Brian's Blog

…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World

Pancakes, Power, SETI, and Earth Day Hour…

Happy Pancake Day…

I hope you’ve had and enjoyed your pancakes already, I have.

I’m enjoying a quiet morning after having had a work-packed (but fun) day yesterday. I was expecting to visit one client 15 miles away… by bicycle of course (I got to see some snow, yay!) I was supposed to give that client’s computer a “tidy up” but it ended up being more involved and I had to take half the parts away with me.

Then I bumped into a face-from-the-past (that sounds better than an “old face”, right?), before returning a couple of phone calls that I’d managed to miss that morning, to then discover I had a “few” extra miles to travel. When visiting my final client yesterday I mentioned where I had been that day, and joked that “I’ll sleep well tonight!”

I didn’t.

Physically I was tired after my, according to Google maps, 55+ mile trip (I actually thought it was less), but mentally my head was too busy with all the work I had done, and yet to do the next day, and the next.

stationssunBut yes, it’s Pancake Day, and since St. Valentine’s Day, when, according to Chaucer, all the birds get together and decide on their mates, I have been reading up a little on days such as these. I have borrowed a book called The Stations of the Sun by Ronald Hutton – a ritual year in Britain. I’ve not had chance to properly sit down and read it yet but I have glanced through the chapters on Valentine’s Day and Pancake Day, and Lent.

I find these “holidays” interesting, because I see how they have been adopted/hijacked. Christmas is the obvious one; we all know it’s “supposed to be” to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but in my world there’s very little sign of that; it’s all instead about mass-consumerism, money and the resulting debt, oh and some time spent with family and friends. Easter is similar in that it’s all about chocolate Easter eggs, as yummy as they are. I have read now that Pancake day was traditionally the mark of the end of winter when the last of the food supplies would be used up. How you make pancakes out of “what’s left” in a typical kitchen cupboard I don’t know, with my prepping I have supplies to last me a few months or more. Here in the UK there’s always everything you could need on the shelves at the supermarkets (unless it’s lettuces because apparently Spain ran out), but in the distant past, before refrigeration and the ability to ship food in from around the globe within a couple of days, the end of winter could have been a hard time if enough food hadn’t been reserved at the end of the last harvest, or if the winter had been particularly tough.

meat_fairlieSince reading a book last year about meat eating (Meat, a benign extravagance by Simon Fairlie), and more recently one about some technologies that might help us on the path to using more greener energy (Ten Technologies to Fix Energy and Climate by Chris Goodall), and this coinciding with Spain running out of lettuces, made me realise how the solutions in these books, and the way we are heading, is really putting us on a knife-edge.

technologiesThe global population of human beings is increasing, and neither book put forward “reduce the population size*” as a solution. Instead they forecast how much food or energy we will need in the not-too-distant-future, and postulate how much land and natural resources will be required to feed and power the iGadgets of all the people. The problem is that once the planet runs at its maximum capacity (because while I think we already are, each book manages to find ways we can “better” use the land and resources available) if something unforeseen happens, like a lack of lettuces, the whole system collapses like a house of cards.

By “reduce the population” I don’t mean mass extermination, I mean, why not work towards a less than two children per family norm? We’re controlled and dictated to in this and that and every other way (more than we might realise) so why isn’t population control a thing? It’s almost as if “they” want/need us to over populate and pillage our planet into oblivion.

While we’re medalling with different ways of farming and producing our energy, instead of addressing the real problem, we’re affecting our climate, and as random snow fall in Spain, and excessive snow-melt in California have shown, these lead to events occurring that we didn’t budget for (if you believe we have an effect on our planet of course); if we use all of the Earth’s land and resources available to us to maximum effect, that leaves no leeway, no margin for error or fluctuation in what we see as the natural course of things. It may have only been the supply of lettuces, and I believe courgettes that suffered this time, but if each of those things equated to “the food required to feed a city population” then we would really see problems begin to happen. Lettuces aren’t yet the tip of the… iceberg.

The other thing we are doing is reducing diversity which limits resistance to pests and other problems. If you grow all of your lettuces in one country, well, it’s like eggs in baskets.

So after Pancake Day we’re supposed to participate in Lent in the run up to Easter, which other than being based around Jesus I know little about, although I have learned a little more recently. I took part in a month of fasting for Ramadan a few years back, and I therefore think of it as similar to that, but these things are more than just about the food; for me it was about being mindful of where our food comes from, and also about practising our own restraint; you’re not starving yourself, I just consumed everything I would have consumed throughout the day, in one sitting; it was quite fun! Unlike the Qu’ran which discussed the fasting for Ramadan, the Bible doesn’t actually mention Lent. The Bible mentions how Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness, which must have been an act of purification, but as I have mentioned, the whole issue of food supplies running low until the Spring time begins and new supplies becoming available, is very much older than the story of Jesus.

And then in a month from now, on Saturday March 25th, between 8:30pm and 9:30pm it is Earth Hour. I actually prefer Earth Day, because after participating in both I find the single hour a somewhat pathetic exercise in contrast. But anywho, the idea is that during that evening (or day) you switch off all of your electrical things and do without our modern day technological gadgetry. Actually, for those that aren’t use to reading a book, let alone by candle light, or sitting around with others without a TV on, you can feel a little lost. If you’re not used to meditating, then sitting still and in silence for an hour (which is another thing to do) can be a challenge.

As regular readers may recall, I participate in SETI@home, I have done so since 1999, but in recent years I’ve only been taking part for half of the year; during the months of British Summertime, I decided my house was warm enough without heating (although a little chilly at the beginning and end) and I should refrain from wasting electricity by using my computers to run the project that searches for ETs.

For the past few months my computers have been running flat-out while I eagerly watch my progress. I have been trying to gain a place in the leader board, but as fast as I’ve been gaining on the person ahead of me (who no longer takes part) there has been a person behind me chasing my tail with a higher average. It has been neck and neck as to whether I gain the place before they do. It has also been neck and neck as to whether I would gain this place before the British Summertime begins and I have to follow through with my personal agreement to switch all my computers off again. At the time of writing it looks like I might be 14 days short… what to do!?


For Earth Hour I will of course have to switch everything off for the hour, and it turns out, because British Summertime begins the next day that should be my day of decommissioning. Lets hope the weather doesn’t turn colder. From then on I plan to use a minimal amount of electricity for the next six months, which means no wasted hours on the internet.

Previous relevant topics:

water-and-fluoride / broken dams





6 comments on “Pancakes, Power, SETI, and Earth Day Hour…

  1. Sarada Gray
    28 February, 2017

    I find it depressing and dispiriting how supermarkets lurch from one festival to another: no sooner is Christmas over than Valentine’s chocolates and cards appear, and the moment that’s over we get lemons and eggs. tomorrow the shops will be full of Easter eggs and chicks (though I’ve seen some already) and after that it’ll be summer bikinis and sun-block. Then as soon as we’re back from our holidays the Christmas stuff piles up again. Enough already.

    • Brian
      28 February, 2017

      You missed out Halloween 😉 It gets worse when they bring out things so early there is an overlap, we’ve had Easter eggs on the shelves for a couple of weeks already, I mean, I don’t mind chicks and bikinis, but sooner or later they’ll have Santa and broomsticks in one aisle.

      • Sarada Gray
        28 February, 2017

        I knew I’d missed something! Yes, Halloween and Bonfire Night – though the former seems to have eclipsed the latter – another source of disgust

  2. declutteringthestuff
    4 March, 2017

    Your post touches on something that absolutely drives me crazy – the numerous phone calls we receive wanting us to install a solar electrical system. While I agree with the concept, at our current energy use, they won’t sell to us. We don’t use enough electricity. We did have one company quote us a price that would enable us to pay of the system in about 40 years. Why not encourage using less?? I guess someone felt that Earth Hour was a good as it would get.

    Same thing with children. We have 2, and stopped at 2 for many reasons. Imagine, we decided to not have more children and we didn’t. The concept of birth control seems so foreign to some. Now as to all the “holidays” – another consumer-driven gimmick. Today is “dress in blue day” celebrated by wearing blue clothing, “national cold-cuts day” celebrated by buying cold-cuts, “national mulled wine day” celebrated by drinking mulled wine. What’s the historical significance to these??? Ok, enough of my rantings!

    • Brian
      4 March, 2017

      So many holidays!

      I’ve never received a phone call from someone trying to sell me solar panels, but it sounds similar to the ones I get trying to sell me a mobile phone deal… I make so few phone calls I could tell them then and there that their attempt is futile, but usually I just hang up now.

      • declutteringthestuff
        4 March, 2017

        yep – I now have the house and cell phone set to ring differently if it’s our kids or parents. Anything else gets ignored. They’ll leave a message if it’s important.

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