Category Archives: General

Pool Ornament (Class: Reptilia, Order: Squamata, Suborder: Sauria)

Lizard with my finger, for scale

Having had a strimmer around the swimming pool yesterday, I went out to fish out some of the grass and discovered a live pool ornament. I managed to catch it – getting it to sit on my wrist – and relocated it to under the fennel in the kitchen garden.

Anyone know like to tell me the species?

UPDATE – this is a dragon; which specific one, still unknown. Come on, all you herpetologists out there, let’s have a name! (Both Cecil and Rodney have been suggested, although that wasn’t quite what I meant).

Smiffy Returns

I will start with an excuse: I have been busy. This is why there have been no updates to Smiffy's Place for a couple of weeks. I have been mostly tied up with work, but much has happened, some worthy of comment. I will report on significant things out of sequence and in due course.

Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff

When I started Smiffy's Place, my idea was to produce a diary for myself, friends and family. However, looking back, I find much of the early content trivial and of very limited interest. Since literally anyone could access the content here, I have decided to try to improve the overall quality of material presented so that what is posted here is either interesting or useful (or both).

To this end, I have excised a few early posts; they are gone from the database and won't be coming back. I have also re-edited some posts which I thought could have been better written.

For those who like the spontaneity of the web log, sorry, I like a cleaner edit.


Last night, I finished a weeks sample of our rainwater consumption, which I am taking to be the mean. Here are a few facts and figures for your delight and delectation:

  • Our rainwater consumption in one week is 1.86 kilolitres (cubic metres).
  • We harvest 1.86 kilolitres for every millimetre of rain that falls.
  • Even if we assumed two kilolitres of water consumed every week, this only equates to 104 kilolitres per year.
  • 104 kilolitres equates to 186 millimetres of rain harvested.
  • We have had approximately 150 millimetres of rain this year, equating to a harvest of about 84 kilolitres, or approximately 80% of our annual consumption, based on two kilolitres a week.
  • Rainwater is used for everything apart from:
    • Horse troughs
    • Toilet flushing
    • Outside taps
    • Lawn irrigation
  • All water used in the house is re-used for irrigation after passing through an aerobic wastewater system.

This isn't a perfect situation, but I am pleased; our rainwater system is virtually self-sustaining, even with a below-average rainfall.

Lightning Damage – Winter Solstice 2005

Lightning struck a neighbouring property mid-afternoon on the Winter Solstice (21 June – we’re in the Southern Hemisphere) 2005.

Thumbnail images all link to larger images (longest side: 640 pixels).

Blasted fencepost [thumbnail]

The fencepost in this image was one of several reduced to stumps.

View of Smiffys house from lightning strike location [thumbnail]

Looking back over the broken fence towards the house.

Broken fence [thumbnail]

The blasted fence

Flash! Boom! Bang! Rumble!

At last – we are really getting some rain! We are also getting a fair amount of lightning – I hope it does not hit the power lines again as they take ages to fix when it does and I have got a chicken in the oven! Just had one brief outage – glad this machine is on UPS.

We Plough the Fields and Scatter

Tractor and seed drill

Our two fields, which are share-farmed, have now been seeded. Now we really want to see some rain; so far this year, we have had only 20mm and we are nearly half way through. (We should get about 300mm in a year.)

Accessibility Statement

This web log aims to comply with Priorities 1,2 (at least) of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. Evaluation and repair is work in progress. This posting discusses the current situation.

OK, it seems like this static page can’t take comments! I will delve into the PHP code that forms this site and try to correct this at some point. If you would like to comment on the accessibility of this site, please do so on the post for the initial evaluation, above.


Like so many others, my daily spam intake (UBE rather than the product from Hormel Foods) was becoming beyond a joke and was consituting the greater part of my incoming e-mail.

Having had far too many false-positives from SpamCop, I was at a loss until an associate, Joseph Burford, pointed me at some alternative blacklists. Since re-configuring Sendmail late this afternoon, I have had only one spam message; my server logs told me that the Spamhaus blacklist had let me reject 10 messages (I used Let's see what tomorrow brings – hopefully much less spam!