Saturday, 30 June 2007
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 29 June 2007
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
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 * *
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.
This blog stays where it is.
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. .
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.
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.
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
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!!!
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.
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.
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
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."
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 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
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.
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.
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
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.
The Atlantic and East Pacific remain tranquil at this time.
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
The Atlantic and East Pacific remain quiet.
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.
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."
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.
Saturday, 23 June 2007
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!"
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
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...
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.
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.
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
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.
Thursday, 21 June 2007
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Saturday, 16 June 2007
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
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.
10. They have breasts.
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.
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
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..
'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.