They Found Our Cloud, Dammit

IrelandCloud
Picture whipped without any hint of permission whatsoever from Irish Weather Online – hope they don’t mind. Click image to visit their Facebook page, full of climatic gossip.

Well damn. They had to go and find it, didn’t they?

The cloud, the huge one that usually sits neatly over Ireland. They finally tracked it down yesterday – see picture – and must have dragged it back last night. Probably the farmers did it. Those thirsty, thirsty farmers.

So today was the first non-rock-splitting day for over a week. I got up early and thought it was just a morning mist, so often the harbinger of a solar barrage to come. But it never lifted.

Perhaps I should be glad. It was really hard to concentrate in the sun, and yesterday I was researching an article on Big Data and Human Resources. If that means nothing to you I won’t spoil your happy innocence for now, I’ll just say that it was a bit on the technical side, requiring more concentration than I could easily muster. In the end I gave up and switched to a job that actually required a trance-like meditative state. Until the sun went down I stayed in the garden with my shirt off doing a thorough job with an electric sander on that piece of furniture I’m restoring.

The sun meanwhile was doing a similar job on my skin. It feels leathery and itchy today, which somehow seems contradictory. Another reason why I should really be glad it’s overcast. But with the help of the cool and twelve hours of almost unbroken writing I did get my article finished.

Now night has long fallen. It’s quiet – except for a neighbour’s donkey letting out the occasional long, lonely bray. That must be about the most heartbreaking non-human sound in all the world. I’m sitting up late, upgrading a friend’s Mac. As you do. It seems to have worked – which is a relief as I went straight from Tiger to Snow Leopard without any intervening Leopard, something that’s not officially possible.

And I have all the windows open, in the hope of making more flappy friends. I think I’m getting exclusively the tiny, buzzy, feeds-on-blood kind of friend though. But it doesn’t matter, I’m doing it just for the atmosphere really. The insect-laden atmosphere. When I was a child I lived for several years in a caravan, and that made me intimately acquainted with the beasts of the rural dark. We basically couldn’t keep them out. So having them around again is just kind of nostalgic. It’s not proper night air unless it bites.

A Little Lamb

StirFry6

I have eaten the heart of a lamb.

Yeah, sorry vegetarian readers. That even freaks me out a little. Of all the offal parts, it seems weirdest to eat the one that beats. But it just struck me as I was shopping today that I have never eaten a heart. Knowingly, anyway. It seemed like an odd moral lapse. I believe that if I am going to consume animals, leaving bits is just disrespectful. “I’mma kill you and eat you all up! Except your hideous face.”

And you know what? Its innocent little heart was delicious. It tasted a bit like kidney, just a tiny bit like liver, but better than either. I cut off most of the tough white fatty bits, chopped it up and ate it with some fava beans and a nice… Sorry, with another stir fry.

Other ingredients, in approximate order of being added to the wok, were cucumber, leek, scallions, sugarsnap peas, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, aubergine (egg plant), and broccoli. It was wonderful, a deeply satisfying fry. So nice to get a really excellent aubergine – this one was like a purple balloon full of helium foam – but all the veg was good.

With the exception of the broccoli though, none of what I bought this time was organic. This is because what the supermarket had wasn’t local. I mean, even in the sense that European is local. Seriously, the organic avocados were from Brazil, the apples New Zealand! Clearly as a meat-eater I am by no means the keenest of  environmentalists, but I cannot understand people thinking they’re being all natural and Earth-friendly while selecting food that comes with air miles.

Perhaps to counterbalance all the manly meat-eating, I also planted some flowers today. Petunias – surely the campest of all the bedding plants. A lovely rich blue-purple in colour. I’m not sure what possessed me. As far as I recall it’s the first time I’ve ever done gardening without being asked – unless you include houseplants. Maybe it was just for a complete change. I’d spent the previous forty-eight hours working on an article about “Big Data”, a fashionable concept from the world of business and technology. I guess I needed a bit of nature after that.

I’ll go into more detail some other time, but in brief: Companies these days accumulate huge amounts of data – almost because it’s cheaper now to store the stuff than to sort through it and decide what’s worth keeping. “Big Data” is the assumption that this can be mined for surprising and valuable insights into how the organisation could be improved. It’s not an unreasonable one I think, but possibly people get a little carried away with the potential. William Gibson retweeted someone today who put the sceptical view rather nicely:

Big Data, n.: the belief that any sufficiently large pile of shit contains a pony with probability approaching 1

Do the vast amounts of data created and accumulated in the course of business really contain priceless knowledge? Well, I guess you don’t know until you look.

Recommended Stealing

And yesterday was a fine day indeed, as it turned out. I think I met more new people than in the previous year altogether. This is good, this is what I need. One of the reasons you get too dependent in a relationship is that you stop knowing other people. I have restoration work to do on my social life.

First I was at the book launch of a local poet, Thanks for Nothing, Hippies by Sarah Clancy. Nice stuff. Then a meeting of activists against the Fiscal Compact, which was the main inspiration for yesterday’s piece. This was stimulating because I’ve done nothing like it for many years. As a cartoonist, a commentator on events, you try to keep actual political activity at arm’s length. I have never joined a party, association, or union. I’m even pretty reluctant to sign petitions. Being right at the coalface felt like a safari – even a spying mission.

The meeting was addressed by an economist, Professor Terry McDonough, and it was pointed out to me that I had done cartoons for a book he co-authored a decade ago. So I thought to check and, yes, you can buy a book I illustrated on Amazon. Lord knows, there may be more of my work available there. After all I forgot this one completely. It’s nice to be reminded that I do more than I think.

I even found a good review of it – from an anarchist newspaper:

Each section is self-contained, well presented with graphs, charts and cartoons.

How’s that for recognition? Also:

Order, buy, borrow or steal “Mind your own business” then pass it on to fellow workers. Probably the most user friendly handbook on economics/industrial relations in print.

Recommended stealing! There’s no higher praise from anarchists.