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Bramblings


Ramblings on life

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Apparently, despite the economic squeeze, more children than ever are learning to play an instrument.  This is a Good Thing as music is good for the soul.  Well, some kinds of music are.  Thing is though more children are learning to play electric guitar than are learning to play the violin.  "So?"  I hear you ask, Dear Reader.

  Well, if children don't start on the violin, they might not go on to viola/cello/double bass and other 'classical' instruments.  Look out, Dear Reader, there could be a shortage of orchestral musicians in some years time.  Thinx: now could be a good time to start learning a 'classical' instrument.  If there is due to be a shortage of 'classical' instrumentalists then surely there will be a greater chance of those who can play getting into an orchestra.  Hmmm, what does that pressage for the standard of orchestral music?  Do you want to be an orchestral musician?

  Ok, so if you're Really Good you get to play in the BBC Prom Concert series.  You get to travel the world - though quite what the view is from various concert halls . . .  You also get to travel the world with your instrument.  Remember, Dear Reader, and make sure your instrument is easily portable and, preferably, robust.  Travelling with a violin can be 'interesting'.  Travelling with a cello can be difficult - not all airlines will allow you to book a seat alongside for your cello to travel.  Many will insist you leave it to the tender mercies (!?!) of the baggage handlers.  Fortunately you can get Really Solid travel cases for cellos.  Should you be a double bassist - cello problems times four!

  Srsly, Dr Rdr, learn to play the piccolo, or flute, or clarinet, or oboe - the latter two will need some assembly.  Bassoons are beginning to push things a bit, even the ordinary one is kinda big, a double bassoon is more than doubly so.  Whatever, the fact that you are playing woodwind will give you tremendous lung capacity and powerful diaphragm muscles.  Play something fast and/intricate and you have your cardio-vascular workout worked out, and all while sitting down!

  But to return to the first paragraph - more children are learning to play the electric guitar . . .  I blame shows like the X Factor and Britain's Got Talent.  I mean, how many contestants for either show do you see playing violins?  How many are doing some form of 'pop' music - either as a soloist or as part of a band?  There you are then.  Children are watching these TV shows and wanting to copy contestants.  So they want to learn electric guitar, electric bass, and drums.

  Mind you, electric instruments are good for one thing - practicing.  Instead of plugging your guitar into an amp you can plug it into earphones.  That way you can practice til the cows come home, are milked, let out again, the milking parlour scrubbed down and pristine for the next milking and the milk cooling in the tank awaiting the bulk tanker calling to collect it - and no-one else need know.  You don't even need to have an acoustically insulated room in which to practice, unlike with more 'traditional' instruments.  That's got to win you points with your neighbours!

  Having lived in homes with a viola-player-learner, a trombone-player-learner and a couple of electric keyboard-player-learners, audibility of practice has to be born in mind.  Though I suppose you could always invest in a decent pair of earphones/ear defenders in an attempt to find some peace.  Supplying the same to your (complaining) neighbours might be problematic!

  Of course, you could always take up that most portable of instruments - the human voice.  You will require a certain amount of basic musical ability - like being able to carry a tune in a bucket, and voices other than Soprano tend to be at a premium.  You can get together with others and sing - Barbershop, Choral, Opera, Gilbert and Sullivan, Musicals even.  If you are good enough you could become a soloist - Opera or Recital.  Or, following the X Factor generation, someone like Madonna!

  Either way, whether you are an instrument learner, an instrumentalist, a singer or an appreciative listener (to the music, not the practicing) - y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
artistic artistic
Current Music:
Oboe Concerto in Eb major - Bellini
* * *
So Oscar Pistorius has been convicted of Culpable Homicide (Manslaughter - UK).  Learn from his experience, Dear Reader, do not go running around your home at night, with a gun.  Most of all, if you suspect you have intruders, do not shoot them through a door - cos you won't be able to identify them and you never know, they might not be intruders.  They might actually live with you and have forgotten their doorkeys!

  Above all, do not go firing your gun into suspected 'intruders'.  Ok, someone is inside your home, you are jittery, I understand that.  But if your defence is going to be based on the statement that you never intended to kill or seriously hurt anyone . . .  Surely the fact that you fired four bullets into them, through a door, will rather argue against you?

  It really hasn't been a good few years for ol' Oscar, has it?  2012 he wins his fight and gets to run against able-bodied sprinters in the London Olympic Games and wins medals.  He goes on to win medals at the Paralympic Games too - 2012 was the high point.  2013 he 'accidentally' shoots his girlfriend, 'mistaking her for an intruder'.  2014 he is tried for the killing and is convicted of culpable homicide.  Fortunately (for him) he is rich, his lawyer will appeal.

  Actually what has also interested me about this trial is the fact that the judge is black.  So what?  You may say, Dear Reader.  I'm old enough to remember the aparteit regime in South Africa.  That finally ended with the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.  That was around twenty years ago, so of course some black people would have risen to positions of authority.  Good for the Judge, I say.  I do wonder what some of the older people of the court were thinking about there being a black judge in charge of the trial of a white man.


  Meanwhile researchers from Cambridge and Paris have found that people were able to classify words in their sleep.  Any task that could be performed automatically could be maintained during sleep.  Tasks that could not be automated would stop as soon as sleep took over.  Research is now focusing on how to take advantage of our sleeping time - and whether there are associated costs and if it is worth it.

  I knew it!  It was only going to be a matter of time before it was discovered that people really could work in their sleep.  It was only a matter of time before someone tried cashing in on it.  Mind you, some people seem to manage to get up, get into work, work all day and return home in their sleep.  Someone is already cashing in on such actions - whether it's the employer or the employee . . !


  So there you are, Dear Reader, put your gun away, lock the drawer/cupboard door, keep the key safely, pick your job and you could sleep all day and all night!  Y'all have a good day('s sleep?) now!
Tags:
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
contemplative contemplative
Current Music:
Brahm's Lullaby
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I watched the inauguration of the Invictus Games on the One Show last night.  The Invictus Games is a pet project of Prince Harry, who set it up, in a very short time, for injured servicemen of many nations to compete.  Quite impressive, thirteen national teams, from six (or was it eight) from Afghanistan to ninety-eight from the US and 100 from the UK.  Guess who's going to get the most medals!  Not for these athletes marching around on specially levelled/flattened arenas.  Oh no.  They all walked/wheeled across grass, a bit like the first Olympic games (the modern ones) I suppose.

  That's grass as in a municipally owned field, not the local bowling green.  If they'd rehearsed at the same location then the field was further chopped up by the field-gun-carriage wheels of the King's Troop practicing their contribution.  That means the grass was lumped and rutted.  Yet they all just walked/wheeled across it regardless.  Well, they are ex-army/navy/air-force/marines!

  As for the teams, there were amputees, blind, more or less any recoverable-from injury - and there are plenty of those now that the (British) injured can be air-evacuated and back in the UK within 36 hours.  Plus there were those still suffering from PTSD. At last, after one hundred years, Shell Shock has finally been recognised as a real condition and sufferers are beginning to receive treatment.  Too many of them still seem to end up homelss but . . .

  For that matter, the Armed Forces have finally gotten around to taking proper responsibility for their members**.  If one gets injured then the medical facilities are there, including physiotherapy etc to ensure that they can function to the fullest possible extent before they are offloaded, sorry, discharged back onto civvy street.  Which is where they can find it incredibly lonely.  None of the 'we're all in this together' camaraderie, banter and watching each other's backs that they had while in uniform.  Possibly there are parents, or a partner, maybe even children, but that's not the same.

  And this is where sport comes in, giving the injured goals to aim for.  Can they do this, then this, then this?  Then can they compete?  Even against others in the same hospital.  Eventually the competition goes national, and, as for the next four days, international.  And the camaraderie is back, because they're all in the same boat in one way or another, even competing.

  So all the best to all of the competitors.  Here's hoping they all do well, raise awareness, that the games result in better and more inclusive treatment for disabled people everywhere - be they ex-servicemen or civilians.  This is one sporting event I may just take an interest in!

  Y'all have a good day now!




  *Second line of Invictus by William Ernest Henley, which is the theme for the Games.

  **Pity the Government doesn't take similar responsibility, instead of trying to cut their benefits!  After all, it's the government's fault they're injured in   the first place!

  There's another view of the event here, from someone who lives nearby.
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
proud
Current Music:
I Vow to Thee, My Country - hymn
* * *
I'm not entirely sure whether the weather is Autumn-ish yet, but the days are definitely getting shorter.  H came to say goodbye this morning and it wasn't yet light outside.  Then last night, even though the overcast was clearing, it seemed to get dark very early, like before 8pm.  Ah well, 'twill be Equinox in less than two weeks so I suppose it's only to be expected.

  Meanwhile the days continue to be warm, and overcast thus keeping in the warm.  Forecasts keep predicting a clear sky during the day but round here the overcast seems to take all day to burn off.  Mind you, the Harvest Super Moon is shining out really brightly at night.  Apparently it's full moon tonight.  I suppose the trees will start turning colour soon too.  Ah, season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and all that!

  The Scottish Independence Referendum is approaching too, and before Equinox.  As things are going the 'Yes' vote is taking an increasing share of the opinion polls, it reached just over half at the weekend.  And suddenly Westminster are coming forward with plans to increase the powers which would be available to a still-united Scotland.  Now I try not to be a cynic, but honestly, if Westminster was going to devolve these powers why wait until now to tell the Scots?  It's that kind of obvious bribery which might well persuade more Scots to vote 'Yes'.  That and the fact that if the 'Yes' campaign wins the Scots will have all those powers, plus more!  I don't know, I really don't.

  Back to Nature - a young man who has a real eye for natural detail has been taking photographs of such things for a while now.  He's really good, he has a following, he's going places with his art, and he also has Down's Syndrome.  His pictures are amazing, he is amazing.  So there you are, you, too, are amazing.  And wild Nature is the most amazing of all!

  So there we are.  As of tomorrow we hit the season of family birthdays.  Pretty soon I shall have to get out all the socks I've knitted for family women this year, parcel them up and send them off.  Half of them will make timely birthday presents, the other half can have them now and get the benefit well before their respective birthdays.  I mean, why make her wait until early February to keep her feet warm?  It might be chilly this winter.  You never know, it might even be cold!

   And on that thought I shall leave you, Dear Reader.  Y'all have a good (shortening) day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
contemplative contemplative
Current Music:
Autumn from The Four Seasons - Vivaldi
* * *
There's going to be another supermoon tonight.  No, Dear Reader, it won't be wearing its underpants over its tights - though that is one way to keep the darn things up!  Apparently this is the third supermoon this year, third consecutive month.  Tonight is lunar perigee, so it'll be looking biggest and brightest of all - I know it's been shining brightly the past couple of nights cos they've turned clear after being overcast most of the day.  Hmmm, what time's moonrise?  Maybe I'll try looking.  Knowing the way things go round here it'll probably be cloudy.  Mind you, if it isn't overcast the rising moon will look huge.  It always does, even at apogee.  Once it's moved higher up the sky it'll look smaller.  Apparently that's called the 'Moon Effect' and no, the scientists and astronomers don't know why it happens either.

* * *

  Oh look, there's been a review and now MPs are recommended to get a 9% pay rise - £67,000 at present, £74,000 with increase.  Everyone else has been getting pay increases of up to 1%, capped by law, if they've had any increase at all.  Apparently party leaders have said that such a rise is 'unacceptable'.  The chap in charge of the pay review body, a Mr Boo (!!!), says that MP's salaries have 'fallen behind' others working in comparable public sector roles.  Indeed, some are now regarding the £74,000 figure as being 'at the low end'!  Mr Boo said that pay needed to be 'fair' to attract good candidates.  I wonder how much Mr Boo is getting paid?

  Yes.  Well.  I suppose it's better than back in the 'good old days' when a putative MP needed a private income to be able to afford to represent his constituency but . . .  What happened to people going into politics because they wanted to change things for the better?  What happened to MPs being there 'for the good of their constituents'?  Or are we such a money-centred society that to get anyone to do anything they have to be paid?  And what does that say about MPs, and would-be MPs?

  Then there were the not so distant MP expenses scandals, not to mention some of the current ones (they'll come out in time) - what does that say about MPs anyway?  Does it imply that most, if not all, of them are money-grubbing, self-serving, ego-maniacs?  Sorry, Dear Reader, sometimes it's hard not to be cynical.

  Apparently the new salaries will not cost the tax payers any more than at present.  Yeh.  Right.  Dave Prentis, general secretary of the public sector union Unison, said it was wrong for MPs to get the pay increase when "people can't put food on the table or afford their meals and, in order to pay their bills, need to go to payday loan companies".  I'm not a Unison member but  I'm very much inclined to agree with Mr Prentis.

  Each MP will have the right to decline the proposed increase.  I'll be interested to see who, if anyone, does!  Right, 'scuse me while I go let off steam somewhere else.  Y'all have a good day now!
Tags: ,
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
annoyed annoyed
Current Music:
Money makes the world go round - Cabaret
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Do you like cookies, Dear Reader?  No, I don't mean the software thingies you get implanted on your computer if you visit some websites.  I mean the things the Cookie Monster, and that bear on The Andy Williams Show, go wild for.  OK, so my age is showing, so what, you already know we have adult children, and have had for some years now.

  Anyhew, back to the cookies.  I like the oatmeal and raisin cookies you can get at Subway.  H likes their chocolate chip cookies.  Pardon?  Of course I like the chocolate chip cookies, but oatmeal and raisin are the 'healthy option'.  I can then go on and have a bar of chocolate later on, not having had any chocolate beforehand.  You have to consider these things, Dear Reader.  Nut cookies?  A complete waste of cookie dough!

  So I was browsing my usual list of blogs and knitblogs - yes, I regularly browse blogs written by knitters.  How else is a woman to improve her techniques and find inspiration.  Yes, even socks can be improved by some inspiration.  That and some good sock yarn.

  But back to cookies.  One of the sites had a link to a cookie recipe.  A chocolate chip cookie recipe.  What's more, it's a customisable chocolate chip cookie recipe! A scientifically tested customisable chocolate chip cookie recipe no less!  You like your cookies chewy?  Use bread flour.  Puffy?  Include more baking soda.  Gooey?  Add more flour.  And so it continues.

  The one fly in this seemingly ideal cookie recipe is that it doesn't actually include the cookie recipe itself.  Hmmm.  Wait, there's a link - to the Nestle Toll House recipe.  A quick survey of which shows it to require easily available ingredients.  You just need to have an American measuring cup, or a translation thereof into sensible quantities.  Of course, you could just go ahead and use any cup which takes your fancy, but I think that might come unstuck when it came to adding the eggs.  As any Reader knows, eggs come in interger quantities - usually by the half-dozen.  They may vary in size but they don't come measurable by the cup (any cup, not just the American Cooking Cup)!

  The recipe also calls for 12oz Nestle semi-sweet chocolate morsels.  Blow that for a lark, Dear Reader!  Just go get a 12oz bar of good quality chocolate and chop it up.  Or go for a 14oz bar and treat yourself to the 'spare bits'!

  The recipe also calls for a cup of chopped nuts.  Ignore that and use them to make a decent nut roast - that is if you've chopped the nuts yourself.  If they're pre-chopped and anywhere near their 'best before' date throw them, maybe to the squirrels in the local cemetery park.  As your nut roast they'll make it taste cardboardy.  Guess who's done that before!

  And there you are.  I haven't actually used this recipe.  Just one warning.  It's American.  Non-American Readers may find this too sweet.  Apparently you can reduce the amount of sugar by a fair bit (maybe to half a cup of each) without spoiling the resulting cookies too much.  I guess the testers at Time didn't think of that.  It's an American thing, apparently they (Americans) rarely think of anyone else!

  The next thing I'm aiming to make is Hummus.  We had some shop-bought the other day.  It was nice but lacked texture.  So this time we've got a can of chick peas (Garbanzos) which I shall drain and crush with my rolling pin (can also double as a Rounders bat), but not today.  Today is warm.  Not main warm but too warm to want to move about too much.  The clouds are low and the air just isn't moving.  w00t!  for high pressure!

  Anyhow, if it's cooler where you are, or you don't mind the warm, y'all have a good cookie making day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
creative creative
Current Music:
Great British Bake Off - theme music
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Have you come across Shaun the Sheep, Dear Reader?  A zany creation by Aardman Animations, a spin-off from Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave.  He's had his own series on Children's BBC, with another spin off series for the evergreen Timmy the Lamb.  As in the manner of all the best children's programmes, Shaun the Sheep is a good watch for all the family and Aardman have a real well-spring of creative ideas for episodes.  As with the Wallace and Gromit films, Shaun is worth watching again, and again.  Once for the story then again (and again) for the little details Aardman throw in because they can.

  Shaun hasn't been on CBBC recently, so I'm not sure visiting BBC iPlayer will be of assistance.  Maybe a search of YouTube might prove fruitful, if not a total distraction.  Anyhew, those marvellous creatives at Aardman have come up with Shaun the Sheep: the Movie.  As this is a stop-motion production it is taking quite a long time to film, but latest estimates are for February 2012, or Spring 2012, which, even at these latitudes, is a bit later than February.  Whatever, it's an Aardman production.  It's got sheep, it's got 'people' (human ones), it's got big red buses, it's got Timmy the ever-lamb, it's got a suitably complicated plot and it'll have a successful ending.

  Shaun the Sheep: the Movie - coming to a cinema near ewe!
Tags:
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
amused amused
Current Music:
Sheep may safely graze
* * *
I'm not sure I believe this, it's only just turned 10am and the (evening?) paper is lying there on the door mat!  Lying next to it somewhat later was our certificate telling us we have twinned our toilet with one in Kapondo, Mapanza, Zambia, Africa.  I can feel a visit to the Atlas, or Google Earth, coming on.

  Writing of toilets - have a look at this, improving the quality of life in a 'temporary' settlement near Nairobi, Kenya.  You see, you encourage people to install toilets and the number of flies drops, the incidence of diseases like diarrhoea drops, general health improves, schooling improves, ability to work improves, you employ someone/several people as toilet cleaners and keepers, others are employed to haul the 'sludge' away to a composting site.  Then local farmers can use the compost to enrich their land and increase their crops.  Provided the waste is properly composted it's a win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win-maybe-even-win situation.  And whereever the toilet is situated, the smell in the surrounding area improves, which has got to be an improvement if you live in a shanty town!

  The only downside of such an arrangement is that you need peace for it to work properly.  Having various armed groups fighting through an area letting off mortar bombs only turns things back into the mess there was before, or worse.  Getting peace is also a political thing, unfortunately we can't do something about it voluntarily -- unlike with the toilet situation.
* * *
I think most schools round here went back yesterday.  Certainly it's quieter today, and there were quite a lot of cars going past around 3pm yesterday.  Good grief!  If the school is that local what the heck are you doing driving your child to it?  Get up a tad earlier, get out and walk.  And yes, I do know how difficult that can be.  I had a five-year-old and a one-year-old once upon a long time ago.  What was worse was when I had a rising five-year-old at Infant school (5-7years) five to ten minutes one way and a rising nine-year-old at Junior school (8-11 years) fifteen minutes the other way.  We'd take S to his (Junior) school then rush back to D's (Infant) school, repeating reverse order come three o'clock.  Poor ol' D, her little legs, perhaps that's where she learned to not enjoy walking?  Pretty soon S was walking some of the way to school by himself - like along the road the school was in.  By half-term, end of October, he was taking himself to school and back.  H was a sensible lad, the route was mostly along back and side streets.  There were lollipop people anywhere a road was even slightly busier and lots of other children and parents were going the same way.

  I'm not entirely sure what we did when D moved up to Junior school, it was a long time ago.  I know there was a friend who her mum would drop round then we'd all go on to school.  Except that they seemed to never get ready in time and they'd turn up in a taxi, drop the friend and her mum would be taxi-ed off to work.  We'd then have to nip up to school a bit smartish.  Sometimes we'd pick the friend up from her house then walk up through the Rec(reation ground) and one of the city cemeteries - noting the progress of the seasons as shown by the flowering of crocuses, the leavs on the lime trees bordering the central road, watching the squirrels spiralling up and down the trees, seeing if we could find things for the Nature Table (or maybe that was when D was at Infant school).  I don't think the friend was as keen on walking through the cemetery as we were - all those dead people!  When the time came D walked herself too and from school - along the streets.  I insisted that they both stick to the streets, the cemetery was just too open with insufficient people, not to mention the traffic on the road at this end!

  All that was good practice.  When they moved on to secondary school (11-16 years) it was a five to ten minute walk but involved crossing two major roads - at crossings of course, though I'm not entirely sure D always used them!  What's the point of living in a city, where things are within easy walking distance, if you don't take advantage and walk?  Admittedly the exposure to traffic fumes might be a big downer but . . .  These days how they get around is up to them.

  As a family we used to go for walks around that cemetery.  Sometimes we'd take peanuts and get mugged by the squirrels, other times bread and get mugged by the local pigeons, gulls and crows.  It was a good place to note the passing of the seasons - all those trees as well as the crocuses and daffodils, then you could watch the trains passing, if you were interested enough.  We don't get that much variety down here, though I once saw the Royal train - back in the day when they still had one.  Now they (the Royal Family) just take the scheduled services!

  Then there were the tombstones themselves - the dates, the names, the families - one set of parents had fifteen to twenty children, only one of which, a son, survived their third birthday, only to die aged twenty!  That was back in Victorian days when sanitation was primitive - a privy in the yard if you were lucky, and at least one child in five died before its first birthday.  Not unlike living in Third World countries today.  Go on, get your loo twinned, Dear Reader!

  And Finally - you could take a Loo Tour round London, and learn a lot more about the importance of sanitation, and the appalling lack of it for 2.5 million people worldwide!  But be quick, the Loo Lady's visa runs out soon and tours are scheduled only until 19th November - World Toilet Day.  Meanwhile she is flushed with success!

    Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful
Current Music:
Water Music - Handel
* * *
Oh look, the LibDems are promising free childcare for every two-year-old should they get re-elected next year.  Now I understand how having children can affect a woman's career prospects, and I know quite how isolated and brain-dead you can get to fee after a while with a new baby BUT, and you just knew that there was a BUT coming, didn't you, Dear Reader, if you are going to leave the majority of the rearing of your children to other people - why have them in the first place?

  Ok, so some families are on low incomes and anything Mum can earn is a necessary addition, sometimes Mum's wages are the only income.  Some families are single-parent and Mum's income is the only one.  I still wonder though, why have children if you're going to leave the majority of their rearing to other people?  Yes, I was glad of playgroup two mornings per week so that I could get housework and major shopping done unaccompanied by S, D or both.  It wasn't until they started school at almost five-years-old that they spent all that much time away from us, particularly me.  These days children seem to start school at almost four-years-old.  That's four years for their parents to teach them how to do all sorts of things - drink out of cups, feed themselves - with fingers, spoon, knives and forks, dress themselves, use the toilet, clean their teeth, basic social skills, wash themselves perhaps, learn to love books - to look at by themselves or being read to etc etc.  I suppose these days it also includes the playing of games on Mum or Dad's smart phone or tablet as well as the ubiquitous TV - and wonderful as CBeebies and CBBC might be, that needs rationing too.

  Of course there's a whole lot more than that - trips to the beach (easy where we live, though the beach can be a bit of a disappointment), trips to local parks, trips to the countryside, trips to the zoo even.  Such outings can range from the cheap and cheerful - local parks with or without a homemade picnic.  Hah!  I remember once when S was small and D a baby we took a picnic to a park and ate it in the large greenhouse they had then.  It was in January, but we had to get out of the house!  Trips to a zoo or an amusement park (we have both within a reasonable distance, maybe even accessible by public transport - once upon a time) can run to far more expense - even if you qualify for family discounts.  Just remember to take your own food and drink.  It'll be heavier to haul but prices charged by on-site catering could double the price of your day out!

  Oh all right, I understand that the urge to have children can be terrible, particularly children 'of your own'.  I know that too many teenagers end up pregnant and with babies - and that despite being thoroughly taught about contraception.  But I still wonder, if you're going to off-load them to 'professional' carers from an increasingly early age, why have children at all?  Have I missed something important, Dear Reader?

  While thinking of children and schools, it's ten years since the siege at a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, Russia.  I still can't hear the overture to Humperdink's Hansel and Gretel without thinking about the awful events that occurred.  Chechen militants took more than 1,000 people hostage in a school.  The siege lasted three days and was ended by Russian special forces storming the building.  More than 300 people were killed, many of them children.

  What does that have to do with the Humperdink?  The Classic fM presenter the lunchtime after the siege was ended, it may have been Jane Jones, played it to comemorate those who died.  Hmmm, I'm glad that sort of thing doesn't happen in schools in the UK.  Well, writes she thinking of Hungerford and Dunblane, not very often anyhow.  And neither of those incidents involved the army.

  As they say to sheep dogs, "That'll do!"  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music:
Overture to Hansel and Gretel - Humperdink
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The tail end of Hurricane Bertha passed to the south of the UK around the end of July/beginning of August, thus pulling down cold air from the north.  This made for the chilliest August in over twenty years.  Actually we found it quite pleasant, specially after the heatwave of July.  The tail end of the current hurricane is bringing warmer weather with it so temperatures are rising again.  That's the Met Office's story and they're sticking to it.  The rest of us know that the real reason it's getting warmer is because schools go back this week - either today, tomorrow or Thursday.  The weather always improves in September when the schools go back.  Ah well, what with August being so chilly we didn't have yoofs tombstoning off various bits of the city edges.  So that's probably a few lives retained in their fully functional state - or as fully functional as yoofs can be.

  I watched New Tricks last night and got slightly distracted - some interesting(ish) knitwear and a couple of shots of the Thames back in February/March - swollen and ready to flood any property people were daft enough to build on its banks.  The sock is doing well, thank you, I'm on the cuff now, few more rounds and I can cast off, and that'll be another pair done.  Pardon?  No, I'm not putting spoilers here.  If you want know about the programme, Dear Reader, the episode is available on BBC iPlayer for the next week!

  I gather that Microsoft has done it's usual thing of stopping supporting a major operating system - Windows XP back in April.  "Tough!"  They said.  "Keep up!"  They said.  "Gotta move with the times!"  They said.  And other such stuff.  Stopping of support meaning no more bug fixes or security patches, making machines running the OS more vulnerable to cyber attack and malware.  "More vulnerable" is a relative term here.  Basically anything operating with a Microsoft OS is open to cyber attack - simply because so many people/businesses/systems use them.  If you want to crack (or hack) then you cut your teeth on a Microsoft OS.

  That said, you have to update your OS occasionally.  It's in the nature of computing that things develop, improve sometimes, change definitely.  Sometimes this can be coped with by a minor modification, but eventually the whole thing needs upgrading.  Of course, with the development of hardware the software has to develop too.  And eventually one finds that the old machine will not run the new software.  Or one finds the new machines will not run the old software.  All of which means people/businesses/organisations suddenly find that they can't access old records, among other things.  Some experiences are recorded here.  I'm with the Nova Scotian Canadian and the guy in Brussels - invest in Apple, it may well be more expensive but it is more reliable and isn't a magnet for malware!  Although the way things are going we're possibly going to have to update our hardware even for Mac stuff, which is a great shame as it's fine and still working well.  The software may have possibly moved on too far.

  Time was when 'defenestration' meant either blinding someone, or chucking them out of a high window.  These days it's what can happen to a computer running a particularly frustrating OS - hence the advice that when you buy a computer make sure the room in which you will be using it has a window smaller than it is!  The other form of defenestration is removing the Windows OS and installing one of a different make.  This can be a bit more time consuming, but worth it.  Apparently Linux is good, and free.  Plus there's a cuddly penguin!

  While we're on cuddly animals - the monkeys of Himachai Pradesh, India, are becoming a bit of a nuisance.  The Macaque monkeys are considered sacred by Hindus, who often feed them.  In recent years the monkeys have come increasingly into conflict with humans - destroying crops, attacking people for food, biting children and raiding houses.

  One macaque was recently spotted sitting on a tin roof with a bundle of currency notes which it started throwing to the ground one-by-one.  Naturally enough this attracted a crowd of money-grabbing people.  The monkey moved off into the forest but continued distributing the notes.  The crowd followed.  The moral of this story would appear to be - if you live in Shimla, or anywhere in Himachai Pradesh, don't leave your savings around in your home, it's amazing what the monkeys can access, and maybe fit bars to your opening windows, or mesh so that the creatures can't get in!

  You know, it's hearing stories like that make me glad I live somewhere where the wildlife is a tad less 'enterprising'!  Plus the local bank is a bit better protected.

  And again to animals, though whether you think a horse is 'cuddly'. . .   Apparently there is a game, sort of a cross between rugby (without the scrums) and basketball, called horseball.  Invented in France in the 1970s, they're trying to get it into the Olympics.  Mind you, they'll need to get other countries interested in playing the game first.  You really can't have an Olympic game with only one country playing it!  Actually I think it looks quite interesting.  What do you think, Dear Reader?

  While we're on the subject of sport - the transfer window for football closed last night.  Various top name clubs were paying huge sums for foreign players - going as far afield as Colombia apparently, which may make for exciting playing at the top level.  What it will also mean is that, come the next international football tournament, England will again be unable to field a top-class team!  Now I don't care about football, but you'd think someone, somewhere, might just realise that there is a direct correllation between the number of foreign footballers employed in Division One (or whatever it's called) and the performance, or otherwise, of the national team.  It's not rocket science, in fact it's barely Sports Science!

  On which note I think I shall finish.  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful
Current Music:
Theme music from 'New Tricks'
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