Tuesday 22 February 2022

Rain Check

There's a little bit of this* going on again today. So Anna and I are taking a rain check on our fair-weather companionable sit in the park. But this is what you might otherwise see of us on a fine day, Dear Reader:

Anna & I

It's not that Your Correspondent is a mere lotus eater. There's also been a bit of this around here:

Progress at my window, eh? The Sound of Sydney.

Speaking of Lotus, this is what's turning heads at our local park:

Everyone stops to look at it,

And photograph it,

By the stone bridge,

Getting the koi terribly excited as you step closer.

This is, of course, the Fish Park by Elizabeth Bay House.

So you may remember this view?

Which can distract one from Anna's company - but I'm getting along nicely.

And in the Random Department:

There are no Beach visits to show for there is none of that nonsense.
Ol' Pipistrello's colouring rather resembles a Guinea Fowl these days!

The Hydrangeas are past their best now,
But this was the recent Glory about the Condominio.

And it's now Crepe Myrtle season

In a rather big way.

Of course the native Eucalypts are just as showy.

What can I say? I Covet this window display of Cos.

Favourite Summer Fruit at the moment.

Favourite Bird. Always.

Street Fair with Bonus Battered Bicycle [& Tattooed Lady].

Finally, when did you last see a sky writer? On Valentines' Day Your Correspondent noticed this:

I waited until he was finished - but it was just Sky Scribble in the end.

It looked like the obvious I 💜 YOU was in play. Not to be! But let's pretend it was so and I'll finish on that happy note!

* Our year of La Niña is making merry with the eastern seaboard of this country. None of the hideous summer bushfires that the Kingdom of Western Australia is enduring have arrived to these shores, which is a welcome change, and the rain rain rain has made our land uncharacteristically green for this time of year. La Niña ordinarily means a cool, wet summer for us, but it's been hot and humid instead. So sultry, as my dear father-in-law used to say.

PS: For the oh so curious, around 105mm was clocked up about the casa for the day, or just over 4 inches in old money. Some parts of the city were graced with nearly half as much again. Of course, the Bureau of Meteorology promises plenty more where that came from in the week ahead. Joy.

Photo credits: Flying With Hands

Sunday 13 February 2022

The Salad Sandwich Incident

For around US$1.5m, this rather unappealing sandwich could have been yours at Christie's!
Wayne Thiebaud, Sandwich, 1963

It was pure bloody-mindedness on my part that had me insisting for the about the third time that all I wanted was a plain salad sandwich, so I think, Dear Reader, I probably deserved what was served up to me. While I maintain I'm no fussy eater, I can be tiresome on occasion.

We had been in America far too long to know there was no such thing. A sandwich means a rather elaborate affair, unless you make it at home. A sandwich from a shoppe or café means a towering medley of full-flavoured ingredients between a slightly-sweetish bread of infinite variety. So I was getting nostalgic about simplicity whenever we went out. 

Indeed, my usual phlegm about most things was hardening into an uncommon obduracy on matters food in this Land of Plenty, and on this day I just had a hankering for an unfussy sandwich for our lunch on the go.

We were standing before the counter of a formerly unnoticed sandwich bar in a smart shopping mall in California, which appeared like a mirage of seeming familiarity among the tricked up fancies dotted around. The mall had previously been the scene of the Pretzel Incident, where Mr. P had been hypnotised by a snake-charmer selling pretzels as big as his head and dipped in the magical powders wherein their "flavours" were derived, and which shan't be spoken of.

He had already made his choice, a Roosevelt, for the dozen or so options listed in their full glory were named for past American Presidents. But I was struck by dismay at what these illustrious men offered. Between their dazzling array of breads, they out-competed with each other with assorted sliced meats and cheeses and condiments galore, all piled together every which way and sorted under their various presidencies, with each a cacophony of flavours in every bite.

After a quick scan, I could see no President, past or potentially even in the future, was going to go all back-to-basics to give me what I wanted, a simple salad sandwich, so I was going to have to leave my equanimity at the proverbial door and attempt ordering off-menu.

The young man behind the counter was having none of it.

    "A salad sandwich? I don't know ... " 

He turned to the chalkboard and pleaded help from the assembled Lincoln downwards.

    "Do you mean a ... Johnson?"

He was hoping I'd suddenly speak the language he knew.

    "No, just a plain salad sandwich."

    "Umm ... I don't know what that is."

    "You know, a sandwich with salad on it."

    "What do you mean by 'Salad'?"

    "The usual things. Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, oh, I see there's some carrot, so that would be nice." 

Even I knew that beetroot would be a bridge too far. There was no beetroot to be seen in its own little compartment arrayed before my sandwich maker.

    "Oh, and no onion!"

    "Are you sure? ..."

    "Yes, that would be perfect."

    "So, what kinda meat do you want on it?"

    "No meat, just salad."

He looked dubious. 

    "What kinda cheese? We've got ..."

    "No cheese, either. Just a plain salad."

    "And dressing? There's Ranch, there's Blue Cheese, there's ..."

    "No. Nothing."

    "Pickles? ..."

    "No! No pickles, no dressing, no extras of any kind! Just the salad ingredients on their own. On plain brown bread. Oh, and with butter. Thanks."


He now looked utterly baffled but I'd turned aside to let him assemble my simple salad sandwich while Mr. P muttered admonishments to me about my intractability over such things for he was more than satisfied with his vertiginous tower of sliced Italianate meats of every description and assorted cheeses and exotiques like sun-dried this and marinated that and mysterious dollops of complicated dressing. (Which makes me think maybe it was a Kennedy not a Roosevelt he ordered?) My chastisement lasted the short wait for the much-anticipated sandwich but I accepted it without demur. 

We took our brown paper bags off to sit in the shade for our lunch. And then my first bite was straight into the unwrapped rectangular pat of butter sitting atop my simple, undressed salad between two slices of unbuttered brown bread.

Image credits: Christies's

Sunday 6 February 2022

Robots, What Are You Up To?


Bots. Everywhere.

They're a bit like aphids, really. All over our roses. You squash them, they come back. You ignore them, they make more merry. Then one day they just vanish. But for why are they here infesting our gardens in the first place? Are we unwittingly in a symbiotic relationship with them? Just what are they up to?

I'm speaking of Bots, actually.  Some of whom/which have names: Like Jemaine and Brett, for inst. above, or Carmen, who outed herself/itself to me this week in an online "conversation" to do with matters financial. I do believe these are just geeks in foil-clad cardboard boxes operating out of the basement of Reynholm Industries.

But what about those robots that seem to poke around our blogs? Lumped in with the somewhat creepy category of spiders and crawlers [shudder ...] Frankly, you'd not notice them if it wasn't for the mysterious Visitor Count in the toolshed of Blogger. When the numbers start whirling frantically upwards or pulsing like Morse Code, mostly during the night, I know it's a fiction, for it's just you, Dear Reader, and me around these pages. 

But 2021 really was Year of the Bot for Flying With Hands. The odometer tripled last year!

I put my hand up to admit that a good 25% of the total so-called visitors are, ahem, moi, fiddling and tweaking things as is my wont. But I've deduced that around 65% has come from bots that visited last year from Indonesia, America, Sweden & Israel. 

My theory up until recently was that the blog was some kind of portal to enable the computing power of my laptop to be harnessed by the robots for the SETI programme. Naturally, they'd be wanting to reach out to Aliens in other worlds. I'm still rather wedded to that idea, and I'm all for it. But lately, I've had reason to think it's something else. 

A project for 2021 was to try to come to grips with the world of Cryptocurrencies, DeFi, NFTs and other whatnots [yes, yawn ...] You know, like, The Future. But it was so terribly tedious, for the aficionados are like Evangelists and do go on rather, and the lecturing and reading was long, boring and heavy on the technicalities, so I kept wandering off to do other things. 

As a consequence, before I really had time to come to grips with the whole shebang, the Crypto-World seemed to want to flush itself down the toilet! Oh, well. It hasn't been an entirely wasted exercise for along the way I think I've discovered what the bots are up to. It's not the SETI programme that my laptop is hooked into while I'm sleeping, it's Mining for Cryptocurrencies! 

The proof of this pudding, of course, is when Dogecoin and his friends went into a tailspin*, my blog's bots more or less vanished. And now the cryptocurrencies are bouncing back again in price, the bots are also creeping back ... Or are they still hunting for Aliens?

Such theory

Anyways, I can't summon up enough interest in The Future, so I've set these distractions aside and gone back to my comfort zone of The Past, for I've a patiently waiting copy of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina that requires reading before we go off to see it at the ballet in April!

* Past market performance is no indicator of future performance is even always the disclaimer for such fictional entities as these.

Image credits: 1: via Google; 2: Redbubble.com

Bats In The Belfry