All entries for September 2005

September 29, 2005

Holiday snaps

I've put up some galleries of photos from Morrocco.

The Tiz-n-Test pass ones don't do justice to the 7000ft drop – oh well.


September 28, 2005

Holiday reading part 3

Title:
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

I've been meaning to read this for a while and really enjoyed it. Whatever you think about cycling, this is a powerful tale about cancer, recovery and survivorship.

What was interesting was a few contextual elements.

1) A few weeks before I read this there were renewed allegations of failed drug tests involving Armstrong. I felt a bit awkward about reading the book if the allegations were proven – in the end the allegations were dropped (though still bubbling away I now understand).

2) Tyler Hamilton, a teammate of Armstrong, has been suspended for two years after failing a doping test. This has to make you wonder about point 1 above and reading some of the elements of the book a bit odd.

3) Armstrong split from his wife and is now linked with Sheryl Crow – this made all the bits about him getting married really wierd. This was a shame as the IVF treatment they go through was obviously traumatic and difficult.

Still, an excellent read and food for thought on how we might take health for granted.


Holiday reading part 2

Title:
Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

I found this an interesting book to read for two key reasons.

1) The key premise of the book – that we all need to rebalance our lives to counter the pressures of an increasingly fast world – is compelling and attractive. Many of the principles seem plausible, reasonable and worth pursuing.

2) Much of the evidence supporting the arguements seems to be slightly superficial or cursory and one is constantly left with the thought "well, yes but isn't this all rather the realm of the leisurly and wealthy classes?"

The author throws around too many 'thousands of people are…' statements for my liking, undermining the philosophical prinicples underpinning the text. This is perhaps neceessary considering the authors basic purpose for the text and I probably need to do a bit more legwork myself (oh for the time…!).

I would also have to add that I read this mainly as an overview of a movement I already know a bit about, and have symapthies with, so point one should come with that caveat. What was nice to see was the assertion that the Slow movement is not about the abscence of moving fast or some luddite lunatic fringe – rather it's about balance between fast and slow.

Still, some important lessons for our too fast existence.


September 27, 2005

An environmental question – can someone do the math?

Whilst in Morrocco we used a number of local drivers to get around. Most of these were in old mercs that had been kept going for years – the one we used to get from Agadir to Marrakech had 357,000 miles on the clock and I would not have been surprised if this was its second time around the clock.

Now, in Morrocco you see a lot of this – older vehicles kept going for years and years. Many of the trucks looked like they were straight out of the 1960s. There are two reasons for this – 1. Import tax on new vehicles is extortionate, so for most the only viable option is to but an already imported car, 2. Older cars are much simpler and easier to keep going than newer ones. When you break down in the middle of nowhere and there is no chance of getting to a dealer you need to be able to mend your car easily and quickly. The simpler your car is the better.

Now, this got me thinking. In this country we are in the habit of changing cars every few years, and are often encouraged to do so. We also tend (I believe) to not trust cars with higher mileage or older vehicles, replacing cars at an earlier age than might be necessary. Many of these will end up on the scrap heap a lot sooner than their potential lifespan might allow for. Each scrapped car is a big hunk of waste added to the overall pile. This is not necessarily good for the environment.

However, newer cars tend to be more environmentally friendly. They will have cleaner, more efficient engines than older cars.

So, are we better off replacing older cars and buying new ones, or should we be making cars last longer and keeping them going for more miles?

BTW - I appreciate that there are many people who will answer – we are better off on bikes/trains/buses etc. Whilst this may be true, let's deal with the situation as is – we are not going to stop using cars as we do any time soon, so lets take the "take the bike" arguement as a done deal for the moment!

Also, I would really consider a hybrid car, but they are too expensive at the moment – does anyone know if there are grants/subsidies towards more environmentally friendly transport? Maybe rather than reducing the tax on petrol the govt could offer money off hybrid cars.


Rings

Sorry for lots of posts today but having been away for a bit I was suffering a little blog withdrawl…

Anyway, one unforseen side effect of getting married is that I now wear a ring – something I have never done before. It has really affected a few things. Typing this seems more difficult thanks to the lump of metal on the left hand – it has changed the position of the two fingers to either side just slightly, but enough to make hitting the right keys that little bit harder. I am sure it will adjust, but right now it's annoying.

It's also bugging me when I drive – when I go to change gear I can feel it getting in the way when I move the gear stick (i guess this is open invitation for people to insert witty comments about shifting knobs and rings…). I also find it interfering with the steering wheel – I am currently steering with the thumb, fore and middle fingers of that hand with ring and little finger hanging off like I am drinking a posh cup of tea.

Note – a friend of mine chose not to wear a ring and convinced his wife that a man wearing a wedding ring was more attractive to women than one not. Can anyone confirm this spurious logic?


Holiday reads part1

Title:
Rating:
2 out of 5 stars

So, I managed 4 books on hols.

First up Long Way Round.

I'd been looking forward to this one, but ended up a bit disappointed. Obviously done as part of the finance deal for the trip it all felt very worthy and grand, but was really pretty superficial and rather full of empty statements about how deep and meaningful the trip was.

I do like Boorman and McGregor, they both seem to be very interested in the world around them, down to earth and honest guys. It just felt that there was a huge story hidden in the book that you would only hear if you met them in the pub. This was all a bit contrived.


Those were the weeks that were

Well,

the wedding all went to plan – no disasters and everyone had a good time. We managed to avoid the worst of the rain so it didn't impact too much on the celebrations. It was nice to see the various arms of the families all getting on ok.

Morocco was really interesting – i'll fill in more about this at a later time as various things pop into my head. Marrakesh still has a hippy vibe with lots of bearded europeans in sandals and ethnic clothes – kind of sad and nice in a funny way. The Moroccans themselves were very friendly and welcoming and when trying to con you, did so with a smile – which was nice.

More about this later…


September 06, 2005

Damn that weather map

Follow-up to 4 days to go and counting from Contemplating the Frame

The 5 day forecast now says:

This means heavy showers. I can't work out if that is good (i.e. we will get dry periods rather than persistant rain) or bad (if it rains it will piss it down). Hurrumph.

Also, noted that the local weather station is actually 20km away from the location specified in the search (Shipston-on-Stour).

BTW - I will be off from Thursday, so you should only expect one more day of this crap on WarwickBlogs.


4 days to go and counting

So, there are just 4 days to go until the big wedding day. We had the rehearsal last night – a bit scary and wierd really. Vicar did not get off to a good start by cracking a joke with Steph about the time (pretending to get it wrong). I thought she was going to hit him.

We should be ok, though. Just that the nerves are starting to build.

Weather watch – the BBC 5 day forecast says:

Boo! I must remind myself that this is for Stratford, and we live a short but significant distance south of there and are sheltered by the Ilmington Hills – and anyway, the 5 day forecast tends to shift about a lot…

Do I sound worried here?


September 05, 2005

Dubious Lyrics #2 – Short People

We were just discussing this song in the office (don't ask) – Randy Newman's Short People.

Now, before I get roundly attacked for posting these lyrics I would like to remind people about where this song came from. It was written as a satirical attack on bigotry(*big*otry – ho ho ho). If you know Newmans back catalogue you will already have an idea of the type of stuff that he turned out.

In these satire and irony free times you have to wonder whether something like this would ever get a sniff of a release today.

So, anyway, here are the lyrics that may cause a stink:

short people got no reason
short people got no reason
short people got no reason
to live

they got little hands
and little eyes
and they walk around
tellin' great big lies
they got little noses
and tiny little teeth
they wear platform shoes
on their nasty little feet

well, i don't want no short people
don't want no short people
don't want no short people
round here

short people are just the same
as you and i
(a fool such as i)
all men are brothers
until the day they die
(it's a wonderful world)

short people got nobody
short people got nobody
short people got nobody
to love

they got little baby legs
and they stand so low
you got to pick 'em up
just to say hello
they got little cars
that got beep, beep, beep
they got little voices
goin' peep, peep, peep
they got grubby little fingers
and dirty little minds
they're gonna get you every time
well, i don't want no short people
don't want no short people
don't want no short people
'round here


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