Saturday, 30 June 2007

Glasgow and London attacks

A link has been made between the attacks on Glasgow Airport and the West End of London. Mercifully, all three attacks were failed. Two people were injured at Glasgow; one person had a leg injury, and one of the attackers was seriously burned. On examination at the Alexandra Hospital in nearby Paisley he was found to be wearing what appears to have been an explosives vest. This was removed and made safe. One of the attackers was also heard to be yelling "Allah, Allah!" as he tried to run from bystanders. And it was the bystanders who were the heroes at Glasgow, stopping their flight and restraining them.

The BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, has said that these potential car bombings are the wholemark of the insurgency in Iraq, and their tactics are now being deployed in the UK.

It is my stated position that the terrorists who call themselves Muslims are an abhorrence to the majority of the faithful of that religion. I have the deepest respect for Islam, as a younger cousin of Christianity, sharing a common forefather (Abraham) and prophets like Jesus are recognised by Islam. The assertion by the extremists that all infidels should be killed is in total contradiction of the Islamic teachings of the Koran, which recognises and acknowledges the existence of other faiths, like Judaism and Christianity. Provision is even made for the faithful of these religions, to the effect that they are not subject to the rules as laid down in the Koran.

The terrorists use religion as a pretext for their practices. The problems in the Middle East, which have existed for decades, create a potent rallying call for the extremists. Here in the UK, many a British born young man of Islamic background has been known to fall for their poisonous teachings. A dose of brainwashing is all it takes to turn them into suicide bombers, which is what the pair at Glasgow may have been.

I condemn in the strongest possible terms the intentions of those that perpetrated the foiled attacks in London and Glasgow. We should not use this as an excuse however, to retaliate against the Muslim community in the UK, who have a vital role to play. This sort of incident is also a marker that there is a very serious problem in society, when there are people about who condone this sort of activity. It is time we sat up, took notice and addressed the problems at hand. As was demonstrated at Glasgow Airport this afternoon, we can only defeat this evil if we all stand together.

HIV / AIDS

A timely reminder from J-lander FJRAV, who writes Perspective on Rotations, of the dangers of HIV / AIDS. Read her latest entry and remember to wrap up at all times. One mistake can change and ruin your life for good.

Callanish Stones

Anyone interested to read up on the Callanish Stones, the world-renowned stone circle 20 miles west of Stornoway, can access this page on Wikipedia.

Everyone goes to Callanish, which in itself is a small village near the shores of Loch Roag, conjoined with the neighbouring township of Breasclete to the north. Other ancient sites in Lewis include another 20 stone circles which exist within 5 miles of Callanish; the Carloway Broch, 7 miles to the north, an old mill near Shawbost, a homestead circle at Steinacleit near Shader.

The island itself rests on rocks which are dated at 3,500 million years old. They come to the surface at the Butt of Lewis, the northern point of the island.


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Attack in Glasgow

It would appear that the fire at Glasgow Airport was an attack. The two men in the car drove deliberately into the entrance. When they realised their vehicle was stuck, they spun the wheels of the Cherokee jeep until they caught fire, then poured fuel over them. One man jumped out and was tackled by bystanders. Another, on fire at this stage, tried to run off and fought with other members of the public before being restrained by police. One has already been interrogated by Strathclyde Police, the other is under guard in hospital.

Police will hold a press conference this evening, as will the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. It is a baptism of fire for the new administration, headed up by Gordon Brown for only three days. Any link with the two failed bomb attacks in London has so far not been discounted nor admitted to.

A second meeting of the dedicated COBRA committee of government ministers concerned with security has been planned, following on from the first earlier today.

All flights to and from Glasgow have been suspended and the airport was closed, following its immediate evacuation. Edinburgh Airport, 50 miles to the east, has been closed to vehicles. In an earlier interview, the Home Secretary called for continuing vigilance from members of the public.

Glasgow Airport on fire


A car has crashed into the main doors of Glasgow Airport, which then caught fire. Apparently, the occupants of the car spun the wheels of the vehicle as it was stuck in the doors, then smashed bottles of fuel. The fire which ensued was described as ferocious by eye witnesses. A security cordon has been established several hundred yards away. There is no word of casualties. Bystanders and airport staff struggled and fought with the occupants of the car, who jumped out on fire. The occupants were apparently swinging fists around.

Continuing live coverage of the incident can be watched on-line via the BBC News website.

Saturday notes

Was a bit whacked after standing out in the cold at Callanish for two hours last night. Someone very kindly gave me a lift in their car, but we didn't return to Stornoway until 1 am. Callanish is 20 miles west of here. The pictures with the moon have come out darker than I thought they would, but I hope it gives you some idea.

What you also see is an encampment of new-age travellers, who will have been there for the solstice, a week ago. Nonetheless, they were happily banging a drum and chanting away at the central burial mound as the moon shone brightly. It took about an hour before the clouds drew away from the Sleeping Beauty Mountain. This stands about 12 miles to the southeast near the village of Airidh a'Bhruaich in Lochs. There is NO direct road connection; I've walked the distance and it's strenuous, boggy and dangerous.

The weather is closing in here, and am expecting some rain this evening. Rain is also on the cards for England, where several areas have had more rain than they can cope with. It means that I'll probably miss the conjunction between the planets Venus and Saturn. They are at their closest at around 10.30 am BST, yep, that's the middle of the day. It gets light up here at around 3 am, so I don't think I'll be seeing this event properly.

One final note: anyone that reads my Tropical Cyclone blog will have to switch to the new URL tomorrow.

Friday pictures

A miracle has occurred: I've managed to upload some pictures and actually put them on my AOL blog. Anyway, leaving the sarcasm to one side, as you see I've gone reasonably OTT with 92 pictures. The majority are of Callanish in fading light, and the moon rising through the Callanish Stones. Last night was the Lunar Standstill, which will not occur until 2026. About fifty other people were out braving the cold evening. You'll notice that it does not really get dark - the last picture, actually shown above, was taken at 12.50 am.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Bath toys galore

If you find a whitish/yellow bath toy washed up on your local beach, don't just walk past it. It just may have been on a remarkable journey, which started in the Pacific Ocean 15 years ago. Twenty-nine thousands bath toys were lost overboard a containership in 1992 during a Pacific storm. They were caught up in the world's ocean currents, and floated through the Bering Strait, around the top of Arctic Canada into the Atlantic Ocean. They are now due on the coasts of the UK, also incidentally on the East Coast of the US.

Smell-less - useless

Drug detection in the Western Isles is going to the dogs, because the two dogs so far deployed as sniffer dogs were found to have a very poor sense of smell. The first dog, brought in by former First Minister Jack McConnell had to be sacked for that reason - Mr McConnell also lost his job nearly 2 months ago. The replacement dog had a similar problem, but Mr Salmond, who succeeded Jack McConnell, is still in office.

Friday notes

Day dawned with heavy rain, but it has been dry now for some 6 hours. Our American guests left on the 6.15 am ferry, which meant they had to get up at 5 am. Rather them than me. The two workmen had their breakfast at 7 am. Later today, a new lot come to stay for a night, having attended somebody's wedding bash.

It is reported that a carbomb was found in central London, near Piccadilly Circus, in the early hours of this morning. A silver Mercedes car was found to contain a number of gas canisters and a viable explosive device. A passer-by had alerted the police to a car being driven erratically, before crashing into a bin. The driver then ran off. A large area of central London has been closed to the public. Since August 2006, the risk of a terrorist attack has been classified as severe.

This morning, the cruiseliner Black Prince returned to Stornoway after an absence of only 4 weeks. She was last in port on June 1st. As per usualy, she is moored on Pier no 1, and Muirneag has been shunted to the near side of the ferry pier. Below image shows the Black Prince during her visit at the start of June.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Close of day


Went out to picture the sunset, only to get wet. This image is slightly creepy, it looks like two eyes peeping over the horizon. It was the best I got - a shower was moving up, obliterating the sunset.

Forgot to mention that I had herring, potatoes and milk for lunch. A group of 8 trawlers was out fishing for herring late last night. In the past, hundreds of boats would have been out there fishing for herring.


Am waiting for the moon to rise; if I had been at Callanish (I'm not, it's raining every now and again), I could have seen the moon rising between the knees of the Sleeping Beauty. Before y'all scream, the Sleeping Beauty is a range of hills near Airidh a'Bhruaich, 20 miles south of Stornoway and 12 miles southeast of Callanish, the shape of which resembles a reclining woman. The moon will skim the figure before setting behind the Clisham, Lewis & Harris' highest mountain.

* * Just spotted the moon peeping behind the clouds, low over the Arnish Fabrication Yard. She'll move out of the webcam's range very shortly * *

Electricity in action

A farm wife called the local phone company to report her  telephone failed to ring when her friends called and that on the  few occasions, when it did ring, her dog always moaned right before  the phone rang. The telephone repairman proceeded to the scene, curious to see  this psychic dog or senile lady. He climbed a telephone pole, hooked in his test set, and dialed  the subscriber's house. The phone didn't ring right away, but  then the dog moaned and the telephone began to ring. Climbing down from the pole, the telephone repairman found:   

1. The dog was tied to the telephone system's ground wire with a  steel chain and collar. 
2. The wire connection to the ground rod was loose.   

3. The dog was receiving 90 volts of signaling current when the  number was called.   
4. After a couple of jolts, the dog would start moaning and then  urinate.   
5. The wet ground would complete the circuit, thus causing the  phone to ring.   

Which demonstrates that some problems CAN be fixed by pissing  and moaning.    Just thought you'd like to know.

Last week in June

A few pics from the last couple of days. I should add that the pictures in the previous entry were doctored. The bottom one was, I mean. I blotted out the causeway - in reality, it is still there. Just a bit of monkey business.

Spot the difference



Tropical cyclones blog

I have decided to move my Tropical Cyclones blog to Blogger as of this coming Sunday, 1st July 2007. If you follow this, please bookmark the new URL: http://tropicalcyclones.blogspot.com. I am continuing the blog on AOL (http://journals.aol.co.uk/pharmolo/TropicalCyclones) until midnight on Saturday.

This blog stays where it is.

Hurricane update - 28 June

Cyclone 03B, unofficially named Yemyin, has stirred up more than high winds, heavy rain and flooding. Under convention, led by the World Meteorological Organization WMO, the Indian Meteorological Department IMD is responsible for issuing advisories on tropical cyclones in the northern half of the Indian Ocean. This applies to both the Bay of Bengal (to the east) and the Arabian Sea (to the west).

Cyclone 03B started life in the Bay of Bengal, then traversed India east to west, and re-emerged into the Arabian Sea. As soon as the system was out in the Arabian Sea, IMD downed tools and stopped issuing advisories. Meanwhile, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii raised the proverbial red flag, stating that the cyclone could redevelop the moment it re-emerged over water. Which it did. It slammed into southern Pakistan as potentially a category 2 hurricane, without so much as a whimper out of New Delhi. The Pakistan Met Office took over where the Indians had left off. A full account can be read on Margie Kieper's Wunderblog.

I am reporting on this, for the simple reason that information on tropical cyclones is usually not all that reliable, not readily available or accessible (reason for me to disseminate it through my tropical cyclones blog). I am quite frankly disgusted with the unprofessional attitude of the hurricane centre in New Delhi, who cannot elevate themselves above the level of petty regional animosity.

Leaving that to one side, cyclone 04B has formed in the Bay of Bengal, heading northwest into mainland India. It is likely to make landfall tomorrow as a tropical storm.
.

Thursday notes

Although we have some occasional rain, it's not a terribly dark day. The sun tries to get out in between showers. Down in London, the new Prime Minister is getting his cabinet together, and BBC News 24 carries all the latest gossip. We shall see what the eventual outcome of it all is. Our American guests have gone on their merry way down to Harris today, intent on visiting Rodel Church. The bus trip costs about £7 return, not bad for a 110 mile roundtrip.

Cyclone Yemyin has disappeared off the weathermaps as a tropical system, but is leaving behind a trail of destruction as a result of flooding. This extends as far north as Afghanistan, and the weather remains bad in southern Pakistan, foiling rescue attempts. An extensive report is carried by the BBC.

Another cyclone is developing off India's east coast, which could bring yet more rain to that country.

Close of day

Those anxious about the flood situation in northern England can read the latest update here. As I already mentioned in a comment on Donna's journal, the weather outlook is poor. More torrential rain is forecast for the weekend. I'm dreading the outcome.

Anyone in the UK concerned about flooding near their homes should consult the Environment Agency website. I hope Stevie and his mum Pat, both in Sheffield, are alright. A powercut is affecting 16,000 homes in the city, and they may be two of those.

Call for support

Occasionally, Jan [jan3145] puts up an entry, and yesterday's one does not make for very good reading. She has had various tests and scans, which show that her pulmonary fibrosis is taking its inexorable course. Her lung function is down to 2% of predicted, with a whole host of other markers heading in the same dreadful direction. Jan is feeling anxious, and perhaps a little lonely. Please call round.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Spot the man

This is bizarre - after you find the guy - it's so obvious.  Once you find him - it's embarrassing, and you think, Why didn't I see him immediately?
 
Doctors have concluded that if you find the man in the coffee beans in 3 seconds, your right half of your brain is better developed than most people. If you find the man between 3 seconds and 1 minute, your right half of the brain is developed normally. If you find the man between 1 minute and 3 minutes, then the right half of your brain is functioning slowly and you need to eat more protein. If you have not found the man after 3 minutes, the advice is to look for more of this type of exercise to make that part of the brain stronger!!! And, yes, the man is really there!!!

Flooding

Building houses on river floodplains is an abysmal mistake. I used to live in a place which was affected by severe flooding in 2000, leaving the floodplain under 4 feet of water. A new estate was promptly built there 3 years later. Major rivers on the continent, which can be up to a mile wide, have extensive floodplains, which are never built upon. Rivers like the Rhine can show a difference in levels of 8 metres / 27 feet through the year, and the volumes of water that come down from the Alps are not to be trifled with. It dwarfs what the rivers in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire have had to cope with. Twelve years ago, 250,000 people in the centre of Holland had to be evacuated when the Rhine threatened to overtop its banks. Now, areas beyond the floodplains are given back to the river to flood, to ameliorate the effects of high levels. Methinks lessons should be learned from the Dutch, who are masters in water management.

I do take the liberty of pointing to the floodbarriers at New Orleans, which merited the description of insufficient, only designed to withstand a category 3 or 4 hurricane. The images of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 continue to haunt me, and I point-blank fail to understand why the Federal authorities in the States are not rushing to put something a heck of a lot more substantial in place. I am again pointing to Holland, which put a 30 year flood prevention scheme in place after 2,000 people died in a stormflood on 31 January 1953. To England, where the Thames barrier was erected in the 1980s to stop flooding of central London. To Venice, where a similar flood prevention scheme is in operation.


Climate change seems to be progressing inexorably, and massive rainfalls and high winds, the extremes of weather, seem to be making an appearance on the scene in the UK. I hope Mr Brown, as PM, will start to take that into account as well, when it comes to learning lessons from the flooding that is now wreaking havoc in eastern England.

Change of PM

Gordon Brown has taken over as British Prime Minister this afternoon. I have heard various people saying they would prefer an election rather than a transfer like this. It is however NOT unprecedented. When Margaret Thatcher stepped aside in November 1990, John Major took over without an election. The next General Election took place in 1992. It is thought likely that a poll could be called next May.

Tony Blair is likely to be appointed UN special envoy for the Middle East as I type. Russia, a major player in the so-called quartet (US, UN, EU and Russia), has given its backing to the former PM. He has pulled Northern Ireland out of its state of virtual civil war in 1998. This was partly aided by the events of 9/11, which pulled the plug on American support for the IRA when Irish-Americans saw for themselves what terrorism is like.

Wednesday notes

Cloudy day in the isles, but not too bad altogether. The flooding problems in central and northern England seem to be getting worse and worse. The city of Worcester is having wet feet, Retford and Newark in Nottinghamshire are flooding and a man is missing presumed dead after falling into a dyke (drainage ditch) near Doncaster.

Tony Blair has stepped down as British Prime Minister, after an unusual Prime Minister's Questions session at noon, which ended in a cross-party round of applause. Tony Blair went to the Queen to submit his resignation, after his wife Cherie gave a parting shot to the media, saying she wouldn't miss them. The BBC anchormen took it badly, and it was a jarring note on an otherwise memorable occasion.
Gordon Brown has been invited to form a government, an invitation which he accepted, and is now in the process of forming. It's all change, and we shall see what transpires.

The former chairman of Western Isles Health Board has deprived a primary school near his home in North Harris of drinking water, by damming the stream that provided them with their supply. Council bowsers (watertankers) now ferry water to the school at Cliasmol, until the former chairman takes his dam down, which he erected illegally.
Small wonder he was kicked out of the job with an attitude like that.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Nunnery

Three Italian nuns die and go to heaven. At the Pearly Gates, they are met by St. Peter.
 
He says, "Sisters, you all led such exemplary lives that the Lord is granting you six months to go back to earth and be anyone you wish to be.
 
The first nun says, "I want to be Sophia Loren", and *poof* she's gone.
The second says, "I want to be Madonna", and *poof* she's gone.
 The third says, "I want to be Sara Pipalini."

St. Peter looks perplexed. "Who?" he asks. "Sara Pipalini," replies the nun. St. Peter shakes his head and says, "I'm sorry, but that name just doesn't ring a bell."

The nun then takes a newspaper out of her habit and hands it to St. Peter. St. Peter reads the paper and starts laughing. He hands it back to her and says, "No sister, the paper says it was the 'Sahara Pipeline' that was laid by 1,400 men in 6 months."
 
 If you laugh, you are going straight to hell

Funnies: an attribution

Just to thank Rosie and Rhonda for providing me with a steady flow of funnies, which I occasionally insert in this journal. Others include Derek and Liza. Many thanks; it livens up the place lol

After the honeymoon

After the Honeymoon

Please excuse the rough language in the following story...

I would have deleted them, but the story wouldn't be the same.

A young couple got married and went on their honeymoon. When they got back, the bride immediately called her mother.

"Well", said her mother, "so how was the honeymoon?"

"Oh mama", she replied, "the honeymoon was wonderful! So romantic"......Suddenly she burst out crying. "But, mama, as soon as we returned, Sam started using the most horrible language -- things I'd never heard before! I mean, all these awful 4-letter words! You've got to take me home! PLEASE MAMA!"

"Sarah, Sarah", her mother said, "calm down! You need to stay with your husband and work this out. Now, tell me, what could be so awful?  WHAT 4-letter words?"

"Please don't make me tell you, mama," wept the daughter. "I'm so embarrassed, they're just too awful! COME GET ME, PLEASE!!"

Darling, baby, you must tell me what has you so upset. Tell your mother these horrible 4-letter words!"

Sobbing, the bride said, "Oh, Mama..., he used words like: dust, wash, iron, and cook..."

"I'll pick you up in twenty minutes," said the mother.

The unfinished story

There are always those stories that you don't know the beginning of, nor will you ever know the end. Today, the lifeboat motored into port at a rather slower pace than usual, shepherding a yacht. Remnants of sails clung to the rigging and the mast, and people could be seen walking on the deck as it rounded Goat Island on its way to the quayside. Quite a few yachts have since come and gone. We haven't had any rough weather - but out in the open Atlantic, there is no telling. I wonder...

Hurricane update - 26 June

Tropical cyclone Yemyin has brought flooding and high winds to the southern coast of Pakistan, adding to already existing flood problems. Hundreds of fishingboats were destroyed and parts of the coastal highway linking the province of Balochistan with the rest of the country were washed away. The 12 crew of one fishingboat were rescued by the Pakistan navy, but dozens more have been reported missing. The cyclone is weakening as it moves west; it may yet reemerge over the Gulf of Oman, but the chances of that happening appear slender.

Hurricane Audrey - 50 years on

On June 26, 1957, hurricane Audrey struck the town of Cameron, Louisiana, earlier and a lot more powerfully than anticipated. The hurricane was expected, but "only" as a category 2, not the category 4; and in the afternoon, not 12 hours earlier. Winds of 150 mph flattened much of Cameron and took 550 lives. More details here.

The lesson to be learned: although forecasting techniques have improved, hurricanes remain unpredictable, in course, forward speed and strength. This year's hurricane season has gone off to a quiet start - there are still 5 long months left to go.

This poem was taken from the Louisiana101.com website; it was written by Lucas Lasha.

In '57 she began with a roar
No one knew she was comin' ashore
Most people were asleep in bed
Not knowing they should have fled.

After the fury of the storm's huge eye
Families cried for members who did die
Lady Audrey would long be remembered
As the fateful day that Cameron surrendered

Bad weather in Europe

Following the heavy rainfall in the UK, the focus is now shifting to continental Europe, where the Dutch Met Office is warning of force 10 winds along the north coast of the country. The storm extends east, as the German weather office has a similar warning out for the entire northern coast of Germany as the depression that has brought all the havoc moves across the German Bight. Denmark escapes the storms for today, according to forecaster DMI, as the low pressure system moves right across the country.

The spell of unseasonable weather is attributed by meteorologists (I'm not one) to a sluggish jetstream. This is normally aligned west to east from Newfoundland across to Iceland or Scotland and on to Scandinavia. At the moment, it is going across in giant loops, liked a kinked cable, leaving any weather trapped in situ for days. Nice if you have a high pressure system bringing sunny and warm weather, horrible, if it's low pressure with wind and rain.

Off the back of a lorry


A German lorrydriver lost 26 washing machines off his lorry on an Italian motorway yesterday. The road, between Venice and Mestre, was blocked for hours whilst the appliances were recovered. Nobody was injured, as motorists behind the lorry were able to stop or swerve without incident.

Yorkshire flooding

The floods in Sheffield are receding leaving behind an unimaginable mess. Sludge on the streets and in houses, millions of pounds in damage. The danger is not past. A dam on a reservoir southeast of Sheffield, has developed cracks in its retaining wall and could break at any point. It would lead to extensive flooding, and as a precautionary measure, three villages nearby were evacuated.

Yesterday's unprecedented floods were caused by about 100 mm / 4 inches of rain falling in 24 hours, funnelled into the valleys behind Sheffield by the northeasterly wind. The rainclouds dumped their load on the Pennines, which then ran downhill via the rivers. The rivers Don and Sheaf burst their banks, leading to the flooding.

Other places were affected across the UK, such as Shropshire and North Wales. Although today is a dry day, more rain is in the offing in the next few days. Three people lost their lives in the flooding.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Sheffield flooding

Staggering scenes of flooding in the city of Sheffield, where two people are now known to have died. The body of one person was found a quarter-mile downstream from where a 13-year old had gone missing earlier in the day. A man of 68 drowned when he got swept away after getting out of his car. As of the latest, 900 people will be spending the night in their offices, as they are surrounded by metre(s) deep torrents of water, flowing at very fast speeds. The footage on TV was unbelieveable.

Call for support II

Another request, this time to pay a visit to Julie's journal "It's my life". She is the lady that ran a Race for Life for J-lander Jeannette (jeanno43) yesterday. She collected £400 in sponsorship money, much of it from J-landers, as I understand. Jeannette has told me that Julie herself needs moral support, which is what J-land is good at.

Call for support

Please call round to Life without My EddieBear, in which a lady (whose name eludes me for the moment) mourns the passing of her husband, many years her senior. He died last October; she needs all the support she can get to carry on in life.

Flooding

The South Yorkshire city of Sheffield is affected by severe flooding this evening. A look round the traffic cameras of the city's CCTV system shows streets either under water or gridlocked with traffic. Search and rescue helicopters are airlifting people out of industrial properties that are cut off by rising floodwater.

Rainfall totals have exceeded 100 mm or 4 inches within 24 hours; a normal June rainfall total is less than this. Flooding in parts of the city is up to 5 feet deep.

Flooding in Hull claimed the life of a man who became stuck in a manhole, which he was trying to clear of debris. Other areas affected by problems of comparable severity are East Yorkshire, near Hull and Lincolnshire near Louth.

I hope no more casualties ensue, but the devastation to hundreds or thousands of properties leaves little to the imagination.

Here in the Western Isles, the evening is quiet with gaps in the clouds and a moderate easterly breeze.

Hurricane update - 25 June

Tropical cyclone 03B has re-formed, and is at present 85 miles southwest of Karachi, Pakistan. The picture on the satellite imagery is messy, but this little beastie could still have a sting in its tail. By the time it comes ashore, in 24 hours' time, winds could reach 60 mph. Rain, which will affect a wide swathe of territory (from Yemen northwards), will cause large problems in terms of flooding. This applies to the desert areas of Oman and Yemen, where the wadis (dry rivers) will quickly fill and flood.

The Atlantic and East Pacific remain tranquil at this time.

Monday notes

Overcast weather today with some drizzle. Could be a lot worse, if my reading of the news bulletins is correct.

What dominates our local news is the assertion that building a windfarm in the Eishken district of Lewis will destroy the lunar standstill phenomenon, as seen from the Callanish Stones. These monoliths are aligned to capture the lunar standstill, which occurs every 18.6 years. What happens is that the moon rises behind a formation of hills known as The Sleeping Beauty, in Gaelic "Cailleach nam Mointeach", more precisely from between her knees. The moon then disappears behind another hill before setting further west.

The Eishken windfarm is planned to be constructed on the summits of the hills that make out the Sleeping Beauty, and the lunar standstill foreseen for Thursday night will be the last one not spoiled by the windturbines. When the next one occurs, early in 2026, the windfarm will be in its way, negating the purpose of the Callanish Stones.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Call for support

A new journaler has joined us in J-land: Brandi [bqb247], daughter of Lori [bowyerlori], who is in the middle of a struggle with drug addiction. Please call round to During the Storm to give Brandi a J-land welcome and offer support in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Hurricane update 24 June

Tropical cyclone 03B has traversed India and has now emerged over the Arabian Sea. This being a body of water with sea surface temperatures of more than 27 C / 80F means that it will regenerate into a tropical cyclone - probably within 24 hours. Don't like the satellite imagery, and within 30 minutes of me stating that the cyclone would NOT regenerate, the hurricane agency JTWC came out with a warning.

The Atlantic and East Pacific remain quiet.

Roadsigns

The second language in the west of Scotland is Gaelic; it could be argued it's the first language of the Western Isles. Gaelic is not an easy language to come to grips with as it is only a distant relative of English. For many years, particularly in the 18th and 19th century, its usage was actively suppressed. Only in the last few decades has it regained some approbation.

This has led to bilingual roadsigns, and those are not without controversy. On the main roads in the Highlands, names are printed in white on a green background, with the Gaelic names in yellow underneath. This obviously leaves your average roadsign rather full. It could also lead to confusion. I am not opposed to promoting Gaelic, far from it. But consider the following:

Inverness in Gaelic is Inbhir Nis. Easy enough.

Stornoway in Gaelic reads as Steornabhagh. Bit trickier.

Garynahine in Gaelic becomes Gearraidh na h-Aibhne. In actual fact, the English name is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic. I think it means Garden by the River. This becomes a bit of a problem on the roads in the island if you're unfamiliar with Gaelic. Garynahine is an important road junction.

Dingwall in Gaelic is Inhbhirpheofharan. What? Mouth of the River Peffer - a few miles inland lies the spa town of Strathpeffer.

Argyll & Bute council have started to replace their English-only signs with bilingual ones. It has led to a road-traffic hazard - because after taking down the old signs, the new ones were not yet available. Some five miles northeast of Oban lies the village of Connel, where the A828 road branches north across the Falls of Lorn towards Fort William. It forks off the main A85 Oban to Stirling road. A newspaper report mentioned that there was no signage at this junction, because the new bilingual signs were still being manufactured. You can imagine the strange manoeuvers that took place there when people realised they had overshot the junction. The agency responsible for putting up the roadsigns has since been ordered to put the old signs back until the new ones are available for putting up.

Genealogy

Linda [lsfp1960] featured this clever play of words in one of her entries, and I take the liberty of copying - hope she doesn't mind.

An amateur genealogical researcher discovered that his great-great uncle, Remus Starr, a fellow lacking in character, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture is this inscription: "Remus Starr; horse thief; sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887; robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives. Convicted and hanged 1889."

In a Family History subsequently written by the researcher, Remus’s picture is cropped so that all that's seen is a head shot. The accompanying biographical sketch is as follows: "Remus Starr was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1885, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."

Sunday notes

Reasonably nice at the moment, with warm sunshine and big fluffy clouds. It's the big fluffy clouds I'm keeeping a beady eye on - I suspect we may get a downpour or two later on.

Here in Lewis, a woman of 63 died in a housefire in the village of Callanish, near the famous Stones, yesterday. She was rescued from the property, where the upstairs bedroom was alight. She was declared dead upon arrival in hospital in Stornoway. Her sister remains in hospital, being treated for the effects of smoke inhalation.

The man known as Chemical Ali,
Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam Hussein, has been sentenced to death. He was involved in a campaign in 1988 against the Kurdish population of Northern Iraq, in which 180,000 people were killed, partly through the use of poison gas. The full details can be read in this BBC report.

After floods in India, storms have wreaked havoc in the Pakistani city of Karachi. More than 200 people died when galeforce winds and heavy rain lashed the city. Billboards were brought down and infrastructure destroyed. Only recently, temperatures topped 40C / 105F there. The storms are related to the former tropical cyclone which has traversed India over the last few days and is now in the Arabian Sea. Rainfall totals in India, resulting from this system, are as high as 420 mm / 17 inches in the last 24 hours. It does not look likely that the cyclone will regenerate in the Arabian Sea.

Feline funnies

Check out Val [valphish]'s blog There is a season for great cat jokes.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Another funny

A kangaroo kept getting out of his enclosure at the zoo. Knowing that he could hop high, the zoo officials put up a ten-foot fence. He was out the next morning, just sauntering around the zoo. A twenty-foot fence was put up. Again he go out.

When the fence was forty feet high, a camel in the next enclosure asked the kangaroo, "How high do you think they'll go?"

The kangaroo said, "About a thousand feet, unless somebody locks the gate at night!"

A year on the Internet

I must send my thanks to whoever sent me the one about rat poo in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet towel with every envelope that needs sealing.

Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th  time.

I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I Receive the 000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending Me for participating in their special e-mail program.

I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every wish.

I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant f reaks with no eyes or feathers.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer can buy petrol without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping the petrol.

I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.

I no longer use cling film wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.

And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup water in the microwave any more because it will blow up in my face...disfiguring me for life.

I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.

I no longer go to shopping centres because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer receive packages from UPS or FedEx since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.

I no longer shop at Pret a Porter since they are French and don't support our British troops or the Salvation Army.

I no longer have any trainers-- but that will change once I receive my free replacement pair from Nike.

Thanks to you, I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my bum.

And thanks to your great advice, I can't ever pick up 0 dropped in the car parking because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.

Oh, and don't forget this one either! I can no longer drive my car because I can't buy petrol from certain petrol companies.

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 47,000 people in the next 47 minutes, a large dove with diarrhoea will land on your head at 5:47 PM tomorrow afternoon and the fleas from 47 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbour's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician...

Have a wonderful day

...... AND
A scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain and sexual activity read their E-mail with their hand on the mouse. Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late...

Afternoon jottings

Four guests arrived at lunchtime, so it was a rush without mistake. Two people from Germany, two from England. Pity the weather took a turn for the worse with a "little rain", which can soak you in minutes. Went to the library to double-check my project - and fished out at least 100 more names that had slipped my net. Gulp. Loads of people wanting to use the free Internet access that is on offer there; if you go elsewhere, it can be £1 for 20 minutes.

The remains of a tropical cyclone has wreaked havoc in the southern Indian state of Andra Pradesh. I have continued to track its progress through the Indian weather service's warnings, and the BBC is now reporting 45 dead and major damage being done to buildings and communication lines. I should add that it is also the onset of the annual monsoon, a bit earlier than normal. This is always accompanied by heavy rains, flooding and loss of life. The depression should move into the Arabian Sea, where it needs watching: it could re-develop into a tropical cyclone.

The Atlantic remains quiet, as far as hurricanes are concerned; the East Pacific is slowly wakening - the signals are changing although a cyclone is not immanent. The Western Pacific is also very quiet, although the typhoon season there is year-round.

Saturday notes

Not the best day of the week, with occasional rain. Mrs B is very busy changing beds for the next lot of guests, due off the lunchtime ferry - at 1.15.

Yesterday, a report was issued which was critical of the crew of the cargoship Harvest Caroline, an occasional visitor to this port. Last October, she ran aground at Tanera Mor, an island in Loch Broom, northwest of Ullapool. She had been at anchor, but the investigation found that length of anchor cable and the position of the anchor had been 'insufficient'. When the boat suffered engine failure, the anchor dragged, finally leaving the boat high and dry on Tanera Mor. The fact that the anchor was dragging was not spotted - as the watchman was in bed.

Several boats came to the rescue, and the wife of the manager of the boat was airlifted ashore. The incident was partly attributed to the inexperience of the crew, and procedures were revised on board.

Although the Harvest Caroline issued a distress call by VHF radio - many smaller craft do not appear to have such essential equipment on board. Another report on the Coastguard website mentions people using mobile phones in an emergency. Not a good idea: you very quickly lose signal out at sea. VHF radio also allows the emergency services to track your position. 

Perspective

It was an entry by Indigo [rdautumnsage] that prompted me to tell this story, which has only the most tenuous of bearing on her painful story.

In August 1914, a young woman in the island here got married. Immediately afterwards, her new husband went out to sea for the fishing. He would be back after a week or two. History intervened, and war was declared. The hubby was a naval reservist and when he reached port, orders were there for him to proceed to the Depot in England for training and deployment.

It is late 1918. The Armistice has been signed, and the boys are coming home. The young man in our story has been through years in the trenches, and has witnessed horrors beyond description. It has aged him decades. He returns to Stornoway and goes to see his bride. Who gives him a tongue-lashing for leaving her in the lurch for 4 years, without so much as a word on being called up. He stares at her blankly, numbly. He looks gaunt and pale, a shadow from the handsome young man that wed the young woman four long years ago. She is angry, at being cheated out of a wedded life of bliss for 4 years. She is angry, that he doesn't understand.

Fast forward to the 1970s. The young woman is now ancient in years, and her husband has passed away. The woman is wracked by guilt, over the way she treated her other half when he returned from the Great War. She now understands, having seen boys return from the Second War in 1945, what had happened. And she feels dreadful over her own erstwhile selfishness.

Friday, 22 June 2007

St Kilda Opera

Well, that was quite impressive. Unfortunately, I got the wrong information earlier in the week - wrong website and wrong starting time. Due to computer problems, I was unable to do an entry (it crashed the webcast) so I can only humbly beg forgiveness.

Friday afternoon

Went into town this afternoon for a few bits and pieces. Received an email from a man in the US regarding the Iolaire Disaster, more in particular about the last remaining survivor. He died in 1992, at the age of nearly 97. I had to go into the library to dig out details. Next stop was a shop halfway up Bayhead Street, some 10 minutes' walk to the north. It is a sunny day but with a chilly wind - temperatures this afternoon barely scratching 14C. Returned down some of the back streets, like Plantation Road, that I have not frequented much.

Encountered a friendly tomcat along Keith Street, which wanted some attention, and I'm always happy to give that to any feline that wants it.

Up in the supermarket, they managed to run out of milk, after running out of sugar yesterday. Dear me. Also read about the new windturbines at Grimshader, some 5 miles away, which are not turning.

This is because the local electricity grid cannot cope with the variable output from the machines. When the wind drops, the lights could go out on Lewis. So what's the frigging use of having them, if you need the powerstation down the road to be running half the time? The regional electricity company says an upgrade on the network is due in 2012 or so.

Recovered

Police have just announced that the body recovered from the sea at Bragar is that of Daniel McTaggart, aged 12, who went missing earlier this month.

St Kilda - a European Opera

Just a reminder that this opera will be webcast this evening (BST) at 9.10pm on www.bbc.co.uk/stkildaopera. Be prepared for some rather modern music. The opera will be performed simultaneously in 5 European cities, with links to St Kilda, where a group of people will 'dance on ropes off the rocks'. Rather them than me, those cliffs are well over 1,000 feet high.

Missing presumed dead

A body has been recovered from the sea at the village of Bragar, on the West Side of Lewis. A member of the public located the corpse at 6.50 am this morning, the Stornoway Gazette reports. The identity is yet to be established, which may take some time. A natural link can be made with 12-year old Daniel McTaggart, who went missing earlier this month during a canoeing trip near Bragar in which his father sadly died.

Thursday images


Early morning fog (this is 4.25 am).


Sunset disappearing into a showercloud


Band of rapidly failing light over the harbour

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Boscastle flooded again

The Cornish village of Boscastle, which was devastated by flooding in August 2004, has once again been affected by floods. Some properties were left under 2 feet / 60 cm of water. In the 2004 disaster, buildings were destroyed and cars washed out to sea after prolongued heavy rain precipitated flash-floods. More details here.

Cervical cancer

Scottish girls aged 12 are to be offered a new vaccine, which will protect them against the form of cervical cancer caused by the human papilloma virus. This is transmitted by sexual intercourse. It has been billed by the Scottish Executive as a move which could save thousands of lives.

Our regional paper, the Press and Journal, trod on the proverbial banana-skin today, headlining this on its frontpage as Schoolgirls aged 12 to get jabs for sex cancer. Atrocious.

Busy port

Once again, Stornoway is seeing a fair number of boats in today. The coastguard tug Anglian Earl is moored alongside pier no 1; German fisheries research vessel Heincke is on the other side of the pier. And Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency vessel Vigilant lies alongside the ferrypier.

Vigilant
Anglian Earl
Heincke

Tags:

Osprey breeding season ends in failure

The ospreys with the interesting love life, which I reported on a few weeks ago, have not managed to successfully raise a brood this season. Female osprey EJ managed to produce a third clutch of eggs off her mate Henry, and they all hatched. The first chick died. At first it was suggested that was killed because Henry stood on it. CCTV footage exonorated the bird, as the chick was already dead when Henry trampled it. The other two chicks have now also died, bringing the breeding season at the Boat of Garten sanctuary to an unsuccessful close.

Hurricane update - 21 June

A tropical cyclone has formed off the east Indian coast. Although winds are not likely to much exceed galeforce (force 8 on the Beaufort scale), warnings have been issued by the Indian Meteorological Office, which I'd like to relay.

A depression over westcentral Bay of Bengal lies centred at 1430 hrs IST of today, the 21st June, 2007 over westcentral Bay of Bengal near Lat.16.00N and Long 84.50E, about 300 kms east-southeast of Kakinada. The System is likely to intensify further and move in a west-northwesterly direction and likely to cross north Andhra Pradesh coast between Narsapur and Visakhapatnam by tomorrow, the 22nd morning.   Under its influence, widespread rains with scattered heavy to very heavy falls are likely over Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamilnadu & Puducherry during next 36 hrs. Isolated extremely heavy falls (> 25 cm) are also likely over central districts of coastal Andhra Pradesh and Telangana during the same period.   Squally winds speed reaching 50-60  kmph are likely along and off Andhra Pradesh and north Tamilnadu & Puducherry coasts during the next 24 hours.   Sea condition will be very rough. Fishermen of Andhra Pradesh and north Tamilnadu/Puducherry coasts are advised not to venture into the sea.

Thursday notes

An overcast day after day broke with fog. I don't think they saw the sun rise at Stonehenge either, the weather being quite iffy across the country. Still on the subject of the weather, not much activity in the tropics at the moment, with only one system threatening to become a tropical depression: east of India.

In Chile, a lake has done a disappearing act. In March, the body of water, fed by glacial meltwaters, was still there. Last month, it had gone, leaving behind a crater filled with ice. Apparently, the lake didn't exist some 30 years ago, and now it is gone again. Geologists are on the scene to investigate, but it is thought that a fissure opened in the bottom of the lake, allowing the waters to drain off. Southern Chile, where the lake was located, is the scene of frequent earth tremors, being situated on the Pacific Rim of Fire.

March 2007


May 2007

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

UK visa applications rejected - for wanting to come on holiday

Talk of officialdom going bananas, well, this story on the BBC website made my jaw drop just now. People applying for a visa to visit the UK had it turned down, as they wanted to visit the UK for no other reason than sightseeing. For not having a (sufficient) command of the English language. If that was applied in the reverse direction, quite a few English people would have their visa applications turned down. Anyway, read the whole story here, and other feedback here.

Hurricane forecast - down on previous

The British Met Office has issued its forecast for the 2007 hurricane season. They suggest that 10 hurricanes may form, which is down on the long-term average of 12.4 and well below other agencies' forecasts of up to 15. Obviously, the atmosphere is an unpredictable beast, and we'll know the validity of all these forecasts by the end of November.

Wednesday notes

Overcast day today, with a fair old breeze, but not cold. We were threatened with heavy rain, but none has arrived. In fact, it's fairly bright. Rainfall radar imagery from the Met Office shows the boundary of the rain some 60 miles to the south. Let's hope it STAYS there.

The tourist season is in full flight, with accommodations in and around Stornoway pretty full up. Yet, people still come off the ferry (which is sailing in the next 5 minutes) without prior bookings and expecting to just turn up and lie down, if you know what I mean.

Yesterday, a tropical disturbance formed southeast of Oman. An immediate flurry of Omani visitors to my tropical cyclone blog followed, which is continuing today. Even though I have indicated that the weather feature in question has dissipated and poses no threat to anyone any more. What may yet pose a threat to the Indian subcontinent is a tropical disturbance near the Andaman Islands. Will keep y'all posted if that turns into a cyclone.

Alan Johnston


Today, Wednesday, is the 100th day that BBC reporter Alan Johnston has been in captivity since he was seized in Gaza City on 12 March. At 1315 GMT (2.15pm BST or 9.15am EDT), BBC workers will hold a vigil to mark this milestone. There appears to be no progress in this case, with the militant group thought to be responsible continuing to make demands for Mr Johnston's release. A demand from the Hamas government in Gaza for Alan to be released by Monday went unheeded.

Solstice Sunsets

Yesterday's sunset: pictures taken around 10.30pm

Today's sunset, 10.30pm

Mormon Church, Newton Street, 11.30pm

James Street Roundabout, 11.40pm

Town Hall clock, 11.45pm

Why is it still light at such a late hour? Well, Stornoway lies at a latitude of more than 58 degrees north. The USA is somewhere between 24 and 49 degrees north, and mainland Britain between 50 and 58 North; Orkney is at 59 North and Shetland straddles the 60th parallel. In Lerwick, it really doesn't get dark at night. Even here, when I look outside at 1 am, there is a broad glimmer of light on the northern horizon, and it starts to get light again after 3 am.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Hidden talent and the wrecking bra

The janitor who asked if he could play the piano in the university Chapel at Glasgow University soon had quite an audience. Staff were watching him via a webcam, and heard him play concert-standard pieces. Very soon, he was asked to give a public recital, which went down a storm. Aleksander Kudajcyk, from Poland, usually cleans the corridors at the university.

A bra, which someone flushed down in toilet in northeast England, caused the collapse of a sewer pipe and a 10 metre stretch of road overhead. Apparently, the garment had spread itself over a pipe, and the combination of a build-up of fat and other debris behind it caused the pipe to collapse, together with the road overhead. The owner of the bra is untraceable, so Northumbria Water faces a £15,000 bill to repair the damage.

Tuesday notes

Fairly sunny, but with a lot of high cloud about. Still warm, but that's likely to change later in the week. Ferry is just turning up on the horizon, a wee bit on the late side.

A group of 1,550 people walked 54 miles of the West Highland Way, the long distance footpath between Fort William and Glasgow, over a 24 hour period. They did so for a charitable cause. The WHW extends as far south as Glasgow, but the walkers terminated their expedition south of Ardlui, on the shores of Loch Lomond.

Salman Rushdie's knighthood continues to stir up trouble. A Pakistan government minister has said that suicide bombings would be justifiable. Nice one, Islamabad. Rushdie's book, Satanic Verses, is perceived to be blasphemous to Muslims, and some of the more acerbic voices within the faith have said that the knighthood is a deliberate insult to Islam. Can't say I agree with that, but it's a situation that's been badly handled.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Graphic

may offend

Seen at Cuddy Point in the Castle Grounds.
Graphic, but effective I'd imagine.
Said he, scraping another doodoo off his boots...

Second week of June

12 June, Cromwell Street Quay
13 June, before sunset
14 June, sunny weather
15 June, high level cloud only
Sunday sunset

Monday notes

Morning all. Nice summer's day in the Isles, temperatures already up to 17C, with a max of 20C forecast. No complaints at all; am not so sure about the rest of the week. Am off to the library a little later this morning to gather more info for my project.

Some people have the right ideas for the wrong places. This morning, a man had this brilliant solution to the housing problems in the islands. Lift VAT on renovating houses (at the moment, you pay VAT on renovating a house, but none (as I understand it) on building one). There are plenty of empty and derelict houses between the Butt of Lewis and Barra. Problem is, that especially here in Lewis, housing is needed around the town of Stornoway.

The NHS is getting the rap over failing hygiene standards. This is a problem, on account of rising numbers of patients going down with MRSA and Clostridium difficile infections. These are difficult to treat and in weakened patients could precipitate an early death. The watchdog for the NHS is now threatening spot checks. That should keep them on their toes. I know that at least one J-lander is involved with this side of things, so I should get some feedback.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Jim Halliday

Some of you are already aware, but I still feel it is my sad duty to report the death of J-lander Jim Halliday, halliday0957, at the age of 74. He was a larger than life character, recounting his escapades at home and away as a young man. His struggles with AOL and the Internet are proverbial, and I was only one among many who helped him along.

His last entry was made on 15 April, and in retrospect appears to be foreboding. In my quarter, deaths always come in threes, and he was the last of the threesome. I'll miss Jim, even if I've never met the man. Do not tell me that someone's character doesn't show in their writing.

Please call round at his journal before the account is closed, and leave a message for the family, which I hope will be appreciated.



Picture problems

Is anyone else experiencing problems adding an album of photos to an entry? I find it's pot luck whether it will actually let you do it, rather than saying "There was an error reading the URL you requested". This has been going on for 4 weeks now, and it's pretty annoying.

Sunday notes

Overcast today, with a bit of a breeze and a pretty mediocre 12C on the thermometer. Things are set to go downhill later in the week, with rain and wind and rain and wind right the way through. Oh well, summer is here. The summer solstice on Thursday looks set to be a definite wash-out, but we shall see. The weather up here is notoriously unpredictable.

The inevitable condemnation of Salman Rushdie's knighthood by the leadership in Iran has arrived; and I really had to trawl my memory as to what the fuss was all about. And you have this enormous group of people over there who never read a letter of the novel who are shouting blue murder. It's 19 years ago now, and it's an unreadable book. Period.

Was saddened to hear of a crash at a drag-car race in Tennessee, where a car spun out of control into a crowd of spectators, 4 of whom were killed. Hope they have a look at safety precautions at such events.

The last survivor of the trench warfare of World War I, Harry Patch, is celebrating his 109th birthday today. He is from the town of Wells in Somerset, southwest England. His remembrance day is 22nd September, when three of his comrades were killed. On June 6th, the oldest British survivor of World War I and the only survivor of the Battle of Jutland (31 May 1916), Henry Allingham, celebrated his 111th birthday.

Faces from the War Memorial

Several sessions in the library and on the Internet later, I am finally starting to compile the memorial of casualties from World War I, from Lewis, on the web. I have decided to put it in a blog format, on Blogger. I tried AOL, and it chewed it up, disliked the HTML, and spat it out at me. So, Blogger it be. I am putting it up village by village, with portraits where available - I have some 400. This is going to keep me busy for a wee while yet. If you have a constructive comment, please leave it on that blog, or on here if you prefer. The name? Faces from the War Memorial.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Do not drink and drive

A man goes to a party and has too much to drink. His friends plead with him to let them take him home. He says NO -- he only lives a mile away.

About five blocks from the party, the police pull him over. They check his license and ask him to get out of the car and walk the line. Just as he starts, the police radio blares out a notice of a robbery taking place in a house around the block. The police tell the party animal to stay put, they'll be right back and they run around the corner to the robbery.

The guy waits and waits and finally decides to drive home. When he gets there, he tells his wife he is going to bed, and to tell anyone who might come looking for him that he has the flu and has been in bed all day.

A few hours later the police knock on the door. They ask if Mr. Smith is there and his wife says yes. They ask to see him and she replies that he is in bed with the flu and has been there all day.

The police still have his driver's license. They ask to see his car and she asks why. They insist on seeing his car, so she takes them to the garage. She opens the door. There sitting in the garage is the police car, with all its lights still flashing.

True story; told by the driver at his first AA meeting


Male - chauvinism?

COOL THINGS ABOUT BEING A MAN

Yes, it's good to be a man......


1. Your ass is never a factor in a job interview.

2. Your orgasms are real. Always.

3. Your last name stays put.

4. The garage is all yours.

5. Wedding plans take care of themselves.

6. You never feel compelled to stop a friend from getting laid.

7. Car mechanics tell you the truth.

8. You don't give a rat's ass if someone notices your new haircut.

9. Hot wax never comes near your pubic area.

10. Same work .. more pay.

11. Wrinkles-add character.

12. You don't have to leave the room to make emergency crotch adjustments.

13. Wedding Dress $2000; Tux rental $100.

14. If you retain water, it's in a canteen.

15. People never glance at your chest when you're talking to them.

16. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.

17. One mood, ALL the damn time.

18. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds.

19. A five-day vacation requires only 1 suitcase.

20. You can open all your own jars.

21. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.

22. Your underwear is $10 for a three-pack.

23. If you are 34 and single, nobody notices.

24. You can quietly enjoy a car ride from the passenger's seat.

25. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.

26. You can quietly watch a game with your buddy for hours without ever thinking "He must be mad at me."

27. No maxi-pads.

28. If another guy shows up at the party in the same outfit, you just might become lifelong friends.

29. You are not expected to know the names of more than five colors.

30. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.

31. You are unable to see wrinkles in clothes.

32. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.

33. Your belly usually hides your big hips.

34. One wallet and one pair of shoes, one color, all seasons.

35. You can "do" your nails with a pocketknife.

36. Christmas shopping can be accomplished for 25 relatives, on December 24th, in minutes.

37. The world is your urinal.

TEN THINGS MEN KNOW FOR SURE ABOUT WOMEN.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10. They have breasts.

Flooding

The flooding in northern England is continuing, with many properties still under feet of water. The 5pm news bulletin on News 24 showed bungalows under water, which of course means that you can't move things upstairs. Some very sad stories there. The forecast for next week is unfavourable; after Tuesday, we're all in for a spell of wet and windy weather, if my reading of the weather charts is correct.

If you're concerned about flooding in your area, the Environment Agency website can help. Put your postcode into the searchbox, and it will show whether you're in danger.


Tags:

Saturday notes

We've lost the sun and it's quite breezy - a force 5 on the Beaufort scale. Still, it could be a lot worse, if I look at what has happened in Northern England and Ulster.

Thank you very much for the praise for the graphic in my previous entry - I did not make it, I get sent lighthouse graphics. If anyone is really desperate to know who made it, I can make enquiries. However, I'm not going to be drawn into recent spate of legalistics over graphics. I think the message that a lighthouse sends is more important, which is why I use that for heading up my Calls for Support. Reading the comments, I think the message is read correctly.

Salman Rushdie is now Sir Salman Rushdie. He was at the receiving end of a fatwah, basically an Islamic death warrant, in 1988 over his turgid novel Satanic Verses. I had a look at it and couldn't even finish page 1. Yawn.

The Palestinians are now in a state of civil war, in my perception. One faction in control of Gaza, the other in control of the West Bank. I am sorry to say this is a serious case of shooting yourself in the foot. It won't solve anything, I just hope that BBC man Alan Johnston will come out of this alright. He has now been in captivity for nearly 100 days.

Off to the library now, back later.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Call for support II


Was pointed towards another J-lander in need - Lori [bowyerlori], whose daughter Brandi overdosed and is on a ventilator, clinging on to life. Brandi has serious issues with addiction, and all the heartbreak that this brings to a family. Please call round.

Food for thought

1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.



During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:

'What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?'

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question
blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

'Absolutely,' said the professor. 'In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello.'

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.


2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain


One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 60s.. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached..

It read:
'Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away... God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.'

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.


3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those who serve.


In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

'How much is an ice cream sundae?' he asked.

'Fifty cents,' replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

'Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?' he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.

'Thirty-five cents,' she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins.

'I'll have the plain ice cream,' he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish,
were two nickels and five pennies..

You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.


4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path.


In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the
King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of
vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the
peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note
from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.


5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts...


Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only  chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.. The doctor explained the situation to her
little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, 'Yes I'll do it if it will  save her.' As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a
trembling voice, 'Will I start to die right away'.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.