Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

26 Sep 2010

Current Cost Meter

Last Year Andy gave a fascinating talk at our LUG meeting all about connected data in the house. He is a top IBM scientist and involved in their messaging stuff, but he is also a very decent chap and has done wonders for gathering and using data around the home.

At the meeting I very nearly bought a Current Cost Meter but I didn't have any cash with me. This summer my power company offered me one for free and just before our summer holidays it arrived in the post.

The device is a E.On branded Current Cost Envi unit. E.On only talk about Windows but the official software is for Windows or Mac, however it works perfectly well out of the box in Linux with, "no software required". Using my Super Cow Powers - well actually a Perl script and the RRDtool package - we now have real-time and historic electricity usage graphs.

All I need to do now is use the data sensibly to reduce energy use around the home, saving money and reducing my carbon footprint.

25 Sep 2010

Bonus Holiday

Just before we went away on our holiday this summer old friends from UMass Amherst and UC Riverside said they would be in the UK and asked if they could visit. We arranged a few days off and agreed to host them and show them round.

On Thursday we drove up to Oxford to show them the city. We saw where "Morse" had his fatal heart attack, had a peek in the Bodleian Library, the Museum of the History of Science, had a look at our friends new book in Blackwell's book shop "Control of Pests and Weeds by Natural Enemies" and generally took in the city.

Yesterday we went up to London to do more touristy things. We started at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, then worked our way through to the City of London, Saint Paul's Cathedral, The Palace of Westminster ending up at the Natural History Museum for their first ever evening of science: "After Hours: science uncovered". By complete fluke* our guide for the evening on parasitoids was a friend of our friends, and we even managed to squeeze in the Dinosaur tour by torch light. I've never seen the Museum so busy and best off all it wasn't over run by screaming children. Science may not be high on the agenda in the UK but it's not completely been driven out by the cult of celebrity.

We dropped them off at the airport this morning and we're missing them already. I think I'm feeling all nostalgic for my old life as an academic...!

* If you will pardon the pun...

08 Sep 2010

Gage Jam

When we bought our house this spring it came with a fruit tree. We are still not 100% sure what it is but it is a variety of gage, probably a Cambridge Gage (they are currently popular in the UK).

Our tree is quite young and still small and not in a very good location in the garden, so the fruit are not as sweet as green gages we bought while on holiday. Yesterday we picked about 4-5 kg of fruit off the tree and I jammed up 2 kg of the fruit with the rest for jamming tonight.

The method is as for the mirabell jam that I made just before going on holiday. For 1 kg of cleaned and de-stoned fruit you need 700 g of sugar, 200 ml of water and the juice of half a lemon. You put the sugar, water and lemon juice in the jam pan and bring up to the boil, then add the cleaned fruit and return to the boil (121°C), continue boiling for 20 minutes then pot. The yield was 7x370 g pots and three 25 g taster pots.

Very different from the damson jams I made a number of years ago. When we chop the Eucalyptus tree in the garden down we'll have to plant a damson plum of some sorts, more fruit trees is the way to go in the garden.