I think it was the spring of 2016. One warm morning at about 11 o'clock I was making a cup of tea. A wasp flew in and started munching on some grains of sugar I spilt on the worktop. I shood it out of the door. This was an old bodged caravan stable like door of an old seventies Astral trailer we used to live in. Green and hippyfied. Anyway, I shood it out again and it flew straight back in. So I shood it back out and quickly pulled shut both halves of the door.
On stirring my tea, out the corner of my eye, I noticed this determined wasp Squeeze through a tiny little hole in the top right corner of the door. Not only that, it proceeded to hover directly behind my head, out of my line of vision and even if I turned my head it would hold its position out of sight reletive to my head, almost as if was doing this deliberatly to avoid detection. I was so impressed I thought to myself surely this wasp deserves something for entertaining me with this waspy show of effort and determination. So, I rewarded it with half a spoon of strawberry jam that i blobbed out onto the work top next to the chopping board. It started munching away on it so I sat down, drank my tea and got on with the rest of my day not thinking any more about it.
The very next day at about the same time, making a cup of tea I noticed the wasp was back, so, I gave it another half a teaspoon of jam and carried on with the day. It was back again the next day, same time, same place. "More jam?" This time I made a note of its stripes just to make sure I was feeding the same wasp. A close look at a wasps stripes on the abdomen you will notice they are as unique as a finger print, particularly near the thorax. This routine went on. Eventualy it started landing on my arm. It would fly straight through the door, sit on my arm and wait for its half a spoon of jam. Sometimes it would sit there without me even noticing it until i could feel it stomping around in my arm hair.
A few mornings later I put the kettle on and it was a bit chilly, so I put on a hoody. Then, I felt it. OH SHIT. frantic buzzing halfway up my sleeve. I straightend my arm bracing myself for the imminant sting. But it, it just didn't happen. The wasp slowly buzzed and struggled up to my armpit without a single sting and then calmly flew out onto the side to wait for its jam. Whats this... Don't sting the arm that feeds?
Later it even took to following me around outside if i happened to be out and about before I had given it its morning jam. A dog walker would say "Watch it! Theres a wasp" and I would sigh and say to myself "Yes mate, thats my fucking pet." I looked forward to seeing my waspy pal, everyday.
About a week later on one of its daily visits, it turned up with a couple of friends, they had some jam, flew off, and that was that. I was never to see them ever again. I miss my waspy friend. I don't even have any photos of my waspy friend.
A few years previous I was called out to demolish and remove an old rotting garden shed. There was not much in it. A potting bench, some rusty old garden tools, old flower pots, you know, crap mostly. Anyway, on the ceiling there was the beginings of a wasps nest. It was about the size off a golf ball and a bit worrying but fortuanatly it turned out to be unoccupied. On the floor underneath the bench was a community of daddy-long-legs spiders. Alive and well. This area was also littered with the corpses of two wolf spiders and several wasps all individualy wrapped in spiders web.
Daddy-long-leg spiders are thought to be the hardest spiders in the UK. They will clear your house of all pests. They are not bothered whats on the menu. They will clear your house of beetles, silver fish, mosquitos, whatever. They don't care. They will even have the fleas off of your head.
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Boxing Day 26-12-2021
The last of our Atlas moths died yesterday. A big female. She looked
like a cute, warm, fluffy stripey sock with wings.
She was just over 3 weeks old as an adult moth. She out lived the other
Atlas moths by over a week. They have no mouth to eat with so once they have
used up all of their energy (stored as fat) they just peacefully fall asleep
Most moths are lucky if they live 2 weeks but we did not notice this moth fly
around much so she did not waste her energy.
I woke one night to see her hovering above our bed. She must of flew up from downstairs. She had a bit of a nose around, then landed on the curtain. she spent most of her life on curtains. Sometimes on the inside of the curtain. Then sometimes she would walk round gently flapping her beautiful wings to the other side of the curtains and vice versa. She spent quite a lot of time on the windowsill too. They are very graceful in flight and genrally quite layed back. (Top left image) It is said that the marking on the edges of their wings mimmick snakes to scare off preditors. And you can make out snake heads on the tips of their fore wings.
We have quite a few Actias dubernardi Moon moths at the moment. (Top right image) They can fly very very fast when they want to and dart around like bullets. They do a few circuits of the light bulbs faster and faster like a partical accelerator then suddenly shoot off at a tangent so fast that they appear to just pop out of existance. Moon moths, males in particular, can use up all their energy in just a few days. While most females are quite happy to just hang around on curtains or whatever, conserving their energy.
Oh... And there is the Oleander Hawkmoths too. Flying around each night. (Middle image) We had some of these moths late last summer too and one layed some eggs on the top of a west facing window frame undetected. Then one afternoon, I went to draw the curtains on a dazzling sun when a load of baby Oleander hawk caterpillars abseiled down in front of my face on threads of silk. So, I had no choice but to raise them too. If i had of known those eggs were there, I would of stuck them in the fridge. This mimmicks winter and prevents them from hatching untill I take them out again in the spring. That is... When the foodplants are more plentifull and the leaves are much fresher. The image of one of our Oleander hawks (middle) by Andrew Carter (macro photographer that lives down the road) with a bit of background debian swirl by me in GIMP GNU Image Manipulation Program.
-- -- --
I think maybe I should type more of this stuff. If I remember. Maybe. I suppose it would be a bit like a blog and that. Maybe i am a bit old for this sort of thing. I don't know. Who cares.
-- -- --
23 July 2022
We have raised some more Actias dubernardi. All went well and we have ten chrysalises
We have sixteen Deathshead Hawkmoth (Acheronia atropos) caterpillars from seventeen eggs. That is above average when
it comes to moth egg hatching. The recommended foodplant is Potato or other stuff in the potato
family like Deadly Nightshade and Tomatos. But only six caterpillars would take to Potato leaves. I
cycled for miles and miles looking for Nightshade, but there does not seem to be any where we live
at the moment. It used to grow every where like weeds where i lived when i was a kid. Anyway, I was not
going to go around nicking peoples tomato plants in the dead of night, so I tried a load of other
stuff and they eventually took to Privet. The ones eating Potato leaves have grown bigger and faster
than the ones eating Privet. But now the Potato eating caterpillars that are big have strangely
left the Potato leaves and moved on to the Privet leaves. I suppose this is just as well as most
of our Potato foliage is starting to naturally die off now.
The adult moths make a screeching sound btw. I will be chasing moths around with a microphone again.
Have you ever heard the creepy horrible sound Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) butterflies makes when they are hibernating? I have a terrible creepy story about that. I will tell you one day... When i can be bothered.
Done: Ghosts (Further down the page.)
We also have more Attacus Atlas. Seventeen caterpillars from thirty eggs. This is below average. I would say the average in my experience would be about 70% but there are a lot of factors to consider. Nature is very complex. They are only a week old and very small. I gave them a few foodplants to browse. Some species like to have a bit of a browse before they settle. Usually they go for privet but five or six of these suprisingly settled on Northern Red Oak.
We also raised some Garden Tiger caterpillars (Arctia caja). They have pupated now. Many people around the country are breeding these for release because this species has almost dissapeared in the UK. It might work. I hope we are succesfull. We always release our british moths and let non british moths live out their natural lives.
- - - -- ----------------+--------------- -- - - -
It is well known and I have seen footage of the Deathshead Hawkmoth (Acheronia atropos)
stealing honey from beehives.
The current proven science by a doctor (theory), is that the DeathsHead Hawkmoth is
able to mimic the scent of bees. The moths are able to just waltz into a beehive
smelling of bees. And due to the moths large size, all the bees think this must be
royalty. "Would you like a cup of honey your majesty." And with the fear of loosing
their heads by the grizzly scythe the moth has hidden under its wing,
All the bees bow and move aside so the hungry moth can feed. If any security guard bees
get suspicious, the moth can just flash its yellow and black striped abdomen and
then everything will be sweet.
3 September 2022
We have had some male Deathsheads emerge over the past five days. Two days ago
the first female emerged. She was fucking massive. The female's 'skull' markings on the back of their
thorax are bone white. The males 'skull' markings are more of a light brown and
to me they do not look very skullish unless they are hovering. Well anyway,
at dusk she took to flight and hovered past me and to my astonishment, for a couple of seconds,
it actually looked like she was carrying an actual tiny miniature three dimensional skull on her back,
off into the distance. WTF. I know this was only an illusion and maybe a bit of
pareidolia or whatever, but... fuck,
you would need to see it for yourself. I have read about this before and thought
it was bullshit. If i were a kid or superstitious I would probably be proper
scared shitless. It was very convincing and only happened that one time.
The next day she was very restless even in broad daylight and seldom settling on something black like they usually do. Or hiding somewhere dark. she liked hiding behind the bookshelves, I think that was her spot. Come dusk she was off again like a madmoth. I figured she must have mated the previous night and was now looking for somewhere to lay eggs. We had plenty of privet in vases of water lying around but she was having none of it, so I opened the door and let her disappear into the night. Carrying her skull. And eggs. I hope she found somewhere suitable to lay and not scare the shit out of too many villagers. None of the males wanted to leave though another female had just emerged.....
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I cannot compare this machine with other modern laptops because this is the only mordern laptop i have ever used. I needed a new laptop and i narrowed my choice down to either Dell, Thinkpad or Tuxedo. Dell's website was unclear about linux support other than Ubuntu and even that was a bit vague. As for the Thinkpad... Well... The Lenevo website would not even work on my old laptop and it was so full of bloat that my poor old Pentuim cpu almost caught fire. So i thought - fuck 'em. Besides. Rumour has it that Lenovo are unclear how they stand with linux these days anyway. Of course I could of used my daughters beloved computer (Ryzen 3 3200g, Linux Mint) to view their website, but that might of involved me spending a couple of weeks in hospital afterwards. Oh yeah.. Then theres the soldered ram in Thinkpads now. So that left me with Tuxedo. I chose the TUXEDO-pulse-15-Gen1.
The pulse 15 has loads of cores and stuff. It also has a metal case, this was a big factor in my decision as I worry about noise. The 1920x1080 screen is fantastic. You can view it from any angle and it has a very high range of colours. No numpad, (yay). rj45 port and headphone and microphone port. Though it is a headphone / mic combo :( . Unfortunatly it also has a webcam. Never mind, I have plenty of masking tape. My old laptop was an antique Inspiron 1525 and it had no webcam. I don't care, this new laptop is capable of running virtualbox, video editors other than Flowblade (written in python, runs on old crap) and I can run silly numpy-python programs without it freezing. I think it took 3 weeks to arrive from Germany to the UK. I remember it was sooner than estimated delivery date. I thought it was going to take a lot longer due to brexit. There has been huge delays with other stuff from the mainland.
I am the sort of person that don't like electric windows or central locking. The Tuxedo pulse 15 is a very dark satin black. It has no flashing indicator lights. I like this laptop very much.
Update: It is a year or so later now. and I have installed that new Debian Bookworm stable. It worked perfectly
straight away. I thought i must of done something wrong.
Laptop still works fine btw. The foam rubber strips on the bottom that it sits on fell of, but i can glue them back on with better glue if I can find them. Or use something posh like cork.
Or sandpaper incase i need to use it anywhere posh.
-- -- -- -- --
Take some bathroom scales outside. With arms stretched out, hold the scales. Now flip the scales over so that the platform is facing the earth. Then lower, and place the planet Earth on the scales, and then record the readout. You will notice that the planet Earth weighs absolutely nothing at all. This of course is totally correct and precise. As we all know, The Planet Earth is weightless and floats around in space.
Many decades ago we stayed in this town for a few months. 'The site for sore eyes.'
Anyway, one of the many derelict houses not far away looked really creepy like. It had that vibe.
Darkened by town soot and paint peeling. It was surrounded
by stinging nettles and brambles. The windows were roughly boarded up with
cheap pallet wood or something twenty years earlier and were mostly rotting.
Playing in derelict houses was a sort of a hobby of mine so I mentioned to some of the friendly local mateys "When the stingers die down a bit I will go in there and have a good look around." But they all said "You don't want to go in there. Its haunted! There is these creepy horrible voices that say 'Get out. Get out. Get out.' Everybody who's gone in there has heared them. you wont last two seconds in there" It was a good job i did not have a mouth full of brew when they said this else they would of got soaking wet. My mouth was empty so I was able to suppress my laughter a bit. "Yeah right" i said as I covered my mouth with a hand full of my dreads.
The next time i went past the creepy house i was on my cycle so I thought fuck it, stingers were starting to die so I quickly cycled straight through and round the back of the house looking for a way in, away from prying eyes. It turned out that the back door had rotted away completely, leaving only the steel hinges still in the closed position and even the lock was still hanging in the mortice. Nobody had walked through this doorway in years. Excellent! I grabbed my cycle torch and walked through the doorway exited in the prospect of finding many great treasures. It lead in to a rotten post war kitchen. Belfast sink, Old mouldy wooden draining board and filthy old gas stove. I will check this room later. The living room door was straight in front of me but as I was about to walk through... I heard them.... "Get out. Get out. Get out." Horrible, creepy gravelly voices... "Get out. Get out. Get out. Get out. Get out."
My blood suddenly ran cold. My heart started racing but my mind was calm for some reason. There was no fight or flight impulses. My subconscious must have already found a reasonable explanation. As my heart rate slowed, It also slowly accured to me that i have heard this sound somewhere before. Hmmmm. I slowly lifted my tourch beam to where the walls meet the ceiling.... And there they were. A hundred or so Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. Hibernating. All along the top of the walls.
The Small Tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae) instinctively scare away
potential preditors by very slowly opening and closing their wings which some how causes
a very loud creaking sound and our silly human brains convert it into words.
But only if you are standing in a house that is supposedly haunted. It does
sound pretty close to "Get out" though.
"All together now. Open wing -- Get. Close wing -- Out."
The caterpillars feed on nettles.
This is not the end of the story btw.
I will finish this later. I just got some stuff to do. I try not to forget.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
...A Few Days Later...
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
I am back. Now where was I?
Actually, before we start... Got a mirror? D'ya wanna couple a lines of vim?
vnoremap < <gv
vnoremap > >gv
(Do a tab in visual and stay in visual init. Mush) Can't remember where i nicked them from.
Yeah well. I carried on into the living room. It looked like it had not changed since 1970 ish. Just everything had decayed. There was an old black and white television set in the corner, crumbling away. Moth eaten curtains on the inside of boarded up windows. The carpet was mouldy and covered in a load of old blacksmith tools. The person who lived here must of been a retired smithy. Then died. Sad. I had a bit of a sort through the smithy tools and there was a couple of blacksmith tongs that i could use so I chucked them through the door into the kitchen to pick up later. Here we go again... "Get out. Get out. Get out. Get out. Get out." The butterflies were being very vocal.
Next i made my way up the rotting stairs, my feet close as possible to the walls, for safety, less chance of putting my foot through a rotting wooden stair case. At the top of the stairs, sticking close to the walls, I shone my torch into the bedrooms but did not enter. I have fell through upstairs floorboards a few times before in the past. It was just beds and wardrobes anyway. And dressing tables with the drawers thrown onto the floor. Moth eaten clothes. Mouldy moth eaten carpets. Wallpaper peeling off damp mouldy walls. Sad. Ghosts of someone who worked hard in a dying trade. No one left to carry on. Lost knowlage. A snapshot of a time long before supermarkets and shit came along and fucked everything up.
Back down stairs i decided to have a root around the kitchen because we had
a shortage of cutlery and stuff at home. "Get out. Get out. Get out. Get out."
The Small Tortoiseshells are off again.
"Yeah Yeah shshshsh, shush, its OK. You are safe with me" I replied calmingly.
I found an old leather bag, pulled out the cutlery draw and picked out some
nice Sheffield steel stuff including this really old long blade carving Knife.
It looked a hundred years old. Made from the finest Sheffield steel. Slightly
pitted and with a blue tint. Bone handle. Eerie vibes.
It looked like it had been sharpened so many times the blade was now very narrow and
wavy. Very narrow and very wavy with a hundred years of wear from the sharpening steel.
I found an old black handled sharpening steel in the drawer, so i decided to get to work
and put a proper edge
on it to see how good it was... "Get out. Get out. Get out. Get out. Get out."
Creaked the butterflies.
I tested the sharpened knife edge by shaving a long strip of hairs off of one of my thin spaghetti arms.
Wow! This was an insanely sharp knife. Of the finest quality steel.
I threw it straight into the leather bag, shoved the blacksmith tools in too, and some other odds and ends that I cannot remember. (It was a fucking long time ago)
Well anyway, i was about to leave, and happened to glance over at the cutlery draw
that i had left on the kitchen floor and noticed that the fantastically eerie Sheffield steel
carving knife was back in the draw as bold as fuck. WTF? "Get out. Get out. Get out. Get out.
Get out." Growled the butterflies.
I emptied the leather bag on the concrete outside, just to make sure i had not gone mad and that there was in fact two identical eerie looking carving knives. But no. No knife in bag! It was the same fucking knife. I felt slightly uneasy. As you would. You know what i'm saying. Fuck it. I quickly went back inside and once again grabbed the knife from the cutlery draw... Again. I quietly said "Bye butterflies" to the butterflies, stuffed the knife into the leather bag (again) with all the other crap and went on my merry way.
When I got back home i showed my girlfriend my bounty. Emptied the bag out on the floor, but soon as she layed eyes on my favourite knife she shouted "That's evil... Get that knife out of our trailer... At once... Now" I told her not to talk crap and said I would fix it to the roof, and the sun will burn all the 'badness' out of it. It can stay up there all day. And again tomorrow. But she was not having any of it, so I went out to chuck it in some random bin. But secretly i hid it in my van. The funny thing was... That was the last time I ever seen it. Ever.
I vaguely remember news of someone getting stabbed around the corner of where we were staying around abouts the same
time. I cannot remember the details. Just another random stabbing. As i said, it was a long time ago.
Maybe someone found the knife and put it on the roof of my van to burn
the evil out of it in the hot burning light of the sun... Without telling me. Without alerting me to the danger.
Then one day i jump in my van, go for a drive. Take a corner a bit too fast then......
Moral: Don't take stuff from crusty old creepy derelict buildings.
-- -- :¬o -- --
Time = Mid nineteen seventies-ish, maybe, probably... Might even be true.
"I know, we sneak into that posh party in that posh manor house
then chuck a load of their posh orrible
food on the floor then stamp it into their posh snobby carpet." "Yeah, yeah,
and we could say its chicken shit.... we could say we saw a load of chickens in
here pecking loadsa bugs out the carpet and shitting and trampling it in"
"Yeah, yeah, an we could tell them to get down on their hands and knees to
smell it for proof... We could even offer them ten bob to do it. Its bound to
smell like shit anyway"
My old uncle used to say you have to pay to prove your innocents. "The more money you got, the more innocent you are. How the fuck d'ya think rich folk never get nicked, and how d'ya think they even got rich in the first place. You don't get that rich from an honest days graft, or even a years graft or a decade or even a century. Its all bullshit."
My gran used to say "All them scientists on the telly spout bollocks... there
ain't no aliens on Mars, you'll see, mark my word. When they send that
doodlebug probe thingy to Mars, all they will see is desert and sandstone..
Like on the moon only red. BBC sales men will be banging on our door trying to
sell us red cellophane to stick on our TV screen so we can watch it in
colour... You'll see" Televisions were black and white in them days.. well most
peoples were anyway.
Apparently, you could buy cellophane that was green at the bottom and blue at the top for watching cricket or football or whatever shit was on 'Grandstand' or the 'World Of Sport' or whatever. Though to be honest, I can't remember seeing any.
We used to get them god squad or whatever banging on our door too. Us kids
would open the door and tell them all sorts of crap. "Its no good banging on
our door because we're.. we're... erm, We're devil worshippers we is! We even got
a pentangle painted on the seat of our settee where we sacrifice animals" I would
say "...And babies" my little sister would shout from the kitchen, whilst busy
frying up her wooden dolls.
"When i grow up I'm gonna get a robot, and then i will program it to say all this crap for us.. you know... like that Gerald Hawkins got them girls to program a computer to figure out if the stones at Stonehenge lines up with any other astronomical events besides midsummer sunrise... That's if boys are allowed to do programming, cuz, like, girls ain't allowed to do mechanics are they!"
City folk would sometimes get a bang on the door from a couple of blokes from the BBC wearing suits they bought from Oxfam. They would say "We have detected that you are whatching television without a license. But fortunately, this is your lucky day.. If you give us a couple of quid, we will turn a blind eye and scrub your address from our records." Then you supposed to give them a couple of quid then they would turn around and climb back into their battered old Morris Thousand van that has a buckled old colour TV aerial gaffer taped to the roof and drive off.
-- -- -- -- --
There is a lot of interesting sound on peertube. Here is a load of stuff that I liked and
remembered to add to my playlist simultainiously:
There is quite a few gems in there.
-- -- -- -- --
I am accelerating down a long dark tunnel.
At least there is light at the end of this tunnel.
It may just be the moon's reflection on stagnant water.