28 February 2010

Thing-a-Day : The Full Monty

Thing-a-Day : The Full Monty, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Having completed this year's Thing-a-Day challenge -- something new each day in February -- here is the complete set, in order. Sadly thew quality is a bit variable, but it does provide an interesting look back over the month (well the bits I'm going to tell you about anyway) and it was an interesting challenge to try to do something inspiring each day.

1. Thing-a-Day 1 : Self Portrait, 2. Thing-a-Day #2 : Water_Tablet, 3. Thing-a-Day #3 : Postbox, 4. Thing-a-Day #4 : Tree Yoni, 5. Thing-a-Day #5 : Cheese & Onion Muffins, 6. Thing-a-Day #6 : Yellow Tulip, 7. Thing-a-Day #7 : Haiku, 8. Thing-a-Day #8 : Study in Construction, 9. Thing-a-Day #9 : 3 Giraffes, 10. Thing-a-Day # 10 : Sunrise, 11. Thing-a-Day #11 : Blue Anemone, 12. Thing-a-Day #12 : Collage "Retail Therapy", 13. Thing-a-Day #13 : Red Wine, 14. Thing-a-Day #14 : 60163 Tornado, 15. Thing-a-Day #15 : Spring Meme, 16. Thing-a-Day #16 : Boys on the Tube, 17. Thing-a-Day #17 : 62nd Larch in Winter, 18. Thing-a-Day #18 : Haiku, 19. Thing-a-Day #19 : Supermarket, 20. Thing-a-Day #20 : Cyclamen, 21. Thing-a-Day #21 : Haiku, 22. Thing-a-Day #22 : Newsletter, 23. Thing-a-Day #23 : Aboriginal Art, 24. Thing-a-Day #24 : Off My Trolley, 25. Thing-a-Day #25 : At the Dentist, 26. Thing-a-Day #26 : Mother, 27. Thing-a-Day #27 : Crazed Window, 28. Thing-a-Day #28 : Done!

You can find all the Thing-a-Day entries at www.thing-a-day.com as well as some entries in the Thing-a-Day Flickr Group.

Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Thing-a-Day #28 : Done!

Thing-a-Day #28 : Done!, originally uploaded by kcm76.

The final Thing-a-Day for this year. I started with a self-portrait, so I’ll end with one.

27 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #27 : Crazed Window

Thing-a-Day #27 : Crazed Window, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Today I’ve made a magic circle from a rejected photo of a smashed, Washington, DC shop window which I took last September.

26 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #26 : Mother

Thing-a-Day #26 : Mother, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Today we made a 250 mile round trip to see my aged mother and take her to see several residential homes for the elderly.

25 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #25 : At the Dentist

Thing-a-Day #25 : At the Dentist, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Well what can I say, except I had to visit the dental specialist in Harley Street today. It was slightly surreal. This is my impression of the afternoon (rain omitted).

24 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #24 : Off My Trolley

Thing-a-Day #24 : Off My Trolley, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Taken a few days ago at the supermarket.

23 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #23 : Aboriginal Art

Thing-a-Day #23 : Aboriginal Art, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Spotted this piece of aboriginal art on the kerb outside my doctor’s surgery in west London today. It is of the ancient rare form created by the local Workman Tribe.

22 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #22 : Newsletter

In the last few days, and again today, I have been making the next edition of “my” literary society’s quarterly Newsletter. The Editor sends me the text (and sometimes pictures) for the major stories; I fill in all the Society news, etc. and typeset it for the printers. This issue isn’t finished yet as I still have a couple of pieces to write and a couple of pages to fill, but it should get to the printer in the next week. Meanwhile here’s a quick scan of my scribbled upon draft front page.  For more details on the Anthony Powell website.

21 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #21 : Cyclamen Haiku

Following on from yesterday’s photo of the cyclamen in our garden, here’s a quick linked haiku ...
purple flowers
and cyclamen leaves
winter sunshine

20 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #20 : Cyclamen

Thing-a-Day #20 : Cyclamen, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Part of the clump of cyclamen in our garden. It's been in flower all winter!

Body Comfort & Sex Education

The eponymous author at Oh My God, That Britni's Shameless wrote an interesting post a day or so ago about sex education.  What I like about Britni is that she is not only completely open minded but she has the confidence to say exactly what she thinks.  Which doesn't mean I agree with everything she says; for instance her assertion "It’s just a natural and accepted thing that men are sexual, so they’re going to talk about sex and masturbation and dick size".  Well, no, sorry, at least in my experience, men don't; they're too uptight - but that may be different for the younger generation.

Britni's post, while being largely aimed at sex education (and just as applicable in the UK as in America), adds support to my long-held belief that we would all be better adjusted mentally, have a lower rate of unwanted pregnancies, and be in better health generally, if we were less repressed, better educated and more comfortable with our bodies.  As an example the US and UK have the two highest rates of unwanted teenage pregnancy in the western world; compare with the laid-back, free-thinking Dutch who have the lowest.  See this Wikipedia article (though some of the date here is quite old) and the diagram in this article from the Independent; see also, inter alia, here, here and here.

If we are to achieve this change of mindset we have to do two things: (a) restructure the brains of our revered leaders (political and religious) giving them a complete paradigm shift in their thinking on all things sexual, and then (b) investing in much better, more open and more caring sex & health education, vide the Dutch.  Along the way this, of course, will mean a change in attitudes towards nudity.

But of course the status quo is self-fulfilling and comfortable; change is uncomfortable and no-one much likes being outside their comfort zone.  Our leaders are repressed, so the modus operandi follows this, making the (unthinking) populous repressed, and they become or elect our leaders, and so ad infinitum.  I don't know how we break the cycle.  All people like me can do is to keep expressing our views in the hope that the message does eventually seep into the cracks in a few brains and start that paradigm shift.  So I'm not putting any money on this change happening any time soon, but hope springs eternal.

19 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #19 : Supermarket

Thing-a-Day #19 : Supermarket, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Today I made a trip to the supermarket for the weekly meat and fruit & veg; here are some of my acquisitions on the way to the car.

18 February 2010

Quantum Spin-Drying

Two pieces from the Feedback column in New Scientist of 13 February which especially "amused" me.
The care instructions for the dog kennel John Straede bought advised: "Hand wash in warm water with mild detergent.  Do not spin dry."

Secondly, and probably more worryingly ...
FEEDBACK has observed that the word "quantum" often translates to "magic" or "expensive fruitloop magic remedy".  Threatening to put this observation on a sound academic footing, Graham Barrow carried out a pilot literature-survey.

In just 5 minutes a famous web search engine showed him many variants, starting with - of course! - "quantum crystal healing".  Then there was "quantum kinesiology", which presumably begins with the recipient's arm in a superposition of floppiness and firmness, and "quantum reflexology", which could lead to your feet changing position without passing through intervening space - handy for avoiding the cracks in the pavement.

"Quantum homeopathy" is so obvious in retrospect that we're ashamed we didn't invent it: the remedy does and does not contain any molecule of the claimed active substance, until you open the bottle.

In "quantum acupuncture" we imagine the needle both punctures the skin and misses it altogether.  And would a "quantum massage" involve a hand all over your body at once?  But what on earth, or anywhere else, is "quantum reiki"?  We fear there may be answers - and more examples.

Like Feedback, my mind boggles slightly over the concept of "quantum reiki".  What's worse is that in about two minutes I have found "quantum hypnosis", "quantum dowsing" and "quantum meditation".  I think I might be getting an attack of quantum worry!

Thing-a-Day #18 : Haiku

Following Tuesday’s trip to London’s Docklands area my contribution for today's Thing-a-Day is a haiku:
high-rise finance
in London Docklands
lashing rain

Quote : Life

Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.

[Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire; Bottiglia]

17 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #17 : 62nd Larch in Winter

Today I drew the 62nd Larch Tree in Winter. It took me roughly 60 seconds. :-)

Tax Advice

Ken over at HMRC is Shite today highlights the apparent possibility of legislation which would ban anyone from giving tax advice which reduced the client's tax bill. And the way the proposed legislation works this would mean no-one can do any tax work for anyone else.  Ken quotes the following clauses from the draft legislation:
"Tax agent
2 (1) A person is a tax agent if the person assists another person (a 'client') with the client's tax affairs.
(2) A person may be a tax agent even if—
(a) the assistance is given free of charge,
(b) the assistance is given otherwise than in the course of business,
(c) the assistance is given indirectly to the client or at the request of someone other than the client, or
(d) the assistance is not given specifically to assist with the client's tax affairs, but the person giving the assistance knows it will be used, or is likely to be used, for that purpose.
(3) Assistance with a client's tax affairs includes assistance with any document that is likely to be relied on by HMRC to determine the client’s tax position.
(4) Assistance with a client's tax affairs also includes—
(a) advising a client in relation to tax, and
(b) acting or purporting to act as agent on behalf of a client in relation to tax.
(5) If a client is assisted by more than one individual in a firm or business, each individual may be regarded as a separate tax agent." 
This is craziness gone loony!  It is not just another long step towards a police state; I would put it in the very small class of things which I describe with a word I seldom use: obscene!  It would effectively mean that not only can I not discuss any financial matters with my 94 year old mother because even if all I say is "Put your money in an ISA" I am advising that she reduce her tax bill, which would now be an illegal act on my part.  Worse it means that I cannot even prepare my mother's tax return for her even if she is unable to write or has dementia.  I'm sure that isn't what is intended but that is certainly how I (and others; see Ken's posting) read the words.  Now how crazy is that?!?!

WTF are they thinking?!?!?!

16 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #16 : Boys on the Tube

Thing-a-Day #16 : Boys on the Tube, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Today we took our friend Sue and her two boys Sam (with book on head) and Harry to the Museum in (London) Docklands. Here’s a montage of two frames I made of the three of them on the London Underground – with Sam and Harry wrecking their copies of Keri Smith’s This is Not a Book.

The Museum in Docklands is well worth visiting; there was much more to see than I’d expected and it was almost all interesting. It charts the history of the Port of London from Roman times to the present and currently has an exhibition on “London, Sugar and Slavery”. Admission is £5 for adults (which entitles you to free entry for a year!); free for under 16s. Follow the link for museum details.

They also have a good café (called 1802) where we had coffee, lunch and afternoon tea with the boys devouring copious quantities of chocolate brownie. And the café does hand-cut, really chunky chips to die for. We all enjoyed the food and I doubt any of us need to eat again this week!

The downside? The Underground ride home was horrible: unstable, wet (it was pouring with rain all day), stuffy, humid, crowded, hot. Yeuch! It was a good reminder of why I hate the Underground and why I used to have panic attacks when I had to use it regularly. But I got to go on the DLR, which somehow I’ve avoided up to now.

But otherwise a good day!

15 February 2010

Winter Meme

Winter Meme, originally uploaded by kcm76.

The weekly Flickr meme currently has a seasonal theme. This week is WINTER. So here are my 12 photographs on the subject of winter.

1. Winter Be Gone
2. Winter's Story
3. summer or winter?
4. winter meditation: loving-kindness
5. ... a touch of yellow ...
6. The Long Winters
7. Winter blues?
8. Winter Beach Huts
9. It's Winter Time
10. Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)
11. Winter Party Beach Party 2008
12. Penultimate Winter Rose

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.

Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Thing-a-Day #15 : Spring Meme

Spring Meme, originally uploaded by kcm76.

The weekly Flickr meme currently has a seasonal theme. This week it is SPRING! Here are my 12 photographs on the subject of spring. (And I still have to catch up on last week's Winter Meme, too.)

1. Clip Spring
2. Spring
3. finally... Spring!
4. Spring!
5. Untitled
6. Rusty Spring
7. Plastic pegs
8. Metal Spring
9. Rainbow Magic Spring
10. Pegging Out
11. springs
12. Inward Spiral

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.

Created with fd's Flickr Toys

14 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #14 : 60163 Tornado

Thing-a-Day #14 : 60163 Tornado, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Today I went for a trip on a train pulled by the fantastic new steam loco, Tornado. Yes it is a completely new build but to the original A1 design from 50+ years ago – the last real A1 was scrapped in (from memory) 1966. There is more on the building of Tornado at www.a1steam.com. It is a fantastically big brute of an engine, but incredibly graceful too; and it runs like a dream.

This shows 60163 standing at Platform 1 of London Paddington at the end of today’s tour.

[15/02/2010: corrected the link to the Tornado website.]

13 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #13 : Red Wine

Thing-a-Day #13 : Red Wine, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Today I made a bottle of red wine empty, pleasingly with no assistance. :-)

12 February 2010

Quote of the Week

Brilliant quote from Katy over at Katyboo1 earlier in the week:
They were not naughty.  They were just small boys.  Together.

Thing-a-Day #12 : Collage "Retail Therapy"

Scan of an A3 collage I did from odds and ends of retail ephemera for the Thing-a-Day Project. Scanned in two sections then joined and tidied up in Photoshop.

11 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #11 : Blue Anemone

Thing-a-Day #11 : Blue Anemone, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Single flower from a bouquet my wife was given a few days ago. after having given a lecture.

10 February 2010

Thing-a-Day # 10 : Sunrise

Thing-a-Day # 10 : Sunrise, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Sunrise on Tuesday 9 February taken through my study window. Composite panorama of two shots. For those who know the area this is looking east towards Horsenden Hill (the trees on the horizon at right).

09 February 2010


The latest (March 2010) issue of the BBC's popular science magazine Focus contains an article busting some of the world's most common myths.  For example:
Goldfish have short memories. 
False; they have memories which last at least a week according to experiments.

Sugar makes kids hyperactive. 
Experimentally proven to be false.  But that'll be about as popular a result as the finding that MMR vaccine doesn't cause autism.

Men with big feet have big penises. 
Sorry girls, also false, according to just about every survey ever conducted.  There is no reliable way to determine the size of a guy's lingam without seeing it.  Enjoy!

At the end of the article they add a few new myths suggested by readers, including the following with rather zen qualities ...
In the era of black and white films,the world was black and white.
According to which logic the world didn't exist before films were invented.  Interesting idea for a thriller story though!

When you jump up, the world moves forwards a bit before you land, so you touch down in a slightly different place.
This is an old one and I'll get into trouble with the science community here but I reckon this is actually true.  When you jump the world moves on, but so do you as you have angular momentum (essentially forward motion) from when you were attached to earth.  However you will, I suggest, be slowed very marginally by friction with (resistance from) the air and thus will land in a subtly different spot from where you jumped.  But this effect will be so tiny it will be unmeasurable even after a huge number of jumps.  So for all practical purposes this is also false.

People with outie belly buttons are more attracted to people with innie belly buttons because they fit together: like a jigsaw
Would that life were so simple.  But if it were around 80% of us would be single as outies make up only around 10% of the population.  And no-one knows why.

Every zebra, when scanned by a barcode reader, comes up as 'frozen peas'.
Unless there is some strange default barcode which defaults to "frozen peas" (very unlikely) this can't be true as a zebra's stripes do not conform to the coding of thick and thin lines which make up a barcode.  But I love the zen quality of the idea.  Another good plot-line for a short story?

Anyone got any other new myths?

Thing-a-Day #9 : 3 Giraffes

Thing-a-Day #9 : 3 Giraffes, originally uploaded by kcm76.
Having seen chrishoneybee’s Thing-a-Day entry from last week and her reference to Ola Helland’s 1 million giraffes project, I thought I should contribute. So here are three giraffes which will shortly be winging their way to Ola. It's just a bit of fun!

08 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #8 : Study in Construction

Study in Construction, originally uploaded by kcm76.
This is part of the roadworks by Pett's Hill railway bridge not far from my home. This work has been ongoing for over two years as they have had to rebuild the railway bridge and at the same time reconstruct the roadways; and then there are delays because the railway line is the boundary between London Boroughs of Ealing and Harrow, so there are three organisations (Network Rail being the third) providing funding and trying to agree what should be done! An interesting conglomeration of the usual construction site mess.

07 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #7 : Haiku

Something different for Sunday's Thing-a-Day; a haiku ...
winter sun
from blue sky
supermarket car park

06 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #6 : Yellow Tulip

Yellow Tulip, originally uploaded by kcm76.

I was worried I wouldn’t get to do anything new for Thing-a-Day today (tho’ I do have a few posts on standby from earlier in the week) but here’s a yellow tulip from a bunch of flowers my wife was given a few days ago. Shame the photo is a bit underexposed.

05 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #5 : Cheese & Onion Muffins

Today I made muffins, which are incredibly easy as well as hugely versatile. And you don't have to stick to the omnipresent blueberry or chocolate chip varieties as this shows.

The recipe is adapted from “Savoury Cheese Muffins” in Muffins Fast and Fantastic by Susan Reimer.

This is what I did, but it is almost infinitely adaptable for other savoury ingredients including broccoli, peppers, chilli, mushroom, courgette, cherry tomatoes, ham.

9 oz (255 g) plain flour
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
½ tsp (2.5 ml) bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp (1.2 ml) salt
2 oz (60 g) grated strong cheddar cheese, plus a bit for topping
1 egg
2 tbsp (30 ml) fine white granulated sugar
½ large red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used fresh tarragon)
1 tsp garlic paste
2 tbsp sesame seeds
4 fl oz (120 ml) plain yogurt
6 fl oz (180 ml) milk
3 fl oz (90 ml) good olive oil (vegetable oil is OK)

1. Prepare muffin tins. These tend to stick to paper liners so just using a well greased non-stick tin is probably better.
2. Preheat oven to 200°C for a conventional oven, or 180°C for a fan assisted oven.
3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Stir in grated cheese, sesame seed and onion.
4. In another bowl, beat egg with a fork. Stir in sugar, yoghurt, milk, oil, garlic paste and fresh herbs.
5. Add all wet mixture to dry mixture and, with a metal spoon, mix ingredients together with a minimum of stirring. The batter will have a “thick dropping” consistency.
6. Fill muffin cups three-quarters full. Sprinkle tops with extra cheese.
7. Bake for about 20 minutes until tops are browned and spring back when pressed gently. (Mine could have done with an extra couple of minutes.)
8. Cool for several minutes to make removal easier.

Best eaten fresh and slightly warm.

04 February 2010

Thing-a-Day #4 : 10000 Yonis of Mother Earth

My original intention was to make cheese and onion muffins today, but the day hasn’t worked that way. So here is a a photo I took this morning instead. It’s one of the 10,000 Yonis of Mother Earth (as in Hinduism and in Jung).

And here, in case anyone is too confused, is the original image straight from the camera.

03 February 2010

I Don't Believe It!

Surfing the intertubes, as you do, I have just happened upon an Australian men's underwear and swimwear company called ...  


In my defence I was actually looking for swimwear! 

I can't help feeling that only Australians would get away with it!

Thing-a-Day #3 : Postbox

Thing-a-Day #3 : Postbox, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Paintingised shot of the pillarbox outside Waitrose at South Harrow.

02 February 2010

Thing-0a-Day 02; Water_Tablet

Water_Tablet, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Paid a flying visit today to the Kew Bridge Steam Museum in west London, which occupies a former waterworks site. Amongst the exhibits of enormous steam-driven beam engines for pumping water I found this tablet, obviously from an original waterworks site in east London. I shall definitely go back to take more photographs.

01 February 2010

Thing-a-Day 01; Self Portrait

I thought I should start this year’s Thing-a-Day with a self portrait, but given that I look so scruffy as well as fat and unfit it seemed better to doctor the results in PaintShopPro!  So here I am this morning standing outside the supermarket.

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