Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy New Year

Happy new year to everyone who reads this blog.  We are currently overweight from all the eating and drinking done over Christmas and New Year, so I skipped lunch today.  My dog refuses to skip lunch.   She is just 2 kilos overweight (I'm not letting on how much I am overweight, so don't ask) according to the vet, and assures me she is big boned, so there!

Last night I read a fascinating paper by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and George A Martin (not the Beatles George Martin, but you never know) called How to prevent other financial crises.  It is really good, and I was amazed that I understood it.  I found it while trying to get the correct title to Taleb's book Black Swan which I have just started.  Who'd have thought a few years ago I'd be reading such stuff?  Who'd have thought I'd care.  But I feel I have no choice.  I am terrified of ending up a bag lady after years of being careful and never getting into debt, and always saving so I'd have enough to retire on.  Now I sit and watch my hard earned savings dwindle in purchasing power because the government is debasing the currency, and not allowing failed businesses to fail, but giving them shedloads of money.  Why don't they give me shedloads of money?  I wouldn't hoard it up against the day when my bad debts do go bad (I don't have any) - which is what I believe the banks are doing.  I'd spread it around by buying good stuff from good businesses who employ tax-paying workers, who would have a huge chunk of it taken back by the govt.

Oh well, rant over. I'm off for a walk in the lanes.  It's fairly mild for the time of year, but cloudy, and the woods are still ankle deep in mud in places, so I don't venture far in, just far enough to watch the squirrels who torment my dog with fir cones.  She cannot understand why they don't want to come down and be chased, or chase her - she doesn't mind.  They see her teeth, and do not know that with my dog the worst that can happen is she will stand over you and bark until I come and tell her she's good.  I think all the hedgehogs in our woods must be deaf by now.  They just ignore her, but she has to tell me they are there, and I have to come and have a look.  I don't mind as a few years ago she found a young one that would never have made it through winter.  It lived in my greenhouse, under the staging, through the winter, and we let it out the following spring.  When we found it it was just 450 g, but it was over 750 g when we let it go.  It feasted on slugs and anything else it could catch between long naps.  I also gave it some dog food, berries, oatmeal and honey and mealworms.  I would have liked to have found out what sex it was, but didn't want it to get too used to me, so it always rolled up or scuttled away when it heard me.  The sun has just poked through a grey blanket of cloud so I'm off.

The coffee bean spider, Steatoda bipunctata

I have just added these photographs on the web site of Steatoda bipunctata, the Coffee bean spider.
I found it on a log that I had actually put into the stove.  I saw something move and hauled it out again, just in time.  I don't know how many times I've done this even though I do brush everything off the logs before I bring them in.  The spider was OK, and I recognised it immediately.  I've seen this one or another of the same species many times when I've gone to bring in logs from the wood pile.  I've tried to catch it, but as I always have on gloves, by the time I get them off it had disappeared.  So finally got one to photograph.  She's a female, and was very friendly.  She walked all over my hand and never attempted to bite, but she wouldn't stay still enough for me to photograph, so I put her in a jar, and went out for a walk.  When I came back she had settled down to make a small web, so I was able to take this photograph.  

I wanted to put her back in the wood pile, but the weather was so horrible that I kept her for another day before putting her back in another stack that will not be disturbed until at least the end of this year.  We are having a mild winter this year, so she should be OK, and who knows perhaps I'll disturb her or her young next year.