Sunday, April 22, 2012

fields in spring and the wonders of plastic

I recently bought a flat screen monitor for the computer and have finally given up on my old enormous CRT screen which is actually still working, so I will keep it as a spare. The only reason that I bought a new one was because it is second hand from a charity shop and cost £7.50. It also came with a keyboard and a couple of speakers. It was sold as seen and as such I did notice a small dink in the bottom right hand corner, possibly the result of a teenage hissy fit, but I'm only guessing here. After I turned the new screen on, the small dink becomes a pleasing spider web shape which I quite like. The only thing I am not sure about are the colours it gives, which when viewing my photos seems to give them a slightly plasticy look. I can probably fiddle around with the settings or I might just get used to them.

Generally I only replace things when they are completely broken, but this has freed up about 90% of my desk space and has given the cat a lot more room to run around hassling me for biscuits. One example of my not replacing things is my amplifier and speakers (wharfedale) which I bought when I was at school in the 1880s, and although the amp no longer has an on/off button that works, it still gives me a lovely loud sound to enjoy when I'm in the mood to listen to lovely loud sounds.

A lot of new things are rubbish anyway, for example the much trumpeted Dyson vacuum cleaner which seems to have been designed in a laboratory by a bunch of men who have never actually used a hoover in their entire lives. The multitude of things wrong with the Dyson become clearly apparent within about ten minutes of using it. None of these problems have ever been spotted by the lab boffins for some reason and the recycling centres have a special graveyard section for unwanted Dysons.

Another thing that seem to be rubbish are the new kettles, which seem to boil themselves into an absolute frenzy before they switch off. I usually give them a helping hand by switching them off myself and saying to them; " Yes, I think you're flipping boiling now" It's probably best not to talk to kettles too much but they can be annoying at times. Do they boil themselves for so long to give an extra bit of money to the power companies? Who knows eh?

Friday, April 20, 2012

rain and the red forest

Spring is here with a cold sharp wind, torrential showers and accompanying hailstorms. It isn't good weather to find yourself halfway along Chesil Beach, so today I walk to the top of Muttersmoor to look at the amount of trees that have been felled early due to Phytophthora ramorum, a fungus like organism that has destroyed larch forests in Cornwall, Somerset and Devon. Sometimes known here as 'sudden oak death' Phytophtora (Greek for plant destroyer) apparently affects lots of different types of trees and plants, including the potato blight of Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland and Europe in the 1840s.

There is actually a much larger area of trees missing from the hillside than the photos reveal, as the scale is difficult to see from this hilltop angle. There are many types of tree cut down here but it is supposed to be mainly affecting the Japanese larch. Maybe they are dying in sympathy with the newly created Red Forest that has appeared around Fukushima. This from Fukushima Diary:

"The Red Forest (Ukrainian: Рудий ліс, Russian: Рыжий лес), formerly the Worm Wood Forest, refers to the trees in the 10 km² surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The name ‘Red Forest’ comes from the ginger-brown colour of the pine trees after they died following the absorption of high levels of radiation from the Chernobyl accident on April 26, 1986.In the post-disaster cleanup operations, the Red Forest was bulldozed and buried in ‘waste graveyards’. The site of the Red Forest remains one of the most contaminated areas in the world today.

A Fukushima citizen found it to say,,


I’ve been here for 30 years, but I haven’t seen a pine tree withering.


1 of 15 trees are dead.


No sparrow.


Before 311, sparrows were tweeting every morning.


Everything has changed.


There is no even ant.


From 311 to April, Korean houttuynia withered too.


It was the first time in my life to see growing Korean houttuynia totally died."

That this Fukushima citizen noticed that the ants might be missing I find quite revealing. Some forms of life seem to be more sensitive to changes in their environment than we generally give them credit for and they heed the warnings often long before man does. Even when we do know, what do we do? That the hardy empire of the ants might retreat from the radiation shows their keeness of survival. I wonder if they have encountered radiation before, I expect they have.

The American naval bases in Japan have been the source of much criticism over the years, though they always toughed it out, but the ships and personnel were moved away rapidly after last years earthquake and nuclear disaster, as a 'precautionary measure' they said. I wonder how many remain in Japan now? Have they gone back? Many millions of people still carry on the day to day in Japan, but what must they be thinking when it rains on them now, and when they choose fresh food to eat and drink the water, or feed their children. We are not sensitive enough to see radiation, can we taste it?

A lot of people don't want to think about Fukushima but what is happening there has consequences that are not isolated to Japan so this situation should really involve a combined international response. As far as I can tell from the MSM there is no problem, if there was any problem it was last year and there's nothing to worry about now or even any reason to bring the subject up. Is there any sign of an international response, or is this actually it?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

the cobb at lyme regis

A cold and windy day in Lyme Regis today and I get blown around on the famous Cobb for my troubles. Readers of John Fowles and Jane Austin will be find this place familiar. Those are the steps that Louisa Musgrove missed and that bit on the end is where you can stare forlornly out at sea, like in The French Lieutenant's Woman. Actually, the end doesn't point directly out at sea as you would expect, it points more sort of eastwards towards Golden Cap, which is the biggest hill on the south coast, so you can stare forlornly at that instead. Even in this nippy weather couples do manage to walk to the end and have a quick romantic interlude and a bit of snog, which is very nice probably and would certainly make up for being buffeted about by this cold wind at the moment.

In another of my endless possible money making schemes I thought of getting a French Lieutenant's Woman's velvet hooded cape knocked up, which I could then rent out to people as they walked to the end of The Cobb and whereupon I would take a quick snap of them gazing forlornly out to sea to flog to them for a small amount of money. It's got to be worth a go and I'm very surprised no-one has thought of it already. Of course, if you don't know The French Lieutenant's Woman you'll have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. It's a long story and a bit post modern too, at least the film is anyway, I can't remember the book.

The BBC did a version of Persuasion a few years back in which you get to see The Cobb on a very choppy day with the waves making occasional guest appearances, coming right over the top of The Cobb, it's well worth a look if you like that sort of thing. Lyme Regis is a charming town with lots of lovely hotels and which also has a lot of pasty shops now for some reason, which is fine by me as I like pasties very much. If you're there in the next few days I recommend a visit to The Sanctuary bookshop at the bottom of the hill. It's got some really nice Hundertwasser postcards that were printed in 1988 on black card, the ones with the mirrored bits on the front, they're an absolute bargain at a pound a pop and almost too nice to give away.