Monday, 26 April 2010

Straightening may be a problem but...

I'm 42 years old, and I can still bite my toenails.

Would you like a video?


Bikeride Friday.

Digging allotment Saturday.

Digging allotment Sunday.

I can only stand in increments.

That's almost a haiku!

Saturday, 24 April 2010


I got a bicycle for christmas from my stepson, Alex. I wanted one, and he had quite a good one that was surplus to requirements.

It has gathered dust in the hall ever since, but I had a day off yesterday, and since my mate Pete was still in Neston (his flight back to Thailand having been delayed by events in Iceland) I thought I'd go see him one more time before he left.

So I've been good. I cycled to Bidston station, and got a train to Neston, then off we went on our bikes. We went along the marshes to Deeside, just as I went on foot a few weeks ago, but this time we went a lot further, crossing the new bridge before turning round and heading back.

For me, it was a mixture of pleasure and pain. Pleasure because I had time to stop and really enjoy my surroundings. Pain because I didn't have a gel saddle, and because it's been ages since I got any exercise. My legs, wrists, and especially, my bum were either aching, bruised, sore, or swollen.

The end of the marsh road is blocked by some M.O.D. buildings. We got through by climbing over a fence, just as a security guard was locking the main gates a bit further on. He waited until we were through and didn't seem too bothered that we'd climbed over an M.O.D. fence. We had to go back a slightly different way though. Up onto the railway embankment for a couple of hundred yards before getting back on to the marsh track.

There were some wonderfully derelict buildings to explore. A pigeon in the roofspace was startled by my presence, and in turn caused me to duck, thinking the roof was coming down as it flapped rapidly away.

Some points:

1. Next time, take a camera. I'd love to post some pictures of the bridge, the buildings, etc.

Here's how they look in google earth anyway.

This is the derelict building. The black bits are holes in the roof.

And this is the bridge.

2. Taking the train was good. There's a cycle track virtually from my front door, right to the station.

3. You can do stuff on a bike that is impossible in a car. Just try lifting your car over a fence, or squeezing it under a gate. Or stopping in the middle of a bridge with traffic whizzing past at 70 miles per hour, while you enjoy the view. Here's a picture I lifted from panoramio...

4. Get a gel saddle cover! And possibly be a little less ambitious with the choice of route when you've had no exercise for donkeys years...

Monday, 19 April 2010

Fog on the barrow downs...

Been an interesting couple of days! Yesterday was a bit of a let down, because Bren had a migraine and a bad ear (and bad guts).

So it was hard for her to enjoy what we were doing, and I couldn't enjoy things if she wasn't. If we'd just made a day of it, it would have been a bit of a damp squib.

But I'd planned for us to stay overnight at the Snake Pass Inn, and go back the next day. They had no double rooms available but we got a room in a Glossop B&B.

Went out for a walk on the hills above Charlesworth,but neither of us was particularly up for it, so we spent the evening watching the telly in our room.

But today has been a lot of fun. We ended up visiting a folly, going into a cave, having a meal in the second highest pub in England, and visiting Alderley Edge, which has prompted Bren to pick up the Weirdstone of Brisingham.

Will edit more into this tomorrow, and put some pics up.

nighty night.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Now we are 6

On April the 18th, 2004, Bren and I rolled up outside a church in Moreton in a smoky old Ford Escort that cost us fifty quid, and were joined in holy matrimony by a priest that smelled of alcohol.

A year later, wondering what to buy her for our first anniversary, I turned to tradition, and took her to a craft centre to buy some paper. En route, we went up Helsby Hill and carved our initials into the sandstone. And so a tradition was born. It's our thing. Today the number "10" will be added to the scratchings, and we will reinscribe our previous years graffito's because they do fade over a year.

This year, we're going on to the Peak District for a meal and possibly an overnight stay in some hotel or guest house or youth hostel.

6 years! Blimey!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Which philosopher am I?

I have to admit, I don't really understand a lot of philosophy. When I was an adolescent, I liked the idea of being one, but when I tried to understand it in detail, I found it too complex for my poor brain.

It continues to interest me though, and about a year ago, I read a book called Sophie's World. This explained things in a style I could get my head around, although I've forgotten most of the details since. What sticks in my mind is that Marxism is a philosophical system as much as it is an economic one.

Another book I've read that deals with philosophy is The Dice Man, by Luke Rhinehart. This proposes that the dice-liver has free will over what options he offers to the dice, but must follow what commands the dice select without quibble. I sort of tried it for a while. I found that I wasn't brave enough to offer the dice any really challenging options.

Luke Rhinehart wondered if we really could change, if we folllowed the commands of the die. Could he turn heterosexuals into homosexuals, Epicureans into Hedonists, etc.

I wondered what an Epicurean was. Wikipedia has this to say:

"Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism, insofar as it declares pleasure as the sole intrinsic good, its conception of absence of pain as the greatest pleasure and its advocacy of a simple life make it different from "hedonism" as it is commonly understood. In the Epicurean view, the highest pleasure (tranquility and freedom from fear) was obtained by knowledge, friendship and living a virtuous and temperate life. He lauded the enjoyment of simple pleasures, by which he meant abstaining from bodily desires, such as sex and appetites, verging on asceticism."

I must admit, I kind of like that. It fits in with an urge towards simplicity.

But all these 'ism's! If I'm a bit of an epicurean, could I further pigeonhole myself?

So I googled "What philosopher am I?"

and came up with the following result.

Which philosopher are you?
Your Result: Sartre/Camus (late existentialists)

The world is absurd. No facts govern it. We live well once we truly accept the world's absurdity. YOU give our life's meaning, and YOU control your world.

(see Nietzsche for very closely tied beliefs)

--This quiz was made by S. A-Lerer.

W.v.O. Quine / Late Wittgenstein
Early Wittgenstein / Positivists
Plato (strict rationalists)
Immanuel Kant
Which philosopher are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

It's a bit limited in it's scope, since it only takes into account about 8 major philosophies, when there are surely many more. Still, I wouldn't argue too much with the result.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Hooray for volcanoes!

One Icelandic volcano has today done what Plane Stupid can only dream of achieving.

What a pity it had to emit so much CO2 during the process.

Actually, I did wonder how volcanic activity compared with human activity. The U.S. Geological survey reckons:

Comparison of CO2 emissions from volcanoes vs. human activities.
Scientists have calculated that volcanoes emit between about 130-230 million tonnes (145-255 million tons) of CO2 into the atmosphere every year (Gerlach, 1991). This estimate includes both subaerial and submarine volcanoes, about in equal amounts. Emissions of CO2 by human activities, including fossil fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring, amount to about 27 billion tonnes per year (30 billion tons) [ ( Marland, et al., 2006) - The reference gives the amount of released carbon (C), rather than CO2, through 2003.]. Human activities release more than 130 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes--the equivalent of more than 8,000 additional volcanoes like Kilauea (Kilauea emits about 3.3 million tonnes/year)! (Gerlach et. al., 2002)

A couple of firsts...

The last few weeks has seen a few things happen for the first time, jobwise.

First of all, I had a pupil fail because of an accumulation of minor faults. Usually, people fail because they mess something up and get a serious fault. I've even had people get more than the maximum 15 faults, but they've also made some serious errors and would have failed even if they'd not got all the minors. But this particular guy did nothing seriously wrong. He just did too many little things wrong. First time in the 5 years I've been doing this!

The other first happened today. I had a test terminated. - What we call a "walkback"

A test can be terminated for several reasons. If the driver is an obvious danger to the public, the examiner can terminate the test. Or the test candidate themselves can terminate it if they, for example, are just having a totally torrid time of things, and it's obvious that they've failed.

In this case, my pupil was extremely nervous, as she has been throughout her training, and when she failed to deal with a roundabout properly, she just couldn't continue, and the exminer terminated the test. The examiners will not drive the car (they claim for insurance reasons) so both my pupil and the examiner turned up back at the test centre, on foot, and I had to go and find the car.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Cardingmill valley and the long mynd

Out gallivanting today... Church Stretton. After spending time with someone there a week or so ago, I thought it would be a good place to take my wife for a walk. Some lovely roads to drive on. (some terrifying roads from Bren's point of view. one in four descent made to a soundtrack of whimpers! white knuckles against the door grab handle...)

And some gorgeous scenery to see.

We got there early afternoon, and headed up onto the moors. One thing we didn't count on was the wind, which was almost strong enough to blow the sheep over. Went to what appears to be called Cardingmill peak. The wind was incredible. You could lean right back into it and really feel the air supporting you! If I'd unzipped my coat and spread it out, I reckon I might just have taken off.

Pissing in the wind.

When you do piss in the wind, it's best to have the wind behind you and your legs well apart. In a gale, be aware that as soon as it leaves the lee of your body, and gets caught by the airstream, your piss will stop being a steady stream. It will instantly become an atomised spray that can be carried for hundreds of yards. Therefore pissing in the wind is best done with nobody, absolutely nobody, and especially not a big bloke with tatooes on his knuckles, standing downwind of you.

We scrambled down the side of the hills to the valley below. The valley below is a big national trust thing, with a pay and display car park, and a cafĂ© and shop. A cup of tea, a bit of flan, a bowl of soup, 2 slices of cinnamon flapjack, and a yoghurt bar set us back £17. For a good cause I suppose, but pretty bloody steep, just the same.

Talking of steep, the way back up the road to the car was indeed, steep. It was much less scary on foot than it was driving. But more strenuous.

We saw a bloody enormous bird of prey, that I reckon might have been a Red Kite, and when we got back to the car, it started pouring with rain, if you can call something horizontal, "pouring", so perfect timing there! Hurrah!