Saturday, 31 March 2007

Moonlit night

A snapshot from the webcam tonight, which captured the moon beautifully.


Sorry to anyone who came to my blog from Joe's journal on the Blogplugs trail, only to encounter a broken link. I decided to delete the relevant entry, for various reasons.

April Foolsday

Watch your step tomorrow - it's April 1st, April Foolsday. Have a read on Wikipedia with this comprehensive article.

Falklands - 25 years on

It is 25 years ago since the Argentinian junta ordered the invasion of the Islas Malvinas, known to the Anglo-Saxon world as the Falkland Islands. Follow a short period of diplomatic posturing, prime minister Margaret Thatcher ordered a Task Force to the South Atlantic to wrest control of the Falklands from the Argentine occupying forces. Following 2 months of hard and bloody combat, the Union Jack was finally raised over the islands' capital, Stanley in June 1982.

In a series of articles on life in the islands, the BBC published an another page today, which is worth reading. Those in the UK can watch a program on Monday, April 2nd, in which veterans talk of their experiences. Time: 9pm, BBC 2.

Contrast in weather

We are experiencing your average spring conditions in the UK. High pressure in the far north (i.e. HERE), giving us mild, sunny weather. The thermometer is at 11C / 52F now, and could reach the dizzy heights of 14C / 57F later on. Of course, the balance should be maintained and therefore the south of England is suffering with northeasterly winds, gusting to galeforce. It's not cold, according to the weatherreports, but it's not very nice.

Tropical cyclones continue to pop up, and the latest is called JAYA. It's located some 700 miles northeast of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean, and making for Madagascar, exactly the region which had a hammerblow from the previous hurricane, Indlala. Winds could exceed 125 mph once Jaya makes landfall in the north of the Big Island.

The first tropical cyclone of the Northern Hemisphere for 2007 is about to rear its ugly head in Micronesia in the next day or so. A warning to that effect went out from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii. These typhoons tend to end up in the Philippines or the east Asian coast. No definites about that just yet. Watch this space.

NOTE - The Atlantic hurricane season does not start until June 1st. Nonetheless, preparations should start now, and you could do worse than visit this site.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Friday evening

Fairly nice evening, if a little cool. Did I mention a few days ago that they were burning the moor? Slightly unhealthy practice where they set fire to the heather on the moors, ostensibly for purposes of regeneration. I remember two years ago I walked in the area (south of Arnish) when the flames began to creep my way! Had to increase the pace to outwalk the fire. Fortunately, the wind was not strong that day. I have heard stories of people driving along roads through the moor, when the fire popped up on both sides of the road.

The problems with the PC continue; I was greeted with another dodgy anti-spyware screen three hours ago. Which came hard on the heels of getting the all-clear from the expert. Oh dear.

Kate Middleton is a young woman who sees Prince William. Speculation has been rife for several years as to future plans of the couple, and this has been seized upon by the tabloid media in this country as an excuse to dog her every step. I remember infamous video footage of Ms Middleton leaving her door, to be greeted by a 25-strong media scrum. She had to barge her way through the melee to her car, and she was far from happy. As a result, a complaint was lodged with the Press Complaints Commission. The paper who published a picture of Ms Middleton, the Daily Mirror, has now apologised. Memories resurface of Princess Diana, who died in Paris as her car sped away from journalists. I have no time at all for this sort of journalism. The other day, I happened to browse a copy of another tabloid, which would best serve purpose as firelighter. And that's me being polite.


Would like to recommend this picture gallery of a family in a remote corner of the already remote Falklands Islands, 8,000 miles south of the UK off southern Argentina in the South Atlantic.


Friday notes

Not doing a lot of posting for the time being. Did a huge clear-out on the computer yesterday, to get rid of the spyware, which appears to have been successful. The only problem is that my journal now shows on Firefox with broken-link icons instead of my sidebar images. The browser also fails to 'find' websites that are perfectly accessible using Internet Explorer. I'll probably download it again.

Anyway, not a bad day out here, with some hazy sunshine but feeling cold. The Fabrication Yard across the water is set to re-open with 10 new jobs in the offing. They used to make components for windturbines and wave power generators.

The island of Canna, just south of Skye, has elected the couple that will augment its population. They are familiar with the island, as the lady used to do a spell of supply teaching. Read more here.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Call for support - Giving Tree

This is not very straightforward, as I'm writing on behalf of Angie (canyonsun04) who now writes a private journal. A sister of a friend of hers (Cindy, embacmar, writes journal Cindy's Life) lost everything in a housefire in Virginia. It comes on top of a whole string of misfortune. In order to alleviate her most immediate needs, please visit the Giving Tree for details.

Further details in this entry from Cindy's journal.

If you can help, please do.

Snagged from Noelle

1. The closest I ever got to a 4.0 in high school was my blood alcohol content.

2. Isn't having a smoking section in a restaurant like having a peeing ection in a swimming pool?

3. I live in my own little world, but it's OK, they know me here.

4. I saw a woman wearing a sweatshirt with 'GUESS' on it. I said, "Thyroid problem?"

5. When you stop believing in Santa Claus is when you start getting clothes for Christmas!

6. I don't do drugs anymore 'cause I find I get the same effect just by standing up really fast."

7. Sign In Oriental Pet Store: "Buy one dog, get one flea..."

8. Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

9. Sex is hereditary. If your parents never had it, chances are you won't either.

10. I have learned there is little difference in husbands, you might as well keep the first.

11. There are two sides to every divorce: Yours and shithead's.

12. Travel is very educational. I can now say "Kaopectate" in seven different languages.

13. Shopping tip: You can get shoes for 85 cents at bowling alleys.

14. After all is said and done, usually more is said than done.

15. I am a nobody, nobody is perfect, therefore I am perfect.

16. I married my wife for her looks. But not the ones she's been giving me lately!

17. Everyday I beat my own previous record for number of consecutive days I've stayed alive.

18. Isn't it funny how the mood can be ruined so quickly by just one busted condom?

19. No one ever says "It's only a game," when their team is winning.

20. I gave my son a hint. On his room door I put a sign: "CHECKOUT TIME IS 18."

21. How come we choose from just two people for president and 50 for Miss America?

22. Ever notice that people who spend money on beer, cigarettes, and lottery tickets are always complaining about being broke and not feeling well?

23. How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you're on.

24. Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy.

25. Why is it that most nudists are people you don't want to see naked?

26. I mixed Rogaine with Viagra. Now I've got hair like Don King.

27. I earn a seven-figure salary. Unfortunately, there's a decimal point involved.

28. Snowmen fall from Heaven unassembled.

29. Every time I walk into a singles bar I can hear Mom's wise words: "Don't pick that up. You don't know where it's been ."


I understand that the American Mid West has been pounded by a string of tornadoes, which have claimed at least two lives and caused extensive damage. I also note that severe winter weather has wreaked havoc on the roads. Hope all are well in that area. 

Bullying tactics

You may remember the video I posted some time ago about a security company ADG (sic). A lady startled awake in her bedroom amidst noises that suggested intruders were about. She pressed the button on the box on the wall, which put her in touch immediately with the ADG home office - in New Delhi. Followed a whole string of interruptions to the service call whilst the 'call centre' worker dealt with complaints from users of other companies.

The video merrily sat on my YouTube account for about 6 weeks, until today. I had a copyright infringement notice from ADT (sic), the security company, which operates both in the US and the UK. If I want to fight it, I'll have to go to court or something.

Now, I do appreciate that the ADG logo looks suspiciously like ADT, which is probably the grounds for the infringement notice. But someone hasn't got a sense of humour, and if I ever need a security system, ADT are most definitely NOT going to get the contract.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Peatbogs should be preserved

The National Trust, a conservation body concerned with England and Wales, has issued a statement that, in my opinion, has huge relevance for the Isle of Lewis. The Trust says that peat bogs should be preserved, to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases (like CO2) that are released into the atmosphere. (source: this BBC article)

The NT states that peatbogs across the UK contain 20 years' worth of carbon emissions from the country as a whole. Disturbing them, or allowing them to dry out, would release said carbon back into the atmosphere.

Here in Lewis, the island is covered by a blanket of peat bog, up to 6 metres / 20 feet thick. As I have often reported, three windfarms are planned on the periphery of this bog, which will mean the removal of huge amounts of peat when the foundations for the towers (each requiring a footprint of 150 feet / 45 metres) are constructed. And there will be 176 towers.

The Scottish Executive (the devolved government of Scotland) is currently reviewing a planning application for two of the three windfarms. I hope they take this into account.

Renal Dialysis Unit

A renal dialysis unit has opened at Western Isles Hospital here in Stornoway, where patients can go who require dialysis of their blood. This normally needs to be done two or three times a week.

In the past, patients had to travel to Inverness's Raigmore Hospital 2 or 3 times a week, making it difficult for them to lead a normal life away from their illness. Renal dialysis is needed when the kidneys stop functioning (properly), leading to the build up of waste material from the body in the blood. In healthy people, this is normally filtered by the kidneys and voided into the urine. People who require dialysis tend to feel increasingly tired and unwell as the time for their dialysis, basically a filtration, draws near.

About two-thirds of the islands' population live outside Stornoway, and about one fifth off the main island (Lewis / Harris). Cutting out the flights to Inverness means a great improvement of their quality of life.

Previous problems within the Western Isles Health Board, who administer health care in these islands, have impeded progress on this front, but it is very good to finally see this project come to fruition.

Hurricane update - 28 March

The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu has been strafed by galeforce winds through today (they are 12 hours ahead of GMT). Although New Caledonia has been put on the first stage of a tropical cyclone alert, Cyclone Becky looks set to fizzle out before reaching this French dependency.

Eyes will now turn to the Indian Ocean, where something might be brewing in the centre of the ocean.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Call for support

Sugar went into surgery today for some pretty major procedures. She will appreciate comments, e-cards etcetera immensely, so please drop her a line. This links to her last entry.

I think she deserves to be commended for bravery in grave adversity. I'm not just referring to the illness, but also her personal circumstances. 

Petition to No 10

Last month, I signed an e-petition to the Prime Minister. He replied today. Below, you'll find both petition and answer.
In analysis, I perceive a shift in policy towards smaller scale projects, and not exclusively wind energy. Other forms of renewable energy are also advocated. Naturally, the planning argument will be used to counter-act the location aspect, mentioned in the petition.

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to withdraw all subsidies and support to on-shore wind farms in valued landscapes."

Details of petition:

"We agree with the need to find methods to prevent climate change affecting our environment but this must be done with the full support of the public. No attempt can be successful if it destroys the very environment that we hope to save. We call for support for renewable energy projects that are NOT divisive in nature. We call for greater subsidies to small/personal micro-generation schemes such as solar heating. The major mechanism for reduction in CO2 and other greenhouse gasses must be responsible cooperation with the public, NOT imposition of unwanted areas of policy that threaten many households. On-shore wind farms may (when subsidised with public funds) provide large profits to multi-national corporations but their contribution to CO2 reduction is small when weighed against the savings that are possible IF the public feel that they are part of the solution and not having to fight against it!"

Reply from the Prime Minister

The onshore wind industry does not receive any direct grant subsidy or support above that available under the Renewables Obligation (RO). The RO is a mechanism that allows for renewable energy generators to receive a premium for every Megawatt of electricity generated. The UK has one of the best wind profiles in Europe, with the potential to supply a significant portion of our energy needs. Wind energy currently offers the best, and most cost-effective, potential in the short to medium term for the expansion of renewables. However, all proposed wind developments must take place within the formal planning procedure, which allows all relevant stakeholders to have their view and assess all relevant impacts on the environment, local community etc.

The Government remains committed to renewable energy, and has put in place a substantial framework to encourage its development. The Energy White Paper Our energy future - creating a low carbon economy sets out a clear strategy to reduce harmful emissions over the next 50 years with a major expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency at its heart. It sets out four goals for the Government's energy policy: to work towards cutting emissions of carbon dioxide by some 60 per cent by around 2050; to maintain the reliability of energy supplies; to promote competitive energy markets in the UK and beyond; and to ensure that every home is adequately and affordably heated. It is within this wider context that the development of renewables takes place.

In March 2006 Government published the microgeneration strategy which contains a number of measures to address some of the wider barriers preventing the development of a sustainable market in microgeneration. These include measures to tackle upfront costs, including to help microgenerators gain better access to the rewards for generating electricity e.g. easier access to Renewable Obligation Certificates and improved rewards for electricity exported to the grid. In last weeks Budget a 50% increase in funding for householders to install small scale renewables such as micro wind turbines and solar panels was announced. This will take the total available under the Low Carbon Building Programme to more than £18million. At the same time the scheme is to be re-shaped to make best use of the extra funding. Proposals will be brought forward in May.

The Government has also committed over £500m to help develop emerging renewables and low carbon technologies in the period 2002 - 2008. Beyond that, a new joint Defra/DTI Fund, the Environmental Development Fund, has been set up that will provide a boost to investment in renewable energies and other green technologies aimed at reducing carbon emissions. Final details of the scale and scope of the Fund will be announced in the Spending Review.

Department for Trade and Industry (opens in new window)
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (opens in new window)

CarnivAOL 36

You have until April 3rd to send Dawn ( your entries that you want to see featured on CarnivAOL. She needs the FULL URL of the entry, not just the weblink of your blog. Get sending!

Coire an t-Sneachda

This name may be familiar to regular readers of this blog, following reports of accidents in that area of the Cairngorm Mountains, south of Inverness. Today, another person had a fall and required an airlift to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for treatment to head injuries. Condition of the casualty has not been released.

Over the winter 5 people died in this area. The problem is that the Coire is located within an hour's walk of a carpark, but presents a difficult and unforgiving climb. One mistake, and you end up a lot lower.

Malware problems?

If, like me, you have problems with unwanted nasties on your system, there are a few forums about. I am using one which is related to the spyware removal tool Search & Destroy. Link here. Things do tend to get a bit technical, but that's a small price to pay to get your system cleaned up.

If you have a problem that you need help with, go to the section entitled Malware Removal. You need to register with the site before you can request help. Hope this is useful to someone.

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Tuesday notes

Sunny morning, although the sunshine is quite hazy. Glancing out of the window shows the coastguard cutter Vigilant hovering outside port. Am currently once again trying to scan the PC for malware, which has continued to pop up. Annoying. Even more so, because the browser stalled on an overnight virus & malware scan. So have to start the 6 hour process all over again.

Hurricane update - 27 March

The Pilbara coast in Western Australia appears to have dodged a silver bullet, with cyclone Kara weakening rapidly before making landfall.

The South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on the contrary looks set for a hammer blow as cyclone Becky appears to make a full length pass of the island chain, north to south. Its associated winds will increase from 63 mph at the moment to 125 mph by the time Becky is done with the islands. Next port of call will be New Caledonia. Cannot find any reference to cyclone warnings for Vanuatu :-(

Monday, 26 March 2007


Alerts appear to be back in operation as of 6.45PM (BST) / 1.45PM (EDT). View this entry by the Journalseditor. Would have been nice if we had had warning.

No Alerts

After making this morning's entry, I did not check my mailbox until now, 7 hours later. I need not have bothered. I had precisely ZERO alerts in that period, even if Technorati tell me that several of you did make postings since 10 am BST. If alerts are down, you probably won't be alerted to this post.

Monday notes

Nice sunny morning in the islands, just like yesterday. May it long continue.

Down in Northern Ireland, Gerry Adams and Rev Ian Paisley are due to meet later today. The two have never met face-to-face, and this would have been unthinkable until recently. Adams is the president of Sinn Fein, the republican party which was the political arm of the IRA until this disarmed. His voice was at one time banned from public broadcast. Paisley is the leader of the largest protestant party, and a vociferous critic of Sinn Fein. His fire-and-brimstone sermons are legendary.

I wish both men wisdom at this crucial time in Northern Ireland's history, as in this meeting lies an opportunity to finally put to rest decades of civil war and centuries of strife in the island of Ireland.

Hurricane update - 26 March

Western Australia is awaiting the landfall of cyclone KARA, which could arrive as a severe cyclone. The system is relatively small, and therefore quite unpredictable. A public advisory is issued here. Landfall is projected to occur around 1800 UTC on Tuesday.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Iran and Iraq

I am known to air the opposite views in a debate, which is commonly referred to as "acting the Devil's Advocate". I am a reader of the blog, written by the Iranian president. When you follow the link, you'll see a page written in Farsi. Click on "English" to change this.

I think it is important to keep an eye on the utterances of Mr Ahmadinajad, even if I don't like what he says. I am acutely aware of the increasing tensions in his part of the world, not helped by the plight of the 15 British naval personnel who strayed into disputed waters to investigate an Iranian boat. The sailors were apprehended in a part of the Persian Gulf that is claimed both by Iran and Iraq. I somehow don't think the British navy was aware of that. It has handed the Iranian hard-liners a perfect excuse for inflaming the situation even further.

If the Coalition forces (led by the US) had taken local sensitivities into account, the situation could have been avoided. They are obviously blind to the ruses of the Tehran regime, who will seek any excuse for a confrontation. Having already dealt the US a bloody nose in 1979, they can't wait to do it again. And attacking Iran is about the worst mistake the US administration could ever make.

As you can see on the president's blog, he is gleefully playing on the dissatisfaction that is growing in the US against the war in Iraq, a conflict that (in my opinion) is secretly being fuelled by arms from Iran. If George Bush has any sense, he'll drop the gunboat diplomacy and dons the kid gloves. He has plenty of friends in the region who can tell him how to do that. Just wonder if he has the intelligence to comprehend the instructions.

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Was browsing through my Flickr archives this evening, when I came across the Monuments and Memorials set. There was one memorial that I would like to single out for now.

This is one of the worst disasters at sea in peacetime, during the 20th century. It is second only to the Titanic's sinking, of which the 95th anniversary will occur on April 12th. The story can be read on this webpage, from where I copy these lines:

The Norge had left Trondheim on 28th June 2004. Three hundred miles west of Scotland, sleeping passengers were jolted from their slumber by a loud grinding, rasping sound. The Norge's bow had struck the rocks around the sixty-foot Rockall Cliff, tearing a hole in the hull.

Rockall 1904
A newspaper picture of the cliff Rockall after the S/S Norge disaster in 1904

Clanging bells signaled crewmembers to stop the engines. Pumps were engaged and passengers were instructed to put on life belts. Lifeboats were readied and passengers began to board them. The nose of the ship was pinned directly against the rocks. Captain Gundell ordered the engine room to reverse the engines to pull the ship off. Unfortunately, the damage was sever and as soon as the ship was away water began pouring into the hold. Panic broke out as the catastrophic nature of the situation became evident. The passengers who were piled into the few boats being lowered were the fortunate ones, while the others could see they were about to go down with the rapidly sinking Norge. [...] Less than twenty minutes after striking the rocks, the Norge plunged beneath the waves, taking nearly 700 passengers with her.

As the plaque says, 105 of the 160 survivors came ashore at Stornoway, but 9 died shortly after arrival. They lie buried at Sandwick Cemetery, about a mile outside the town.

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Call for support

It came to my attention that Jackie in Alabama [Life in Bama] is trying to cope with her mother's deteriorating health. By the sound of it, she has not got long to live. Please call round.


I have added two graphics to my sidebar - one right at the top, as we're now only 2 weeks away from Easter. The other, right at the bottom but only physically so, is one of Sugar's for Kim [demandnlilchit] who has overcome treatment for breastcancer, only to be confronted with continuing health scares.

Katrina info

A complete website devoted to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is available for viewing here

Highway 90 bridge from Biloxi to Ocean Springs

Sunday notes

Brilliantly sunny day, the best day of the year in terms of weather. Not a cloud in the sky. Temperatures a very respectable 11C / 52F, although the wind keeps it cool. Went out for an amble round Goat Island. It being Sunday means it's very quiet out and about. Once the battery in my camera has recharged, I'll go out for another amble.

The pollution in the playpark, which I mentioned in pictures taken on Friday, goes back to the time when a gasplant was located on that site earlier in the 20th century. The plant was demolished in the 1960s, but the soil never cleaned up. It is contaminated with heavy metals and the like. The council have now got the £60,000 needed to remove the toxic stuff. The playpark was closed last September as a precaution. We all know what small children are like; messing about in the sand, putting stuff in their mouths &c. So, the playpark will become a tennis court, and the tennis courts will become the playpark. Now, bearing in mind what tennis players can be like (John McEnroe is a good example), I don't know if they're going to be any safer in there.

It was reported today that two people have died on the A9 trunkroad between Perth and Inverness. This road is notorious, as it switches from dual carriageway to single carriageway continually along its 110 mile length. Many people die there every year, but appeals to dual the whole length continually fall on deaf ears. Another blackspot in the north of Scotland is the A96, which links Inverness and Aberdeen. Speed tends to be one of the causes of many accidents there. If memory serves, someone was stopped doing nearly 150 mph on the A9 one day...

British Summer Time

British Summer Time will come into force very shortly - at 01.00 GMT the clocks go forward to 02.00 BST. The same clock movement applies across Europe. The Americans, I gather, are still bemused after their clocks gained an hour two weeks ago. Anyway, don't forget to put your clocks forward tonight!

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Pictures of Waterwheel and Golf Course

As promised, the pictures I took yesterday on my walk to the Waterwheel.

Saturday afternoon notes

Mrs B's guest arrived two hours before we would have been back from the West Side. Just as well we didn't go. And it's quite cold in the wind. So, instead I am going through the joys of removing a piece of malware from the PC - systemdoctor - which is annoying me by jumping up after I open 3 or 4 pages in my browser. I am now running an alternative spyware detector, and after doing a sweep with my usual standbys (Ad-Aware and Search and Destroy) this still coughs up dozens of nasties. Jeez.

Cautionary tale: don't forget to include spyware / malware protection in your PC's security.

Saturday notes

Initially, we had this plan to go over to Bragar this afternoon. However, the bus wouldn't get us back in time for Mrs B to receive a guest due late afternoon. Maybe next week.

Are you a cyberchondriac?

Taken from MSN

As if their job wasn’t hard enough already, general practitioners are now finding themselves being inundated by patients with ‘cyberchondria’, which involves using the internet to self-diagnose, usually incorrectly, and to research quack cures. It’s hypochondria for the information generation, and more and more people are getting trapped in its net.

It’s hard to imagine what our predecessors did before the invention of the World Wide Web. With literally billions of internet pages at our fingertips, all we need to research and write an article is a laptop and a mobile phone. We could do this job from a Starbucks. But, as Peter Parker (aka Spiderman) would say, “With great power comes great responsibility”, and it seems that the great power of the internet is having a negative effect on the health and stress levels of the UK population, spawning a condition called ‘cyberchondria’.

The rise of cyberchondria, or ‘internet print-out syndrome’, is not unlike the growing popularity in DIY health kits, the only difference being it doesn’t cost the patient anything and only requires an internet connection. And, as with the rocketing popularity of DIY health kits, doctors are concerned at our eagerness to use the internet to self-diagnose an illness or condition and with our tendency to misread symptoms and automatically fear the worst case scenario.

With hundreds of websites claiming to allow the user to diagnose a range of diseases by simply filling in an online form or questionnaire, GPs' surgeries are being inundated with patients who have downloaded information about their ‘condition’ and are demanding treatments they have stumbled across on the internet. Some patients even request attention for medical conditions that don’t actually exist.

Search engines have also played a role in the spread of cyberchondria. A few words entered into a search engine instantly provide the user with a huge mix of websites, some containing useful and some offering bogus information, with which to research their condition.

Basically, it’s a form of hypochondria for the internet generation – an affliction that turns piles into bowel cancer, back pain into sciatica and headaches into a brain tumour, and it's spreading fast.

Dr Sarah Keegan, a GP based in North London, said: “When I get visited by patients I automatically assume they’ve already looked things up on the internet.”

A major problem with using the internet to get to the bottom of certain symptoms is that anyone can set up an internet health resource, and as a result a great deal of information available is either misleading or incorrect. Sites that are attached to a society or charity, or reputable organisations such as NHS Direct or Netdoctor are stringently regulated and can therefore be relied upon, whereas those set up by an individual who isn’t moderated by anyone could contain pages of medical advice that is largely incorrect.

A GP from Midlothian, Scotland, who did not want to be named, said: "I regularly see patients who are convinced they have a certain disease based on information they've printed off at home, and a lot of the time it comes from sources I've never come across in my life and certainly wouldn't trust.

"Even if it is from a regulated source, sometimes the information is designed for health professionals and is therefore difficult for the person on the street to interpet correctly."

Even more worrying is the online availability of products and drugs that are, usually for good reason, not available or even legal in the UK. Unregulated sellers of pharmaceuticals, who have no awareness of patient history or possible side-effects and don’t seem to care that certain drugs, such as viagra, need to be used under certain conditions, are a particular danger to patients.

The Midlothian GP continues: "Patients frequently ask for a drug or treatment that they've read about on the internet but isn't available in the UK, and, though of course we won't give it to them, it's worrying that they can just go and buy it over the internet from abroad."

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has the authority to shut down websites selling prescription-only medicines that are based in the UK, but is powerless to regulate those working from overseas.

Another major problem with medical information available on the internet is that it tends to play to a patient’s worst fears. A cyberchondriac will read a list of what possible symptoms could mean, and automatically assume that their’s is the worse case scenario.

Our Midlothian source adds: "Quite often a list of minor symptoms can be put together to form a checklist for a much more serious condition, and if a person believes they have a few of these symptoms, their mind starts to convince them they must have this terrible illness, and they even start to believe they have some of the symptoms they don't."

It’s not all bad news, however. The internet can actually play a positive role in the lives of patients after they have been properly diagnosed with a disease or condition, providing them with information, support and, ultimately, comfort. The internet can also be used to provide instant answers to questions a patient may be too afraid or embarrassed to ask their GP – just so long as the source is reputable and those answers are correct.

The Midlothian GP said: "The internet can be a brilliant resource for people who know what's wrong with them. For example, if a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer, then if they know where to look then there is a wealth of valuable information available on the internet that can help them understand their illness and prepare themselves for the treatment that lies ahead."

What's more, although a growing number of people are referencing the internet before visiting their GP, a lot of them still seem to be more likely to take on board advice that comes from a doctor's mouth rather than a computer screen. Dr Keegan adds: "I’ve never had an occasion when a patient has argued with me on the basis of what they’ve read online”

Diagnosing a disease or an illness is never as easy as answering a few questions online. As far as medical advice on the internet is concerned, quality control is impossible, although if used wisely, its “great power” can still be used to our advantage. There's no doubt, however, that to get the right answers there is no substitute for seeing your GP.

Friday, 23 March 2007


That word only crept into my vocabulary in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The massive flooding in New Orleans was the result of the breach of levees (barriers) around the city. The US Army Corps of Engineers has been roundly blamed for their poor performance. This article on the Wunderground blog by Dr Jeff Masters has the full stories. The comments section is interesting as well.

One of those days

Went out for a walk this afternoon, across town to the Waterwheel. Crossed the Stornoway Golf Course (yes we have one, and it's 117 years old) and found the Waterwheel. I'll post pictures over the weekend. In order to take a picture of the building, I decided to try to clamber up a muddy embankment. Well, that's what I thought. I ended up losing my footing, knees first in mud. After gingerly making my way down again, I inspected the damage. Very muddy trousers. Fortunately, the waterwheel is just what it says: there's a lot of water about. So, I went to the millrace and dipped my hanky in to rub the mud off. Of course, the hankey floated away at 5 mph into the millpond, out of my reach. I had to find a branch of gorse to fish it out of the pond. After which, I could make myself presentable for returning through the town.

Did I say we had lots of rain of late, and the ground is positively waterlogged?


I have updated my sidebar; you need to scroll right down to see the changes. The pink ribbon marks the start of a section which I have entitled "Awareness of Cancer and Chronic Illness". The five tags relate to J-landers who battle with cancer or chronic disease. All 5 are linked to the relevant journals - with thanks to Sugar for the tags.

The individuals concerned are:
Sugar herself
John (Krissy's husband)
Jeannette (Jeannette's Jottings)
Barbara (Just another day in the life of me)
Lisa Kay (Don't take life for granted, [seraphoflove9001])

But they relate to ALL who are in a similar position.

Fuel shortage

Because of technical problems with our tanker, unleaded petrol is currently in short supply in and around Stornoway. For reference, our tanker is a ship, the Border Heather, which I occasionally mention as coming in or going out. People are going round with jerrycans, trying to scrounge a litre here and a litre there.

I don't drive, and buses run on diesel, which has not run out. The tanker is due tomorrow, or Monday. Until then, traffic will be a bit thinner than usual.

Friday notes

Nice enough afternoon, even though the wind is up, making it feel a bit chilly.

Learned this morning that the coach of the Pakistani cricket team was murdered in the West Indies. Now, cricket is not my interest, but I do find it very sad that people take their sports affiliation to extremes. It's one of the reasons that you'll rarely hear me talk about sports in a positive sense. Nonetheless, it was shocking to hear that Bob Woolmer was apparently strangled in his hotel room in Jamaica. The Cricket World Cup, in which his country (Pakistan) took part, will be continuing, as they wish to avoid the impression to be giving in to terrorism or whatever.

I mentioned yesterday that the latest edition of CarnivAOL is out, but did not give the link. So - hurry over to Gina's blog for the latest. Next edition is due on April 3rd, and it will be hosted by Dawn in her journal Carpe Diem. Please email the complete URL of one of your own entries to princesssaurora (at) aol (dot) com. Paul, who is the keeper of CarnivAOL, would like to hear from you if you want to host a future edition of the Carnival of the Vanities. You can email him at plittle (at) aol (dot) com.

Tidbits of wisdom

with thanks to Rhonda

Love  is grand !  Divorce  is a hundred grand.
I  am in shape.
Round is a shape.
Time  may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician.
Conscience  is what hurts when everything else feels good.
Talk  is cheap because supply exceeds demand.
Even  if you are on the right track,
You'll get run over if you just sit there.
An  optimist thinks this is the best possible world.
A pessimist fears this is  true.
There  will always be death and taxes;
However, death doesn't get worse every  year.
In  just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday.
I  am a nutritional  overachiever.
I  plan on living forever. So far, so good.
Practice  safe eating -- always use condiments.
A  day without sunshine is like night.
It's  frustrating when you know all the answers,
But nobody bothers to ask you  the questions.
The  real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time,  but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment
Brain  cells come and brain cells go,
But fat cells live  forever.
Age  doesn't always bring wisdom.
Sometimes it comes alone.
Life  not only begins at forty,
It also begins to show.
I  smile because I am your friend!
I  laugh because there is nothing you can do about it.

Thursday, 22 March 2007


Remember the scallops I gathered on Tuesday? Well, someone 70 miles to the south of me managed to collect 70 (yes, seventy) of the things on the same extreme low tide. He has distributed his catch in his village, frozen them and will have them for supper for the foreseeable future.

Call for support

Please call round at Robyn's journal. Her grandmother has passed away, and she is having a very hard time at it. Please ignore some strong language in the post; it is straight from the heart.

Give Blood

I was asked by Tammy [memes121] to include this in my journal, and am more than happy to do so. John (Krissy's other half) needs regular blood transfusions. For that, people need to donate blood. It's not just for John, it's the thousands who need blood every day, all over the world.

If you're in the UK, in England or North Wales, check out this website by clicking on the logo

In Scotland call
When you have donated blood, or someone else you knows has done so after seeing my post, please let me know. I don't need to know names, only how many. Better still, contact Tammy direct on memes121 (at) aol (dot) com.

Many thanks!

Thursday notes

Brilliantly sunny day in the isles, a complete change from the horrible weather we've had of late. It really does feel like spring, even if it isn't all that warm. Spring clean in progress this end (carpets, backyard, you name it), so not many entries today.


It would appear a whole batch of alerts has not reached me. I was NOT alerted to Paul's CarnivAOL entry, neither was I to Gina's entry on same entry. However, Joe the Journalseditor advised us last night that all was hunkydory. We shall see.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007


Here in the island, a storm has blown up after a location was revealed for the interconnector. The what? An interconnector is a posh word for a sub-sea electricity cable. As I have reported before, they are proposing to build THREE windfarms on Lewis. The electricity generated by these monstrosities has to be transported to the National Grid, and a sub-sea cable is the only way to do that. The place where they think this cable may dive under the billowy waves is the tiny hamlet of Gravir.

View from Gravir to the sea

I am purposefully also giving the Gaelic name: Grabhair. Indeed, people in the village are grabbing their hair to pull it out. They will be confronted with an electricity substation the size of 20 houses, lines of huge pylons marching down one of the more remote glens in Lewis (Glen Ourn) to bring the power generated from the windfarm in Eishken. As well as that from the windfarm in Park, across the valley. I know the area very well indeed, having spent 3 months there in the winter of 2004/5. Want to read about that? Go back to the very first entry in this blog and read from there. Don't go back manually, this is entry 2,410.

Returning to the here and now, as I have repeatedly written on here, southeast Lewis, the one remaining wilderness area in the island, stands to be desecrated and turned into an industrial zone. I know, nobody lives there. Apart from the 200 people of South Lochs (the district concerned), and nobody is bothered about them. And they appear to want the windfarm - do they? It is supposed to be the economic salvation of their backwater - or so the town fathers have decreed. But having 200 ft pylons by your front door, as well as a huge substation, emitting that continuous 50 Hz hum, well that changed the game a bit.

When I was in South Lochs, that winter two years ago, I had a magical time. I would spend days wandering amongst the lochs and low hills of the areas, exploring for hours on end, until the sunset put a stop to it. Many's the time I reached the end of the Gravir Glen road end just in time, at 3.30pm. I still had to walk 6 miles to return to my base in the even tinier village of Kershader. But I was alone in the wilderness, with only the moor, the lochs, the shrikes and grouse, the rain, the wind and the sun.

That will be lost if this plan for the interconnector goes ahead.

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Wednesday notes

For a change at the end of the day. Today's weather was unpleasant - wet, windy and feeling very cold in the wind. According to the thermometers, it was marginally warmer than yesterday, and there was no snow or hail. Tomorrow should see a nice bright spring day, although the temps are still not worth mentioning. I'm winking at people south of the Border, who will experience what we had today.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (the Minister for Finance in the UK) has presented his annual Budget for 2007/8. Can't say I'm particularly riveted by that sort of thing, it was taking away with one hand what he gave with the other. But, Chancellors of various political hues have played that sort of game since time immemorial.

Don't dodge waves

Coastguards on Humberside have been called out to two separate wave dodging incidents on Tuesday, as members of the public, seeking thrills from the rough weather, risk their lives to dodge waves on piers and along the coast.

Whitby Police called Humber Coastguard at just before 5.00 pm to request that a Coastguard team checked reports of a man and child on East Pier at Whitby dodging waves. Whitby Coastguard Rescue team observed a man on the pier. He was advised to stay away from the end of the pier during the gale force weather which has been battering the area today.

At 5.50 pm, Humber Police called Humber Coastguard to request their assistance with more wave dodgers in their area. People had parked their cars in cliff top car parks and were dodging waves at Skipsea Sands. A telepgraph pole had already been uprooted and fallen into the sea. Hornsea Coastguard Rescue Team were requested to attend the scene but by the time that they arrived the wave dodgers had gone.

Drew Mahood, Humber Coastguard Watch Manager says:
Wave dodging can be very dangerous in rough weather. These people are taking a serious risk with their lives. So far today we have not had to deal with a serious wave dodging incident and we would like that to continue. The sea is a harsh and dangerous environment which should be treated with respect particularly during rough weather.


Tourism organisation VisitScotland have set up a special body to deal with tourism in the Outer Hebrides, called VisitHebrides. If you look at, you'll see WalkHebrides, RootsHebrides, etcetera. The above you will not find. It is a reference to the dark side of these islands. One example is the Eilean Glas lighthouse in Scalpay, 5 miles east of Tarbert in Harris. In the 1990s, it was advertised as a venue with a restaurant and all. From my own experience, I happen to know that you can only reach said lighthouse on foot, through some of the worst bogs you'll ever find in the Hebrides. There is no road - oh, of course you can take a boat. Anyway, I'll link to an account on VirtualHebrides and let you shiver.

Yiddish proverbs

With thanks to Rhonda

If the rich could hire other people to die for them, the Poor could make a wonderful living. ~~~ Yiddish Proverb
The wise man, even when he holds his tongue, says more than the fool when he speaks. ~~~ Yiddish Proverb
Ask about your neighbors, then buy the house.  ~~~   Yiddish proverb
What you don't see with your eyes, don't invent with your mouth. ~~~    Yiddish proverb
A hero is someone who can keep his mouth shut when he is right.  ~~~  Yiddish Proverb
One old friend is better than two new ones.  ~~~  Yiddish Proverb
One of life's greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world. ~~~ Jewish Proverb
Old friends, like old wines, don't lose their flavor.  ~~~ Jewish Proverb

A wise man hears one word and understands two.  ~~~ Yiddish Proverb
"Don't be so humble - you are not that great." ~~~ Golda Meir (1898-1978) to a visiting diplomat
Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself. ~~~ Golda Meir
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving ~~~ Albert Einstein
When his wife asked him to change clothes to meet the German Ambassador:   "If they want to see me, here I am. If they want to see my clothes, open my closet and show them my suits."  ~~~ Albert Einstein
Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.  ~~~ Albert Einstein
The hardest thing in the world to understand is income tax. ~~~ Albert Einstein
You can't control the wind, but you can adjust your sails. ~~~ Yiddish proverb
I don't want to become immortal through my work. I want to become immortal through not dying. ~~~ Woody Allen
I'm not afraid of dying ~~~ I just don't want to be there when it happens! ~~~ Woody Allen
Imagination is more important than knowledge.   (Sign hanging in Einstein's office at Princeton)
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. ~~~ Albert Einstein
We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. ~~~ Albert Einstein
Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school. ~~~ Albert Einstein
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe. ~~~ Albert Einstein

A gloomy prayer

With thanks to Back of Beyond on BBC Island Blogging

Dogger, Fisher, German Bight
Once again the weather's s****
Howling wind, cold rain and hail
Calmac's boats will never sail

Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea
Looks about Force Ten to me
The bin's away; blown down the croft
It's ragged contents swirl aloft

Rockall, Malin, Hebrides
I'm fed up with days like these
It's still dark at half past ten
When will we see the sun again?

Fair Isle, Faroes, South East Iceland
Sorry kids, the veg is still canned
I'm cooking tea by naked flame
Oh Lord, don't send us more the same

Tuesday, 20 March 2007


Runrig is a folk-rock group, founded in the late 1970s by a number of young people from the west of Scotland. It has a broad repertoire of music. For reasons of copyright, I cannot place recordings on this blog, but have a look (and listen) on their website.

Tuesday 20/03/07

Brilliantly sunny morning, interspersed with the odd flake of snow. Some snow continues to lie in the shade. Temperatures hover between 3 and 5C. Am surprised to find the Isle of Lewis ferry still alongside - it never sailed at 7.15 am. It does go at 1.45. I go out myself to the basin to see if I can cross to Goat Island. Answer NO. A deep channel runs from the main body of water into the harbour, some 6 feet below. Collect 8 scallop clams, which lie about snapping in mrs B's kitchen, until she turns them into a nice starter. Scallops taste sweet, and only need 3 or 4 minutes in the frying pan. The orange "coral" is not commonly used; it contains the scallop's organs and can be very rich. Main course is chili con carne, but it leaves me pretty full up. Sunset 6.40pm.

Monday 19/03/07

Today is a litany of hail and snow showers. The hail does not lie, but it is very cold, particularly in the wind. Nonetheless, I take it upon myself to wash the salt off the windows. This was left there by the seaspray in the gales over the last few days. Today is the 4th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. Nip down the shop for some bits and pieces, but can’t wait to get back inside. As the afternoon progresses, the hail turns to snow. Major disruption is caused to traffic in the Highlands, and our ferries are off.

Sunday 18/03/07

Ferry returned from Ullapool at 2.45, after the overnight storm abated. Winds reached 75 mph on North Rona, and the Eoropie weatherstation is out of action. Through the afternoon, heavy hail- and snow showers pass. Temperatures are actually well above freezing (4C), so the snowflakes are large. Snow lies on the tops of the Arnish hills, which are 60 m / 200 ft high. Supper is spaghetti Bolognese. I continue to process my pictures on YouTube. Only June, July, October and November left to do. That’s still about 1,500 images.

Saturday 17/03/07

After a reasonable start, the weather turns quite unpleasant. Go out for some shopping, and it’s mild and calmish. Leave the Baltic Bookshop and find that the wind has picked up to a near-gale, and hail and snow is strafing the streets. Curtains of hail sweep Cromwell Street, hunching shoppers into submission. Buy two new T-shirts at Mackays, and trawl the stationers’ shops for record cards of a size that nobody appears to stock. Pick up lottery tickets in Woolies, then leave the town centre. My hanky flies down an alleyway beside a restaurant (which I won’t name). I have to retrieve it from the edge of a puddle that shows a foam of food remains. Eugh!! The wind is very cold. Four ships are sheltering in Broad Bay. The ferry is cancelling its 5.15 sailing out of Ullapool this evening. Some say it may not return until Tuesday. Supper tonight is roast lamb with vegetables, very nice. No winnings on the lottery. The BBC wasts hours of its time on a selection for that tired old chestnut, the Eurovision Song Contest. It is hosted by that tired old fart Terry Wogan, who gets the name of the winning group wrong. Had more fun watching Comic Relief, where Prime Minister Tony Blair took on Lauren Cooper, officially known as comedienne Catherine Tate. Am I bovvered? Dozens of versions turn up on YouTube.

Friday 16/03/07

Very poor weather to start with, heavy rain and strong winds. It’s pretty cold. The wind causes disruptions on the ferry, with the afternoon sailings an hour late. The rain changes into heavy squalls and the sun comes out every now and again. Sunday will see a late return to wintry conditions. Indlala is dissipating over Madagascar. Its impact is the 6th hammerblow to the island nation this season. Go to Somerfields for the weekend shop. Going there on Saturdays is sheer hell. Spend quite some time processing my pictures on, mapping about 3,000 of them. Yes, I’ve taken well over 6,000 pictures.

Thursday 15/03/07

Very bright morning, but with some bright wintry showers. The oilrig has departed for Ireland. Its tugs changed crew and called ashore for Stornoway black pudding. The showers contrast sharply with the sunny intervals. Go into town after 3pm to buy the papers, and a CD with Runrig music. Hop into the Castle Grounds and walk round to the Castle and down to Cuddy Point before retracing my steps. Flowers are coming out and plants are reawakening from a long wintersleep. Return to town via Kenneth Street, where the Catholic Church is nearly completely rebuilt following a destructive fire in December 2004. Calmac announces that Muirneag will not sail for Ullapool tonight due to bad weather. Next week will see significant falls of snow. Cyclone Indlala has made landfall over northern Madagascar with winds of 125 knots. These are now decreasing rapidly.

Wednesday 14/03/07

Although the day starts fairly bright, it clouds over later. The pigeons are definitely an item (aww) but I do hope they won’t nest on the house. Nesting pigeons are horrendously messy. I make it to Somerfields and back in 14 minutes flat. Parliament votes in favour of an upgrade to the British nuclear deterrent, Trident. Interesting piece of politics at work. Supper was a blazing hot madras. The Ocean Viscount ventures into port as far as Glumag Harbour. I scoot out at 6pm to take some piccies. This boat is one of the auxiliary vessels with the oilrig that is still at anchor off Lochs. No winnings on the lottery tonight. Winds are strong today, and rain follows later in the evening. Two guests arrive at 10pm, who were out delivering a piano to a house in Tolstachaolais.

Tuesday 13/03/07

Heavy rain overnight gives way to a bright sunny morning. A tropical cyclone heads for northern Madagascar, threatening winds in excess of 125 mph. Hope they get the warning. A pair of doves is cooing in the backyard as we replenish the bird feeders. Do some shopping for mrs B, who leaves the heavier items for me to pick up. The wind is cold, and I’m glad to get back indoors. Tonight’s supper is pork fillets with macaroni and ratatouille.

Monday 12/03/07

You think it’s going to be a nice day when you wake up at 8 am, and the sun is out. Not an hour later, it pours down with rain. Later showers even contain show, and mrs B is very cold on return from a mission to town. The live-fish carrier Aqua Boy leaves port as the oilrig remains in situ. Its tug Far Forsna comes into port. The showers are quite intense and have a great cloudscape. Find confirmation in the papers that the fisherman who was unwell off Eigg last week was in fact based on the island. He lost 3 fingers in a winch. I have met him personally years ago. During the afternoon, I venture out for an amble round the Battery as far as Sandwick Cottage, just before you reach the beach. A shower moves in and blows up, but at the worst of it, I’m in the lee of the houses in Builnacreig Road, on the Battery. A nice rainbow follows. Mrs B prepares a very nice stew for supper.

Sunday 11/03/07

A very wild night with wind and rain. After a final downpour, the weather settles down to a pale, sunny afternoon. TC Jacob is reduced to a tropical storm, which will bring gales to Western Australia but nothing more. The stream from ABC Northwestern is not working. Attend the Journals Tournament chat on AOL. Mrs B’s son plus family call round for their showers. Dinner is savoy cabbage special. A bit of sunshine through the afternoon, until the sun sets at 6.15pm. The rig remains on the horizon, illuminated at night.

Saturday 10/03/07

The oilrig is just visible, but frequent drizzle and rain often obscure it from sight. It’s milder than of late, about 11C, and it stays that mild until midnight. However, it’s not to last. TC Jacob is bearing down on Karratha, Western Australia, but appears to be weakening. Workers express their disgust at being housed in prefabs, in the face of 170 mph winds. Rain is pretty persistent here through the afternoon, and is quite heavy as I go down the shop for papers and a savoy cabbage. Tonight’s supper is a curry and rice. Win £10 on the lottery!

Friday 09/03/07

Clear start to the morning, when an oil drilling rig can be seen on the southeastern horizon at 6.30 am. It is moving slowly south, and comes to a standstill just to the left of Arnish. AIS reveals its position as between Ranish and Marvig. The rig is the Sedco 711, a semi-submersible platform. It is towed by tugs Far Sky and Far Forsna. These boats are anchor-handling vessels, capable of dealing with anchors up to 22 tons. The rig is destined for the Corrib gasfield off Killybegs, Co Donegal, Ireland. The ensemble of boats, which also includes the safety vessel Ocean Viscount, could be seen off Tolsta Head late last night. Weather worsens through the morning as short, sharp, wintry showers move across. TC George has claimed 3 lives in Western Australia and caused a lot of damage. It is still packing winds of 90 knots, 105 mph, in the interior. TC Jacob is heading for the same area, due this weekend. The Far Forsna comes in for a bit, to swap places with the Far Sky later in the day. Rain starts after dark and the wind picks up to force 6. Dinner was a creditable cheese, tomato and macaroni dish, which left me full up. Rain and wind continue through the evening.

Low tide exploration

Just wanted to share some images of my foray into the Newton Basin at low tide. This was at around 2pm. I also found our dinner there, in the shape of 8 rather large scallop clams. They are now clattering away in the kitchen. These creatures are given to snap their shells if disturbed. Later on, they're for the pot. I'm squeamish, so will leave it to mrs B to process them.

This afternoon, the tide was the lowest I've seen it over the past two years, and found it is NOT possible to cross over. The outflow of the Newton Basin is a wide, fast-flowing channel, with crumbling banks. Just as I stood a little way from the flow, the bank caved in. I was considering taking a run and a jump, but that would have been foolish. I found it mind boggling that in 6 hours from now, at 7.49pm, there will be 18 feet of water above the spot where I was just now.

The video is not very interesting, just showing the shells snapping about as they lie on top of each other on a tray. Ach, scallops are strange.

Call for support

Krissy [fisherkristina] has had some bad news from John's (her husband) kidney specialist. Please call round.

Tuesday notes

Bright morning following overnight snowfall. Snow has melted, except in the shade. Temperatures only 3C, in spite of the sun. This will be the last cold day up here; tomorrow, milder weather will come in off the Atlantic, bringing a rise in temps to about 8C.

There have been dire warnings about the high tides this week. As I reported last week, the water could rise up to 18 feet above mean sea level. Fortunate for Stornoway, the prevailing northerly wind will NOT push the levels even higher. I'm going to check out the LOW tide at 2pm, which (at 0.0 metres) will be the lowest it's been in my stint at Stornoway. It just might be possible to cross on foot between Somerfields and Goat Island. However, I do run the risk of sinking into quicksands, so extreme caution will be coming along as well.

It's quiet on the tropical cyclones front, fortunately. The southern hemisphere season runs until May; the East Pacific season commences on May 15th, the Atlantic season on June 1st.

Monday, 19 March 2007


Today is the 4th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. I have blogged about the background to that event before, and won't bore you with a rehash. Suffice to say that the situation is far from ideal, with more than half the people saying they think the situation is bad. Daily car bombings across the country, a continuing and increasing insurgency does rate as bad in my book too.

I have to agree with the Saudi prince that was on BBC News earlier, who said that the American presence acted as a mustering call to the extremist cause. Many people in the Middle East have long had an axe to grind with the USA, over Israel, and see this as a simple way to get cannon fodder.

Iraq is not sufficiently stable to warrant a full-scale American or British troop withdrawal. And it may not stabilise for years to come. The situation could yet spiral further out of control if gunboat diplomacy is adopted towards Iran. Tonight, a date of end 2007, early 2008 was mooted for possible military action. If the USA do decide to attack Iran, all hell will break loose.

Lighthouse Tag

I collect tags & snags with a lighthouse theme, and this one winged its way across from Norway.

Check your expiry dates!

I am relaying a story that was sent to me by a lady in the USA. A salutary tale!

I recently made a batch of pancakes for my healthy 14-year-old son, using a mix that was in our pantry.   He said that they tasted "funny," but ate them anyway. About 10 minutes later, he began having difficulty breathing and his lips began turning purple. I gave him his allergy pill, had him sit on the sofa and told him to relax. He was wheezing while inhaling and exhaling.   My husband, a volunteer Firefighter and EMT, heated up some water, and we had my son lean over the water so the steam could clear his chest and sinuses. Soon, his breathing became more regular and his lips returned to a more normal color.   We checked the date on the box of pancake mix and, to my dismay, found it was very outdated. As a reference librarian at an academic institution, I have the ability to search through any research databases. I did just that, and found an article the next day that mentioned a 19-year-old male DYING after eating pancakes made with outdated mix. Apparently, the mold that forms in old pancake mix can be toxic!   When we told our friends about my son's close call, we were surprised at the number people who mentioned that they should check their own pancake mix since they don't use it often, or they had purchased it some time ago.   With so many people shopping at warehouse-type stores and buying large sizes of pancake mix, I hope your readers will take the time to check the expiration date on their boxes.   Also, beware of outdated bisquick, cake, brownie and cookie mixes.   PASS IT ON!!!! This is TRUE--Check it out!

Call for support

For Donna [nightmaremom], whose sister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which apparently has spread to the liver. That is giving cause for concern.

Because of the 5 hour time difference between the UK and the USA East Coast, I did not pick up on Gina's [ginabommer] entry from yesterday, in which she showed to be in deep distress. She lost her brother and her mother within a few days of each other at the end of February. I am very grateful to Carlene [tendernoggle] for picking up the baton and directing readers to Gina's journal to give support. Today's entry is a lot more positive.

Jeannette [jeanno43] has returned home from hospital, as reported by her daughter Becky. Jeannette herself will update as soon as she feels up to it. Please leave a message of support when you're there.

Lisa [seraphoflove9001] is coming to terms with her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and all that that entails. Lisa is a person with (what the medical world calls) multiple pathologies, in other words, a horde of afflictions. I would like to ask for a sympathetic ear and expressions of support.

Sugar [sugarsweet056] has been told her surgery will take place next week. Apart from that, her trigeminal neuralgia is beginning to flare up, which could leave her in excruciating pain. Please call round.

Monday notes

Very cold Monday, although our 5C is probably topping the national bill today. Rain, small hail, snow - as well as the proverbial kitchen sink - are all coming down amidst a strong northerly blast. As of next Wednesday, the cold spell will come to an end, but eastern England is in the firing line from Siberian air that is penetrating in from the Continent. We, in the Western Isles, can look forward to more acceptable conditions with temps of about 8C by the end of the week.

I was saddened to hear of the abduction, a few days ago, of the BBC correspondent Alan Johnston in Gaza. He was coming to the end of a three year posting in Gaza, and would have come back to the UK next month. No word has been had from Mr Johnston since he left his office on Thursday. Persistent efforts to obtain his release are being made by the BBC as well as other journalists in the area. Gaza is under the dominion of the Palestinian authorities, but the scene of civil strife between various factions. Alan Johnston was the only Western correspondent based full-time in Gaza.


I should admit to being a lazy journaler. Lazy? No, that's perhaps not right. Selective. Yesterday, I went to bed with 47 alerts still to be read. Woke up to 106 by the time I had gone through the lot. Only a few comments added alerts, but I'm fine with that. Comments are optional. Which is also the way I comment myself.

I have about 100 journals on alert, perhaps fewer. Average number of alerts each day about 50. There are a number of journals I have on what could be called Red Alert. Those I flag up under my subject heading "Call for support". People with difficult circumstances, whether it be personal, material or immaterial. Others I read because they go to the bother of commenting in my journal, which is the modus operandi for J-land. Although I do not always comment, I would like to think I read the entries.

I also have a number of journals on alert where the writers only make very occasional entries. Nonetheless, I keep the alerts open because in a way, they also count as Red Alerts.

Every now and again, I hop along to my favourites on Technorati, and check what is happening. Sometimes, that alerts me to a deleted journal. Always sad to find that, but an email usually clarifies the situation.

A summary of how I operate in J-land. Think I'll highlight this in blogplugs.

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Sunday, 18 March 2007

Video - bustrip

Pop your travel sickness pills, it's time for another trip on the Lewis buses. This time on the schoolbus from Sandwick to Stornoway. We start in Lower Sandwick, and go up North Street to Moss End. The video ends nearly 8 minutes later in Seaforth Road. By the way, the kids do tell one of their number to "fall over". Tsk.