14 December 2009 (Monday) - Stuff

I’ve often blogged about the astronomy club, I’m very proud to be a member of it. But it’s not the first astronomical society of which I’ve been a member. The first one was some thirty five years ago, at the Hastings Academy for Budding Geniuses. And on reflection it was in many ways similar to the one in which I’m now rather active. That club ran interesting and informative sessions which were held inside (where it was warm and at sensible hours) where I could learn something about a fascinating subject in comfort. And there were episodes of stark misery spent outside in cold muddy fields after midnight (usually in the rain) staring through an unfocussed telescope, whilst listening to the physics teacher persuading no one that the clouds would break soon.

One such episode nearly happened last night. According to the Internet, last night was the Geminid meteor shower. I stuck my head out the back door. It was cold and cloudy, so I came back inside and had another cup of coffee. I expect we will get a video show of the shower at the club meeting on Friday, but I can’t help but wonder how many people up and down the country stood outside in the cold, shivering, desperately hoping for a break in the clouds.

There are two types of astronomer. Those who look through telescopes, and those who look at “Google Images”. I know which camp I’m in.

Having re-set my spam filtering last week, today I got an email from Freecycle. I haven’t had one for ages – they must have been eaten with all the other stuff I never got. Freecycle are a funny bunch. In theory you can use their website to unload the tat you don’t want onto someone who might want it, and similarly get stuff that you want from people who would otherwise throw it away.

In practice they are a sad bunch of “jobsworths” who cling to silly tedious rules that they don’t actually understand themselves. I remember once trying to use them to try to unload a whole load of soil that I excavated for a garden feature (see blog entry for 15 September 2007). It took me several attempts to word the advert in such a way that they would publish the thing. I would send them the advert, and they would pedantically send it back for petty infractions of their rules. Very apologetic, explaining that they didn’t make the rules, they didn’t see the need for the specific rule of which I’d fallen foul, but would I word this bit differently, or that bit differently.

And then the people who use the site - I was giving away an amount of soil that would cost hundreds of pounds, were you to buy it from a garden centre. You’d think people would snap up the deal. I got three replies, all from silly people who were furious that I wasn’t prepared to deliver the cubic metres of soil to precisely where they wanted it. One chap was rather indignant that I wouldn’t bring the stuff to him, asking me how on Earth would he transport soil? Much the same way that I would, I should imagine. Some people just want more than something for nothing.

Today’s email showed me that nothing had changed with Freecycle. The person who’d written it mentioned a previous missive he’d sent out that had caused offence, and was taking the line of being surprised that anyone could ever take offence. Surely because he was the Freecycle moderator, he could say what he wanted? He was also having a moan about people using the Freecycle site to get stuff which they were then passing on as Xmas gifts. If someone saw something I might like on Freecycle and got it for me, then I would be happy. But the administrators of the site would not be. They disapprove of what they describe as “motley grabbers”. Strange people!

Meanwhile in lego-land “Gervais” has found a florist, and is buying flowers. Perhaps he’s taken a shine to the chef so recently arrived. That’s nice….

1 comment:

  1. I shall have to ask Alan if he likes flowers.

    "The Arranger of Flowers"....now where do I remember that from?