heyrick1973 -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot uk

Yogourt weaving

The machine that mixes the yogourt was having a nervous breakdown on Friday. Black cherry, and I suspect some of the cherry pulp had pips in, and the mixer-pump-thingy was really not enjoying that.
Now, don't get me wrong, for black cherry is possibly my all-time favourite flavour, but isn't it a bit... you know... pedestrian? It's coming up to the festive season. I'm sure all the stuff we've been making recently is for over-the-top executive parties and such, so why don't we have some exciting flavours rolling out? Like, perhaps, "fig yogourt with pieces of christmas pudding"? To see what I mean, look at what a competitor is offering:
Okay, it is not strictly a 'yogourt', however despite sounding odd it is actually really nice.

At least the machine that whacks the lids on didn't get jammed. That's a hell of a mess to clean up!

 

Party political nonsense

Have a read of this, from BBC World teletext, time as given:
This "signal moment" speech is, to me, nothing more than a big "safety blanket" to cuddle up with. As much as (New) Labour might be dicking around the Scottish people and as much as some might feel their country and ultimate destiny have been hijacked by Westminster (with Holyrood having liitle actual power), the fact is now and again Labour will win for whatever reasons. In fact, I think it would be quite extraordinary if a group of local elections were called and any specific party (SNP or otherwise) won every single seat. It is not a "signal moment", unless you are going to consider not losing to be something worthy of celebration, and likewise it is not a sign that the opposition party are "falling apart". Some votes will remain with Labour, some will be taken by the SNP. I personally think to claim a seat is a much stronger position than keeping what you already had; however what really matters is where the final tally lies, for how strong can Labour be if Glenrothes is one of the only constituencies they have?

A brief note for foreign readers: the current ruling party of Scotland is the SNP, or the Scottish National Party (cf. Alex Salmond). Their eventual aim is a devolution of Scotland so that it can run its affairs rather than being mostly ruled by the English (Holyrood (the Scottish parliament) has some powers, but most things must pass through Westminster, the British parliament); however they have taken the smart approach of deferring a referendum on indpendence until they can prove themselves as a good and viable party and not simply riding on some 'trendy' wave. This greatly disturbs Labour (the current ruling party of the British) and we have had some hysterical knee-jerks moments of utter madness from them, especially in the guise of Wendy Alexander who clamoured for a referendum right now (in direct opposition to her own party line!), and Labour will waste no time in slagging off the SNP whenever it can and making grandiose statements such as those shown above.
Why? Because they are frightened. The SNP have not cocked up like they were 'supposed to', in fact if anything all of the opposition cock-ups exemplify why the SNP are in power. The party appears to be leading well despite having one arm tied, and - now we get to the crux of the matter - what effect would it mean to have Scotland devolve?

We can ignore the hue and cry over the North Sea oil running out "in about three years", for Scotland has more resources than just an oil-field and that's probably just a lie to scare people, for the ending of the north sea oil reserves will have quite a dramatic impact, you'd have thought now would be when the oil rigs would be starting to be decommissioned as alternative sources are brought on-line. This does not appear to be happening. In fact, industrial action at a refinery earlier in the year caused a knock-on effect that went all the way to the South East.
And talking of the South East, the greatest density of population in possibly the most arid part of the country, well, Scotland has lots of water. Large amounts of which are pumped 'down south' to the land of water meters, broken pipes, and hosepipe bans...
On a more personal note, however, it would be interesting to see how much of the current political system would remain intact if Scotland devolved. The British (the English Daily Mail readers in particular) would scream en masse if they were led by a bunch of Germans or French or Lithuanians. Well, if Scotland breaks away, a lot of the current incumbents will be equally 'foreign'. For a start, Gordon Brown will be out of a job. I don't suppose Holyrood would want him, and as a Scot he would be 'foreign' to the English. So you could wonder how much of this noise is a sense of self-preservation?

Furthmore, The United Kingdom will cease to exist. Wales is not a kingdom, it is a principality. Northern Ireland is not a kingdom, it is just a bit stolen from the Irish a long long time ago (the clue is in the name...). The only kingdoms are those of Scotland and of England, with the only active royalty being based in London (Buckingham/Windsor) with sojourns to Balmoral in Scotland. I'm not sure what will happen to Scotland's kingdom status, if the current royal family will continue representing both (like the Queen remains "head of state" for a number of ex-colony countries); however this is of little actual concern. What matters is that the title "United Kingdom" will be consigned to the history books.
There are many other complications to deal with too. I, for example, was born in Scotland but spent much of my life in the south of England. Would I remain with a 'UK' (English) passport or take a Scottish one? Would I even have a choice? Does this mean border controls? Will Scotland move to the Eurozone? About the only thing that is certain is the Scottish people will tell Westminster exactly where they can stick their stupid nuclear missiles...

 

Mind-games

I detest hunters, both generally (Sarah Palin, are you listening?) as I don't agree with those who consider it 'sport' to take an array of rifles and shoot furry critters, and specifically as our first cat was hunter-fodder at a range of an estimated 52 metres from the house (the legal limit is 150m but we've observed people carrying loaded uncocked weapons closer). There was even (circa 2003) an old git who walked around our small commune (mini-village) shooting because in his opinion there were too many cats. A friend was sad to see her cat shot in front of her eyes. I'm afraid I'd have had out the police, the army, and anybody else who I could phone up. Arrest the bastard on charges of attempted terrorism. Let me say it again - our tiny-town has a total population of around 280, of which I'd guess around 120 live in the 'bourg' itself. It is basically a dogs-leg crossroads with a church in the middle and houses spreading out from that centre point. And a guy not only walking around carrying a loaded weapon, but actually using it in the town. Unbelievable.

Well, as I was walking back from feeding the cats, through the marshy field and soaking wet grass (it rained and stormed appropriately dramatically last night), I could see the telephone poles lighting up. I ran as fast as I could (which isn't terribly fast) past the front of the house, around the pond, up the driveway to our boundary. Then I hid behind the tree where the cat was shot. The vehicle, moving very slowly, was a 4 wheel drive. It stopped at the boundary, where we have a "no entry" sign, and attempted an appalling hash of a three point turn. He came into the field and right up beside the tree. At which point he looked towards a figure in black (and navy blue, same difference in the dark) with a switched-off LED lamp on my head. I waved. He was startled, the rolled-up cigarette falling from his mouth. As he bent down to pick it up, I slid behind the tree. There was much grinding of gears and he left considerably faster than he arrived. I shall sit back and await tales of ghost stories. But, yay! I hope he has an uneasy night tonight...

 

Soba noodles

In a local "bio-food" shop, I found these:
The real deal too, made in Osaka by Muso. They are authentic from being made in Japan, however in terms of soba they only contain 40% buckwheat, refer to Wikipedia/Soba for more details.

They cook like spaghetti but they are firmer and have a rougher texture. I don't think they would be suited to a typical tomato-based pasta sauce, however if you make up some and toss them in a light soy and then throw in half a jar of Suzi Wan sweet and sour... you've a nice simple meal. Here you can see me enjoying exactly this while on my break at work. It's just the thing for when you've done four and a half hours of work and there's another four hours to go...

 

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