Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Vitamin supplements

The debate around taking vitamin and mineral supplements took another turn today with the publication, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, of a study into the benefits or otherwise of these things.

They suggest that taking vitamins A, C and E could actually hasten your demise, rather than delay it. I'd need to read the JAMA study myself before committing myself either way, but it's my considered opinion that someone on a healthy, varied diet does not need to take supplements. The BBC carried this on their website.

Morsgail in spring

Tomorrow is 1st March, which for meteorologists heralds the start of spring. I have already had plenty of reports of young lambs - not in this island though, not until after March 20th - and I've also noticed gorse in bloom since the beginning of February.

It's decidedly raw today, with a temperature of 6C and a strong wind, which is set to increase to galeforce tonight. March is coming in like a lion this year. Nonetheless, I couldn't wait to replace my winter image (thanks Donna) with a more springlike picture in my sidebar. If you go right down, you'll find the photograph pictured left. I took it in May 2005 on the Morsgail estate in western Lewis.

Morsgail is not the most enticing of places to go to in the island. For a start, it's a sporting estate and although it no longer discourages walkers, you're asked politely not to hinder the workings of fisherman and deerstalkers. Apart from that, its central portion is flat and supremely boggy. If you go through the entry, linked to above, you'll see two reasons why people do want to go there. An old beehive-dwelling, thought to go back 2,100 years can be found a few miles south of Morsgail Lodge. And it provides a long distance link to Harris, a day's march away beyond Kinloch Resort. I visited this location on that day 2 years back, and it is one of those lonely places. It wasn't always like that.
Until the Second World War, a number of tiny hamlets dotted the moors, such as Crola, Ardbeg, Ardmor and Hamnaway, to the west of Kinloch Resort. Children would go to school at Loch Croistean, some 5 miles north of Morsgail on the main road into the district of Uig. They would walk in, or stay with people closer to the school building.

The memories of the district have vanished with the people - only the trees and the stones are said to remember. The rowan tree beside the bricked-up cottage in Kinloch Resort, could it speak, would have some stories to tell.

The previous owner of Morsgail fell out with the one crofter left on the estate over his herd of Highland cattle. The crofter alleged that he was being subjected to a concerted campaign of harassment, and the landlord alleged that the crofter didn't have his cattle under control. The saga disappeared overnight, when the then owner fell off a ladder at his home in the English Midlands and died.

There was also an element of discouragement to walkers in the past, which I put a halt to. On my first visit to Morsgail, in March 2005, I encountered the land owner when he stopped his jeep beside me as I walked down the access road. He said I could walk anywhere I liked. I thanked him and went on my merry way, as described in the entry. When I read a letter in the Stornoway Gazette, a few weeks later, from walkers who complained of being denied access, I remembered my encounter and responded by letter, retelling the conversation. I did add that access is of course granted provided people observe the Country Code. On my next visit in May, a notice outlining the country code was affixed to the roadsign for Kinlochroag (for Morsgail) along the main road.

The estate saw me again three days after my visit to Kinloch Resort, when I walked towards Loch Langabhat, my favourite place in the centre of the island, from the Scaliscro Road End.

The map below shows part of the Morsgail estate, 25 miles southwest of Stornoway.

The walk to Kinloch Resort is marked in black, the walk to Langabhat in red.

Wednesday jottings

Last day of February and in weather terms a better day than yesterday. Sun is out as I type, although there is a rash of showers about.

A pipeband has been advised to wear earplugs, because the noise they make is the same as that of a jet-engine at take-off. The pipes went at 108 decibels, but the snaredrums topped the bill at 122 dB. I attended a piping competition 2 years ago, and came away with my head spinning after several hours of bagpipes in the relatively confined space of a conference room.

Tropical cyclone Gamede is finally leaving La Reunion alone, although its northern trail could yet lash both Mauritius and its French neighbour with more rain. Queensland needs to watch the Top End, because a tropical cyclone is forming some 700 miles north of Brisbane. Although I have found the Australian weatherburo to be over-estimating the strength of cyclones in its backyard, an advance warning is in order.

Two people were airlifted to hospital over the last few days. The first was the skipper of a fishing boat who became unwell off the island of Eigg, south of Skye. The boat was taken to the pier at the island, where the local doctor administered treatment until the Coastguard helicopter from Stornoway took him to hospital in Glasgow.

A baby girl, 6 weeks old, was airlifted to Yorkhill Hospital, also in Glasgow, after her twin baby brother died of an unidentified illness. This happened in the island of Barra, 120 miles south of Stornoway. No further details were released at the request of the family.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

The bloom of our nation

The following questions and answers were collected from last year's GCSE exam results in Swindon, Wiltshire. They are genuine responses (from 16 year olds)!       

Q: Name the four seasons.       
A: Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.        

Q: Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink.       
A: Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutant like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists.       

Q: How is dew formed?       
A: The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire.       

Q: What causes the tides in the oceans?       
A: The tides are a fight between the Earth and the Moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and Nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight.           


Q: What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on?       
A: If you are buying a house, they will insist you are well endowed.       

Q: In a democratic society, how important are elections?       
A: Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election.       

Q: What are steroids?       
A: Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs.

Q: What happens to your body as you age?       
A: When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental.       

Q: What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?       
A: He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery.       

Q: Name a major disease associated with cigarettes.       
A: Premature death.        

Q: What is artificial insemination?       
A: When the farmer does it to the cow instead of the bull.       

Q: How can you delay milk turning sour?       
A: Keep it in the cow. [He got an A]       

Q: How are the main parts of the body categorized? (E.g. abdomen)      
A: The body is consisted into three parts - the brainium, the borax the abdominal cavity. The branium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels, A, E, I, O and U.       

Q: What is the Fibula?       
A: A small lie.       

Q: What does "varicose" mean?       
A: Nearby.       

Q: What is the most common form of birth control?       
A: Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium.

Q: Give the meaning of the term "Caesarean Section."       
A: The caesarean section is a district in Rome.       

Q: What is a seizure?       
A: A Roman emperor.       

Q: What is a terminal illness?       
A: When you are sick at the airport       

Q: Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature?       
A: Mushrooms. They always grow in damp places and they look like umbrellas.     

Q: Use the word "judicious" in a sentence to show you understand its meaning.       
A: Hands that judicious can be soft as your face.       

Q: What does the word "benign" mean?       
A: Benign is what you will be after you be eight.       

Q: What is a turbine?       
A: Something an Arab or Sheik wears on head

File Manager - my personal opinion

AOL File Manager is an outdated, user unfriendly part of AOL, and it looks as if it's for the chop. Unfortunately, I have it in use for storage of pictures related to my AOL hosted website. Pictures I can easily relocate to Photobucket or FlickR.

How about the FTP part of it though? I have my website on there - am I going to lose that once they axe FM? How about text files I have on AOL?

I've emailed Stephanie with these questions, and encourage all to do the same - on a constructive basis please. I think AOL should replace FM with something more up to date, and preferably user-friendly.

Hometown / File Manager

I am copying part of an entry from StephanieBambam, our techie, as users of AOL Hometown need to know about this. Please spread the word

As a lot of you have noticed by now, I made the mistake of not mentioning the change to the "add pictures" button when I was discussing the changes we made in R11.

We did, in fact, pull access to File Manager from the button - the "add pictures" button now takes you directly to AOL Photos. Given File Manager's unstability, and the number of complaints we've received about it not working properly, we'd rather pull a feature that does not work than leave it in for some of you to use some of the time.

If you have files already stored in File Manager you'd like to access, you still can do so by going directly to File Manager (either use the URL linked here, or KW: Hometown - KW: File Manager does not work).

If you're looking for somewhere to store animated pictures (from what I understand, AOL Photos won't let you store those there), there are a few sites that will let you upload and remotely link.


Prince Charles has been forthright again, and put his foot into MacDonald's, the fast food chain. He reportedly asked a nutritionist, during a visit to the Persian Gulf, why MacDonald's hadn't been banned yet. I do think he has a point. As I mentioned two entries back, a lad of 8 had eaten himself up to a weight of 15½ stones (95 kg) - on the products by MacDonalds et al.

Personally, I do eat junkfood, but only if I don't have the opportunity to make or buy something more decent. The last time I ate a MacDonalds is about 3 years ago. Whole generations are now being brought up on the stuff. Officially, there is not really anything wrong with eating chips and burgers, but only if you don't do it all of the time. Once again, you have to give it to Prince Charles to put his finger on a rotten spot in our society, and good for him.


Stromboli is a volcano in the Mediterranean, north of Sicily. It is part of an arc of volcanoes in and off western Italy. The most infamous one is Vesuvius, which last erupted in 1944 and is now feared to be building up to a major eruption. The southernmost is Etna, which has an eruption every few years, changing the landscape on its slopes beyond recognition. I visited the mountain in 2001, and each and every place I went to above 2,000 metres is now covered in up to 500 feet of lava.

Stromboli is continually active, spewing out chunks of lava every 15 minutes or so from the craters at the summit. It was reported today, that the volcano had grown more active. Stromboli can be visited quite safely, to within 120 metres of the crater mouths, which hundreds do each year. Five years ago, Stromboli put on its nasty face and mounted a major eruption. It caused a tsunami of 10 metres / 35 feet in height, which brought about a lot of damage.

A similar event appears to be in progress at the moment. Two new craters have opened at the summit, and lava is flowing out. Authorities are monitoring both sea and land closely, but unlike in 2002, an evacuation does not appear to be necessary.

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Food and wellbeing

This afternoon, it was reported from Newcastle, northern England, that a boy of 8, who weighs 14 stone [88 kg] is allowed to stay at home. The lad refuses to eat anything but junkfood. He won't eat vegetables or fruit. Exercise for him consists of riding his bike and jumping on the trampoline, which he cannot keep up for longer than 10 minutes because he'll get out of breath and starts vomiting. A hearing of North Tyneside social services this afternoon met, with the boy's mother in attendance, to decide whether he should be placed in care. The outcome was that he could stay at home.

Now, I don't have any kids of my own, but isn't it normal for kids not to like fruit & veg at that age. And isn't it also common NOT to give in all the time, which this mother did do.

On the mobile

In the UK, being in control of a vehicle, whilst on the mobile phone now incurs a more severe penalty. There is a £60 fine and your driver's license will be endorsed with 3 points. Ultimately, it can lose you your license.

Talking on a mobile phone takes your mind of the road, and you are not able to concentrate properly. The chances of becoming involved in an accident are shown to increase fourfold. Fatal accidents have already happened because people were on the mobile, fiddling with it - or doing other things whilst at the wheel. Changing the station on the car radio, changing a CD or tape, arguing with passengers, reading a map. Among others.

Tuesday notes

Very wet day, big puddles out in the road. Eh? Oh, there is the council wagon, clearing the drains. But the back yard is pretty waterlogged as well. No improvement in sight.

I am sorry to hear and read about all the heartache around J-land today, and hope that all find solace in those around them. Joyce [springangel235] has a relative who may not last much longer. If you haven't got her on alerts, please call round. Gina [ginabommer] is finding it extremely hard to cope with the loss of her brother on Sunday evening, so please continue to support her. I'm not under the impression that there are many around her in the immediate vicinity that can or do.

Hurricane Gamede is on the move again, and La Reunion, the French island east of Madagascar is on ORANGE ALERT today. That means: be ready and prepared. Having been on Red Alert all Sunday and on Blue Phase yesterday, they couldn't be more prepared. Australia and the Solomon Islands also have things grumbling in the background that could turn nasty. Not this side of Wednesday though.

My blog is worth some money

        My blog is worth $45,727.74.
How much is your blog worth?

Monday, 26 February 2007

Diary entries

I am aware that the diary entries I just put on do sometimes repeat blog entries made on the actual dates themselves. I handwrite the diaries on the day, and this is a verbatim transcript - with a few omissions for the sake of privacy.

Monday 26/02/07

Brilliantly sunny morning, but cloud bubbles up towards lunchtime. This gives rise to an odd shower over Arnish. Lunch was a portion of yesterday’s lasagne, after which I go to the sorting office on Sandwick Road to post a late letter for mrs B. I then take an amble around the older buildings of the Nicolson Institute across the road. The clocktower carries a commemorative plaque above the door, shown in piccies. I walk around the site for pics of other prominent buildings. Continue down Francis Street, where the Western Isles Museum stands, formerly part of the Nicolson as well. Get papers in the Baltic Bookshop (also known as Roddy Smith’s). Report into the Cumbrian railcrash states that a points failure is the most likely cause of the crash – a failure caused by poor maintenance. Smacks of the 2002 Potters Bar crash. The afternoon is cold but fairly bright. Mrs B and I refill the birdfeeders. Later on, temperatures fall to freezing after supper – which was soup and rolls.

Sunday 25/02/07

Grey weather today with occasional rain. Mrs B has a spot of bother when a rubbish sack turns out to be bottomless. The Landward programme on BBC 1 is quite gory and gruesome, talking about docking puppies’ tails and showing a man who collects dead lambs in fields to stuff them. Oh yuk. Gamede is slowly moving away from Mauritius and La Reunion, although the winds only drop down slowly. Rainfall totals exceed 1,000 mm, 40 inches. Folk in Mozambique want to know if Gamede will come their way – no it won’t. The sun comes out a few times, but a cold northerly wind drives down temperatures. Rain also falls now and again. Supper is lasagne. And during the first year, I took 5,700 pics with my camera.

Saturday 24/02/07

The Cumbria traincrash has sadly claimed one life, a lady aged 84. Rescue services had quite a job reaching the stricken train. Helicopters had to fly in to floodlight the scene, local farmers used their tractors to tow fire-engines and ambulances to the crash-site. Passengers were taken to local farms and given cups of tea amidst the cows. Initial reports say that the train appeared to hit something at 95 mph, then it swayed violently before toppling over. Up here, it’s a quiet morning with little wind. A powercut occurred at 3 am. The weather is cloudy with a little drizzle around lunchtime. Mrs B selects 20 out of my 6,300 pictures. I have picked 37 which I have printed off at the photographer’s. Mrs B goes for a flutter on the horses; I stick to the lottery. On La Reunion, an orange and later red alert is declared as cyclone Gamede approaches. Winds up to 125 mph are expected. The stream of viewers on the TC blog continues, and I relay warnings for both Mauritius and La Reunion. Head out for papers and the April edition of a computer magazine – full of Windows Vista. Mrs B entertains a relative this evening.

Friday 23/02/07

Fairly bright if overcast morning. A local engineering business collapsed on Monday, leaving 60 odd people out of work. Outstanding contracts were still being finished. There will be an open day at the Town Hall on Tuesday to view plans for the town centre’s future. There is talk of a one-way system and an increase in parking places. The Health Board has a meeting on the same day about plans for its future services. Now that Favio has gone inland and dissipated in Mozambique, attention shifts to Gamede, bearing down on La Reunion and Mauritius. I spend about an hour collating the info, and notice about 12 hits an hour on the TC blog. Go into the shop to buy the heavier items for mrs B, including lottery tickets for Saturday. Supper is a Spanish omelette, with a sherry trifle after. The ferry comes in at a canter at 7.45pm. My Walking World walks have netted me a small amount of money – apparently, 69 people have downloaded one of my 4 walks on there. The walk to the Iolaire Memorial was the most popular, with 23 downloads. Reports come through at 10 o’clock of a serious derailment in Cumbria. The 1715 train from Euston to Glasgow came off the tracks just north of Kendal. Out of 180 passengers, 48 were hurt, 6 seriously.

Thursday 22/02/07

Rainy and grey to start with. Isles FM announce that a cat, black-and-white with a red collar is missing from Seaview Terrace. Found in Bells Road, two streets away, is a black-and-white cat with a red collar. Oh? To counteract that, they did invite Tomacz Schafernaker for interview, after he cracked the wrong joke, calling the Western Isles “Nowheresville”, which our MP didn’t like. The BBC would not let the poor weatherman speak to our radiostation. Favio makes landfall in Mozambique with winds up to 120 mph. Flooding and damage result. Local officials say that Gamede is due tomorrow morning. That’s incorrect, and I advise the BBC. Threy promptly change the report, which carried this wrong information. Head into town for the papers, and after that the rain ceases and it brightens up. Chili con carne for supper, not much on TV as per usual.

Wednesday 21/02/07

Brilliantly sunny day, with hardly a cloud in the sky. I’m late getting up; the tide is high again. I was told over the weekend that a 9 foot Severn Bore was expected in the Severn Estuary. This is a tidal wave, generated by the rapidly narrowing river and the incoming tide. This was taken from The Severn bore forms somewhat upstream of the Port of Sharpness. The river's estuary has the second largest tidal range in the world — about 15 metres / 50 feet, exceeded only by the Bay of Fundy in Canada. At spring tides, the rising water is funnelled up the estuary into a wave that travels rapidly upstream against the river current; enthusiasts even attempt to surf along on the wave, which can be 2 m high. In 2006, a world record surf was achieved, for the longest-ever 'surf'. Note that the Gloucester Harbour Trustees, as competent harbour authority for this part of the river, explicitly advise against this pastime. Being the onset of the flood tide it is accompanied by a rapid rise in water level which continues for about one and a half hours after the bore has passed. The Severn Bore is a natural example of a self-reinforcing solitary wave or soliton. Mrs B took a phonecall from the wife of a guest who came here twice in the period I’ve been here. He is in his mid 80s and unfortunately suffering from Alzheimers. It would seem that they’ll come over to his native Lewis one final time this spring. He originates from Portvoller in Point. In the afternoon, I go for a walk round to Goat Island. Low tide is at 3.40pm, and seaweed peeps above the water at Goat Island. It’s not possible to cross to Newton Street, as the stream is too deep and strong. I find a scallop clam, and a man is looking for cockles. A plaque has now been placed at Goat Island, commemorating the fact that it was used as a fortress during the occupation by forces loyal to Oliver Cromwell in 1638. The Indian Ocean has spawned its third cyclone – we now have Favio, Gamede and Humba. Favio is moving ashore between Maputo and Beira. Tonight’s supper is a creditable stirfry. Cloud has gradually crept across the sky, and it comes down to rain later.

Tuesday 20/02/07

Fairly overcast day, with another exceptionally high tide in the morning. Found out that TC Favio has done the nasty and turned into a category 4 hurricane. Hope the warnings get through to Mozambique. The freezer went off accidentally, leaving things a bit defrosted. A lot has to be thrown out and the opportunity is taken to defrost the freezer. We decide on the menu for the week, which commences with a stroganoff for tonight. As the afternoon progresses, the weather brightens up and a new moon pops out high in the southwest. My efforts to capture it on camera fail dismally, It is perishingly cold and breezy as I take the pictures outside. It’s still light by 6pm, so we’re now flying in terms of sunset times. In the morning, the sun rises at 7.45.

Monday 19/02/07

A cloudy day dawns, which sees the return of the Isle of Lewis ferry from refit. She comes into port just before 9 am. I go to the shop rather earlier than usual. At midday it was quiet in Somerfields, but the shelves looked a wee bit bare. The Clansman ferry continues to run the Ullapool service for today. It’s cloudy, but not cold. 8C is quite acceptable for February. Favio has now turned into a hurricane, 700 miles east of Maputo. It will pack winds of 85 mph when it strikes land on Thursday. Mrs B’s long-stay guest returns from an absence of 2 weeks, to join us for a bowl of minestrone soup. Also in attendance is one of mrs B’s grandsons with a friend. They have the day off because of the communions. These also occur in November and May. Filming the sparrows, starlings, greenfinches and pigeon doves. Rain and wind is on its way in from the Atlantic. Darkness falls by about 6pm, and a quiet evening follows. Find out on the Net that there are plans afoot to build a tunnel from Stornoway to Ullapool. Really? I think that story got garbled in transit. It should have referred to possible links between Harris and Skye or North Uist and Skye. Found a few interesting blogs which told people’s experiences in Lewis. One was by a German blogger over in Uig, the other by a guy who decided to sleep in his car at Cameron Terrace, using the road verge as his private loo. He kept driving up and down between Carloway and Stornoway, waffling incessantly about the Callanish Stones and for all I know he might still be there, beating the nocturnal trail and weeing in the verges at Leurbost.

Having problems?

It seems a number of you are having problems with journals.  Either you are lacking Add New Entry Button, some were lacking all buttons, one person had a problem with text size and others could not add pictures.

Joe, the Journals Editor has now done a posting asking people to notify him of all such problems. I have emailed quite a lot of you pointing this out but this is for all those of you who have not received an email.

Please go to the following entry, be sure to state your problem and be sure to leave the link to your journal.  Joe wants to know just how many people are affected.  Here is the link:
Please do send in your journal problems as it will hopefully enable them to pinpoint the problem.

Thank you
Entry copied and modified from Jeanno43 (Jeannette's Jottings)

Monday musings

Nice afternoon here if cold - only 4C. A few showers passed by to the south at lunchtime. Went out for a walk through town this afternoon, taking pics around the Nicolson Institute, the secondary school.

Cyclone Gamede is still around, sucking its thumb as a 110 mph hurricane some 240 miles northwest of La Reunion. It's stationary, making up its mind which way to go. Probably south, but the forecasters on the French island have taken up the attitude "seeing is believing".

The rail crash in Cumbria last Friday is thought to have been caused by a faulty set of points. Poor maintenance seems to be behind that, as essential bolts and bars appear to have been missing. The train stood up well in the crash, signalling was correct at the time.
The last fatal rail crash, at Potters Bar near London in 2002, was caused by a similar problem. A number of people remain in hospital with serious injuries, none of those life threatening.

Found a news item which showed that people suffering from lung cancer show changes in the chemical composition of their breath. The cancer cells emit certain compounds, which can be detected. Scientists have now developed a detector. Apparently, dogs are able to smell cancer on a sufferer's breath.

Call for support

Gina [ginabommer] lost her brother Joey at 10.15pm last night. He had been suffering with cancer, which had spread to the brain, leaving 9 secondaries there. The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for Gina, partially due to family problems, but also because her mother was diagnosed with cancer as well. She is now terminally ill in a hospice.

I would like to ask for a special effort from J-land.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Wisdom of a sort

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 [don't necessarily agree with that myself LOL].

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. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

7. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

8. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

9. 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.

10. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

11. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

12. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.

13. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

14. Duct tape is like 'The Force'. It has a light side and a dark side, and, it holds the universe together.

15. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.

16. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

17. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

18. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.


Just want to highlight a very profound and beautiful entry by Cathy [luddie343], which all should read. Even after the Sunday has slipped into history, it still holds true, every day of life.

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A few snippets of totally useless information.

I have now taken 5,700 pictures with my current digital camera.
I have written 1,500 pages in my handwritten diary.
I am about to start book 11 in same diary
Two weeks ago I had stayed with mrs B for two years
Two weeks ago my Northern Trip had been on the go for two and a half years
The number of entries in both NT journals stands at 2,345

Tolerance no more

The Netherlands used to have quite a tolerant attitude towards migrants. All were welcome to come and live and work there. It is a long-standing tradition, going back to the days of the 15th century Hugenots who were given shelter after being persecuted in what is now northern France.

In common with most West European countries, Holland engaged the service of migrant workers from mediterranean countries in the 1950s and 60s. Greeks, Italians, Turks, Moroccans, all flocked to the Low Countries as well as Germany. It was initially on the understanding that it would only be temporary. Fifty years is not temporary in my book, but that's how long some have lived in Holland now. However, as their stay was only going to be temporary, no effort at integration was attempted.

A degree of rising resentment was becoming evident under the surface during the 1980s, but the experiences of World War II helped to keep the lid on that. As is only too well known, Jewish and other people were rounded up during the war and taken to concentration camps to be killed - for being Jewish, gypsy, mentally or physically disabled.

In 2002, a populist politician rose up - Pim Fortuyn. On the objective political spectrum, he could be classified as on the right of rightwing. He spoke critically of migrants and their lack of integration in society. A generalisation which, like all generalisations, was unfair on a large section of ethnic migrants who had integrated. Nonetheless, Fortuyn's utterances resonated with large sections of society and his party was riding high in the opinion polls. A general election was due when Fortuyn was shot dead. His party attracted 26 out of the 150 seats in the Lower House of Parliament. Although it joined a coalition government, this did not survive into 2003.

The genii was out of the bottle.
In the years since Fortuyn's death, the focus in Holland appears to be on integration and loyalty towards the country itself, as well as its cultural values. This has erupted this weekend with a controversy surrounding two ministers in the new Dutch government. The two individuals concerned hold dual nationality, and a right-wing party asserts that their loyalty is not wholly and undividedly towards the Kingdom. They have tabled a motion of no-confidence in the two ministers, which the Lower House of Parliament will debate this week.

It would appear that Holland remains welcoming to those seeking genuine succour. Here in the UK, there have been calls for an exam to ascertain whether migrants have grasped the idea of Britishness. In Holland people were found to be abusing the country's tradition of tolerance and welcoming. Migrants can now expect an unambiguous statement of loyalty, whether it be in action or (less importantly) in words. Loyalty not just to the nation, but also to its values.

A balance has to be struck, as was shown in the case of politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She is a Somali who fled to Holland. She joined parliament, but found herself stripped of her status as MP after the Ministry of Justice found ambiguity in her loyalties.
Hirsi Ali gained prominence and controversy, after she cooperated with filmmaker Theo van Gogh in the making of a movie which exposed alleged abuse of women in Islam. Van Gogh was assassinated, Hirsi Ali had to go into hiding.

It is my impression that the battle that is going on in the Netherlands can be seen to be reflected elsewhere in Europe as well as the USA. In Holland this debate takes place right in the centre of politics, and therefore very open. Elsewhere, like in the UK, it is much more low-key.

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Tropical cyclones - feedback

Even though hundreds of people have been reading my TC blog this weekend, I didn't have any feedback - until this afternoon. A lady left a comment in my Guestbook, saying that she was anxious to find out whether cyclone Gamede would affect Mozambique. She lives in the Bazaruto Island, which had been flattened by cyclone Favio on Thursday. I was able to reassure her that Gamede is nowhere near Mozambique and for the moment not going anywhere near it. Reports did say that 4 people died as a result of Favio.

Call for readers

Jan [jan3145, Living With Pulmonary Fibrosis] has done a post, the first in two months. This was due to health problems in her immediate family. She is not sure anyone reads her writings - please prove her wrong LOL.

Iran and the USA

I have read several blogs in recent days protesting against the war-mongering by George W. Bush against Iran. Just want to counterbalance that by saying that his Iranian colleague is just as bad. Today, Iran launched a rocket into space carrying a cargo for research. They have also refused to halt their nuclear development programme. Both activities are claimed to be for peaceful purposes, but I want to remind readers of president Ahmadinajad's stated intention to destroy the state of Israel Combining rockets with possible nuclear weapons would make that quite feasible.

However, diplomacy should be given priority over the bullet and the bomb, particularly as the Iranian leadership appears to be quite divided on this issue. The rocket launch did not elicit huge expressions of joy in Iran, and open dissent is being voiced.

George W. needs to remember that the USA has had a bloody nose from Iran back in 1979, when president Carter ordered a rescue-mission to free hostages held at the American embassy in Tehran. It failed dismally.

As I have said before about the Middle East, violence does not solve any problems they have. It just makes them worse.

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Sunday notes

Slightly cloudy afternoon, but with some sunny spells in the islands today. It's the usual Sunday quiet.

Had difficulty watching the Landward programme on BBC 1 Scotland at 11.30 just now. First off, they had an item about docking dog's tails, which was rather gruesome. Apparently, they remove the lower part of a dog's tail if the animal is going to work as a gundog, i.e. retrieve shot prey. The justification is that an undocked tail can be injured if the dog thrashes through undergrowth. This docking is done in the first few days of life.
Then, there was this guy who made art out of dead lambs. When the programme mentioned that he goes round fields, picking up dead lambs and make works of art out of them, it made me quite ill. I duly switched off. Gross.

A preliminary report into the cause of the Cumbrian traincrash last Friday is expected in the next few days. Investigations are focusing on a set of points, located half a mile (1 km) south of the accident site. Eleven people remain in hospital in Lancaster and Preston. The railwayline is expected to remain closed for one or two weeks. The fields surrounding the accident site are sodden, making it impossible for heavy lifting gear to be brought to the site without the construction of a special roadway.

Hurricane Gamede is now moving away from Mauritius, which has cancelled its cyclone warning. La Reunion remains on Red Alert.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Hurricane update - 24 February

Yes I know, I'm blogging about little else today. Gamede is closing in on the island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean. Winds of up to 125 mph are expected. In the 24 hours until 6pm, 635 mm (25.4 inches) of rain fell on the highest summit in the island. It has now been placed on RED ALERT - all stay indoors, do not go out. Gamede is expected to start paralelling the coast of Madagascar early in the new week.

By the way, the different colours of the markers in the map of Mauritius merely indicated how recently they had viewed the blog. I've had a flood of viewers on the TC blog - nearly 300 yesterday, and now 200 until 6pm.

Mauritius & La Reunion

(first published on the Tropical Cyclones blog)

A personal message to viewers in Mauritius (and La Reunion)

If you are / were one of the people depicted by the pointers on this map of Mauritius: good luck with Gamede, take great care in the high winds. I'm sorry I haven't got any better news for you guys, but you'll be alright. The same applies to the one viewer in La Reunion.

Midday jottings

I am saddened to report that one person, a lady of 80, died at last night's traincrash at Grayrigg, Cumbria. Four people remain in hospital in Lancaster, 40 miles to the south of the incident. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch is looking into the cause of the derailment and will report in due course. Rescue workers who attended the scene last night say it's little short of a miracle that no further lives were lost, and so few were seriously injured. Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Trains who were running the service, paid tribute to the deceased passenger and those injured. He also said that much was owed to the sturdy design of the Pendolino (tilting) Train. It is a new design, that has been in operation on the West Coast Mainline between London Euston and Glasgow for 4 years now.

Tropical Cyclone Gamede continues to dominate the news in La Reunion and Mauritius. The French island reports waves up to 40 feet in height crashing ashore, and warns of winds gusting to 110 mph at the highest points in the island. Latest weather reports from La Reunion give windspeeds up to 45 mph.
Details from Mauritius are more sketchy, but the class III hurricane warning means that winds of 75 mph are likely within 6 hours. Its outpost of St Brandon saw Gamede passing directly overhead yesterday afternoon. This cyclone will continue to pose a danger to both islands, as it is forecast to slow to the northwest, and then veer south, keeping the Mascareignes within striking distance.

Saturday just began

It's shortly after midnight, and I'm just staying on to put on the latest warnings for Mauritius and La Reunion at 12.30am.

The traincrash in Cumbria does not appear to have taken any lives, which is a miracle, considering that all but one of the 9 carriages of the train went off the rails and down an embankment. Six people were taken to hospitals in Lancaster and Preston with serious injuries.

The incident took place northeast of Kendal, in a rural part of northern England. The train would have been travelling at 95 mph. Helicopters are used to cast light on the scene. Local farmers are offering cups of tea to passengers who escaped unhurt. Further updates from the BBC website - I'm having difficulties viewing the pages.

Mrs B went to a remembrance service tonight for a relative who passed away earlier this week. Funerals in Lewis are conducted in a unique manner. After the funeral service, the coffin will be lifted by the chief mourners (the closest male relatives) - a procedure referred to as the lift. All male attendees will take turns carrying the coffin towards the cemetery. In this case, the graveyard is at Sandwick, 1½ miles east of Stornoway, but the coffin will not be carried all that way. In the remembrance service, all the closest relatives will have been mentioned in the prayers.
In the past, no flowers would have been left at the grave. In keeping with the presbyterian tradition, death was regarded as a triumph. What went into the ground did not matter, as the soul had gone to a better place. Nowadays, flowers adorn the graveyards. A year ago, I visited a number of cemeteries in Lewis to collect pictures of tombstones for victims of the Iolaire disaster.

I am under the impression that some of the jokes I put on here are risqué, and may have offended certain readers. That I surmise from some comments and reactions. I'll be more circumspect in what I relay in this journal.

Finally, I have come across several journals this week where the authors felt they were not free to write what they wanted.


Friday, 23 February 2007

Train derailment

A high-speed train is reported to have been derailed in the Lake District, Northern England, between Oxenholme and Penrith. A number of carriages have left the tracks and are apparently on their sides. Passengers say the Pendolino train, the 1715 London to Glasgow service, appeared to hit something then began to sway violently before derailing.

This was reported about 10 minutes ago on BBC News - further details as they become available.

Internet Medicines

A few days ago, I relayed a warning about Internet Medicines. Lisa [seraphoflove9001] has written a more extensive piece about this same issue, which I strongly recommend for reading. Check out this post.


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Friday notes

What with all the excitement going on in the Indian Ocean, I'm glad it's a quiet if wettish day up here in the islands. No major improvements expected either.

My Tropical Cyclones blog has enjoyed an unprecendented surge of interest. Up to the moment of this post, I've had 170 visitors, mainly from Africa, but a sizeable number from Mauritius. As I said a day or so ago, I hope that I've helped in some small way. If you go and have a look, you'll see that I try to keep things simple - the official cyclone bulletins can be very technical.

The Hurricane Centre on La Reunion has issued this bulletin, which I'd like to relay - translated into English.

The southwestern Indian Ocean is the scene of heightened tropical activity, with no fewer than three cyclones, not counting the showery zone off the southeastern coast of Madagascar. Although the presence of 3 cyclones at the same time is not unusual, it is not a frequent event. The last time that this occurred was in February 2003, when Gerry, Hape and Isha were around at the same time.

Of the 3 cyclones currently present (Favio, Gamede and Humba, far to the east) Favio has now moved inland in Mozambique, in a sequence of events that reminds us of the cyclonic season 2002/3 with Japhet. This cyclone made landfall roughly in the same area as Favio, to wit north of the city of Vilanculos. Favio remained near the coast longer than Japhet and at a higher intensity; it has swept the coast for more than 65 miles, including the tourism zone of Bazaruto Island and nearby areas. Favio is now moving inland rapidly but is still a cause for concern, as it will swell the already flooded Zambezi basin. Over the last few weeks, more than 100,000 people had to be evacuated.

The last intense tropical cyclone to hit Mozambique was Eline in 2000, which has left a sad mark in the country's history. It made landfall a little further noth on - February 22nd. Seven years ago to the day.

The other cyclone which is now the centre of attention is Gamede. It has developed rapidly during yesterday whilst moving rapidly west - covering 370 miles in 24 hours. Gamede was centred some 620 miles northeast of La Reunion yesterday evening. This cyclone has a large circulation and will be approaching Mauritius and La Reunion by the end of the week. Although it is not expected to directly affect the islands, its progress should be monitored closely.

Hurricane update - 23 February

Tropical cyclone GAMEDE is a threat to both Mauritius and La Reunion.

(1) Gamede is passing over Saint Brandon, and may already have passed the island. Its area of central calm will extend for 50 km, and windspeeds near the centre are 125 kph, with gusts up to 180 kph.

(2) The weatherservice in Mauritius has issued a bulletin on Gamede which reads as follows:











Thursday, 22 February 2007

Broadband Speed

Want to know what your ACTUAL broadband (ADSL / IDSN) line speed is? Don't believe what the computer tells you it is when you log on. I found it to be a big lie. Mine is advertised as 7.6 Mbps. Well, on average it came out as a very measly 1 Mbps. I thought that after a recent upgrade (which caused all sorts of problems) I'd be flying. Nope.

This is a British site, but I think it might also work outside the UK. Pass it round and see whether you're being told the truth.


Read aloud this as quickly as possible - but not within earshot of sensitive ears. It is full of spoonerisms.

This is the story of Rindercella and her sugly isters.

Rindercella and her sugly isters lived in a marge lansion. Rindercella worked very hard frubbing sloors, emptying poss pits, and shivelling shot.

At the end of the day, she was knucking fackered

The sugly isters were right bugly astards. One was called Mary Hinge, and the other was called Betty Swallocks; they were really forrible huckers;they had fetty sweet and fetty swannies. The sugly isters had tickets to go to the ball, but the cotton runts would not let Rindercella go.

Suddenly there was a bucking fang, and her gairy fodmother appeared. Her name was Shairy Hithole and she was a light rucking fesbian. She turned a pumpkin and six mite wice into a hucking cuge farriage with six dandy ronkeys who had buge hollocks and dig bicks

The gairy fodmother told Rindercella to be back by dimnlight otherwise, there would be a cucking falamity.

At the ball, Rindercella was dancing with the prandsome hince when suddenly the clock struck twelve. "Mist all chucking frighty!!!" said Rindercella, and she ran out tripping barse over ollocks, so dropping her slass glipper.

The very next day the prandsome hince knocked on Rindercella's door and the sugly isters let him in Suddenly, Betty Swallocks lifted her leg and let off a fig bart. "Who's fust jarted??" asked the prandsome hince. "Blame that fugly ucker over there!!" said Mary Hinge. When the stinking brown cloud had lifted, he tried the slass glipper on both the sugly isters without success and their feet stucking funk.

Betty Swallocks was ducking fisgusted and gave the prandsome hince a knack in the kickers. This was not difficult as he had bucking fuge halls and a hig bard on.

He tried the slass glipper on Rindercella and it fitted pucking ferfectly.

Rindercella and the prandsome hince were married. The pransome hince lived his life in lucking fuxury, and Rindercella lived hers with a follen swanny

Hurricane update - 22 February

Favio has now hit land in Mozambique, causing damage to housing and infrastructure, according to this BBC report. In it, officials give some unnecessarily alarming warnings about a second cyclone, Gamede, which is supposed to strike tomorrow morning. Gamede is still 1,500 miles away in the Indian Ocean. I've contacted the BBC about this.

Favio carries winds of 100 mph, but will die out within 24 hours. Large amounts of rainfall are anticipated, but are not thought to reach the area currently affected by flooding. Tropical cyclones are relatively small but intense.

Gamede is in the Indian Ocean, as stated above, 700 miles northeast of La Reunion. This could also become an intense cyclone. Land is not immediately threatened.

Blogger in jail

An Egyptian blogger, Abdel Kareem Nabil, was sentenced to jail for 3 years for insulting his president and criticising a leading Muslim institution, calling it the University of Terrorism. This follows a crackdown in 2006, during which a number of bloggers were arrested in Egypt but later freed without charge. It would appear that dissent is not appreciated in Egypt. Full story here.

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Call for support

Valerie (IIImagicXX) is need of some J-land support, so please nip over to Surreality

Good morning

Local radio station Isles FM really made my day this morning. They have a feature in their breakfast show called Pets' Corner. Lost and found animals are listed, together with contact numbers to reunite the relevant furr with its owner. Now, sometimes it would be rather obvious where a lost animal has gotten to, particularly if you know the geography of the place. I didn't record the item, but I'm pretty close with this:

"Lost from Seaview Terrace: a black and white cat, fluffy, possibly wearing a red collar."
"Found in Bells Road: a black and white cat with a red collar".
Those in the know are aware that Bells Road is TWO streets away from Seaview Terrace here in Stornoway.

Hope that puss was reunited with its owners this morning.

Date for your diary

A total eclipse of the moon is visible from virtually every continent on Earth on the night of March 3rd / 4th. The table below gives times as UT (universal time), which is the same as GMT or UK winter time. I'll include the conversion to EST and PST timings.

Partial Eclipse Begins: 21:30:22 UT / 4.30pm EST / 1.30 pm PST
Total Eclipse Begins: 22:44:13 UT / 5.44pm EST / 2.44pm PST
Greatest Eclipse: 23:20:56 UT / 6.20pm EST / 3.20pm PST
Total Eclipse Ends: 23:57:37 UT / 6.57pm EST / 3.57pm PST
Partial Eclipse Ends: 01:11:28 UT / 8.11pm EST / 5.11pm PST

Further details from the NASA website.

North America
EST = UT - 5 hours
CST = UT - 6 hours
MST = UT - 7 hours
PST = UT - 8 hours

Obviously, if the sun is still up, the eclipse will not be visible, and I have serious doubts whether the western states in the USA will be seeing much of it.

Let's hope for some clear skies!

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Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Low Tide at Goat Island

Went round to Goat Island this afternoon, just as the springtide was at its lowest. It was so low that the seaweeds poked out of the water by the causeway wall.

Affixed to the causeway wall is now a new plaque, commemorating the use of Goat Island during the occupation of Stornoway by Oliver Cromwell in 1638.

I went right down to the tideline and found this scallop clam. It was alive, and squired water at me. Scallops jump around on the seafloor by squirting water. They then clam their shell shut, and above water this goes with an audible snap.

You can NOT walk across to the supermarket - it's a 10 minute walk right round the Basin.

At that point you are on eyelevel with the wee boats anchored across the mouth of the Basin.

Indian Ocean today

Running the risk of boring everybody with hurricane news - but it is busy with them right now - I'd like to show two images centering on today's events.

Tropical cyclone FAVIO at 18.00 GMT today, beginning to impact southern Mozambique.

The image below shows the width of the Indian Ocean, with (from left to right) Favio, Gamede and Humba.

Hurricane update - 21 February

The Indian Ocean is now home to no fewer than THREE tropical cyclones. Hurricane Favio, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is not going to be as intense as projected yesterday. Nonetheless, Mozambique will get a battering with 90 mph winds. Favio is starting to affect the Mozambique coastline this afternoon.

Cyclone Gamede lies south of Diego Garcia and will gain hurricane strength in three days as it moves westward to the sea area north of La Reunion.

Cyclone 16S (which will be named Humba) is even further east, but will also gain hurricane strength by Saturday. Humba is headed southwest across the Indian Ocean and does not appear to be threatening land at this stage.

Mental arithmetic

A survey, mentioned on the BBC Breakfast website, found that half the people it questioned would have been short-changed in the shop, because they could not work out how much change they should get. How well would you do? You can find out here. Leave me a comment with your score.
Oh, don't use a calculator or a piece of paper. Mental arithmetic ONLY.


BBC Weatherman Tomacz Schafernaker had to eat humble pie this week, after a joke backfired. Last Saturday, he was presenting a weather bulletin on BBC News when he said that the Western Isles could expect some rain. He then referred to it as Nowheresville. After 11 complaints to the BBC and one upset MP, Mr Schafernaker apologised unreservedly. He had intended to point at a mountainous area of Scotland, and the 'Nowheresville' was meant to indicate that there would not be many people around to be bothered by it.

The weatherman has since been invited to visit the Western Isles, to sample its culinary, cultural and other delights and to meet its people. Ach, I don't think he meant harm. We all crack jokes at some time that have wider repercussions than you initially think of.

Wednesday's notes

The day started bright and sunny, but high level clouds have spread across the sky. Rain is anticipated for this evening. It's not very cold, about 9C / 48F. Hope that people over in the States will soon be out of their snowy confinement.

Hurricane Favio won't be quite as bad as the forecasters thought it would be yesterday. Still, 90 mph is no laughing matter. My TC blog has had about 100 hits today, mainly from African viewers. I'd like to think I helped spread the word.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Hurricane update - 20 February (2)

Hurricane Favio continues on its path northwest towards Mozambique. When I checked the Tropical Cyclones blog's Sitemeter, I noticed a lot of interest from Africa, particularly South Africa and Ghana, with one or two readers in Mozambique. I hope my info comes in useful and is relayed to those that have to hear about it.

In Favio's wake, two other cyclones are gathering pace. When checking the satellite pictures for the Indian Ocean, I noticed the typical swirl of the tropical hurricane 1,200 miles east of La Reunion. The JTWC interim update suggested that this system is blowing up at a fast rate. The projection from the hurricane centre on La Reunion shows it making for the area north of the island. The second system, west of Sumatra, may be developing equally quickly.

Looks like a bad week out there.

Lost contact

I would just like to share an experience that I had 2 years ago, when I was exchanging emails with a person in the USA. It was before I was involved in J-land, and only a few people read my blog, which I started as a personal diary of my travels and walks at the time. This person was quite unwell, and as is my wont, I tried to be as supporting as you can be by email. An exchange of medical information followed, but as I only had limited time on-line (1 hour every day, in the public library here in Stornoway), contact faded after a few weeks. Things broke down completely when I relayed a few jokemails, which I would send out to a small circle of acquaintances on AOL. The joke, which I don't remember in detail, was probably a swipe at Americanism in the wake of the start of the Iraq War. I thought it was a harmless joke. Not to this person.

It transpired that this person had visited Europe with the family, and had had a very bad experience. The family had been subjected to verbal and physical abuse for being Americans whilst on a visit to Rome. My AOL contact had grown a fully blown hatred of Europeans, and took umbrage at anything I said, verbally attacking me for being European. That is the stage at which I took the conscious decision, agreed with the other person, to break off contact. I am sad about that, but there was no point carrying on.

The American government's foreign policy doesn't always make it many friends, but it is not on to take it out on individual people just out on a holiday abroad. It also demonstrates again that the Internet is actually a very distant medium for maintaining contact with people. You are left without non-verbal communication, which constitutes 70% of communication. And that leaves a very crude medium, without the nuances of speech, facial expression and body language.


Val [There is a Season] linked to an absolutely hilarious site in this week's Wordplay. If you put your name into the Anagram Genius website, it garbles up your name to something quite unexpected. Have a play and leave comments with Val; and I wouldn't mind either.

Upgrade R11

Our techie person, Stephanie, has announced that early tomorrow (that is during the morning in the UK) AOL Journals will be upgraded by R11. Amongst a whole host of goodies, you should be able to add entries to and Digg. Another upgrade, R11b, will allow you to pull pics from other sites. As if we don't already do that. Anyway, have a read through her entry.

Using medicines bought on the Net? URGENT

Many thanks to Connie who carried this link, which is NOT a hoax and needs to be relayed on.

The FDA has issued an alert for consumers who take medicines bought on the Net. Apparently, there are pills marketed on-line that are not what they seem. Read more in this message from the Emergency Email Network
Generally, it is not a good idea to purchase medicines on the Internet. I am aware that the temptation is there, because they can be on offer for fantastically low prices.

However, you have to bear in mind that medicines purchased through a registered pharmacy have a guarantee on them. They ARE what it says on the label, unlike the products referred to in the above link. Regular medicines are subject to very strict controls, and they have to be licensed with the Department of Health. If anything is wrong with them, the manufacturer can be held to account, should it be their fault.

You have NO recourse in the case of Internet medicines, as their source can be obscure or totally untraceable. They are not necessarily subject to the same rigid requirements as medicines bought in a pharmacy.

Don't do it.

That's the only advice I give when people are considering purchasing medicines on-line.


Over the past few years, Scottish Natural Heritage, has been implementing a policy regarding hedgehogs in the Uists, the islands south of Harris. Hedgehogs are not a native animal species, and predate on the eggs of protecting ground-nesting birds. Until this year, SNH has been culling the hedgehogs. This has attracted fierce opposition from groups who have suggested an alternative approach: trap the animals and release them on the Scottish mainland. SNH has now agreed to give this approach a try.

Marine power

It was announced today that a wavepower farm is to be established in the Orkney Islands. Electricity can be generated from waves by a series of large boons. The wave action causes movement at the junction of the boons, which can be transformed into electricity by a modified generator, the way most electricity is generated. The company who has developed the Pelamis (seasnake) has a good representation of the units on its website.
A number of Pelamis units were constructed at Arnish, outside Stornoway, last summer and transported to Portugal. Pelamis was designed, developed and trialled in Scotland. As the Ocean Power website shows, Pelamis covers a section of the sea surface.

Another generator using the power of the sea was designed, which would sit on the ocean floor at least 6 metres / 20 feet under the surface. It would operate by using the tidal flows. This has no visual impact, and does not occupy areas of the sea's surface.

Hurricane update - 20 February

Hurricane to strike southern Mozambique with winds in excess of 100 mph on Thursday as well as large amounts of rain.
This is an appeal to readers (in southern and eastern Africa) to relay this message to the authorities and people in Mozambique.

Hurricane Favio has intensified strongly over the last 24 hours and could reach category 4 strength, with winds of 135 mph over the Mozambique Channel in the next 24 hours. Although the hurricane will weaken on approach to land during Thursday, it is still expected to carry winds of at least 105 mph when the centre passes onto land near Beira, Mozambique late on Thursday or early on Friday.

Favio will cause extensive and severe damage to property, and poses a threat to the life of residents. The hurricane is also expected to dump large amounts of rain. After making landfall, the system will transform into an intense depression, which will track inland northwestwards towards Zimbabwe, along the Zambezi Valley. The existing flood situation is going to be worsened even further.

Further reading in this bulletin from the South African Weather Service.

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Monday, 19 February 2007


Came across this blog [link omitted] of a visitor to Lewis, whose abiding memories of the island are at best unusual. He travelled up by car from Tarbert in Harris, and couldn't wait to find the turn-off for Callanish, outside the village of Leurbost. I can tell you that it is the first road left after you cross the border into Lewis. It's about 30 miles north of Tarbert. He then traversed the Lewis moor before he found the famed Callanish Stones - at dusk. Our intrepid visitor returned to Leurbost where he proceeded to park his car, which was to be his bed for the night. The grass verges of the A859 were to be his toilet as he consumed gallons of lemonade. Next day he hared up and down the A858 to Carloway and Callanish, again. To my knowledge he might still be there, haunting the moorland road after nightfall, drinking lemonade and weeing in the verges.

Chinese whispers

Came across a severe case of Chinese whispers on the Net tonight. Was browsing the Internet looking for references to Stornoway. Happened to find a number of references to the longest road tunnel in the world, which would be built between Stornoway and Ullapool. 41 miles, or 66 km. Well, nothing of the sort is proposed. NOTHING.

The Transportation Committee of the Western Isles Council is looking into the possibility of establishing a fixed link with the mainland. In an article in our local weekly, the Stornoway Gazette, it was mentioned that the closest points to the Isle of Skye, which itself is linked to the mainland by the famous bridge, were in Rodel, Harris, as well as in North Uist.

The story went into its own, wrong track, when editors had to make reference to the current established link between the Western Isles' capital, Stornoway, and the Scottish mainland. Which is our ferry. They immediately supposed that this would be replaced by a tunnel. Forty-one miles? I don't think so. Can also report that the idea of a tunnel is ridiculed locally, because the cost is likely to be astronomical. Am now going round the Internet to put this all right. Fat chance LOL

Call for support

Gina (ginabommer) has asked me to pass word that she has started a new journal, to vent. The title The Sperm Donor will be explained in the first entry on the blog. This is not for the faint hearted. The second entry calls for J-land to rally round. Please?

Birds at a feeder

Birds squabbling and twittering around feeders on a tree, and on the ground underneath.

President's Day

Happy President's Day to my American friends!

How old is Grandpa?

Stay with this -- the answer is at the end.  It will blow you away.

One evening a grandson was talking to his grandfather about current events. The grandson asked his grandfather what he thought about the shootings at schools, the computer age, and just things in general.

The Grandfather replied, "Well, let me think a minute, I was born before:

*        television
*       penicillin
*       polio shots
*        frozen foods
*       Xerox
*       contact lenses
*        Frisbees and
*       the pill

There were no:

*       credit cards
*       laser beams or
*        ball-point pens

Man had not invented:

*       pantyhose
*       air conditioners
*        dishwashers
*       clothes dryers
*       and the clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air and
*       man hadn't yet walked on the moon

How old is Grandpa???

Your Grandmother and I got married first, . . And then lived together.
Every family had a father and a mother.
Until I was 25, I called every man older than me, "Sir".
And after I turned 25, I still called every man older than me, "Sir"
We were before gay-rights, computer- dating, dual careers, daycare centers, and group therapy.

Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and common sense.

We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions.

Serving your country was a privilege; living in this country was a bigger privilege.

We thought fast food was what people ate during Lent.

Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.

Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening breeze started.

Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and weekends-not purchasing condominiums.

We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings.

We listened to the Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President's speeches on our radios.

And I don't ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to Tommy Dorsey.

If you saw anything with 'Made in Japan ' on it, it was junk.

The term 'making out' referred to how you did on your school exam.

Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and instant coffee were unheard of.

We had 5&10-cent stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents.

Ice-cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel.

And if you didn't want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail 1 letter and 2 postcards.

You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600, .. . . But who could afford one? Too bad, because gas was 11 cents a gallon.

In my day:

*       "grass"  was  mowed,
*       "coke" was a cold drink,
*       "pot" was something your mother cooked in and
*       "rock music" was your grandmother's lullaby.
*       "Aids" were helpers in the Principal's office,
*       "chip" meant a piece of wood,
*       "hardware" was found in a hardware store and
*     "software" wasn't even a word.

And we were the last generation to actually believe that a lady needed a husband to have a baby. No wonder people call us "old and confused" and say there is a generation gap...And how old do you think I am?

I bet you have this old man in are in for a shock!

Read on to see -- pretty scary if you think about it and pretty sad at the same time.

This man would be only 59 years old

We  are not human beings going through a temporary spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings going through a temporary human  experience.