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Brighter Days Ahead

Last night I walked home from work in Tre­orchy Library whilst it was still day­light when I got home.  A def­i­nite sign that things are on the up.  It is hard to believe that on Tues­day morn­ing there was heavy snow and it seemed as if Win­ter would never go away.  Yes, I know it is still Win­ter, and will be for the next five weeks, but at least I can start look­ing for­ward to bet­ter things.

Today I went out and had a look at my gar­den for the first time.  There is still not an awful lot that I can do out there.  How­ever, I raked the lawn, remov­ing the old leaves and assorted debris which has accu­mu­lated there.  The lawn is shrug­ging off the stric­tures of its first Win­ter and looks ready to grow even more vig­or­ously this year.  Of course it is more of a yel­low green than I would like, but it is still win­ter.  If it remains dry, I might give it its first dose of fer­til­izer of the year.

I also swept the path, upper and  lower patio.  Despite the lousy weather, the moss has once more estab­lished itself on the  patio slabs and the patio fur­ni­ture is look­ing the worse for wear.   It looks as if I am going to have to get a pres­sure washer and clean them.  I would really like to get some new fur­ni­ture this Sum­mer.  Also I must get an arch for the climb­ing rose at the bot­tom of my path.  It has estab­lished itself on the trel­lis that is cur­rently sup­port­ing it, but needs more.

Its so nice to be able to go out­side and not return indoors frozen.

Originally published at The Journal of the Browncoat Cat. Please leave any comments there.

Still Proud of the BBC

Once again the largest and the best broad­caster in the World is in a bit of a pickle.  It needs sup­port when sup­pos­edly an int­elec­tual  mag­a­zines like The Economis, that should know bet­ter, pub­lish unimag­in­ably stu­pid garbage in their Leader Sec­tion.  They say that the BBC should con­cen­trate on News and Edu­ca­tional pro­grammes and leave pop­u­lar enter­tain­ment to the com­mer­cial sec­tor.  Hon­estly, this is Right Wing pop­pic­ock of the heigh­est order.  With­out the tech­ni­cal sup­port mak­ing all the pop­u­lar­ist pro­grammes pro­vide, the News and Edu­ca­tion depart­ments would whither on the vine.

So, take it away Mitch:

Originally published at The Journal of the Browncoat Cat. Please leave any comments there.

A Little Bling


Now that I have finally got my cobbled-together-from-two-wrecks-and-a-few-second-hand-and-new-parts Par­rot AR Drone fly­ing, I decided I wanted to make it stand out a bit.  I bought some Car­bon Fibre Vinyl to cover it from eBay.  The orig­i­nal plan was to cover the base with metal­lic gold vinyl and the out­door hull with pur­ple vinyl.  How­ever, when it arrive I had absolutely no idea where to begin.  So I turned to my mother for some advice.  She said my plan was a bit bor­ing, that it would be bet­ter if I cut the vinyl to match the pat­tern already on the Out­door hull.  I quickly dis­cov­ered that side by side joins look ter­ri­ble, espe­cially where the dif­fer­ent coloured pieces don’t quite match or because of the curved sur­face the edges pucker a lit­tle.  So one colour always over­laps the other slightly to make sure every­thing stays smooth.  Gen­tle heat make the vinyl more pli­able, so it is eas­ier to bend and stretch it around corners.

The orig­i­nal sil­ver win­dows on the top of the drone have been cov­ered with sil­ver vinyl.  Ini­tially I was just going to stick trans­par­ent vinyl over the orig­i­nal pat­tern, but I think the sil­ver vinyl looks so much better.

  • bejeweledI found a few lit­tle extras lying around that I decide to add to make it look more unique.  The pur­ple glass crys­tal I found in my mother’s house looks good on the back of the lower sec­tion.  It matches the colour of the vinyl on the out­door hull so well.  I don’t remem­ber where I found the sil­vered dome shaped but­ton that I stuck to the back of the Out door hull, but it cer­tainly looks as if it belongs there now.


  • y-ffenecsI printed the phoenix on a blue glass sphere onto a peice of grease proof paper which I then cut out and stuck to a cir­cle of sil­ver vinyl and finally cov­ered the whole thing with transper­ent vinyl.  I think this makes a nice dec­o­ra­tion, espe­cially as I have named this craft Y Ffenecs, The Phoenix, thanks to its scrap-yard origin.


  • props-and-gearsI tried putting the vinyl on the pror­pel­lors, but that both looked silly and made it impos­si­ble for the Drone to fly.  So I bought some met­alic gold spray­paint and used it to gild the pro­pel­lors and the pro­pel­lor mount­ing.  It looks quite efec­tive on the mount­ings, and when the Drone is fly­ing, it the pro­pel­lors look like opaque gold discs.


  • bumperThe poly­styrene discs sur­round­ing the motor mount­ings are  designed to pro­tect the gears that the motors turn to drive the pro­pel­lors, they were orig­i­nally black.  They have had the gold spray­paint treat­ment, as have the plas­tic land­ing caps that sit on the feet of the Drone to help absorb shock from heavy land­ings.  it seemed the sen­si­ble thing to do, as every­thing else on the done was either gold or pur­ple now.

  • bling-baseplateI sprayed the tops of the screws that hold the base in place gold so that they match the vinyl cov­ered base­plate.  You can see on the pic­ture the white LED strobe lights that I have added to the base of the drone.  Real air­craft have flash­ing strobes on their base, and now so does my drone.  The advan­tage is they make the Drone eas­ier to spot in poor visibility.



This brings me round to the sub­ject of bat­tery life.  The offi­cial Par­rot 11V 1000mAh Lithium Poly­mer bat­ter­ies that Par­rot sup­ply take two hours to charge to give me about seven min­utes of fly­ing time.  I have seen big­ger bat­ter­ies on sale, but use of these voids the War­ranty that Par­rot issue.  Not that I need to worry about that, as I doubt that my phoenix like AR Drone is cov­ered by a war­rany. I don’t know if it is worth get­ting big­ger bat­ter­ies.  The strobes cut about a minute of the fly­ing time when they are switched on, so that is not too great a drain on resources.  The main prob­lem I can see with more pow­er­ful bat­ter­ies is the addi­tional weigh that they bring.  In any air­craft, weight is a crit­i­cal factor.

Now all I need is more prac­tice at fly­ing the blessed thing.

Originally published at The Journal of the Browncoat Cat. Please leave any comments there.

Coup de Grace

11.15 EST
Obama — Demo­c­rat : 251
Rom­ney — Republ­cian : 203

Nevada swung to the Democ­rats in 2008 and exit polls are indi­cat­ing it has stayed for the Pres­i­dent.  An hour after the polls closed in that state, it is still too close to call.

On the other hand, the Repub­lic of Cal­i­for­nia has come in for Pres­i­dent Obama.  This State’s mas­sive 55 votes in the Elec­toral Col­lege go to the Democ­rats and Pres­i­dent Obama.

Jeb Bush the brother of Republ­cian Pres­i­dent George W. Bush is say­ing that Florida has gone to the Democ­rats, but as the win­ning mar­gin is less than 0.5% there will be a recount.  How do you recount elec­tronic votes, it is not like a pile of bal­lot papers can be found in the aether. 

Ore­gon has gone for the Democ­rats again, and it is look­ing extremely unlikely that the Pres­i­dent has lost this elec­tion and he will have the magic 270+ votes in the Elec­toral College.


11.25 EST
Obama — Demo­c­rat : 275
Rom­ney — Republ­cian : 203

The State of Ohio has jst been called for Pres­i­dent Bar­rack Hus­sein Obama.  This pushes him over the win­ning line.  This elec­tion has never actu­ally been about elect­ing the Pres­i­dent of the United States, it has been about elect­ing the com­mit­tee, the so called Elec­toral Col­lege that elects the Pres­i­dent.  That com­mit­tee now has a major­ity for re-electing the incum­bent President. 

So Pres­i­dent Bar­rack Hus­sein Obama will remain in the Oval Office of the White House for four more years.

Originally published at The Journal of the Browncoat Cat. Please leave any comments there.

The Rocky Road

10pm EST
Obama — Demo­c­rat : 157
Rom­ney — Republ­cian : 164

Things are start­ing to look bet­ter for Pres­i­dent  Obama.  He is appar­tently catch­ing up. He is still behind, but not as far behind as he was an hour ago.  The Pres­i­dent is look­ing strong in Ohio, half the precincts in the State have reported for Obama.    No Repub­li­can has won the pres­i­dency if they have not won Ohio. 

Not sur­pris­ingly Gov­er­nor Rom­ney has won Utah.  He is a mem­ber of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Lat­ter Day Saints and the State of Utah is where the LDS has its headquarters.

10.30pm EST
Obama — Demo­c­rat : 172
Rom­ney — Republ­cian : 164

Wis­con­sin, the home state of the GOP Vice Pres­i­den­tial Can­di­date Ryan Paul, has been held by Pres­i­dent Obama and the Democ­rats.   As has the Sen­ate for Wis­con­sin has also gone to the Democ­tat­s­The road to the White House is get­ting more rocky as the hours progress.  . 

It has been a good night for the Democ­rats in the Sen­ate, they have won three seats from the Repub­li­cans.  Not so good in the House, the Democ­rats are down two seats on the 2010 level.


Originally published at The Journal of the Browncoat Cat. Please leave any comments there.

Go Mid West Young Man

9pm EST
Obama — Demo­c­rat : 123
Rom­ney — Republ­cian : 153

It is 3am in the UK, 9pm EST and the polls in 15 States have closed.  Micha­gan, the home state of both Obama and Rom­ney has gon to Obama.  How­ever, things are not look­ing good for the Pres­i­dent at the moment. The Elec­toral Col­lege is cur­rently going towards Gov­er­nor Rom­ney, which is dif­fer­ent from last time, as by 2pm BST 9pm EST Obama had a huge lead in the Elec­toral Colege.

They are still vot­ing in Florida.  Cer­tain key states have stopped peo­ple join­ing the line at pol­ing sta­tions in these coun­ties and these votes could make all the dif­fer­ence.  Gov­erner Rom­ney really needs to win Florida to win the election.


9.20pm EST
Obama — Demo­c­rat : 143
Rom­ney — Repub­li­can : 153

The first big Swing State has come in and it has given its 20 Elec­toral Col­lege votes to Pres­i­dent Obama. 

It looks as if the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives have gone to the Repub­li­cans.  Sadly because the lib­er­ar­ian idiots in the TEA Part have moved the House Repub­li­can Party so far to the right. if Obama wins he is going to be poll-axed in Con­gress, despite there being a Demo­c­rat Sen­ate.


The first big Swing State

Originally published at The Journal of the Browncoat Cat. Please leave any comments there.

All the Usual Suspects

Obama — Demo­c­rat : 78
Rom­ney — Republ­cian : 76

So far all the expected  results in the East of the US have been called, New Jer­sey has gone to the Democ­rats and the Repub­li­cans have won Ten­nessee.  So far the Pop­u­lar Vote is going for Gov­erner Rom­ney, but the Elec­toral Col­lege is going for Pres­i­dent Obama.

Of course this is the Gen­eral Elec­tion in the US as well as the Pre­si­en­tial Elec­tion,  the whole of the House of Rep­re­sen­tives is up for elec­tion as is the Sen­ate. Of the 72 Sen­tate races called, the Repub­li­cans have won 36 seats, the Democ­rats have won 34 seats and the Inde­pen­dants have won 2.  The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives have won 38 seats in the House and 14 seats have gone to the Democ­rats.  Now it looks as if the House is going to remain with the Republicands.

In a few min­utes time the Mid West States start to close and places like Col­orado will be called.  This should make things interesting.

Originally published at The Journal of the Browncoat Cat. Please leave any comments there.

Four Years On

Obama — Demo­c­rat: 3
Rom­ney — Repub­li­can: 33

It does not seem like four years since I was here blog­ging on my opin­ions about the 2008 Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tion.  How­ever, here I am again, four years later, here I am again.  It is com­ing up to 1am GMT and 8pm EST.  So far Pres­i­dent Obama has won just one State and Gov­erner Rom­ney has won five States.  At this stage last time, the GOP can­di­date had a huge lead in the Elec­toral Col­lege.  Obaba even­tu­ally won the Pop­u­lar Vote and the Elec­toral College.

And now at 8pm EST

Obama — Demo­c­rat: 56
Rom­ney — Repub­li­can: 40

of the 17 States that have just closed have seen the Net­works give a num­ber to Obama. This is also as it was four years ago.


Originally published at The Journal of the Browncoat Cat. Please leave any comments there.

The Pillars of Hercules

I was awak­ened this morn­ing by the sound of bang­ing out­side my house.  In a moment rem­i­ni­cent of the open­ing chap­ter of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy the name Gary and the word Pil­lar kept cross­ing my mind, look­ing for some­thing to con­nect with.  When they did, I was up and out of bed, dressed and down­stairs putting the ket­tle on within a minute.  Sure enough, when I opened my front door, there was my brother-in-law, who had taken down the pil­lar that sup­ported the end of my front wall and the gate, and was mix­ing cement to rebuild it.

If my house had been in con­tin­u­ous occu­pa­tion, then the pil­lar would have been reg­u­larly repointed and would have remained sound.  Over the years the house was empty, frost had got­ten into tiny cracks in the cement, mak­ing them big­ger; plants had then taken root in those cracks and fur­ther weak­ened the cement, allow­ing the frost to pen­e­trate even fur­ther.  It had reached the stage where sim­ple repoint­ing would not do any good, so I had to let nature take its course and wait until it was at a point where the pil­lar would fall down before any­thing could be done to it.

Gary is a Stone Mason, so when he set about mix­ing the cement, he mixed to lots.  One was rel­a­tively dry for the stone col­umn at the cen­tre of the pil­lar and one was wet­ter, for the bricks that square it off. Well, sort of square it off.  The bricks are old and unlike mod­ern bricks are not com­pletely iden­ti­cal.  Gary could either get  each course plumb or level, not both.  The thing is, that is the way the orig­i­nal brick layer who build the pil­lar back in the early 1920’s did it.  It is what gives the front of my house its char­ac­ter.  If I had wanted a per­fectly square and plumb pil­lar, I would have bought new bricks, and the pil­lar would look awful, stick­ing out like a sore thumb.

Every two courses of bricks there is a stone rosette in the mid­dle.  This gives addi­tional sup­port to the brick­work.  If you imag­ine each face of the pil­lar being num­bered one to four, at the base is on the even num­bered sides is the first rosette.  The odd num­bered side is just bricks, but the next two courses on the odd side has a stone rosette, with the even num­bered side being just brick. What really sur­prised me was how big the hinges on gate are.  All I see is the part that the gate swings on, but I should have realised there would be more to it than that. Some­thing to sup­port the weight of the gate as it swung open and shut.  The prongs go all the way through the bricks into the stone col­umn at the base of one of these stone rosettes, and it is the weight of the stone and the bricks above that anchor the gate.

Even­tu­ally, I hope to get a nice pyra­mi­dal cop­ing stone to go on the top of tls pil­lar, and its neigh­bour.  For some rea­son, the orig­inel cop­ing was removed and a pair of square paving slabs were put in their place.  I can put that down to hor­ri­ble 1970’s fash­ion.  With this rebuild­ing, the pil­lar will once again be strong enough to take one.

Originally published at The Journal of the Browncoat Cat. Please leave any comments there.

Autumn Nights

It is now Autumn in the North­ern Hemi­sphere, nights are draw­ing in and every­thing feels that lit­tle bit colder.  Last nights episode of Doc­tor Who started after the sun had set when it was prop­erly dark out­side.  Which was good, as The Angel’s Take Man­hat­tan was prop­erly scary.  How­ever, part of me is a lit­tle sad that it was the final episode of the five episode Series 33a and not the first.  Although I do not believe the great fan myth that the Autumn/Winter is the series’ nat­ural home, I do regret the fact that the BBC has missed a great oper­tu­nity to give ITV and the increas­ingly tawdry X-Factor a well deserved kick­ing.  The win­ning for­mula of Doc­tor Who and a Bruce Forsythe hosted light enter­tain­ment show from the 1970’s could so eas­ily have been repli­cated.  A few weeks ago when the Lauch Show for the 2012 series of Strictly Come Danc­ing  pre­ced­ing A Town Called Mercy, that week’s episode of Doc­tor Who was pure magic for me, tick­ing all the nos­tal­gia boxes.  Giv­ing the Time Lord an excel­lent overnight rat­ing of 6.3 million.

How­ever, the return of Strictly brings a smile to my face.  I love this show, it is fun from start to fin­ish.  The only down­side is my favourite pro­fes­sional dancer, Aliona Vil­lani as frac­tured her femur, and con­se­quently has been replace as Johnny Ball’s part­ner.  Hav­ing said that, I can­not imag­ine him stay­ing in the com­pe­ti­tion very long any­way.  He is what I class as a Good Sport, some­one who signs up for the com­pe­ti­tion for the fun of it all, know­ing that some­body has to be there to be eli­mated in the early stages, so that the actual con­tenders have a chance to get to the required stan­dand of the Grand Final.

This year, a pair of medal win­ners from this year’s Olympic Games have been per­suaded to take part.  Sports­men and sports­women always do well in the com­pe­ti­tion because they are used to the train­ing régime of a top class ath­lete.  How­ever, I don’t think that either Louis Smith or Vic­to­ria Pem­ble­ton will be in the run­ning.  Sim­ply because it is too soon after the Lon­don 2012 Olympics, a com­pe­ti­tion that they devoted their lives to for four years.  Of course, I could be wrong.

So the first two shows are on Fri­day and Sat­ur­day.  First dances with no elim­i­na­tion this week, I can’t wait.

Originally published at The Journal of the Browncoat Cat. Please leave any comments there.

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