Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Artichokes II

People have asked that if the normal fate of the artichokes pictured here had come to pass. It had...

And then there was:

Strawberries, also from the garden. As the Kiwis say, 'sweet as...'


Monday, December 12, 2011

Spiny Visitor

As we were getting ready to go out, Bev was more than slightly startled to see a huge lump stuffed up against the back of the fridge in our kitchen, looking like a rolled up jumper with a bunch of knitting needles through it.

"I'm quite happy here, thank you!" Echidna seen from the rear. [James]

It proved to be a somewhat lost echidna! Having checked the risks* we attempted to remove it, which quickly proved impossible. Even dressed with heavy gloves and in my coat, trying to lift an animal the size of a large, fat cat that didn't want to be lifted proved more tricky than you'd think - it seemed to be attached to the floor. Echidnas have very powerful digging claws, and are ideally adapted to grabbing onto carpet - as we found. When the spines started to dig into the wooden wall, we decided to call Wildlife Rescue. Apparently the way you get rid of an echidna is to block off** all but the preferred exit, and it will - when it's good and ready - toddle*** off into the sunset.

We propped the back door open, blocked off the sides of the route as recommended and left it to it, and when we returned some hours later, it had gone.

In the meantime, we'd had a crash course in the details of the echidna, and it is a easily overlooked and fascinating animal; unique or odd in so many ways. I'll just mention that a baby echidna is called a 'puggle' and that they seem to happily go through life for a very long time in a range of climates that we find challenging. If you'd like to know more (you'll be amazed, I'm sure) here's a link to this website that goes into more detail, and also this very amusing website (and more) by a chap that has hand-reared puggles. Well worth a read.


* Like the related platypus, it does have a pair of spurs, but the echidna's are not poisonous; the spikes are actually modified hairs and aren't ejected, and if non-Australians are wondering, in general it's easier to assume things are dangerous and work back from there - echidnas appear to be dangerous mainly if you fall on one or try and cuddle it...

** Suitcases and boxes are recommended; it will, like a wombat, go through anything like card and plastic if it wants to, by the way.

*** It has a cute as all gait that really is a 'toddle'.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Advent of Moomins

A parcel marked PRIORITY, came from beyond the Arctic circle,

Bearing a franked Santa and a Little My stamp, inside of which was the Advent of the Moomins, arriving just in time, all the way from Finland,

To go up on the picture wall and have door ONE opened on the right day,

While others were borne to Northcote and Kingston, and no doubt other places exotic.


[Thanks to Bev, Ottobre Magazine, and, critically, Tove Jansson. Pic 3 by Meghan.]

Thursday, December 1, 2011


An interesting article on the BBC website ranges far and wide, anchored on the concept of what makes sense for the pace of technological change, and what may actually be 'necessary' replacement rates for gadgets and tools. It's very thought provoking, I think.

If technological change feels like a blur now, what'll it be like in 20 years? Night lights, Vancouver. [James]

(Angela Saini's article includes thoughts on sewing machines, the creativity of making and repairing 'stuff' and the ownership of your technology. Unfortunately the dreadful picture selection was done in someone's smoko.)

Much of what the author's got to say makes a lot of sense, but one thing I'd like to have seen is what seems to me to be the benchmark requirement. Personally, I want tools that work, and stay working for a reasonable period of time, without fiddling or demands.

Using Macs, in the personal computing sphere, this has been our experience for getting on for a couple of decades now*. However I recognise that this slow change has been enabled by a remarkably aggressive development and replacement cycle that needs the 'early adapters' our author talks about. The iPad and iPhone and their developed versions may be crack-cocaine for tech-heads, but they are also useful tools and both Bev and I have found the i-tool we use worth having as a tool.

Missing the full command?

I'm happy to take things apart and see how they go; occasionally repairing them too, but I'm not kidding myself I'd ever be able to repair even a dial-telephone, nor am I in a society where me being able to repair one is necessary. On the other hand I'm not interested in the latest tool to impress others, but I appreciate that drive has accelerated technical solutions at affordable prices for many of us. Between the make-do-and menders and the tech-heads may be technonormal?

James - not iJames

*Bev and I both used 'tombstone' Macs for many years, Bev's mother having one before that even. In the late 1990s we had Duncan the iMac, joined by Penny the iBook in 1998 and 1999. Duncan was retired when we emigrated in 2004 and an unnamed flat screen iMac was bought in 2005, and an iBook in 2008 for an around the world trip to replace Penny which didn't have a CD burner etc. Adding to these this year are my iPhone and Bev's iPad 2, both of which have been invaluable and very flexible work and leisure tools. Penny still works, and only Duncan has died, in his case after we'd passed it on.