelek - the cheesy rolls with vieille mimolette are in logs in the freezer, ready to be sliced and baked - the puff pastry needs but to be rolled out and prepared for the flammenkuches - and last but not least, the KitchenAid made short work of mincing and then kneading pork, veal, and a couple of packets of spices that came back with us from Croatia a good number of years ago, in order to turn the whole mess into cevapcici to be cooked on the barbecue.

(OK, so the spices were use-by 2007, sue me. Under other circumstances I would have chucked them, on the grounds that they would be dry and dusty and no longer have any flavour, but when I opened the packets my nose told me otherwise and I feel no guilt.)

Either someone is trying to mess with my brain or else something really odd goes on in Russia over the Christmas period, for in the past three days I have received 643 page views from that country. WTF? Does have it in for me? Or am I just an innocent bystander, caught up in the spam wars? (Now up to 733. Do these people have nothing better to do?)

Anyways, Happy New Year to all of you - especially the Russians - and we'll catch up in 2016, I guess. Mind how you go, now.

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