Friday, December 31, 2021

December 2021 - End of month review

This is my final monthly round up for 2021 and my final blog post for the year, taking me up to an annual total of 92 posts.

December for us is dominated by Christmas. We wrote about 120 Christmas cards. Cathy took a picture of me posting a load of them outside our local post office, where the postbox has been decorated by someone with excellent crocheting skills!

There will be a series of posts in January about the 2021 Annual Christmas Card Audit. As cards have arrived, it's been fun seeing who has been trying to get a mention in the ACCA this year!

On the first weekend in December we put up the Christmas tree and decorations. (You can see some of them here.) We also had five advent calendars this year. Last year we didn't bother with the Lego Star Wars one, but this year we did, mainly to get the Christmassy version of the Child star of The Mandalorian, Grogu.

Life has gone on inbetween all the Christmassy stuff. I had an appointment to go and get my booster jab. This time it was in Splott instead of the big centre in the old Toys R Us building. 

There were signs up when I went in saying they were offering the Moderna vaccination, but the leaflet used the brand name, Spikevax. I asked the lady doing the jabs why they weren't using the brand name and was told "because it sounds like something you'd make up!" Technically, all brand names are 'made up', I suppose, but I know what she meant. It's a really silly sounding brand name.

Being boosterised means I should be protected against the omicron variant of the Sar-Cov2 coronavirus. However, as we have been seeing people, we have been doing lateral flow tests to make sure we haven't picked it up anywhere. It occurred to me as I binned yet another baggie of used tests and swabs that there is going to be a 'covid layer' in the landfill sites excavated by future archeologists that will help them accurately date the rubbish they are sifting through.

I had an early surprise present off Cathy when she bought me a box of Captain Crunch cereal. It's the proper American stuff complete with neon bits and that wonderful artificial "fruit" scent that comes with it.

At the start of Christmas week, the Welsh Government announced a ban on spectators at sporting events. The FAW responded by putting football on hiatus until January. At that point, I had only been to one game in December, because of other commitments and Barry Town having to postpone a game. However, that one game, which was between Caerau Ely and Cardiff Draconians, was a landmark game on my Futbology App. 

I was in work right up to Christmas Eve, then Cathy and I had a quiet Christmas Day. Two days later we went up to Shrewsbury and had some days with family before heading home to ring in the New Year. While in Shrewsbury I went to a football match at the Meadow for the first time since March 2020. It was an evening game that ended in a 0-0 draw, but it was so good to be back there! Here is a photo of the team warming up.

I haven't been to many evening games at the Meadow. It always feels a bit special. That was my final game of the year, giving me the following totals on Futbology.

This also doubles as a summary of my season so far as I didn't see any games before July. I'm quite pleased that I've been to a dozen new grounds. 

On the way home from Shrewsbury we stopped and called in at the Hereford Model Centre. I bought myself a present with some Christmas money. This will be the subject of at least one future blog post!

And if the thought of reading about Dungeon Bowl in the New Year doesn't fill you with excitement, then how about this reminder of the next holy holiday that I spotted in a Co-op in Shrewsbury?

That's right! Easter is on its way....

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Reflecting on 2021 – the year in politics

Another review post, of yet another year that's been interesting politically...

In January the UK officially left the European Union. This was Boris Johnson’s promise that won his party a majority in the 2019 General Election – that he would “Get Brexit Done”. Except, of course, it wasn’t as simple as that. There is a general reluctance to honestly assess the problems the UK is facing as a result of Brexit. Instead the government line seems to be that everything is going fine and if it’s not going fine, that’s the fault of those pesky Europeans.

But there are loads of things that aren’t going fine. Earlier this year there was a lot of coverage about the shortage of lorry drivers, due to Brexit. There has been a steady stream of different businesses that have been badly affected by new import and export barriers. More recently, a trade deal with Australia looks like it is going to be a disaster for Welsh farmers. We still don’t know what is going to happen with regards to Northern Ireland where the peace agreements signed in the mid-90s are dependent on open borders with the Republic. It’s all a mess and the people who are meant to be sorting it out keep quitting.

Throughout the year there have also been revelations of government sleaze and corruption at an unparalleled level. From Boris Johnson purloining funds to pay for expensive flat furnishings, to preferential treatment for political donors when emergency contracts related to the pandemic were awarded, through to the media breaking story after story of government ministers and advisors flouting covid restrictions and partying while the rest of the country suffered, it seems to have been a non-stop train of grubbiness, pilfering and backhanders.

This has led to an interesting phenomenon of a succession of Tory ministers going out onto the interview circuit to peddle the official lie (sic) to try and mitigate public anger, only for new evidence to be presented, which then prompts an admission that, yes, they have been naughty. The Prime Minister doesn’t seem to care that he is making his loyal acolytes look like chumps time after time. And yet he still seems to have a ready list of people willing to go out and lie for him and then be exposed as liars themselves. Clearly they aren’t that smart, that they keep doing it.

In comparison to the never-ending corruption circus in Westminster, the Welsh Government looks stable and boring, even. We had a Senedd election this year and everybody was surprised that Labour did as well as they did, retaining governmental power again. 

Senedd election leaflets

The Conservatives made gains too, at the expense of the various warring factions that used to be UKIP. I interpret that as evidence that the Tories are now very right wing, because they seem to have hoovered up those votes and hollowed out their opponents to the right.

Plaid Cymru didn’t make any gains in the Senedd, which was disappointing for people with a preference for Welsh Independence. It feels like much of the energy has been lost from the Independence movement. That may be due to lockdowns and living through the pandemic perma-crisis, but there has also been a lot of nastiness within the big independence organisation, Yes Cymru.

As the UK Government lurched from embarrassment to embarrassment in 2020, Yes Cymru membership grew to 17,000. However, it had dropped to less than 9,000 by the time of the vote on the future of the organisation in early December 2021. There have been some long-running toxic rows on Twitter. None of these rows are about the big questions of independence; instead they have almost all been focused on trans rights and opinions held by some people within the movement.

This seems to have completely derailed Yes Cymru as an organisation. I have heard some mutterings that the whole trans rights issue blew up after the UK Government formed a ‘Union Task Force’ to look at countering the growing independence movement. I feel it’s an overreach to claim the trans rights issue was a false flag used to splinter a progressive movement. Similar debates have taken place in the Green Party and in other movements, so it’s not unique to Yes Cymru. But it has damaged the organisation, taking away impetus and causing it to stagnate. Back in March I was planning to start blogging more on issues related to Independence, but the toxicity in the movement kind of put me off. I’m still a member of Yes Cymru, although I’m not really sure why.

So it has been an interesting year, politically. One more outcome of the Senedd election is a change of health minister, which in turn seems to have delayed work starting on some behind the scenes changes that will have an impact on my job. It’s one of those rare occasions when a politics news story has an effect on me personally. Or at least an effect I notice.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Reflecting on 2021 - films and TV

I saw three films in the cinema this year. They were, in order, In the Heights (which was fantastic - I blogged about it shortly after we saw it), Scoob! and Dune. I was going to write an extended review of the latter, but didn't get round to it in the recent busy weeks. 

Broadly speaking, I thought Dune was an excellent capture of the essence of the book. I realise if someone hadn't read the book then it might be hard to follow. But, you know what, the book was published over 50 years ago so people have had plenty of time to read it. For once it was nice to watch an adaptation that didn't dumb it down for the non-reading masses. My only criticism was that it had a score by Hans Zimmer, whose one trick is big, blaring atonal noises to signify vastness. It could have done with more subtlety, because everything is vast in the Duneiverse so there were lots of atonal blarts throughout the film.

Similarly, Scoob! played to the fans. I especially liked the cameo appearance by Captain Caveman. The little kids who were with us watching the film seemed to like it too. So, all in all, that was a decent film as well. 

We have also seen some new films via the streaming services as well. We watched the new Disney animations Raya and the Last DragonLuca, and, on Christmas Eve, Encanto. All of them felt like tick the box Disney stories. None really had anything particularly that stood out. I did laugh at Luca's creepy uncle who lived in the ocean deep and therefore was see-through. 

I think the best new release I saw on a streaming service was Free Guy. There was one scene in particular that really moved me. I blogged about it back in October. 

We also watched the two new Marvel releases, Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. They were OK. I don't feel they added much to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and in the case of Shang-Chi, I was mainly left wondering how many other mythologies being real and hidden worlds within worlds there can be in the Marvel canon.

Turning to TV, though, and there have been four series set in the MCU. I would rank them in order of quality as Loki, WandaVision, Hawkeye, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. All the series are trying to move characters on into the story arc that is taking over from the Avengers story arc of the last 10 years. WandaVision was a tease for the first few episodes, which Cathy found annoying. In a later episode it included a memorable comment about the nature of grief, which prompted me to blog.

Loki was similarly focused and introduced the idea of parallel universes and divergences in timelines. It was quite clever and I enjoyed the other versions of Loki that cropped up. (Aligator Loki being my favourite.) Hawkeye was released in the run up to Christmas and was suitably seasonal. It introduced some new characters, including a villain who may become relevant in the rest of the MCU.

The Falcon series couldn't decide what it wanted to be. Was it a series addressing race issues, or addressing fascist responses to displaced peoples? Were the terrorists the bad guys, or the good guys? Unfortunately I found the terrorist leader to be completely unbelievable as a character and the show itself veered between the peril that the Falcon's family might lose the family fishing boat and shadowy figures manipulating events on a global scale. 

Two series on Netflix that we really liked, Kim's Convenience and Atypical, came to an end this year. Both opted for sweet endings with unresolved storylines left hanging. In Atypical almost all the characters got a happy ending that meant they would be embarking on an adventure somewhere. It was both satisfying but sad that in a way the characters were going off and doing something else and we wouldn't see what would happen to them. That is how life works though, with people moving on and living a life invisible to us. 

We also rewatched a lot of TV. We watched the entire run of Frasier, most of which was still very good, years after it first aired. We watched most of Cheers, which hasn't aged as well. We watched all 8 seasons of Castle, which got a bit wrapped up in its story arcs and then bodged the ending of the final season with a tacked on scene that didn't work. 

Towards the end of the year we started rewatching Futurama. One or two episodes have been uncomfortable to watch, showing how much things have changed in the last 20 years. However, most of the jokes have made me laugh.. for the umpteenth time. And the episode with Fry's dog, well, I knew it was coming, but dammit, I still choked up at the end! 

That's the mark of good telly - that it can still hit you in the feels even though you know it's gonna hit you in the feels. 

I may have jumped the gun on this review as the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett is about to drop on Disney Plus. But I will save that for a future review post.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Reflecting on 2021 - allowed back to football

In lieu of going to a football game on Boxing Day, here's a review of 2021 from a soccer perspective.

I didn't attend any football matches in the 2020-21 season, meaning it was the first season in over a quarter of a century where I didn't attend a single game. I missed out on my annual trip to see Shrewsbury play Bristol Rovers in Bristol, and then Rovers got relegated so Shrewsbury won't be playing them this season. At the end of the season I blogged about how it didn't really feel like it had happened

Just about the only football that I had in the spring!

In the summer of 2021, the delayed European Championships were held. They were still called Euro 2020. Originally I was going to go to some games - in the before times. But then had opted for a refund. I had to console myself with watching on TV, collecting the stickers and completing the wallchart that accompanied an issue of When Saturday Comes. It was the first time I had ever completed a wallchart for an international tournament. A small achievement. 

Just before England fluffed their chance

England had a glorious chance to win the competition - helped by playing most of their games at home in Wembley. Other countries (cough*Wales*cough) had to schlep all over Europe with fans unable to travel to support them. Despite all the advantages they were afforded, England were beaten by Italy in the final, which was made more memorable by ugly violent scenes as ticketless louts kicked their way into the ground.

But in July, a new season kicked off. I went to see Barry play a friendly in Bristol (so I have seen one game in Bristol this year!) and then the games started to rack up. I went to 11 games in August -  a new record for games in a month. 

I watched Barry play away games in Aberystwyth, Cefn just outside Wrexham, and Flint, where I think I might have seen a picture of my paternal grandad on the clubhouse wall. I also saw several Grange Albion games, in one of the local leagues, watched Poole Town three times with my friend Steve, and went with my brother and nephew to watch Shrewsbury earn a creditable draw at Hillsborough against Sheffield Wednesday. 

For many clubs in Wales, the season had started earlier than normal - a precaution in case restrictions came back into place in the winter. That has proven to be prescient as just before Christmas the Welsh Government mandated a ban on spectators at sporting events. The FAW responded by putting the top three tiers of Welsh football on hiatus until January. I had reached 31 games for the season just before the spectator ban came in, which neatly took me to a total of exactly 400 games recorded on the Futbology App.

At this point it is impossible to know when the restrictions on supporters will be lifted and when I will be checking in at matches on Futbology in the New Year. Shrewsbury have a big game in January 2022 - a third round tie at Anfield. However, I feel it's unlikely I will go given the current infection rates. It may not even take place when scheduled, because covid is causing a lot of postponements at all levels of football at the moment.

And, it's not as if I'm missing out. I have seen Shrewsbury play at Anfield not too long ago. This time when the teams meet there will be no replays, so if Liverpool aren't as lucky as they were last time, with the own goals and dodgy VAR decisions, it could be memorable. 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas inflation crisis

I wasn't going to blog on Christmas Day, but this bag of chocolate currency that I received this morning is an illustration of how inflation is affecting everything in the economy!

There's a £20 note in there!!

(The chocolates are from Lidl and they're fair trade. They taste very sweet, more like how drinking chocolate tastes. The notes and coins taste the same!)

Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2021

Reflecting on 2021 – the second year of the pandemic

As we prepare for our second pandemic Christmas, some thoughts on what a year this has been...

Weirdly, C doesn't stand for Covid...

In headline terms the second year of the pandemic was better than the first. Restrictions were lifted. There was the hope of the world being freer from fear because we would be vaccinated against the disease. Back in March, I blogged about getting jabbed. I remember feeling a bit emotional after I walked out of the vaccination centre, knowing that the antibodies were multiplying in my system. I felt poorly for about 24 hours and then felt absolutely tip-top.

The availability of vaccines meant the world started to open up again We managed to go on two holidays – one in Wales (see all 4 blogposts) and one in Shropshire. We were able to see family. Going to football matches was an option again, and we were even able to go and see films at the cinema. Of course, opening up meant the virus could still circulate, and people kept dying from it.

There should probably be more debate over what is an acceptable or tolerable level of deaths. Since mid-July when many restrictions were abolished, the number of covid deaths in the UK has risen from less than 150 a week to around about 1,000 a week from October onwards. [Source

Most of these deaths have been in England rather than the other countries in the UK, mainly because restrictions were lifted more quickly and totally in England than, for example, in Wales. There seems to be an official line that ‘we need to learn to live with this virus’, but, obviously, for about 1,000 people a week recently, 'living with it' hasn’t been an option.

And then, just when it felt like the world was getting back to a tolerable level of normal, the rise of another new variant threw everything back into chaos in time for Christmas. Added to this, the revelations that the UK Prime Minister and most of his staff flouted restrictions to have office parties at Christmas 2020 and drink wine together on the Downing Street patio later in the year really soured the mood.

Just before Christmas there was a midnight announcement by the Welsh Government of a blanket ban on attending any sporting events from Boxing Day onwards to mitigate the impact of the omicron variant. I was annoyed by that as most sport in Wales operates with very small numbers of spectators. The average attendance at a Cymru Premier League match, for example, is 321, which is probably as many people browse the shelves of John Lewis in Cardiff on a given afternoon. I speak from chilled-bone experience when I say that lower league football in Wales is well-ventilated. Particularly compared to the canned air in retail environments. The response from the FAW was to suspend all football in the top three tiers of the game in Wales until January.

Although I don’t agree with the restrictions on attending sporting events, I won’t be joining any antivax crusades any time soon.  I find the reality-denying attitudes of antivaxxers scary. This year I discovered the Herman Cain Awards on Reddit, which records the deaths of people who had believed and spread misinformation about covid, then died from it. It’s an incredibly sad record of people losing their lives after believing lies.

Most of the Herman Cain Award recipients are American. Almost all are staunchly Republican in their politics and staunchly evangelical Christian in their religion. As someone with an interest in religion, there are two things about almost all the award-winners that stands out. Firstly, the ferocity and sheer nastiness in the content they post about their perceived tribal enemies – Democrats, gay people, anyone suggesting there is a racism problem in the USA, “leftists”, “wokeists”, and so on. Secondly, the fervent appeals for “prayer warriors” to intercede for them or their loved ones when they fall ill, usually followed by GoFundMe appeals for money to pay for medical bills and funeral expenses.

There is no doubt to me that many of these people are sincere Christians. When the prayer fails, the dead person is usually described as being safe with their Saviour, for eternity. There are statements that the deceased is now “truly healed” and up in Heaven, usually reunited with other family members who have passed away. Often there are requests to pray for the ones left behind.

Reading the various entries on Reddit reminds me of the gulf between highly politicised American Christianity and the UK version. I know of some disagreements in some churches in the UK over the vaccine and complying with public health restrictions. But not to the extent that belligerent denialism and antivax propaganda has become a tribal identifier in the USA. I’m grateful for that.

Over here, the emphasis among people who are anti-lockdown focuses more on “personal freedom”, which would be fine if everyone was sensible and took reasonable precautions. However, almost two years into a pandemic, any trip to the supermarket will reveal that many people haven’t mastered the art of wearing a face mask properly. Relying on the public to get things right still feels like a really risky strategy.

So, looking ahead to 2022, here’s hoping the omicron wave will crest soon and things will settle down. Bring on year 3!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Reflecting on 2021 - blogging renaissance

It may be a bit early to start reviews of the year just before Christmas, but I've been thinking a lot about the year as it comes to an end. This first 'reflections' post is a bit self-indulgent.

I blogged more posts on this blog in 2021 than for the previous nine years. In fact, almost as many as I blogged way back in 2011. Over the years I have posted quite a bit about the decline of blogging. But this year I have tried to use my blog as a way of just keeping track of things with at least a review of the previous month's happenings. 

The blog mascots - The Panperth Hogs

I'm not one to blog much about current events, with the exception of elections where I do my now customary analysis of election leaflets. This year I have also posted a "Snack of the Month" every month. I've enjoyed having a monthly thing to blog about. I might try to blog a different monthly thing next year.

I have also been blogging about baseball cards, with well over 200 blog posts published on my blog about cards featuring Tony Gwynn. I have now written about 900 baseball cards. There are still more yet to be blogged! So with the baseball card blog and this blog, that is over 300 blog posts this year; almost one blog post every day!

That's a lot of material to inform my cloud-ganger as that version of me coalesces. (If you don't know what I mean, then this might help, and this as well.)

This output hasn't really been balanced with input. I have barely read any books this year. I don't feel any poorer for it, although I feel guilty about not reading more. The piles of half-read books and unread books look at me reproachfully as I sit scrolling on my phone or absorbing sporting spectacle on the TV. Maybe when we can restart our book group meetings in person, I will get kickstarted into reading more. Until then, maybe the imbalance between content creation and content consumption will continue. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Bonus Snack of the Month - Christmas flavoured Flipz

Well, gingerbread flavoured Flipz to be precise. I bought these, excitedly, in October, thinking I had located a rare new flavour of Flipz... only to subsequently see them for sale absolutely everywhere. Oh, well. 

So, what are these like? Well, like other flavours of Flipz, they are a decent crunchy pretzel biscuit, complete with salty crystals, covered in a sweet coating. There is a definite gingerish flavour to the coating, although the main taste sensation is sweetness. 

The individual pretzels are reasonably small, so eating a handful isn't too sinful. 

The combination of unsweetened biscuit, salt and hyper-sweet coating works really well. These are a great snack product and I found it's easy to eat more of them in one go than I probably should.

Monday, December 20, 2021

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Our decorations went up in early December. Unlike last year we have had people come into the house this year and they seem to like them, so I thought I'd share a few pictures on here.

First off - the Lego shelves.

Over the years we have bought a few of the buildings that make up the Lego Christmas Village, and of course, I had to get the train! On the lower shelf is Santa's house, a gingerbread house and the clubhouse whre the elves get some well earned kip after working long shifts in the toy factory. The other assorted sets include all the Christmas-themed Star Wars figures from advent calendars in past years. 

We have mistletoe new for this year too.

This is made by Jellycat, who make the most adorable soft toys. I bought this at a lovely little toy shop not far from my house called Honeycomb Toys. They have lots of cool stuff in there, including some great wooden toys. Well worth a look if you're in south Cardiff.

One of the highlights of Christmas for us is visiting the red and white craft stalls in the city centre, particularly the one run by Sian Davies, a ceramic artist from Abergavenny. We have several of Sian's creations including a flock of dragons that normally reside on our mantelpiece but hibernate in a crate over Christmas. This year we have a couple of sheep cutting a Welsh edge to our Christmas decorations.

(I can proudly say that we bought one of the first Santa Sheeps than Sian produced because it was on a stall a few years ago as a one-off!)

Keeping it Welsh on the tree is one of Sian's dragon tree decorations. 

As of a couple of weeks ago, these dragons are now sold out this year. I bought the very last one off the stall to send to a friend who has been very generous sending me baseball cards this year. We have a few other ceramic decorations made by Sian - including this fun looking gingerbread man.

So, that's it for now. We love adding to our festive features so there will probably be even more next year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Snacks of the Month - KitKat Pops and Noisy Nuts

Two snacks this month, and I haven't even got to the Christmas-themed snacks I've been saving since October. 

First up, Cathy brought me these home from one of her shopping excursions.

"Love to Share!" Hahaha. I ate the whole bag.Here is what they look like in a small snack bowl. 

They look a bit like kibble. Or maybe the droppings of a large rodent. The consistency is what you would expect from crushed wafer and crushed peanuts covered in the chocolate that normally coats a KitKat.

They were reasonably nice although they stuck in my teeth a bit. Realistically if I had a choice between these and an actual KitKat, I'd go for the KitKat.

Onto snack two, these were a discovery in Home Bargains, which is proving itself yet again a great place to find unusual snacks at a price where they are worth a punt.

These nuts are "noisy" in the sense that you are supposed to give them a really good shake to disperse the flavour through all the nuts. 

I opened the smoky bacon jalapeno flavour - although the 'bacon' was entirely artificial in this vegan snack. You can see how well I shook the bag by how well-distributed the flavour dust is across the nuts.

Despite being bacon jalapeno flavoured, and despite my high calibre flavour dust dispersal skills, these tasted mainly of peanuts. The jalapeno spicy flavour was noticeable; the 'bacon' flavour less so. In fact, I probably woudn't have picked up that they were meant to be bacon flavoured if I hadn't been promised it on the packaging. 

The packet of 'sweet Thai' flavoured Noisy Nuts is still sat in the snackbox. If I remember, I will include a review in a future Snack of the Month post.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

November 2021 - End of Month Review

November seemed to zoom by. It was another busy month, with Cathy's birthday halfway through being the focus for several notable markers. We had our first house guest for over 2 years, as my Mum came down for Cathy's birthday weekend. We also went over to see Cathy's family in Gloucester and met up with her sister Abby for the first time since summer 2020.

A couple of days after Cathy's birthday it was our going-out-aversary - the 27th anniversary of our first proper date. (We went to the cinema and saw a long-forgotten film called Airheads.)

Mum's visit to Cardiff meant she was able to join me at a Barry Town game. As the weather is getting colder, I was delighted that she had knitted me a bobble hat in Barry's blue and yellow.

Mum proved to be a lucky mascot, as Barry edged a win in a dreadful exhibition of football. When I told my fellow fans that Mum had never seen Barry lose, they offered to buy her a season ticket.

I made it to some new football grounds, including Yate Town, where the snack bar had the most incredible range of condiments.

The atomiser is full of vinegar, which is a brilliant idea. Although I horrified my friend Steve by putting vinegar on my chips as he hates vinegar. (That meant I had all the chips to myself though bwahahaha.)

Another new ground was up the valleys at Penrhiwceiber. This was the suggestion of a fellow Barry fan called Paul, as Barry didn't have a game that day. Penrhiwceiber is a small village on the edge of Mountain Ash. Like a lot of valleys grounds, the scenery is spectacular and overshadows the football.

As it was a few days after the 11th, there was a minute's silence of remembrance. Near the end of the month, there was also a minute's silence before the game between Barry and Cardiff Metropolitan in memory of the former Wales player and manager, Gary Speed. It was the tenth anniversary of Gary Speed's passing, which seems a long time for something that still feels like it happened quite recently.  

On another note, one of Cathy's birthday presents was a mushroom-growing kit. We had this in the kitchen for a couple of weeks. 

The 'shrooms grew visibly every day. It was fascinating watching them grow. Then we harvested them and ate them in a risotto.

Entering December, we are looking forward to Christmas. Except the news that a new variant of the Sras-Cov2 virus has been discovered means nobody knows what will happen in the next month or so. The variant has been named Omicron.

This is a few weeks after Cathy and I started re-watching Futurama so "Omicron" reminds us of this guy: Lrrrrrr, Ruler of Omicron Persei 8.

I've also seen a joke that "Omicron B" is an anagram of "no Crimbo", so we will have to wait and see whether everybody's plans get messed up. I'm not too worried though, because obviously, that's not how you spell Chrimbo!