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The Posse Cometātūs

This week: Error correction; Monday chores; Breakages happen; Headache time; Posse Cometātūs;

July sunrise
July sunrise

Long hot days and short warm nights characterise Dol in July.

Morning and evening routines are punctuated with the need to irrigate plants and trees. As each year passes, the saplings I have planted grow a stronger root system, reaching down to find water.

But even so, when the heat of summer and low humidity arrives, they need the additional support of the underground irrigation system

The surface rooting shrubs i have planted will i suspect, always need some support, especially as the predicted climate change makes the Mediterranean warmer.

Error correction

Last week when I updated the temperature data from my weather station and then created the graphs in Microsoft Excel, I was surprised at the average difference between 2019 and 2020.

But as it was already late on Saturday and I was trying to get the blog published on time, I didn’t examine the data.

As soon as Sunday came, I was still bothered by what seemed to be a discrepancy so went through the spreadsheet.

I discovered that when I had added in the line to import the 2020 data, I had only partially updated the calculations.

The updating happens every December, when I insert a line for the forthcoming year into the worksheet.

At that point, it has all the previous year’s data, divided by the number of years and the programme produces a graph. It looked OK but it wasn’t!

From April I had missed a row which should have been added in to create the average high, low and mean temperatures, and the rainfall.

This means that the charts from April until now have been under reading (five years of data divided by 6) so around 3 degrees lower than the actual average..

As soon as I corrected the formulae, the picture has changed completely.

Corrected average temperatures to July
Corrected average temperatures to July

I had wondered why although it had seemed warm this year, the data was suggesting the temperatures were way above the average. However this was not how I remembered past spring and early summer temperatures.

After double checking everything, I’m happy the presentation is now correct. It shows that we haven’t been above average, rather the June temperatures up to last week have been below average.

Although there was the same error in how the precipitation data was presented, it has actually made very little difference to where we are at the moment.

Corrected precipitation average
Corrected precipitation average to July

We are still some 300 mm or 300 litres per square meter down on the average.

It does prove the rule that computers don’t make mistakes, it’s the programmers!

Monday chores

I was down in Jelsa just before 07:00 on Monday. I needed to get cat food and a few other staples. Then it was to the INA fuel station to fill the car.

This is the first time I have needed fuel in since December. There were 885 km (approximately 550 miles) on the odometer trip since I last filled up and I just squeezed in 53 litres.

The on board computer has been showing the vehicle was using just over 5 litres /100 km, which equals 10 miles to a litre, so not bad fuel consumption.

The cost of fuel has started to rise again after Covid-19 and was 8.6 Kunas per litre, or €1.14/£1.03 at today’s exchange rate.

With the now enlarged courtyard it was then an easy bath time.

Courtyard space
Courtyard space

I can now put the car in the middle and open all the doors wide. Before Cvjetko’s hard work, I could only open doors on one side, and then only just enough to get in an out.

With everything washed, using a bucket rather than a hose to conserve water, I finished the car with a chamois leather.

I had intended to give the car a coat of Turtlewax polish, but as the temperature was over 30ºC in the shade, and I could barely touch the metalwork where it was in the sun, I decided to leave the polishing until later.

When I bought the car at the end of September last year, I wrote that I was MUCH happier with it than I had been with the Suzuki Ignis which I bought when I first moved here.

I am still very much of the same opinion. The main thing is the 100% difference in comfort and it is a lot more economical.

The Škoda Roomster is bigger, but it is just so much more comfortable. Yes, it is newer but the running costs seem to be significantly lower and as I am only averaging 100 kilometres a month, if I lavish it with lots of TLC, it should last a long, long time.

Breakages happen

With a couple of cool days this week I decided that it would be ideal time to get the strimmer out and cut the briars and other woody plants that are slowly surrounding the trees in the top orchard.

Hawk strimmer
Hawk strimmer

This is a machine sold under the Hawk trade name, that I bought from Dragon Mall in Dubai. Like everything on sale there, it’s made in China.

I’ve had no real problems with it, but after using it last year, I stored it upright, but with some 25:1 2T mix fuel in the tank, but it was less than a quarter full.

When I tried to prime the carburettor, no fuel was being drawn up the pipe. Examining the tank and fuel pipe, I saw why. The fuel pipe had perished on the outside of the rubber grommet where it enters the tank and was effectively now useless.

As I tried to see if the pipe had just come out, it fractured all the way through.

Fractured pipe and grommet
Fractured pipe and grommet

Petroleum products are known for perishing plastics and rubbers, but I really expected that these fuel pipes would be made of material resistant to the effects of fumes and liquids. Apparently not so in this case.

Not being able to get any tubing locally, I looked online for Nitrile Rubber or PU tubing.

There were a number of UK eBay sellers who were offering a meter of pipe for between £2.50 and £7.50. The problem was that they either wouldn’t post to Dol or they were charging £17.50 or more for post and packing.

There were a couple of other European suppliers, but their pipes were either slightly smaller or larger diameter than the one I have.

Eventually I found a supplier in China, who has the right pipe, at £2 for a meter, postage £1. The only problem is four to six weeks delivery. I have ordered some.

This is the only tool which I bought in Dragon Mall that I have had a problem with. Right at the beginning when I opened the box and I found that a couple of fittings were missing.

Then when the starter cord recoil unit failed, I couldn’t get spares. I improvised with an electric drill to act as the starter (huge improvement) and then this. But it was “cheap and cheerful”.

I ordered an Oregon garden multi tool as a replacement from Volat, as I really need something, like NOW!

I collected the new machine on Friday, but I will keep the Hawk tool, because it works and I can put one of the little used attachments on, like the extension chain saw.

Replacement multi tool
Replacement multi tool

When the problem is with a small piece of pipe, junking the whole machine is just not sensible. Breakages happen, despite being careful.

I will just be more careful in future.

Headache time

Almost all users of the internet are completely oblivious to what lies behind the way that a web page is presented to them on their device.

They type something into a search engine, click or touch a link and the page is served up for them to view.

When I first learned to write htm code, the language that all browsers use to understand what is required, less than 10% of people in the UK had access to it.

Viruses were something that you caught, like COVID-19 and the word phishing didn’t exist.

That was 27 years ago and not surprisingly, things have moved on.

Since taking up the post of editor of the online magazine last month, I realised quickly that its operating code had been written using Microsoft Frontpage, a programme which no longer exists.

Using 20 year old code is not efficient these days, so for the past three weeks I have been rewriting the background code, bringing it up to date and making it so that whatever device you use, it will look the same.

Since I learned to code, I really have not updated my skills, so the learning curve has been quite steep, but especially so this week. It has given me a few headaches.

My problem, as always, is that I am a perfectionist. I want it to look right and work well, which means using the most modern techniques. However when working with code like this:

A few lines of code
A few lines of code

Which although using English vocabulary, is structured in very particular ways. There are 1,178 lines in total.

When you alter one element, then often another is changed as well.

I messed up completely when I didn’t thoroughly check how a single alteration affected the page, only to later discover that text was flowing over photos.

By then it was too late to go back so I had to start all over again.

At least when the mid morning to later afternoon temperatures have been too high to work outside, I have been kept fully occupied on my computer!

Posse Cometātūs

What is the connection between a Posse Cometātūs, Dol, the Matrix and the 11th July?

This could easily be a cryptic question from the BBC’s Round Britain Quiz.

Well this morning I was out just after 4am, at the break of dawn looking for Neo. Are you still confused, then please read on…

Let’s take the “Comet” bit and the new celestial object Neo, visible from today before dawn low in the north eastern sky.

Dawn is a nice time here. It’s pleasantly cool, without biting mosquitoes. The village is almost silent, just the owls and some cockerels chortling.

Apart from the soft tread of my boot’s rubber soles on the track, there was not another human sound.

There was a delicious coolness in the Maquis with the scent of pine from the Aleppo pines which line the tracks as I walked up to St Michael’s Church.

Most of the track is made of old stone sets and I could feel heat rising from where they had been in the hot summer sun all day yesterday. A marked contrast to the shaded areas.

Most wild flowers have gone, just a few Wild Salisfy heads showing here and there. The annual grasses are now brown and withered and have set seed, ready for the autumn rains to come in a couple of months time.

Once at the Church, it was shining in the bright floodlights against the dark sky.

Floodlit St Michael's
Floodlit St Michael’s

Although still more than an hour before sunrise, the sky to the northeast and east was light and the distant horizon was beginning to redden.

Dawn breaking
Dawn breaking

To the west it was still dark, but with a long lens, I could just make out the tail of the comet.

Comet Neowise
Comet Neowise

Comet Neowise was discovered by the Neowise space telescope in March and has been tracked ever since. It is currently close to the planet Mercury and is heading back to the outer reaches of our solar system.

From today, the comet will increasingly become visible after sunset in the north eastern sky, if you are in the northern hemisphere. But take a good look, because it will be 6,800 years before it returns.

Below is a stunning video of the comet Neowise taken from on board the ISS.

I stayed to watch as the the sun turned the light clouds above Sv. Jure and the Dinaric Alps to burnished gold, then wandered back through the forest to my Dol house.

Clouds of burnished gold
Clouds of burnished gold

But back to the question, in English law, dating from the 16th century, the Posse Cometātūs (a Latin term meaning ‘force of the county’) was raised by the Sheriff to pursue felons and restore peace and tranquillity.

In the Matrix science fiction film Neo is the main character Neo being an anagram of [The] One.

He is recruited to be a member of a Posse who are rebelling against the machines which control humanity. Finally today, the 11th July is the date when the comet ceases to be visible in the morning and becomes an evening celestial event.

So now you know…NRC

3 Responses

  1. Brian Homans

    Hi Norman, A couple of points arising from yet another interesting blog. I have a two stroke RYOBI strimmer which had always been reliable until this spring. Then it failed and I discovered that the fault was a lack of fuel caused by a fracture in the incoming fuel pipe from the tank. It fractured where it passes through the tank body, leaving half the pipe and the filter inside the tank. I could not initially find any replacement pipe in the UK although, like you, I could get it from China. I did, however, find a UK supplier of a replacement tank with pipes and filter included. I have kept the old tank and have in mind to still buy the pipe from China so that I have a spare, although I may never need it.
    The other point was that I was surprised to see your reference to using a chamois leather to dry your car. I long since ditched them in favour of microfibre cloths which I find to be far more user friendly. We have two VWs – a 2015 Tigaun Tdi and a 2019 Golf SV (Sportsvan) 1.5 TSI. We also use the same type of cloths to wipe down the shower cubicle. Best wishes, Brian

  2. Msrcy

    Love the blog and the pictures. Sunrise there is stunning. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Tony Griggs

    Best time of the day Norman….watching the sun rise. Fog here today at sunrise in Victoria plus showers. Ho hum…winter. Have the fire ticking away! Enjoy yr long summer days…the summer equinox yr end has just past.