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Royal Mail strikes, spore viability and ideal temperatures

Royal Mail strikes, spore viability and ideal temperatures

Hello, and welcome to another episode of “the country is fucked, mate”. Consider this a ‘clip show’ of sorts, because we’ve got all your old favourites: Tory ineptitude, corporate greed, and good ol’ fashioned “Someone’s got to tighten their belts and guess what it’s you again”.

Two dickheads pretending to be human
I’ve actually got a hoodie from this brewery that I now need to burn

Let’s start at the beginning.

I’ve been doing this odd little job for a few years now. Brexit made things a bit more difficult (used to be able to just send packages to Europe without customs declarations on which was a lot quicker for our cousins on the continent), for sure, but there’s been nothing like the recent Royal Mail strikes to figuratively fuck every online vendor straight in the dirtbox.

Right in there

I found the strikes in October to be quite troublesome. We had one strike a week (more or less), and each one caused multiple days of delays because stuff was just sitting in depots. Royal Mail can’t just double up the amount of staff the next day to get rid of the backlog, meaning it takes multiple days to square everything up to normal again. I had to answer a lot of emails about slow packages (I get everything out the door ASAP, no matter what), which I hate doing. I’m in this to provide the best spores (I mean, check out the amount of reviews I’ve got saying that they’re ace), and the best service, but thanks to Royal Mail’s refusal to pay their workers the right amount of money, that side of things got let down a little. I sell a lot of spore syringes every single week, so even if 1% of my packages get delayed, it’s quite a large number and it causes a massive headache.

If only I’d have known how the end of November and December was gonna be compared to October. Man, was I naïve.

In November and December, due to Royal Mail and the Government’s chronic mismanagement of the situation, we’ve had strike days in pairs! Pairs! Now, following the logic that one day of strike action causes at least a couple (if not three) days of delay, you can guess how much two days in a row has disrupted normal service.

It’s not a great situation, at all. It’s causing me a massive amount of extra work, because (and I don’t blame them) people want to know where their package is at. Not my fault, not their fault. But it also ain’t the Royal Mail worker’s fault. There has been the longest time in this country where pay rises haven’t happened, or have been below the level of inflation (essentially meaning your wage is going down, even if on paper it’s gone up a bit). Royal Mail can afford to pay their workers more. Royal Mail’s operating profit (remember, profit is the extra money not needed for costs) for the 2021/2022 tax year was £758,000,000. The year before that was £702,000,000 (Statista). Don’t get caught up in the anti-worker rhetoric that’s getting fed down from the people that are making millions. Simon Thompson, the CEO of Royal Mail, is paid £596,000 a year (Voice.Wales). Royal Mail has paid out £1,900,000,000 (yes that’s £1.9 billion quid) to shareholders since it was privatised back in 2013 (Mirror).

Royal Mail profit statistics
To save you doing maths, that’s over two million quid profit per day

What I am getting at here is that there is plenty of fuckin’ money to pay people enough for the services they provide, it’s just that the money doesn’t get to them because it’s busy being skimmed off the top.

So, fuck, having an online shop is a nightmare lately (and if you’ve got one too then you’ve got my sympathies), but I don’t blame the postal workers, or the rail workers, or the nurses, or the barristers, or Border Force, or the ambulance crew, or the teachers, or the lecturers, or the bus drivers, or the refuse workers, or anyone who’s having to take collective action against the rich fucks who refuse to give them a fair slice of the pie they are involved in baking. Which leads me on to my next point (yeah baby that’s a nice segue)…

Spore Viability

Given all that I’ve said in that last bit, it is likely that people’s spores may well be sitting around in Royal Mail depot for a bit. It’s cold at the moment, and some people have emailed me because they’re worried about whether the spores will still be okay. Maybe you’ve ordered some Golden Teacher spores, and you’re all like “ah man it’s been a week, is everything still good, Mr. Orangutan?”

Here’s the short answer: Yes!

Here’s the longer variant: Also yes! Spores are like little suits of armour, that protect the genetic information inside, and they are extremely good at their job. If you want to kill them, you either have to boil them or freeze them (freezing fucks up the cell walls due to water forming ice crystals).

In my workshop, I keep my spore syringes in a fridge because they’ll last the longest this way (2 years + is not uncommon), so the temperatures we’ve got outside in England at the moment are really no bother at all. Which in a mad stroke of awesome luck segues into the next bit, almost as if it was written that way…

Orangutan doing a thumbs up
It’s all good!

Ideal Temperatures

We’ve established that good temperatures to keep your spore syringe at range from “1c” to “Just Don’t Put Them in the Oven, Dude”, but let’s say you’re living in Jamaica, Brazil (and I have actually got a few customers from Brazil), or somewhere else where it’s legal for you to cultivate magic mushrooms, just for the sake of a bit of knowledge.

For the colonisation stage, you’d wanna be sitting in the early 20’s, somewhere around 22/23. Any less than this means that the mycelium would grow a lot slower. Any higher and you’d be running the risk of any contaminants getting a quicker foothold.

Once you’re past the colonisation stage, you could happily drop the temperature back down to around 19c, as the fruiting stage of Cubensis mushrooms is quite happy in that temperature zone. Goes without saying (or you’d think it would), this isn’t me saying to go and do this unless you’re in a nice legal country.

Cheers now everyone, I hope you have a nice Xmas holiday whatever flavour of it is that you personally celebrate (I call it Baileys Day because I celebrate the birth and inevitable death of the litre bottle of Baileys in my kitchen), and remember, as always, don’t vote Tory.

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What I have been up to…

What I have been up to…

Yo! It’s been a while. Turns out writing time can be a bit hard to come by when you’re arguably the UK’s best and most handsome spore supplier! It’s been an eventful few months, so get yourself a nice cup of tea or some booze, arrange your cushions to the optimum level of comfort, and buckle up for a glorious summation of the past month or so…

Reasonable tequila
A nice bit of reasonably-priced splosh

Got fuckin’ Covid

I’m going to start early by saying that I love vaccinations and if you don’t that’s great, I don’t care. If you feel the burning need to try and engage in any kind of vaccine chat, feel free to post your well-reasoned arguments to “the bin closest to you” to save me having to read them, cheers.

Basically I got quite ill, had to take a week or so off my day job. Tested negative every day. I was due to go back, did a test, and then tested positive and got properly sick for a good ten days. It was fucking horrible. Turns out I had some kind of funky chest infection the first week and then managed to upgrade that to a nice slice of Covid the following week. Lovely. First time I’d had it, and I had this vision in my head of “yeah boyee I’ll just play video games and chill out with some time off work” but it actually turns out I was too miserable to play any games and it fucking sucked. I was then in a huge panic because I was due to fly to Amsterdam with the Mycopunks crew. I finally managed to test negative the day before I had to travel, which was cutting it a bit close to the bone for my liking!

Fucking bellend

Went to Amsterdam

I went to Amsterdam! That’s been a long-term destination since I was a 15 year old stoner sitting around going “wow man I’d love to go there because you can smoke weed wherever you like and they’ve got titty ladies in the windows”. I am now 40, I don’t smoke weed any more, and I’m in committed relationship, but get this – it turns out there’s more to Amsterdam than fannies and plants! Who knew?!

It was quite a laugh travelling with the Mycopunks team as they’re all lovely people, and we went about our merry way, carousing and cavorting all over the place. Special mentions go to the awesome microbe museum, Micropia, where you can look at all kinds of microscopic shenanigans (including mycelium, obviously), the suggestively named steakhouse Mr Meat (spoilers: Mr Meat did indeed put his fingers in my mouth and on the way out I was drunk so I told him I loved him and I regret nothing), and the best escape room I’ve ever experienced at Amsterdam Catacombs. I seriously lost my shit at one part of the experience, it was amazing, if you go to Amsterdam you should absolutely give it a go.

Lovely dinner, great company, yes I take the mask everywhere, I’m like Batman

Yeah I still went to a weed shop and the Red Light district

Well I couldn’t not, could I? When in Rome and all that.

Weed shops: probably really cool if that’s your bag (pun intended), I bought a joint of drugs that made me conduct a forensically thorough character assassination of myself for several hours after just a few tokes (this is why I don’t normally smoke weed) so yeah, turns out even if I’m in Amsterdam, the Devil’s Lettuce ain’t the right high for me.

We then went to a shop where we could buy magic truffles, which was nice! I was, however, half-cut from lots of nice lager and whisky, and the shop man was actually being ethical and refused to sell them to me until the next day. Fuck that, obviously, so I got the lovely Paola Mycopunks to get them for me, and then I also went next door to a shop that advertised something called “Sex Opium” and let me tell you, that guy didn’t give a fuck, and sold me lots of truffles.

The Red Light district was, to be honest, fucking weird. Like I say, I’m 40 now, and not to brag, but I’ve seen upwards of four vaginas in my life, and several pairs of boobs, so it’s not got quite the same draw for me as it had when I was 15, where the sum total of bob and vegene views was zero, despite all my best efforts. There was a different atmosphere there to the rest of the place, it was a lot more hectic whereas all the other places we went to were super relaxed and friendly.

Also there were a whole lot of people queueing up to watch porn in cinemas which is something that spun me out a bit given the fact that we’ve all got the Porno Device in our pockets 24/7 these days. Takes all sorts, innit.

Chris at Mushroom Museum
Chris always looks this suspicious

Mushrooms, Liquid Culture, etc

So it transpires that in Amsterdam you can buy liquid culture in the shops, which is cool because it’s a really good way to grow mushrooms (speeds things up quite a bit, and you can make sure it’s super clean). Sadly, it’s illegal in the UK as contains mycelium, so even though it’s super easy to make, you can’t. Because of this, no-one really sells spores over there! What a place.

Classic B. Dolan

Royal Mail strikes again

Once more just in case – I support the strike action, people need more money. The Royal Mail strikes are fuckin’ killing me. There have been four strike days in the past two weeks, and the amount of emails I get about it is crazy. People are very understanding when I explain to them, which is nice, but it adds a lot of time to my already stretched day, so if you’re reading this, don’t worry, it’s all on it’s way still, it’s just late due to the state of Tory Britain.

Anyway, that’s what’s been on – stay safe, and remember, don’t vote Tory.

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Golden Teacher Spores

Golden Teacher Spores

Hello and welcome to another instalment of me writing about things that I have just thought about. Gonna start off with a bit about Golden Teacher spores, then I’ll probably write about something else for a bit, treat myself, sort of thing. Probably postal strikes and Tories, that’s the usual vibe. Here we go:

Everyone loves Golden Teacher Spores!

You would not believe the amount of these that I sell. I’m not gonna release sales figures or anything because, y’know, that sort of thing is Secret Details, but everybody seems to absolutely love them. I often find this a bit weird, because all of the phenotypes of Psilocybe Cubensis mushrooms are broadly similar. People often state as fact that they’re easier or more hardy or something, but I don’t actually think it’s true! I think these people think what they’re saying is true, but it’s all based off anecdotal experience, which is great and all but doesn’t cut the mustard. Don’t get me wrong, they’re amazing, but so are the other types – give it all a whirl! I’m not even sure where the myth comes from, but nonetheless it’s now part of public perception that you must start with Golden Teachers and so most people do. I’m a bit of an odd case because I first started looking at Ban Hua Thai instead. That’s probably because I’m weird.

About fifteen bazillion Golden Teacher spores

Postal Strikes

I absolutely categorically support anyone who is striking in order to get fairer conditions. It should never have to come to a strike, especially when there’s a lot of profit being generated, but it’s part of the toolkit to get motherfuckers to listen. It’s okay for business to make profit, but everyone needs a decent enough share of the pie.

There are a lot more Royal Mail strikes planned for the next few months, and it causes chaos at Orangutan Manor. I get quite a few emails asking “yo where’s my spores”, which I don’t mind answering, but it does take up quite a bit of time. How it works is this: one day of Royal Mail strike action doesn’t just cause one day of delay, it can cause several. They can’t suddenly push double the amount the next day, so stuff arrives gradually as they process the packages sent on strike days. I have noticed that this isn’t even getting done in any particular order, which does seem strange to me but I’m not privy to the internal workings of the mysterious postal system. The important thing is stuff isn’t getting lost, it’s just slower.

I still buy Viz comic, I think I’ve developed Stockholm Syndrome


You may or may not read my social media posts (if you don’t you should, they’re great). If you do, you will notice that I’m going to Amsterdam with Chris and the lovely team at Mycopunks!

I’ve never been there before, and yeah it’s going to be a bit of a working trip (getting some daft videos and such), but it should still be a decent laugh and I am absolutely going to be fitting in lots of Beer Time. Work-wise, Chris and I are going to do another Instagram Live video which seemed to go down well last time so if you’ve got any burning questions that you want to ask us, keep an eye on Chris’ Insta page, probably on Friday 4th/Saturday 5th of November.

If you’ve got any decent suggestions for what to do in Amsterdam, feel free to let us know. Going to go to some mushroom shops and the Red Light District obviously (no solicitation though because I’m in a committed relationship and all that), probably hire a boat and go Fast and Furious up the canals or something as well. I’m also going to go to a bar called In’t Aepjen, because you used to be able to swap monkeys for beer there (no shit), but other than that I have no plans. If you’ve got any ideas, throw them our way! Orders will still be going out as normal even when I’m away, thanks to my awesome Simian assistant. He doesn’t vote Tory and neither should anyone ah fuck I almost made it all the way without being political, never mind.

The monkey thing is 100% true, bizarrely!

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Magic Mushroom season in the UK!

It’s Magic Mushroom season in the UK!

Yeehaw, it’s that time of year again, Magic Mushroom season! I’m just gonna get this in here real quick – I absolutely do not advocate that you go out and break the law, no matter how monumentally dumb that law is. Don’t go doing crimes. Anyway, it’s Magic Mushroom appreciation season!

Lovely tasty ornaments

It’s time to go “walking the dog”…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the time where Tory Island decides to cough up some goodies that make the sky look like it’s melting!

Quick primer for the newer dudes out there – the funky mushrooms that you’re gonna find out there in the next month or so are called Liberty Caps (due to the bell shape), but the scientific name is Psilocybe Semilanceata (people often just call ’em Libs). They contain the same active ingredients as Psilocybe Cubensis (which are the type of spores I sell), but they’re a fair bit stronger.

“Why don’t you sell Psilocybe Semilanceata spores then, Mr Orangutan?”, I imagine you’re asking? Simple! I have a few customers who live in Brazil (hi dudes!), and they like to grow mushrooms from my spores. It’s totally legal for them, but not for me in the UK, so they can do whatever they like. They’ve told me that Cubensis are really easy to grow, it’s quite a low-effort thing once you’ve got your technique dialled in, and there’s great resources out there on Reddit, and also sites like the Shroomery! Semilanceata, on the other hand, are virtually impossible to grow in a domestic setting. In terms of effort-to-yield, it’s just a complete non-starter, even if you could somehow recreate the right conditions (spoiler: you probably can’t).

A poster saying "you can't grow unless you are willing to change"
Haha you see what I did there

But that’s okay, nature provides. Depending on where you’re living in this utterly bizarre country, mid September to late October has usually been the ideal fruiting conditions, but thanks to climate change if there’s a really mild winter, you could still be finding Liberty Caps all the way up till Christmas. Lots of factors affect this – the temperature, frost, and rainfall all have big parts to play in convincing that lovely underground mycelium to start delivering up some tasty Party Shiitakes. Now, the important thing to remember is that when was just a young Orangutan, it was legal to pick Liberty Caps (you weren’t allowed to “prepare” them in any way but picking was fine). This ain’t the case nowadays, so don’t go picking them, just take a nice walk through wherever you may find them and admire them. Make sure you take a nice paper bag but make sure you don’t put any mushrooms in there. It’s still a Class A drug. Even if everyone’s decided that that’s ridiculous, all it takes is one bored jobsworth copper to notice you and you’re going to be having a shit time.

There’s a really cool website called Magic Mushroom Map, which, unlike the rest of the internet where it’s just tits and various flavours of fascism, is a handy map of where Libs are likely to be found, based off various bits of science like the weather, land cover, soil acidity, elevation, and historical grow records. It’s quite frankly fucking amazing and I wish I’d thought of it first. If you want it even more fancy-pants, you can throw the devs a fiver and you’ll get access to a ten-day forecast, and maps of where the public rights of way are. Noice!

Fuck me we’ve got another one running the show now, and she’s bringing with her an absolute barrel of nonces. A Health Secretary who is against abortion and gay marriage? Check. A Business Secretary who’s dad literally wrote a book on how to profit from the country being fucked up? Check. A new Home Secretary who wants to be more right wing than fucking Priti Patel? Check! Buckle up motherfuckers, because this next season of Tory Island is going to even fucking dumber than the last.

Actual tory island.
Holy fuck there actually is a place called Tory Island! Is there where they all keep coming from?!

Anyway, stick together, we’ll get through this, and maybe one day we can start rebuilding a better, fairer country that actually looks after those that need looking after. That’s the hope anyway. Cheers now, don’t vote Tory.

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What I’ve been up to lately

What I’ve been up to lately!

August is a fuckin’ mad month for me usually and this year has been probably the busiest. Like I’ve said before, I’ve also got a day job which ramps up in August, and then I’ve had a friend’s wedding, a few birthdays, and the nursery shuts for a few weeks so Tiny Orangutan needs a bit more looking after. Very busy indeed.

Anyway, here’s pretty much a roundup of what’s been cracking:

Product Earth happened

So I sent a whole load of my spores up with Chris from Mycopunks to Product Earth, which seem to have gone down well. Because of my partner’s birthday and my friend’s wedding I wasn’t able to attend Product Earth personally (well, I could’ve done, but I’d have been in the shit majorly at home haha). Apparently it was excellent, a whole load of decent people just doing their own thing, and a lot of knowledge floating about. Next year, I’m gonna give it my best shot and try to show up, seems like a laugh.

Amazing Mycopunks Stall
Proper cool stall!

Got loads of spore prints

Man, you dudes cannot get enough of the ol’ spore prints, which is fortunate because at the moment I’ve got fucking tonnes of them. I’m adding a few new variants to the store and removing a few of the older ones, so if you’re into something new, check ’em out. Got some McKennaii up, Red Boy, loads of Golden Teacher, Amazonian, and B+, all ready to go in handy super-flat form. Very useful if you’re worried about getting spore syringes delivered because your customs agents are twats, or just if you wanna get maximum value for money and don’t mind putting a bit of the work in yourself (assuming you’ve got a flow hood or some other way of keeping the area clean). All guaranteed to be clean as a whistle!

Got lots and lots of these bad boys now!

Strike Strike Strike

If you’ve been paying any kind of attention to the news you’ll notice that the country is absolutely screwed for a number of reasons, but let’s face it, it’s mostly the bastard Tories refusing to properly tax large businesses. Anyway, there’s going to be postal disruptions in the coming weeks, with Royal Mail strike action planned for the 26th and 31st August, and then the 8th and 9th of September. It’s a pain in the ass, yes, but the anger should be directed at the top of the company, not the striking workers. There’s a lot of money in this country, but it’s being hoarded – plenty of companies are posting record profits at the moment while people starve and can’t pay their bills, even when they’re in full-time work. People might complain about the strikes, but asking politely for enough money to live on hasn’t been working so far, meaning that it’s time for strikes and then probably time for riots. Interestingly, it looks like most industries are going to be striking in the coming months, from Lawyers to Binmen. There was a great bit of writing by Terry Pratchett that was “there is a curse. They say: ‘may you live in interesting times'” and blimey, we’re living in interesting times.

Bloody Hell!
Satire is absolutely dead these days because reality’s fucked

Like always, stay safe, take care of each other, and don’t vote Tory. We’ll get through this.

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End of July update

What’s going on in Orangutan Manor?

Glad you asked! All sorts, really. Still producing and selling heaps of amazing spores, and I’ve had, once again, my busiest month ever. Things are great. Thank you for your continuing support, I’m really stoked that people like what I’m putting out there and how I do things! There are a few cool things going down, so here they are, in handy blog format!

I have now sponsored an athlete!

I’ve decided to sponsor another athlete. Last year I sponsored a Rugby player, and that was cool (it didn’t really result in any sales but he was a nice chap and I was glad to help), and now I’m sponsoring a dude called Lewis Dutch who does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. For anyone who doesn’t know, BJJ is best described as this: You know the way your arms, legs, and neck like to bend? Your opponent is trying to make them go the opposite way for you. It’s pretty cool, and it’s basically the only exercise that I don’t find boring (I need someone trying to hurt me to keep me motivated, it seems)! Lewis loves competing, which is something I used to do but always found too nerve-wracking, so hopefully he’ll get a load of decent podium shots at various competitions!

Me and Lewis posing for a photo
He’s about nine feet tall

Food bank donations

Food banks, nationally, are in the shit. More people than ever need them (and fuck me am I tired of writing that), but due to the cost-of-living crisis, fewer people are able to contribute to them. I’m not sure how much worse this country can get but hey, we’re gonna find out, right?

I’ve had a few lovely customers send me a bit of money specifically earmarked for the food bank, and I’d just like to take the time to say: You are incredible.

This is what hell is
Absolute fucking ghouls

Cool art stuff

I got sent a lovely piece of Liberty Cap art by a customer, it’s like a 3-D painting, and it’s hand-made by KJ Creations! She does a lot of other cool stuff, and is open for commissions, so if you like what you see maybe hit her up and ask her to make you one!

I also had another amazing person do a portrait of one of my cats, and again, they’re open for commissions, so if you want an amazing pet portrait, have a look at Captain Bayley on Instagram.

I’m blown away by how talented people are, I guess mycology is probably quite an arty scene (lots of crossover with the art world at the very least). Thanks to everyone who’s helped me to make my house better decorated!

Midnight Cat!
Cool and awesome!

Anyway, take care of yourselves (and others if you’re able), and remember: don’t vote Tory.

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Stuff that’s occurring

Red Hot Blog Action

How’s it going? Hope everyone’s enjoying this brief preview of the future of the planet (spoilers: we’re fucked), it’s pretty warm, I hate sleeping in the heat and my missus doesn’t like the noise of a fan so I am currently running on “about to go fucking mental” 24/7. I called the kettle a “noisy bastard” earlier. Good times all round!

A few people have messaged and asked “will the heat cause any problems with the spores when they’re being posted?” – but don’t worry, it’s not a problem at all. Spores are essentially a suit of armour around the fragile living part inside, and they’re designed to protect against extremes in temperature. Being posted on a hot day won’t make a single bit of difference to the quality, so relax and have an ice lolly whilst you wait for your rad spores!

Feast Icecream - these are the best
These are the best ice-creams going and I will brook no discussion about it

Podcast when?

Still trying to find time to fit this in, and I went and took the microphone up to Chris Mycopunk’s house when I visited him at the start of July and left it there, so I’m waiting for him to post it all back to me.

However, if you want to have a look at what it might be like, me and Chris did an Instagram Live over on his page, so you can check out just how entertaining (or not) it would be to listen to us answer questions and chat shit to each other. If that sounds cool to you, click on this sentence and all of your dreams will come true. It was a hell of a laugh to produce, and it’s something we’re both keen to repeat, so I will endeavour to make it a regular thing.

Handsome gents doing handsome stuff
Handsome couple of devils right here

Price increase!

The financially astute amongst you will notice that prices have gone up a touch, to £13 a spore syringe, and £17 a print. I don’t particularly like raising prices, but every single part of my supply chain is now more expensive, from electricity, syringes, needles, luer lock caps, postage, packaging, fuck, even the parcel tape I use to seal the boxes is now more expensive. It’s just one of those things, I guess. There are a lot of separate expenses that come together to make an awesome spore syringe and get it into your hands!

Fucking Tories

It’s been entertaining watching the vultures peck at each other, but sadly no matter how it all shakes out, we’re still gonna end up with another shithouse Prime Minister. Might even end up with the billionaire who cut the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit, because we’re living in the most bizarre timeline.

I’m glad Boris Johnson is fucking off, because he adheres to the Trump Playbook of “I’ll do what I want” and that’s probably wrecked the country for a decade to come, but none of the rest of them are much better. All of them seem to be running on a platform of “cut taxes” and what we actually need is “more taxes on big business” because places like Tesco are reporting record profits well into the billions whilst paying their staff so little that their wages get subsidised by taxpayer’s money.

I don’t have a lot of faith in the Labour party in it’s current form to capitalise on the Conservatives failures, and ain’t that a shame? A half-competent opposition should be wiping the floor with this bunch of fucking failsons but nope.

Boris wants to hide in a fridge
If he was hiding in my fridge I would throw it in the sea

Anyway, have a nice weekend, don’t get heatstroke, and don’t vote Tory.

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How to make a still air box

How to make a still air box

“What’s a still air box, Mr. Orangutan?”, seems to be a common question amongst people who are a bit newer to the scene. A still air box (commonly referred to as a SAB because that’s how acronyms work) is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin.

It’s a box. With holes in for your arms. It helps to keep the air inside from moving so much. That’s it. There’s no magic here. For the love of God don’t go paying £50 for one of these with the holes pre-cut from any online supplier. I’m a big fan of mycology being something that can be done cheaply, because I believe it’s supposed to be for everyone, and this is part of that toolkit.

There’s no reason not to have a SAB if you’re getting into mycology – they’re cheap, you can use the box for other stuff when you’re not doing mycology, and it’ll up your success rates by roughly fifteen billion percent. Realistically, this is the minimum standard of equipment required. A flow hood would be better but is also about fifty times the cost, a cleanroom like in an electronics factory would be super cool but is about five thousand times the cost; for about £10/£20 and maybe half an hour of your time, you can make your life a lot easier.

To save you a bit of time reading this, you could just have a look on YouTube, where there are a “hole” (ho ho ho) lot of videos that’ll talk you through it.

It's a still air box!
Here is a picture of a box with holes in just in case you were struggling to visualise it

How does a still air box work, man?

It works because it’s a box, my dude. Thanks to the laws of reality, dust, yeast, trich spores, and all the other shit that floats about your house (and everybody’s house) can’t get through solid objects, like… bear with me here… a box.

You’ll want to use a see-through plastic box, because unless you’re either Neo or Superman, you aren’t gonna be able to see through anything else. Get your box. Buy a really big one because you’ll want as much space as possible inside to start preparing your microscopy slides. Stick it upside down on your table so that the lid is on the bottom. Boom, that’s your working area.

Now comes the bit that some people will try to justify charging you £50 for: Cut two holes in the box. Why two holes? Because presumably you have two arms. If you have one arm, cut one hole. If for some fuck-unknown reason you’ve got three arms, probably cut three holes. If you’ve got three nipples, then whoa, rad, but it won’t affect how many holes you need to cut.

A nice lady from Mars
See you at the party, Richter

How do I cut these holes?

It’s actually a good question. There’s loads of ways. If you are a fancy person who likes fancy things, you can heat up an empty metal cylinder of your choosing (think cake tin, empty catering-sized tin of beans, whatever), and then melt that through your plastic. Please don’t burn yourself because that would suck.

If you’re the kind of human that has loads of tools kicking about, get a holesaw bit for your manly-as-fuck drill, and cut a hole (or a series of holes) through your box. Top tip here that I’ve stolen from a comment on one of Mycopunks’ videos – run the drill backwards and the plastic won’t get all fucked up and snarly.

Failing all of this, you can do what I did, and mark a circle with a pen, then stab at the box wildly before using a pair of scissors to cut out the middle of a hole. You could probably also use a hot scalpel. Doing it this way might leave some rough edges and your box won’t look as nice, but it’ll still function in exactly the same way, so don’t sweat it. You can sand it down a bit, if you like.

The holes are still be a chance for contaminants to get in, so try and keep them to a size that’s comfortable for you to work with, but not any bigger than that. You wanna be able to get your arms in without scraping your skin cells all over your work though so don’t go too small.

Basically, it ain’t hard. If you’re able to successfully use a knife and fork on a daily basis, you can make a SAB.

Qui-Gon Jinn melting through a door
Qui-Gon Jinn Trying to prevent midichlorians from ruining everything. He failed.

Underlying principles of your SAB

Literally, the way this works is “it stops shit floating onto your work”. You can’t see the various contaminants in your environment, but there will be millions of them, all trying to take up space on your microscopy slides.

Don’t, whatever you do, try and fix gloves to your box, as if it’s some kind of glove box. Because your plastic box isn’t completely airtight and running at a negative pressure like a glove box would be, if you attach rubber gloves to it you are essentially just making yourself a nice set of Trich Bellows. Every time you pull your hands in and out, you’ll be forcibly pulling air in through any gaps in your box (like the lid), hugely increasing your chances of contamination. It’ll look fancy, sure, but it’s fucking mental.

You’re aiming for still air! You’ve cut your two hand holes, and that’s where your hands go. This way, you’re not interrupting or agitating the air inside, any drafts throughout your room can’t move the air inside much, and nothing can float down and land on your stuff. Perfecto! The air is relatively still!

This isn’t going to be 100% clean, because you’ve gone and cut two holes in it (hence me saying if you’ve got one arm, cut one hole), and that means there’s still a small chance that an errant bit of dust will swoop on in, but it will absolutely improve your success rates by a ridiculous degree.

Jesse Pinkman coulda handled it probably

Using your SAB

It’s mycology time! Shut all the doors and windows in your room, and wait ten or fifteen minutes. Read a book or something, I dunno. You’re trying to let any airborne contaminants in your room settle, so be patient, it’ll pay off. Put your box upside down on your table. Open it. Spray it/wipe it with 70% alcohol. Put all your stuff on top of the lid, then put the box on top. Brilliant!

Now wipe your arms down, put on gloves if you must, grab your syringe, and get to work preparing slides for your microscope.

Bear in mind that you’ve probably now got a lot of alcohol fumes inside this box, so don’t go using a lighter in there until those fumes are gone otherwise you’ve not only made a SAB, you’re essentially making a hilarious video for YouTube that will go on a highlight reel called “Amazing Mycology Fails”. Flames and alcohol don’t mix.

Hope this all helps, enjoy your new craft project, don’t vote Tory.

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Being a small business owner in the magic spores industry

Supporting small businesses is cool and good!

So before I started this up, I had no real idea how things would progress. It was a bit of a leap into the unknown, in terms of how busy it would be, and now look at me! I’m a small business owner in a very weird niche!

That comes with it’s own set of complications – having to do most things yourself does get a bit knackering. You get to be an accountant, website designer, social media manager, SEO optimiser, customer service provider, tea boy and about a million other things before you even finish a day’s work – unless you’re starting off with loads of cash (and I certainly wasn’t) then these are jobs you’ve gotta do yourself! Most of the time I really enjoy it – it gives me an outlet for my bizarre creative side, and also means I can throw money to charity on a regular basis and that’s something I find pretty fulfilling. Plus I’m helping people to get their hands on good quality microscopy supplies, and that is also something that’s important to me.

Anyway, I was sat down last night, doing some administrative busywork, and every order that came in left me smiling. None of them were massive orders or anything, but each one was nice. I remembered all those posts I’d seen on social media about how “when you buy from a small business, you’re making a real person smile” – I’d always thought that was probably a load of waffle, but it’s true! It absolutely balances out the hard parts (you wanna try putting labels on thousands of bags when you’ve got the attention span of a Jack Russell), and every order is genuinely really appreciated. I’m not a big faceless company, I’m one dude working as hard as he can to provide for his family, and you’re a part of that. You’re putting food in my kid’s bellies, and helping out the foodbank, so cheers, dudes! Stay awesome.

Keepin’ the baby Orangutans in Tequila

Dall-E Mini

There’s this new cool bit of AI I’ve been playing about with, called Dall-E Mini – basically, you just give the AI over at this website a prompt and it’ll draw you nine pictures of whatever you’ve asked for. Sometimes it’s amazing, sometimes it’s a bit off, but guaranteed, every single time, it’s utter nightmare fuel. It’s the kind of thing you remember after a particularly unsettling dream. I absolutely love it! Have a go on it and see what you can knock up – here’s some of my favourites, the captions are the prompts I used.

Bruce WIllis Smiling and Eating a Sausage
“Bruce Willis smiling and eating a sausage”
Boris Johnson staring out from the inside of a tent with blood around his mouth
“Boris Johnson staring out from the inside of a tent with blood around his mouth”
Adam Sandler juggling with human skulls
“Adam Sandler juggling with human skulls”

Is it art? Fuck yeah it’s art! Anyway, have a lovely week, all the best, don’t vote Tory!

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God Shave The Queen

It’s the goddamn Jubilee

Bonjour! It’s the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Literally the only real meaningful thing for me in all of this is that the Post Office is shut for a couple of days, so anything ordered from Tuesday the 31st of May after 5pm won’t be posted on Thursday or Friday as everything is closed, and all orders will be going out on Saturday the 4th of June. I’ll still be packing up all the orders, obviously, and probably using some of the time off the day job to fire out a load more spore syringes (likely Mazapatecs as I’m a bit low on those).

I’m not really a fan of the Royal Family to be honest, as I’m sure you would probably have guessed from my general vibe. I don’t really get what they’re for. They supposedly bring in a decent number of tourists who spend money (although even that is debatable), but then so does Alton Towers.

Personally, I just don’t fuckin’ get it, I guess. The country’s struggling, poor people are more fucked than ever, kids are going hungry, and you get wonderful moments like the picture below where some insanely rich product of inbreeding tells everyone that times are hard whilst parading the obscene levels of opulence that are utterly normalised to him.

Prince Charles, being rich
How many school dinners does just one of those goofy golden lions on the wall buy, Charles?

Mystic Meg time

I reckon that once the Queen finally sheds her human form and goes back to her home planet, the whole thing will come crashing down anyway mainly due to general apathy. People seem to quite like the Queen, but Charles? Fuckin’ Andrew?! I don’t know many people who give the first fuck about these chaps. William seemingly has all the personality and charisma of the half-empty, cigarette-butt-filled can of Carling you find the day after a teenager’s party, as opposed to his much cooler half-brother, Harry, who has had the good sense to distance himself from his nonce-enabling family and fuck off to America with his kids and wife. Even he was spotted back in the day wearing a Nazi uniform to a party though so he’s probably still not quite right in the head.

It’d be kinda cool if they’d actually, ya know, do something about the fact so many of “their subjects” have it so breathtakingly hard right now, but I suppose it’s probably funnier for them to watch it all from afar. If it turned out David Icke was right and they were all actually Lizard People, I wouldn’t actually be that surprised.

The Queen looking pretty gammy
The most challenging wank

The bit I find really weird

They could help. It’s “their” country. They’ve got the money, they’ve got influence. Instead they sit there and watch. Get in the bin.

Anyway, I’m going to have a BBQ and some cold ciders in the next few days, and hope that whatever you’re doing it’s nice and you enjoy it. All the best, don’t vote Tory.