Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The End

Tomorrow, 8 October, is the 4th anniversary of my journal Northern Trip on AOL. As AOL is axing its blogging service, I have decided to cease making entries on this journal from now. It will be transferred to an archive on Blogger as soon as the mechanism for doing so becomes available.

My new blog, Atlantic Lines, is hosted on Blogger and has been in use for a few days now. Please go there for further updates.

Thank you to all in J-land on AOL who welcomed me into the community from 2005 onwards. A special thank you to reader peguera1, who was one of my first commenters.

See you on Blogger.


Friday, 3 October 2008


Greetings from Inverness.

I urgently need to tell you that it has proved impossible to migrate the dormant journals, including those written by the deceased, to Blogger. If anyone does have access to them, it can be done; if not, copying the entire journal manually is the only option. Lori [helmswondermom on AOL] mentioned on her Blogger journal that saving it as an ebook is apparently an option - please check her journal. Haven't got the link here, and have only very limited time.

I am desperately sorry about this.

It is perishingly cold today, with a strong northerly wind and snow on the mountains. Not even just the tops, quite low down as well. Temperatures are currently between 5 and 8 degrees across the Highlands. Had a rough crossing to Ullapool, with sleet showers along the way. Now in Inverness Tourist Office, trying to access my email - not possible due to temp maintenance.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

MSN group

JLand Friends

You need a Hotmail / MSN username & password to join. The email address can be changed.


I am pleased that my J-land 2 folder on Google Reader is filling up nicely with everybody's new URLs.

Ken (buckoclown) is suggesting we drop the J-land name. Let's not have too many changes all at once - this move is proving traumatic enough, and I'm not looking to the heartache that's bound to occur on and after November 1st, when people discover their blogs have disappeared.

The J-land Hub, the Magic Smoke on Blogger, will come to life in the next couple of days with more information on the transfer.

I'll be off Internet from October 3rd until (and including) October 8th, but will try to get internet access at some point. I'm travelling to Orkney tomorrow to photograph 700 wargraves in Kirkwall and Lyness. The weatherforecast is atrocious, so please think of me whilst I feed the fish in the Minch and the Pentland Firth.

entry copied to Atlantic Lines

Midnight update

The procedure for transferring our blogs to Blogger is yet to be announced.

YOU have to do the transferring, there is nothing automatic about it. Any blogs left untransferred on November 1st will be lost.

Setting up on Blogger:
1. Go to http://www.blogger.com
2. Click the big orange arrow
3. If you already have a Google account, use the login details for that to proceed
4. If you DON't have a Google account, provide the details requested, and please don't forget to check the validation email and click on the link that contains.
5. You now have an Blogger account into which you can transfer your AOL journal

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Looking forward

Once the stramash is over, and our journals are no longer hosted on AOL, I shall switch to a new journal, called Atlantic Lines.


Anyone who knows of a blog by a deceased person they wish to preserve, please drop me a line.

Anyone who knows of a blog by a person who will not be in a position to effect the transition to Blogger themselves (through being ill, on holiday whatever), also drop me a line.

I have set up a Blogger account specifically for these instances. I hope to be able to save these journals; for the latter category, it is possible to transfer ownership later.


Magic Smoke

I have been blocked from making further entries on Magic Smoke. The reason why is unclear to me.

I will go so far as to say that AOL LLC is solely interested in making money off the backs of its users, without any due regard for their interests, whether these be tangible or otherwise, as in the case of J-land.

My entries on Magic Smoke have been nothing but helpful, and were not  critical of AOL or its policies. I have endeavoured to take work away from the Journals Team by answering questions and giving technical advice.

AOL, in cutting away the Journals service, is not interested in facilitating the transition to Blogger or making this as painless as possible.


I'm very pleased that many are already changing to a Blogger blog.
Sue [catslittertray] has come up with an idea to keep in touch through Facebook. I'm unfamiliar with that site, but email her direct for details. Suffix her screenie with @aol.com, and it'll reach her.

I am extremely concerned about the number of people that are as yet unaware of the changeover, and have requested Vish to transfer all the unclaimed blogs to a dedicated Blogger account, admin'd by me. Haven't had word back yet (it's 5.10 am in CA), but hope it's going to work.

If you don't know which blogs you host on AOL, put the following into your browser's address bar: journals.aol.com/screenname and hit Enter. It'll come up with a list. Or not.

The migration link will be accessible in a couple of days from now.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Journals break

I continue to be on journals break. I am only making entries to help everybody in amongst the carnage, caused by the announced shut-down of AOL Journals. You'll find those on Magic Smoke. I am pissed off beyond belief.


Apart from AOL Journals, AOL Hometown will also be sunset (quoting the euphemism from AOL bigwig Kevin Conroy on July 25. AOL Hometown, a rather outmoded piece of FTP (storage) space is used / can be used for putting your pics, rev-counter etc. You will lose that on November 1st, if you don't save everything first.

AOL Pictures will meet a similar fate, and please be warned that NOTHING is being done for your pictures. The AOL pictures blog has not been updated since summer 2007, and there is no word on their website. You may well find all your pictures gone by November 1st as well - that's not official, but my personal assessment

In all fairness, at least our journalseditor is trying to make the best of a bad situation. It's still crap though.

Closing down

Right, so we're supposed to save our journals to disk. Does not work.
Manual transfer - I've got nearly 4,800 entries. Forget it.
I'm waiting to hear more from our intermediary, Vish, about a possible transfer to the Blogger platform. I'm not terribly impressed with Blogger, but better something than nothing.

I don't think AOL quite realises what they are destroying here. Is there such a thing as genocide on line?

Closing down

Dear AOL Journals user [UK],

We regret to inform you that AOL Journals is shutting down on 31 October 2008. After this date your content will no longer be available and will be deleted.

In order to save your valuable data we suggest you save your AOL Journals content as soon as possible and we have provided a webpage with detailed instructions on how to do this. Please click here or go to this URL http://www.aol.co.uk/product-notification to receive more information on how to save your content.


The AOL Team

I'm supposed to be on a journals break, but it looks like it will be a permanent break by the end of October.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Taking a break

I have decided to take a break from blogging until October 8th. I have therefore declined an invitation to be guest editor this weekend. Anyone wanting to keep an eye on my pictures is welcome to check them out on Flickr.com. See you all next month.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


Visited the graveyard in this small village, 9 miles north of Stornoway, this afternoon. The location is actually quite pretty, so I'll share some of the landscapes of the area.

View from the cemetery

Along the main road, looking north

Gress Beach

Gress River and Back [village] on the hill behind


I am not following "alerts" (through Google Reader) at present, and may not do so for a while. At the moment, I do not feel up to reading and or commenting, and I would not do people's writing any justice. Back soon on that front.

Tuesday 23 September

Fairly bright today, even if with a good cover of cloud. No complaints about the weather so far. More than can be said of Puerto Rico, which has had 24 inches of rain in 24 hours, causing mudslides and flash-floods. The tropical weather system responsible is not a formal depression, but its impact is still quite severe.

Finland has seen another college shooting, the second in two years. Twenty are feared dead, but the condition of the gunman is unknown - he shot himself after going on his rampage. Finland has a high rate of private gun ownership. This story echoed of the tragedy at Virginia Tech in 2007.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Monday 22 September

Bright morning, with variable amounts of clouds. Here in Lewis, we have the ridiculous situation that there is no ferry on a Sunday, but you can fly out on a plane. So if you're in the money, you can travel, but the penurious cannot. Also, Lewis is part of the Western Isles, and the island of North Uist does have a ferry service to Skye, which is linked to the Scottish mainland by bridge. So one part of the Western Isles can travel to the mainland on a Sunday by ferry, whilst another cannot. If anyone can make sense of that, please let me know. I can't.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Hurricane update - 21 September

Tropical disturbance 93L is moving north towards Puerto Rico, and the NHC is expecting it to develop into a tropical depression within the next day or so. Further updates as they come; at the moment, the Lesser Antilles, US/UK Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola should keep a sharp look-out for this system.

Sunday 21 September

Quite a decent day in the islands, with increasing amounts of sunshine as the afternoon progresses. Temperatures have gone down on recent values, just 12 degrees right now.

South Africa's president, Mr Mbeki, is to announce he will stand down. Can't say I'm sorry to see him go, actually. I'm not a avid follower of SA politics, but a head of state that denies there is an AIDS problem, whereas about one-third of his people have the virus and/or the disease, should really consider his position. Also his tacit approval of Robert Mugabe's regime didn't do him any favours, although Mugabe has sawn the legs from under his own chairs through a disastrous economic policy. The formal reason for Mr Mbeki to step down lies under allegations of interference with a political rival.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Saturday 20 September

Very windy today, with white riders on the water of the basin across the road. Autumn is here, and here to stay. The equinox is nigh, and the weather is there to match it.

If you're in the Caribbean, keep an eye on disturbance 93L, which is currently across the Lesser Antilles. It could turn into something unpleasant.

It is reported that using paracetamol in babies could expose them to an increased risk of asthma. Whether it's the paracetamol (acetaminophen) that's to blame, or another factor, allied to the use of the drug (in high temperatures) is being investigated. The BBC have published an extensive article on the subject.

Friday, 19 September 2008


Please forgive me for being lax about alerts these days - got a lot on my mind. I'll get round when I do.

Friday 19 September

Bright day with good sunny intervals, making it feel quite warm. Went back to the Eye cemetery this afternoon to complete my trawl of said graveyard for wargraves. Got another dozen or so pictures there.

The Caribbean island state of Haiti was pommeled by four tropical cyclones in recent weeks. Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike all dumped vast quantities of rain, nearly destroying the city of Gonaives in the process. Normal aid procedures are deemed to be insufficient, so a call for further help has gone out.

Over the past week, I have received several indications that the commemoration of 9/11 has been seized upon to highlight Muslim extremism. Photographs and video footage was shown of mobs in England, calling for the murder of infidels and deranged clerics in the Middle East wanting the destruction of everything the Western world stands for - in their eyes. I have to stress most forcefully that this information is out of date, as the world has changed a lot since 2005/6. It is unhelpful in the extreme that this footage has been dug out of the archives, particularly around 9/11 - or perhaps precisely because of it. Should this sort of material come your way, please consign it to the circular archive, otherwise known as the dustbin or garbage can.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Olympic size gaffes

Here are the top nine comments made by sports commentators during the Summer Olympics that they would like to take back:

1.        Weightlifting commentator: 'This is Gregorieva from Bulgaria. I saw her snatch this morning during her warm up and it was amazing.'
2.        Dressage commentator: 'This is really a lovely horse and I speak from personal experience since I once mounted her mother.'
3.        Paul Hamm, Gymnast: 'I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father.'
4.        Boxing Analyst: 'Sure there have been injuries, and even some deaths in boxing, but none of them really that serious.'
5.        Softball announcer: 'If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again.'
6.        Basketball analyst: 'He dribbles a lot and the opposition doesn't like it. In fact you can see it all over their faces.'
7.        At the rowing medal ceremony: 'Ah, isn't that nice, the wife of the IOC president is hugging the cox of the British crew.'
8.        Soccer commentator: 'Julian Dicks is everywhere. It's like they've got eleven Dicks on the field.'
9.        Tennis commentator: 'One of the reasons Andy is playing so well is that, before the final round, his wife takes out his balls and kisses them... Oh my God, what have I just said?'


Barbara [bhbner2him] has let us know that she should be back to work on Friday, and back on-line as soon as the power returns. They are all fine and have what they need. She misses us all, and is grateful for our prayers. Please pass the word round (with thanks to Carolyn / lifesabench6). 

SS Empire Light

SS Empire Light was sunk in 1941 in the Indian Ocean by the armed German raider Pinguin. Survivors of the encounter were picked up by the German vessel, which itself was then attacked by HMS Cornwall. The Pinguin was sunk, taking the survivors from the Empire Light to the bottom with her. Twenty-six of the Empire Light's crew perished on 8 May 1941, six of whom came from Lewis.

Their names are:
Norman MacIver, 37 Vatisker
Murdo MacDonald, 32 Gress
Donald Graham, Garrabost
Murdo Campbell, 5 Sheshader (also quoted at 42 Inaclete Road, Stornoway)
Norman Malcolm Montgomery, 17 Sheshader
George Campbell, 5 Portnaguran

A visit to the Eye cemetery reveals that this was not just an island tragedy, it was a family tragedy as well. Norman Malcolm Montgomery of 17 Sheshader was related to Murdo Campbell of 5 Sheshader. Norman's mother, Isabella Montgomery née Macleod, died 6 months after the sinking of the Empire Light. Her husband Norman was lost in the sinking of HMY Iolaire on 1 January 1919, one of the 205 drowned in that disaster.

Thursday 18 September

Wet and windy in Stornoway today. Hurricane Ike (or what's left of it) is passing through the Denmark Strait, and its trailing fronts give us some much-needed rain. Summer has been rather dry in the islands.

As the Halifax / Bank of Scotland is about to merge with Lloyds TSB Bank, the Scottish First Minister is crying blue murder over the loss of "Scotland's bank". Thought this was the United Kingdom. Mr Salmond even aborted a trip to the USA to deal with this emergency. Methinks if the take-over had NOT taken place, there really would have been a serious situation.

Another man in power with a warped sense of reality is Robert Mugabe, down in Zimbabwe. He reckons his deal with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is a humiliation for him. In the proposed cabinet, Mugabe's ZANU-PF will have 15 ministers, and the MDC 16.
Mugabe will want to remember that his country's inflation is running at 11,000,000% (could be as high as 100,000,000%), unemployment is 80% and food-aid will be required for half the population by the end of this year. Some achievement, Bob.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

What your name says about you

with thanks to Lori (Dusty Pages)

What Your Name Says About YouYour name says that you are mostly:

Brilliant but obsessive

Your name also says you are:

Glamorous but snobby
Artistic but extreme
Shrewd but overbearing

Worth a read

Stumbled across the blog Vagabond Journeys by DB (screenname dbdacoba). Absolutely worth having a look at, with an unusual slant on language.


Paid another visit to the graveyard at the above village, 4 miles east of Stornoway. It was a breezy afternoon, which made it feel quite chilly. The cemetery at Aignish is very exposed, situated between the Minch to the south and Broad Bay to the north - with the cemetery fully taking up the width between both bodies of water.

Cross of Remembrance

Shiant Isles

View northwest across Broad Bay


Ike update - 17 September

Spotted this on a blog on hurricanes. The town of Gilchrist, near Galveston, was virtually completely destroyed, as in no trace of it left. Apart from being subjected to a 14-20 feet storm surge, it then got swept clean by the reverse backwash. Five of the 200 structures in the town are left standing - to an extent. Whether anyone stayed behind to ride out the storm is not known, and neither is it known if they survived. The lagoon behind the town is being looked over for them.

Wednesday 17 September

A bright morning, with the sun peeping between the blanket of thin clouds. Am getting bored now with all the talk of money, banks, hedge funds and the credit crunch. Quite agree with the commenters on my previous post: greed is the root of a lot of evil.

A new television channel starts on satellite and cable TV in the UK on Friday evening: BBC Alba. It is a Gaelic language service (Alba = Scotland), which has been running old programs in Gaelic for a few weeks now. Local news sources say BBC Alba will be fronted by a lady from Lewis. The channel can be seen across the UK - again, only on satellite and cable.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Tuesday 16 September

A pretty non-descript day on all accounts, grey weather and all that.

The money world is in melt-down and things are only going to get worse. Inflation in the UK is rising towards 5%, for the first time in 16 years, and banks are beginning to fall over like dominoes. That's what you get when you lend money against no collateral. Or a collateral that, on the point of paying off the debt, does not match the extent of the debt. Negative equity in other words. Filling in one hole by plugging it with another, selling it to someone else - didn't know you could sell holes, but there you go. Here in Lewis, your average house now costs close to £140,000 - a huge increase over the past decade or so, I'm led to believe.

Don't think that a dip in the stockmarket does not affect you in this case. We all use banks, whether we like it or not, we all have our bitty bits of pensions lying about, invested in things - that are worth less and less. And you try to get a loan or a mortgage in the near future, well, you may find it rather more difficult, even if you've got a perfect credit rating. As an individual, that's an inconvenience. For business, it could be lethal.

No improvement in sight.

Monday, 15 September 2008

It was bad

The brown platforms is all that is left of seafront buildings on Bolivar Island, Galveston. Destroyed by a storm surge of 15 feet or more as Ike roared past early on Saturday. The island is unaccessible, as the hurricane has redrawn the map. More on the aftermath of Ike in Texas here.

Oh, the windstorm that lashed the USA yesterday were the result of the remnants of TWO tropical cyclones: Ike and Lowell. Lowell was a tropical storm off the Baja California peninsula last week.

Monday 15 September

Grey and wet today. A mild rain has been falling all day, otherwise it's not too bad temperaturewise. I gather the mid west of the USA got a lashing from the combined remnants of tropical storm Lowell (from the East Pacific) and hurricane Ike. Louisville KY reported a gust of 75 mph, that's actually hurricane force. The weather charts now show the depression, all that remains of Ike, over eastern Canada. It will then deepen substantially and move into the Denmark Strait, east of Greenland.

I was surprised to note that Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe has accepted his rival Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister. However, with the dire state that their country is in, there was not really an alternative. We shall see how this works out.

If you have an emergency in the UK, you dial 999. Like when your life is in danger. Not when your bunny doesn't have the floppy ears that were promised in the news paper advert you bought the creature from.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Ike update - 14 September

Ike is no longer a tropical cyclone, but is by all accounts a nasty piece of work nonetheless. According to the last advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the storm is moving northeast up the Tennessee and Ohio valleys, with gusts up to 60 mph. A high wind advisory is in force across Ohio.

Points northeast should watch out tonight and tomorrow; the UK will get a swipe on Thursday in the shape of winds in northern Scotland. Yep, that's me.

Pylons, whales and aboriginals

A boy of 14 has died in Rotherham, near Sheffield in South Yorkshire, after he climbed an electricity pylon. It is thought he may have touched one of the cables, which carried 66,000 volts. Circumstances are being looked into by police. No comment from this blogger.

There is currently a complicated wrangle on-going surrounding the catching of whales by the people of Greenland. A request for an increase in their quota has been declined twice, and the Greenlanders are now thinking of going it alone. It is quite a convoluted issue, which is explained further here. One of the gripes expressed is that the native population feels it has had western values imposed, restricting the expression of its culture.

A similar thing, to the point of asphyxiation, has taken place in Australia until the late 1970s. Was watching a program on BBC tonight about a Scots doctor who goes on secondment to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. She also tends to Aboriginals, whose life-expectancy is not much beyond 40, are prone to diabetes and receive insufficient healthcare. Until 1967, Aboriginals were not even classified as human being, they were categorised alongside Australian flora and fauna. Earlier this year, Australian PM Kevin Rudd apologised for previous wrong-doings towards his native countrymen.

Sunday 14 September

Fairly bright if mostly overcast day here in the islands. The remnant of Ike will disturb the weather by the end of the week, but the depression is passing far north of us, through the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland. The aftermath of its passage through Texas looks pretty devastating, but could have been so much worse.

A plane has crashed in the Russian Federation, near the Ural city of Perm. It apparently caught fire when it was still 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) up, and crashed on the outskirts of Perm, near the railway track of the Transsiberian Railway. 88 passengers and crew are feared dead.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Out of gas

Following the collapse of UK tour-operator XL, some 65,000 people are left to find their own way home. The company blamed high fuel prices for its demise.

Italian carrier AlItalia is running out of fuel, for a similar reason. It does not have sufficient funds to pay its fuel bills, which could see it ceasing operations in the very near future. One source warned that as many as 30 airlines could be forced to close as a result of the hike in oil prices. Funny thing, that oil prices have gone down by more than 30% from their high near $150 a barrel; currently that prices runs at around $100.

I was watching CNN for a few minutes earlier today to monitor coverage of Ike rampage up Texas. I got bored quickly with the sight of reporters being buffeted by winds, swaying lights and debris blowing in the wind. Gas prices have appearantly rocketed to the dizzying height of $5.35 per gallon. Well, I've calculated our fuel price here in Stornoway as $13 per gallon.

Saturday 13 September

Overcast and pretty calm in Stornoway this morning. Cruiseliner Marco Polo lies anchored off the lighthouse whilst its passengers are ferried ashore in tenders for tours around Lewis.

Not so calm in Texas, where hurricane Ike came ashore at 2.10 CDT as a borderline category 2/3 hurricane. Landfall occurred at Galveston, and the storm has tracked north towards Houston. Currently, Ike is beginning to pull away from latter city, after battering it with winds of 80 to 90 mph. Hurricane conditions will persist through the day, and tropical storm force winds will continue into Sunday. Ike will recurve northeast and turn into a non-tropical depression over the Mid West.

Limited service is resuming in the Channel Tunnel, following its closure due to a fire on Thursday. Also on rail-related matters, a two-train crash near Los Angeles has left 17 dead. A freight train hit a commuter train head-on during the rush hour yesterday afternoon. The front coach of the passenger train was crushed by the locomotive in front of it. Many people are still trapped in the wreckage, and the death toll could yet rise further.

Friday, 12 September 2008


That's headed for Texas.Winds in excess of 100 mph near the centre, no eye. Hurricane local statements are in force all along the Gulf Coast, from the Florida Panhandle westwards. Please check them out if you are along there.

The main danger with Ike is a 20 foot stormsurge, as I already said in the previous post. You cannot survive that. Anything in its path will be destroyed, if the 100mph winds had not already done that. You don't want to stay behind to watch. You won't be around afterwards to tell the story anyway.

Hurricanes are a useful force of nature. On a planetary scale they fulfill the purpose of syphoning the sun's excess energy from oceans near the equator to the poles. Ike carries enough energy to power all of humanity 200 times over. Again on a planetary scale, Ike is a small but very intense weather system. My distance from it is close enough for me to watch. 

Friday 12 September

Fairly bright morning, an improvement on yesterday's dreich and drizzly weather. Hurricane Ike is now approaching Texas from the east, and a storm surge of 20 to 25 feet is expected along the coastline. Get the h*** out of there if you're on the east Texas coast.

A cruiseliner lies docked in Stornoway since yesterday evening, its passengers are being taken around Lewis to see the sights. Which is what you won't be doing if you're booked with travel company XL: this has gone into administration and all its services withdrawn.

Going nowhere is also the order of the day if you are booked to go through the Channel Tunnel. A fire on a freight train closed the tunnel yesterday, and it remains shut. No Eurostar or other services are operating.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

9/11 - 7 years on

When I click "Save", it will be exactly seven years to the minute that the first aircraft hit the World Trade Center in New York. The events of what is now referred to as 9/11 are only too well known.

My thoughts are with all victims, whether identified afterwards, or not. In New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

My thoughts are with the passengers and crew on the four flights destroyed.
My thoughts are with the victims killed in the World Trade Center. My thoughts are with those emergency workers who lost their lives trying to save others'.

My thoughts today are with the families of those who perpetrated these atrocities, for they lost too. Even before the events of September 2001, they lost their loved ones to a delusion of hate that is not of the religion they claimed to be faithful to. Hatred leads to destruction - as shown seven years ago. Forgiveness is a pillar of Christian faith, as it is one of the Islamic faith. Whether those that lost a loved one in 9/11 can find it in themselves to forgive is beyond my scope.

But first and foremost, my thoughts are with Norberto Hernandez, whose tribute I filed on this blog a year ago. Project 2996 urged us to add new material when reposting a tribute. I found this impossible. The searches for Norberto on Google are contaminated with references to the Falling Man, who was in fact another victim, Jonathan Briley. This confusion has led to much anger and anguish, something the families of both men could do well without.

Norberto, rest in peace.

This entry, as stated above is dedicated to the memory of

Norberto was a pastry chef from Elmhurst, working in the restaurant Windows on the World on the 106th and 107th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. After the attacks, he was reported missing for a week until parts of a torso and an arm were found in a collapsed stairwell. DNA testing and finger printing reveiled that these were the remains of Norberto. It also invalidated claims that the image of the Falling Man was that of Norberto; this was another victim of 9/11 who will be the subject of a different tribute.

At the time of the attacks on the WTC, Norberto was aged 42 and had been married for 25 years. He was the fourth of ten children by his parents’ marriage, and also had six half-siblings through his father. His parents separated when he was young. Norberto himself had three daughters, three grandchildren and 37 nephews. He was a man of Puerto Rican origins, and had hoped to spend his final days there. Instead, after 9/11, a funeral service was held and his remains cremated in Puerto Rico.


His sister Luz described Norberto. “He was quiet, kind”, she said. “He was a handsome man. Everybody loved him, you know. Everybody.” Norberto’s nickname was Bible, as he was very dependable. Together Forever was his motto.


Norberto started work in Windows on the World at the age of 17, washing dishes. He was interested in cooking, so a manager paid for his tuition at cooking school. Norberto became pastry chef and worked up to 10 hours a day. His sister Luz said that he made cakes, desserts, cookies and bread. His cakes were fabulous.


Outside work, Norberto loved sports, and was a fan of a Puerto Rican boxer, Felix Trinidad Jr. Four days before the attacks, he rang his mother and asked her to play “I would cry but I have no more tears” four times.


In the immediate aftermath of the plane striking the North Tower, Norberto called his sister Luz. “He said: ‘Yeah, don’t worry, I’m OK”.They were disconnected, and when Luz tried to call back she could not get through. Other accounts from Windows on the World tell that smoke and dust filled the restaurant after the strike, and that people lay on the floor to escape the worst of it. Air was beginning to run out at the time of thelast contact.



These are the facts that I have managed to pull together from the Internet.


From the little that I have learned of Norberto, he came through as a gentle giant. Although 6’2” (1.84m) tall, he was always listening, and talked later. His family suffered a double loss, as Claribel Hernandez (his sister-in-law), a secretary working elsewhere in the North Tower, was also killed in the attacks. Norberto was close in the family and responsible, which earned him the nickname Bible. He loved his work, and by the look of one of the images, loved to impart that knowledge to others around him. 


September 11th, 2001, dawned as a brilliantly sunny morning in New York. Two planes were flown into the two towers of the World Trade Center, leading to their collapse within 2 hours. The destruction of so many lives was brought about by mindless hatred and madness, fuelled by religious zealotry which was not based on any writing in any scriptures in any religion.


Norberto may have heard of that on news reports, but it was probably quite far from him. He was a man that lived for his family, always there for them. A diligent worker, putting in up to 10 hours a day, loving his creations from the oven. Travelling to the WTC on the Subway every morning, his thoughts were probably far from what was to happen not that much later on that fateful Tuesday.


Two thousand nine hundred and ninety-six are known to have died that day, or in its immediate aftermath. Norberto’s ashes were scattered in his homeland of Puerto Rico. His memory lives on in his family, and in the memory of those that read this. He is deeply missed by those close to him.


To Norberto Hernandez


Rest In Peace




I have attempted to contact the University of Columbia to use the material in this link, but have not received a reply. As it is central to thetribute, I have used it, and acknowledge the writer, Sarah Clemence.



This is a poem by Barbara Phillips, from which I have used some factual references to Norberto. It refers to him being the Falling Man though.



I have been granted permission by UIM to reproduce the commemorative quilt for Norberto.



The poster, pictured above, proclaiming Norberto as missing after the attacks, hung on a walkway of Manhattan for more than a week




2,996 persons.

J-land remembers 9/11

Comments from readers who do not have an AOL / AIM screenname can be left in the Guest Book, which you can find in the left sidebar of the main journal. I shall transcribe them into comments on this entry, with attribution.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Close of day

Tomorrow is 11 September, so there will be only one post on this blog: the memorial to Norberto Hernandez, who perished in the attacks on the World Trade Center 7 years ago.

An earthquake has struck Iran, at magnitude 6.1 on the Richter scale. The quake struck 11 hours ago, but reports of casualties are only just coming in.

After the collapse of budget airline Zoom, now holiday company Seguro has folded. 2,500 tourists are left stranded in their resorts, whilst flights home are being sorted out for them. Zoom's collapse gained prominence in northern Scotland, after it left the Inverness Gaelic Choir out of pocket to the tune of £4,000 and unable to travel to an event in America.

Wednesday 10 September

Overcast today and quite breezy, but not too cold in the islands.
Hurricane Ike is moving away from Cuba and towards the Texas coast. On arrival, by the weekend, the storm will be packing winds well in excess of 125 mph. The worst aspect will be very high storm surge flooding. No details at this moment, but anyone who is ordered to evacuate should do so immediately.

Typhoon Sinlaku is heading northnortheast towards Japan. Although this typhoon (the Pacific equivalent of a hurricane) is building towards category 4 status, it will have lost most of its puff by the time it comes near southwestern Japan over the weekend.

The body of a man was found inside a tent, pitched near Loch Einich in the Cairngorm mountains southeast of Inverness. It had been there for several months. Police are appealing for anyone with information to get in touch.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The following science quiz was given to some students, each question is followed by a student's actual answer. Go ahead, see how many you get right.
Q: Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink.
A: Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists.

Q: How can you delay milk turning sour?
A: Keep it in the cow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 9 September

The day started quite nice in the islands, but the weather gradually deteriorated through the afternoon. By about 6pm, it came down to rain, but only across the hills. Here in Stornoway town, there wasn't all that much wetness to speak of. Went up to Ness, north Lewis, this afternoon for a social call. Quite an impressive swell running on the west facing beaches.

With regards to hurricane Ike, this storm has just left the shores of Cuba for the Gulf of Mexico. It is imperative to stress that at this juncture, it is not certain at all where it will make landfall, but the coast of Texas seems to be a fair bet. Assumptions will soon have to be made, as there is a good chance that Ike will rebuild to category 3 or 4 status, necessitating an evacuation. I gather that the evacuation ahead of Rita in 2005 took more lives than the hurricane itself.

Cancer Awareness

Sugar, who writes a private journal, reminds us that September is Cancer Awareness month. I relay the message that any changes in your body that you are not happy with should be checked out.

Ladies are encouraged to check their breasts for irregularities and have a mammogram; also to go for regular pap smears to ensure there is no cervical cancer.

Gentlemen should not hesitate either to check their private parts on a regular basis and discuss anything untoward with their doctor. Problems passing water should also be a good reason to visit the GP.

Early diagnosis is the key towards greater success in the treatment of cancer, possibly extending life expectancy if not curing the illness.

As I indicated above, there is no 'one' cancer. Cancer takes thousands of forms, which affect different parts of the body. None of them are treated in the same way. Finding a cure for Cancer as such is therefore impossible. Finding a cure for some forms of cancer certainly is possible.

Hurricane update - 9 September

Hurricane Ike is wandering off the south Cuban coast, rattling the tiles in Havana on the other side of the island. The storm will head further west, before reploughing the furrow left by Gustav 10 days ago. Where final landfall will occur along the Gulf coast is as yet unclear. If you want to keep abreast with the aftermath of Ike in the Caribbean, Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands, check out the stormcarib.com network.

Whilst monitoring Ike, we also have to keep an eye on Sinlaku, a tropical storm which spawned in the Pacific yesterday and will reach typhoon strength in a few hours from now. This system will speed northnortheast towards Japan, possibly dealing Okinawa a hammerblow of 110 knots of wind.

Monday, 8 September 2008


At 13.46 BST on Thursday, I shall be posting my memorial for Norberto Hernandez. It will be 7 years to the day, hour and minute that the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York. Norberto perished in the subsequent fire and collapse of the Twin Towers, alongside with some 3,000 others.

Lest we forget.

Bubba Had Shingles

Those of us who spend much time in a doctor's office should appreciate this! Doesn't it seem more and more that physicians are running their practices like an assembly line? Here's what happened to Bubba:

Bubba walked into a doctor's office and the receptionist asked him what he had. Bubba said: 'Shingles.' So she wrote down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat.

Fifteen minutes later a nurse's aide came out and asked Bubba what he had. Bubba said, 'Shingles.' So she wrote down his height, weight, a complete medical history and told Bubba to wait in the examining room.

A half hour later a nurse came in and asked Bubba what he had. Bubba said, 'Shingles.' So the nurse gave Bubba a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, and told Bubba to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor.

An hour later the doctor came in and found Bubba sitting patiently in the nude and asked Bubba what he had. Bubba said, 'Shingles.' The doctor asked, 'Where?'
Bubba said, 'Outside on the truck. Where do you want me to unload 'em??'

Monday 8 September

Nice bright day, with the sun out just now. Not so nice in Cuba, which is being pounded by winds in excess of 100 mph. Although hurricane Ike is weakening over land, the storm is anticipated to reemerge over waters south of Cuba, where it could restrengthen.

Another tropical system is brewing up in the Pacific, which will need watching through the week. By the weekend, it could pack 90 mph winds as it heads for Japan. Watch this space.

A young osprey was found dead on the West Side of Lewis, after it went the wrong way on its autumn migration. Rather than heading south, it went west. It carried a satellite tracking beacon, and after it was found transmitting from the same location for hours over the weekend, a search party went out to look for it. Moray the osprey was then found dead, presumably as a result of colliding with a car. More on this story here.

Sunday, 7 September 2008


Heavy rains over the weekend have left the town of Morpeth in Northumberland under water, together with many other places in England. A girl of 17 died when the car she was in got swept away by floodwaters in Powys, Wales. Four more fatalities occurred as a result of the severe weather. An extensive report can be found here.

Sunday 7 September

Overcast and a little breeze, but not too bad a day on the whole. Flooding in England dominates the news from the UK, and we're seeing a rerun of the flooding tragedy of 2007. Like then, fatalities have occurred, but the weather apprears to be improving. By the end of the week, the remnant of tropical storm Hanna (currently heading for eastern Canada) will come to haunt us as the one of the first autumnal gales of the season.

Hurricane Ike, a category 4 system, is blasting through the Turks & Caicos Islands, as well as the Bahamas, on its way to landfall in eastern Cuba. Winds will be near 135 mph by then, 220 kph. The interaction with Cuba will weaken the hurricane, but also cause extensive damage. Key West is on a hurricane watch, and a mandatory evacuation is in progress.

Am facing a one-day backlog of 100 alerts - will try to catch up tonight.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Saturday 6 September

Quite a nice day, with the odd light shower passing by. It is still raining heavily over the Scottish borders and in the English Midlands, if my check on the rainfall radar is correct.

The eastern USA is having a wet day with tropical storm Hanna, currently moving into Virginia, making its way towards New England and the Canadian Maritimes. I'm surprised to note that many people on the US east coast tend to forget they are in Hurricane Alley too. The NHC website carries a useful section on preparedness for Hurricane Season, and it does not just apply to Florida or the Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Ike is approaching the Bahamas from the east, and in response a mandatory evacuation has been ordered for visitors and tourists in the Florida Keys. It should be noted that the only hurricane local statement out for Ike at this time is for Key West. The other locations are affected by Hanna.

Friday, 5 September 2008

68 years ago today

A lifeboat, carrying survivors of SS Severn Leigh, made landfall at Leverburgh, Harris on 5 September 1940. The nine men on board had spent the previous two weeks or so making their way east from a position at the 25th degree longitude West, 54 degrees North. 

SS Severn Leigh (pictured above, sinking; image courtesy uboat.net) was en route from Hull in England to St John, New Brunswick, Canada as part of a trans-Atlantic convoy. From August 20th, the ship had been chased by German U-boat U-37, but after three days her number was up. A torpedo hit her bow, and the crew abandoned ship in four lifeboats. The U-boat's captain spotted that the ship's gun was manned, and that the radio operator was sending out distress signals. So he resurfaced and shelled the ship again. Shrapnel strafed two lifeboats, still alongside, killing 33 crew members.

Frank James Fox, a chief steward from Hull, was in one of the lifeboats, but died, or was found dead on arrival in the Outer Hebrides. He lies buried in the cemetery at Sandwick. Frank was 65 years of age, and left a wife, Emma, in Hull.

This entry is dedicated to his memory, and to the memory of the many in the Merchant Navy who gave their lives in the defense of their country, and contributing towards the liberation of Europe from the oppression of Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

Friday 5 September

Nice sunny day in the islands, with a nice easterly breeze. Temperatures not really fantastic (14C), but the sun makes it quite warm if you're out of the wind. The weather radar shows an ugly picture over England and southern Scotland, with very heavy rain edging north.

Spent the past 2 hours in Sandwick Cemetery, as it had been pointed out to me that there were 8 more wargraves than I had previously listed. Well, in actual fact, I came away with pictures of 40 more. Got my work cut out to (a) read the inscriptions and (b) track down details for the casualties concerned

If you are on the US east coast, between Florida and Rhode Island, Hanna will come for tea anywhere between Friday and Saturday afternoon. She'll carry force 11 winds, up to 10 inches of rain and leaving flooding in her wake. Please monitor NWS and NHC output for details and local warnings. States involved are: FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, PA, DC, MD, NJ and RI.

Hurricane update - 5 September

Tropical storm Hanna is approaching the east coast of the USA, and will thoroughly wet the place. Expect rainfall totals of up to 10 inches. Apart from that, don't ignore the force 10 to 11 winds that the storm may bring. Hanna will transform into a non-tropical cyclone later this weekend and rattle the tiles in New York and New England. Please monitor output from NHC on a 3-hourly basis if you have any concerns; hurricane local statements have been posted from Florida up to Washington DC.

Hurricane Ike is passing north of the Leeward Islands as a category 3 system with winds of 125 mph. The Bahamas and Florida should definitely be on the lookout for this one. Its future path changes with every advisory that the NHC is issuing, but southern Florida may well expect a hammerblow on Tuesday. Again, please monitor NHC's output on a 6-hourly basis.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

DUI Texas style

Only a person in Texas could think of this.

From the county where drunk driving is considered a sport, comes this story. Recently a routine police patrol parked outside a bar in Austin, Texas. After last call the officer noticed a man leaving the bar so apparently intoxicated that he could barely walk. The man stumbled around the parking lot for a few minutes, with the officer quietly observing. After what seemed an eternity in which he tried his keys on five different vehicles, the man managed to find his car and fall into it. He sat there for a few minutes as a number of other patrons left the bar and drove off. Finally he started the car, switched the wipers on and off--it was a fine, dry summer night--, flicked the blinkers on and off a couple of times, honked the horn and then switched on the lights. He moved the vehicle forward a few inches, reversed a little and then remained still for a few more minutes As some more of the other patrons' vehicles left. At last, when his was the only car left in the parking lot, he pulled out and drove slowly down the road. The police officer, having waited patiently all this time, now started up his patrol car, put on the flashing lights, promptly pulled the man over and administered a breathalyzer test. To his amazement, the breathalyzer indicated no evidence that the man had consumed any alcohol at all! Dumbfounded, the officer said, I'll have to ask you to accompany me to the police station. This breathalyzer equipment must be broken.

'I doubt it,' said the truly proud Redneck. 'Tonight I'm the designated decoy.'

Hurricane update - 4 September (II)

Tropical storm Hanna is moving through the Bahamas, headed for the US East Coast. The entire east coast, from mid Florida northwards, is likely to get a swipe from this system. Its highest winds, 65 mph, extend for more than 300 miles to the north and east, as do its rains.

I copy the summary from my Tropical Cyclones blog for 2100 GMT (1700 EDT):

Hurricane local statements have been issued from
Melbourne FL
Jacksonville FL
Charleston SC
Wilmington NC
Newport/Morehead City NC

A hurricane watch is in force from Currituck Light NC to Edisto Beach SC, including Pamlico Sound.

Hurricane conditions are possible within the next 36 hours

A tropical storm warning is in force for the following areas
* central and northwestern Bahamas
* USA: from Savannah River to the NC/VA border including Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

Tropical storm conditions are likely within the next 24 hours

A tropical storm watch is in force for the following areas:
* from Edisto Beach SC to Altamaha Sound GA
* from NC/VA border to Great Egg Inlet NJ, including Chesapeake Bay, tidal Potomac River Washington DC and Delaware Bay
Tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 36 hours

* northern Bahamas, eastern NC and SC: 2 or 3 inches, possibly up to 5 inches
* GA and north FL coast: 1 to 3 inches
* heavy rains are likely to spread up the east coast of the USA, giving rise to flooding

Tropical storm force winds extend for 315 miles from the centre

Coastal storm surge of 2 to 4 feet may affect shores near the centre and to the east of Hanna, accompanied by large and battering waves.

Say aloud

The famous Olympic skier Picabo Street (pronounced Peek-A-Boo) is not just an athlete.
She is now a nurse currently working at the Intensive Care Unit of a large metropolitan hospital. 
She is not permitted to answer the hospital telephones.
It caused too much confusion when she would answer the phone and say, Picabo, ICU.    (A good clean joke is hard to find these days )

On the Tube


* 'Ladies and Gentlemen, I do apologize for the delay to your service. I know you're all dying to get home, unless, of course, you happen to be married to my ex-wife, in which case you'll want to cross over to the Westbound and go in the opposite direction.'

* 'Your delay this evening is caused by the line controller suffering from  E & B syndrome: not knowing his elbow from his backside. I'll let you know any further information as soon as I'm given any.' 

* 'Do you want the good news first or the bad news? The good news is that last Friday was my birthday and I hit the town and had a great time. The bad news is that there is a points failure somewhere between Stratford and East Ham, which means we probably won't reach our destination.' 

* 'Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the delay, but there is a security alert at Victoria station and we are therefore stuck here for the foreseeable future, so let's take our minds off it and pass some time together. All together now.... 'Ten green bottles, hanging on a wall.....'.' 

* 'We are now travelling through Baker Street... As you can see, Baker Street is closed. It would have been nice if they had actually told me, so I could tell you earlier, but no, they don't think about things like that'. 

* 'Beggars are operating on this train. Please do NOT encourage these  professional beggars. If you have any spare change, please give it to a registered charity. Failing that, give it to me.' 

* During an extremely hot rush hour on the Central Line, the driver announced in a West Indian drawl: 'Step right this way for the sauna, ladies and gentleman... unfortunately, towels are not provided.' 

* 'Let the passengers off the train FIRST!' (Pause .) 'Oh go on then, stuff yourselves in like sardines, see if I care - I'm going home....' 

* 'Please allow the doors to close. Try not to confuse this with 'Please hold the doors open.' The two are distinct and separate instructions.' 

* 'Please note that the beeping noise coming from the doors means that the doors are about to close. It does not mean throw yourself or your bags into the doors.' 

* 'We can't move off because some idiot has their hand stuck in the door.' 

* 'To the gentleman wearing the long grey coat trying to get on the second carriage - what part of 'stand clear of the doors' don't you understand?' 

* 'Please move all baggage away from the doors.' (Pause..) 'Please move ALL belongings away from the doors.' (Pause...) 'This is a personal message to the man in the brown suit wearing glasses at the rear of the train: Put the pie down, Four-eyes, and move your bl**dy golf clubs away from the door before I come down there and shove them up your a**e sideways!' 

* 'May I remind all passengers that there is strictly no smoking allowed on any part of the Underground. However, if you are smoking a joint, it's only fair to pass it round the carriage!

Hurricane update - 4 September

Tropical storm Hanna is now approaching the southeastern USA and could gain hurricane strength before reaching the Carolinas. Hurricane local statements are in force for Melbourne and Jacksonville FL, and Wilmington NC.

A hurricane watch, meaning that hurricane conditions are possible within the next 36 hours, is in force from Surf City NC to Edisto Beach SC.

A tropical storm watch, which means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 36 hours, is in force from Edisto Beach SC to Altamaha Sound GA.

Hurricane Ike is in mid Atlantic, roaring along with winds of 145 mph. There is too much uncertainty in the forecast to say where, if at all, Ike will make landfall.

Tropical storm Josephine is moving away from the African coast and looks like holding her own, with winds of 60 mph.

Don't forget that we are slowly moving towards autumn and winter. I am mentioning that, because the Southern Indian Ocean is showing an attempt at hatching a tropical disturbance this morning. Atmospheric conditions are way too hostile yet. When winter descends on the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere will have its own tropical cyclone season, starting in November and lasting until the end of April.

Finally, the island of La Reunion is battered by a high swell. I checked their tropical cyclone website for info on the above disturbance, and found a warning for swells of 3.5 to 7 metres (12 to 23 feet).

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Turkey and Armenia

Between 1915 and 1917, during World War I, 1.5 million people were killed in Armenia by Turkish forces. Turkey states that many people did die at the time, but as a result of the war, not as an act of genocide. Armenia, independent from the Soviet Union since 1991, has always maintained that it was genocide. Relations between the two countries have been glacial to say the least, not helped by Turkish support for its ally, and Armenia's enemy at the time, Azerbaidjan, over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabach. The border between the two countries remains closed.

It is therefore encouraging to note that the Turkish president will attend a football match between Turkey and Armenia in latter country. After the stramash over Georgia, it is good to see signs of rapprochement in the Caucasus. Full story here.

Wednesday 3 September

Chucking it down at the moment after a sunny start. I've written about my bad experience with Google Chrome, so I'm back on Firefox. Not perfect either, but at least I can access my pages without hassle.

Anyone that still doubts the existence of climate change should have a look at this news report about the break-up of the Arctic iceshelves off Ellismere Island in the Canadian Arctic.

It is reported today that the use of a combination of cholesterol lowering drugs is linked to cancer. This is the outcome of ONE study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, and other studies show no such link. It is stated that it may be a one-off. If you are on cholesterol lowering drugs do not stop taking them; discuss any concerns with your doctor.

Google Chrome

I've downloaded Google Chrome this morning, and given it a try. Well, I managed to crash it within about 10 minutes, by visiting this, my own blog. Google accused it of linking to hometown.aol.co.uk, a site suspected of hosting malware. This was the report:

What is the current listing status for hometown.aol.co.uk/?
Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer.

Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 105 time(s) over the past 90 days.

What happened when Google visited this site?
Of the 25445 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 5660 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 09/02/2008, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 09/02/2008.

Malicious software includes 4688 trojan(s), 193 adware(s). Successful infection resulted in an average of 1 new processes on the target machine.

Malicious software is hosted on 17 domain(s), including antivirus-scanonline.com, virus-scanonline.com, infectionscanner.com.

12 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries for distributing malware to visitors of this site, including baran-eblan.info, softtraff.com, ad2cash.net.

Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?
Over the past 90 days, hometown.aol.co.uk/ appeared to function as an intermediary for the infection of 3 site(s) including kolm.cn, vidcasts.net, sg138.com.cn.

Has this site hosted malware?
No, this site has not hosted malicious software over the past 90 days.

How did this happen?
In some cases, third parties can add malicious code to legitimate sites, which would cause us to show the warning message.

Once I tried to proceed to this blog, the browser CRASHED. Now that I am in my blog, I miss the toolbar (font, add pictures, change to HTML &c). The browser appears to block javascripts from running, and not offering any clear means of rectifying that. FYI, AOL journals are full of javascript elements (all the wee buttons are that). And you can't save your entry.

I therefore think Google Chrome is unfit for purpose.