September 2011


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Just more evidence that you can’t upgrade the brain’s firmware.  It’s disturbing that this cannot be overruled by conscious thought.  Then again, it’s just as mad when you realise what our eyes see and what we think we see.  That’s another can of worms.  I spent about ten minutes today trying to explain to my year 11 class that when we see yellow on the TV there is no yellow light coming from the screen.  It just tricks our brain into thinking it sees yellow.

Today was a particularly well balanced day.  It was the equinox.  On top of that, I got to teach some nice topics such as atomic theory.  It is always a joy to reveal, to students, how it was that mankind discovered an element on the sun before it was discovered on earth.  It was all discovered in a time before space travel and before computers.  These are not the things that discover truths, ideas are.

The A-level students are ready for the discovery of Helium (named in honour of the sun, Helios, where it was discovered), their minds are prepared.  A junior class are not as prepared but they are ready for the seeds of scientific strangeness to be planted.  I told them how time travel forwards in time is an aspect of Einstein’s theory of special relativity.  Of course they refuse to believe, and this is the bit I love.  I then tell them that it is true and proven.  I tell them that there are satellites with clocks on board travelling at speed around our earth.  They are travelling fast enough for time to slow down on board the satellites and the clocks now all out of sync.  I then tell them that, if they desire, they can walk down the street and buy a device that listens to all these clocks that are wrong.  It listens and thinks.  It realises that the wrong time of a satellite is due to its fast speed and it listens some more.  After pondering the problem for a moment it compares all the wrong times and figures out where it is on the planet.  Without this time travel effect GPS would simply not work.

After all this I arrive home on the autumnal equinox as the leaves are falling on the roads.  I arrive home and find the little man.  He is close to that time, close to completing his first orbit around the sun.  Tempus fugit.  Fugit irreparabile tempus

A few weeks ago I came home from work to find the big plum tree in the garden bare, bereft of plums.  These plums were the best kind for eating; Victoria.  They were plump (sorry) and ripe for eating, but they were gone.  There was no evidence of the offender, no plums or stones on the ground.  This was the beginning of the mystery that is the great plum theft.

Birds were the first suspect.  The problem with the bird theory was that Victoria plums are quite large.  One remote possibility was a murder of rooks sweeping down and stripping the tree bare.

A human was the next suspect.  My jam mentor, ‘P’ at St George’s Market, was certain that a human was the culprit.  I assured her that this was impossible as the cottage is a little out of the way and the tree had been cleaned better than any human could achieve.  Last year I had to cut, melt, and bend a bit of pipe in order to get some of the high plums.  And even with my plastic pipe plum plucker (patent pending) I was not able to get every last plum.

On Friday ‘P’ informed me that she had discussed the matter with some of her friends and that the nasty thief was more than likely a squirrel.  It seems to be the most logical explanation even though I have never seen one near the garden.  Apparently it only takes a few rotting fruit and the right weather conditions to grab the olfactory attention of a squirrel.

This morning I tested one of the lesser plum trees.  It is an unknown type of plum that does not have the appeal of the victorias.   It was ripe so I stripped the tree (it’s not as tall as the other one) in the early hours of this morning.  We are a little weary of jam making and are searching for alternatives.  A plum crumble or two may use up the bulk of the crop but we decided to start with breakfast.  Tonight I put some of the plums in a pan with some honey and vanilla.  It sat on the very minimum of heat that our cooker could produce. After fifteen minutes the plums melted into themselves before they were scooped up into the fridge.  Tomorrow morning they will be added to a little yoghurt and granola for the finest of starts to the day.  I look forward to this, but I know that the joy will be empty.  I know that I will look to one of the jars of redcurrant jelly and I will be filled with longing.  A little redcurrant jelly with roasted squirrel would be the finest of breakfasts.

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