Placemat

As you read this, I will have reached the end of the first leg of my sabbatical in Britishland, and I’ll be boarding the craft which will wing me back over The Pond to Texas:

…although, to accommodate my somewhat errr enhanced bulk (thank you, Wadworth 6X, steak pies, fish & chips and Full English Breakfasts), the airline should really be using one of these:

Regular blogging (whatever that is) should resume tomorrow.

And lastly: a huge, enormous thank-you is due to Mr. and Mrs. Free Market for their unbelievable hospitality given me during my stay Over Here. When I come back in late October, I’ll be staying elsewhere — details to follow — but, as they say, words cannot express my gratitude to these wonderful people because, quite graciously and with absolutely no fuss, they saved my life. I am not worthy.

Worrying Development

…or maybe I should say reduction instead of development.

Longtime Readers will know of my longtime infatuation with the wondrous Nigella Lawson:

However, of late there appears to be a lot less Nigella than there was before:

…and in fact, she looks positively skeletal nowadays:

I’cw always preferred bigger, full-figured women with hourglass figures, and Nigella probably epitomized that preference. But this disappearing act? I like it not. Maybe it’s time to find another Real Woman, of more-appealing amplitude.

But I’m going to feel guilty about this; I’ve always been a one-woman kinda guy.

Then again:

 

 

Last Shooting Lesson

So as the first leg of my Britishland sabbatical has been drawing to its close, two things happened:

  1. Last night, The Englishman, Reader John M. and Mr. Free Market ganged up on your Humble Scribe, taking me to a strange pub buried deep in Hardy Country, and forced — forced, I tell you — gallons and gallons of 6X down my throat. This, after a couple stiff whiskies taken earlier when Mr. FM returned from doing Capitalist Things in London.
  2. Then Mr. FM dragged me out of bed at some ungodly hour (I believe it was 10am), pushed a shotgun into my shaking hands and announced that we would shortly be leaving for the Barbury School for a session of clays.

Oy. Fortunately, we arrived early enough to have a few cups of miracle coffee and a bacon-and-egg “bap” (big breadroll) before Instructor Dave hauled me off on shaky legs to the first shooting position.

And, Dear Readers, I was total shit. No excuses, I just shot like someone who’d never fired a gun before. I think I hit maybe half a dozen of fifty-odd clays thrown up.

Then, despite my protestations that I should just go back to the Range Rover and finish myself off, so to speak, Dave and Mr. FM (who had shot his normal 95%) hauled me off to a second shooting position — one where instead of standing still, we had to move from place to place, shoot a couple, move, shoot another couple, move, and so on.

And a miracle occurred, because (as Mr. FM explained afterwards), I stopped thinking about all technique and did what I know how to do: just shoot, with over fifty years’ experience behind me and no time to think about the mechanics — and I scored hits (I think) very close to 50% of the time.

I could have pulled the trigger till tea-time, but instead had to be dragged off kicking and screaming because our allotted time had ended or some such nonsense.

Here’s the thing. When I get back, I’m going to go to an outdoor shooting range with my trusty old 16-gauge and two hundred rounds of ammo, and practice and practice and practice until just before I need reconstructive surgery on my shoulder.

Then I’m going to go back as soon as the bruise has disappeared, and do it again and again until all my ammo is gone (don’t ask — it’s a lot). Then I’m going to buy some more ammo and repeat the exercise.

Screw this shooting badly nonsense.

 

Half An Ale

Continuing on the saga of my expanding gut, I was amused by this little thought from James May:

…and ordinarily, his sentiment would be correct. The correct measure is indeed the pint:

However, I have learnt a few things about this pint business. I tend to prefer my beer in said quantities, as evidenced by this pic of my breakfast beer in Edinburgh:

(Explanation: I had arisen from my hoggish slumber too late to be served breakfast, and the pub hadn’t yet started serving their lunch menu. I was in dire need of some sustenance but my knowledge of local brews was scanty, hence my selection of Tennant’s, the Edinburgh lager, which is absolutely dreadful. No wonder the Jocks are always fighting each other if that’s what they have to drink. I didn’t even finish that glass.)

Anyway, my normal choice of ale taken in pint units is somewhat compromised by the stiff DWI/DUI laws they have Over Here. If I’m walking (e.g. in Edinburgh) or being driven (e.g. to Blenheim), I can freely imbibe from pint glasses, and I have. But if I’m driving, then I have to drink in smaller quantities, e.g. this half-pint of local brew Exmoor (ugh) taken in Salisbury’s Haunch of Venison pub:

(I know, a half-pint looks ridiculous in my giant paw. Whatever.)

You might think that this is counter-productive, in that I would just drink more half-pints to achieve the desired state of inebriation, but actually (and this has been scientifically timed by The Englishman), I tend to drink a full pint (especially of 6X) in about the same time it takes me to drink a half-pint — ergo, I end up drinking half the normal quantity, and thus is P.C. Plod kept off my fat, beer-loving Texas ass.

Call me Mr. Responsible.

(And for those who are about to get all scoldy on me, don’t bother. Like so many of my writings on suchlike topics, this post should be taken with a ton of salt.)

Not Your Money To Spend

Great Britain has in its budget several billion dollars earmarked to the  Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development for “development”, so one would think that such money could be spent in rebuilding its Caribbean islands that were flattened by Hurricane Irma.

One would be wrong. In fact, the OECD has ruled that the three islands are classed as “too rich” and therefore do not fall within the “allowable” target parameters for the development money. Here’s how it works:

Britain is free to spend its aid wherever it wants – what is at issue is whether it counts towards the Government’s 0.7 per cent target.
Last year, the UK spent £13 billion on aid, money which went towards the target to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on international development. But aid money only counts towards the target if it meets rules set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
So under current rules, any money we give to the three overseas territories cannot count towards this total. Cash is only eligible if it goes towards a country on the OECD’s list of states which are deemed poor enough.
Countries are ranked according to need, which is intended to ensure the poorest countries take priority. While some UK territories are on this list, the three affected by Irma are not.

I’m sure this will come as welcome news to the British Virgin Islanders:

…and that’s just one town’s damage. Needless to say, various Brit politicians are spitting mad and demanding that the rules be “ripped up” — i.e. they’re advocating anarchy because, after all, rules are rules — but so far the OECD hasn’t budged, which means that the Brits will have to find the budget allocation somewhere else in the budget.

Didn’t one of our Founding Fathers warn against “foreign entanglements”? I think that this one would qualify as a good example thereof.

College Degrees Not Worth Much

…says this study (found via Insty).

Americans are losing faith in the value of a college degree, with majorities of young adults, men and rural residents saying college isn’t worth the cost, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey shows.

No kidding. With all the PC bullshit happening on college campuses these days, not to mention crap courses like “Feminist Basket Weaving”, it’s not surprising. One finding that got my attention, however, is this one:

Some Americans believe learning a trade offers more security than going to college.

Well, yeah. Depending on the trade, it almost always did, especially when weighed against courses in the Humanities and the debt incurred by getting said degrees. (It’s not true when measured against a degree in, say, electrical engineering, of course.)

Then again, most people are more qualified to learn a trade than they are to attend college in the first place.

And the first warning sign was that government (of the Democrat / Labour Party persuasion) stated that a college degree was desirable for all young people, and put policies into place to support that idiotic idea. Billions of dollars of student debt, high unemployment rates among Millennials, lowered academic standards and staggeringly-high college tuition fees followed swiftly, to the surprise of no one except those government tools.

As seen on these pages but a couple days back, I’ve always advised young people to get a trade first, then go to college — especially if you’re not quite sure what degree you want to get — because as a fallback, a trade like carpentry or plumbing sure as hell beats begging for that barrista job at a coffee shop. And if your goal in life is to own your own business (which it should be), a trade beats the hell out of an MBA as a foundation thereof.

So yeah, it’s not surprising that the value of a college degree is being called to question. Reality will do that to ya.