31 December 2008

Predictions for 2009

I’ve found a number of websites which purport to predict what will happen in 2009; for instance here, here and here. All of this looks to me like fairly non-specific commonsense readings of how the prevailing circumstances may develop, which anyone can do.

On that basis, and based partly on these predictions but mainly on my own hunches, here is my reading of what might happen in 2009.

  1. There will be an assassination attempt (possibly more than one) on Barack Obama after his inauguration as US President. There is an evens chance it will succeed.
  2. The Euro will continue to weaken against the dollar; in consequence both France and Germany may threaten to leave the Euro system. Conversely, due to its weak economy, the UK may try again to join the Euro in the mistaken belief it will make things better; it won’t. If this succeeds it will spell a further major downturn in the UK as businesses attempt to use the conversion as a means of increasing their margins at the expense of the customer.
  3. If Gordon Brown makes another major miscalculation (either in terms of policy or the public’s mood) he will be forced out of office resulting in an early General Election. The result will be a hung parliament with a minority Labour government, which because it is unable to get legislation through will end up deepening the economic woes of the UK. However if Gordon Brown escapes further miscalculations the General Election will be between March and May 2010, with the Labour government being returned to office.
  4. Russia will swing back towards Communism and the corruption that goes with it. This leads to a worsening of relations between the US and Russia, with interesting knock-on effects on the US space programme (NASA could abandon manned space exploration).
  5. There will be a major pollution event which threatens thousands of lives somewhere in the world during the year, possibly in France, Spain or India.
  6. There is also likely to be a major dam rupture killing thousands. This will probably be in the Far East (China is most likely). The appropriate government will be accused of not doing enough, quickly enough, to help but in practice it doesn’t care about losing a few thousand of its people. The dam will not be repaired due to the geology and the high cost.
  7. Having had years of drought there will be heavy rains and major flooding across large areas of Australia.
  8. Britain sees a number of its top companies fail; the holiday, aviation, automotive and construction sectors are most at risk. Of the airlines Alitalia, Ryanair and bmi look vulnerable, as do BA and airport operator BAA.
  9. There will be at least two further failures (or at the least major restructurings) amongst the major High Street retailers; choose from Dixons, Morrisons, Halfords, Primark, Iceland, B&Q, Boots, Superdrug, T.K.Maxx. At least two of the top 10 UK supermarket chains will fail and/or merge.
  10. At least one UK High Street bank will also fail. It will not be rescued by the UK government, who will also not allow it to be absorbed by any of the big four banks.
  11. Work will start on the third runway at Heathrow; however it will be abandoned after little more than 2 years (and with upwards of £5bn wasted) due to a major downturn in the aviation sector worldwide.
  12. 2009 will also see the start of serious international lobbying to move the 2012 Olympics away from London in favour of an existing, cheaper, venue – all due to the worldwide economic downturn. A final decision will not be made until late in 2010 or early 2011; it could go either way.
  13. A well known celebrity (possibly Victoria Beckham) will become pregnant with a long awaited daughter, but she will have a life-threatening miscarriage.
  14. On a global note, Pakistan and Iran will continue to be a threat to world peace with both being driven further into the arms of Islamic extremists.
  15. The global economy will continue to have a very bumpy ride in 2009 with a level of stability returning sometime after mid-2010. However this stability will be at a lower level than heretofore as there is a growing global realisation amongst the people that our previous greed has generated the current cycle of gloom. Governments and business leaders will however not see this and will continue to try to ramp economies back to their pre-2008 levels; they will fail.
  16. There is no indication of any truly major earthquake or volcanic event in 2009; the catastrophically big events are still 2-3 years away. That is not to say there won’t be earthquake events, just that they will not be the cataclysmic ones we are all awaiting.
So there you have it – a mixture of my reading of the current environment and some wishful thinking dressed up as a set of predictions. See anyone can do this based on absolutely nothing and it looks authoritative. I hope I have this all wrong (there is no reason it should be right; I have no known special psychic powers) as it is so gloomy. But I shall claim a triumph if I score anything over a 30% hit rate.

Quote: Boring

If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.

[John Cage]

Zen Mischief Awards for 2008

Here is my personal Honours List for 2008:

Most Annoying Person of the Year: Gordon Brown (together with the whole of the current Cabinet)

Most Dangerous Person of the Year: A tie between Robert Mugabe and George W Bush

Most Boring Event of the Year: Beijing Olympics

Biggest National Disaster of the Year: Government bailout of the banks

Star of the Year: Noreen – for her book, Dictionary of Children's Clothes, and for still being married to me!

Person with the Least Clue this Year: Gordon Brown

Personal Achievements this Year: (a) I'm still working, (b) I lost 30Kg

Personal Highlight of the Year: Short Break in Germany in February

Personal Lowlights of the Year: (a) Current work project, (b) no major holiday for the second year running, (c) lack of time for the Anthony Powell Society, my family or myself, (d) I put back on 3-4 Kg having lost it.

Personal Unfulfilled Dreams this Year: (a) No golden handshake, (b) no big lottery win, (c) can't yet retire in comfort.

30 December 2008

Medieval Credit Crunch

I always knew there's nothing new under the sun, but I hadn't really expected to find out that there was a true medieval credit crunch. But according to News for Medievalists there were indeed problems with the banking system at the time of Edward I in the 1290s. There is indeed nothing new!

My Game Meme


My Game Meme, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This mosaic is for the Flickr group My Meme, where each week there is a different theme and 12 questions which you have to answer with a photo from another Flickr photographer -- it makes you look some of the other great work on Flickr!

This week the theme is games.
I found this quite hard as I don't generally do things like board games and party games; they aren't part of my family's culture.

Questions and Answers:
1. What is your favorite board game? Scrabble
2. What is your favorite card game? Shopping (with someone else's credit card) :-)
3. What is your favorite TV game show? University Challenge
4. Who is your favorite TV game show host? Roland Rat
5. What was your favorite childhood game? Monopoly
6. What is your favorite computer/online game? Flickr
7. What is your favorite Monopoly game piece? I don't recall what we had, but it wasn't these modern silver tokens; anyway I always preferred having hotels on Mayfair and Patk Lane!
8. What game do you consistently win at? Failure :-)
9. What is your favorite party game? Drinking!
10. What is your favorite video game? I don't have one
11. Who do you like to play games with the most? Me! -- that way I get to win
12. What game does your life most resemble? Chaos

And here are links to the individual photos:
1. Scrabble Tile Charm - Theme: Winter, 2. credit cards, 3. University Challenge, 4. Roland Rat Rat Rapping, 5. I LOVE Photo Editing! -- Girls Playing Monopoly, 6. Flickr meltdown, 7. Park Lane Hotel, 8. Cascading Failure, 9. Cat drinking at the tap 1, 10. Book of secrets, 11. Color Me Crazy, 12. An Oil Painting of Organized Chaos

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

29 December 2008

Life after Shopping

The Times; 29/12/2008Today we did something unusual for us -- we went shopping, together, to one of our nearby town centres. It could just be the last time we ever do this, given the current economic climate. And also given what we found ...

The art shop we particularly went for was shut -- for stocktaking; not advised on their website! Unsurprisingly T.K.Maxx were selling cheap clothes and Christmas leftovers; unenticing. Everywhere was much emptier than expected, except Costa Coffee which was full. Coming up for lunchtime and there was hardly a queue for the cashiers in the bank. Woolworth's was shut; gone. Adams were selling everything at 50% off -- not surprising as they won't be there much longer. I noticed several other closed or boarded up shops. M&S food was only 75% stocked. Noreen wanted some jeans from M&S; no chance of anything she'd wear. WH Smith looked as if it had been ravaged by a herd of hungry wildebeest followed by a troop of starved chimpanzees -- oh, sorry they were the shoppers, mostly from the local council estate! Smiths had no newspapers worth reading but thousands of trashy magazines; and coloured pens etc. in at least four different places in the shop. The indoor market was empty.

On the plus side? I eventually found most of the stuff I wanted in Smith's and a newspaper at the kiosk by the station; I was in an out of the bank in 5 minutes; we were home in time to make our own lunch rather than eat out; and we got the afternoon to do naff all as well. Modified rapture!

Sadly I fear (and I hope I'm wrong) this is the way 2009 is going -- downhill all the way. Which puts Libby Purves's article in today's Times in interesting perspective. I'm not going to try to precis the article (that would be a stern test for even a master of English language), so follow the link and read it for yourselves. Suffice it to say that the article headings read:

The high street must find life after shopping
We need to rediscover the pleasures of old-fashioned street life, where spending is not the only way to enjoy ourselves

Re-reading that out of context is slightly mind-boggling! Are we really being enjoined to bring back such pleasures as the apprentice boys playing football with a pigs bladder (also known as a yoof brawl) or the ladies of the night? Still I suppose at least the latter do keep money moving round the economy.

28 December 2008

Recycle Your Christmas Cards

Those of us who still believe in giving and receiving Christmas cards generate a vast mountain of waste paper every year. This paper is valuable and important because of (a) the number of trees used to make it, (b) its ability to be recycled into more paper products and (c) its potential to occupy valuable landfill and generate greenhouse gasses.

Now I know some people recycle their cards by reusing (parts of) them to make gift tags or other cards. But most of us don’t. So this is a plea … please recycle your Christmas cards!

If you are in the UK** I would ask that you use the scheme run by The Woodland Trust in conjunction with WH Smith, Tesco, TK Maxx and Marks & Spencer. The funds generated from this scheme will be used by The Woodland Trust to plant thousands of trees at sites across the UK – trees which will enhance our enjoyment of the countryside, restore some of Britain’s lost forests and make a major contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gasses.

The scheme’s essential details are:
When: 2-31 January 2009
Where: WH Smith1, Tesco2, TK Maxx and Marks & Spencer3
Why: To create much needed new UK woodland; help to create the largest new native forest in England.
Who: The Woodland Trust
How: Take your cards to bins in participating stores and The Woodland Trust will recycle them and use the proceeds to plant thousands of trees at five UK sites

1 UK mainland WH Smith high street stores (excludes all WH Smith Travel stores, Isle of Wight, Belfast and Channel Islands)
2 Tesco supermarkets plus selected Tesco Express outlets
3 M&S stores plus selected M&S Simply Food outlets

A few more facts from The Woodland Trust’s FAQ:

1. If everyone in the UK recycles just one Christmas card this will generate enough money to plant 15,000 trees – that’s a wood the size of 30 football pitches – and save 1570 tonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases.

2. In the 12 years this scheme has been running, 600 million cards have been recycled. This has enabled the Woodland Trust to plant 141,000 trees, saving 12,000 tonnes of paper from landfill and preventing 16,000 tonnes of CO2 from going into the atmosphere.

3. The UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe with just 12% woodland cover compared to the European average of 44%. Only one-third of UK woodland is wildlife rich broadleaf woodland, something The Woodland Trust is aiming to double.

4. The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity with 300,000 members and supporters. The Trust has four key aims: (a) No further loss of ancient woodland; (b) Restoring and improving the biodiversity of woods; (c) Increasing new native woodland; (d) Increasing people’s understanding and enjoyment of woodland. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,100 sites across the UK in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to its sites is free. Further information can be found at http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/.

What about Christmas wrapping paper and Christmas trees? These are not included in the scheme but most local authorities in the UK have schemes for recycling these too. For instance my borough collects Christmas trees at about 20 key sites (mostly local open spaces) across the borough and then composts the trees. And non-plasticised gift wrap can be recycled with other paper recycling.

** If you’re not in the UK then please hunt out the equivalent scheme in your country and at least make sure your Christmas cards, wrapping paper and Christmas trees don’t end up in landfill.

Name Meme

So here is another meme which I came across quite some while ago courtesy of Katyboo.

1. What is your name? Keith

2. Complete the following statements using the first letter of your name to start each answer.

A four letter word: Kite
A Girl’s Name: Keeley
A Boy’s Name: Kingsley
An Occupation: King
A colour: Khaki (it's the only one I can think of)
Something you wear: Kilt
A Beverage: Keemun Tea (can anyone think of another?)
Food: Kiwi Fruit
Something Found in a Bathroom: Key (well there's one in my bathroom!)
A City: Köln
A Country: Kazakhstan
Song With a Girl’s Name in the Title: Kate, Ben Folds Five (1997)
Something You Shout: Kill!
Celebrity: Kylie Minogue
Cartoon Character: King Rollo
Flower: Kalanchoë
Animal: Kiwi
Fruit: Kiwi
A Book Title: King Arthur's Round Table: An Archaeological Investigation by Martin Biddle
A Film Title: King Kong

3. And now tag 4 or 5 of your friends. I tag anyone who wants to take up the baton!

26 December 2008

Lap with Cat Attached


Lap with Cat Attached, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This week's self-portrait: 52 Weeks 44/52 (2008 week 52).

Harry the Cat dozing on my knee on Boxing Day afternoon: "Please I do like it when the humans sit down by the fire and do nothing!"

24 December 2008

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year
to all our readers

22 December 2008

Modern "12 Days of Christmas" Meme


Modern "12 Days of Christmas" Meme, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This week's Flickr photo-meme ...

OK so we all know the old classic “12 Days of Christmas” but let’s bring it into modern times and rewrite this classic for fun! Because who even wants those milking maids? [Well I did put in a bid!] In the classic each gift gets more and more extravagant – let’s see what we can do to top each item in modern terms!

So here is my choice ...

Twelve Lamborghinis
Eleven soccer players
[tho' they probably cost more than the Lamborghinis!]
Ten crates of bubbly
Nine magic carpets
Eight morris dancers
Seven deadly sins
Six lotto numbers
Five special tarts
["Oooo, you are naughty, Mr Horne!"]
Four million pounds
Three lucky wishes
Two digicams
And whole pile of really good books


1. 200510 lamborghini gallardo, 2. David Beckham, 3. Champagne Mercier à Epernay _ 2, 4. Magic Carpet, 5. Morris dance, Whitby, 6. 365 Day 195. 7 Sins Week. Lust., 7. Magazine page numbers #1, 8. strawberry tarts, 9. The Four Royal Portraits, 10. Make A Wish, 11. my new olympus, 12. A Rainbow or Just a Pretty Pile of Books?

As always these are not my photos but please follow the links to enjoy the work of the photographers who did take them!

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

21 December 2008

Torso


Torso, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This week's self-portrait: 52 Weeks 43/52 (2008 week 51).

Ran out of time this week, so here's one from the archives!

17 December 2008

Quote: Rules

Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

[Dalai Lama]

Zen Mischievous Moments #147

Girls, Be very careful if you think of taking your husband or boiyfriend to the supoermarket with you. Maybe they really are better left at home watching the football! …

Dear Mrs. Murphy,

While we thank you for your valued custom and use of the Tesco Loyalty Card, the Manager of our store in Banbury is considering banning you and your family from shopping with us, unless your husband stops his antics.

Below is a list of offences over the past few months all verified by our surveillance cameras:

June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's trolleys when they weren't looking.

July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

July 7: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to feminine products aisle.

July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official tone, 'Code 3' in Housewares … and watched what happened.

September 15: Set up a tent in the outdoor clothing department and told shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring sausages and a Calor gas stove.

September 23: When the Deputy Manager asked if she could help him, he began to cry and asked, 'Why can't you people just leave me alone?'

October 4: Looked right into the security camera; used it as a mirror, picked his nose, and ate it.

November 10: While appearing to be choosing kitchen knives in the Housewares aisle asked an assistant if he knew where the antidepressants were.

December 3: Darted around the store suspiciously, loudly humming the 'Mission Impossible' theme.

December 6: In the kitchenware aisle, practised the 'Madonna look' using different size funnels.

December 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed, yelled 'PICK ME!' 'PICK ME!'

December 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, assumed the foetal position and screamed 'NO! NO! It's those voices again.'

And last, but not least:

December 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited a while; then yelled, very loudly, 'There is no toilet paper in here.'

15 December 2008

Christmas Likes and Dislikes Meme!

This weeks meme can go one of two ways! Are you still decking the halls and excited about Christmas or are you being a Scrooge this year? You can do either your Christmas Likes or your Christmas Dislikes Meme!

Well I've done both. So here first are my Christmas Dislikes:


1. A present you’d hate Sox, handknitted
2. Worst place to spend Christmas Anywhere religious
3. Hated carol Away in a Manger
4. Worst Christmas food Too much chocolate
5. A non-Christmas tree It isn't Christmas without a tree!
6. Your worst ever present A tacky plastic shoehorn from my aunt in Canada; I wrote her a poem of (non) thanks and haven't had a present from her since!
7. Worst thing about Christmas Day itself The rest of the year
8. Nasty Christmas Drink Pernod; disgusting at any time!
9. A non-decoration A crib; isn't it idolatry?
10. Annoying Lights Illuminated inflatable santas
11. A seaside postcard OK here's one I've not seen before
12. Person you least like to spend Christmas with Any religious maniac

1. christmas socks, 2. the reason Jesus came the first Christmas.jpg, 3. Lindsey & Sydney singing Away in a Manger, 4. Chocolate Fondue Fountain, 5. No more Christmas tree :-(, 6. Dice.jpg, 7. Winter, England., 8. Pernod 2, 9. Christmas Crib from Ortisei, 10. Inflatable Diptych, 11. Postcard from Dick, 12. aah, Capitol Hill in the springtime...



And now for my Christmas Likes:


1. A present you’d like £2M
2. Favourite place to spend Christmas At home
3. Favourite carol The Boar's Head
4. Favourite Christmas food Smoked salmon; we've made ourselves a tradition to have smoked salmon sandwiches and champagne at lunchtime on Christmas Day and then our Christmas meal in the evening
5. A Christmas tree Oh there has to be a well decorated tree
6. Your best ever present Noreen, my wife; we agreed to marry just before Christmas and told our parents over New Year
7. Favourite thing about Christmas Day itself Snow, not that I've ever seen a white Christmas
8. Favourite Christmas Drink Champagne, or beer!
9. A decoration A wreath on the front door
10. Fairy Lights Yes, and lots of them
11. A Christmas card or greeting OK, here's a Christmas card
12. Person you most like to spend Christmas with Noreen

1. Hidden Money - Can you see what I see?, 2. Christmas Home, 3. Boar's Head Carol, 4. smoked salmon, 5. Golden Christmas, 6. Just exactly what DOES happen when you kiss a toad?, 7. Harz Railway Winter 2006 #8, 8. Celebration toast with champagne, 9. Christmas wreath, 10. Day 265 : Fairy lights, 11. Christmas card, illustration, 12. Norn Albion

As always these are not my photos but please follow the links to enjoy the work of the photographers who did take them!

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

14 December 2008

Reincarnation

We were talking over dinner tonight, to a background of renaissance Christmas music (mostly Giovanni Gabrieli) and the subject of reincarnation came up – as it does with us not infrequently.

As regular readers will know I don’t believe; I don’t believe in very much of the non-ethereal variety. Except that, to quote Shakespeare, “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (Hamlet, Act I, scene v). One of the things which I do consider at least likely is some form of reincarnation. No, I know it doesn’t make sense; I just have this inner feeling that it is so, at least in some way, although quite how I have no clue. It’s real gut feeling stuff; and because I have this feeling it makes me reluctant to be very prescriptive about other peoples’ beliefs being completely wrong – who is to say that their beliefs aren’t right (at least for them) – rather than just not something I can feel the need for.

Anyway Noreen and I were remarking on the fact that we still don’t understand how we ever got together and have stayed together – even to the extent of enjoying good sex at 5.30 this morning (and that we calculate is 30 years almost to the day since we first had sex). Noreen also commented that while not understanding how we have got this far, she feels we may well have done it before. Hmmm, yes, maybe so. Although maybe not this way round; who knows we could have been a couple of Tudor gay boys?! And even maybe not as humans.

Noreen went on to comment on the fact that I have the feeling of having been a religious in a previous life. Well yes. It might account for my “irrational” liking for the traditional Latin Catholic liturgy, despite my lack of belief. (Mass is a spell; and it is especially potent in Latin.) I do have the feeling that it is all just too familiar and I could well have been a catholic priest; although not necessarily in England; perhaps Venice or the like around the time of Gabrieli or Monteverdi? I don’t know! Not really much more than that.

I also have the feeling of connection with the Chapel Royal at around the time of William Byrd (so late 16th century). (Byrd is one of my heroes. Why?) Again it just feels all too familiar and comfortable. I doubt that I was Byrd himself and I am doubtful that I was a Tudor recusant (although both are possibilities). More likely I was a singing boy or perhaps another of the Gentlemen of the Chapel Royal, or even a priest associated with the chapel establishment. What I can be fairly sure about is that if I was a priest at this time, it was not the same priesthood as the one I mentioned above – because remember that at the time of William Byrd England was protestant and although considerably more catholic than we traditionally think, it was wholly Prayer Book and not Latin Tridentine. Again I can’t pin this down any better; which leads me to feel there is a good reason why and that I shouldn’t try.

I do also wonder why it is that I find some aspects of other religions comfortable and familiar: some aspects of Buddhism; odd glimmers from Zen; some pieces of Shinto. (Why else am I drawn irrationally towards Japan?) Have I had lives in these environments? Similarly have I lived another life in Norway, to which I also feel drawn? I have no idea. Except that I have no illusions that I would likely have been a peasant wherever I was; maybe a priest or monk or some similar in some places/times (that’s just another gut feeling). We can’t all have been Henry VIII or Cleopatra!

It is interesting too that I feel I've likely not always been male. Maybe not always human, but I’m less certain about that. Why should I always have been male in any previous life? If I have been a woman at some time(s) then it might explain why I have this curiosity about what it is like to be a woman (a curiosity which my late father also professed). No, I have no illusion that I would have enjoyed/preferred being female, or it would have been better – I’m sure I wouldn’t; different, yes, but unlikely to be better or worse; but I would like to have that understanding.

Yet there are some eras for which I have no feeling and little interest: the Age of Enlightenment; the Victorians; the Romans; Egypt and Arabia; Africa. Maybe I was never there; or I was too abused? Who knows? Who will ever know about these things?

My only other feeling is that reincarnation – if it indeed exists – isn’t simple. It isn’t “my soul from this life is passed entire to someone in a future life”. (Let’s leave aside the Hindu possibility that we can become other animate beings -- cows, flies, fish, whatever. In passing I once had a Hindu colleague who was strict vegetarian; he wouldn’t even eat an egg because it might be his grandmother reincarnated!) No, I have this feeling that our souls may well subdivide, and possibly combine with bits of other souls, before being “re-implanted” for the next life. However a quick search has not led me to any religious system which expresses reincarnation in this way.

That is about as much as I know; if indeed I know that much. And it is all based on absolutely nothing apart from some (some will say, delusional) inner gut feelings and wonderment at why some of these things are so comfortable and familiar. Nothing at all concrete to go on – but then which of us has? Deeply unsatisfactory for a scientist, a heretic and an unbeliever!

(I've put a fair few links in this item in the hope it may help others to understand some of the background.)

Follow this Weblog

I've now added a box on the right where you can sign up and tell me that you follow this weblog. Here's what Blogger say about following:
What is Following?
Do you have a favorite blog and want to let the author and readers know that you are a fan? Well now you can do that and more with the Blogger Following feature! You can even keep track of the blogs you follow via your Reading List on the Blogger dashboard.

Of course you don't have to use the Blogger Reading List to follow; other weblog providers will have other methods, and in fact I follow other people's weblogs using their RSS feeds and Google Reader. As with so much it is a question of what works for you!

So it would be nice (for me anyway) if those few of you who do take an interest in what I have to say here (however fitful that interest may be) sign up as followers. If nothing else I then know a little more about my audience! Thank you!

13 December 2008

Credit Crunch Amusements

Came across these the other day.

Things are now so bad with the credit crunch that women are having sex with their husbands, because they can't afford the price of batteries!

What's the capital of Iceland? About £4.20

You know there's a credit crunch on, when you go to the cash point and the machine asks if you can spare some change...

I bought an advent calendar from Woolworths yesterday - but all the windows on it are boarded up!

Well they amused me! For about 10 seconds.

12 December 2008

Scaly


Scaly, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This week's self-portrait: 52 Weeks 42/52 (2008 week 50).

This week I've been feeling remarkably scaly.

New 12 Days of Christmas Meme!


New 12 Days of Christmas Meme!, originally uploaded by kcm76.

An extra Flickr PhotoMeme this week: A New Twelve Days of Christmas ...

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is an English Christmas carol which enumerates a series of increasingly grandiose gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas. It has been one of the most popular and most-recorded Christmas songs in America and Europe throughout the past century. [Wikipedia]

Create your own series of 12 gifts you would want ...

One true love
£2M
Three ravishing concubines
Four miles of my own private sunny, sandy shoreline with nudist beach
Five stone less weight
Six winning lottery numbers
Seven days a week, every week, of warm summer sunshine
Eight hours good sleep every night
Nine percent interest on our savings
Ten green bottles of wine a week
Eleven acres of natural ancient woodland
Twelve month-long holidays a year

1. Mon Amie la Rose - IMG_1165a,** 2. Red Head, 3. Heart,** 4. Morning Light,** 5. 5-peace-stones, 6. lottery, 7. Too good to eat?, 8. tsukareta nya~,** 9. leon's nine lives,** 10. wine bottles-10, 11. Buche bei Oberbantenberg,** 12. Wintery Temple**

As always these are not my photos but please follow the links to enjoy the work of the photographers who did take them!
(The starred ** photographs are from my Flickr favourites.)

And it is worth viewing this on black to bring out the colours!

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

10 December 2008

Clothing Mini-Meme


Clothing Mini-Meme, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Here's a mid-week Flickr mini-meme I did some while back. Why post it now? Because I feel like it! :-)

1. Painted on Jeans... 17/366, 2. Swimwear, by TBA Clothing-250, 3. i'm crazy, but you already knew that, 4. ruby fishing in the emperor's new clothes on the dock up at camp, 5. naked feet, 6. Nudity

A mid-week mini-meme!
As usual the questions and answers and my usual tongue in cheek (but still semi-serious) take:
1. What do you wear to work? Jeans; just jeans mostly as I now work from home most days, and that's really only so I can go quickly to the door; a t-shirt and sox only if I'm very cold, like today
2. Who is your favorite designer? You mean someone designs clothes? Oh dear!
3. Where do you get most of your clothes? From my wardrobe of non-clothing, of course
4. Where do you wish you could buy more often? The Emperor's new clothes store
5. What is your favorite type of shoe? Naked feet; I'm sure barefoot is actually much better for the feet
6. What is your favorite around the house outfit? Nude when possible; clothed when necessary

As always these are not my photos but please follow the links to enjoy the work of the photographers who did take them!

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

09 December 2008

Oliver Postgate RIP


Oliver Postgate, creator (with Peter Firmin) of many seminal and brilliant children’s cartoons, has died at the age of 83.

Postgate’s first creation was Ivor the Engine (in 1958), followed many, many others including Noggin the Nog, The Clangers and the universally loved Bagpuss. Although I never saw these as a kid (my enlightened(?) parents refused to have one of these “appalling peddlers of trash” TVs until I was at university) I found both Bagpuss and The Clangers as an adult. I loved them and I still do, to the extent that some of the "catch phrases" have become a part of our ecolect, notably "the mice on the mouse organ", "Professor Yaffle", "the Soup Dragon" and "Blue String Pudding".

Here is not the place to write a full scale obituary, but you can find more about Oliver Postgate and his work at:

I have to admit to agreeing with Sarah Vine in the last of those linked pages, that this should be a national day of mourning. The world needs more Like Oliver Postgate.

08 December 2008

12 Days of Christmas Meme!


12 Days of Christmas Meme!, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This week's Flickr PhotoMeme

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is an English Christmas carol which enumerates a series of increasingly grandiose gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas. It has been one of the most popular and most-recorded Christmas songs in America and Europe throughout the past century. [Wikipedia]
Let's celebrate the season with a 12 Days of Christmas Meme!

A partridge in a pear tree
Two turtle doves
Three French hens
Four calling birds
Five golden rings
Six geese a-laying
Seven swans a-swimming
Eight maids a-milking
Nine ladies dancing
Ten lords a-leaping
Eleven pipers piping
Twelve drummers drumming

1. Partridge in a pear, 2. Turtle Doves 01, 3. Three French Hens, 4. 4 calling birds, 5. Five Gold Rings, 6. 6 Geese a swimming...., 7. On the seventh day of Christmas..., 8. Eight maids a-milking, 9. Nine ladies (20), 10. Ten Lords a-Leaping, 11. 11 pipers piping, 12. Twelve Drummers Drumming

As always these are not my photos but please follow the links to enjoy the work of the photographers who did take them!

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

07 December 2008

Openings of the Year

There's a penchant at this time of year for summarising your blogging year by posting the first sentence of the first post of each month. This year I've made an effort to write punchier (first) sentences, and in writing generally to tighten up my rather prolix prose style. The following demonstrates that I "could do better". Here is my contribution ...

January. Yes, you read it right!

February. Going to the dogs is what a lot of children in Shropshire might be doing today.

March. I'm still working through the photographs I took on holiday in German a few weeks ago.

April. In the Barber's Shop. (One in a series of a self-portrait a week.)

May. “Sitting quietly, doing nothing, / Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.”

June. Albertine. (Photograph of a rose from our garden.)

July. We've not done a Friday Five for a long time, so here's this week's.

August. The “Feedback” column this week’s New Scientist contains this item.

September. Is it my imagination, or is the wheat harvest about a month late this year?

October. “I moved to London in 1973 to study Chemistry at University College, London.”

November. I've no idea now where I found this, but it struck a chord.

December. Anti-Haircut (Another in the series of a self-portrait a week.)

The Verdict? Keep taking the tablets!

05 December 2008

100 Things

Jamie over at Duward Discussion has posted this meme. It's not unlike the 100 Things to do Before you Die on my Zen Mischief website, so I thought I'd give it a go!

To participate, just copy and paste the list into your own blog, and color all of the things YOU have done (mine are in blue, but use any colour you like). Things you haven't done will be in black. Add some commentary if you wish. Please add a pointed back to here and/or add a comment pointing from here to your posting. And tag others if you wish.

Enjoy!
  1. Started my own blog - you're looking at it!
  2. Slept under the stars - it's amazing the things one did when one was young
  3. Played in a band - for the school play when I was 18
  4. Visited Hawaii
  5. Watched a meteor shower - more than once
  6. Given more than I can afford to charity
  7. Been to Disneyland/world
  8. Climbed a mountain - something else I did in my youth, in Scotland and the English Lake District
  9. Held a praying mantis
  10. Sung a solo - at the school carol service when I was 18
  11. Bungee jumped - no and I'm unlikely to!
  12. Visited Paris - several times
  13. Watched lightning at sea
  14. Taught myself an art from scratch
  15. Adopted a child
  16. Had food poisoning - who hasn't?
  17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
  18. Grown my own vegetables
  19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France - failed this too, despite several visits to Paris
  20. Slept on an overnight train - another youthful adventure; returning from holiday in Cornwall with my then girlfriend when we were students
  21. Had a pillow fight
  22. Hitchhiked - more of the stupidities of youth!
  23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - but don't tell anyone; it was a long time ago
  24. Built a snow fort
  25. Held a lamb
  26. Gone skinny dipping - surprisingly for a confirmed nudist I've never managed this
  27. Run a Marathon
  28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
  29. Seen a total eclipse - of the moon; sadly never a total solar eclipse (but several partial ones)
  30. Watched a sunrise or sunset - both more than once
  31. Hit a home run
  32. Been on a cruise
  33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
  34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors - yep, several of my ancestors were born in and around New Romney, Kent; been there several times; next visit I must look for the graves
  35. Seen an Amish community
  36. Taught myself a new language - when I was younger I tried teaching myself Esperanto and shorthand (failed at both) and I've learnt several programming languages from the manuals
  37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
  38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
  39. Gone rock climbing - another idiot thing I did when young
  40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
  41. Sung karaoke
  42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
  43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
  44. Visited Africa - no and I'll opt not to, please
  45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
  46. Been transported in an ambulance
  47. Had my portrait painted
  48. Gone deep sea fishing
  49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
  50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris - despite several visits to Paris I've not done this
  51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling - water and I don't mix; it's as much as you can do to get me in a swimming pool
  52. Kissed in the rain
  53. Played in the mud - find me a kid that hasn't!
  54. Gone to a drive-in
  55. Been in a movie
  56. Visited the Great Wall of China
  57. Started a business
  58. Taken a martial arts class
  59. Visited Russia
  60. Served at a soup kitchen
  61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies - done lots of other things to do with scouting tho'
  62. Gone whale watching
  63. Got flowers for no reason
  64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
  65. Gone sky diving - there have to be easier ways to commit suicide
  66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
  67. Bounced a check
  68. Flown in a helicopter - I'd like to tho'
  69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
  70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
  71. Eaten Caviar - and I don't care if I never do so again
  72. Pieced a quilt
  73. Stood in Times Square
  74. Toured the Everglades
  75. Been fired from a job - came pretty bloody close; I resigned "under duress"; another stupidity of one's youth
  76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
  77. Broken a bone
  78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
  79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
  80. Published a book - if being joint editor of some conference proceedings counts
  81. Visited the Vatican
  82. Bought a brand new car
  83. Walked in Jerusalem
  84. Had my picture in the newspaper - in the local newspaper when young and in the scouts; I still have a copy too
  85. Read the entire Bible
  86. Visited the White House
  87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
  88. Had chickenpox
  89. Saved someone’s life
  90. Sat on a jury - it was interesting too!
  91. Met someone famous - does author Ian Rankin count?
  92. Joined a book club
  93. Lost a loved one
  94. Had a baby - I somehow think I'm the wrong gender for that as well as being a bit old now
  95. Seen the Alamo in person
  96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
  97. Been involved in a law suit
  98. Owned a cell phone - I'm on at least number 8, but then I have had a mobile for something like 15 years, and I currently have three in working order!
  99. Been stung by a bee
  100. Ridden an elephant
I'm not going to tag anyone, join in if you like!

03 December 2008

Advent Calendar Meme


Advent Calendar Meme, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This week's Flickr PhotoMeme

Make a classic Advent Calendar. Chose 25 pictures that will put you in the Christmas spirit!

1. Christmas Tree Fruit, 2. Christmas Gold Organza Felt Star 1, 3. Christmas Lights in London: South Bank Centre, 4. Christmas Light Box #2, 5. Dartmouth Christmas, 6. Holly, 7. Georgia Orthodox Christmas, 8. Cracker Jack, 9. Christmas Rose, 10. Christmas 2004: Theotokos of the Passion, 11. Mistletoe / Ökseotu, 12. Yule log fire, 13. WHAT? No Santa Claus?, 14. Christmas Candle, 15. Christmas mince pies, 16. Glowing in the Snow, 17. Christmas Market, 18. Christmas wreath, 19. Christmas Bauble, 20. Mulled Wine, 21. Winter colors, 22. three kings, 23. robin, 24. Brest - Chestnuts Roasting on an open fire - December 24th - 25th 2006, 25. Simply Merry Christmas Cards 2

As always these are not my photos but please follow the links to enjoy the work of the photographers who did take them!

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

Anti-Haircut


Anti-Haircut, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This week's self-portrait: 52 Weeks 41/52 (2008 week 49).

This week I'm trying to avoid going to the barber.