January 21st, 2008

Is he friend or food? Or is he both?

"Do you know how to pluck a chicken?" said Miss Flitworth.
Bill looked from her to the hen.
BUT WE FEED THEM, he said helplessly.
"That's right. And then they feed us. This one's been off lay for months. That's how it goes in the chicken world."

("Reaper Man", p130)

I've been vegetarian for the last 15 years (since I was 18), and I've explained the background for that decision here. I do still miss the taste of meat, and I sometimes find myself drooling at what other people are eating; Quorn is a pretty good substitute, but it's not quite the same. Last year the BBC had an article about lapsed vegetarians (Some sausages are more equal than others), which includes the quote "not eating meat had become a habit, not a passion". That does resonate with me, and there are times when it's hard to remember why I became a vegetarian, but in those situations I just trust my past instincts, i.e. I assume that I had a good reason for it.

Recently some friends were discussing the "adopt a pig" scheme at Yorkshire Meats. (You can also get to their site via www.eatbabe.co.uk and www.adopt-a-pig.co.uk.) This is a bit like those restaurants where you can choose a fish from a tank and then they serve it to you for dinner. The basic idea is that you put down a £50 deposit on a pig when it's about 7 weeks old, then 6 months later you buy all the meat when that pig is killed (about £300 worth, 40-50kg). In the meantime, you can visit "your porcine friend" at the farm, and they'll send you photos to keep you up to date. At one level, this seems a bit odd: do you really want to be on first name terms with the animal that you're going to eat? On the other hand, I'm certainly in favour of people knowing where their food comes from.

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Blogging about blogging

When I post a new LJ entry, my normal approach is to make it private, i.e. I'm the only one who can read it. I'll then proofread it, correcting any typos/broken links/etc., and keep looping round until I'm happy with it, then I'll change the visibility to whatever it's supposed to be (e.g. "Public" or "Friends only"). This doesn't normally take very long, but I'll edit the date/time to match the final state of the post.

I began my last entry (about adopting pigs) on Friday evening, poked at it over the weekend, and finished it last night. Doing this, I've come across a couple of quirks in the LiveJournal software, which may be of interest to other people.

a) The "restore from saved draft" option only applies when you're creating a new post, not editing an existing one. That's rather annoying if your web browser crashes and you lose a couple of hours of work! It's easy enough to avoid, by saving (posting) repeatedly, but you need to be aware of that.

b) The date/time when you actually post it the first time seems to take priority over the values you specify. In this case, even though the entry is labelled as 02:15 on 21-Jan-2008, I think it's been stored internally as something like 18:00 on 18-Jan-2008. In practical terms, this means that most of you probably didn't see it (unless you came straight to my LJ), since it would be 2 or 3 pages back in your friends list. I'm not sure whether the "date out of order" option would be useful here; I don't think so, but I've never actually used it.

I normally prepare entries offline (e.g. in Notepad), so that may be the best approach from now on, if a post is too long/complex to be written in one go. As for my previous post, I'm not fishing for comments, but feel free to read it if you missed it the first time around.