Thursday, 31 May 2007

Update on Pictures

The promised update regarding pictures will not now be put on-line until midnight EDT tonight / 9PM PDT or 5 AM BST. If you visit your beta-journal (prefix your journal URL with beta.) you can play around with the features. Anything you do in your beta journal does NOT show up on your normal blog.

Thursday notes

Brilliantly sunny and warm day - was I complaining of pouring rain yesterday? Seems unimaginable now, doesn't it. Temperatures reached a balmy 19C / 66F this afternoon, which contrasted rather sharply with the miserly 11C / 52F from yesterday.

Tomorrow will see another cruiseliner in port: the Black Prince, a regular here, is touring the Western Isles, and is at St Kilda today.

Hurricane season 2007

The latest forecast for the Atlantic hurricane season 2007, which commences tomorrow, has been published. It is not good news, I'm afraid. I copy from Dr Jeff Masters' Wunderblog:

The Gray/Klotzbach team is calling for 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes--unchanged from their April forecast. An average season has 10-11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. The forecast calls for a much above normal chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S., both along the East Coast (50% chance, 31% chance is normal) and the Gulf Coast (49% chance, 30% chance is average). The Caribbean is also forecast to have an above normal risk of a major hurricane.

The Cardinal and Abortion

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the most senior official in the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland raised a few eyebrows today. In a speech, he reiterated the Catholic Church's absolute opposition to abortion. It is the stated position of the Church, and nothing new there. However, the Cardinal has threatened Catholic politicians that they would be denied the Eucharist if they declared themselves to be in favour of abortion.

Abortion was legalised in the United Kingdom in 1967, and legislation remains the prerogative of the UK parliament in London, it is not part of the remit of the devolved Scottish Parliament. In the 40 years since the Act was passed, 7 million abortions have taken place. The Cardinal likened this to murdering two classrooms of kids every day.

I have the greatest respect for the Catholic Church, even though I am not part of it myself. I fully respect also the right of Cardinal O'Brien to express his sincerely held views, and agree that the Scriptures state that "thou shalt not kill".

I disagree with his sledgehammer approach of threatening disagreeing politicians with the withholding of the Eucharist. However, I have been informed that the Cardinal is no stranger to controversy, and am prepared to take his comments as a means to initiate debate on a difficult issue.

I am in favour of abortion, and am satisfied that the safeguards in place in the National Health Service in this country are sufficient. An abortion should, in my mind, only take place if the health and wellbeing of the mother is in jeopardy, or if serious deformity in the unborn child would leave it devoid of any quality of life. Using abortion as a convenient method of morning-after-pill is not acceptable.

As I said two paragraphs back, abortion is a difficult issue, and one on which opinions vary widely. Emotions will run high in any debate on this subject, and views tend to be strongly polarised for that very reason. I respect everybody's views, but I would sustain that women who are in a position that they feel they need an abortion be given that choice, supported by proper medical advice and care.


Hurricane update - 31 May

The two cyclones in the Eastern Pacific appear to be collapsing in on themselves; Alvin will probably cease to be a tropical system later today, and Barbara is barely a tropical storm. If the latter survives the next 24 hours, it will slowly move towards southern Mexico, but only as a tropical storm.

The Caribbean is flexing its muscles: this statement has relevance for readers in Florida, Cuba and adjacent areas.


Midnight notes

The rain has * finally * stopped, at around midnight. The moon is out, and it is referred to as a Blue Moon - the second full moon of the month. What is also out is the wind, blowing at force 7, gusting to force 9. It should drop by morning. Was out for a convivial evening with some former guests of mrs B who have returned to Lewis a year after their first visit.

The first hurricane of the East Pacific 2007 season will appear on the charts by the weekend, and the forecasters have huge difficulty predicting which way Barbara will go. Mexico and Guatemala could get a nasty surprise, but it's equally possible that she'll stay out at sea.

I'll check out the picture situation by morning. Good night for now.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Pictures update

Joe the Journalseditor has written an update on the pictures situation, which should have the classical formats back on stream on Thursday. Read more here.

Second rainy day

Rain has been falling continuously for more than 24 hours, in itself unusual. Large puddles sit in the streets, and anyone walking close to them run the risk of being drenched when a car drives through them at speed. Which they do. Subject of conversation, as ever in these parts, is the weather - and "isn't it dreadful". Our German guests were in no hurry to go anywhere today, and probably left on the ferry at lunchtime, looking for drier climes. They would have to leave the country, as it is pretty wet nationwide. Up in Eoropie, 20 mm or 0.8 inches of rain have fallen today.


Hurricane update - 30 May

Tropical depression 2E is developing west of southern Mexico, and is likely to gain hurricane strength in 3 days' time. As the forecasts show a "squashed spider pattern" (quote NHC) in future movements of the cyclone, people in Mexico and Central America should closely monitor this system as it develops over the next few days.

Wednesday notes

Wet and miserable for the second day in a row. Our German guests decided to stay only the one night, but serious language difficulties meant we couldn't find out much more. As I'm typing this, it is brightening up a little, but the rain continues unabated.

The bad weather caused a serious road accident in Aberdeenshire, when a car left the road, somersaulted down an embankment and landed next to a railway line. A few moments later, a passing train dealt the vehicle a glancing blow. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

On a more positive note, the Cairngorm mountains could see the development of the Scottish version of the Eden Project in Cornwall. In the latter version, large domes house plants in carefully controlled conditions. More details here.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Hurricane update - 29 May

The East Pacific has spawned its first named storm of the 2007 season: Alvin is a half-hearted tropical storm that is slowly moving away into the Pacific, not being a threat to land. Another system is getting its act together in the Gulf of Tehuantepec, southeast of Mexico. Am watching the NHC website closely for developments in that quarter, as it is much closer to land.
This is the latest satellite image. Alvin is located due south of Baja California; the second system is on the far right of the picture.

The Atlantic season is starting on Friday, and am posting this bulletin as a reminder for those folk in Hurricane Alley to keep an eye open. I summarise NHC and JTWC bulletins in my Tropical Cyclones blog, and highlight any systems that may strike land on Northern Trip.

If a hurricane is on a collision course with your area, always consult the latest bulletin from the National Hurricane Center on-line.

Tuesday notes

Wet and cold in the islands, with the mercury stuck at 9C. Read that residents in the American state of Arizona have been warned against the emergence of snakes, because of the hot conditions. If a snake is spotted, it should NOT be approached, as many are deadly poisonous. I think I prefer our rain, to be honest. I'm not scared of snakes, in fact I once was allowed to handle one in the Serpentarium in Skye. It's not slimey or anything. The creature actually got more and more lively, as my hands warmed it up. It also licked the raindrops off my jacket - it was a wet day when I visited.

The Netherlands have spawned many crazy TV programs - Big Brother is a Dutch invention, and now reality TV has really gone bananas over there. A terminally ill woman has decided to donate her kidneys to the winner of a contest. More details here.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Memorial Day

The month of May contains Memorial Days for many countries in Europe. On May 8, 1945, Victory in Europe signalled the end of the suffering for millions under the Nazi jackboot. Six millions Jews were dead because of their religion, twenty million Russians were dead as a result of the German invasion in 1941. The UK remembers its war dead in November, at Armistice Day on November 11th. In Holland, Memorial Day is May 4th, the eve of liberation on May 5th, 1945. Russia celebrates the victory over Nazi Germany on May 9th, if memory serves.

Over the past few weeks, I've been collecting portraits, names and addresses of some of the 1,167 men from Lewis who lost their lives in both World Wars. Four hundred portraits now gaze out from that page on the Internet (have not completed the work by a long shot), and it makes it ever more sad. You can remain distant if you read about 1,167 people. Doesn't mean anything, really. But if you read that someone lived at an address, perhaps just a few doors down from where I am typing this. You notice that two or three of his brothers also lost their lives, maybe his father or an uncle. And then you see a face looking up from the page, very recognisable, as his grandchildren or greatgrandchildren still walk the streets of Stornoway. One struck me as an ancestor of someone who often comes for coffee with mrs B.

It may be 90 years ago that the First World War ended, and 60 years ago for the Second. But for many people it seems like yesterday. And for some, war is today.

Celebrate the heroism of the men who laid down their lives for your country, wherever you are. Let their sacrifice not be in vain.

Happy Memorial Day

To our friends in America:


A blackhouse is a mistranslation of the Gaelic words for thatched house: taigh thugaidh. To someone who knows a little Gaelic, it may sound like 'taigh dubh' which means black house.

A blackhouse used to be the common form of housing in the Western Isles until the 1950s. It consisted to two thick walls, with a thatched roof on top. The top end housed the humans, the bottom end the animals. Very cosy and very smelly. Not because of the animals, but because of the peat that was being used for fuel.

The Arnol Blackhouse (named after the village where it is located) is a restored version of the original residence at 42 Arnol.

42 Arnol

People were only too glad to be out of a blackhouse. Don't think they were all smelly and dirty in those days. Mrs B has shown me the image of her grandfather in the late 19th century, looking very smart in a white shirt.

Bank Holiday notes

It's a Bank Holiday in the UK, and the weather is suitably dreadful. But not up here. We're having brilliant sunshine, and the only negative factor is the cold northeasterly wind, which brings in showers. Vestiges of the bad weather down south drift in in the shape of high level clouds, but we're about 600 miles away, so no adverse weather here.

A councillor in the islands has called for the scrapping of ferry fares, in line with plans by the Executive to abolish tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges. That would save an awful lot of money - a return on the ferry to Ullapool costs £26 for a footpassenger and up to £200 for a motorhome. Who would pay for the cost of the crossing has not been made clear.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Close of day

I still have about 32 alerts to read, but that can wait until tomorrow. It's now near midnight, and these eyes are falling shut. G'night all, more tomorrow.

Picture summary

Having taken 209 pictures today - I took an addition 31 on a late evening visit to the village of Grimshader, I have difficulty selecting 8 or 9 to show to you. I will put up the rest once the picture display on journals has been restored to normal. Click on each picture to view the caption.

Return from the West Side

Just returned from a trip round the West Side of Lewis, through the villages of Brue, Arnol, Bragar, Shawbost and Dalbeg, taking 6 hours to cover those 11 miles. Returned through Carloway up the Pentland Road, taking 178 pictures along the way. It was a nice sunny day, with the odd sharp shower, and a cool wind. Nonetheless, very pleasant. Dinner is nearly ready, stroganoff and rice.

Sunday notes

It would appear that we're having the best weather in the country. Southern England can expect up to 75 mm / 3 inches of rain today, with gales in Cornwall. Tables turned, I call it. Here it's fairly sunny, although I don't rule out the odd shower later on. It's not warm, a northerly wind pegs the temperature back to 12C / 54F.

The first tropical depression of the East Atlantic season was born earlier this morning, but it is a ragged affair that's slowly drifting into the Atlantic. Unless it comes to threaten land (very unlikely) I will not need to mention it again.

I uploaded yesterday's pictures to, then picked the URL from each individual picture and planted it manually into the entry, using the HTML tag <img src. AOL is really playing sillibuggers at the moment. I still have to go to France to log into journals. Journalseditor has slapped me down, saying that I'm about the only one that logs into journals using Firefox or an external browser. Nice.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Picture entry


Loch an Dun at Shader, with signpost for Steinacleit

Port of Ness harbour

Eoropie  behind the dunes

Borgh Mealabost from the main road

Threatening cloud over the Minch

Stornoway's Inner Harbour at 9.20 tonight

Sunset over Stornoway, as seen from Lower Sandwick at 10pm

This was taken at 11.05pm

Saturday evening

Nice end to the day, managed to dodge most of the showers today. A lot of threatening cloud, making for some nice piccies. At the moment, my camera battery is recharging, but I should have pictures available later this evening. Travelled to Ness, the north of the island, this afternoon, which is a very photogenic area.

Early this morning, a van carrying welding equipment exploded in the town of Wolsingham, County Durham (northern England). The vehicle was obliterated and its driver killed instantly. Several buildings in the town's market square suffered structural damage, but no one can go near them. The explosion threw several gas canisters around, which are being cooled for 24 hours before they can be removed.

Dinner's ready - sweet & sour chicken - so off I go ---

Saturday notes

Fairly bright morning here, except for that hailshower clattering down half an hour ago. Hailstones of up to 4 mm in diameter. They melted quickly in the bright sunshine afterwards.

The first tropical depression of the 2007 season is hatching in the Eastern Pacific - it is likely to be formally declared on Sunday. The Atlantic season will kick off next Friday, 1 June. An outlook will be published the day before.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Walk to Sandwick

Until such time as we can access our pictures in a normal fashion, I'm putting on Flickr-slideshows. Click the button to view this handful of piccies from a walk I took on Sunday evening to Sandwick, the next village. Didn't reach the village proper, but  instead took a shortcut through the cemetery.

Alerts back on

Alerts appear to be back in working order, according to the Journalseditor. Had my first batch of three in a minute ago. By the way, had a hailshower about half an hour ago. How do you mean, summer is nearly here?

Alerts and other stuff

Alerts remain non-functional, but my fave journals are all on Technorati, and have called round - as you know, I'm not an assiduous commenter.

Noted a question about the J-land Convention. It was agreed in March that we would try to organise one for March 2008. Gina [motoxmom72] went through the motions, but found it not possible to make it happen this year. I hope it will come off next year.

John Scalzi's assignment for this weekend is: bad TV you watched as a youngster. My sin? Dallas. Found it on UKTV the other day, with JR, Bobby, Sue Ellen, Pam, Cliff Barnes, Miss Ellie and Jock. Relatively tame in comparison with today's soaps - that I totally do not watch. I only listen to The Archers on BBC Radio 4.

Weather here is showery and cold, and that is heading south into England. I gather that today's temps in London exceed 20C; not 60 miles to the north, at Bedford, readings are only 13C. More on the weather this Bank Holiday weekend here.

Friday notes

Alerts are off altogether since midnight BST last night. Technorati is having trouble as well, so it's down to manual tracking of entries. Comments? Tough luck.

One of the people rescued from the burning Town House in Stornoway on Wednesday evening has died of severe burns in hospital in Glasgow last night. The other, his wife, was discharged following assessment in hospital.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Missing children day

Joe the Journalseditor pointed out that May 25th is Missing Children Day. I have received numerous emails with the portrait of Madeleine McCann, the now-4 year old girl missing in Portugal for a couple of weeks. I have a strict policy of not relaying images of children, even in this case. Neither do I place images of children on this blog. However, I cannot deny being touched by her plight, and hope she is found safe and well, and soon. The cynic in me immediately intervenes to ask: how about the other 450 kids that go missing in the UK every DAY, and that are NOT the object of a media frenzy? I'm sorry.

On-line memorial

Over the past ten days, I've been working on a project related to local history. At the end of April, I went to the local War Memorial and photographed all 23 memorial plaques - pictured above - citing the names of more than 1,100 men of Lewis who laid down their lives for King and Country between 1914 and 1919. This number is out of a total of 6,000 who joined up, and out of a total island population of 26,000 in 1911.

Last week, I took the Roll of Honour and scanned pages with portraits of those mentioned on the Memorial. These past few days, I've processed the scans and extracted 400 individual portraits. They now need to go on a website, and linked to names and former addresses. The medium of the Internet makes it possible for people to access information that is only available in the library here in Stornoway. And it makes it more real to see the faces of those that never saw the outbreak of peace in 1919. A peace that was to last little more than 20 years.

Big Brother in Big Bother

The British broadcasting regulator Ofcom has issued its ruling on the Celebrity Big Brother programme, broadcast by Channel 4 in January. It attracted a record 46,000 complaints after rows between contestants on the show were seen to be of a racist nature. Channel 4 was reprimanded for mishandling the situation. The station, which is due to start series VIII of the mainstream Big Brother in June, has been ordered to air an apology on three shows of Big Brother.

Personally, I think we could do without Big Brother. It's seriously Jaded.

Thursday notes

Last night, a fire raged through the building known in Stornoway as the Town House, pictured above in an image taken in January 2006. Passers-by noticed smoke issuing from a second-floor apartment and made their way in. The two occupants were rescued and taken to hospital, where they are being treated for burns. One has been transferred to Glasgow for specialist treatment. Fire brigade and council officials are currently assessing the safety of this B-listed historical building.

Image below taken yesterday evening, courtesy BBC.

Cruise woe

I don't know what's up with the cruiseliner season in Scotland this year, but it's going off to a very poor start. This morning, news came out that the liner Island Sky was being examined at Leith, Edinburgh, for disease. Several passengers had come down with diarrhoea and vomiting on passage from the Western Isles to Orkney. They are recovering well.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Library Thing

If you click on this thingy, it'll take you to my LibraryThing page, which logs the books I have been reading in recent times. You can make your own LibraryThing and put all your books on, which I intend to do at some stage.

Picture entry

This slideshow shows pictures, taken on 8 May, when I travelled by train from Glasgow to Inverness (part of the journey). See if it works. Oh, sorry. It is going in reverse.

View slideshow

Wednesday notes

Morning all from a fairly bright Stornoway. Sun is beginning to come out after overnight rain. Here in town, a radio producer with Gaelic-language station Radio nan Gaidhael has gone missing. He was last seen on Thursday (17th) evening. Another local story concerns the Arnish Fabrication Yard, which often features in my pictures. An inquiry is to be set up why Highlands & Islands Enterprise poured £14m into the venture, which went bust twice.
After sheltering in Broad Bay for two days, Border Heather finally made it into port this morning. No cruiseliners in port today, although the Ocean Venture has just passed up the Minch, about to round Cape Wrath on its way to Leith, Edinburgh.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

War in Iraq

This picture was taken about 90 years ago, during the First World War. Would you imagine British soldiers making a fishing-net to fish the Tigris River nowadays?

Hurricane update - 22 May

The 2007 Atlantic hurricane season could an active one, Dr Jeff Masters reports in his blog on Apparently, the sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic are 0.6°C above normal. However, the atmospheric currents that brought about the litany of storms in 2005 are not in place, so it's a case of wait and see. A definitive forecast will be issued by NOAA on May 31st, in 9 days' time.

It is Hurricane Awareness Week in the USA.

Big people talk

A group of little ones, barely out of kindergarten, found it difficult to adapt to life in primary school. The teacher kept telling them not to use babytalk, but use big people words.

John was asked what he had done over the weekend.
"I went to see Nana" he replied.
"You went to see GRANDMOTHER. Don't use babytalk, I said!" came the teacher.

Billy was then asked what he had done.
"I've been on a choo-choo" he told class.
"You were on a TRAIN. Use big people words", the teacher retorted.

Michael was next and he told the teacher he had read a book.
"That's excellent, Michael!" the teacher said, delighted. "What book did you read?"

wait for it...

"Winnie the SHIT"


AOL Mail

AOL Mail has changed, and not for the better. I use a Firefox browser, and it crashes this within 5 or 10 minutes. Judging by the 177 comments on the websuite blog, not all are very happy. I most certainly am NOT, but if anyone finds serious problems using this (and I'm not talking about the colourscheme), you can still use a vintage version of AOL Mail.

Tags: , ,

Cruise woes

Following an appeal on local radio, the 270 stranded passengers off the cruiseliner Astor all found a bed for the night, last night. Their problems started at lunchtime yesterday, when a strong tidal current combined with a strong wind and heavy seas to prevent the tenders taking them back to their ship. Local hotels provided the wet, miserable and hungry passengers with a lunch and dinner. As the evening wore on, hotels, B&Bs and private homes in the town filled up with the marooned.

Speaking on Isles FM this morning, one Austrian couple expressed their gratitude and said they were deeply impressed by local hospitality. Astor departed for Invergordon just before 10 this morning, with a group of passengers on board who will not readily forget their trip to the Hebrides and the spring gale.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Stranded passengers

The BBC have finally picked up on the plight of the stranded cruiseliner passengers - read the full report here. A ferry back to Invergordon? I think they'll be taken across to Ullapool and bussed across to there.

Call centre calls

Actual call centre conversations !!!!!

Customer:     "I've been ringing 0800 2100 for two days and can't get through to enquiries, can you help?".
Operator:     "Where did you get that number from, sir?".
Customer:     "It was on the door to the Travel Centre".
Operator:     "Sir, they are our opening hours".


Samsung Electronics

Caller:          "Can you give me the telephone number for Jack?"
Operator:     "I'm sorry, sir, I don't understand who you are talking about".
Caller:          "On page 1, section 5, of the user guide it clearly states that I need to unplug the fax machine from the AC  wall socket and telephone Jack before cleaning. Now, can you give me the number for Jack?"
Operator:      "I think you mean the telephone point on the wall".


RAC Motoring Services

Caller:          "Does your European Breakdown Policy cover me when I am travelling in
Australia ?"
Operator:      " Doesn't the product name give you a clue?"

Caller (enquiring about legal requirements while travelling in
France ):
"If I register my car in
France , do I have to change the steering wheel to the other side of the car?"

Directory Enquiries

Caller:               "I'd like the number of the Argoed Fish Bar in
Cardiff please".
Operator:          "I'm sorry, there's no listing. Is the spelling correct?"
Caller:               "Well, it used to be called the Bargoed Fish Bar but the 'B' fell off".


Then there was the caller who asked for a knitwear company in Woven.
Operator:        "Woven? Are you sure?"
Caller:             "Yes. That's what it says on the label; Woven in

On another occasion, a man making heavy breathing sounds from a phone box told a worried operator:

"I haven't got a pen, so I'm steaming up the window to write the number on".


Tech Support:      "I need you to right-click on the Open Desktop".
Customer:             "OK".
Tech Support:      "Did you get a pop-up menu?".
Customer:             "No".
Tech Support:      "OK. Right-Click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?"
Customer:             "No".
Tech Support:      "OK, sir. Can you tell me what you have done up until this point?".

Customer:            "Sure. You told me to write 'click' and I wrote 'click'".


Tech Support:          "OK. In the bottom left hand side of the screen, can you see the 'OK' button displayed?"
Customer:                 "Wow. How can you see my screen from there?"


Caller:  "I deleted a file from my PC last week and I have just realised that I need it. If I turn my system clock back two weeks will I have my file back again?".

There's always one. This has got to be one of the funniest things in a long time. I think this guy should have been promoted, not fired. This is a true story from the Word Perfect Helpline, which was transcribed from a recording monitoring the customer care department. Needless to say the Help Desk employee was fired; however, he/she is currently suing the Word Perfect organization for "Termination without Cause".
Actual dialogue of a former WordPerfect Customer Support employee. (Now I know why they record these conversations!):

Operator:         "Ridge Hall, computer assistance; may I help you?"
Caller:              "Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect."
Operator:         "What sort of trouble??"
Caller:              "Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away."
Operator:         "Went away?"
Caller:              "They disappeared."
Operator:         "Hmm So what does your screen look like now?"
Caller:              "Nothing."
Operator:         "Nothing??"
Caller:              "It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type."
Operator:         "Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out??"
Caller:              "How do I tell?"
Operator:         "Can you see the C: prompt on the screen??"
Caller:              "What's a sea-prompt?"
Operator:         "Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?"
Caller:              "There isn't any cursor: I told you, it won't accept anything I type."
Operator:         "Does your monitor have a power indicator??"
Caller:              "What's a monitor?"
Operator:         "It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on??"
Caller:               "I don't know."
Operator:          "Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??"
Caller:              "Yes, I think so."
Operator:         "Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged into the wall.
Caller:              "Yes, it is."
Operator:         "When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one??"
Caller:               "No."
Operator:          "Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable."
Caller:               "Okay, here it is."
Operator:          "Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer."
Caller:               "I can't reach."
Operator:          "Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is??"
Caller:               "No."
Operator:          "Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over??"
Caller:               "Oh, it's not because I don't have the right angle - it's because it's dark."
Operator:          "Dark??"
Caller:               "Yes - the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.
" Operator: "Well, turn on the office light then."
Caller:               "I can't."
Operator:          "No? Why not??"
Caller:               "Because there's a power failure."
Operator:  "A power......... A power failure? Aha, Okay, we've got it licked now.
Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in??"
Caller:               "Well, yes, I keep them in the closet."
Operator:           "Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from."
Caller:                "Really? Is it that bad?"
Operator:            "Yes, I'm afraid it is."
Caller:                 "Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them??"
Operator:            "Tell them you're too f
---ing stupid to own a computer!!!!!"

Don't cruise if obese and unwell

An American tourist fell ill on board the luxury cruiseliner Century, off Edinburgh, a few days ago. The only problem was his weight: 203 kg. Normal rescue procedures were impossible, so a helicopter was ordered to airlift the chap off. A Sea King helicopter, capable of lifting 21,000 lbs / 9.5 tonnes, was drafted in and took him to hospital.

Century is currently 25 miles east of Stornoway, passing down the Minch, heading for Belfast.

Cruise passengers

The 230 marooned cruise passengers will be spending the night on board the ferry Isle of Lewis until the gale dies down. That could take all night. It's still pouring with rain and blowing a hoolie.

The ferry is comfortable enough, but I'm not sure staff will be on hand to provide food and drink. You can't really lie down for a snooze, and spending the night on a cold, hard floor is probably not what those folk had in mind for a cruise round the islands.

Top of the Pops

What song was topping the charts in the USA on the day you were born?
This link takes you to a site that can tell.

Showering protocol

With thanks to Shauneenie

How To Shower Like a Woman

Take off clothes and place them sectioned in laundry basket according to lights and darks.

Walk to bathroom wearing long dressing gown.

If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.

Look at your womanly physique in the mirror - make mental note to do more sit-ups/leg-lifts, etc.

Get in the shower.

Use face cloth, arm cloth, leg cloth, long loofah, wide loofah and pumice stone.

Wash your hair once with cucumber and sage shampoo with 43 added vitamins.

Wash your hair again to make sure it's clean.

Condition your hair with grapefruit mint conditioner enhanced.

Wash your face with crushed apricot facial scrub for 10 minutes until red.

Wash entire rest of body with ginger nut and jaffa cake body wash.

Rinse conditioner off hair.

Shave armpits and legs.

Turn off shower.

Squeegee off all wet surfaces in shower.

Spray mould spots with Tile cleaner.

Get out of shower.

Dry with towel the size of a small country.

Wrap hair in super absorbent towel.

Return to bedroom wearing long dressing gown and towel on head.

If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed  areas.

How To Shower Like a Man

Take off clothes while sitting on the edge of the bed and leave them in a pile.

Walk naked to the bathroom.

If you see wife along the way, shake willy at her making the 'woo-woo' sound.

Look at your manly physique in the mirror.

Admire the size of your willy and scratch your bum.

Get in the shower.

Wash your face.

Wash your armpits.

Blow your nose in your hands and let the water rinse them off.

Fart and laugh at how loud it sounds in the shower.

Spend majority of time washing privates and surrounding area.

Wash your bum, leaving those coarse bum hairs stuck on the soap.

Wash your hair.

Make a Shampoo Mohawk.


Rinse off and get out of shower.

Partially dry off.

Fail tonotice water on floor because curtain was hanging out of bath the whole time.

Admire willy size in mirror again.

Leave shower curtain open, wet mat on floor, light and fan on.

Return to bedroom with towel around waist.

If you pass wife, pull off towel, shake willy at her and make the 'woo-woo' sound again.

Throw wet towel on bed.


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Cruising in a gale

Cruiseliner Astor is lying off Stornoway, with 230 of its passengers marooned ashore. They were ferried in on board small tenders this morning. They cannot return ashore, as the winds are now blowing at 45 mph, which has whipped the sea up too high for the tenders. Accommodating 230 people in our wee town is going to be a problem, and they may well be housed on board the ferry (overdue, heading for Loch Erisort) overnight. Which has no cabins or sleeping facilities. Awaiting developments.

Three other cruiseliners in the area: Black Prince is making for Lerwick, Polar Star is heading up the West Side and Century is rounding Cape Wrath in these bonny conditions.

Stretching it

From the Northern Times

Sunday August 5th is when Brora woman Pauline MacLennan, the Doll, plans to string up a "washing line of bras" the six miles or so between Golspie and Brora.

She has chosen that date because it coincides with Golspie Gala Week's popular Banger Derby, held at Strathsteven, so there should be plenty of people around.

But Pauline, who launched an appeal for old bras over a year ago, this week revealed that she is still some 900 short of the number needed to stretch from the Spar shop in one village to the Spar shop in the other.

She has now renewed her appeal for anyone who may have bras to donate to send them on to her as soon as possible.

"We're now on the last push towards the finish line so if anyone has any bras ready to give to me, then now is the time," she said.

Breast cancer survivor Pauline is staging the event in aid of the breast care unit at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, where she and other Highland women have received first class treatment. She hopes to raise at least £7500 to buy equipment needed for cosmetic reconstruction work and is already £2000 towards that target.

She has received official support from the Rotary Club of East Sutherland who have made the event an official club charity.

However Pauline's effort to attract a celebrity to add a bit of glamour and glitz to the event have failed. "I've e-mailed loads of television programmes but have never heard anything back," she said. "In any case a celebrity would probably want a great deal of money to appear and I'm not prepared to pay anyone for anything."

Meanwhile Pauline is putting together a squad of volunteers to help with hanging out the bras on the day. They will be strung onto the fences and dykes that border the A9 and will be taped onto the surface of the side roads coming off the trunk road.

She said: "The line of bras will just be up for a couple of hours because we don't want any problems with the police."

Pauline is still seeking sponsorship for the event and is also encouraging local folk to enter a competition she is running to guess the exact number of bras involved in the event. A £100 prize is at stake.

For further information please see the original article.
Any ladies in the UK got a bra going spare?

Monday evening

I'm glad I managed to convince Katie to stay, in part due to the response to my appeal. Only goes to show, doesn't it. The Motivator was brought to my attention by Sugar and Helen, both ladies thank you very much.

It's a dreadful evening here in Stornoway, pouring with rain and a strong wind, which gusts up to force 9 at times. When I came back from Somerfields (our local supermarket), I couldn't proceed against the wind. Went up the backstreets instead, to have a bit of shelter.

Spare a thought for the passengers on the cruiseliner Astor, which is hovering outside port. They have spent a miserable day touring the island, and are now being ferried back on board in wee boats across a decidedly choppy harbour. Furthermore, the ferry is due back this evening. It should have left Ullapool half an hour ago, but I'm not spotting it on AIS.


Cutty Sark on fire

The former teaclipper Cutty Sark, in drydock at Greenwich (London) was struck by a fierce fire at 5 o'clock this morning. About 80% of the vessel suffered fire damage, according to the fireservice. The Cutty Sark was built in 1869 at a yard in Dumbarton, west of Glasgow. She was taken out of service in 1938 and preserved in a drydock at Greenwich.

When the blaze broke out at 4.16 am this morning, about half the ship had been stripped away, such as the cabins, masts, rigging and sails, for a £25 million restoration programme. The firebrigade took about 2 hours to bring the fire under control. The trust looking after the vessel is optimistic that it can still be restored. More on this story, including pictures of the blaze in progress, on the BBC News website.

Monday notes

It's a blowy day out here, and not terribly warm. Nonetheless, for the time being it's dry.

A cruiseliner, the Astor, came in earlier this morning and sent some passengers ashore in tenders. She was anchored in Sandwick Bay, behind the Coastguard Station. However, when I went to have a look, she was way out to sea. Another liner, the Black Prince, turned up on AIS about half an hour ago, but transmissions have since ceased.

I am very displeased with Bravenet, where one or two of my sites are hosted. Over the weekend, they managed to lose the two HTML files after I made alterations. An exchange with a tech over there in Canada resolved nothing, and they're having a public holiday out there, so I've got to wait until Tuesday. Which I'm not going to do; I've copied the material to Hometown, prior to putting them on a different server.

I am pleased to note that Donna's continuing to produce graphics, so I'm not giving up hope altogether. I'm just sorry that people get hurt for doing what they like best. Wish the negative spirits would find something positive to do.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Friends without faces

We sit and we type, and we stare at our screens.
We all have to wonder, what this possibly means.
With our mouse we roam, through the rooms in a maze,
Looking for something or someone, as we sit in a daze.
We chat with each other, we type all our woes;
Small groups we do form, and gang up on our foes.
We wait for somebody to type out our name,
We want recognition , but it's always the same.
We give kisses and hugs, and sometimes we flirt.
In IMs we chat deeply and reveal why we hurt.
We do form friendships, but why, we don't know
How some of these friendships will flourish and grow.
Why is it that on screen we can be so bold,
Telling our secrets, that have never been told?
Why is it we share the thoughts in our mind
With those we can't see, as though we were blind.
The answer is simple; it is clear as a bell.
We all have our problems, and need someone to tell.
We can't tell real people, but tell someone we must
so we turn to the 'puter, and to those that we trust.
Even though it is crazy. The truth still remains.
They are "Friends Without Faces", and odd little names.

Hurricane update - 20 May (2)

The latest update on Typhoon Yutu states that Iwo Jima could be impacted by winds of 85 knots, 95 mph, through late Tuesday (GMT) / early Wednesday (local time).


Was advised that J-land lost another writer today, as a result of all the infighting in our community. I think we should all stop and think for a minute to consider why we are writing journals in the first place. After losing our number 1 tag & snag person yesterday, this turns this weekend into a sad if not bad one for J-land.

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Sunday notes

Quite a reasonable day in the islands, with bright and at times sunny intervals. It's fairly mild today as well.

Had an email from an organisation called the Scottish Islands Federation (formerly Scottish Islands Network), which does what it says on the box: networking for the benefit of all Scottish islands. They've put out a questionnaire for anyone with an interest in islands across Scotland, whether active or passive, as to the future course of the new organisation. Its predecessor has a website, which will continue to be used by the SIF. It contains the questionnaire too.

I think that the world of football has taken another step down the ladder towards ignominy with the news last week that Chelsea manager José Mourinho took a dog in and out of the UK, allegedly without the requisite paperwork. In order to keep rabies at bay, dogs and cats (amongst others) taken into the UK need to be put into quarantine for 6 months. If they have been tagged and immunised, this requirement is waived. Mr Mourinho decided that his dog didn't need all that palaver, but the police disagreed. They came to impound the dog - which ran off. It has now been deported to Portugal.

Hurricane update - 20 May

Typhoon Yutu is currently heading northeast across the Pacific, with winds near the centre of about 105 knots or 120 mph, gusting to 130 knots / 145 mph. The system is starting to weaken, but I need to mention that the Japanese island of Iwo Jima will receive a direct hit from the typhoon early on Tuesday (GMT), with winds of 65 knots / 75 mph.

This week is hurricane awareness week in the USA, and I strongly recommend anyone who might be affected by hurricanes to click the link and follow the programme of education by the NHC.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Moon and Venus

For those in the UK, there is about 2 hours left, but over in the USA look west after the sun goes down and you'll see the Moon creeping closer and closer to Venus. Here in Scotland it looked like this at 10.40pm

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Clean funnies

One day, a man came home and was greeted by his wife dressed in a very Sexy nightie. "Tie me up," she purred, "and you can do anything you want." So he tied her up and went golfing.

A woman came home, screeching her car into the driveway, and ran into the house. She slammed the door and shouted at the top of her lungs, "Honey, pack your bags. I won the lottery!"
The husband said, "Oh my God! What should I pack, beach stuff or mountain stuff?" "Doesn't matter," she said. "Just get out."

****** ********************************************
Marriage is a relationship in which one person is always right, and the other is a husband.
A Polish immigrant went to the DMV to apply for a driver's license. First, of course, he had to take an eye sight test The optician showed him a card with the letters
'C Z W I X N O S T A C Z.' "Can you read this?" the optician asked. "Read it?" the Polish guy replied, "I know the guy."
Mother Superior called all the nuns together and said to them, "I must tell you all something. We have a case of gonorrhea in the convent." "Thank God," said an elderly nun at the back. "I'm so tired of chardonnay.
A wife was making a breakfast of fried eggs for her husband. Suddenly, her husband burst into the kitchen. "Careful," he said, "CAREFUL! Put in some more butter! Oh my gosh! You're cooking too many at once. TOO MANY! Turn them! TURN THEM NOW! We need more butter. Oh my gosh! WHERE are we going to get MORE BUTTER? They're going to STICK! Careful. CAREFUL! I said be CAREFUL! You NEVER listen
to me when you're cooking! Never! Turn them! Hurry up! Are you CRAZY? Have you LOST your mind? Don't forget to salt them. You know you always forget to salt them. Use the salt. USE THE SALT! THE SALT!" The wife stared at him. "What in the world is wrong with you? You think I don't know how to fry a couple of eggs?" The husband calmly replied, "I just wanted to show you what it feels like when I'm driving."
Fifty-one years ago, Herman James, a North Carolina mountain man, was drafted by the Army. On his first day in basic training, the Army issued him a comb. That afternoon the Army barber sheared off all his hair. On his second day, the Army issued Herman a toothbrush. That afternoon the Army dentist yanked seven of his teeth. On the third day, the Army issued him a jock strap. The Army has been looking for Herman for 51 years.


As out-going British premier Tony Blair visits Iraq, news has emerged of a teenage girl being killed by beating and stoning to defend the honour of the family. She had been seen with a man from a different segment of Islam.

It just shows, to my mind, that mounting the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a big mistake. Removing Saddam Hussein from power merely served to create a power vacuum which the US and UK forces were unable to fill; that void has been filled by Muslim insurgents from across the region. It has created a lawless and powerless state, with nowhere to go.

The only reason why this entire debacle was commenced was OIL, pure and simple. We have other monsters ruling countries with an iron fist - think of Robert Mugabe who has managed to wreck his country Zimbabwe, but everybody standing by wringing their hands. Do the US cavalry come racing in there? Like hell they won't. No oil. No big economic interests.


End of an era

Donna [nightmaremom] has announced that she will no longer produce graphics for J-land. I am not privy to the details, but just want to record my deep disappointment that sheer pettiness appears to have succeeded in extinguishing one of J-land's leading lights.

Saturday notes

Good morning all from a slightly more benign Stornoway. The wind dropped away from its galeforce apex at 10 o'clock last night, and the weather is passable. Yes, there's this shower rattling through, which augments the wind again.

From the other side of Scotland comes news that the four cooling towers of the Chapelcross nuclear powerstation, near Annan, are to be blown up at 9am tomorrow morning. Travellers on the M6 motorway approaching Carlisle, the A69 coming across from Newcastle and the M74 from Glasgow are familiar with this sight

The powerstation was built in 1955, but is being decommissioned. The demolition will be shown on-line. J-lander Jeanie [kirkbyj05] who is currently on holiday in Scotland will notice a difference when she returns home in a week's time.
Decommissioning a nuclear powerstation takes a long time. I copy from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority website:

2007 - demolition of cooling towers
2009 - defuelling finished (this means all the nuclear fuel has been removed for processing at the Sellafield nuclear processing plant)
2021 - Start of Care and Maintenance phase – all fuel removed and all plant, facilities and buildings other than reactor buildings fully decommissioned
2116 - End of long term care and maintenance phase - commencement of final decommissioning of reactor buildings
2128 - Final site clearance and available for potential re-use

Which is one of the reasons why I am opposed to new nuclear powerstations.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Pictures update

Joe the Journalseditor has posted an update on the photo situation, so if you don't have him on alerts, please call round and read it.


Was given this suggestion for watching the new WooHoo slideshows:
If you click on the moving images, it will stop the picture and show you the captioning.

Friday evening

Very wild day here in the islands. Sun has just set, but the wind is as strong as it has been all day. Barometer is taking a nosedive, now down to 979 mbar, which is quite low. The low pressure system responsible is just scooting up the Atlantic to the west of here. Have been predicting this for several days, and in a way it's rewarding to see your forecast come true. With thanks to the Met Office for the weathermaps, from which I glean my info.

Went out for a walk during a clearance between 8.15 and 8.30. Waves came crashing into the seawall by the Coastguard Station, the blocky building that I use as a reference point in many of my weather pics. The plume of spray of one wave came right over me, so everything now tasts of salt. It is also a high tide, with the predicted level of 4.8 metres / 16 feet, which is fairly high. It's the springtide again.

Which leads me on to a reminder for an astronomical event which takes place tomorrow night after sunset. The further south you are, the lower the moon will be in the sky. You'll see the moon in the west, a narrow sickle. To one side, you'll see a very bright star - which is actually the planet Venus. If the weather allows, you can also see a vague blue-ish reflection on the dark side of the moon - which is light, reflected off Earth.

Hurricane update - 18 May

TC Pierre is now east-southeast of Papua New Guinea, battering the Louisiade Archipelago. The cyclone will move towards northern Queensland, and everybody there is getting all worried. Pierre only has winds of 40 knots (we're having that in gusts today), and is not expected to strengthen much - yet.

Typhoon Yutu is out in the open Pacific, west of Guam. It will intensify to winds of 100 mph, before veering north and weakening again.