I was particularly chuffed, and even rather impressed to see that in Hertfordshire apparently "just under 70 per cent of the county's household waste was sent for re-use, recycling or composting" in April and June. That's scarcely believable actually, but I've seen the increasing facilities and attention to separating waste for re-use at the local tip, and I'd say that we personally recycle at about that rate. Now we've moved into a house rather than a flat we have recycling boxes and a big green wheelie bin for garden waste and card, making it easier than ever.

We're doing a lot of work on the garden recently though so the big green bin is usually overflowing whereas the black bin just has a paltry amount of waste in the bottom, even with the 2 weeks between collections.

Full story over at St Albans Review.

When I print a PDF straight from Google's Chrome web browser I get a blank page with just the header and footer (URL etc.) and nothing else. This is what happens when using the "Print…" command in the 'page' menu – the menu to the right of the address bar with a page icon.

This can be worked around by instead right-clicking on the PDF body itself and selecting "Print…" which takes you through Adobe's own print dialogs and gives the correct result.

21. September 2009 · 1 comment · Categories: DIY

It's out with the old and in with the new. This post is categorised as DIY, but actually a nice chap from Amber Heating and Plumbing is doing the work, which is to take out our old boiler, hot water cylinder and hot and cold header tanks, and replace them with a combi boiler. So once it's done, all our hot water and heating will be on-demand and we free up the space the cylinder and tanks were occupying. We also get rid of the incredibly noisy shower pump which terrorises me in the mornings when my wife gets up.


In mainland Europe they have a different brand of crow to the pure black ones we get in England – instead preferring the mostly silvery Hooded Crow. Here's one in Warsaw rather comically stood on a car roof trying to get into a nut. Hopefully I'll have more to post about my recent trip to Poland soon.


I found a medium size moth on the wall a couple of days ago and decided I'd try and figure out exactly what it was. I was already aware that there are many more species of moth as there are butterfly – something like 2,000+ in the UK apparently.

I started off by taking some up-close and personal photos of my moth, which was about 25mm long head to wing tip. Then I pored through my large "Butterflies & Moths in Britain and Europe" book, recently acquired at a charity shop mainly to assist with butterfly identification. The only way to use this book when you have no idea what you're looking at is to flick through from cover to cover looking for a matching photograph. Then do the same again just in case you missed it. I was looking for a relatively dull, mottled brown beast with stripy legs, but I didn't find it.


I turned to the web and quickly found the rather excellent UK Moths website, complete with keyword search. Unfortunately "mottled brown" and "mottled grey" didn't quite do the trick, returning tens of results but none of the quite what I was after. Lots of moths fit this very vague description so it's a tough one to solve with a simple text search. The best match I could find was the Grey Chi, but I wasn't convinced as that's much more silvery and lacks the small orange markings, though I wondered if it could be put down to variability between individuals. So I turned to the site's creator Ian and fired off an image and description to the email address given (only to be used once all other avenues exhausted). He got back to me within a couple of days to reveal that it is in fact a Large Ranunculus – and yes I think he's bang on. This is a man who knows his moths!

The temperature controls in most fridges really get my design goat. Are they a thermostatic  'temperature' control or a 'power' control? They're not giving anything away! If I want my fridge to be colder should I turn up the control to 5 for maximum cooling power, or turn it down to 1 as in 1 degree centigrade? Labelling it 1 to 5 is just begging for confusion. If it's truly a thermostat (and well enough calibrated) then make it clear with 'c' markings. If it's a power control then make that clear with "cooler" / "warmer", red / blue gradients or something. Perhaps I need to buy more expensive fridges with digital thermostatic controls.


Long Days has a hint of raspberry to make an interesting summer brew. Golden in colour and 4.5% ABV it's nicely weighted for a summer's day and the raspberry is not so much as to become cloying, but enough to make it stand apart from the competition.

I'm a touch annoyed by the labelling on the bottle, which tells us that "to celebrate the summer solstice in the past, ale was often brewed with raspberry leaves as an alleged aid to fertility" but only mentions a "subtle hint of raspberries", in such a manner that I suspect they didn't achieve it by adding the raspberry leaves they evocatively mention. I imagine that if they did then they'd have been clear about it, so they probably get the raspberry flavour into the beer in a less romantic manner – perhaps by adding juice. Labelling like this always leaves me feeling like the brewer has tried to con me with their carefully chosen words, which is a shame as it's a good beer.


Every few months the scroll ball on my Apple Mighty Mouse starts to get a bit intermittent because of the build up of dirt, fibres and grease in the mechanism, which is very frustrating. For the past few days I've only been able to scroll up, and reading web pages backwards is losing its novelty. There are a million and one web pages out there telling you how best to clean your ball, and I've tried several of them.

Some people suggest taking the mouse apart, but that apparently incurs a high risk of cracking it, requiring gluing back together, and is clearly an all round monumental faff, so I count it as an option of last resort which thankfully I've not had to employ yet.

Running a fine piece of sticky tape under the ball and flossing was a particularly delicate operation but didn't make much difference, so I don't recommend that.

Turning the mouse upside down and simply rolling the ball around on a clean piece of paper has the beauty of immediacy and simplicity and certainly helps a bit, but not if you've got major problems.

Best of all is the application of WD40 (or even vodka as one German YouTuber advocates) then a good roll around with a clean rag. The idea is to get your cleaning fluid all around the ball so it cleans the rollers underneath, dissolving the grease and lifting fibres, so I recommend long circular movements in many directions, trying to get the ball going every which way. A second application may be required. Don't use too much fluid though or it may wreak havoc with the inside of your mouse. WD40 is just viscose enough, and easily sprayed on in a small quantity, so it's controllable. It sorts me out every time.


Digging in the borders of my new garden has revealed all sorts of interesting life. I found a few of these grubs, which are probably Chafer Beetle Larvae. Apparently these are a common pest in lawns, eating grass roots from several inches under the soil. The first picture is poor, but gives you the general idea of the curled up shape they adopt.

SoilGrub 2 SoilGrub 1

We found this rather large beetle on the bedroom floor a few weeks back, which was a bit unexpected. However it seemed to be on its last legs and by the look of it was a bit gunged up with spider web and carpet fibres. I can't make up my mind whether it's a stag beetle or lesser stag beetle, though it's definitely a female. There are some decent pages out there trying to help in making this identification, but it's still not quite clear to me. If I had to put money on it I'd go for lesser stag, because it's very black and seems to have some sort of ridges on its forelegs. I wish I'd paid greater attention to the size at the time!