Saturday, 22 January 2022

Let There be Light II

Apropos of yesterday's post - I had the bright idea (pardon the unintentional and illuminating pun) of embedding the base of the resined fabric lampshade test piece in a clear resin drinks coaster, for which I have silicone molds. I first cut a circular hole in the base of the shade, thus allowing the maximum amount of light from the LED display stand to shine through the coaster. Then I placed the shade into the mold and poured clear resin into the mold, giving the shade added stability from a wide base.

As you can see, it worked perfectly (you can see the clear resin coaster on the wooden LED base). Embedding the shade into a circular coaster means I can use a variety of shades on the LED display base and make it interchangeable.

Also, these display bases can be bought with multicolour functions controlled by a remote, thus a white shade can be lit in a variety of colours using the same display base. Another advantage of these USB powered bases is that you can place the base in just about any location and use a discretely placed USB powerbank to to power it, eliminating the need for electrical sockets and phone charger 3pin plugs.

I think I've accidentally stumbled on an excellent solution here. Time to start looking at the viability of different fabrics and identifying a suitable drying former for something a bit larger - something thin and tall with a 4 inch globe on top. I think I have the ideal globe; a 4 inch, clear resin ball that I used to use when I had a go at contact juggling and now sits on my desk. Covered in clingfilm it would be the perfect shape and size when mounted on something about 45cm high and very thin, enabling the fabric folds to develop naturally and not too close together.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Let There be Light

I remembered I had some tiny, battery operated, LED lights and used one to illuminate the small, fabric lampshade I made as a test piece, prior to trying to copy a Georgia Jacob table lamp.

Not bad, but then an LED display stand I bought on e-Bay arrived in the post, which gives a much better illumination.

It looks a bit bright in the photo, but it's quite effective and runs off a USB connection.

I then thought about using the display base to illuminate some Bohemian glass I have - to great effect.


Thursday, 20 January 2022

Classic Sun Tzu

I'm in a quandary. While ousting Boris would appear, at first glance, to be a success for the future of the country, and Labour, it's far from that for Labour.

If Boris is chased out of office, there's a non-zero chance that he could be replaced by someone competent. If the only candidates are those in the current cabinet, then there's little chance of that happening, although Sunak could feasibly perform well. But an old-style Conservative could enter the fray and 2 years is a long time in which to rebuild trust with the electorate. However, if he or she can, then that's a plus.

Leave Boris in place and it's guaranteed to result in 2 more years of misrule, as he's psychologically incapable of learning from mistakes. Everyone will eventually get sick of him, even those who are currently supporting him against their better judgement and compromising their immortal souls. Weathering the current storm would probably embolden him and make him even more reckless in his behaviour, to the detriment of us all.

Yes, there's the effect on the UK of his idiotic, anti-Woke policies for another 2 years, but they can be reversed. Also another 2 years of recklessness would cement resent in those who still support him slavishly, once the full consequences of his lies hits their pockets, as it's already starting to. That said, inflation is finite in extent and probably last much more than a year, but the effects of Brexit certainly will.

It's a simple trade off between short term vs long term gain - and, well, just strategy. 

I'm reminded of Sun Tzu's 3 way horse race advice to Tian Ji. He told Tian Ji to race his best horse against the king’s secondary one, his secondary one against the king’s slowest, and his slowest against the king’s fastest one. The result was that Tian Ji won two races and lost only one.

OK, this isn't a 3 horse race, but you're better off putting what you've got against the opposition's worst, and who knows what replacing Boris will lead to in terms of a competent Tory leader, if that's not an oxymoron at present.

If Boris remains, and ss time runs out, the parliamentary Tories may once again attempt to oust him, but time is a precious commodity. The closer to a GE his replacement comes in, the harder it will be to turn the Titanic around and miss the iceberg that's in front of UK Plc.

As for the Red Wall Conservative MP who has crossed the floor to save his skin, I suspect he will be viewed with intense suspicion by the local party and may end up being deselected before the next GE and replaced with a bona fide Labour candidate - probably the one who was a Labour MP before the last GE. The ex Conservative also, somewhat ironically, co-sponsored a bill to demand that crossing the floor should result in a by election. Can't see that being pursued. It's come back and bitten him in the bum.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Death Whips

Sad news - Railway, the feral cat we've been feeding, is dead. He'd been missing for about 4 days and a neighbour found him in the hedge a few hundred yards up the main road. 

He'd been hit by a car and the damage was quite extensive, so I can only hope it was instantaneous and someone threw him into the hedge. I went to collect him and Hay buried him in Pet Cemetery in the garden, where there is a couple of dogs and many a cat. Ours was the only home he'd ever known and he'd started to trust us.

We spent part of the weekend cutting willow whips from the willow arbour Hay and her sister created a couple of years ago.

We planted them next to the rear (or is that front?) patio to form a windbreak and to afford some privacy from the neighbours.

Some were planted vertical and others in between the verticals at a 45 degree angles. If they take (and it's rare for them not to), they'll form a lovely, thick willow hedge, or fedge, as it's called.

I bought Hay a book on living willow sculpture - making all manner of garden furniture from living willow whips.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Epoxy Resin

I took delivery of my resin kit last week and had a couple of small experiments before having a go at replicating a Georgia Jacob lamp in the not too distant future.

First off was using some silicone koi molds and gauging the curing time of the resin, which was well in excess of the advertised 12 hours - multiples of the curing time for car bodywork epoxy resin, but that gives you time to work of whatever you're making and tuning the shape.

I'd bought some orange and blue dye to colour the koi with - you only need a drop to get various shades - trial and error.

I then had a go at some fabric.

I covered it in a thin layer of clear resin on a silicone mat I have for baking.

I draped it over a makeshift former, but the material was too thin and it was almost impossible to prevent the folds from sticking to each other. Being thin material, it didn't really soak up enough resin to be really solid - it needs to be muslin or linen. However, it was a modest, initial success. I have to give careful thought to the shape and size of the former though - it needs to be tall and not interfere with the folds.

A small, LED display lamp is on order (the cost is just a few quid) to place the resin 'vase' on. I'll cut out a small aperture at the bottom for the light to shine through and see what it looks like.

I had the idea of perhaps making some display lights by making coloured shapes and drilling holes into which to insert a string of LED lights, rather like this set we bought years ago from IKEA and are no longer available.

Monday, 17 January 2022


Well, after my usual mechanic finally admitting defeat in over 3 years of diagnosis, I took the R129 SL500 to another garage and they miraculously managed to diagnose the misfire issue - after 2 months - they're convinced it has faulty wiring in the engine temperature sensor.

A new one was ordered from Germany and dropped off at the garage on Friday. The faulty wiring fooled the engine's computer brain into believing the engine was super hot, resulting in more fuel being dumped into it than it was capable of handling at the temperature it was actually at, with the result being a misfire when warm.

Keeping my fingers crossed that the diagnosis was correct and have ordered an MoT on that basis. It looks as if I may be using the car this coming summer, after which I may sell it, as it's doubled in price in the intervening 3 years. 

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Overwhelming The NHS

I mistakenly published 2 days worth of blogs yesterday. Mea culpa! 

We keep hearing about the imminent collapse of the NHS, but what does that mean?

The NHS is like a water pump that usually works at a constant speed. Occasionally it speeds up slightly; occasionally it slows down a bit, depending on government tinkering. 

The problems occur, however, when the water it's being asked to shift increases beyond its capability. The pump still continues working away at its design capacity, but the build-up of water requiring to be pumped just grows and grows. The pump doesn't actually break down or fail - the metric of collapse occurs outside of the system.

There is no precise point at which we can say the NHS has been overwhelmed - it's a function of the queues that build up, and adjusting the metrics of permissible queue length can give the semblance of everything moving along without a problem.

Queues are building up and there are now 5.7m people waiting for operations, and the waiting list is growing - by any reasonable metric, the NHS has already been overwhelmed, but you wouldn't know it, as it just keeps limping along like Monty Python's Black Knight - although the Black Knight is not a valid analogy, as the Black Knight becomes incapable of functioning at all, whereas the NHS will keep functioning, but not fulfilling its full intention. A better analogy is a bus service which has too many customers and capacity isn't increased.

Staff absences are at record levels and staff are leaving in their droves through burnout, thus the NHS is now not even operating at design capacity, exacerbating the growing queues - it's severely wounded.

The following image is of a robot arm that was programmed to recoup leaking hydraulic fluid so as to stop it from 'dying'.

It was an art installation and the hydraulic fluid was dyed to make it look like blood. Created in 2016 by Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, they named the piece, 'Can't Help Myself' and it finally ran out of oil and died in 2019. This could be a metaphor for the NHS.

Saturday, 15 January 2022


Overheard while walking with Hay (while I was listening to something on my hidden earbuds - under my beanie):

Hay: "Mumble, mumble mumble." Or at least that's all I hear.

Me; "Yes."

Hay; "Look at me!"

Me - I look at her.

Hay; "Do you remember Pam?"

Me; "Yes."

Hay; "You don't, do you?"

Me; "No."

For Christmas, Hay bought me a book called Between Past and Future, by Hannah Arendt, a political philosopher of the 20th century. She attended the trial of Eichmann in Israel and coined the phrase; "The banality of evil."

Now I'm no dullard (or so I like to think - others may differ), but I find the book infuriating. I can read a sentence (and her sentences can be quite long and convoluted), but not understand one iota of what she's trying to convey.

I've not come across many writing styles like Arendt's - I can only compare it to the writing of Bertrand Russell on an obtuse day, but if I read a Russell sentence or paragraph twice, I can at least get the gist of what he's trying to say. Not so with Arendt - it remains a mystery, no matter how often I go back and reread a paragraph. Yes, the words are strung together with perfect grammar, but the transfer of the idea or concept into my head is missing. She's trying to convey philosophical concepts in philosophical language. What I need is a master of analogy - like JVT - to put it into understandable concepts.

Nor is her writing style one where you can dip in and out of the book - which is my preferred style of reading (mainly because I tend to fall asleep when reading for more than 20 minutes at a time and prefer to accomplish the task in the horizontal position). It requires constant attention.

So, an annoyingly impenetrable book; so impenetrable that I can't be bothered to persevere beyond page 49. I'd love the opinion of any other readers of Arendt's work.

I'm also reading a book about the history of the Hittites. That's also proving difficult, but for an entirely different reason - the names of the Hittite kings, a) are unpronounceable, and b) all start with an H. This results in me confusing the names of the kings and entirely mucking up the timeline. 

The Horse's Mouth

I absolutely love Twitter now that I've started using it. What I especially like is that you can find experts and follow their tweets which are, from necessity, short and to the point and, because they're generally not known by the hoi polloi, you don't get stupid comments. You can get science, for example, straight from the horse's mouth, rather than it being selectively filtered through the media - and filtered it most certainly is.

Yes, you get the usual verbal graffiti from the odd moron, but nowhere near as much as on Facebook, where most of the argument takes place on media news sites about the accuracy of the news itself, which is invariably filtered by an agenda.

I follow people like virologists, epidemiologists and mathematical modellers, eminent historians, key journalists, the odd comedian (Mark Gatiss, Bill Bailey, David Baddiel, etc.), James O'Brien, Michio Kaku, Mark Kermode, Martin Lewis, The Secret Barrister, Joylon Maugham (The Good Law Project), campaigners (Greta, Gina Miller, etc.) and Dom Cummings - the latter is merely pick over his ramblings, there being the odd gem here and there, but it's mostly execrably written.

I'm seriously thinking for coming off Facebook, with the exception of using it for posting this blog.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Don't Look Up

With a few exceptions, the critics have savaged Don't Look Up! Yet the public seems to love it, and I include myself in that number, not because it's a particularly good film, but because of the message it's conveying, which is particularly relevant today.

I generally respect Mark Kermode in his analyses of films - if he recommends it, I generally have a favourable view after watching it myself. He's the chief film critic for The Observer, which I read every Sunday.

I wonder whether the critics who don't like it work for the newspapers and media organisations that support populist politicians and actively engage in an anti-science stance in favour of ideology. Makes you think. However, the Guardian's film critic, Peter Bradshaw, was lukewarm about it, so perhaps I'm off the mark. 

If you look at the Comments Section on the Daily Mail's review, DM readers generally class it as Woke and have more to say about the private lives of the actors than the film which, from the comments, I doubt many have even seen. 

The Express Comments Section on the film, dated over a week ago, doesn't have a single comment, suggesting the vehemently Anti-Woke brigade hasn't watched it yet.