Thursday, 31 August 2006

Last entry for today

I've been busy this afternoon with the lectures on the Faclan platform this afternoon, and afterwards I had a sit-down, reading papers, doing puzzles and generally taking it easy. I also bought a computer mag the other day, and I could barely make heads or tails of it.

Anyway, the main purpose of this entry is to help those who are blogging on the 2996 project on September 11th. Mandy at Unhappily Ever After has written a useful guide to dig out information on the person you are blogging about - click on the link of her journal's name, and you'll be taken to her entry.

Felt quite vindicated today that the CEO of the Western Isles Health Board jumped before he was pushed. He was allegedly - ach, wtf - he was central to the culture of bullying and harassment that had bloomed within the health service in these islands over the past 4-5 years. The local MSP [Member of Scottish Parliament] said he was pleased for the CEO's expertise to be retained for the NHS - as long as it wasn't in the Western Isles.

Well, I'll work through my alerts for tonight - no major news to report on the hurricane front - and close activities for today and this month. Tomorrow it'll be September, and summer is over.

Sleep well.

Tags: health board, faclan, book festival

TP'ing and other games

I read in Linda's blog about the tradition of toilet-papering a house in the States. That's relatively harmless, but of course as she points out, on a rainy day it can turn into a sodden mess.

I can tell that in continental Europe, anyone getting married is fair game too. Filling the nuptual bedroom with balloons is a nice one. Another one does cause quite a mess.

It involves placing a can of shaving foam in the freezer at -18C / 0 F overnight. For the ladies, shaving foam comes as a liquid under high pressure in a canister. The next morning, the happy couple toddle off to church. Meanwhile, the evil culprit peels the can off the cylinder of frozen foam and places said cylinder in the middle of the bedroom. By the time the wedding and the reception are over, it'll be well after midnight. The shaving foam will have filled the bedroom wall-to-wall with foam after it expands upon thawing.

I do not accept responsibility for the consequences of people following this information. Not all types of shaving foam are suitable, and serious injury and damage can result from puncturing an aerosol can.

Tags: practical joke,toilet papering, shaving foam


Ernesto is a tropical storm, with winds between force 8 and 11 on the Beaufort scale. Once it's inland over the Carolinas, the main concern will be the rainfall totals - the advisory states:

Rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches [100 to 200 mm] are possible from northeast South Carolina into the mid Atlantic states, and the southern and central Appalachians. Isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches [300 mm] through Saturday.

These amounts could cause life-threatening floods.


Hurricane John is heading northwest along the Mexican coast, bringing hurricane force winds to the coastline. The main concern is Cabo San Lucas and southern Baja California, which will be visited with 140 mph winds tomorrow. This morning's advisory states:

A hurricane warning is in effect along the Pacific coast of mainland Mexico from Lazaro Cardenas to San Blas and for the Islas Marias. Hurricane conditions are likely within the next 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property in these areas should already have been completed.

A hurricane warning is also in effect for the southern Baja Peninsula from La Pas southward on the east coast, and from Santa Fe southward on the west coast. Preparations to protect life and property in these areas should be rushed to completion.


Baja California has an English language website, which has a dedicated page with lots of information about Hurricane John and past hurricanes to affect the area.

Tags: hurricane,john,ernesto

Wednesday, 30 August 2006


God went to the Arabs and said, "I have Commandments for you  that will make your lives better."
The Arabs asked, "What are Commandments?"
And the Lord said, "They are rules for living."

"Can you give us an example?"
"Thou shall not kill."
"Not kill? We' re not interested."

God went to the Blacks and said, "I have Commandments."
The Blacks wanted an example, and the Lord said, "Honor thy Father and Mother."
"Father? We don't know who our fathers are. We're not interested."

Then He went to the Mexicans and said, "I have Commandments."
The Mexicans also wanted an example, and the Lord said "Thou shall not steal."
"Not steal? We're not interested."

Then He went to the French and said, "I have Commandments."
The French too wanted an example and the Lord said, "Thou shall not commit adultery."
"Not commit adultery? We're not interested."

Finally, He went to the Jews and said, "I have Commandments."

"Commandments?" they said, "How much are they?"
"They're free."
"We'll take 10."

There, that ought to offend just about everybody.
Tag: joke

Second call for support

Sorry folks for the flurry of alerts, but I'm working my way through today's emails and stuff.

Sunny [blazensun] in her journal I Shall Overcome has announced that she is to undergo surgery on 1 September, this Friday. Methinks she needs all the support she can get.

Call for support

I would like people to call in on Jan [Jan3145] who has posted an entry on her journal Journey with Pulmonary Fibrosis, which does not sound very hopeful.


I don't use a spell checker. Why? Read on...

Eye have a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight for it to say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew!

Tag: joke

Zen sarcasm

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.
2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.
3. It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.
4. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.
5. Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else.
6. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
7. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.
8. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in his or her shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
9. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
11. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
12. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
13. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.
14. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
15. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
16. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
17. Duct tape is like 'The Force'. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
18. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.
19. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.
20. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
21. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
22. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night

Tag: joke

Expressions for 2006

New Words/Phrases for 2006
apologies for some of the language, it is funny though

TESTICULATING. Waving your arms around and talking bollocks.

BLAMESTORMING. Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

SEAGULL MANAGER. A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

ASSMOSIS. The process by which people seem to absorb success and advancement by sucking up to the boss rather than working hard.

SALMON DAY. The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream, only to get screwed and die.

CUBE FARM. An office filled with cubicles.

PRAIRIE DOGGING (or MEERKATTING). When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see that's going on. (This also applies to applause for a promotion or birthday because there may be cake.)

SITCOMs Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What yuppies turn into, when they have children and one of them stops working, to stay home with the kids or start a "home business".

SINBAD. Single working girls. Single Income, No Boyfriend And Desperate.

STRESS PUPPY. A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE. The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device, to get it to work again.

ADMINISPHERE.  The rarified organisational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the "adminisphere" are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were
designed to solve. This is often affiliated with the dreaded "administrivia" - needless paperwork and processes.

404. Someone who's clueless. From the WWW error message "404 Not Found," meaning that the requested document could not be located.

OHNOSECOND. That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake (e.g. you've hit 'reply all' or 'delete

GOING FOR A McSHIT. Entering a fast-food restaurant with no intention of buying food, i.e. you're just going to the bog. If challenged by the obligatory pimply staff member, your declaration to them that you'll buy their foodafterwards is known as a 'McShit with Lies'.

AEROPLANE BLONDE. One who has bleached/dyed her hair but still has a 'black box'.

AUSSIE KISS. Similar to a French Kiss, but given down-under.

BEER COAT. The invisible but warm coat, worn when walking home after a booze cruise at 3am.

BEER COMPASS. The invisible device that ensures your safe arrival home after booze cruise, even though you're too drunk to remember where you live, how you got here, and where you've come from.

GREYHOUND. A very short skirt, only an inch from the hare.

MILLENNIUM DOMES. The contents of a Wonderbra, i.e. extremely impressive when viewed from the outside, but there's actually f**k all in there worth seeing.

MONKEY BATH. A bath so hot, that when lowering yourself in, you go :

MYSTERY BUS. The bus that arrives at the pub on Friday night, while you're in the toilet after your 10th.pint, and whisks away all the
unattractive people, so the pub is suddenly packed with 'stunners' when
you come back in.

MYSTERY TAXI. The taxi that arrives at your place on Saturday morning before you wake up, whisks away the 'stunner' you slept with, and leaves a '10-pinter' in your bed instead.

PICASSO BUM. A woman whose knickers are too small for her, so she looks like she's got four buttocks.

SALAD DODGER. An excellent phrase for an overweight person.

SWAMP DONKEY A deeply unattractive person.

TART FUEL. Bottled, pre-mixed spirits, regularly consumed by young women.


This is Scots Gaelic for Words. Today sees the opening of the Hebridean Book Festival here in Stornoway. It will take place in the cultural centre An Lanntair [The Lantern] on Kenneth Street. It is a celebration of the Hebridean written culture, whether it be poetry or prose, in English, Scots or Gaelic. A line-up of the famous and not-so-famous in the world of writers and poets will discuss various topics. A specially commissioned play will be performed, and bands will play music.

Apart from the formal sessions, An Lanntair hopes that it will also forge a new network amongst writers in this part of the world, sharing ideas and views, forming new friendships and hopefully augmenting the culture of the Hebrides.

I shall personally attend a handful of events and will endeavour to report back on this blog. Further info on the Faclan website.

Hurricane John

Although all the focus has been on Ernesto, I think we need to look at Mexico, which is going to be slammed by Hurricane John. Situated southwest of Acapulco, this system will track parallel to the Mexican coast, and the merest deviation east will bring the core over mainland Mexico. John is expected to carry maximum windspeeds of 120 kts, that is 135 mph. Therefore, I relay the following warnings and watches from the NHC.
Please relay

* A hurricane warning remains in effect along the west coast of Mexico from Lazaro Cardenas westward to La Fortuna. This means hurricane force winds are expected within 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. These warnings are likely to be extended westwards later today.

* A hurricane watch (hurricane force winds likely within 36 hours) is in force from Tecpan de Galeana to Lazaro Cardenas, and from La Fortuna to Cabo Corrientes.

* A tropical storm warning remains in effect from Punto Maldonado to Lazaro Cardenas. Tropical storm force winds are expected within 24 hours.

This is the forecast track from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii. The date and time code (e.g. 04/06Z means that the system will be at that position at 0600 GMT on September 04).


Ernesto is not going to be a problem in terms of high winds, although force 8 to 10 is bad enough. This tropical storm is going to dump 5 to 15 inches (125 to 375 mm) of rain on southern and central Florida - within 24 hours. Furthermore, after passing into the Atlantic over NE Florida, Ernesto might intensify to a category 1 hurricane before making landfall in the Carolinas. It will shed its tropical features and become a normal low pressure system, but the eastern USA can expect a couple of very wet and windy days.

John is turning into a major hurricane, with windspeeds of 125 mph southwest of Acapulco in Mexico. The system is going to batter the length of the Mexican coastline with at least tropical storm force winds (force 8 to 11), not to mention the rainfall. Baja California will get an unwelcome visitor on Friday.

Ioke, to complete the illustrious trio, is still around in the Western Pacific. It is going to hammer Wake Island late on Thursday (local time) with winds of 160 mph, gusting to 190 mph. It was forecast to weaken, but tropical hurricanes do what they like. Ioke seems to be making for Japan, but that's a long way off.

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

For Lexophiles / Wordlovers

With thanks to an on-line friend from Oregon

1. A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.
2. A will is a dead giveaway.
3. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

 4. A backward poet writes inverse.
5. In a democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your Count that votes.
6. A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.
7. If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.
8. With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.
9. Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I'll show you A-flat miner.
10. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
11. The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.
12. A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.
13. You are stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
14. Local Area Network in Australia : The LAN down under.
15. He broke into song because he couldn't find the key.
16. A calendar's days are numbered.
17. A lot of money is tainted: 'Taint yours, and 'taint mine.
18. A boiled egg is hard to beat.
19. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.
20. A plateau is a high form of flattery.
21. The short fortuneteller who escaped from prison: a small medium at large.
22. Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
23. When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.
24. If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.
25. When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye.
26. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.
27. Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.
28. Acupuncture: a jab well done.
29. Marathon runners with bad shoes suffer the agony of de feet.
Note: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced

Call for support

Kasey (Kasey's Quilt of Thoughts) has returned with a new entry. Please call round to give support, it's still not easy for her. Can someone in the US explain about the free AOL to her? She is talking about leaving AOL in mid-September, which would be a shame. Anyone?

Child abduction - update

The mother of the 12-year old schoolgirl Molly Campbell, who is feared abducted to Pakistan made an emotional appeal for her return today. Speaking at Stornoway today, Mrs Campbell said (click on link for video): 

"We are absolutely devastated by the events of the last few days and we are finding it very difficult to come to terms with what has happened.

"This has come completely out of the blue as Molly seemed to be enjoying life in the Western Isles since we moved here nine months ago.

"Molly is a very friendly, outgoing little girl who makes friends easily.

"When we arrived she went to Laxdale primary school and she settled in well. The children used to ask why she smiled all the time, but that is just the way she is."

"Everyone who meets her takes to her right away as she is very loveable.

"She is quite tomboyish and gets on as well with boys as she does with girls.

'Loves cuddles'

"She loves her bike and often went down to the beach here and brought us back shells and things.

"She loves cuddles and is a very warm child.

"Molly is a very chatty girl and getting her to go to bed was difficult as she would always want to talk away at bedtimes.

"She is a very intelligent girl and always did well at school. Molly said she wants to be a biologist or a lawyer when she grows up.

"When Molly started at the Nicolson Institute she loved it and made friends very quickly.

"She seemed to get on well with the teachers as well.

"I would like to say to Molly that we miss her so much and we beg her to come home to us.

'Huge gap'

"She has to know she is not in any trouble and we are not angry, we just want her home.

"I miss the fun and laughs we used to have when we went on the bus to go in to town shopping.

"We are saving up all her pocket money for her so she can spend it in town when she gets back.

"We would appeal to Molly's father, sister and family to make sure she returns to us as her absence has left a huge gap in our lives.

"If there is anyone who can provide police with any information about Molly's whereabouts or her movements since leaving Stornoway on Friday we would urge them to do so as soon as possible.

Ernesto - update 29/8














Monday 28/08/06

Fairly sunny morning and a few showers. The New Zealanders depart for Durness. Mrs B's brother in law comes in with a badly bruised and swollen knee, after tripping over a 4 inch step a few days ago. Maritime Buildings on the no 1 Pier is to be demolished. Go to the shop for a few items. Tonight's three guests arrive in quick succession. A lady is here for a course at the Castle College. A couple from London are here on their hols. The day ends nice and sunny.

Entry may seem short, but I have mentioned other things in separate postings.

Ernesto / John

Tropical Storm John is moving NW along the Mexican West Coast and tropical storm watches are in force along the Mexican coast from Lagunas de Chacahua to Lazaro Cardenas. These may need to be extended westwards. John is expected to reach upper category 2 status in 2-3 days' time with windspeeds of about 100 kts.

In relation to Tropical Storm Ernesto, tropical storm warnings are extended northward along the Florida East Coast to New Smyrna Beach. A tropical storm warning and hurricane watch are now in effect from New Smyrna Beach southward on the east coast including Lake Okeechobee, from Bonita Beach southward on the west coast and for all of the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas. A hurricane warning may be required for portions of South Florida and the Florida Keys later this morning. A tropical storm watch remains in effect from north of Bonita Beach to Englewood on the west coast.

Tropical storm warnings also apply for parts of the Bahamas and Cuba.

Ernesto will reach the Florida Keys this evening, although rainbands will cover the island chain during the afternoon. A second landfall will follow in the southern peninsula of Florida in 18 to 24 hours. Ernesto will reappear in the Atlantic off the northeastern coast of Florida before making a third landfall in the Carolinas. The system will then move north and become a major low pressure system over the Great Lakes.

Monday, 28 August 2006

J-land News

AOL J-land September Chat

The next J-land Chat will take place on Sunday, September 17th, 2006 at 8pm British Summer Time. This equates to:

3pm EST
2pm CST
1pm MST
12noon PST

The chat will take place in theJournals Cafe and last for 2 hours, but can overrun at liberty.

I need a volunteer to host the chat. Now that I am on the subject of volunteers, can I also have a volunteer to act in my stead, should the need arise.

A reminder that the room is always open and the path is free to walk. If groups of J-landers wish to meet in there, please feel free to use the room. I suggest you Favourite its location.


A reminder for participants in the 2996 project that you should publish the entry on your person on September 11th. Only 103 more names need to be allocated. If you aren't already taking part, please feel free to call in on the site
In case you're not aware, a memorial quilt was made for each victim, and they are more than happy to send you a copy of the quilt made for your person. Drop me a line for more details.

Feedback on both issues welcome

Ernesto and John

Tropical Storm ERNESTO has been considerably weakened by its passage over Cuba, but is shortly expected to reemerge over the waters of the Florida Straits. Although it cannot be ruled out that the system will reach hurricane strength within 36 hours, the most likely scenario remains that Ernesto will pass over Florida as a tropical storm. Hurricane watches remain in force though.

Tropical Storm JOHN meanwhile has formed in the Eastern Pacific and will intensify to a category 2 hurricane by the time it reaches the waters off Baja California.

Child abduction from Stornoway

Police in Stornoway are appealing for information regarding a 12-year old girl, who may have been taken out of the United Kingdom. She was last seen in the grounds of the Nicolson Institute, the local high school / secondary school in Lewis at 10.50 am on Friday. She was met at the schoolgates by her older sister, who then took her on a flight to Glasgow, and an onward connecting flight to Lahore, Pakistan, via Dubai.

Molly Campbell is in the legal custody of her mother, but last met her father on Thursday. She could now be with her father in Lahore or with relatives in Karachi.

Further details in this article on BBC-i Scotland.

Katrina - 29th August 2005

I am just putting in pictures from the Katrina Memorial at Biloxi MS, following my outburst in previous post. The pictures originate from the NOAA website Katrina - Impact Assessment.


That name will forever haunt the residents of New Orleans - particularly at this time in August. Today is the first anniversary of the natural disaster visited upon the Big Easy, in the shape of Hurricane Katrina. After battering the Gulf Coast with winds in excess of 125 mph, Katrina breached the levees (flood barriers protecting New Orleans from the sea and the Mississippi River). The results  are only too well known. Large parts of the city disappeared under many feet of water, about 1,500 are known to have died. Only 200,000 of New Orleans' population have returned.

What appalled me this morning was the report carried on BBC Radio 4 that even now, dead bodies are still being found. Little of the mess has been cleared up, or new houses built. Recently re-elected Mayor Nagin said people could return to rebuild their homes on the original sites.

I am wondering though. The levees were breached, and images at the time showed them to be a pretty makeshift, tumbledown affair. I'm not aware that anything new has been built that is able to withstand wind and water better than what was there before. I am probably going to offend my American readers here, but I think it's a crashing disgrace that the most powerful nation on earth is not able to build proper flood defenses. Have a look at Venice, have a look at London, have a look at The Netherlands. Plenty of expertise around. Money shouldn't be an object. Or is it? Only now, one whole year on, does President Bush have the moral courage to admit that the disaster management structure in his country is a shambles. Has anything been done to improve it?

I am through conviction favourably inclined towards the good ole US of A. I experienced a feeling of severe let-down a year ago, when absolutely NOTHING happened for three days in the aftermath of Katrina. And what was being done was haphazard and piecemeal. For goodness' sakes, the US government puts itself forward as the world's troubleshooter (arguable distinction). But I think they'd better turn round and see what their own backyard looks like, and clean that up. It's not pretty, guys.

Outdoor casualties

The Coastguard helicopter based at Stornoway was put through its paces this weekend, with two rescue missions on the one day. First, a lady had to be airlifted from the Quiraing in northern Skye [50 miles south of Stornoway] after she had fallen 100 ft / 30 m and had sustained severe head injuries. The Quiraing is a series of large rockformations, formed by a layer of hard rock sliding off a softer layer further down. Over many thousands of years, this has left a crazy landscape of pinnacles of rock, which are a rock scrambler's or climber's paradise. You can also traverse it on foot, which I've done myself in October 2004. You need sure footing and a good deal of caution. This accident happened in a formation called The Prison (the derivation of the name is unknown), infamous for just this sort of accidents. The casualty was transferred to hospital in Broadford, 40 miles to the south.

Below picture shows The Prison - it is copyright Steven Russell

The second incident involved an elderly walker in the Lochaber district of mainland Scotland. He was travelling on foot from Lochailort towards Arisaig on the coast when he became unwell. The helicopter also airlifted him to hospital in Broadford, Isle of Skye, which is geographically speaking closest to the site of the incident.

Sunday 27/08/06

Have breakfast latish, then watch BBC Countryfile. Mrs B gets a visit from her son, who lives up the road. A new memorial is to be built in Glen Nevis, to replace the ones that are to be removed from the summit of nearby Ben Nevis. Weather today is fairly bright with a few light showers. People in the States are getting worried over Ernesto, which is battering Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The worst problem is the rainfall, with totals between 4 and 20 inches [100 and 500 mm] in one day. London's annual rainfall total is 16 inches [800 mm]. Supper tonight is spag bol. At 7pm, a family from New Zealand call in to enquire for vacancies, which mrs B does have. As soon as she's got the room ready, that is. So, off they go to a restaurant and return at 8.30. They have to return to said restaurant to retrieve a wallet that was left behind. I go out at 8.30 for a short walk to the Coastguard Station, just up the road, but it's cold tonight. When I go to bed, the bathroom has been turned into an extension to the guests' bedrooms - no, we don't have en-suite! So, mrs B comes in to clear a path for me to reach the washbasin and the loo. Dear me.

Saturday 26/08/06

My emergence from bed usually occurs in the second half of the morning these days. Bit on the late side, but my appearance into bed isn't usually on the same day as the emergence from said bed. It's one of those non-descript weather days, with a very fine drizzle and occasional glimpses of the sun. See pics above. The German cyclists head off for Ullapoo. They intend to cycle all the way from Ullapool to Glasgow. That's 210 miles [330 km] in 5 days. I wish them luck. A Swiss chap, now resident of London, turns up to stay after travelling north from Barra. He flies out tomorrow. Go into town later in the afternoon, but have to trawl three shops for the papers. Dinner is a microwaveable meal, with peaches and icecream after. No luck with the lottery. Night falls at 8.45pm. Keeping an eye on two hurricanes, Ioke in the Pacific and Ernesto in the Caribbean. Ioke remains category 5, Ernesto might do something nasty in the southern States.

Ernesto - update 28/8

Local hurricane statement for Miami, Florida -
Also read

Issued at 6.00AM EDT

Miami is subject to a hurricane watch, which means that hurricane force winds are likely within 36 hours.

Residents are advised to check stores of non perishable food, water, flashlights, batteries, gasoline for generators. A battery powered NOAA weather radio is a necessity. Residents should put their preparedness plans into action if the watches are upgraded to warnings today. Please keep updated.

Local hurricane statement for Key West, FL -

Issued at 5.30AM EDT

The Monroe County emergency operations center will be activated as of 6 am today. A mandatory evacuation has been ordered of all visitors and non-residents. Travel trailers and recreational vehicles should leave the Keys immediately. The evacuation of special-needs patients is to begin to the shelter at Florida International University at 6 am today. The shelter at FIU will open at 10 am - follow the signs. Mobile home and boat dwellers, as well as residents in low-lying areas prone to flooding are encouraged to utilize hurricane shelters - those in the Keys will open at 10 am. Keys shelters include Key West High School at 2100 Flagler Ave, Sugarloaf Elementary School at Mile Marker 19, Stanley Switlik Elementary School at 3400 Overseas Highway in Marathon and Coral Shores High School at Mile Marker 89 on Plantation Key. Key West Airport will continue operations through Monday night. All county and state parks are closed. Monroe County schools are closed until further notice. Those seeking shelter on the mainland should be aware that a hurricane watch is in effect from Chokoloskee FL to Deerfield Beach FL.


Not what you thought, eh?

Two voices; male and female; seated on a plane
"I think everyone's asleep; lets go"

Sound of steps.

"This one's empty ... no one's looking ... you go in first"

"It a bit cramped - let me sit down"

"Have you got the condom?

"Quick, put it on"

  Sniff sniff

 "Ah perfume - you think of everything"

 "This is great....." (long sigh)

 Static on the loud speaker then a new voice.

"This is the captain speaking to those two people in the rear toilet.
We know what you're doing and it is expressly forbidden by airline regulations.
Now put those cigarettes out and take the condom off the smoke detector!"

Sunday, 27 August 2006


Why do I report on the tropical cyclone situation, and relay advisories from the National Hurricane Center?

I have noticed that the dissemination of this kind of information within the US is unfortunately woefully inadequate. Several readers of my blog commented at the time of earlier tropical storms that they were not aware of them, or of the advisories issued by the NHC.

I am not in a position to comment - but I'll go so far as to say that the response by US and State government to Hurricane Katrina spoke for itself.

I have therefore taken it on myself to do my little bit from 3000 miles away to inform. If you know anybody in the areas I mention, could you please point them to the NHC website, or tell them what they say?

Ernesto: Mandatory evacuation ordered

The mandatory evacuation has been ordered for visitors and non-residents as of 1pm EDT today (i.e. with immediate effect) of the Florida Keys of Monroe County, including the Dry Tortugas.

Tropical storm and hurricane force winds are expected from late Monday, but travel conditions are safe until then.

A local state of emergency has been declared by Monroe County at noon today. The emergency operations center will be activated at level one at 6 am Monday. All county and state parks are encouraged to close this afternoon. At 6 am Monday, an evacuation for all special needs residents will go into effect. At 10 am Monday, an evacuations for all mobile home residents will go in effect. Tolls are being lifted on Card Sound Road this afternoon. The Monroe County shelters will open at 10 am Monday.

Please pass word round to people who may not be aware


I think I have blogged about this subject before, earlier in the year. I feel very strongly about tolerance in society, particularly towards what is referred to ethnic minorities.

I should start to say that I abhor discrimination of any kind. Both negative and positive discrimination. Negative discrimination means that people are deprived of certain rights or things because of the colour of their skin, their culture, their ethnic provenance, sexuality, you name it. Positive discrimination means that people are given preferential treatment precisely because of a characteristic.

We all came into the world with nothing, and we're all going to leave it with nothing. Underneath the skin, we're all the same, more or less. It is therefore unacceptable to discriminate. If people are to be judged, it should be on merit. Not on the colour of their skin. Their sexuality. The fact that they are from any certain country - or not.
I feel so strongly about this, because of what happened in the 1930s and early 1940s in Europe. Six million people were killed because they professed to be Jews. Initially, their lives were made impossible, then they were segregated into ghettos and finally carted off to concentration camps to be murdered on an industrial scale.

In recent years, large numbers of people have migrated to Western Europe and other so-called western countries, in search of affluence. Others came because their life was not safe in their home country. Since 2004, thousands of people have come to the UK from (e.g.) Poland to work. 97% of those people hold down a full time job.
Complaints are often heard that those people are taken jobs from indigenous people. I have seen at first hand a situation that the jobs were not applied for by local people, and that Eastern European workers had to be drafted in to do the job. I do think there is a problem if people come to Europe just to syphon off benefits and not work.

Since the horrendous events of 9/11, which we will be commemorating in 15 days' time, a backlash against people of the Muslim faith has occurred. A few weeks ago, a major security scare in the UK led to a strong tightening of security at airports. People were picked out for extra checks, purely on account of the fact that they looked Middle Eastern. The word "profiling" was introduced, to indicate that only certain suspect segments of society would be targeted for extra checks. Methinks that any terrorist organisation who grows wise to the criteria, will look for its recruits outside any such groups, although that might be a little complicated. However, the events of 9/11 and 7/7 have shown that it only takes a handful of brainwashed idiots to commit mass murder.

Tolerance to all sections of society is particularly important at a time like this, when one group is being singled out. This could have precisely the opposite effect of driving those groups into the arms of terrorists. It should be about dialogue, mutual engagement and respect, listening to and addressing problems that exist. Only in such an environment can extremists be defeated.

Concerns are being voiced that expressions of national pride are being suppressed, for fear of offending those that come from other faiths and cultures. Those concerns are being used to alienate minorities, implicitly accusing them of diluting national symbols.
Anyone who has had a glance at biology knows that inbreeding leads to a weakening of a species and of a society. An infusion of other cultures leads to a broadening of minds - as long as those minds are open to embrace something else.


Betty, in her journal My Day My Interests describes the frantic interest that can be generated by a rare bird; in her case, a Western Reef Heron over in New Hampshire. The majority of people that come after rare birds are referred to as twitchers in the UK. Here in the Western Isles, we are right on the migratory routes for birds travelling south in autumn out of Iceland and Greenland towards Africa, and in reverse direction in spring.

We also have birds that get blown across the Atlantic in the stormy season, autumn and winter. If it's really unusual, we get them by the planeload. I am serious: groups of amateur or professional ornithologists charter a plane between themselves, drop everything even if it's 4 in the morning, to hare off to a distant corner of the land to see that particular bird.

Now, I did mention the word ornithologist. This is someone that knows all there is to know about birds. Twitchers are, with all respect, people who want to tick off a list of "must have seen" birds and are prepared to go to the length described above.

Earlier in the year, though, bird watching took a rather more tragic turn with the discovery of avian flu in Western Europe. Have not heard much more about it since the spring, but back in March a swan was found dead in a harbour in Eastern Scotland. A government spokesman described what happened to the unfortunate creature as follows:

"This swan was flying across the North Sea when it began to feel crap. As it neared the Scottish coast it was feeling worse and worse, and when it finally reached Scotland it died pretty soon afterwards."

Right. We were concerned about bird flu, because it could mutate into a virus that is contagious to humans. Therefore, if you start to feel crap, consult a doctor immediately, as you may be about to die. OK, I'm having a laugh here. It is hardly scientific to describe symptoms as above. Fortunately, that panic seems to have died down, and I have not heard anything about birdflu for months now.


Reposted the Ernesto entry because of formatting problems.

Hurricane Ernesto has made a few changes to his programme and is now veering further north. At time of writing, heavy rain and flooding are occurring over Hispaniola [Haiti and Dominican Republic] and Jamaica will lie on its southern flank. Ernesto will pass diagonally over Cuba to end up over the Florida Keys and / or mainland Florida in four days from now. Because of the length of time before Florida is threatened, there is a large degree of uncertainty on path and strength. If you are concerned: monitor the updates issued through the NHC. I summarize in my Tropical Cyclones blog; you can sign up for emailed updates from the Hurricane Center through their website, or (like I have) get RSS-feeds on the latest advisories.

Blonde's Cookbook

It's fun to cook for Tom. Today I made angel food cake. The recipe said beat 12 eggs separately. The neighbors were nice enough to loan me some extra bowls.
Tom wanted fruit salad for supper. The recipe said serve without dressing. So, I didn't dress. What a surprise when Tom brought a friend home for supper.
A good day for rice. The recipe said wash thoroughly before steaming the rice. It seemed kind of silly, but I took a bath anyway. I can't say it improved the rice any.
Today Tom asked for salad again. I tried a new recipe. It said prepare ingredients, lay on a bed of lettuce one hour before serving. Tom asked me why I was rolling around in the garden.
I found an easy recipe for cookies. It said, put the ingredients in a bowl and beat it. There must have been something wrong with this recipe. When I got back, everything was the same as when I left.
Tom did the shopping today and brought home a chicken. He asked me to dress it for Sunday. For some reason, Tom keeps counting to ten.
Tom's folks came to dinner. I wanted to serve roast, but all I had was hamburger. Suddenly, I had a flash of genius. I put the hamburger in the oven and set the controls for roast. It still came out hamburger, much
to my disappointment.
Well, good night, dear diary. This has been a very exciting week. I am eager for tomorrow to come, so I can try out a new recipe on Tom. If I can  talk Tom into buying a bigger oven, I would like to surprise him with chocolate moose.

Saturday, 26 August 2006

Salutary warning?

THE young daughter of a Californian woman embroiled in an internet love scandal wants her "mommy" to come home.

Karen Anderson, 30, left her two-year-old toddler Amanda in the US a month ago to move to Perth and live with her schoolboy lover James Barry, 16. They met on the web. Friends and family of Ms Anderson said the romance was bizarre and she should put her young daughter first and return to the US.

Laura Hinkle, a close friend of Ms Anderson's for a decade, was disgusted that her friend had pursued the WA teen and left her daughter. Ms Hinkle, who has two young sons, said she loved Ms Anderson dearly but could not condone her actions.

"I would like to plead with Karen to just come home - be with your daughter,'' Ms Hinkle, 30, said. "No person could ever love you the way your child does. Amanda knows that her mommy is gone and she misses Karen desperately and wants her to come home. "I love Karen to death . . . she has a great heart, but there has got to be something wrong with her to do this.''

Ms Hinkle, whose emails begging Ms Anderson to return to her child have gone answered, said she is also concerned about James's welfare. She said her friend was stripping him of his "teenage innocence''. "This whole `love' thing with James will pass and, for his parents' sake, she needs to be the adult and let this go, before his youth is completely gone,'' she said. "She has been around the block way too many times and he hasn't even made it halfway yet. "I don't care how `in love' he thinks he is, he's only 16. She is taking this boy's youth away from him. "If some 30-year-old woman wanted to be with my little boy, I would be out for blood. I really feel for his mother.''

Friends of Ms Anderson, who worked as a dancer before she became pregnant and who was seven years younger than James's mother Sue, confirmed that her relationship with James was not her first internet love affair. She had a relationship with a man in Las Vegas who she had met on the web, but later dumped. Ms Anderson, who last week told The Sunday Times she was planning to marry James, is still legally married to Colin Anderson, the father of Amanda. The couple married when she was 21, but separated about two years ago. Mr Anderson has been caring for their daughter since Ms Anderson left for Australia four weeks ago. A family member said Mr Anderson, 37, did not want to comment on the affair because he did not want to anger his estranged wife or lose his beloved daughter.

On his MySpace website, Mr Anderson said his daughter was his "pride and joy''. Ms Anderson plans to leave Australia at the end of October if she cannot get a working visa. In the meantime, she would miss her daughter's third birthday in two weeks' time.

Ms Anderson has applied for a working visa so she can stay with her young lover and work as a hairdresser in WA. If it is not granted, she would have to leave the country before her holiday visa expires on October 30. One of Ms Anderson's relatives, who did not want to be named, said the family was worried about her plans to bring Amanda to Australia permanently. "This really is a no-win situation for all parties, except Karen. It is selfish and not the actions of a mature mother,'' he said. "We don't want to see Amanda move all the way across the world, based on a relationship that is five months old and is probably going to implode.

"I see young James as a typical teenager - horny and wanting to know what it's like to play grown-up. "It's a lot different when you're taking care of a child that isn't yours, knowing that the person you are with has had numerous relationships and you've had just the one and that's all you're ever going to have. "I would compare Karen to a drug. James is experimenting and, hopefully, he won't like what happens after the high wears off.'' He said the internet had taken control of Ms Anderson's life over the past year. "She would be playing stupid games all through the night and then sleep all day. Where does a child fit into this?,'' he said. "We just hope that this has a good resolution.''

And what do I find on the Australian news web page featuring this sad story?
Yes, you're seeing that correctly. An advertisement for on-line dating. Eughhh.

Friday 25/08/06

Sunless and cool today. Mrs B's nephew once again calls round to offer his aunt a ride to the shops. The Arnish Fabrication Yard is set to close next week - bad news. The Dennis Head Lighthouse wins the Scottish heats of the BBC show Restoration Village. This means it'll be in the final, vying for £1.7m of Heritage Lottery funding for restauration. The 60 residents of North Ronaldsay [Orkney] are very happy. The SFPA boat Norna leaves port. It's getting busy on the tropical hurricane front. I'm in awe of Ioke in the Pacific; Debby may yet come to haunt us next week. Go to town for a number of errands. The museum has lost my copy of "Men of the Iolaire" (see my entry Iolaire), which I'm not happy with at all. Sloppy. Anyway, the on-line version is still pulling the interested, just this morning I had someone emailing me with a query. Bought a card for John [Krissy's other half] and sent it off to the US. Went to An Lanntair [the arts centre] to buy a raft of tickets for next week's Hebridean Bookfestival - watch this blog. Mrs B provides a very nice dinner, a cold salad with hams and coleslaw. Very filling. A young German couple come to find a bed for the night. They have cycled far and wide today, and even managed to get lost in Lewis - which is singularly difficult to do. Particularly if the only thing you have to do is follow the main road, all 37 miles of it, from Tarbert to Stornoway.

Thursday 24/08/06

Today dawned fairly bright, but the showers arrive after lunch. Mrs B's nephew calls in for a cuppa, and he hangs on for some sausage rolls. Mrs B and I head off on the bus, this time to Ballantrushal, some 14 miles north of Stornoway. This small hamlet boasts of the largest monolith in the Western Isles, standing some 19 ft / 5.7 m tall. In legend it was once a man, who was turned to stone. A passer-by once heard it proclaim in sepulchral tones:

A Truisealach am I after the Fiann
Long is my journey behind the others
My elbow points towards the West
And I am embedded to my oxters

Its closest neighbours to the south, at Callanish, never spoke, but are locally referred to as the Deceitful Men.

We arrive at Ballantrushal [Baile an Truseil] at 2.55, in slight rain. A man is hammering fenceposts into the ground with a mallet. A house stands alone, delapidated and obviously derelict. Many houses in this part of Lewis have a blackhouse standing nearby, where people used to live until the 1950s. Ballantrushal stands on the northern slope of the moor, running down to a small river just below Shader, the next village. The hill of Muirneag frowns over it from 6 miles to the east. We amble to the Stone and shelter in its shadow as a shower passes. Having a look round for a minute, then continue down to the shoreline, 400 yards away. Pity about the wrecked cars along the way. The weather clears, but the frontal passage leaves showers behind. Slow return to the main road. Chat to the man at work and wait in the busshelter for the 4.16 bus, which is 5 minutes late. It takes schoolkids back to Stornoway from Lionel School, 11 miles to the north. Hazy views over the West Side to Old Hill, 15 miles to the west. Return to SY at 16.45, only to find half the shops shut with the communion holidays. Wasn't aware of that, but do manage to get the papers in. The papershop still had yesterday's paper on the shelves, something I don't spot until it's too late. Naughty. Supper consists of rice, canned chili con carne and canned sliced peaches. Nice though.


Ok, revamped the chatlog through Word, uploaded the HTM-file to Bravehost, as AOL Hometown doesn't allow files larger than 500 kB. This one is 2.8MB, note of warning. As it's Bravehost-based, you get some ads and a pop-up. Sorry about that.

Anyway, it is now legible, and I've put all the screenies in bold. As I processed this through a Word-macro, a couple of hyperlinks also got their http: bit in bold, but it's about 99% OK. I hope you can now sit back and laugh again.

It was a great night, the best I've had on AOL in more than 2 years.

The Morning-After Pill

Natalie [Lurkynat] who writes the Interface blog in J-land did a piece on the morning-after pill which will become freely available in the States. She asked me to write a little more about it. If you read the entry, you'll also find some good comments from blogger Danielle89061 and from lv2trnscrb. I think I'll pull the strands together on this one - if you look at my screenie you'll see why I'm more than ordinarily interested.

The morning after pill is given to women within 24 hours of unprotected intercourse. One pill is taken immediately, the second exactly 12 hours later. If conception has taken place, the pill will prevent the fertilised egg from nestling in the lining of the womb.
The pill has some serious side-effects. Because it's a high dose of the female hormone progesterone, it causes nausea and vomiting. It also disrupts the menstrual cycle.

A number of considerations come into play when this pill is given over-the-counter. In the UK, it is only handed out from pharmacies. You can't buy it in a supermarket. The pharmacist is trained to ascertain whether it is appropriate for the woman asking for the pill to have it in the first place. I am unfamiliar with the US regulations.

As the pill is intended to stop the fertilised egg from developing further, it is argued that you are terminating a pregnancy, even if it's less than 24 hours old. There are people who are opposed to abortion, at any stage of pregnancy and who are therefore unhappy to see the availability of this pill widened.

Others will make the point that it will be seen as an excuse for having unprotected sex, not wearing a condom, not go on the anti-conceptive pill or use another method of contraception. Apart from the fact that this is an emergency measure, it also does nothing to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted disease.

I am broadly in favour of having the pill available without a prescription, using the regime that has been in place in the UK for a few years now. Accidents happen, worse than that, so does rape. Over and above that, it is argued that it should not be given to children. In the UK, there is a large problem with teenage pregnancies (under 16), and education should also be improved. There is a long way to go with this yet.


I'm using an external ISP, so my problems with AOL are less frequent than with others. In one of the comments to yesterday's entries, I was pointed to a positively hilarious page, full of AOHell material. I've taken the liberty of snagging the images. With thanks to


Ioke - update

This impressive hurricane is still roaring around the Central Pacific, and will cross the dateline early on Sunday GMT. The only land that is threatened at present is Wake Island. Ioke has weakened a little on putting its eye through the wash, but will regain category 5 status shortly. The system will be breaking the world record for the longevity of a category 4 or greater hurricane.

Like Johnston Atoll a few days ago, Wake Island has little to show for itself, but quite a bit of history from World War II. The flag above is the unofficial one for the island, on which only 200 contractors live. Food and supplies all have to be flown in.

Ernesto - update

Ernesto is currently heading for Jamaica as a tropical storm, with winds of 40 kts, severe gale force. It is not entirely certain, but Ernesto looks set to pass over western Cuba, intensifying all the way to a category 3 hurricane by Wednesday. This brings large margins of error, but the general message is: watch this one.

This is your link if you're concerned:

Pass this round to people on the Gulf Coast - the NHC is the only reliable source of information at this time.


Got some feedback from Donna about the chatlog, it didn't immediately ring a bell. Until I checked it out. Oh dearie me - sorry about that.

When you take a chatlog (everybody can do that in a chatroom or in an IM), the endresult is a straightforward ASCII file, without any mark-up.
And I, quite innocently, thought I could just plonk it on the web and it would come out smelling of roses, all the lines so neatly underneath each other.


Everything's morphed into each other, all the linefeeds have taken a vacation and it's illegible. Sorry folks - this weekend, I'll grapple with the 11,500 lines and make them readable.

In other words, I felt like this

Cat Community Cat Show

There is also still time to submit entries to the Community Catshow, link below. Deadline is August 31st. Come on, J-land is mewling with catlovers!

Journal Tournament

Kellen [love2sing2007] has advised us that Journals Tournament III is about to commence on August 27th. Check out her special journal for details. Sounds like fun!

Special Journal for John & Krissy

As Krissy only has limited internet access time at John's hospital, Tammy has set up a dedicated journal, in which messages can be posted to John and Krissy. Call in at or send an email to Tammy at for a message to be included.

Please pass the word round.


Advice on Seal Strandings


Following recent seal strandings in the Yarmouth area which resulted in multiple 999 calls from well meaning members of the public, the Coastguard are advising on how best to deal with mammals.

If you find a live seal, watch it FROM A DISTANCE. Do not approach the animal.

Seals regularly haul out on our coasts - it is part of their normal behaviour. Therefore, finding a seal on the beach does not mean there is necessarily a problem. A healthy seal should be left well alone.

However, if there is a problem, there are a number of things coastal visitors may wish to know first:

•Abandoned? If you see a seal with a white, long-haired coat in the winter, or you see a small seal (less than 3 feet in length) alone between June and August, then it is probably still suckling from its mother. Check the sea regularly for any sign of an adult seal.

•Thin? Signs of malnutrition include visible neck and perhaps a rather baggy, wrinkled skin.

•Sick? Signs of ill health include : coughing, sneezing or noisy, rapid breathing and possibly thick mucus coming from the nose, wounds or swellings, particularly on the flippers, and possibly favouring one flipper when moving (although remember that healthy seals will often lie and hunch along on their sides) cloudy eyes, or thick mucus around them, or possibly one eye kept closed most of the time, a seal showing little response to any disturbance going on around it (although remember they could be soundly asleep)

For any member of the public who may see a seal which appears to be abandoned (if mother does not return within 24 hours), thin or ill, rather than call the emergency services, please ring (for advice and assistance)

•BDMLR hotline : 01825 765546.
•RSPCA hotline : 0870 5555999

You will receive further advice over the phone. If there is a problem with the animal, there are some important things you can do to help:

1.Provide information. Give thehotline an accurate description of the seal, its exact location (including position on the beach), how long the seal has been observed and any signs of injury. If at all possible, stay on the beach to guide the rescue team to the animal. This can save valuable and perhaps critical time. If you have a mobile, give the number to the hotline.

2.Control disturbance. Stop other people and their animals from approaching the seal, because - if it is a seal pup that is still suckling, then approaching the pup could threaten the mother-pup bond and the pup may be abandoned. Seals will react if approached too closely and are capable of inflicting a nasty bite - even the smallest pup can cause serious injury and this is even more of a risk with adults.

3.Prevent small seals from being disturbed and forced into the sea. Stand between a pup and the sea and, if necessary, use a board or similar object to restrain it. Under no circumstances, attempt this with adult seals, as you could leave yourself open to injury. You should avoid handling a seal pup at all costs, for the same reason. Under no circumstances allow anybody to push the seal back in the sea. A pup still suckling is a poor swimmer and an older animal may be hauled out for good reason.

Friday, 25 August 2006


Just a quick refocus on the tropical cyclone issue. There was talk of tropical storm Debby; well, she's coming to haunt us up here in the UK as a low pressure centre. We're really looking forward to that late next week. Not.

For those monitoring hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, please keep an eye on Ernesto. This is a tropical storm, which will pass over southwestern Haiti and Jamaica, and once in the Gulf of Mexico may intensify into a hurricane.

Stay safe.

What does your name mean?

This is me.


G - Gives unconditionally.

U - Understands you

I - Invites you over

D - Doesn't give up on you.

O - Offers support.


What about you?


A - Accepts you as you are.

B - Believes in you.

C - Calls you just to say "Hello".

D - Doesn't give up on you.

E - Envisions the whole of you, even the unfinished parts.

F - Forgives your mistakes.

G - Gives unconditionally,

H - Helps you.

I - Invites you over.

J - Just likes being with you.

K - Keeps your secrets.

L - Likes you for who you are.

M - Makes a difference in your life.

N - Never judges you.

O - Offers support.

P - Picks you up when you are down.

Q - Quiets your fears.

R - Raises your spirit.

S - Says nice things about you.

T - Trusts you.

U - Understands you.

V - Values you.

W - Welcomes you.

X - Xplains things you don't understand.

Y - Yells when you don't listen.

Z - Zaps you back to reality.