Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Death to Squirrels!

Last year I decided to declare war on grey squirrels, so bought a humane trap. Grey squirrels were introduced to the UK in the 19th Century, and since then have spread steadily northwards, eliminating our native red squirrels as they went. I think they out-compete the reds, and also pass on diseases to which the reds have no resistance. I did know that once I'd caught one, I'd be legally obliged to kill it, since, as an imported alien, it would be illegal to release it. I know that one trap in the middle of England is not going to do much to save our red squirrels, but you have to do whatever you can.

I had the idea I might be able to eat them, since they're more or less vegetarian, so should tast nice, but once I'd caught the first, I decided there wouldn't be enough meat on one to be worth the effort required to prepare it. I caught another 3, but just put the bodies in the dustbin, and some time after that discovered that my wife didn't really like the idea of culling them, so put the trap away.

This spring, however, we saw a TV programme in which squirrel in a red wine sauce was described as delicious, and Jenny seemed less averse to the idea if we were going to eat the result, so out came the trap.

The first one I caught was a mature female, and after preparation, her back half weighed half a pound, which seemed to us like a decent portion for one. The other day I caught another, but sadly, this was a juvenile, and the equivalent part of his carcase weighed only a couple of ounces. They're both in the freezer, but the trap has been put away again as Jenny doesn't like the idea of catching babies. I don't entirely disagree, actually. I guess I have to wait until about August before trying again, so as to catch something a bit more mature.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Struggling with a slideshow using Irfanview

After we came back from Australia the other week, I pruned the pictures we'd taken down to a list only long enough to bore our friends to sleep, not to death and built a web page so anyone with nothing to do could go and look. But my stepmother, whom we'll be visiting shortly, doesn't have a computer, so I thought I'd burn the pics onto a CD and take that, so she can see the pictures on her telly.

Irfanview happily made me a slideshow which I can play on my DVD player, but now I find a problem. I project the pictures using a digital projector onto a 5 foot by 3 foot screen, and the pictures are really blurry and out of focus. This is odd, because when I look at them on my computer monitor, they're nicely sharp. The camera has image-stabilisation, so the everything is much more sharply focussed than I ever managed with the old camera which doesn't have IS.

So why is it so poor when projected onto the big screen? Beats me, but I'm working my way through each step of the process to try to eliminate things, and what I'm left with will be the cause, I hope. I know a big screen will always be less sharp than a little one, but this is silly.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

A first, tentative toe

What is 'to blog'? Surely it's just the height of vanity to imagine that your daily drivelings might be of any interest to the World at large? Probably, but then I did read something just now which persuaded me to do it anyway. I need to be able to communicate, in order to do my job well, and writing is communicating, so a blog is just a way of improving one of my work-related skills. And if it's not actually publicised, then no-one else gets to see it anyway. I just practise writing. Yeah, I know, cuts no ice. I still just have an over-inflated sense of how interesting I am.

And then again, once I understand how to drive a blog, presumably next time I'm on holiday I can upload photos to it and bore all my friends with what a wonderful time I'm having while they're at work.