back to article The vid-confs drinking game: Down a shot of brandy every time someone titters 'Sorry, I was on mute'

I am out of my head. It’s that Zoom fatigue that I keep reading about. Zoom fatigue is a real thing. It leaves you feeling uncertain on your feet and with a propensity to giggle about nothing in particular. At least, these are my Zoom fatigue symptoms. What do you expect if I have to down a shot of brandy every time someone …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alternate reality

    Can't subscribe to the idea that signs to warn townies about rural noise is evidence for the matrix. The alternate reality is the guy who bought the house next to the village hall, and then wanted to impose a ban on music and a 9 pm curfew 'because it was disturbing his peace and quiet'. A far as I know my village hasn't had complaints about the lovely church bells but I'm sure it's been though about. In my reality when you bought a house you would have to sign a contract that says something like 'Yes, I know that my house adjoins a field with grazing cows, and that is part of it's charm. I swear that if the cows break into my garden and eat my Dahlias I will consider it an amusing anecdote and not rush to social media and a lawyer to complain'.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Alternate reality

      I stayed with my Aunt and Uncle a few years ago - in the more rural "posh" bits of Essex, where it gets dangerously close to Suffolk.

      So its hot, its August, I'm sleeping with the windows open. I get woken from my drunken slumber by the local cockerels announcing that this is the countryside dammit! Why aren't you up you lazy townie bastard! Fair enough, I knew the risk when I left the window open, this is a noise I can safely ignore and roll over and go back to sleep.

      Half an hour later, the local peacocks go off! Which is a pleasant but unearthly noise when you hear distant ones while visiting a National Trust garden or something. But when the damned thing has decided to perch on the roof, right under your window and screamed at the top of its lungs as if a small alien child is being murdered... That's the kind of sound that might make you distrust the country, and assume all the farmers are up early murdering people of a Sunday morning...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Alternate reality

        That's the thing about peacocks. You see them strutting about and never image they were aerodynamically capable of flight until your eardrums get assaulted by one perched in a tree above your head.

        1. Daedalus Silver badge

          Re: Alternate reality

          Peacocks can be heard in that exotic location, the Museum Gardens, York.

          1. Outski Bronze badge

            Re: Alternate reality

            Peacocks also took over the SE Kent town of Deal in the early days of lockdown.

            A couple of rather lovely* people wrote a story about it:

            *They really are lovely, more than happy to put a personal message from the peacocks to my niece into a copy before they sent it in time for her birthday

      2. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Alternate reality

        I get woken from my drunken slumber by the local cockerels announcing that this is the countryside dammit!

        Nearly correct; I get woken from my drunken slumber by the local cockerels announcing that this is their countryside dammit would be more accurate.

        But when the damned thing has decided to perch on the roof, right under your window ...

        What sort of house was that? Sounds like it may have been designed by Maurits Escher: see

        Disclosure: I actually like rural noises a lot, so I am fully in agreement with the theme of your post. :)

        1. Jeffrey Nonken

          Re: Alternate reality

          I grew up in a 4-bedroom colonial -- I think that's a US thing, dunno how that translates to you Brits. In this particular design, the main house is 2 stories and there's a 1-story attached garage with its own roof. The master bedroom has a small window that overlooks the garage roof on the North side. It would be quite possible for a bird to land on the garage roof and sit under a bedroom window without involving any non-Euclidean geometry.


          1. Jeffrey Nonken

            Re: Alternate reality

            This house:,+Downingtown,+PA+19335/@40.0281241,-75.674671,3a,75y,355.48h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s1kiCW1WU4tRlbaELuWNoew!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x89c6f506959c3193:0x170bf344e506b75f!8m2!3d40.0286113!4d-75.6746959

            Also there are things like dormer windows.

      3. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Alternate reality

        I'm rural raised, I'm well acquainted with the various country side noises. The one which still does me in when trying to sleep in a bit is the wood pigeon - the cockerels and pheasants eventually shut the hell up, but wood pigeons its all day long - "coo coooo coo coo coooo". For some reason that just kills all sleep.

        1. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

          Re: Alternate reality

          "... coo coooo coo coo coooo ..."

          Sorry, but wood pigeons are just amateurs compared to Canada Geese. Those feathery bastards call out night and day - they never shut up.

          I am also reliably informed they taste terrible.

    2. Shadow Systems

      Re: Alternate reality

      I wish I could upvote you a few thousand more times.

      In the town where I lived before this one there was a military base nearby with a very long runway. They got heavy air cargo flights at all hours of the day or night. This had been happening for however many zillion years the base had been in operation. There was *NO* way to live in the town and *NOT* know of those facts.

      When the city government decided to open the land up for *residential housing* off the end of the runway, people had the unmitigating gall to complain about the noise. The protests were some of the most amusing, frustrating, & mind bogglingly idiotic I'd ever seen up to that point. Folks shouting that the base should be restricted to day flights only so as to not disturb sleep. Others arguing that the town's economic livelihood depended on those flights at all hours. Some shouting that it was a noise hazard & they should have been told before they bought their houses. Others pointing out that when you're staring down the tarmack of a runway & the warning lights at the end are within a stone's throw of your front door then you would have to be DEAD to miss those facts.

      All in all it made me sad when the government shut the base down & eviscerated the town. No base meant no flights which meant no air cargo which meant the business' that depended on same went bust which left thousands unemployed & the economy in shambles.

      I ended up moving to my current town & was amazed at the amount of silence in this cow town. I can hear traffic on the freeway over a mile away. I can hear freight trains rumbling on their rails nearly ten miles away. You can hear the burr of propeller driven crop dusters as farmers spray their crops, and if I could see to do so, I could probably wave to them as they flew by in their Sopwith Camels. You can hear folks walking past on the sidewalk out front. You can hear birds chirping, dogs barking, & squirrels farting. You can hear the occaisional siren. And even though it's an agricultural town & livestock are common, there are STILL dumbasses that complain when a rooster crows.

      WTF? You're living amid farms. Complaining of roosters on farms proves that you need to move the fuck to somewhere else. Obviously a cow town isn't for your rooster hating arse.


      I wish a Vogon would come by, I want the fuck off this rock...

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Alternate reality

        Shadow Systems,

        How's your poetry? I warn you that your chosen route off-world holds certain dangers. You may be better off hitching a lift with a teaser. On t'other hand, not being able to see the Vogons is a distinct advantage...

        When my brother was looking for a pub to run - something similar had happened to one of his candidates. The place was at least 150 years old, but had just lost access to its own garden! Local residents had comoplained to the council that they could here people in the pub garden of a Saturday night having fun, laughing and *gasp!* swearing! For shame!

        So the licensing conditions had been changed, and they can no longer open up the garden, which meant he couldn't have tables out there to make enough money from food in the Summer - when you can fill a small pub wth diners twice over. So he took another, more rural, pub with a garden instead.

        You can bet those same wankers willl be whining on about how annoying it is that their local pub has closed and how it's definitely all down to the evil breweries taking all the profits.

        1. Shadow Systems

          Re: Alternate reality

          My poetry makes Vogon stuff sound good in comparison. I once used it in self defense & caused the Vogon captain to eject himself out an airlock. Local cats regularly hack up hairballs the size of C130's when I practice it with the windows open. I think I once saw a bird flying by burst into flames...

          Ummmm... I mean "It Sucks Arse" would be an understatement, so perfect for a Vogon! =-)P

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Alternate reality

        I used to work for a local water company - telemetry, scada, radio comms, etc. Water companies operate sewage farms, usually downstream of small rural market towns, in a field, alongside the river....

        Anyway, cue new posh housing built on other side of river bank, with nice river views etc. Prevaling wind blows in opposite direction, but when wind does turn, in come the complaints of bad smells and all that..... Also some questions about relocating the works, which had us confused.

        Turns out the house builder had been telling prospective new buyers that the sewage works was due to be closed down and moved! Well, there was a 25 year plan, given likely expansion of the town that a new larger plant would be required, and would be built further away from the expanding town. But that was a 25 year plan. Not one for next week, or next month, that these resident had been led to expect....

        Again, why buy a new house in the rural market town, overlooking the sewage works, then complain about the smell.....

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

          Re: Alternate reality

          Again, why buy a new house in the rural market town, overlooking the sewage works, then complain about the smell.....

          Up here in Northumberland there have been people moving into the area, having bought houses where there's mile and miles of rolling countryside....rolling countryside that happens to be the UK's largest military firing range, with tens of thousands of troops doing live fire training each year....and then the incomers complain to MoD and tell them to keep the noise down.

          1. Commswonk Silver badge

            Re: Alternate reality

            @ Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese: Ah yes... Otterburn. :)

            A similar situation arises close to a rifle range / training area on Merseyside. It was originally established about 150 years ago, and over the years housing crept closer and closer to the site.

            The result is much the same; people buy houses and then complain about the noise of rifle and machine gun fire. As far as I can tell the only action taken in mitigation has been to reduce the use of the PA system to an absolute minimum. :)

            As to Northumberland... a lovely county from which we returned last weekend after a week's holiday on the coast. Our 8th or 9th visit, IIRC.

            I must refrain from waxing lyrical about it... although to pay lip service to staying very vaguely on - topic, the County Council put quite a lot of money into funding an extensive roll - out of FTTC to quite small communities; very effective it is, too.

            1. Jeffrey Nonken

              Re: Alternate reality

              I've heard any number of utilities or travel hubs being built far away from civilization, then towns and cities growing up around them, and then people moving in and complaining about noises and/or smells emitting from the original plants or airports.

            2. Andy A

              Re: Alternate reality

              I spent some years working at a site which produces ammunition. They have an associated firing range, testing samples pulled from production.

              Workers on site tune out the sound of the firing. You might notice a change to, say, machine gun rounds, but it would fade from consciousness 30 seconds later.

              The adjoining farm have a horse schooling arena. It seems horses, even those only visiting, tune out the firing noise too. However some of their owners are not so laid back, Cue panicked phone calls while their expensive mount waits patiently,

              Horses must always have done this. How else could an army have made a cavalry charge as late as the Great War?

          2. Jeffrey Nonken

            Re: Alternate reality

            My daughter and I recently moved into a duplex backed onto the main street, with a light railway on the other side and a station nearby. We drove directly by the station on the way to view the house, so it's not like it was a big surprise. (The connecting street even shares a name with the station.) We shrugged and said sure, whatever, we'll be fine.

            Honestly, it's not very noisy; but even when it is, we don't much notice. These things are easy to get used to if you simply allow yourself to instead of coming across the victim and obsessing over it.

            I suppose I might have awoken when a car lost control and hit the back fence, breaking off one of the posts which slammed against the outside of my bedroom wall near where my head would have been, except it was midday and I was wide awake and out of bed. Other than that, not so much.

            1. Citizen99

              Re: Alternate reality

              Ah, nostalgia for the childhood days of steam, in bed at night soothed to sleep by the melodious clankings (it was Eastern Region) of the locomotives on the nearby railway.

          3. Rol Silver badge

            Re: Alternate reality

            Here in leafy Bristol (UK) we have some very old, historic venues, that have been shut down by new residential developments sprouting up next to them.

            One place that has taken proactive action against an office conversion, has managed to secure several caveats to the planning - windows in the building are fixed and cannot be opened, and new residents are informed of the existence of the music venue BEFORE they agree to move in.

            Effectively, residents are fully aware of where they are moving to, and have no grounds to complain about the music.

            If the venue hadn't taken action when it did, it would have suffered the same fate as all the others, and been shut down.

        2. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: Alternate reality

          Again, why buy a new house in the rural market town, overlooking the sewage works, then complain about the smell

          This isn't just a countryside thing. We live in a block of flats, in a square of blocks of flats. There must be 1000 people living within 100 metres of each other. The downstairs neighbours complained about hearing noise from our flat - not "too loud", not "late at night", but if they sit on their balcony that is 2m from our balcony "they can hear the music slightly". Did they think they were buying a bothy in the Highlands?

          I kept the letter, its nice to have written proof that these people are idiots in case they decide to complain to the estate management..

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Alternate reality

          Sort of similar story about riverside living....

          I have an aunt who lives on a houseboat on a large river. When ever a boat goes past, the wake will cause the houseboat to bob up and down a bit.

          The tricky part is after spending some time on the river and returning to dry land is that you could be doing anything and all of a sudden you'll get the up-and-down feeling at random.

      3. Andy A

        Re: Alternate reality

        At the commercial aerodrome where I did my flying training, they received a missive from someone complaining about aircraft flying over their house. "It's only recently. It never happened when we bought the house" they claimed.

        A reply was drafted congratulating them on being the oldest residents in the whole county. After all, flying had been taking place continuously at the site since it moved from the neighbouring racecourse in 1912.

        1. DoctorPaul

          Re: Alternate reality

          I was lucky enough to attend the Battle of Britain airshow at Headcorn (formerly RAF Lashenden) this September to mark the 80th anniversary of the BoB - the only airshow to be held in Europe this year apparently.

          An anecdote shared by the MC - it seems that a local little old lady phoned up to complain that the Spitfires were making far too much noise and could they please stop it.

          The airfield manager's reply was "Madam, if it wasn't for the Spitfires we'd be having this conversation in German (hangs up phone)".

      4. Giles C Silver badge

        Re: Alternate reality

        Living on the RAF Wittering flight path during the 80s we had Harriers and other aircraft flying overhead a couple of times a year. Sitting at school a lot of lessons were drowned out by a jet going overhead. No one complained as it was part of living in Peterborough same as the smells in the summer from the British Sugar factory part of living in the town.

        1. Giles C Silver badge

          Re: Alternate reality

          Oops mean a couple of times an hours not a year

    3. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Alternate reality

      I, the below signed, agree not to disturb the status quo that exists in this rural idyll, without first enjoying a couple of nights of drinking scrumpy with the locals. During which, I will attempt to drunkenly explain how I am going to turn the village into little London, so to better suit my demeanour and baseless expectations. If, after that encounter, I am not face down in a ditch wearing a rather roomy incident tent, I will assume I have the support of the community and set about making a right twat of myself.

    4. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Alternate reality

      In the village in North Kent where I used to keep my horses, a lovely old housein the village was bought by a green welly type. Within a year he was complaining about the neighbouring farm that in one form or another had been there for centuries.

      It went to court where the Welly merchant had more money and possibly friends, the court rulings made it impossible to operate the farm profitably so my mate went out of business abd sold up. Nobody in the village woukd speak to the green welly arsehole andvthe pybs wouldn't serve him, so after fecking up the livelihood of a family and upsetting a whole village, the idiot sold up qnd left.

      I wush himband his snotty family nothing but ill luck and dreams of savage cockerels.

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Alternate reality

      "if the cows break into my garden"

      IME that's because a townie has followed attempted to follow a footpath into the wrong field and left a gate open because there wasn't a stile.

      Actually, that's sheep. The cow problem was when the farmer used to walk a milking herd back home along the road. Fortunately dairying isn't profitable at his scale so it doesn't happen now. We did have as much of the herd as would fit, including the bull that always accompanied them, in the drive, milling round the cars. The farmer even got worried that time.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Alternate reality

        "if the cows break into my garden"

        That has actually happened to us; > 30 years ago Mrs Commswonk came home one day to find the local farmer trying valiantly to de - shit the garden - he was fairly successful with the "solids" (a relative term!) although de - shit - smelling the garden took rather longer and the assistance of a strong wind.

        Apart from eating some of Mrs C's plants the only damage was to a metal garden table that we had purchased not all the long before the event, so we claimed appropriately and were reimbursed its cost. As chance would have it there was a very good mechanical workshop where I worked so a few minutes input from a colleague and some Helicoils restored the table to full working order, where it remains to this day even if it is looking a bit careworn.

        On a later occasion an adolescent sheep appeared through the foliage; at least I was able to pick it up, turn it round and encourage it to return to the field.

        Ah the joys of semi - rural living; animals still graze the field behind us, I am glad to report. Fortunately the barrier between them and us is rather better than it used to be. (Touch wood...)

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Alternate reality

          A few months ago a friend of mine in Nepal had a wild elephant walk through his garden fence. Judging by the photos he sent, it did a fair bit more damage than the average herd of cows. It got into his kitchen and ate all his vegetables. Which might not sound too bad until you realise that it first had to make the kitchen doorway big enough to fit through ...

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Oh! Oh! I know these!

            I’ve prepared since childhood for this one...

            Q. What time is it, when an elephant sits on your fence?

            A. Time to get a new one.


            Q. What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming into the kitchen?

            A. Swim for it!

          2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

            Re: Alternate reality

            Can't beat an elephant but have had goats that got out from a nearby field, and sometimes get the odd sheep when the farmer is moving them between fields. C'est la vie rurale!

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Alternate reality

              Relatives in Canada complain about the deer getting into the garden. Apparently deer shit is not good for your roses.

        2. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Alternate reality

          Hah, your anecdote reminded me of the occasion that a cow incursion happened to our neighbours.. coincidentally, somewhere around 30+ years ago. Small, or rather little, village just outside Chester. Either we’re talking about the same incident, or there was more than one herd of disobedient cows in the country at the time, which would be inconceivable...

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternate reality

      Wrington, Somerset, 2012. "The church clock is chiming and it keeps us awake..."


    7. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Alternate reality

      Like two decades ago they automated the church bells around here, made them electric. Just push a button on a remote and the bells sounds every 30.minutes was a bit much, we compromised to do so once an hour.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken

        Re: Alternate reality

        A few decades ago we moved into a house in a small suburban neighborhood directly outside Philadelphia. We discovered upon moving in that the local church (by "local" I mean a few hundred feet away) had bells that chimed every few hours, usually on a timer. It was annoying for a while, but eventually we just got used to it, tuned it out as part of the background.

        One day I got a temp programming gig at a company that made electronic carillons. My office was right outside the shop, where I was warned there would be both shop noise and, especially, carillons playing at various times; it could be anything from distracting to infuriating. (Apparently the previous guy doing this project was pretty high-strung.) I assured them I would be OK, if it got to be too much I'd don headphones and listen to music.

        ...And then I heard the carillons play, and I laughed and redoubled my assurances. Apparently THIS was the actual company that made the very carillons that the church owned, and I'd already spent several years tuning out their chimes. Piece of cake.

        The chief engineer looked up the church in question, was able to tell me the model and options they'd bought, and offered to give me manuals needed to fix it. (I declined with thanks, not being a member of the church nor being interested in providing free service just because I happened to live in the vicinity.)

        As I predicted, I was OK, donning headphones if it got to be too much.

      2. Citizen99

        Re: Alternate reality

        If you could get hold of the encoding of the remote, what fun could be had ...

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternate reality

      I think that sort of thing (the village hall story) happens fairly frequently. Around here the run-down village hall in a nearby village had a major revamp some years ago and as a result has become a popular venue (in normal times) which actually makes money and brings the village together, rather than being an eyesore on the road in.

      But they still get complaints from neighbours - some of whom I'm sure were those complaining about the building before it was revamped. Some people can't be pleased.

      The local church has a similar issue. It's been there for hundreds and hundreds of years on a pilgrimage route. There was even an inn next door for weary travellers, later converted into a motel of all things. The church itself barely holds 40 people* but since the motel was converted into houses the congregation has to be very careful as complaints about noise and parking come on a regular basis. What do they want? If the church closes it will be left to rot and that would probably cause even more complaints.

      *at the moment, of course, it doesn't hold any. Safe distancing guidelines mean that its maximum capacity is around 8 or 9 individuals, a few more if families sit together. The congregation - the last few years have seen the church full to near capacity most Sundays - currently worships at other churches in the parish.

  2. b0llchit Silver badge

    Sequencing universes

    Correct universe:

    -- unmute -- say: Cheers -- mute

    Alternate reality universe:

    -- mute -- say: fishbrains -- unmute

    (followed by all the natural noises of the rural country)

    Ah well, you never know which universe is active at any one time, well, do you? Therefore, all our mistakes must be caused by those pesky aliens from that neighbouring universe.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Sequencing universes

      “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarrely inexplicable.

      There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sequencing universes

        I told you it was a documentary. Much like Fawlty Towers.

  3. Martin Silver badge

    No doubt when demand rises, it's also quite easy to scale up.

    Well, I laughed !

    1. Outski Bronze badge

      I preferred "the johnnies from Mnemonic"

      Friday ---->

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      fish leather is a thing

      As it happens, I have for some years had a very nice eelskin wallet that I bought in Korea. I don't think it was leather from piranha eels, though.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: fish leather is a thing

        I wouldn't mind one of piranha leather, to catch pick pockets..

      2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: fish leather is a thing

        Fish leather has been a thing for a long time. It's called shagreen. I once met a man who was selling reproduction 17th and 18th century microscopes. He'd had to source shagreen for them.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: fish leather is a thing

          And of course, there is the Russian armored luxo-SUV company Dartz, who famously offer(ed) whale penis leather as an upholstery option.

  4. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    Me and the wife have a problem....

    We keep buying beer at rate ever so slightly above what we can sensibly consume in a month so the cellar now has stacks of boxes full of cans somewhat akin to the stock room of a bottle shop (as in a much better class of beer than an ordinary off-licence).

    Though if I started chugging during my daily video calls I don't think I'd see sobriety until sometime after 2030...

    And then I'd start on the liquor cupboard (is 250+ bottles excessive or not nearly enough? I really can't tell any more).

    1. Sam not the Viking

      Re: Me and the wife have a problem....

      As someone who enjoys a drink in the pub, if you resort to supermarket supplies (quality beers only, thank you) do you find you are 'drinking yourself rich'? Online deliveries, as the IT angle.

      Asking for a friend.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Me and the wife have a problem....

      How can having too much booze on hand constitute a problem?

      But even if it is, I would like to quote you the usual bollocks from lifestyle coaches, management consultants and their ilk. Which fits rather well in this case.

      "There's no such thing as problems, only opportunities."


    3. drand

      Re: Me and the wife have a problem....

      Drink it! Hops fade fast. Willing to help.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Me and the wife have a problem....

        Ahh but we have a number of beers aging completely sans hops so it's not such a problem.

        As for mega hoppy beers from the local breweries we tend to drink those with expediency.

        As for help, sadly we're in a category/grade/nandos heat rating area of 2 so no friends for us at the moment unless you like being wet and miserable in the garden (though I do wonder if the shed counts as indoors?).

    4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Me and the wife have a problem....

      In what world, is an oversupply of beer, a "problem"?

      You, sir, are about to make a number of friends.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Me and the wife have a problem....

        "You, sir, are about to make a number of friends."

        But no more than 6 of course!

    5. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Me and the wife have a problem....

      ITYWF that canned beer doesn't age all that well ...

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Me and the wife have a problem....

        The cans I am to drink in the next few years, the bottles however have at least another decade before I touch some of them (one of them officially has a best before of 2049).

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Me and the wife have a problem....

      "We keep buying beer at rate ever so slightly above what we can sensibly consume in a month so the cellar now has stacks of boxes full of cans"

      I also keep buying beer at a rate ever so slightly above what I can sensibly consume in a month. I still consume it, it's just not necessarily a sensible thing to do.

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Another rule

    Two drinks each time you ear 'woops, I wasn't muted' .

    About the decree - If those urban people who find it cool to go living in the countryside were not stupid enough to go on trial because of a rooster singing too loud, or peasants working too early or too late because it's harvest time, such a decree wouldn't be issued. And those same urban people wouldn't be surprised if accidentally their cars have 4 flat tires or suddenly experiment self-combustion... Life in countryside is harsh sometimes.

  6. Dave K Silver badge

    > "What do you expect if I have to down a shot of brandy every time someone says "Sorry, I was on mute"?"

    My company uses Teams, so we hear this a lot - mainly because Teams starts auto-muting new participants once the number of people in a call reaches a certain level. It's amazing how many people don't notice this.

    Of course, rather than "Sorry, I was on mute", a lot of the time it's actually a modern rendition of a silent movie as we see the person's lips moving away - followed by a chorus of "You're on mute!" warnings from everyone else...

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      >> a modern rendition of a silent movie

      Now, I like that idea. I could prepare some silent movie-style title cards, white text on black background plus a squiggly swash symbol, to hold up in front of my webcam when this happens. It'll keep me from reaching for the shot glass.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: >> a modern rendition of a silent movie

        And deny yourself access to the shot glass?

        Surely not :)

  7. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

    Teams! what we use. I've been reasonably happy with it, except for the chat window, which seems to randomly reorganise conversations (and neglects to provide any way to index them) so you can never find the one you want to reply to.

    Headsets: work bought us some pricey Plantronics ones. Very nice. Also: very uncomfortable and very fragile. After I busted two of them, I started searching. Found a nice SADES gaming headset on the "A" for $17, which is about 1/6th of what I understand the pricey Plantronics cost. AND -- it is over-the-ears, which means I can block out the ambient noise (more important when I was at work in our highly collaborative Open Plan office). Best feature: the gratuitous red LED lighting on the earpieces. An inline mute switch gives me two options -- normally I leave the Teams mute disabled and use the hardware switch to mute & unmute (another red LED tells me which). Faster.

    It's good to see you back, Mr. Dabbs. May you live long and prosper! Good luck scaling up your fish leather enterprise.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Teams!

      I use a Rode NT-USB Mini as a mic, but that's because I have to have that gear anyway and it's kept out of shot. Not only is it broadcast quality (so they can hear me glug drinks quite clearly if I don't mute, but I digress), but it creates its own audio I/O when it's plugged into USB, and the "O" part of that happens to be a 3.5mm socket on the mic itself which can blend the live take from me and wherever is sent from my MacBook.

      I can stick whatever I want into that port, like some nice Sennheisers or some simple in-ear buds. I could also use Apple's airpod thingies and skip all the aforementioned gear, but I don't get on with those - thankfully I got those as a present so I can ignore them.

      I have found that using a decent mic makes quite a difference - the rubbish they stick in webcams doesn't compare.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Teams!

      Try and search your chat history in Teams. Nine times out of ten you get just the line it found without any lines around it, where the where the answer you want to find is. It's been like this for years and they've still not fixed it.

  8. Howard Sway

    a haunting "Aloo! Aloo!" echoes across the cityscape

    Good moaning! Like all your Friday columns in fact.

  9. Franco Silver badge

    Sorry I was on mute as a drinking game would mean I was sloshed by 10:30 every morning (at the latest)

    The other phenomenon I have been experiencing is getting our calls hacked by Darth Vader. There's always someone who sounds like they have a chronic breathing disorder. Either that or they are using the microphone internally. And finally the person who doesn't understand latency, talks over everyone else and then gets really arsey if someone else does the same thing to them.

    I also work with a German, who forgot to mute himself before shouting at his son. That's a language that sharply brings your focus back.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Not realising the Zoom 'temporary' unmute if you used the space bar, actually permanently unmutes you if you held it long enough. I once shouted SHUT UP! at my barking dog, only to resume paying attention to the call I was on with 2 bewildered vendor representatives (one of whom had just finished his pitch and sounded quite upset) a sales person and my boss.

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I'd forgotten M. Dabbs now resides in France where villages have mayors. In the Anglophone world villages are bereft of idiots. They've all gone into national politics.

    BTW fish leather has been a thing in this dimension for a long time in the form of shagreen.

    1. Olivier2553

      or "galuchat" to stick to the new country of residence of Mr AD.

  11. Dr_N Silver badge

    "signs to warn visitors"

    Maybe villagers could instead have signs to warn of the imminent arrival of <<Les Cons>>. Some kind of track 'n' trace system could be used.

  12. Daedalus Silver badge

    Cognac in Montpellier?

    Better hope no Marseillais get wind of that. Surely the drink to take there is pastis.

  13. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    How about

    The times in a zoom meeting when a family member walks across the webcam's field of view completely naked?

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: How about

      When a families member wa.....

      I read that completely wrong again

  14. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

    Careful now ...

    Where I used to live there is a long, moderately steep hill which tends to overheat the brakes on trucks. After a few incidents the county council installed a series of escape lanes on this road, labelled as such with huge signs.

    These same escape lanes now also have smaller signs explaining that if you leave your car parked in these bays, not only might it be considerably shorter and partly buried in gravel when you return, but also that your insurance company will reject your claim.

  15. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Bronze badge

    Dawn Chorus

    I recorded the dawn chorus in May this year.

    Happy to share it for with any of you who need to do international Zooms and want to have a backing track for when you feel the need to say "Do you know what the f*****g time is here?"

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Dawn Chorus

      Usually they don't, which is why they're calling in the first place. No excuse for it, the Windows clock can hold two other timezones.

  16. Numen

    Welcome back!

    Sanity has been sorely missed.

  17. earl grey

    they'll do it every time

    Oy, moved to the countryside so i could complain of the smell from the cow (pig, chicken, sheep) excrement.


  18. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Rural peace...

    It's normally pretty quiet in this bit of the paradise on earth that is rural Cymru. There's a bit of traffic on the main road - sadly you can hear a car for a minute in each direction. The odd aircraft defending us against trrrsts, or taking rich people to the New World, tractors ? Meh.

    One of the best bits about Lockdown I - How It All Started, was the silence. Sitting on the bench outside, and no human-made sounds. Just the stream, the birds, the wind in the trees, the sheep, the cows, the horses. And no aircraft. At one point I looked at FlightRadar24 and there wasn't a single aircraft in Welsh airspace. I could get to like that.

    1. David Hicklin

      Re: Rural peace...

      Even now in our town it gets really quiet after around 11pm, took ages to get used to the silence and get to sleep again.

  19. erikscott

    AST sounds a *lot* like "Zombies, Run!". Just sayin'.

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