Thursday 31 January 2008

Gwendoline Street

Another scan from an old transparency. It doesn't take much to guess that this flower-power house was photographed in the 1960s!

Artibus, legibus, consiliis


I have been going through some of my old photographic slides lately and scanning in a few. I have many, many thousands and I just don’t know what to do with them all. I suspect that after I’ve got tired of scanning I’ll just lump them all back in the loft again.

In the meantime I came across a couple which show the side of St George’s Hall in Liverpool. One of the more useless pieces of information I came across many years ago was that the A of Artibus in the inscription had been incised the wrong way round. The deep incision should have been on the right hand side as it is with the letter u (v). I wonder what happened to the poor stonemason who buggered that up!

Wednesday 30 January 2008

New Year Resolutions


I thought I should give you a progress report on my New Year Resolution to start painting again. I have been up in the loft but I didn't get my paints out. Instead I got my pencils out and have been doing some sketching. It is so much easier to sketch in a confined space than it is to paint. There's none of the mess to clear away and it's something that can be done on one's knee if there's no room anywhere else.

Tuesday 29 January 2008


Monday 28 January 2008

Cape Stolbchatiy

This is Cape Stolbchatiy which is on Kunashir Island which means Black Island in Ainu. Kunashir Island is the southernmost island of the Kuril Islands, which are controlled by Russia and claimed by Japan. It lies between the straits of Kunashir, Catherine, Izmena, and South Kuril. Kunashir is visible from the nearby Japanese island of Hokkaido. The island is 123 km long and between 4 and 30 km wide. It is formed by four active volcanoes which were separate islands but have since been joined together by low-lying areas with lakes and hot springs.

The island is formed with the volcanic and crystalline rocks. The climate is of monsoon type. The vegetation mostly consists of spruce, pine, fir, and mixed deciduous forests with lianas and Kuril bamboo underbrush. The mountains are covered with birch and Siberian Dwarf Pine scrub, herbaceous flowers or bare rocks. In 1789 Kunashiri was one of the settings of the Menashi-Kunashir Battle in which Ainu revolted against Japanese tradespeople and colonists. The Russian navigator Vasily Golovnin attempted to map and explore the island in 1819, but was apprehended by Japanese authorities and spent two years in prison.

UNESCO has declared the Cape a National World Heritage Site.

Saturday 26 January 2008


It seems that it is almost obligatory for a Blog to post a series of "cute" animal photos at some stage in its career so here is mine. They are all off the web but have appeared on so many different sites that their origin is unknown. If anyone can claim one as his / hers I shall be happy to acknowledge it (or, if they prefer, remove it).

OK - so I may not be pretty but my missus thinks I'm cute!

Oh Deer

Friday 25 January 2008

Eat, Drink and be Merry...

1. The Japanese eat very little fat, and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans, British or Australians;

2. The French eat lots of fat, and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans, British or Australians;

3. The Japanese drink very little red wine, and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans, British or Australians;

4. The French (and Italians) drink excessive amounts of red wine, and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans, British or Australians.

Conclusion: Eat and drink whatever you like, and in any quantities; it’s speaking English that kills you.


The following is a "translation" of NASA's press release following the explosion of rocket Ariane 5 upon it being launched for the first time.
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 1996 15:26:11 -0500 (CDT)

The first Ariane-5 flight did not result in validation of Europe's new launcher.

Translation: It blew up.

It was the first flight test of an entirely new vehicle each of whose elements had been tested on the ground in the course of the past years and months.

Translation: It never blew up on the ground.

Of an entirely new design, the launcher uses engines ten times as powerful as those of the Ariane-4 series. Its electronic brain is a hundred times more powerful than that used on previous Ariane launchers. The very many qualification reviews and ground tests imposed extremely tough checks on the correctness of all the choices made. There are, however, no absolute guarantees. A launcher's capability can be demonstrated only in flight under actual launch conditions.

Translation: It was bigger and prettier than our previous toy. But it still blew up.

A second test already scheduled under the development plan will take place in a few months' time. Before that, everything will have to be done to establish the reasons for this setback and make the corrections necessary for a successful second test. An inquiry board will be set up in the next few days. It will be required to submit, by mid-July, an entirely independent report identifying the causes of the incident and proposing modifications designed to prevent any further incidents.

Translation: We have 6 weeks to come up with a good excuse or they won't let us blow up another one.

Ariane-5 is a major challenge for space activities in Europe. The skills of all the teams involved in the programme, coupled with the determination and solidarity of all the political, technical and industrial authorities, make us confident of a successful outcome.

Translation: We haven't figured out which poor bastard to fire for blowing the damn thing.

Thursday 24 January 2008

Mobile Phoning in an emergency.

The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112.
If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialled even if the keypad is locked.

New meanings for common words:-

The Washington Post’s winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words. The winners are:

1. coffee, n. the person upon whom one coughs.

2. flabbergasted, adj. appalled by discovering how much weight one has

3. abdicate, v. to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. esplanade, v. to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. willy-nilly, adj. impotent.

6. negligent, adj. absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a

7. lymph, v. to walk with a lisp.

8. gargoyle, n. olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. flatulence, n. emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

10. balderdash, n. a rapidly-receding hairline.

11. testicle, n. a humorous question on an exam.

12. rectitude, n. the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. pokemon, n.. a Rastafarian proctologist.

14. oyster, n. a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism, n. the belief that, after death, the soul flies up
onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. circumvent, n. an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Are you having a bad day?

Being Green

Tuesday 22 January 2008


Great Sporting Moments

The 1979 French Grand Prix in which Giles Villeneuve kept bumping wheels with Rene Arnoux. (Here's an MPEG video of edited highlights from the last 3 laps of Dijon 1979, complete with Murray Walker commentary! -

The final whistle in the Final of the 1966 World Cup between England and Germany.

Roger Hunt's England goal against Mexico in the 1966 World Cup.

Mohammed Ali floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee against George Foreman in the rumble in the jungle.

Bob Champion and Aldaniti win the Grand National.

Linford Christie’s Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European 100 m gold medals.

Senna and Mansell bumping wheels down the long straight in Australia

Liverpool beating Newcastle in the 1974 F A Cup Final - "I was there!"

Daley Thompson's second Olympic Gold decathlon in 1984

Johnny Wilkinson kicking England's rugby team to World Cup glory in 2003.

Liverpool’s come-back from 3-0 at half time to win the European Champions League against A. C. Milan in 2005.

Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe’s tie-break at Wimbledon in 1980.

The era of Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram in middle distance running.

Red Rum’s third Grand National win.

Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile.

The Liverpool v Leeds F A Cup Final of 1965

Steve Redgrave’s fifth Olympic Gold rowing medal.

Martinia Navratilova’s ninth Wimbledon win in 1990.

Have I missed any of your favourites?

Monday 21 January 2008

Are you Insane

A list of ways to tell....

Aluminum foil now takes up almost half of your grocery budget
The voices in your head are hearing voices in THEIR heads.
The walls in this hotel are all padded.
The voices in your head are telling *you* to shut up!
You understand the deep, philosophical meaning of "Jeremiah was a bullfrog"
You have more than 100 cats in your 1 bedroom flat.
Your shrink refuses to see you anymore because you're "just not right"
When you talk to your plants, they talk back
You bought the £300 service contract on a £10 disposable camera
No one else can see the little people on your shoulder
The squirrels in the park have recommended therapy
Your imaginary friend got a restraining order
You start telling strangers "I have on new socks..."
You think OJ Simpson is innocent
You eagerly await the release of new Microsoft products
Mmm... grasshoppers are crunchy. They taste better with ketchup, though.
Your family seems normal
Your psychiatrists has changed the locks on her office door...and her name
You made a list of ways to tell if you're insane

Sunday 20 January 2008

More Sniglets

A follow on from -

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus : A person who's both stupid and an a******e.
3. Intaxication : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5. Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy : Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
7. Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
8. Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
9. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon : It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's
like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The gruelling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido : All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
16 . Beelzebug (n.) : Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor ( n.): The colour you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

Have you locked your keys in the car?

Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their mobile phone from your cell phone.

Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).

This allegedly works though I haven't tried it!

Saturday 19 January 2008

The Primaries

One of Richard's main interests is politics - a subject which is one of his options for a University course if he gets offerred a place. As a result he has got me vaguely interested in ther Primaries:-


New Hampshire traditionally hosted the first primaries of the presidential election. Candidates hope that a win in New Hampshire will propel them to victories in other states.

New Hampshire voters showed up in record numbers and surprised many by casting their ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary January 8.

Despite nearly every poll predicting a Clinton loss and media reports of her campaign staff in disarray, the New York senator won the Democratic presidential primary by about two percentage points over Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

With the Iowa and New Hampshire races behind them, the candidates will travel to a number of different states. In January, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida will hold races. On February 5, more than 20 states will hold primary elections.

Three Republican candidates each have won a caucus or primary -- Huckabee in Iowa, McCain in New Hampshire and Romney in Wyoming. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been focusing his campaign on winning a majority of states’ contests on February 5. With so many candidates, it is very unclear who ultimately will win the Republican nomination.

For non-SImpson fans the next paragraph will be a bit mystifying...

What I don't understand (and there's a lot I don't understand about American politics) is why Ralph Wiggum doesn't get a mention. He would get my vote over Hillary Clinton any time! Ralph announced his candidacy on the January 6th episode of The Simpsons. Actually, he isn't the one who announces it; rather, the voters of Springfield, who reject all of the other candidates in their first primary, write the young Wiggum in as a candidate. He quickly becomes an independent presidential front-runner that party leaders for both the Republicans and the Democrats want to have in their court.

My Top Ten TV programmes

Time Team
Cash in the Attic
Antiques Roadshow
Top Gear
Bargain Hunt
Football (especially Liverpool FC games)
Motor Racing (especially A1GP and F1)
Saturday Cooks
Natural World

OK, so that's eleven but who's counting? There are also a few seasonal ones which I like - especially Strictly Come Dancing. There are occasional crime or comedy series that I enjoy but recently the only two that have been on are New Tricks and Midsomer Murders and they were both repeats of repeats! Dinner Ladies is one of the comedy series that seems to run permanently on one of the Sky channels and I find that I can cope with repeats and still enjoy it.

Friday 18 January 2008

Andrew - a Humanist

Today is my nephew Andrew's birthday but he is no longer here to celebrate it. He died in June 2006 after a lengthy and unpleasant illness. Andrew was a humanist. Humanism is a non-religious ethical outlook on life.

- feel scientific & other evidence provides the best way to understand the universe (rather than feeling that religious beliefs are needed for a ‘complete understanding’)
- believe that ‘right and wrong’ can be explained by human nature alone, and does not necessarily require religious teachings, and
- base their judgments of right and wrong on ‘the effects on people and the consequences for society and the world’.

In the 2001 census 7 out of 10 people ticked the ‘Christian’ box but, with church attendance now below 7% and under 1 in 3 marriages taking place in church , the British Humanist Association claims the figure was clearly more about cultural identity than religious belief. I recall a discussion Jo and I had about religion on one of our first dates and we both concluded we were Christian in so far as we endorsed those basic religious tenets which formed a code of conduct to live by. That rather endorses the BHA's claims.

The BHA devotes much of its time to campaigning and lobbying on behalf of everyone who considers themselves to be a humanist or holds similar views – in fact, anyone who tries to lead a moral or ethical life and makes decisions on the evidence rather than on the basis of religious doctrines.

A more recent Ipsos MORI poll has shown that 36% of people – equivalent to around 17 million adults – are in fact humanists in their basic outlook as defined above. Another question in the poll found that 41% endorsed the strong statement: ‘This life is the only life we have and death is the end of our personal existence’. Fractionally more - 45% - preferred the broad view that ‘when we die we go on and still exist in another way’.

If what Andrew believed is true he has had his life that is an end of it. If what I believe is true he is up there somewhere - in the broadest possible sense - saying "Damn, got it wrong!" Either way - and since we cannot provide a scientifically proven answer it is fairly irrelevant to us down here - Andrew continues to exist in our thoughts.

Giant Otters

This is Manoki the Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) from South America at the Chestnut Centre Otter Owl and Wildlife Park in Derbyshire which we visited in December. He was a most exciting (and excitable) chap and his various noises kept us amused for a long time.

This is him chatting away at close quarters (photo by Helen) and being generally sociable - he also gave high-pitched and far-carrying squeaks of excitement.

Last week there was a brilliant hour long programme about Giant Otters in their natural habitat - Raising Sancho the giant otter orphan on BBC Two. This was the story of a young giant otter's journey to adulthood.
Rescued by local fishermen as a baby and raised by giant otter expert Carolina Vargas, this is the story of a young giant otter's journey to adulthood. At first, Sancho is utterly dependent on Carolina, and has to be bottle fed and taught how to catch fish. Eventually Carolina knows that she will have to break their extraordinary bond as Sancho makes his way back into the wild. Giant otters are highly social animals, so Carolina doesn't know whether an orphaned giant otter can survive alone in the world's biggest wetland. In the idyllic Pantanal, we follow Sancho's story as he learns to survive in a world fraught with danger.

Some stills from the programme can be seen at otter.htm

Thursday 17 January 2008

Architect designed

The sort of place architects design.

The sort of place architects live.

What is it?

Bet you cannot guess what this?

The answer can be found at

Wednesday 16 January 2008


Earlier this week I had a coffee and did my daily Times 2 crossword at Linghams bookshop and coffee bar in Heswall. It is here that GB and I regularly have a morning coffee when he visits the area. One of the few independent bookshops left in the area it has a most relaxing atmosphere.

More things you don't care about...

The international telephone dialing code for Antarctica is 672.

The blue whale can produce sounds up to 188 decibels. This is the loudest sound produced by a living animal and has been detected as far away as 530 miles.

The human eye blinks an average of 4,200,000 times a year.

It takes approximately 12 hours for food to entirely digest.

Erosion at the base of Niagara Falls (USA) undermines the shale cliffs and as a result, the falls have receded approximately 7 miles over the last 10,000 years.

The longest living cells in the body are brain cells which can live an entire lifetime.

The Main Library at Indiana University sinks over an inch every year because when it was built engineers failed to take into account the weight of all the books that would occupy the building.

There is enough fuel in a full tank of a jumbo jet to drive an average car four times around the world.
February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

More people are killed by donkeys annually than are killed in plane crashes.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

Michael Jordan makes more money from Nike each year than all the Nike factory workers in Malaysia combined.

The Spanish word esposa means "wife." The plural, esposas, means "wives," but also "handcuffs."

Tuesday 15 January 2008

Having a bad day?

Windows vista

Bill Gates was recently asked a simple question: “What Microsoft product could have used a little more polish before release?” The answer was astounding – not because we didn’t know it – we just never expected Bill Gates to admit it!!!??!

One and one is two, two and two is errr?

This is a blog entry from
It was posted on 31 May 2007 - that's, ermm, about 9 months ago - or perhaps it's only six months....

BBC quality broadcasting

I turned on Radio London this afternoon to hear the travel news and there on Drivetime were Simon Letterman and Kath Melandri having a discussion about something or other. Simon said that 63% of people agreed with a certain proposal and asked Kath what proportion that left, he even added assuming there weren't any don't knows. Kath umm'd and ah'd and Simon said that he thought she wouldn't be able to say. So Kath asked what the correct figure was and Simon said 47%. Kath assented to this. Around five minutes later Simon said that someone had sent a text message saying the correct figure was 37%. There was no noticeable embarrassment at having a) given the wrong answer and b) being unable to perform simple mental arithmetic.

I know that the BBC is often accused of only employing "Arts graduates" rather than "Science graduates" but surely anyone who has managed to get a job with the BBC should be able to take 63 away from 100. I see to remember this would have counted as a very simple question in a class test at around age 5.

Monday 14 January 2008


It takes 17 muscles to smile and over 34 to scowl...

Personally, I like to keep fit!

Grumpy Old Colin

I’ve found another new blog that I shall be checking out on a regular basis. That means apart from my own blogs there are about seven that I check out frequently –
A Hebridean in New Zealand
Frog End
Tales from an English Coffee Drinker
Word Imperfect
A Little Blog of Courage
The Gasbag Cometh
and now
Grumpy Old Man
(There is another I check out regularly, as opposed to frequently – An Occasional Blog!)

This latest blog I have found is written by 74 year old Colin from Walton-on-Thames (who looks anything but grumpy in this photo). Note how almost the only information Colin gives in his profile is his age and location – the standard items you get in a news article. “22 year old Naseby man stabbed with a pike...” How we love to picture the person (and stereotype them accordingly) with the briefest of information.

Of course, it is always easier with men than with women. Newspapers may have no qualms about writing “56 year old Matilda, a dancing instructor from Chipping Sodbury” but us blokes outside of the media have to be a bit more careful. To us Matilda would have to be ‘in her fifties’. And if she were only 51 that is problematic. “In her fifties” or even “In her early fifties” could then suggest she was older than she is. And middle-aged Matilda sounds even worse. In that case I think I’d avoid the age thing altogether and settle for some other aspect of her life – assuming it was known – like “Waltzing Matilda...”

But back to Grumpy Colin in his seventies... His blog is a view of the world with which I may not always agree but I like the fact that he “Speaks English” (and, more to the point, writes it properly) and speaks his mind. Well worth a visit, folks.

Sunday 13 January 2008

A new(s) blog

I have decided I need to keep more up-to-date with what is happening in the outside world. To discipline myself to do so I have started yet another blog. The blog is designed so that you can just nip through the headlines and if any interest you the contents can be read. Any that don’t interest you can be ignored guilt-free!

My new blog is to be found at

Michael Schumacher's island

This island is owned by Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher. The $7 million piece of land was gifted to him by Dubai’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum upon his retirement from motoro racing. It is located off the Dubai coast (or in the Arctic / Antarctic depending upon which newspaper article you believe).

The reason for the confusion over its location is that "The World" is a manmade island development - 300 islands - located off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, & Schumacher's island is part of 'Antarctica' on the artificial globe! Other big names such as Richard Branson, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Michael Jackson, David Beckham & Rod Stewart are also rumored owners of parts of The World!

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