Photos are back! (Again)

I know, you’ve heard this before. Here’s hoping it lasts this time.

I celebrate with this photo, taken in the south of France, Perpignan I think, nearly fifteen years ago in June 2005:

I love that, though I say it myself, and although (among another thing) it’s of myself, several times over.

Those Frenchies do love their motorbikes.

Corona Time

Yes: “Corona Time”. I just heard this phrase, from the all-the-rage-just-now Icelandic classical pianist Víkingur Ólafsson. He was being interviewed on Radio 3’s Music Matters, and talking about how he’ll be juggling his work during the next few months, in the face of the tornado of cancellations that he and others like him now face. Far fewer public performances and lots more time spent studying and practising, and recording.

A lot of people are about to have a lot of Corona Time in the next few months.

Some people are going to be more deranged than others. Basically, the more sociable you are, and the less solitary and virtual in the way you live, the worse it will be. I especially like this Babylon Bee title:

Nation’s Nerds Wake Up In Utopia Where Everyone Stays Inside, Sports Are Canceled, Social Interaction Forbidden

Nerds have always had lots of Corona Time.

LATER: More Corona Time advice. I have in mind to write, like he says.

Visiting the places that will hold up the map

6k says that this is very good:

I want to hang a map of the world in my house. Then I’m gonna put pins into all the locations I’ve traveled to, but first I’m gonna have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won’t fall down.

Apart from how travelled is spelt, I agree.

But now I’m not sure I do. I thought this was a real circumstance. It turns out that the bloke who said this is a comedian. He merely says things like this, for a living. He’s not actually going to go to these two places. He didn’t mean it. He was only joking. That, I think, makes it less funny.

Brown Norwegian cheese (again)

In 1966, I had a three month holiday in Scandinavia, on a bike. This did not work very well in Norway, which is rather bumpy, but what did work well in Norway was the brown Norwegian cheese. I don’t have the ostehøvel that I used on that trip to slice the brown Norwegian cheese, because I gave it away to someone, but back home, I bought another one immediately …:

… and have been using it ever since, for slicing regular British cheese.

I had less luck finding any brown Norwegian cheese back home. Even since then, I have kept an eye open for this brown Norwegian cheese, in Brit shops, but I never found any.

Then I had a brainwave. Why not type “brown Norwegian cheese” into the www, and see what came up? Maybe the www could tell me which shop to try. And yes, you are right, I should have thought of this a lot sooner. See the contents list below, which will include: Getting old.

Anyway, the www did its stuff, and I was instructed to visit Waitrose in Oxford Street, which is in the basement of John Lewis. And I duly purchased a couple of … these:

“A Norwagian speciality. Mixed creamy whey cheese made with goat’s milk and cow’s cream.”

When you get inside this (and start slicing and eating), it looks like this:

Yum. £4 per cube. Worth every penny.

LATER: Sorry about the spotty plate. It really is time I got some plain white ones, on which dirt is more easily spotted.

How big creatures assemble themselves

Speaking of animals, as I like to do of a Friday, how does Life get from little tiny single cell thingies to, you know, animals. Well, somewhat like this:

The little tiny cells don’t themselves get that much bigger. No. Instead they combine into cooperating flocks, like the fishes above.

To be clear, the above is not an actual creature evolving. What you see there is merely analogous to how bigger creatures assemble themselves from tiny little cells.

I continue to read this SS-W book. My problem is: I’m already persuaded of the truth of everything he says. But I am learning plenty, so will continue.

Photo-question answered

There I was, sitting in a window seat of a Ryanair 737-800, trying and pretty much failing to photo photos out of the window. But I did succeed in photoing this photo:

When I looked at this photo again, I wondered just exactly what that elongated rectangular bit in the middle was, surrounded by darkness, that looks like a word spelt out in an unfamiliar alphabet? I cranked up Google Maps, and searched, all around Stansted. Nothing. The key to it was that highly idiosyncratic motorway intersection at the top. Couldn’t find it anywhere, until I started casting the net wider, and I found it, way out west of London, where the M4 and the M25 cross.

It was here:

There really is no doubt about it. All the details fit. The rectangle of weird lettering is Heathrow Airport. At first I thought this was going to be another mystery posting, for Commenter Chuck or Commenter Alastair to solve. But, no need. Already solved.

So, Ryanair planes fly from France to Stansted, right over Heathrow. I guess the airplanes landing at and taking off at Heathrow are way too low to be bothered about airplanes like the one I was in.

On how we love animals (except when we love how they taste)

While in France, I read the whole of The Square and the Tower, and then embarked upon The Ape that Understood the Universe.

In the latter book, the matter of how humans get all sentimental about animals is mentioned (pp. 59-60):

… Why do so many people take such delight in staring at infant members of other species? It’s not as if, say, porcupines enjoy staring at baby chickens. As with porn, our love of these nonhuman animals is probably not an adaptation. More than likely, it’s spillover from psychological mechanisms designed for more human-centered purposes. There’s a certain cluster of traits that people everywhere find irresistibly cute. This includes big round eyes in the center of the face, a small nose, and plump, stubby limbs. Our affection for creatures with these features presumably evolved to motivate us to care for our own infants and toddlers. But the same features are found in many other infant mammals, and even in the adult members of some nonhuman species. As a result, we often feel affectionate and protective toward these individuals as well – not because it’s adaptive, but just because adaptations aren’t perfect. By the way, as you might already have noticed, the spill over hypothesis doesn’t just explain our fondness for cute animal videos. It also hints at an explanation for a much older and more pervasive phenomenon: our habit of keeping pets.

Motivated I am sure by exactly this sort of fondness for animals myself, I have become more and more intrigued by this general human propensity. Which is why so many of my photos involve non-human creatures of one sort or another.

Here are some of the non-human creatures photos I photoed while in France recently:

Even the photos involving signs urging dog owners to clear up canine crap (photos 12, 14 and 17) are about our positive feelings towards animals, because the offending dogs are pets. And even the two plastic barrier things (photo 16) are “other creatures”, in the sense that we insist on seeing the faces of creatures where there are none, even though these particular non-creatures each have only one eye. Yes, we do love these creatures.

And yet, by way of a corrective, we also do these kinds of things to particularly tasty creatures, in this case to various mammals and to fishes:

Yum.

Mystery lake in the south of France

I spent my day doing domestic chores, and my blogging time, such as it was, going through all the photos I photoed in France, copying many of them into separate directories by subject matter. Motor bikes, Christmas decorations, roof clutter, health and safety signs, that kind of thing. I’m still wondering how and what to show here, so in the meantime, here is the very first thing in France that I photoed:

I am one of those very infrequent flyers for whom the view out of an airplane window is still rather magical, even out of a manky old Ryanair window. But the weather for my journeys from Stansted to Carcassonne and back was cloudy. I saw very little, and photoed almost nothing.

But I did photo the above lake, somewhere north-ish of Carcassonne, seven minutes before we landed there. However, my best Google maps efforts did not manage to locate this distinctively shaped stretch of water.

There is one commenter here in particular (happy new year Alastair), who says he finds it hard to resist trying to identify things I photo, which I myself cannot identify. Maybe he can help.