You just need one

Spam. We will always have it because there are always suckers. To wit:

OK, let’s check that bitcoin address then shall we?

Yup, one sucker caught. One gazillion emails sent, free. 0.00….0001% hit rate, $1000 in the bank.



The Last of the Spode

The Last of the Spode
by EVELYN E. SMITH (SF&F June 1953)

“It is my theory,” said the Professor, sipping his tea thoughtfully, “that the character of a people can be discerned from its linguistic analogies.” “Really?” Angela murmured as she dissected a scone. “The butter looks rather foul, doesn’t it? I do hope the freezer hasn’t gone wonky on us. That would be the absolute end.”

“Now rhyming is of course,” he continued, “primarily a mnemonic device. However, I would extend this to include not only actual verse but the essential character of the words themselves. Why is it that certain particular words agree in terminal sound; what semantic relationships did their speakers find between or among them? … Now custard and mustard I can understand. They are both edible and – ah – glutinous. But why bustard?”

“Perhaps a bustard is glutinous when it’s cooked,” Angela replied vaguely. “I shouldn’t think one would want to eat it raw.”

“Once I have discovered precisely why the creators of the English language chose – even though the choice was, of course, hardly on a conscious level – to rhyme bustard with custard and, of course, mustard,” the Professor went on, “I feel I shall discover the key to the English character. Undoubtedly the same theory would apply to other languages … French, Arabic, Swahili. Through semantics one would achieve a true understanding of all the peoples of the world.” He frowned. “Don’t know what one would do about the Americans, though, with no proper language of their own.”

“But you can’t understand the peoples of the world, in any case,” Angela pointed out as she covered the dubious butter thickly with jam. “Because there aren’t any people any more. Just us.”

“There is that difficulty. But perhaps you and Eric will reproduce. After all, it will be 50 years before the radiations die down enough for Them to cross over here. By then we should have been able to establish at least two generations, although, of course, they would hardly have time to formulate any linguistic variants.”

“I don’t think I should care to reproduce with Eric,” Angela said, brushing crumbs off her frock onto the barren ground. “I think I shall let the race die with me. Rather a pretty thought.”

“Not the sporting thing to do at all,” he reproached her. “You must look at the matter from the larger viewpoint.”

“Why?” she asked. “I have no urge to provide the components of a zoo – and that seems to be the only future open to the human race.”

“Sonics, anyone?” Eric asked, as he came up swinging a sonics rod against his immaculate white sports tunic.

“Oh no, Eric!” Angela said. “The radiations are still giving off too much heat. Besides, it would be a waste of power. We’re going to need all we’ve got, you know, and there are just so many tins.”

“I daresay you’re right,” he replied manfully, but he could not quite hide his disappointment. “What’s that you have there? Tea? I do think you might have called a chap.” Settling himself at Angela’s feet, he put out a hand for the cup. “You haven’t done at all well by the bread, old girl. It’s fearfully thick.”

“I haven’t managed to get the hang of slicing it. But then, I haven’t had a fearful lot of practice yet. Remember, Nora got blasted only day before yesterday.”

“Only day before yesterday? That’s right. Seems as if you’d been cooking for us for an eternity – Not,” Eric added with speed, “that I mean to hint anything’ of a derogatory nature about your cooking, pet. It’s just that some have the gift and others haven’t.”

“But will there be enough food?” the Professor asked, absent-mindedly slipping a handful of sandwiches into his pocket. “There isn’t much use conserving power if there won’t be enough food.”

Eric brightened. “You’re quite right, Professor. So why don’t we have a round of sonics after all?” His face fell. “Oh, I forgot, I’ve already started my tea. Must wait an hour or frightful things happen to the jolly old viscera.”

“We have plenty of food,” Angela said. “Enough for 50 years.”

“Fifty years! Think we’ll be here as long as that?” Eric slammed his cup petulantly on the ground.

“Watch out, Eric,” Angela warned. “This is the last of the Spode.”

“But it’s going to be frightfully dull here,” Eric murmured. “Especially if I can’t run down to London now and then. You’re sure London got it too?”

“Quite sure,” Angela replied gently. “Every place got it. Every place but here. We’re the only three people left in the world, Eric.”

“I do wonder why we escaped,” the Professor speculated. “Something to do with the soil, I should say. You know nothing ever would grow here. Probably some sort of natural force field. Interesting.”

“If one of us were scientific,” Angela remarked, “he could occupy himself for the next 50 years in trying to determine just what the reason was.”

“No point to it,” Eric muttered. “No point to anything, really.”

“We must face the facts, lad,” the Professor said. “Pity about the Bodleian, though.”

Eric slewed his lissome body around until he faced the Professor. “And at the end of 50 years? Then what happens?”

The old scholar held out his cup for more tea. “The radiations will die down enough for Them to cross, I expect.”

“Remember, Angela,” Eric assured her, “I have a disintegrator. When They  come, I shall use it on you.”

“But why?” Angela asked, shaking the pot to make sure there was enough tea for her before she served the Professor. “They’re not human, you know.”

“Never thought of that,” Eric agreed. And after 50 years I daresay it wouldn’t matter even if They were.” He looked up at her. “But I’m human, you know.”

She sighed. “No, I don’t know. Sorry, Eric, but it’s utterly out of the question.”

He flung his sonics rod on the ground peevishly. “The whole thing is a crashing bore. I shouldn’t be surprised if after ten years or so I use the disintegrator on myself.”

The other two shook their heads in unison. “Not the sort of thing one does, you know,” the Professor reproved him. “We must face things. Come, try one of Angela’s scones. They’re not half bad considered in the light of a scientific experiment.”

“Don’t want a scone,” Eric muttered. “I wish I were dead like everyone else.”

The blatant bad taste of this took both the others’ breath away. “He’s not himself, you know,” Angela finally whispered to the Professor. “After all, it has been a bit nerve-racking, and he always was a sensitive lad.”

“We all have our feelings,” the Professor grumbled, “but we don’t wash them in public.”

“Come, Eric,” Angela tempted him, “do try one of my scones. If you do, I’ll open a tin of power and play a set of sonics with you as soon as our tea has settled.”

Eric brightened. “Oh, that’ll be wizard! But I’d rather have a chocolate biscuit.”

“Come now,” smiled the Professor, “try a scone. Let it never be said that an Englishman was a coward.” He wiggled one eyebrow, a sign that he was about to perpetrate a witticism. “It’ll probably have the same effect on you as a disintegrator.”

All three laughed.

A frown creased Eric’s smooth brow. “I’ve just thought of something absolutely ghastly.”

“What is it?” Angela asked, rising to take the pot back to the scullery for more hot water.

“Supposing the tea doesn’t hold out for 50 years?”

There was a dead silence.

With the rays of the setting sun tangled in her golden curls and glinting on the teapot which she proudly bore aloft, Angela looked like more than a splendid figure of young English womanhood; she looked like a goddess.

“The tea must hold out,” she said.

Wildebees curry

I found that the standard approach to beef, namely fry the cubes in oil to start off with, doesn’t work well with game. This approach is better.

Start with a kilo, kilo and a half of whatever boneless cut you have. Flank, bolo, rump, whatever. Cut it into 1″ bits, stick it in your black pot along with 2 chopped onions and a cup of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover, turn heat to high, and stir often until liquid evaporates and meat and onions are lightly browned. Remove from pot.

Toast 1/4 cup curry powder, 2 tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tbsp garlic and 1tsp turmeric for a bit, then add 2 cups stock (or water and stock powder), one or two tins chopped tomato or tomato paste, 2 tbsp chilies, 2 tbsp ginger. Add the meat back in, simmer until you feel it’s done.

Meanwhile make a bunch of rice in your instant pot, then serve.

You can do any of the traditionals with this of course. Banana and coconut, sure, Tomato and onion sambal is also good. I’m partial to chutney.


In general, I stay at home for days at a time. No worries, everything I want is here. Sure, I’d walk to the Spar for some shopping now and then, just as I am doing now.

But the thought of not being allowed to go out, even though I don’t want to go out… it preys on the mind.

Yea, it’s a bit like that.

Meriva Indicator Relay

So the kid complains that the indicator lights on the one side of the Opel / Vauxhall Meriva stays on all the time. This is a well known problem, there’s a dual relay and the contacts burn and stick.

So I open the box up and give her a stick and show her where to beat the relay into submission lightly tap the relay with a stick to make the stuck contact release. Problem being that once that’s done, if you then lock the car the indicators flash and guess what? Yup, bloody thing sticks again.

Google tells me you can get a new one for under 15 Sterling, which at the current exchange rate is around three hundred rands if you hurry (the rand seems to be heading south a bit faster than normal right now). But there’s shipping on top of that and it takes a while so let’s see…

<ring> <ring> “Opel spare parts, how may I help you?”

Me: “Yea hi I need an indicator relay for a Meriva,  part number 09 134 880”

Them: “Yes sir, we have those in stock, one thousand seven hundred and twenty rands”

Me: “You Have Got To Be Shi, I mean, Surely that cannot be the case my good man?”

Them: “Oh yes sorry, my mistake, make that one thousand seven hundred and ten rands”

Me: “Kthanksbyeclick”

Not being a millennial, I do have some tools and spare parts. For VERY large values of “some”. This for example is my box of spare relays.

These ones look like just the thing.

Yup, it works. Cover doesn’t fit back on again, but it will with some surgery if required. I am not too concerned.

The kid’s father is coming down from the UK in two weeks’ time and he’ll bring down the Real Thing but in the mean time this will do. Very Nicely. R1710. Fsck.


Clock Radio Hacking

Nice little clock radio with a docking station for charging a cellphone. I bought it through One Day Only or something.

One big problem, though. The display is so flippin’ bright that it keeps you awake at night. Draws moths, even. Not ideal.

The large PCB at the top holds the buttons. All the work is done by what one would have thought is the display board.

Clock, radio, everything. One would have thought they could have put an LDR in there to make the thing dim automatically when it gets dark. Philips is not what they used to be.

The 330 ohm resistor is not like the other resistors. Specifically, it’s a higher-wattage 0805 package and not 0603 like all the other resistors on the board*. Figuring that there must be a reason for this, this is where I started.

Replaced it with a 1k and sure ’nuff, the display is now bright enough to still read indoors in daytime, but dim enough to not outshine the street lights when we have them

* OK there are other 0805 resistors on the board. They bridge two or three traces, so I figured that’s why they chose bigger resistors in these positions. Also, 330 ohm is sort of the right value for an LED current limiter. Yea, it’s all gut feel. Sometimes it works.