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Winter sales

Sales in France are regulated, and apart from some exceptions (the sunny islands and some mountain regions), they started today. So hoping for a bargain or two, I took the day off work and went into town to see if I could find anything. Normally my mother and I would go down after work, but with a Playmobil car that doesn't go very fast, I figured it might be better to head out in the morning...

The sales, I should point out, are now going to be four weeks instead of six. Because the nannying government thinks that sales encourage people to spend lots of money on stuff they don't need which is bad for the environment.
The obvious logic flaw in this argument is that this stuff has already been produced and is sitting on the shelf in a shop. Whether it is bought, or retired as unsold, it is either way likely destined to end up as landfill. Like Sonos speakers if you set them into "recycle" mode...

Girls have got it made. Shoes, dresses, skirts, and such. Typically 50% off, some 70% off. Us guys? More like 30% off unless it's a weird size like XXL which gets 50% off. Most shoes 30% off. I guess they know their target market. I got a shirt from the supermarket (€6) and a cardigan (about €10, it was 50%). That's it for the clothing. There was nothing else that took my fancy.
In the supermarket, a bunch of Activia yoghurt. It was "3 for 2" in weird flavours such as raspberry and peach, so I got six packs. And in a first, my scanner died. Unfortunately just before I scanned my final article. So I went to the information desk. Handed over my loyalty card and told her my name.
"This card is in the name of Jane Murray. That's not you."
"No, Jane was my mother."
"Where is she now?"
"Excuse me?"
So I dug out the death certificate and handed it over. I think she only read the title before going white, fetching me a new scanner, and thanking me for my loyalty.
In other words "there's a bunch of rules and procedures but hell no I'm not getting into this discussion today". Well, that makes two of us.

A more useful purchase, I think, was a 1TB harddisc for €40.

The box side says "installs in seconds" and underneath it tells you that you must open the thing up and stick on a little bit of rubber so the drive doesn't rattle around inside the case. No idea why this wasn't done in the factory. I didn't have any bit of rubber in my box, so I Blue Peter'd something together with sticky tape.
Whilst the device was open, I looked at the insides. A tiny USB to SATA interface, and a dinky Toshiba drive.
I plugged it into the PC and it was recognised and everything set up in a few moments. There's about 930GiB available (measuring in a real base two quantity), though the drive is formatted FAT32. I think before I use it I'll reformat it NTFS.
I don't trust RISC OS with a drive that size (bad memories of DOSFS utterly trashing a 4GB USB key in the days when it could only cope with 1GB (or was it 2? might have been a signed long issue?) and was too stupid to reject anything larger). It's been fixed and I use Fat32FS now anyway, but still... And, well, there's nothing else. Just my PC or the netbook, both of which run XP, both of which can cope with NTFS. A proper filing system, because FAT32 is hack upon kludge from something originally intended for eight inch floppies!

Went to McDonalds and got a free meal (used my accrued loyalty points), then came home. Observation 1, there were loads of children around. Don't French kids go to school on Wednesday, or is everybody on strike?
Observation 2, so much traffic on the road. Holy crap... And they all went around me. Even in places where they shouldn't.

Speaking of which, I'd like to offer a special call-out to the English people heading in the direction of Pouancé (with a licence plate ending in something like A07). You are an idiot. And clearly you have either not been in France very long, or your head is too far up your ass to have ever noticed a voiture sans permis. I wasn't driving at 45kph (or a mite under 30 in Brit measurements) in order to troll you. I was driving that (lack of) speed because that is as fast as my car can go. It's the law, because there's no special "no-licence car" category, so it gets treated as a glorified quad bike.
Flashing your main beams and honking will not make me magically discover extra gears, or push a "Nitro" button to hit a hundred in the next five seconds. No, flashing your main beams and honking just makes you look a twat. And luckily I can cut you some slack because I know that these sorts of cars don't exist in the UK, however had I been a Frenchie... you know, us Brits already have a reputation for rowdy behaviour and drunken parties, not to mention Brexit. Behaviour like that is hardly going to endear us to the natives. You may be somebody's impression of what British people are like so do try not being an asshole.


Christmas present

On my last day of work, a co-worker handed me a little box all wrapped up. She made me promise not to open it before Christmas. Since it was my only present, I didn't open it. I didn't put it under the tree either (because the tree was outside!).
I figured it was a little box of chocolates or something.

I was wrong.

How lovely was that, huh? And that guy? He is called The Dude, obviously.


Advent calendar

Service, and videos, will resume on the 16th of January. I'm just going to pick up where I left off, a month late. I don't celebrate Christmas so it's no big deal. We're instead counting down to the 25th of January. Which at this rate will be when Trump declares war with Iran (see, with that and Australia on fire, this decade is getting off to a great start).


Bringing the bin home

The other day, wanted to bring the bin home. I didn't feel like walking up the lane so I used some stretch cords to clip the bin to the car (specifically, the head rest as it was something solid to clip on to). But the bin was bouncing around a lot. So I thought to myself that my car was super-dinky, could I reach back and just hold onto the bin handle and lift it clear of the ground?


My first 1000 kilometres

Last Saturday, on the way home from big town, the trip counter rolled over. My first thousand kilometres.

I took a box of chocolates in to work, and printed out the above photo with a caption (so they'd know what the chocolates were for).
I entered what I had written into Google Translate, to check that it was logically correct. You will note that French pluralisation rules are different to English, and after trying to work it out, I just gave up and stuck an 's' at the end of everything. Which Google seems to think is correct, and nobody at work corrected it either. It makes no sense at all to me, as "premier" shouldn't be plural as it's the first time. There won't be a second first time. Likewise, "mille" shouldn't be plural as it's a thousand and it's my first thousand so there's only one of them.
But it is French. The important word here is "kilomètres", which is plural, so everything else must be plural to agree with it. Weird and bizarre.
But not as weird and bizarre as Google's faulty translation...



I popped into Action to get some stuff for the car. The aforementioned bungee cords, a set of fuses, a set of cute little road cones, and a box to put it all in. Came to less than a tenner. Actually it was double that, as I also picked up no-name Bluetooth headphones. All in under twenty. Not bad.

The headphones... There's a 3.5mm socket for plugging into traditional devices (or if the battery runs out), and there's a µSD slot for playing MP3 directly from a card. In terms of Bluetooth music playback, it's give some and take some. I'm currently listening to O Vertigo! by Kate Miller-Heidke (you might remember her as the swaying Aussie), and in times of silence there's a faint high pitched ticking in the right ear, it's as if you can hear the Bluetooth data. That's the bad. The good is that for non-name (Pulsar) headphones, the bass response is actually pretty impressive. I like powerful bass in my headphones. Probably making up for a childhood with crappy headphones and a Walkman (or clone) which had little in the way of decent bass response.

If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, O Vertigo! is available on the music app. Give it a try. It is bizarre and awesome in equal measure. What Was I To You and Ghost are highlights for me, and try not to smile as Kate thinks she might Lose My Shit (which amusingly is captioned "explicit", in case the third word of the song title wasn't noticed).


Electricity comparisons

EDF (French electricity provider) has an app. I use it because it simplifies my bi-monthly payments. Part of the information they provide is a report on the "evolution of your consumption". Looking at it, I paid €396 for electricity in 2019 (much of that was on fixed charges and tax). In bright red it points out that this was five euros more than I spent in 2018.
So switch views to consumption in kilowatts rather than cost, and... oh dear...
I consumed 1745 kWh in 2019, which is 74 kWh less than in 2018.

Somebody might want to tell EDF to not put the "more" cost in screaming bright red if the increased cost is because their prices went up. It's a simple fix - if the kWh is more, show it in red as the user is using more. If the kWh is less, show it in blue as the user is actually using less.
In other words don't try to guilt trip us into using less when we actually are.

Somewhere else I think I recall seeing that comparable properties in my location spend about that much per quarter on electricity. Okay, it's about 13°C in my room right now, many people seem to like "about 18" which probably means "twentyish" in reality. Being colder isn't a big hardship. I'm used to it. My yearly outlay is a quarter of others, and to be honest, Spring comes early for me. It's about 13 outside, so if it wasn't raining I could go for a walk or something. And when the sun comes out and it hits 16-18 (like it does in March). Well, bliss. Grab a chair, grab a book, and sit outside.


Ricky Gervais

By now, I think most people have probably heard about Ricky Gervais' skewering of the self-obsessed at the Golden Globe awards. I'm on the wall regarding whether I think it is good or bad. I think a lot of bubbles needed to be burst, and yes, I too wish that the people picking up awards would thank their agent, their mom, God, and then eff off. MeatLoaf's clueless insulting of Greta Thunberg demonstrates exactly why we shouldn't listen to celebrities when it comes to anything more complicated than when their next film/album is out. He's right, they really have no idea.
But then Gervais ruined it by sticking in "I don't care" after pretty much every single gag. He should have said it once when the first karma missile was greeted by mute gasps, and then just left it at that. Just repeating the "I don't care" mantra cheapens his message. And while his "jokes" have managed to annoy loads of luvvies (a little too close to home?), the whole thing just seems a little too fake and tired, mostly due to all of the "I don't care".
He should have cared. Greatly. Because he was probably saying what a lot of normal people were thinking - don't lecture us on your pet topic you twat, just get your award, thank a few people, then bugger off. Period. The end. Done deal.


Targetting Iran

I'm not going to get into any discussion regarding whether or not the Iranian person killed by the US is a good thing or a bad thing, and I'm not going to take any sides in the issue, suffice to say two points:
  • First up, it is amusing that the Iranians have decided that the Pentagon is a terrorist organisation. This seems to have been reported in the west with some amount of mockery, but it does highlight the old adage that one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. Perhaps from their point of view, it was indeed an act of terror?
  • And secondly, do you remember when we were all like "what the hell?" when ISIS (or whatever it was calling itself) were going around destroying ancient Islamic cultural things, because it was the wrong sort of Islam? Well, where does Trump get off claiming that they are ready to go all missile flinger and targetted things of importance to Iran including cultural things?
Because, you know, every country in the world has a number of places of cultural significance that are important to them, that may define them as a country, as a people, and their history. These should never be considered targets.

Let's just say that America goes and blows up some of Iran's culture, and Iran retaliates by destroying Independence Hall, the Library of Congress, the Statue Of Liberty, and Mount Rushmore. Cultural things shouldn't be acceptable targets. They might be able to be rebuilt, perhaps, but they will never be the originals. And in the case of sites like Mount Rushmore and the Library of Congress...some things are irreplaceable.

It might be worth both sides taking the time to step back from the fray and think carefully about how to go forward. I don't imagine the world really wants to be dealing with another war, and aiming at culture is abhorrent.



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David Pilling, 10th January 2020, 13:44
1000Km is good going. You are driving more than I do. When I was learning I always thought that the people on the road were driving more miles per week than I was and as a result getting better faster than me. 
I thought of more sayings (yay) 
"Only a fool breaks the two second rule" 
"the brakes are for slowing the gears are for going" 
I don't know how you'd self learn the low return things. For example one is taught to look in the right hand blind spot before setting off. But it is very rare to see anything there. Eventually you start to forget... until the day you have an unpleasant surprise. There are a lot of these things, stuff you are forced to do to pass the test but which in practice rarely matters. 
Also when I was a newbie people would honk when I missed a chance at traffic islands. Which of course just made me more nervous and miss a few more chances. 
Still if they honk they know you are there. As with doodlebugs it is the one you don't hear which gets you. 
Prob. Brits honking because you're driving a car with French plates. 
Meanwhile - UK electricity companies send out stuff showing what comparable houses use - always a fraction of what you do. Propaganda? Something they do to please the powers that be? Other people go out to work all day, spend all night in pub, get home full of alcohol, don't feel the cold and collapse. 
Can one keep all the dogooders happy. 
Rick, 12th January 2020, 18:02
Brits honking because they were late for beer o'clock... 
More experience doesn't necessarily make a person a better driver. Sometimes they get complacent and pick up dumb habits like steering using their little finger hooked over the bottom of the wheel...

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