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w/e 2022-11-06

I did leave the grounds this week, three times: the one hour round-trip drive to the supermarket, a quick jaunt to the next village for my covid booster and first ever flu jab, and this afternoon a 20 minute walk between rain showers. Consequently I’ve said a couple of dozen words to other people this week and so feel fully socialised.

The most dramatic event of the week was while I was lying in bed around sunrise and heard a bonk! – the familiar sound of a bird hitting a window, but louder and heavier. I soon discovered, outside the kitchen window, a dead female pheasant, the largest bird to have collided with the house so far.

Usually it’s only standard garden birds that surprise, daze or kill themselves on the windows, plus occasional woodpeckers. But this year we’ve had more.

After dark one summer night, we heard the bonk! and, investigating with a torch, I found an owl on the ground, upright, head moving. A little while later it had gone so I’m hoping it flew off, rather than provided a predator’s supper.

And a few weeks ago, while I was in the conservatory, I saw a large bird swooping down from the trees and bonk! it hit the window in front of me. It was a bird of prey – we think a sparrowhawk – and landed flat on its back, which is usually a fatal sign. Surprisingly, 30 seconds or so later it hopped upright, and sat there for some time, turning its head, one wing a little wonky. I’d got as far as googling what to do with injured birds of prey before it suddenly left the ground and flew back the way it had come.

The pheasant wasn’t so lucky. I wasn’t country enough to have any interest in turning it into dinner, so I took the advice of various official websites and double-bagged it for that day’s fortnightly rubbish collection.


§ A photo of some grass with a hedge in the background. There are four small neat piles of dry autumn leaves and the shadow of me holding a rake

I did more raking of leaves this week, one sunny morning. Only four wheelbarrows full this time, rather than the ten or so of the week before.

One other pastime I have at the moment is lifting dead leaves out of our two ponds with a fishing net. I’ve never bothered before but I think I read that decaying leaves aren’t good for ponds and their wildlife so that’s what I’ve been doing.

It’s quite relaxing and pleasing, although feels a bit pointless. But I can imagine people fawning over an online video of a wizened-but-sprightly ninety-year-old Japanese man using a hand-crafted net to remove leaves from a pond in an immaculate garden, which the men of his family have been doing for generations, so whatever, hashtag satisfying.


§ I got round to finishing reading Good Night and Good Riddance by David Cavanagh which became differently good once I reached the years during which I was listening to John Peel. Sometimes I would find a contemporary recording of a Radio 1 show to listen to and the sound and feel of that period, the late 1980s to early 2000s, really took me back, especially the late 90s recording that abruptly started mid-way through a pre-show handover from my old friend Rachel.

It was interesting to read about the entire span of his career and how music and his tastes changed over the decades. His increasing distaste for early 1970s rock, his enthusiasm for punk, his interests in reggae, rap, and then house, techno, and other variations of dance/electronic music. And I’d forgotten quite how wild the swings from one genre to another would be within a show, or within ten minutes, all without apology or comment. Ah well.


§ I feel quite exhausted with the internet this week. There’s unfolding Twitter disaster. And the resulting flurry of new people on Mastodon, involving a huge amount of tooting and boosting about Mastodon. I feel I should mute both “twitter” and “mastodon” on both services.

Then MetaFilter is about to run out of cash and is scrambling to raise funds to see it through to a point where it can either (a) radically change things to make the site viable and attract new users or (b) do nothing different at all, it’s just fine thanks very much, please don’t change, are new users actually a good thing, yes we absolutely require 24/7 professional moderators, and, ugh, please don’t talk about money and business, that kind of language is toxic! Depending on who you are.

On MetaTalk there’s the fundraising post, a site update, an opportunity to pay for posts on a topic you like, a fundraising update, a financial update, a search for ideas about how to advertise the site, a Black Friday fundraiser, a proposal for spin-off sites, a question about the value of the site to users, a post about how to reduce the site’s $3,000/month AWS costs, and then the idea of creating a MeFi Mastodon instance. That’s all in the past two weeks. Plus the ongoing subreddit discussion of all that. It’s probably too much and I shouldn’t read any and yet…

And then TypePad struggled with a migration to new servers last weekend and still hasn’t fully recovered. Which doesn’t affect me directly – other than still not seeing any updates in the RSS feeds of TypePad sites I follow – but only adds to the sense that parts of the internet are suffering from some kind of tectonic shift. One day archaeologists will discover the ossified remains of bloggers and MeFi users and Twitter thought leaders frozen over their devices. “Ahh yes, a victim of the 2022 disruption. If we look closely we can just make out this incisive thought about the importance of moderation…”


§ I almost didn’t bother watching Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2021) despite all the good reviews because… three hours?! But turns out it was really good and while it was slow, it was intentionally slow and didn’t feel too long. So, if you’re looking for a three hour Japanese movie about loss, based around a multi-lingual production of Uncle Vanya, featuring a nice red car, I can recommend it.

Some time ago I started watching Community season four, a few years after seeing season three, and it was very unfunny. I couldn’t work out if it was me or it that had changed. Having been reminded recently that there was a different showrunner for that season, and assured that it got better, I skipped straight to season five and… it was really good! I Literally LOL’d. So nice to see it back on form, with a couple of very silly special episodes.


§ That’s all. The daily routines continue. No word from the mountains of Nepal but no news is good news.


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