Tuesday, 30 September 2008
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.
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?
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
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
View from the cemetery
Along the main road, looking north
Gress River and Back [village] on the hill behind
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
Sunday, 21 September 2008
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
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
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
are the top nine comments made by sports commentators during
the Summer Olympics that they would like to take back:
'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?'
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.
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
Cross of Remembrance
View northwest across Broad Bay
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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.
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
Lest we forget.
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??'
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.
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
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
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.
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 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
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.'
I copy the summary from my Tropical Cyclones blog for 2100 GMT (1700 EDT):
Hurricane local statements have been issued from
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 hoursA 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.
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 )
* '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!
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
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.
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.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Before Sen McCain selected her as his 'running mate', he knew that there was a metaphorical skeleton in the cupboard of Ms Palin. It takes the shape of the lady's daughter, aged 17, who is pregnant outwith wedlock. The dad has promised to marry the girl, but that's actually beside the point. Ms Palin is professed pro-life (i.e. anti abortion), and the 17-year old will complete the pregnancy and have the child.
Now, we're all adults on here, and we all know teenagers will dabble with sex before they're married. It is up to adults therefore to educate our youngsters on the subject and be frank, open and honest about it. When you have sex, a pregnancy may ensue. If you don't want that, you take measures. The US Sex Ed system (as pointed out to me by the BBC) generally suggests to exercise abstinence until marriage.
I have never heard such stupidity in my life. The word pragmatism seems to be alien to the US administration in this matter. Why don't they talk about condoms, the pill and other contraceptive methods to youngsters? Is it a surprise therefore, that in the US, every third girl falls pregnant before the age of 20? No, I'm not making this up, these are official government statistics.
What really grinds me is this downright hypocrisy of people like Ms Palin who block proposals towards more sensible sex education on moralistic grounds - and don't bother to educate their own kids, even if the state fails to do so. And she's potentially the American Commander in Chief?
Give me strength.
A ferocious fire destroyed a mansion in Maesbrook, Shropshire, last Tuesday. Following the blaze, three members of a family were missing. Over the weekend, forensic teams were able to enter the ruins and recovered the remains of three people. One has been positively identified as the mother, the other (a male) is thought to be that of the father. The third corpse could be that of their 15-year old daughter. The body of the mother had a gunshot wound to the head, and police are treating the incident as murder. The man had been in serious difficulties with his business
The BBC program Dateline London, which I plugged last week, is now available for viewing on the BBC iPlayer, but in the UK ONLY, and until 7 September only.
Monday, 1 September 2008
Tropical storm Hanna is looming over the Bahamas, but its future strength and path are not certain. Landfall is foreseen somewhere between Florida and South Carolina by the end of the week, as a category 1 hurricane. Please monitor the NHC output in the coming days if you're in the southeastern US. For now, be wary if you're on the beaches there, beware of dangerous rip currents, born of swells generated by Hanna.