Wednesday, November 30, 2011

No more electrons any more!

It has been a bad time for electrical MacGubbins in our house. The food processor died last weekend - at least, I doubt it still works after the amount of smoke that came out of it - and it has gone to join the kettle and the landline phone in the pile-of-WEEE-stuff. On top of that, the damp (and therefore not-laundry) weather lately reminded me that I need to try and open up the motor STUFFS of the tumble-dryer and work out why it merely huffs but no longer tumbles. And to cap it all, the charger for my laptop which has been slowly disintegrating entirely-of-its-own-accord-and-the-ferrets-deny-everything finally came entirely to pieces and I no longer had any method of reading the internets other than my phone. Woe!

Hurrah for online shopping! Today I acquired a replacement cable and it is busy sucking surplus electrons out of my laptop, or whatever the SCIENCE says it does. I can once again look at pictures of cats with humorous captions, and read TV Tropes as God intended. All praise the power of the electron-sucky cable! Harrumble!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lord Mayor's Parade

 The Lord Mayor of Londonton is a very nice fellow who threw together a parade to celebrate my friend Sarah’s birthday. So we went along to Puddledock and watched it with a thermos of mulled wine.


Yay for Viking pillagers!

Those with tanks sneer at traffic lights

Everything is better with pirates. Especially steel bands

Then we went to the London Eye and watched the fireworks.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

There's no arguing with that logic!

Cycling home from Epsom, we stopped at a red traffic light. Cue pedestrian waiting to cross the road launching into tirade:

“Yeah, tha’s right! Yew bedder fuggin’ stop!”

Us: “Yes, the light is red, that is why we have stopped.”

“Yeah, but, but, I betchoo wouldn’t of! Fuggin’ cyclists! CHAV!”


*Le sigh*

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Splortch: a public service announcement

I don’t play many computer games. I find modern soldiery shooty ones either too dull or too disturbingly real, and racing bores me unless I can be armed with banana skins and red shells. But every so often a game comes along and I become obsessed with it, and live and breathe it until it is finished. In terms of two-player co-operative games (and there are lamentably few good ones out there) this was Halo, and more recently Borderlands. It seems I do like shooting things up if there is an element of unreality in the scenario and I can do it in company. Spending an evening with one’s husband clearing an alien environment of evil bitey critters is a Good Thing.

As for single-player games, there was only one franchise I could ever get into: Grand Theft Auto. The universe is surreal enough that the (almost cartoon-like) violence doesn’t bother me, and the driving isn’t integral to the game. But most of all, the aspect I like is the free-roaming: there’s a beautifully crafted city that I can just wander around and admire, and I can choose which mission I want to do next. In the case of Vice City, I spent so much time playing that I began having dreams set there. Seriously. But by the time of GTA IV, I began to get tired of it. The city was a little too big for me to remember my way around, and there was a disappointing lack of interesting non-plot stuff (one hundred pigeons to shoot? That’s all? No taxi missions?).

And then one day last year we were in a shop rummaging through the second-hand bin for any two-player co-op games, and Tim picked up Assassin’s Creed II.

“It has really good reviews.”
“Yeah, but it’s not two-player, is it? Still, if you want it, you can get it, but I probably won’t play it. It doesn’t sound like my sort of thing.”

So we bought it and went home. Tim fired up the game, and I bimbled around the house. After a while, I stopped bimbling, and sat down next to him.

“What are you hitting him for?”
“Who’s he?”
“How did you do that?”
“You mean you can just go anywhere?!”

Tim let me have a go. This go lasted approximately three weeks. As he said, it’s Grand Theft Renaissance, and I fell in love with the world. OK, so the plot is like something Dan Brown would have rejected as too implausible, but I can go anywhere, do anything, deliver splortchy death from on high to any who incur my wrath (or whose death would simply amuse me – I’m not a complicated person).

When Brotherhood came out, I spent my Christmas money on it, and completed the game before Tim did (I think this is the first and only time this has ever happened). And today, Revelations is released.

I may be gone some time. Just as soon as Amazon deliver.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Indispensible accessories

Glove puppets: they're fabulous, aren't they? They can be used to entertain small children, create personal space on public transport, derail team meetings, and exercise pets.

I think everyone should have one!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wish List

My birthday and Christmas are rapidly approaching, and family and friends (but mostly the former,1 since I don’t have many of the latter who care enough to give me gifts) are asking what I would like. Setting aside such futilities as world peace and a pygmy goat and my very own lemur-infested island, here is my wish list:

A flash for my camera. Preferably one of those really nifty ones which I can detonate remotely without it having to be attached to the camera.
A small portable diffuser for said flash.
Some shades for my camera lenses.
Some clear filters to protect my lenses (miraculously they got around Madagascar unharmed, but I really ought to protect them more).
A backpack for lugging the above camera gear around.
A new mattress, ‘cos the current one is nearly ten years old and very lumpy.
Lady with an Ermine. Conveniently, it’s in the National Gallery in London this Christmas, so you won’t have to go all the way to Vienna to perform the heist.
A new hot water bottle – I have plenty of novelty-shaped cases, but only one bottle, and I think that’s going to start leaking soon.
The latest OOTS book, which is quite fortuitous since I found it under the bed the other day when I was looking for something else.
A ferret-proof kitchen bin (but small, since our kitchen is tiny).
A holiday somewhere with interesting wildlife – I hear Costa Rica is pretty nifty, and not far off the track from the Galapagos Islands.
A plain dark tailored jacket for the office.
A new bit of silicone tubing to repair my swimming paddle.
A sticky-roller for removing cat (and ferret) fur from clothing.
A slow-cooker (and a kitchen big enough for it).
A couple of saucepan lids with handles to replace the broken ones (the saucepans are fine). 
Some more Big Gay Musicals for rainy hungover Sundays. Classic stuff, like Calamity Jane, only I already own that. Oh, and Some Like It Hot - I don't have that in my Monroe collection.


I think that’s all. The problem comes when one is an adult and earning money and in (theoretical) control of one’s life. If one wants something, one buys it. I just ordered the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed game – Tim said “Bugger. There goes that plan for your birthday.” (Yebbut I want to play it now, not later!).

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, and all I ever wanted was a pet cat. Now I’m grown up (ha!), I have two cats, not to mention three ferrets.

I am Living The Dream. 

Smug. I haz it.

1 Who feel obliged to do so.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Duck Soup - a food for convalesent British ferrets

Most ferret-keepers have some equivalent of "Duck Soup" - a high-fat, high-protein soft food to be given to ferrets who are ill or recovering. The only thing these recipes have in common is that they contain no duck...
All the recipes I was able to find online were American, and contained brand-names I'd never heard of, units I couldn't deal with (I can never remember how much is "a cup"), and occasionally contained things like sugary caffeinated drinks, which didn't seem a good idea for a species prone to diabetes and insulinomas. Not to mention all the recipes with homoeopathic tablets in them!

In the interests of information, here's a British recipe, with none of the above problems:


About 250g of dried ferret kibble (mine eat the James Wellbeloved stuff)
1 pack of chicken livers - about 300-400g, I guess
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cheap cod-liver-oil (the cheapest you can find - it'll be 50% sunflower oil, and really pungent)


1. Soak the kibble in an equal volume of water, until it is completely mushy - about 6 hours for cold water, at least 2 hours for hot water.
2. Melt the butter in a pan, and gently fry the chicken livers until lightly brown on the outside, but still pink inside.
3. Put everything - kibble, butter, livers, cod-liver-oil - in a food processor, and blend until smooth. It will look like chocolate mousse.
4. Feed to poorly ferret.With a syringe if necessary.

This will only keep for a couple of days, even in the fridge, so I usually freeze it in ice-cube trays, and then defrost a few lumps (about 5-10 seconds per lump in the microwave) as and when needed.

Despite multiple terminal conditions, Wellesley lived a happy six months or so on this diet, and I doubt he'd have lasted so long otherwise. I'm currently feeding ð on a pot of duck soup (made for Wellesley) I found in the bottom of the freezer, since he could do with putting on a bit of weight. He seems to like it.

Wellesley, enjoying life

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weasels are *not* weasily photographed!

We've had the Boys (þ and ð) for two weeks now. So far, they have destroyed one swimming hand-paddle and a Kurt Geiger shoe of which I had been somewhat fond, chewed the scrolly-wheel off a computer mouse, and stolen a waterproof phone case, the rubber Wiimote covers (we call them "Wii condoms") and the nose-piece off my M-frames. I've still not found everything. On the plus side, three ferrets bouncing on my laptop seems to have triggered the charger to start working, so it's not all bad!

I've been trying to photograph them. Ferrets are a tricky subject matter: they are fast-moving, so will inevitably be blurry, out-of-focus, or in a different environment to the one you just set your camera for.

White balance? What white balance?
 They are crepuscular, which is a posh way of saying that they are most active when it's gloomy (or under the bed) and you can't use a low-light lens because of the shutter speed you need to prevent motion blur.

Note ð's cartoon legs as he attempts to knock the stuffing out of þ
 Finally, they like to Take An Interest.

I think the best solution is to wait for them to get tired.

New brake blocks?

Nah, these ones are fine!

Look, the wear-indicator says so!

Granted, they're shaving tinsel-like threads off the rim of the front wheel, but that's just going to give us a lightweight sporty tandem, right?