2008 — 7 January: wetter Monday

Time is now 01:51 and the (Sunday) evening of video experimentation is drawing to a close.1 Pity the poor Helios upscaling DVD player is now locked in an hdmi output mode that Mike's fancy HD TV failed to display, as this makes it a tad tricky to reset the player to a mode that can be displayed. And, yes, we did search the online manual for a "factory reset" action; zip, nada, diddley-squat. But we did pinpoint the source of his system's glitches as the ATI graphics card (an el cheapo £40 special, he finally admitted). nVidia to the rescue, I suggest. My temporarily transplanted Panasonic HD DVD recorder does a very good job of upscaling standard definition DVDs to 1080p and, via its hdmi socket, the results are fine. Not so the Freeview digital terrestrial recordings, which are simply full of compression artefacts.2 Or perhaps we're simply too picky?

Home James... department

Only two goes and a mild scrape to garage the car, but I'm about six inches further over to the right than needed and therefore mustn't wear thick clothing when sidling back in crabwise at some point later today. <Sigh>

Here, by the way, is yesterday's pheasant. At this point it had pecked my calf,3 so I was fending it off with my Basil Fawlty impression. I must point out, for any bird lovers out there, I was not the one that started this little conflict. Nor did I actually manage to kick the little horror, though I admit I wouldn't have been upset had I succeeded.

Pheasant attack


Ever tried photographing a small bit of your own leg after Rosie the Riveter has had a peck at it? No, nor had I...

What a clot

What's next, Mrs Landingham?... department

Now that the hectic whirl of weekend wild whackiness is over, I really must sort out the rest of my "Christa" cards. But first, breakfast; after all, it's now 09:56 and time waits for snowman (as they say in the frozen North). Also, I've just remembered that it's dear Mama's 91st birthday today.4 And it's been suggested by one of my correspondents — whose New Year resolution, she tells me, is to learn Italian ("probably much less scary and a great deal sexier than learning to drive") — that I should probably not be "trying to squeeze in the total mileage5 you might have driven had you started driving at 17, into this year!!". Actually, even Big Bro has commented that the downside of high mileages is the price of "gas" though he asserts that prices will fall when "the US dispose of Bush in November". I suppose a chap can still dream...

Thanks, Ian (in NZ) for pointing me to a nice item in the New York Times while asking ("defenseless wee birdie" indeed!) whether my wounds hadn't been self-inflicted "when trying to sew on buttons while wearing the trousers". Cheek!

Oh, Word. For 20 years, you have supported and tyrannized me. You have given me a skimpy Etch A Sketch on which to compose, a cramped spot on the sentence-assembly line — and then harangued me with orders to save or reformat as you stall and splutter and assert points of ludicrous corporate chauvinism ("Invalid product key"! "Unrecognized database format"!).

Virginia Heffernan, writing here

Just too tempting... department

I enjoyed listening to extracts from these letters when I caught them on BBC Radio 4 last year, so I succumbed in the more local Borders this afternoon:

Letters of Jessica Mitford

And, to nourish the other side of my brain, I'm now the owner of:



1  As are my eyelids.
2  When examined critically on a "full HD" screen, at least. And I get a better terrestrial signal from Rowridge on the Island than Mike does from Winchester's local relay transmitter.
I sit corrected. Mike tells me: "Actually I get my digital terrestrial transmissions from Hannington, which is hardly a 'local relay' transmitter for Winchester; it serves a huge area around Basingstoke! We are slap-bang in the middle here between Rowridge and Hannington, with the difference that there is a sodding great hill (you've climbed it, it's called St Catherine's Hill) between us and Rowridge, so we get superior reception from Hannington. But still not as good as you get from Rowridge..."
3  Drawing blood, I might add! Yet further trouser cleaning skills to be acquired.
4  Boy! If ever I need cheering up, all I have to do is give her a quick call and I feel 1,000% better by comparison, instantly! (I've just [11:40] done so to prove my point.)
5  An arresting piece here asserts: "Walking does more than driving to cause global warming, a leading environmentalist has calculated.
Food production is now so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance. The climate could benefit if people avoided exercise, ate less and became couch potatoes. Provided, of course, they remembered to switch off the TV rather than leaving it on standby".
Thanks for that, neighbour!