25 September 2009

UHT Cows

Proudly announced on a litre of Tesco's UHT British semi-skimmed milk: "Nothing added, nothing taken away". Where [we want] to know, do they get the semi-skimmed cows?

[New Scientist; 19/09/2009]

Apologia Americana

First of all apologies for the non-existence of postings for most of the last 3-4 weeks. Yes, you guessed we've been away and have struggled with the quantity of the work fore-log and post-log.

Almost 3 weeks in Washington, DC - partly at the 5th Biennial Anthony Powell Conference - was certainly different. I liked Washington; I didn't expect to. Apart from a couple of areas of high-rise office blocks it is a small and fairly human-scale city: most of the official buildings of the US government are 100+ years old, so usually only 4 or so (substantial) floors and built of light coloured stone. The public monuments are, as befits America, monumental. The streets are wide, often tree-lined, light and airy with an almost continental feel. The White House is a lot smaller than I expected and, err, white; you can stand at the railings in full view of, and not many yards from, the building and protest - unlike in paranoid London. Georgetown is full of very pretty late 18th century houses (a bit like the best parts of Chiswick, Kew or Richmond), but it is expensive!

The food was excellent, especially recommended are Papa Razzi and Mr Smith's. The beer was cold. The weather was hot - we didn't have a day under 75F - and humid but mostly dry. American service was not everything it is cracked up to be: the 50% of the time it was good it was excellent; when it wasn't the customer care was equally as bad as anything you'll find in Britain. And contrary to expectations, and warnings, the airport staff (immigration, security and customs) were polite and friendly - although immigration on the way in through Dulles Airport did take 90 minutes even at a quiet time, thanks to too few checkpoints open and a plane-load of Far Eastern tourists with large complex family structures in front of us in the queue. The taxis were friendly, efficient and much cheaper than in the UK; the metered cabs were 40% cheaper than I pay for a minicab in outer London, which makes them half the cost of London black cabs.

We even got taken to Colonial Williamsburg (thanks Alden!) which is rather delightful: interesting and a lot less Disney-esque than I expected; it isn't cheap though, but then it is a theme park of sorts. It was a bit too hot and humid for comfort though - but a good excuse for some extra traditional cider! But why does an historic attraction like Colonial Williamsburg need not one, but two, 18-hole golf courses? It beats me!

All in all a good time was had. The flights were fun, out over the spectacular fjords of Labrador and back over night. Photos to follow on Flickr when I get some time to sort out the decent from the dross.

10 September 2009

1 to 12 Meme


1 to 12 Meme, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This week's Flickr meme is to use the numbers 1-12 and see what we come up with! Here are mine:

1. One Minute Manager
2. Twins
3. Three Bridges
4. Four Feet
5. The Famous Five
6. The Prisoner; Number Six
7. Seven Dials
8. Eight-legged Arachnids
9. Nine Men’s Morris
10. Ten Little Nigger Boys
11. M-Theory, a variant of String Theory and one of the contenders for the cosmological "theory of everything" requires 11 dimensions of space-time.
12. Dozen Eggs

As always the photographs are not mine so please click on individual links below to see each artist/photostream. This mosaic is for a group called My Meme, where each week there is a different theme and normally 12 questions to send you out on a hunt to discover photos to fit your meme. It gives you a chance to see and admire other great photographers' work out there on Flickr.

1. Winter Break - Think Spring!!, 2. The Twins, 3. Railroad Bridge - Three Rivers Point, 4. Four feet, bottom view, 5. Vintage Famous Five Books Card Game, 6. THE PRISONER Vintage Steampunk Necklace by 19 Moons, 7. Seven Dials - London, 8. Spider, 9. Nine Men's Morris, 10. Ten Little Nigger Boys, 11. M Theory, 12. 101:365 One Dozen

Created with fd's Flickr Toys

07 September 2009

Niffs Nasty; Niffs Nice

A few days ago Hails over at Coffee Helps posted on the smells she most hates and those she most loves, which has inspired me to do the same. I've always known I have an excellent sense of smell; I can often smell things other people can't -- especially useful for gas leaks etc. But don't have a strong stomach to ho along with it. So here are my selections; they aren't necessarily the definitive top tens, but they're going to be pretty close.

Top 10 smells I most hate:
  • Sewers and drains (make me retch almost instantly)
  • Vomit (as above)
  • Anything stagnant (and again; I really do not have a strong stomach)
  • Gas (well yes; natural gas is actually odourless and has sulphurous compounds added to make it smell nasty and prevent you gassing yourself accidentally; old style coal gas had these smells in it naturally)
  • Sweaty unwashed people (yeuch!)
  • Tobacco (especially cigarette) smoke (despite once having been a smoker)
  • Stale urine (as in subways)
  • Rotten meat and fish
  • Pernod and absinthe (disgusting stuff; how can anyone drink these?)
  • Burning rubber (this is organic sulphur compounds again)
Top 10 smells I like:
  • Brewing coffee (even though I hardly ever drink it)
  • Baking bread (heavenly; no wonder supermarkets use it to encourage people to shop!)
  • Frying onions
  • Newly mown grass (always takes me back to my childhood, and my youth playing cricket)
  • Sea (wonderful fresh iodine smell which clears the head)
  • Wood smoke (which always reminds me of my youth and scout camp)
  • Roses (especially old roses which almost always have a wonderful perfume; why do modern rose have no perfume?)
  • Grapefruit oil (it's just so uplifting)
  • Christmas spices (that combination of orange, cinnamon, clove, etc.)
  • Pine trees (that fresh resinous smell which, like the sea, clears the head)
Anyone feel like contributing their favourite hated/loved smells?

06 September 2009

Wierd Books We Have (Not) Known

Abebooks is currently promoting some of the weirder books and literary oddities which are available. These include such delights as:

  • Ductigami: The Art of the Tape by Joe Wilson

  • The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories by Ailsa Surkis & Monica Nolan

  • Monk Habits for Everyday People by Dennis Okholm

  • The Great Pantyhose Crafts Book by Edward & Stevie Baldwin

  • Do-It-Yourself Coffins by Dale Power

  • and what is billed as the world's weirdest book: Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus

I think I'm glad I've managed to miss out on these, although I do have a copy of Bill Hartston's The Drunken Goldfish. What are your favourites?

What's in Your Bag Meme


What's in Your Bag Meme, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This week's Flickr meme is to share what we call carry with us day after day! What's in your purse, bag, pocketbook, briefcase, backpack, etc.? Here's my selection:

1. Moleskine notebook
2. Two mobile phones
3. Glasses cloth
4. Fuji F40fd camera
5. Keys
6. Coins
7. Sanford/Papermate PhD pen
8. Wallet (credit cards & cash)
9. Handkerchief
10. Extra strong mints
11. HP iPAQ
12. Pocket lint

As always the photographs are not mine so please click on individual links below to see each artist/photostream. This mosaic is for a group called My Meme, where each week there is a different theme and normally 12 questions to send you out on a hunt to discover photos to fit your meme. It gives you a chance to see and admire other great photographers' work out there on Flickr.

1. 24 aug 09 "ostrich", 2. Sister two, 3. Utata IP72 - Easter Weekend, 4. Fuji Finepix F40fd Gunmetal, 5. Skeleton Watches & Pocket Keys, 6. 10 ancient Indian gold coins, 7. Paper Mate® PhD™ Multi™ Multipurpose Writing Instrument, Pen/Pencil/PDA Stylus, Medium 1.0 mm Point Pen, Fine 0.5 mm Point Pencil, Blue, 8. Tea wallets, 9. Julian waves it up, 10. extra strong mint, 11. HP iPAQ 210 Enterprise Handheld, 12. WTJ pg35/36 07/03/09 Collect Pocket Lint

Created with fd's Flickr Toys