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Let It Rain

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Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 3 Aug 2021, 17:53

I had a friend Rudolph who was a fervent communist but worked during the day selling umbrellas, macs, Wellington boots and other stuff designed to keep you dry. He was a real expert and would tell customers “Rudolph the Red knows rain gear”.

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Wildflower

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This pretty flower has appeared in our wildflower patch.


I think it’s a telesperma in the sunflower family apparently some telespermas produce flavonoids and are used by Navajo and Hopi Native Americans to make a herbal tea.

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Word of the day: Chin-Chin

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Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 27 Jul 2021, 11:45

Don't cry-ee! Don't sigh-ee!
There's a silver lining in the sky-ee
Bon soir old thing! Cheerio, chin-chin!
Nahpoo! Toodleoo! Goodbye-ee!

From the popular WW1 song Good-bye-ee, by Weston and Lee. Look out for it in Oh What A Lovely War.

What does chin-chin mean though? I always vaguely imagined it was an English-Languge expression for "cheers" and to do with two people holding glasses to their chins to toast one another.

But no! It seems to have come into English and many other languages from Italian cincin (pronounced the same). I found several explanations, such as it being derived for the name of the famous vermouth, or the sharp sound made when two drinking glasses gently collide.

But these informal etymologies, though appealing, are almost certainly wrong. The word appears to be from a Europeanised version of Chinese quing-quing,, which means something like "please, welcome". Why it came first into Italian I don't know.

Napoo is for another day.

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Elegy for D. L.

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You with the broken National Health specs

Patched up with sticking plaster.

And your minuscule handwriting

Micrographia it’s called.

In the summer we’d escape through your bedroom window

Onto the flat roof beyond.

And talk there for ages.

But now I shall never see you again.


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Beetles

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Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 23 Jul 2021, 23:26

My gardening companion was recently donated a garden bench which may have woodworm, so I looked up The Common Furniture Beetle. Turns out the woodworm is almost certainly not active and if it were then the wood can be treated in an ecologically friendly (except to woodworms) way.

Woodworms are larva of the CF beetle and spend three to four years eating their way through wood in a fairly haphazard way. They then come close to the wood surface (how do they know where it is?) and become a pupa for some weeks, finally emerging as adult beetles. From then on they don't eat, just mate if they can, and then the females lay their eggs in any cranny she can find in the wood, and the cycle starts again. Like many insects the adult we see is just a final short-lived phase at the end of a much longer life as a larva.

That's fascinating, that such a life-style has emerged, and in fact there are a fair bunch of other wood-borer insects apart for the CFB.

This all set me thinking about beetles. Famously there are many different kinds, about 400,000 known to date, and they constitute 40% of insect species and 25% of all animal species. Think of that; pick a random animal and there is 1 in 4 chance it will be a beetle.

A note to end on (The American Naturalist, 1959):

There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of the distinguished British biologist, J.B.S. Haldane, who found himself in the company of a group of theologians. On being asked what one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of his creation, Haldane is said to have answered, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.”

See https://www.jstor.org/stable/2458768

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One Liner

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Graffiti. It could be on its way out. I can see the writing on the wall.

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One Liner

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Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 23 Jul 2021, 00:01

For years I was just an amateur crastinator. I knew I ought to turn pro but kept putting it off.

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Phew What a Scorcher!

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UK Weather had this to say for 18 July

“The UK heatwave is set to continue after England and Wales recorded their hottest day of the year so far on Sunday.

Highs of 31.6C (88.9F) were recorded at Heathrow and 30.2C (86.4F) in Cardiff, according to the Met Office.”

In our garden it was 33C at 3 pm. What temperature did others record, interested to hear.




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Short One Liner

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Geology rocks.

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One Liner

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Being a mapmaker is an easy job. You always know where you are with it.

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In Memoriam

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One lovely summer’s day long ago
Out on a job but no hurry to get back
We parked up and bunked off in a cornfield
A good spot for setting the world to rights.
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Any Philosophers Out There.

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New Scientist 10 July 2021 has a cover story Consciousness. Item 1 begins

“IN ESSENCE consciousness is any kind of subjective experience.”

Maybe not meant to be a definition but I still found it horribly weak. Sorry NS.

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Q and A

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There’s a legendary story of a question in a philosophy exam

Is this a question?

To which the top-scoring student simply replied

If it is, then this is an answer.

Irrefutable, if you think about it.

A funnier but less deep variant is

Why?

Because!


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Anti-Humor

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From the Wikipedia Anti-Humor article

A: What did the farmer say when he lost his tractor?

B: I don't know, what did the farmer say when he lost his tractor?

A: "Where's my tractor?"

You get the idea. It made me laugh 😂 


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Haiku

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 5 Jul 2021, 01:35

Climbing the stairs at night

An old loose floorboard

Groans like a ghost.


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Is There a Right Way to Act Blind?

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 3 Jul 2021, 02:48
I found this thought-provoking article in the NY Times. Because I have a visual impairment it resonated with me. Not sure if you will be able to access it, because there is a (low) paywall, but most likely you will be able to enter as a guest.


My favourite quote from the article:

In the first episode, someone cheerfully asks Murphy [character] “Why don’t you look blind?” This is something Bernson [actor], and many blind people, get all the time. In real life, Bernson usually keeps her mouth shut, but she delights in the snarky comebacks that Murphy gets to make onscreen. With her mouth full of food, she snarls at the woman: “Same reason you probably don’t look stupid.”


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Elegy

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Goodbye, old friend

We, the living, are the losers

Who must learn to bear that loss.

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What I'm Reading

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 30 Jun 2021, 22:50

Time for lights out, by Raymond Briggs. Reflections in old age from that creator and illustrator of The Snowman.

Thesnowman.jpg

Lights out is very gentle, reflective, kind, and funny, but also wistful and grumpy. I'm finding it a very calming bedtime read.

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Prunella

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This plant is prunella, AKA self-heal. I found it growing at the side of a lane and didn't know what it was, but Bing 'Name that plant' came to the rescue.


Apparently the name means 'quinsy" a throat infection, and is derived from brunella, which is a diminuitive of brunus = brown. The plant was a traditional remedy for quinsy.

It's said to be edible and you can add it to salads but I'm not keen.



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Kimono dragging

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Frankie pulled back her kimono

Pulled out a Colt 44

Rooty-toot-toot three times she shot

Right thru the hardwood door.

He was her man

But he was doing her wrong.

What’s a kimono? It generally seems to mean a loose fitting robe, perhaps of silk, although historically the Japanese word may have just meant ‘clothing’. If anyone can help with this I’d be grateful.

For a livelyvperformance of the song see 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AJAuxRzLM30

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A Country Cottage

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Ginger

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My ginger sproured, so I'm going to try and grow it on the windowsill.


I looked ginger up and it turns out to have gorgeous flowers, here is a picture courtesy University of Reading.


More pictures and information here.

http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/tropical-biodiversity/2012/07/ginger/

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Playground Joke

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This is one they told when my daughter was in primary school.

Why do elephants have big ears?

Because Noddy won’t pay the ransom.

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White Bryony

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This wild plant is white bryony briona alba, a member of the cucumber family. Its fruits look like tiny gourds. The name bryonia comes via Latin from Greek βρυονια but there doesn't seem to be any information about its ultimate origins.


The plant is quite poisonous and in countries where it it is an introduced species it can be highly invasive, because it is capable of growing as much as 15 cm aday. However in my garden it is fairly harmless and quite decorative.

The plant is mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon medical treatise, the Old English Leechdoms  (ca.1150). There is also a rather unlikely story that Augustus Caesar wore bryony round his neck during thunderstorms to ward off lightening, see  https://www.walkerland.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/The-Old-English-Herbals-Eleanour-Sinclair-Rohde.pdf



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Sonnet 12

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When I do count the clock that tells the time, 
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night; 
When I behold the violet past prime, 
And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;

When lofty trees I see barren of leaves 
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves 
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,

Then of thy beauty do I question make, 
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;

   And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
   Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence. 



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