Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Women in Love

Alan Sloman's off in a hotel in Cornwall. Start his trek north tomorrow. He's increased his charity target sum to £3,500 as he had already filled his previous target. Already his hotel critique has a ring of the Bill Bailey about it, just don't get drawn into mentioning trouser presses (Corby or otherwise).

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Got Bearded Git's and Andy Howell's blogs RSS feed in to Google.Reader. No comments, which is a shame.

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Got sent a YouTube feed of the old CalMac ferry, "Suilven", hitting choppy weather down in the Antipodes. Takes me back, that does to crossings on the Minch.

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Thanks to some nice scripting from Digital Inspiration, there's now a link to Google-Translate in the sidebar. Which is nice. You can test the translator on this:

Wha, for Scotland's King and Law,
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Free-man stand, or Free-man fa',
Let him on wi' me! ..

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Title refers to the Olly Reed/Alan Bates slap-a-thon I failed to get started between Weird Darren and John Hee. All about who scooped the Cameron McNeish blog news.

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Off to look out head torches for tomorrow, when I drag myself up Bennachie; also waterproofs. So far I've only eaten health foods this week. Except for some biscuits. Many fruit and veg. The goats cheese doesn't bring on my migraines, so it was strange eating cheese rolls, as I tend not to bother with such things.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

OM Events Calendar

A calendar of outdoors-related events can now be found here on the OutdoorsMagic site. Hopefully it is something that will run and run.

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Oh, and the famous Cameron McNeish is now on the blogosphere. I wasn't going to mention it, as John Hee pipped this notice by a few hours (that's a lifetime, in the blog-time continuum).

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Nice to see 3 of Bob's podcast shows getting rated in the top ten under "travel" at Podcast Nation.

(Cue the music)

Here's the countdown from 8 to 6, pod-pickers. At number 8 "The Outdoors Station - Video", number 7 "The Outdoors Station - Audio", and number 6 "Gap Year Light". That's a hat trick for Bob's casting network. Well done.

I like to move it

Playing around with Google.Reader, as it will save me clicking through the sidebars on my blog to open all the other blogs. It seems to only work on RSS feeds, so no Andy Howell at the moment, nor Bearded Git's blog. I'll see how it works.

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I've changed the 'clustrmap' in the margin to report on visitor locations daily rather than weekly (which is why it has been looking empty recently).

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For those who care, the current blog entry titles are being pseudo-randomly chosen from the "Reggae Massive" double album. If blogging is the new rock and roll, can I be Mr Boombastic?

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Google Analytics info:

Weekly visits for last 7 days: 468, with 707 pages viewed. Returning visitors accounting for 64.96% of readers.

Overseas visitors:

  • Canada: Winnipeg
  • USA: Seattle, La Quinta, Los Angeles, Schaumburg, Canton (sing that song, folks!), King City, Tucker (welcome back), Washington, New Haven, Warwick.
  • EU (ex-UK): Saint-Gobain, Bonn, Markt Schwaben, Fellstrand, Sandnes.

(Singingz in your headz going "Naw go laba laba and a chat pure phart")

Living on the Frontline

aktoman4newbies

I've been playing around with the Sign Generator

Monday, 26 February 2007

The Adventure Show: 26 February

Main feature from the Strathpuffer 2007 mountain bike race. Bits that interested me were:

"The Spot" - with Hostile Habitats, editors Mark Wrightham, Nick Kempe and author Stuart Benn, and how the many authors helped "put together a more holistic picture of the mountain environment".

"plants...tell you something about the processes taking place in mountain...like taking the pulse of the mountain environment."

"Wild Life" discussed red deer, ptarmigan and mountain hare whilst being out in the snow in Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve.

"The Spot" - up in the hills, ice climbing, with organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival. There they discussed the festival, and also gave advice to competitors.

"The Beta" - Chris Townsend discusses smocks and jackets for wearing during the Scottish winter. Also, gave advice on what to look for when buying.

On a Ragga Tip

Monday just blew by. A change is as good as a rest. Thanks to Simon and Kev for emails.

My media empire continues to grow, getting a letter read out in "All about Miniatures" podcast nr 7. Interesting discussion from Americans having difficulty knowing the difference between England and Britain. LOL - nice to they honestly admit they have a problem! Good listen if you play figure wargames.

Off to do a healthy shop, and fast-forward through "The Adventure Show".

Oh, prog on BBC2 Alba, this Thursday about blogging:

  • Cuairt Nam Blog 6:30pm - 7:00pm BBC2 Scotland VIDEO Plus+: 71

More photos from the weekend can be found at The Boy Hope's gallery. This was on the same day as the time I was up on the snow, but look at the lack of snow in most of the shots.

Also he has a photo of the "killer ducks" at Loch Morlich. I saw them on Sunday, but they didn't risk approaching me in the mood I was in.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

On the dock of the bay

2 gear shops later and i'm a happier bunny. Chap in ellis-brigham gave me some spare rope so i can practice knots. That was all i needed in the shops. Everything else is me. Not a 'wannabe', but a 'gonnabe'. Bought a pile of fruit in Tescos. Like the Uistman said yesterday, "you've got to throw yourself into life". I've lost track of that, as i skite from one project to another.

25-Feb-07 13:31

Clouds across the moon

No excuses. No sympathy. No platitudes. I couldn't even enjoy the forest walk. Got to loch and put on a brew to cheer myself up. Makings left back at lodge. Prat! Drank hot water and ate one of Max's tunnock's biscuits. Thought about things and life's issues, then started heading back to lodge. There's more to me than this blog can say. And there are lots of things i stop myself from writing. Sorry if that means i come across as anything other than 'me'. Low clouds. Weather aping my mood.


25-Feb-07 11:18

Sunday bloody Sunday

Yesterday i realised i wasn't hill fit and decided i wouldn't go out on day 2 of the course. I learnt tons o things yesterday and have lots more confidence. I've had a great time and meeting people from OM has shown me the standards i must aim for. It's not motivation i lack, but purely fitness. Tabbing it round loch morlich by forest paths today, then back to Aberdeen. It is raining.


25-Feb-07 09:25

Shaun of the Dead

I am shattered. Good night folks. (boing)

24-Feb-07 22:32

Saturday, 24 February 2007

I am the walrus

What a day. Iain and Kirsten (sp?) excellent. I owe them a public apology for the harness issue. I am sorry for not mentioning it. I should have phoned Iain and asked. Sorry. Dave, sorry for any stress that this may have brought you. Sherry, stuart, john and myself are off for a treat in Aviemore. Outside Tescos. Feels warm

--Media added later--

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Back to life

Sorry. Slept through alarm. Others in the building didn't

Friday, 23 February 2007

I am the eggman

In kitchen at barad-ur lodge. All friendly. All warm. I get greeted as the person who cheered up bob scott's bothy. Dave looking into harness with the instructors. Malt beckons. Kate looks bigger in real life. Oot is grand, i'm too big for his harness.

Aviemore

Stopping in shop to get snacks. Forgot to take plastic bags to recycle.

Blork Blork

In a very recent podcast, Bob Cartwright asks "Is Alan Sloman the UK's First Blorker?" (podcast page).

Alan Sloman's walk starts very soon, please sponsor him. If you don't know why he is doing this, please listen to the interview and read his site.

The podcast elaborates more on the novelty of Alan's effort "He is the first UK blogging walker on such a trip", and the podcast interview then expands on the challenge that this gentleman is undertaking.

I'll certainly be following his trek online. As well as donating to the cause.

(we're in your head, singing hiking songs to you in the dark)

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Rage against the machine

Tescos danestone in Aberdeen. Open 24hrs. Except just now, as they are building another extension to it. There is a note by the door as you go in. I had 10mins to get odds n sods for the weekend. No chance. I leave my trolly with 1 item in it and save myself the pressure. Although now closed, there's a lot of people still heading into the well- lit shop of dreams.

CinqSport:Aberdeen

Invented the "CinqSport challenge" - hitting 5 outdoor shops in Aberdeen in 2 hours. Although I picked up (i.e. bought) gear for the weekend, no-one stocked an XXL climbing harness.

Rushing around now after heading back to work to get some paperwork caught up with.

Location: Badaguish. Instructors: Kendal Mountaineering Services.

Point of note: people shouldn't use terms like "MIA" and "The deadman" without explaining fully what they mean. Nervous people like me might get the wrong impression ;-)

Weird Darren (sans buff) is re-assuring me with words, links and a photo on his blog, here.

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Speaking of WD, he noticed the "Best of Brit Blog Awards 2007", from Metro.co.uk [link]. This is not the Bloggies, which is organised differently.

So, go find and vote for your favourite UK blog folks. Now, I reckon hiking blogs are under "travel". But the split of opinions has caused people problems in the past IIRC.

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Dave just off the phone discussing solutions to my harness problem. Hmm - no giggling at the back there. I'm off to check late shopping times, and post a 'help' note on OM.

(we're your metro, turning up the hiss on everyone elses' earphones)

You know you're getting old

When a student asked, honestly: were you in Vietnam?

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

We're going to need a bigger boat

Landed a place on an OM Winter Skills course. Yeah!

Then the gulp of realisation and the knotted stomach of mindedness.

The problem with trying to get out of one's comfort zone is that it is so darned comfortable in the zone.

More later. I'm off to change my trousers. Now then, Coire An–t Sneachda ... where have I heard that name before??

The Cairngorms: this time it's personal. No more slouching in a bothy. Ooo yaaa.

Adrenalin's kicking in now, can't you tell?

(we're in your snow, playing with your holez)

Down to Earth

Starting to seriously think of the Southern Upland Way at Easter instead of the Wainwright C2C, which I'd rather do in the Summer. I remember hearing about a good website that has lots of LDW books on it, so I'll need to dig out the URL.

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Just listened to a 35 minute podcast that Bob has kindly cut for my students. What a nice bloke he is.

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I listened to the "Mountain First Aid" podcast, with the gripping drama of the recent accident in the Spanish mountains. Stunning stuff. Cara-"A mere fleshwound"-Lyn, what a woman! I revisited the photos from here as I was listening.

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Finished reading Bill Bryson's "A walk in the woods". If you haven't read it, it certainly appealed to me, so that is all the recommendation I can give you. Certainly because the closing paragraph reminds me of how I've changed over the past 18 months:

"...these days when I see a mountain, I look at it slowly and appraisingly, with a narrow, knowing gaze, and eyes of chipped granite."

For me, the hills and trails aren't something off in the distant, to be driven through, but are now something to be visited and explored.

If only I had the time ... oh, yes, it is called weekends!

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I just can't get over the fact that there is a study guide to "a walk in the woods". Here is an example under topics for discussion:

' Why is the Appalachian Trail and the idea of a long journey through the woods a good central metaphor for Bryson's memoir? (source)

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Quick runthrough of international visitor locations: Le Polo - which is in Morocco - which is in AFRICA! Woo hoo. I'm easily pleased, and have such low expectations in life.

Shh, but someone came back later on Sunday night (GMT) from China.

On Monday, Munich is back, as is Los Angeles and New Haven in the USA. Fresh in are Warwick, Tucker (a name that has to be shouted in a Grange Hill manner), King City (no comment on the AWI game I managed to hold to a draw), and north to Winnipeg. One visit from South America, Buenos Aires to be exact.

For those wondering, the UK is just a mass of orange blobs, and is difficult for me to zoom in and separate them.

Monday, 19 February 2007

Filum review: Hot Fuzz

Watched the new film from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I thought "Spaced" was excellent, innovative, and, sadly, there has been nothing really to beat it on TV since then.

With film "Shaun of the Dead", the first zomromcom, was funny, but horror's not my thing. "Hot Fuzz" is. The homages from movies that I failed to pick up on in "Shaun" are all there, mainly because I enjoy that genre. IMHO: well filmed, well made, has all the stereotypes as stereotypes, and a cracking cast. Intelligent, violent, funny, and doesn't take itself seriously (for example, Angel's police number is 777; the 2 detectives could have been lifted from "Life on Mars"). It also has guns. Lots of guns.

Oh, and Bill Bailey gets to do his West Country accent in a film, as they didn't give him a chance in "The Lord of the Rings". And watch for the Nick Frost moment in the car chase, as he shouts "bang bang" whilst firing his autopistol.

Links: Official Site, Trailer, Video Diary, IMDB, spoilers for after you have seen the film

Sunday, 18 February 2007

BobCast: TrailCast

Finally got round to listening to Bob's interview with Bob Butler, to find out what happened to Trailcast. Good discussion on the future of media in general. Something that is being batted around on various hiking blogs just now. I'll be recommending it to folk at work, ties in with the Money Programme's "DIY TV" that was on on Friday.

Site mentioned in the interview: TrailJournals.com

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Went into a couple of shops after setting my works laptop to back up files. The wind-up radio/torch in Blacks looks nice, but I'll wait for a sale, before I replace my current radio (which also came from Blacks). They have the some plastic bottles packed with kit for about a tenner; and discounts on the Camelbak bottles.

Went to Craigdon Mountain Sports next and treated myself to a pair of snow goggles. Following the hike in the snow, and my usual after-action-report, goggles would certainly have saved me from manually shielding my eyes. Chap in the shop said they are quite useful in heavy rain too. Something I'd not thought about.

As expected, wore them in the flat. Wondered where the button was to open the visor?

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Media empire has expanded again after this afternoon's T-shirt hunt.

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Hi to the International visitors. New Haven/USA visited yesterday after I'd closed for the night - don't worry, they came back twice on Sunday. Also from the USA: Eau Claire (I'm sure there's a song in there), Catawissa (that's just a freaky name, were's it from? Any relation to this?), and the more maturely named Catherdral City.

Down the continent to South America, and Bogota and Sao Paulo. Sorry, too tired to do the squiggly bits over the letters.

In Europe, one from Sandnes/Norway - that has got to be above the Arctic Circle. Woo hoo (puts on snow goggles). Takes off snow goggles as too much shadow to type properly. Back south, to Munich once more, then to Korntal-Munchingen - blue/white logo, that's got to be in Bavaria? Ja? Finally, down to Barcelona/Catalonia.

Now, remember earlier I said I was worried about the blog being proxied. Well, shss, don't tell anyone, but there's been visits from China. I can't say where, in case I blow their cover. But there were 2 visits from different parts of the country, and I don't want to spoil their New Year celebrations.

Visitor goals for next week: at least on visit from Africa.

Figures as to 2200hrs: 57 visits, 98 pageviews. 61.40% returning visitors, 38.60 new visitors. 53 people visited the main page, and spent an average of 6minutes54seconds there.

Wear it with pride

I like t-shirts. They help me get into a frame of mind for a task. At present I tend to sport a "Keep on trekkin" one from "Life is Good". I'm on the prowl for an appropriate one my blogger-ID.

  • ThinkGeek: "Blogito, Ergo Sum". I do like the "Comments (0)".
  • GoogleStore: Blogger logo.
  • Jinx: "Nobody reads my blog".
  • SplitTheAtom: the design sums up blogging. A bit Emerson-esque in the philosophy though.
  • BBC News: interesting, maybe work the Arabic "We will not be silent" into a t-shirt.
  • Buy-Tees.com: Some interesting ones there. I'll look back after tee...oops, that should be tea.

Nowt to do with blogging, but this one just cracked me up. It is smart on such a deep level.

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Err, I just found that my blog is being copied via www.pkblogs.com under the heading:

Is your blog blocked in India, Pakistan, Iran or China?
If Yes then you can still access your blog anytime using pkblogs free Blog Gateway.

Err. Should I be concerned? Should Blogger.com be concerned? No-one asked me. I'm in the huff now.

We are the cheeky girls

Reposted from a comment I left on John's "Walkabout in the UK" blog:

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Aye, we blog cos we enjoy it, and someone else gets the advertising revenue from our enjoyment.

Talent shines through, and a blogger lands a book deal from the established media. I fail to see that as a breakthrough. The established media is just hoping that the blogger can sell books to her readership. Good for her.

That is not using the possibilities of the new media in a new way, but is a backward step into real life.

When wireless Net really takes off, and have access to portable readers, then, and only then will the death-nell of the old media ring. Except that they will continue to hold us in their thrall...don't believe me, just ask yourself who owns MySpace?

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Bibliography:

MySpace biography.

"I blog, therefore I am £70,000 richer": The Sunday Times, 18 February 2007

Less than six weeks after starting to write about downshifting from London to rural Northumberland, a mother of three young children has landed a £70,000 publishing deal.

Early last month Judith O’Reilly launched Wife in the North, an online chronicle of her battles with three children, two elderly parents and an absentee husband while living in a northern hamlet, with the nearest town half an hour’s drive away.

Last week, after whirlwind approaches from an agent and a publisher, she signed a deal to turn the blog, which has become a surprise hit in Britain and America, into a book to be published by Viking Penguin.

Weird Darren's commentary at Whitespider1066.

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I think the title of the article says it all, don't you? There are good, talented people out there, how they get found and what niche market they thrive in is all part of life's rich tapestry. Of course, in times gone by, people like Bain and Caselli's work in communication hit difficulties. But we live in a more dynamic age now. Don't we?

(we r in ur cd collexion, hiding the good onez)

Another BCCI?

Here's the reference that Pharmolo at Northern Trip sourced.

Source: Press and Journal, Saturday 17 February 2007

The Uk Government could face a multimillion-pound fine if Scottish ministers allow plans for a massive windfarm on the Western Isles to go ahead, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds warned yesterday.

It believes the Lewis Wind Power application for 181 turbines was made without a proper environmental impact assessment.
That, it says, would contravene the European Habitats Directive.
Western Isles councillors voted 18-8 in favour of the £512million windfarm development on Thursday.
But local RSPB spokesman Martin Scott said: "From what we have seen in the council's report, they haven't even considered any of the European law or European designations. The whole process that the council seems to have followed does appear to be flawed.
"I'd like to think that the Scottish Executive would pick up on it. I suspect that the European Union aren't going to be particularly pleased that somebody has just tried to consent a large-scale industrial development on prime wildlife sites in breach of the Habitats Directive. We've always said it would likely end up in Brussels. It's heading there at a rapid pace now."

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LWP director David Hodkinson said: "The RSPB is well versed in the application of European law to major infrastructure developments, including the Thames estuary offshore project, which they welcomed a few months ago as the UK's first major windfarm to have been consented in a European special protection area.
"They are also advising on the Viking windfarm development in Shetland, which, we suggest, they know will need to be considered as a special protection area before the windfarm can be consented because of its significant bird interests.
"So we suggest they know that the Lewis windfarm could only go ahead in compliance with European law. It simply would not be consented otherwise.
"To suggest anything different would appear to be yet another example of the RSPB relying on the selective use of the facts to challenge our development. In our opinion, this is a clear sign that the RSPB's campaign against the Lewis windfarm has run out of scientific arguments."

I'll stand by my original comment, and read all the references to habitat management in the CNES terms.

Objections on the grounds of the EU Directives were lodged with the Comhairle in the RSPB media release of 2 Feb 2007 [source].

So, to say that the "This was also not spotted by WIC", is wrong. The Comhairle were well informed of this before they made their decision on Thursday 15 Feb 07. The RSPB are quoted in this BBC report of Friday 16 Feb 07:

The RSPB said the Lewis wind farm threatened habitats and bird-life of European significance.

However, developers claimed that even after construction the project would create 70 ongoing operating and maintenance jobs.

Jobs before birds, was the quote given elsewhere in the media.

And not to dash anyone's hopes, but here is how Lewis MacDonald MSP dealt with similar (but not identical) objections back in 2002 from Linda Fabiani :

Linda Fabiani (Central Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what consultation has taken place with the European Commission with regard to the proposed wind farm at Whitelees Forest and the effects on the six bird species which Scottish Power has confirmed are present on Eaglesham Moor, given that the birds’ priority habitat or species is defined in Article 1 of the European Habitats Directive and are listed under EC directive 79/409/EEC as needing special protection.

(S1W-28165)

Lewis Macdonald: There is no requirement on the Scottish Executive to consult the European Commission on this issue since the area is not designated as being of national or international importance for bird species or habitats. Scottish Natural Heritage was among the bodies consulted about the environmental impact of the proposed wind farm and has welcomed the developer’s proposal to put in place a Habitat Management Plan with the aim of enhancing the existing peatland habitat across the moor, which they believe should contribute towards the offsetting of any local adverse impact.

Source: Written Answers, Scottish Executive, 30 August 2002.

And finally, here's a quote from the Sunday Times:

Last week Lewis Wind Power (LWP), a joint venture between Amec and British Energy, submitted revised plans to the Scottish executive for the £500m project, reducing the number of turbines from 234 to 181 to lessen the impact on wildlife.

The company said it had restricted the search for sites to the Outer Hebrides because one of the primary aims of the project was to provide social and economic benefits to the islands.

The plans are now being scrutinised by the European commission.

The Sunday Times has learnt that officials in Brussels believe that the company must assess other possible locations across Scotland to comply with the habitats directive, which demands that other sites are considered when species and protected tracts of land are threatened by development.

But the article was dated 17 December 2006, and has anyone asked the EU about their scrutinisation of the plans? Perhaps someone could ask Elspeth Attwooll MEP, to ask who exactly is scrutinising it in Brussels, and did no-one think to pass the information to the CNES before Thursday's meeting?

Democracy rules!

TGO Show 8

Two mellow people chatting about long distance trails. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, lie back in the sofa with your TGO open at page 25 and relax to Cameron McNeish and Paddy Dillon blethering away about a topic they enjoy.

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BBC Landward was talking about buzzards this morning. I missed the beginning of it, so will need to catch the full report here. This week's competition is for another name for the buzzard (back to the Germanic). I see a lot of them around, I like their style, but the increase in numbers are cause problems for some animal owners.

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Punched up a picture of the wargames figures I've been working on, trying to recreate a scene from a photo of a September 1918 advance. [Zooomr]

It can't be that easy

Just saw this news about the Lewis wind factories:

And now it turns out that the consortium which is to built the darn thing has not taken into consideration that the Lewis Moor, where the turbines are to be built, is subject to a European Habitat Directive. This was also not spotted by WIC. This means that the planning application is illegal.
The EU does not take kindly to those who ignore its directives. It is likely that this planning application may yet end up in the European Courts. A public inquiry also seems inevitable.

Source: Northern Trip.

I think you might find that the Comhairle took it into account with their terms and conditions (you'll see that there are various environmental and migratory studies proposed, Management Plan 5e). It was certainly mentioned by MWT.

Updated map of the proposed development.

Letter to the Exec.

"The Comhairle decided to recommend to the Scottish Ministers that the application should be approved subject to a range of terms, measures and conditions as detailed in this document." [source: CNES]

50 conditions in a 37 page document. No doubt the corporate lawyers have already been through them so that in a few years time they can punch right through them. Sorry, I believe in the "give them an inch, and they'll take a mile" approach to the world. Sadly, I've yet to be proved wrong.

...so, no, it can't be that easy.

The future's so bright

Reposted from a comment I left on John's "Walkabout in the UK" blog:

The thing about user-generated-content is that it relies on the user to generate the content for the company making the business. The next stage in the business model is for the company (google/blogger, google/youtube, or whoever) to pay a share of the advertising revenue that the user generates for the host. Below a certain number of click-throughs, the money is used to pay for the hosting (and 'losses' on non-profitable sites). YouTube then becomes the media version of eBay.

And then there is the issue of copyright, libel and slander to take into account.

Get rid of the spammers and virus-peddlers, and YouTube could use the bandwidth freed up on the Net to increase the resolution/quality of their hosted clips. Now, that's a radical thought: reclaim the Net!

I haven't updated my personal website in ages, and took off the email links as it was 'farmed' by scumspammers. This blog is an experiment for me, and expect it (and the YouTubing) to go the same way. If I can pull some new concepts out of the hat, then great. Push the boundaries. I don't do shark jumping, and walk away from things before that (I'm not a completer/finisher).

People who work in journalism as a hobby are blogging, I don't think it makes everyone who blogs a journalist. Once bloggers, etc get into reviewing products then there is the professionalism and (probably) legal aspect.

It's not as if there'll be a t-shirt saying "I'd rather be blogging"?

I see the 'new media' going the same way as websites. Lots of people used to build their own. Not many people do that now. As the existing media channels converge on the Internet as the delivery medium of choice, so the amateur productions we see just now will be subsumed by worldwide mass - and I do mean mass - media channels. (Aside: so who exactly will pay the UK govt for the current analogue channels they'll be selling off?) Want to watch "Lost", just log in to your tv subscription channel. Who knows, YouTube may be one of these, but so will archives of old media (tv, films, radio).

I have a feeling that people are turning off from the existing media because they are tired of the same old tat. The arguments put forward that having 4 TV channels in the UK would dilute the viewing figures have come true, and we have more than 4 channels now. I pay for BBC4, and cannot receive it unless I pay for a new aerial. Guess what: I just don't watch it.

If the comment about the falling figures of 'lads' mags is true, then maybe the tipping point is the growing number of 'emo' kids. Will they be the saviour of the human race? It'll be interesting to see the chavs and chavettes running scared in front of a crowd of emo's, who know what they want and how to get it, and will have no problems pushing drunken wasters out of the way to get it. Go on, speak to an emo, you know you want to.

(I'm in your Web 2.0 playing with your mindz)

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Photo Story 3

Productive afternoon with FJ visiting. Besides inventing the blogramme format, where we discussed its usage in local history. Okay, maybe 'discussed' is too democratic a term, I babbled on as the images were forming in my mind and the words strove to catch up with the thoughts.

Of course, where no video clips exist, you are limited to stills.Conversation turned to Ric and Ken Burns' use of still imagery in their series "The Civil War". So, I downloaded Microsoft's Photo Story tonight and have been playing around with it. Sadly I don't find it as intuitive as Windows Movie Maker, but the price suits me.

I've uploaded a clip of my Dad's home village, and simulated a complex panning by loading the same basic image in three times. The opening credits were shot against a plain black graphic (I couldn't find the 'credits' section).



Let me know what you think. Constructive criticism welcome. If you prefer static photos to remain static, I still have a site at Flickr.com

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Stats:

  • Wednesday: 22 visits (28 page views) [from 2000GMT]
  • Thursday: 73 visits (107 page views)
  • Friday: 57 visits (86 page views)
  • Saturday: 75 visits (112 page views) [to 2200GMT]

Overseas shouts go to Munich, I must apologise for not painting the WW1 German wargames figures as Bavarians, but that would mean I had lots of blue-and-white ribbons to paint, and I'm a bad painter. Across to the US to New Haven in the east, LA in the west, and the wonderfully named, Titusville in Florida. In Canada, there's a spooky tie-in with the earlier posting about Bill Oddie's tv show, as one hit came from Victoria, Vancouver Island. As the hit came before I blogged about the tv prog I had watched, there is only one piece of music that fits the bill (and it is from Canada too).

And we've broached the Southern Hemisphere. Epping, NSW, Australia. I heard about this shark wrestling (audio interview is a cracker) from down there, so I'm not saying anything that may upset anyone in Oz. Honest.

Casio G'zOne

Just caught an advert for the Casio G'zOne here, and it looks interesting. Wonder if it's available in the UK. My mobile stays in a waterproof sack in my rucksack, but that one looks the biz.

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I've been following Bill Oddie's series "Back in the USA". It has been very good, with a mix of facts, humour, and is well put together. Hopefully the BBC will re-broadcast the Nebraska episode that they had to reschedule. And the people in Canada didn't get annoyed when his 'USA' programme visited Vancouver Island.

On this week's one about Arizona, he visits Jesse's garden where humming birds stop off for refueling on their migration. IIRC, he said that one year 1/2 million of these amazing birds had passed through his garden, supping on the sugared water he puts out for them. I think the most relaxing scene I've seen all week was of Bill Oddie, sat in the garden in Patagonia, Arizona, watching these birds flitting around, licking up the fake nectar.

A Blogramme(c) about Stornoway

Just trying out a format that I thought of after re-watching the Money Programme on DIY TV from last night.

The 'blogramme' format I'm using links YouTube progs around a geographic location, or particular event. I haven't seen anyone do this before, so lets see how this possible Internet first goes (don't you feel privileged ;-)

Intro

Where is Stornoway? It is here.

What does it look like?

Driving round Stornoway to give an idea of the place:

Does it ever stop raining?

No, not if you believe the mainland weather forecast. Okay, so the general forecast is often wrong due to the low-lying nature of much of the island. Just look at the sun in this old clip:

Okay, and a more genuine observation of the sun shining on the righteous folk of Steornabhaigh.

What do people do there?

Shinty - it's like rugby, but with sticks.

Go on quizzes.

Attend concerts:

Have wet fun:

And wait for the weather to change:

What are the people like?

Weird, no. But here's a sample of teuchter humour.

And finally:

oidhche mhath

SB on the Ben

Nathan "Skunkbag" has posted his photostory of him and Rob's overnighter on Ben Nevis at Christmas time. [link]

"I was cold. I remember having a quick chat with Rob about the ever increasing wind, and then he said he was just nipping outside... I remember thinking something about captain Oates, then fell asleep." [source]

I'd like to read Rob's story about being outside building a snow-wall around the tent. At night. On top of Britain's highest. Well done, gents, and a cracking read Nathan.

Saturn's Day

Just watched "Freeze Frame" - thought it was very good. Lee Evans in a straight acting roll. Lots of mind games. Thanks to Maggie for the bottle of wine that me and Mike finished off whilst watching the movie. I passed on your thank you present to him as a thank you from me for doing the logos, and he says thank you, as it is... was ... good plonk.

--

I'm just off to test something just now to see if I can add Zooomr pictures via html in Windows Live Writer (which I use for blogging if not using Blogger directly).

aktologo-med

If it does work, the zooomr code I just pasted in above will load when I post to Blogger. Everyone and their nextdoor neighbour probably does this already, but I just thought about it on the way into work this morn...err...on Friday morning.

---

Andy Howell is podcasting about bloggers and their readers. More info from Andy, Darren and the great god OM.

From a statistic point of view, on Thursday AktoMan went international.

Turku/Finland:1. Bergen:1. Madrid: 1. Eastern US: 4 (onward to Richmond! The hit from Canton had me and Mike singing THE song). Western US: 2.

Friday: welcome back from Canton (no song, wine finished, Mike went home carrying props from his new movie - if the polis stop him, he'll be in serious trouble!) and Beacon Falls. Sorry folks, I think Canton is in NY State, but not sure if Beacon Falls is in Connecticut, the states get a little crowded on the map. We're AWI'ing it at the wargames club on Tuesday, so I'll get another chance to give a bad rendition of "this land is our land" as I try to boot the Brits off the table.

Hello to Regina/Canada (lapse into an Akira yell at that). Hi to Luneberg in Lower Saxony.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Di-h-aoine

A well, early start, early finish today. Got the usual idiots speeding past me this morning as I drive 30mph in the company car in a 30mph zone. As bad on the way back down the road. Driving behind a lorry doing 50mph, and the lass in my rvm had her head at 90' looking for a spot to overtake. I honestly can't say that it's got any better in the last 7 years of making the run regularly. I can point out the places on the road where cars have crashed, and people have died. Usually the same place that some eejit decides that their job, meeting, dinner, will not wait another 5 minutes. Call me a sanctimonious git if you wish, but I'm tired of people risking there life, or worse, risking my life. When did life become so cheap? Or is it the reverse postulation; when did people think that their life had so much value that it was to be placed above everything else?

--

Site updates. As well as playing around with YouTube and the logos, I've signed to http://technorati.com and just used it to find Northern Trip's blog from back home on Lewis. Which then pointed to a webcam site from Newton in Sy, and then to the BBC island-blogging site.

Found the WeatherPixie.com thanks to that. Not as cute as Carol K, though.

Followed Andy Howell's instructions and now have a pro-account on Zooomr. Found this photo posted, so will have to look for more of the same.

And finally got the site analysis working (Google Analytics), and got the stats in for the first day's viewing. 22 people visited yesterday, half from OM (from a link I posted), all from the UK. 11 people spend an average of 2 minutes and 32 seconds reading the main blog page. Exciting stuff this. 3 people were on dial-up. One had difficulty pronouncing the word Usagi, and Metric Kate was wearing a dressing gown when viewing the rose picture. Gosh, these reports are detailed.

As this is my blog, I can leave out emoticons. You figure it out.

--

Report in on the lewis wind factory, no surprise, "Councillors voted by 18 to eight to support the plan. The final decision rests with the Scottish Executive." [info on this industrialisation of rural communities at BBC News]

And the loser is...

CNES, formerly, WIIC, formerly WIC, formerly Sellafield (no, that was someone else), are meeting today to decide the fate of proposed wind factories. I doubt that William Hill's are taking bets on the outcome of that one. Gosh, the council get money if they approve the planning permission, and don't get money if they reject it. Hmmmm, conflict of interest? Hopefully the Exec get involved to get some common sense into the equation, rather than begging for projects from the first snake-oil salesman that comes along.

Will it make a difference to global warming whilst countries like the US are belching out pollutants? Yes, in the same way that switching off power to the tv and pc will make a difference.

Will it damage income from tourism? Yes. Who wants to visit a spoilt industrial landscape? Never mind, there's always Norway and countries with similar access and wilderness.

Will it stop me visiting the folks? No. But we discussed the eyesores across in North Lochs that we could see from South Lochs.

Should people Photoshop out the turbines from their photographs? No. If they are there, show people what the scenery really looks like, not what it used to look like.

But, wth, it means cheaper electricity, a spoilt landscape for the decreasing rural communities (remember communities? they used to exist in the urban environment ages ago).

Do I have any facts to back up any of these speculations? Nope. But by the time the cooncil vote through their r.t.r.m.nt package...sorry, far-sighted plan for the future of energy generation in Scotland, it'll be too late to say, "I told you so". I'll be happy to be proved wrong. I live in a democracy. We have local councilors, governments, elections, etc.

Info/news: [CNES][MWT] [SyToday][BBC]

Test Logos

Just testing a few images. Nothing to see here folks. Just some (parody) work Mike did for me. All set to blogger upload, medium size.
1. Transparent Gif.

2. Jpg, white background.

3. Jpg, matching background (Edited to set up for hosting on zooomr).

aktologo-med

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

For the Ladies

To all the ladies, especially those on OM, thanks for the advice over the last couple of years. Best wishes to PW wherever she is. Good luck to all those prepping for the TGOC or the skills weekend.

As to female friends and workmates, thank you for just being there. Even in silly hats and scarves. Dore - don't rush back to work, make sure you're well first.
x

Rose photograph from 'WelshLady', under the Flickr licence.

Food Quiz

Only achieved 7 out of 11 on the "Don't gross out the world" food quiz. Strangely got the Scottish one wrong, but the Japanese one right. Usagi Yojimbo rules.

The "Outdoors Leurve Test" across at OM is fun. Last time I was out hiking with a woman of the opposite sex, I almost took her eye out a few times with my trekking pole, as I turned to point to something. Or follow the flight of a bird, helicopter or shiny glowing butterflies (the last one was a manga reference).

Subscribed to a few relevant channels across on YouTube, if anyone's bored and wants to go round the houses.

Speaking of YouTube, I found this by Yazoo. brings back memories of a pre-summer when we were finally 6th Years, and could lounge around the Nicky's 6th year hut if we didn't have classes. This was the record that was played to death. Shame that the Flying Pickets killed it. Then the hut burnt down IIRC. Ah, where does the time go, and the waistline come from?

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Over-run

Memo: need more 20mm WW2 Soviets. Especially ATs and LMGs. Air support would be nice too. Or a decent escape route.

--
Despite posts like that (blogged from a wargaming table), I am only 'lightly nerdy'.

I am nerdier than 59% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Monday, 12 February 2007

Another Manic Monday

Someone sent a suspicious package to a building near my work. It turned out not to be dangerous. I felt sorry for the folks who had to deal with it. As it wasn't an explosive, it didn't even make the BBC News main site, but was hidden in the regional stories. A bomb disposal squaddy had the job of picking up the packet and taking it to the X-ray machine in their van. [BBC News story]

Spent the evening adding some more clips to YouTube. Just clips I had on the pc from the last couple of years. Nothing death-defying (i.e. interesting).

Watching George "London backpacker" on YouTube, gear reviewing 3 packs. I've subscribed to his channel, makes life easier. [blog] I'd picked up on this from Andy Howell's blog, but I can't get the Steve Perry video working, hopefully it is a temporary issue. Only 4 exclamation marks when he mentions my handle, so obviously not mad yet.

--

I'm thinking of joining the MBA, as I feel obliged to them for providing me with warmth and shelter.

--

Recorded a "first glimpse" piece for YouTube. It's about 6 minutes long. Still being processed, but will appear here when finished. Probably naff, but it saves me typing - not that I feel driven to write about the contents of outdoors magazines. Just a passing fad.


Valued Landscapes

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to withdraw all subsidies and support to on-shore wind farms in valued landscapes. Deadline to sign up by: 23 February 2007 – Signatures: 981

<<http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/WindTurbines/>>

We agree with the need to find methods to prevent climate change affecting our environment but this must be done with the full support of the public. No attempt can be successful if it destroys the very environment that we hope to save. We call for support for renewable energy projects that are NOT divisive in nature. We call for greater subsidies to small/personal micro-generation schemes such as solar heating. The major mechanism for reduction in CO2 and other greenhouse gasses must be responsible cooperation with the public, NOT imposition of unwanted areas of policy that threaten many households. On-shore wind farms may (when subsidised with public funds) provide large profits to multi-national corporations but their contribution to CO2 reduction is small when weighed against the savings that are possible IF the public feel that they are part of the solution and not having to fight against it!

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Deep Frise

No work done today. Office door was locked, and I couldn't be bothered tracking down a janitor. So I took my new gps usb cable home and returned to looking for videos to put on YouTube (link to AktoMan channel).

Played around with Windows MovieMaker, dropped the sound on wind-locked movies, and added credits. Gosh, was it really 2005 when I dragged myself up my first Munro.

New cable works well, and I've imported data from the gps unit into memory maps. I seem to have lost some 'tracks' though. I had backed up some of the overlays, but I wasn't religious about it.

Discovered a feature of the Windows XP Media Center called "Windows Dancer". It is scarily sad. Chanel's my favourite (phrase works best if said in a hillbilly accent). Speaking of which, the "drive through Alabamy, provoking the natives" piece on "Top Gear" was seriously scary. And then to have a lawyer come after them for mis-representing a car they gave away for free because they got the wrong year of the model (1989 instead of 1991, or something).

If anyone's interested, Wikipedia still has a lot of un-detailed Munros to be written about. That surprises me. But then, I've had a run-in with them in the past.

Item found on YT today: "Beyond the Bothy". The link is to part 1, the other parts are listed.

Sadly, there was a fatality in Glencoe on Saturday, and the MRT/SAR teams were out looking for three separate groups over the weekend. Link to BBC News. No doubt the papers will go on their usual rant, ignoring the fact that there will be a greater number of deaths on the road this weekend. Care need be taken in all circumstances, but no-one suggests charging road accident victims for the cost of the emergency services. Humanity! Sometimes humans need to be reminded what the word means. My sympathy to the families of all who lost loved ones this weekend.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Bimble to Bob Scott's

I said 7.30 for 8.00am. Mike came round to the flat at exactly 7.30am. It's a Mike thing. I had already breakfasted and had packed my gear the night before so I wouldn't forget things. That just left the bacon rolls and thermos of coffee to make and pack.

(c) Mike ClarkLeaving a wet Aberdeen, the snow started, and got worse the further up Deeside we drove. The plan was to got to Inverey and walk down Glen Ey to Altanour Lodge, and have a day out. This plan was scuppered when we couldn't even get parked at Inverey as the car park lay somewhere under deep snow. Quickly inventing a plan that didn't involve gear shops in Aviemore, we parked at the Linn of Dee and decided to head to Bob Scott's bothy then decide whether to push on for a photo op at Derry Lodge.

The car thermometer showed 0'c, a couple of degrees warmer than the Met Office forecast, but a biting wind had been forecast on the MWIS site, and we were dressed for that. I was also carrying a lying-up-kit of tent, sleeping bag and cookset, plus extra layers. Mike was travelling light in his favoured flecktarn German Army gear. Don't be put off by people and the kit they can afford, it's goretex, warm, and his boots are by Salomon. Look at that face, he's someone you know you can trust in an emergency.
(c) Mike Clark
Two skiers went by, and we said our "hellos". It was the lass' first time, and she made a snow angel when she fell later. But she recovered gracefully, and handled the descent to the bothy without removing her skis.

Leaving the forest and entering the open of Glen Lui, the gusting wind caught our backs. This would make walking back to the car 'interesting' on our return.

(c) Mike ClarkTabbing it up the track, there was not much to see in the way of wildlife, but the drifting snow would occasionally make interesting patterns. Oft reminiscent of sand dunes seen on tv. A few deer were seen off to the west, and the odd cowering bird. It was a day to admire running water, ice and snow.

I was toasty wearing my winter gloves and hat, merino leggings (and boxers) under my Montane trousers, and t-shirt, fleece, and Montane fleece-lined jacket. The smartwool socks and Scarpa ZG65s worked well in these conditions and my feet were warm. Only on the return did I need to add a buff (sorry WD) to keep the driving snow away from my mouth and neck.
(c) Mike Clark(c) Mike Clark








I didn't bother checking my watch, as I was having a great time in the snow. About noon, we reached the bothy.









Inside, in the warmth were the two skiers, as well as some 5 people who'd stayed overnight. Bob's was just too cosy. There was even background music [1, 2]. Taking our time to finish the coffee flask, sarnies and absorbing the warmth, we had already decide just to head back to the car and visit the gear shop in Braemar. We kitted up and headed south, noting that 45 minutes was all it took for the blowing snow to obscure our footprints.


Mike ambushed me on the way back, when it took me a few seconds to realise he was recording our chat. It enabled me later to obtain this, the first, and possibly last, delve into YouTube (if it all works properly).


We returned to the car, drove to Braemar and had a civilised time in the gear shop. Mike was won over by the free coffee, while I looked at the Paramo Cascada trousers and pondered. I bought one of their mugs, and a book.

We did try getting to another gear shop on the way back to town, but it had locked up early for the afternoon, despite there being someone lurking in the shop. They didn't come after the custom, so we went away. Hey ho. Nevisport had phoned to say that the gps cable had come in, so I'll collect that on Sunday.

All in all, a nice day out in conditions that would have kept me away last year. Besides having kit do deal with it, it is also about having the correct state of mind. Billy Connolly wasn't 100% correct - but I'd never say that to his face.
--
PS: Some of the photos here are Mike's, the rest are mine. Don't steal our photos and pass them off as your own. It wouldn't be nice. And you will go to your grave knowing that you did things to other people that weren't nice. Why go through life with that burden on your conscience? It will niggle at your soul, keeping you awake at night. You'll be in a job interview and won't answer a question properly, because it was about copyright and you suddenly remembered what you did to me and Mike.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Sluggish Friday Night

Ah, the rock'n'roll lifestyle continues. Tonight I have been mainly backing up my system, packing for a daytrip down Glen Ey on Saturday, and watching TV. Nice bit about the launch of Vista, good prog about the last duel fought in Britain, and then the pilot of "Welcome to Strathmuir" (it won't get a 2nd chance with me, life's too short). I'm tempted to track down a book on the code of dueling and keep a copy at work for the next time someone insults me. Maybe Cicerone could publish one? Ice axes at dawn??

Back to packing, and taking emergency LuK* just in case weather turns nasty. Just valley walking, but the forecast is cold and windy, so merino leggings under windproof trousers are in order. Heading down to Altanour Lodge, ESE of Carn Bhac, and then back to Inverey. If weather too bad the back-up plan is coffee and gear shops.

*LuK = lying-up kit. Tent, stove, warm food and makings, sleeping bag. Foil bag lives in my first aid kit permanently. Extra layer and gaiters in case heavy snow.

Gear: Lynx Weekender

Picked up a "Lynx Weekender" pack from Asda last night. I was after some smellies, when I noticed the pack. Price is short of a tenner, but may be worth holding out for the sales. Useful things for hikers are a rucksack size deodorant (and shower gel), and a click-open folding toothbrush. It was the toothbrush that caught my attention. 4" long when folded, it flicks open to twice that length, and doubles as a useful back-scratch.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Trail: March 07

As we're into March, the cover has lost it's snow and is replaced by a walker traipsing down a scary rocky slope, with cliffs over his shoulder, presumably across a valley. Gulp. One of my Grandfathers was a Sgitheanach, and would be ashamed at my woosiness.

Bit of a couples thing going on (but wasn't Valentine's Day back in February?) I'm confused ;-)

Reviews of a couple of new pieces of gear, and then the "must have" section.

"The Mission" is a tale that I've just started reading after skimming through the contents. How could I not, after the Chandler-esque opening paragraph:
It had been three years since Scotland last tried to kill me.

I'll leave others to take contention with the 'riles'...sorry, 'rules' entitled "Don't assume light is right". Cheap and heavy ain't often right either.

I imagine TGO Challenge folk, or anyone heading out overnight in the Highlands, will find the notes useful.

Next is a top 10 of Britain's greatest wildernesses. Nice to see the Hearrachs getting a mention.

As ever, "The Knowledge" is packed with information. I still have a mental image of Alan Hinkes' dramatic escape. Reminds me of a scene from "Ice Cold in Alex". One piece of 'knowledge' is on a tarp, and its defence against insects - I did wonder how tarp and bivvy users cope with ticks.

Crib Goch article has me thinking that Claire Maxted has a death wish. I look at the photos and think of 3 points of contact, and yet she's bounding over them as if sponsored by Red Bull. I'm such a wimp!

Detailed reviews: Jane Grimshaw on women's overtrousers. Graham T on solar panels. No doubt the next thing will be wind turbines...hmmm, part of my brain's going off on a tangent there.

Fitness academy. Used & abused. The Aonachs.

Routes are under the "between the peaks" strand. For, I think, the first time, I can say that I've already been on 2 of the routes. Wayyyyyyy.

Now, I must have missed seeing the YouTube link to the magazine's video clips. There is a note on how to join the readers' polls (p7). Bloggers not listed on Webwatch.

----and now (drumroll please)----

Trail Gear Guide 07.

Not only an introduction "why...are worth every penny", then between 1 and 4 pages of what to look for if buying the item before you even get to the listings by manufacturers.

If that's not enough, there is "other stuff" in there too.

But...more photos of youngsters balancing precariously on rocks. I just want to say "stop it, you'll hurt yourself, lass". I do worry so ;-)

Oh - and on page 108 there are instructions on how you can get your own photo on the cover of Trail.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Real Life: Anna Radosz

Got told about Anna from a colleague of mine who took over the evening class from me last year. Wee Oscar was born when the class was on the October break, and I was off on the WHW. I got transferred to work with a November start group.

Cancer sufferer Anna Radosz could have as little as eight weeks before her body succumbs to the disease.
The only treatment available in Scotland is likely to have only a 10% chance of success.
So the 27-year-old and her partner Daniel Smajdor have embarked on a desperate race-against-time to raise money for possible life-saving treatment in the USA.
They need £10,000 for Anna to undergo pioneering genetic therapy at the world-famous Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
...

Anna had been fit and healthy all her life until she became suspicious about a mole on her arm around three years ago.
It was diagnosed as a malignant melanoma and removed.
However, last summer - when Anna was six months pregnant with Oscar - spots returned to various parts of her neck, throat and arms. Doctors at ARI broke the crushing news the melanomas had returned. They were removed, but Anna did not have chemotherapy until after the baby was born in November.
...

Then came the bombshell from doctors last month. A CT scan revealed Anna had tumours on her lungs and in her brain.
Because there were so many small growths in her brain, surgery was not an option.
Even with chemotherapy she has only about a 10% chance of surviving a year. Bravely fighting the tears, Anna said: "It could be a year. It could be six months. Maybe even less.
"There is a possible treatment at a hospital in London, but they will not take me because my condition is so advanced.
"So I went on to the internet and I've discovered this gene therapy in Boston is my only hope.
"They have said they will take me as a patient. But we have to get the money. We're determined to do it. I want to live to see my baby grow."
----
Quoted from the Press and Journal, link to full story (5 Feb 07).

I only heard about this today, and am still taken aback by it.

Bob Casts the WildeBeat

I listened to the new BobCast interview on my iPod in bed last night. Yeah, I know I'm sad, tell me something I don't know. Good interview. I haven't heard the other one when Bob chats with Trailcast, as I only caught a few of those shows, but have listened to a lot of WildeBeats.

At the time of writing, the podcast is on iTunes, but hasn't yet been updated onto the BackpackingLight.co.uk zone.

Steve Sergeant explains how he got into podcasting, where he hopes it might be going, what equipment he uses, and just how much editing goes into his shows. The gents then talk about surveys and listeners and their backgrounds.

I won't mention Steve's lilting musical tones as they were missing from the Skype-based interview. Did I miss them because they weren't there? Or was it down to the transmission/recording medium? Accents are strange things.

WildeBeat reminds me of the sheer size of the USA, and the differing terrain their. It is a Big Country.

I'm off to add Jim Metzner's "Pulse of the Planet" to my podcast list.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Piling on the Pylons

"A public inquiry into plans for a 137-mile power line through the Scottish countryside has begun." Full story at BBC News

I've already stated my thoughts on this sort of development in earlier posts. The companies want to do this in the cheapest way possible, and don't care about the damage to tourism.

Strange that although technology in other engineering fields has advanced so much since the original pylons were built, that power transmission technology hasn't improved so that the old pylons, or pylons as small as the old ones could be built. But then, I don't know about these matters, and have to trust to the experts of the power companies who will have considered all these options.

Oh, it's a dilemma. But that's why we have government enquiries. So that independent experts can discuss matters in a democratic fashion, and come to the best decision for the country.

Here's a sample solution - have one 'backbone', the A9. Make it dual carriageway all the way, with real junctions, and run the pylons down that backbone. Just 'scar' one main route, rather than ripping the country apart because it's the most direct route, or whatever reason they give for it.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Bag Test

You know you've reached an important point in your life when you read something like this and find it interesting!

Never mind, new series of "Life on Mars" starts soon. Nice to see the difference between the series 1 trailer, and the series 2 one. Acting's less wooden :)

If you're after fun, there's new UK adverts for the Apple Macs here. Good interview with Bill Gates on BBC's "Click" - he didn't use the words "Apple" or "Mac" or "OS X" once in reply to the interviewer who used them when talking about Vista.

Dave's End2End

"I'm, so Dave" Land's End to John O'Groats, without a clue.
Sorry, but I missed this one, picked it up from John Hee's blog. Sounds like a lunchtime read to me. Dave says on Day 1:

I haven't prepared much for this. I haven't definitively decided on a route. It's been a spur of the moment decision to attempt a forgotten long-held ambition. I've jacked in the day job in the hope that the time that this walk will take will allow me to think about what I'd really like to do with myself. As far as fitness is concerned, I've done some walking, and I've done some running. I've consulted the excellent website of Mark Moxon and I've purchased the book by Andrew McCloy. I've got the gear. I've got the time. Everything else I'll discover on the way.

I'm listening to The Steve Merchant show on BBC6 - where Dave's on after 4.15pm. I can honestly say I've never listened to BBC6 before. He's about 1:20mins into the show on the player.

Dave commented on Mark Moxon's LEJOG walk website. There's a whole different world out there!

I'm off to try the route file from Mark Moxon's site. I've seen that Google Earth allows more fun things than just zooming in on places, but I've never got round to working with it. As ever, too much to do, too little time. Or the expression I picked up last year: "you can do anything, you just can't do everything".

Stridingedge.net

Stuck in at work overworking to get things ready for the new block. At least I can look at photos like these from Sean at StridingEdge.net. And at least it's a unit on problem solving, so will be fun (by the time I get finished with it) - hmm, wonder if I can legitimately get the little darlings to plan my C2C?

I must stop using my evil laugh and grin; the lass who sits next to me at work is getting worried. Muhahaha.

Bowie's "Lets Dance" album playing through iPod/laptop combo. Scarpas on, "Keep on trekking" t-shirt under shirt, and Montane Verso over chair. Chill in the air - I must work faster, as I'm getting too comfortable in here. Got a pile of painting done last night, and have only 8 more infantry, and a mortar crew to complete; hopefully tonight. Nice to get something personal done at the weekend.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Tidying up

Found these links to follow up - they're taking up so much space on Outlook, I thought I'd just put them here until I got round to following them up.

No, I'm not untidy, just organised in multi-dimensions.

--

Oh, got a message from the MCoS that my membership card had been returned as "unknown at this address". Strange that. I hadn't moved, and last year's got through okay. Sounds like the Post Office doing their normal sloppy job - wonder what caused it this time? Might explain what happened to the stuff I never got before Christmas. Makes me proud to be British. I wonder if the Queen has these problems with her Post Office? Maybe she should look into it - I mean, they are her representatives on Earth. God bless you, Ma'am; now go and put some flames up the @rses of your staff rather than having the managers give more excuses and putting prices up again - none of which improves the service from the schmuck who can't deliver lots of post in limited time cos the number of posties have been cut back. As ever, the solution is simple - focus on the core business.

Later deliveries means I rarely see a post office worker on the streets to say "thanks for delivering the post". No sense of community. No wonder service declines. Now, why's that a radical thought?

Friday, 2 February 2007

YouTubing Again

Just back from watching HillwalkScotland's YouTube video of a trip round the Luss Horseshoe on the west side of Loch Lomond. Good piece, and interesting presentation. Something for the future, I think. Unlike some people who just jump in and do it. Let alone this kid, who isn't sat in front of a games console - he'll hurt himself, but WTH, didn't we all at that age?

TrailTube 2

Just noticed a few more YouTube videos from Trail. Is it me, or does Graham Thompson's voice remind you of anyone?

On the subject of YouTube, I must be knac...fatigued, as I found this hilarious.

Nothing to do with the outdoors, as I'll be stuck in at work this weekend prepping for the new block and finishing off paperwork, but Andrew Glazebrook's modeling work is great. Samples on his blog.