Title picture: Cloudscapes, Stornoway, 1 February 2017

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Watching the grass grow

That is the impression I had upon switching on BBC News just before 8pm tonight. It showed a plane on the tarmac at Stansted Airport near London, and the caption said that Barack Obama had arrived in the United Kingdom. So, we are supposed to sit pretty and get bored out of our minds watching a plane sit in gathering darkness, waiting for the president of the United States to walk down the steps? Where is the real news? Worse is to come.

Over the next couple of days, twenty leaders and heads of government of various countries across the globe will be attending a meeting to natter about the gathering economic crisis, row about ways to combat it and stuff their faces with grub and booze. Yes, I'm being thoroughly disrespectful, but I am getting bored out of my box with all this talk, talk, talk, whilst nothing changes. Government ministers claiming expenses for their hubbies watching dirty movies at home while they are away, bank directors feathering their nests with the full knowledge if not connivance of the government. And it just goes on. Does anyone care that economic growth is now expressed in negative figures? No.

People are interested in the consequences for their jobs, their personal finances. Are they going to be laid off, will their home be repossessed, their cars or other items. Will they be able to let their kids go to university. Will they have a pension to look forward to after they retire - or will it all be gobbled up by greedy bankers, who cannot let go of a lifestyle of gluttony. They will not and cannot. One so-called fat cat committed suicide last year over that prospect. Says enough.

Meanwhile, it was a matter of global interest that Barack Obama hopped down those steps onto British soil this evening. Some would say it was of global importance. Perhaps it is. The practical results, down on the farm or at the coalface, is all that matters in the short or long run. If the course of this recession, now projected to possibly last 5 years, is not altered, then it will all have been a colossal waste of time and money.

Evening notes

Quite a mild afternoon, and the 14 degrees C at 2pm was most certainly not forecast. As per usual. I am now looking out across the basin towards a placid cloud scene. Although the sun is not out, it is looking very springlike. The hooded crows are smashing shells by dropping them from a great height. Yet another Norwegian trawler called into port this afternoon - the Ronge. Within the space of a week, we have seen more than half a dozen fishing vessels from Norway in this port, one as a result of an emergency when its nets fouled the propellor.

In August 2007, I mentioned on the old Northern Trip blog the plight of people trying to cross from Africa to Europe by boat. Until a few years ago, the main route was from northwest Africa to the Canary Islands (Spanish territory), but a surge of refugees is also using a route between Libya and Italy. Today, it is reported that more than 200 people drowned in a boat when this was affected by severe weather.

I remember that in the late 1970s, many people fled Vietnam as 'boat people', and I have met Vietnamese people in Western Europe in the early 1980s who had come that way. The Africans I mentioned above are coming from south of the Sahara, fleeing grinding desperate poverty, trying to get a better life. An even more atrocious story keeps emanating out of Yemen, when refugees of the lawless nation of Somalia are put across the Gulf of Aden, and more often than not abandoned on the high seas.

Tuesday 31 March

It is brightening up here in Stornoway after a wet morning. I've been cleaning out the archives, copying stuff into address books and what not, disposing of anything not needed. Made a huge difference. And having a fireplace is most handy for getting rid of confidential material.

The row about the bus service in Lewis is continuing, but I have to say in all fairness that saying that timetables change 3 times in as many days just because there is a (different) Saturday service is taking it too far. Having said that, there is only a reduction in service, no correct timetables (at bus station, in the stances, with the drivers or on the council's website).

I just wished they would leave Jade Goody to rest in peace. I've had it with all the revelations about her final moments, who will and won't attend the funeral and all that. It's making me feel quite ill.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Needle alert

There is a batch of counterfeit needles in circulation in the United Kingdom. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has issued an alert, which I relay:

The counterfeit needle details are: Novofine Needles 31G (0.25mm x 6mm) lot number 08J02S labelled as manufactured by Novo Nordisk Ltd. People who have these insulin pen needles should stop using them. They can return any affected needles to their pharmacist where they should also be able to obtain replacements.

There is no assurance that these counterfeit needles are manufactured to the appropriate quality standards. The possible consequences of using these counterfeit needles could include adverse reactions; pain and discomfort; infection and difficulty in attaching the needle to the pen injection device.

MHRA Director of Device Technology and Safety, Clive Bray said,

“Please check the Novofine needles that you are using. If you are unsure about the needles you have, then please visit your pharmacist as they can assist you. Alternatively contact Novo Nordisk Ltd. The MHRA has issued a Medical Device Alert (MDA) today to healthcare professionals including pharmacists and specialist diabetic health workers. They have been asked to quarantine any affected stock and to stop supplying the affected needles. We encourage people to report faulty medical devices and suspected counterfeits to the MHRA by calling our Adverse Incident Hotline on 0207 084 3080 or via our website."

Time of the month

Ladies, do you find you turn into a shopaholic in the week before 'that' time of the month? There could an explanation for it, in terms of hormonal changes. And if you find it a problem, well, don't go shopping at 'that' time of the month. More here.

Monday 30 March

Reasonable day, with some brightness in amongst the clouds. The Uist freighter Nord Star was hauled up onto the Goat Island slipway this morning. She is a relatively large boat and only just fits on. Received my copy of my photobook Lewis Light, that I promoted a week or so ago, and am not entirely impressed. Printing of some pictures has left blotches on the photographs (phooey, Lulu), and I noticed that some of the captions were wrong (phooey, Guido). Oh well, keep correcting. Will feedback to Lulu about the print quality. I don't like having to shell out £20 and more for that, let alone innocent punters.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Binfight in the Creed Park Corral

In May 2006, the local council launched a scheme whereby all the residents of the island of Lewis were eligible to receive free 3 composting bins. Everybody could call round at the Creed Park recycling centre, 2 miles south of Stornoway. Well, everybody did turn out that Saturday morning. The morning that the Stornoway Half Marathon was being run around the town as well. Result: a tailback on the A859 road which leads past the centre - and tailbacks are unknown here. At the centre, police tried to stop people driving in, but they just blew past, saying "we are entitled to our bins, so we'll get them!". In the end, there were not enough bins for everybody...
Oh, the bins were later spotted in use as chicken coops and sheep shelters.

Sunday 29 March

Pretty abysmal weather today with strong winds and continual rain. Not expecting much improvement into the week until Wednesday, when the weather pattern shifts from west to east. Shame; yesterday was a nice day, except for the low temperatures. So, I'll close this post with some of yesterday's pictures.



Courtyard in the Bridge Centre


Bridge Centre from the Inner Harbour


Bar area in An Lanntair

I am returning to An Lanntair tomorrow to take pictures without people in them; as you know, I'm very reluctant to publish pictures of people on this blog without their consent.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Closing notes

First of all, don't forgot to change your clocks tonight if you're in Europe.
Second, tomorrow I shall be calling round some journals - I've woefully neglected that again.
Thirdly, I shall be putting some of today's 24 pictures on the journal. Those who follow me on Facebook or Flickr will be able to see them in the next half hour or so.

Night night.

Cold and sunny

That was today's weather. It didn't get any warmer than +5C / 41F this afternoon, in spite of copious amounts of sunshine. I was invited to have a look inside a new community centre in Stornoway, the Bridge Centre, which was built at a cost of £4m over the past few years. It also offers low-cost housing to young students as well as temporary accommodation for hospital doctors. Later in the afternoon, I attended the opening of Grinneas nan Eilean, a showcase for local artists - to which I have submitted a picture. Quite a pleasant afternoon; as I said on Twitter earlier on, is this me? Going to two functions in a day??

Saturday 28 March

After yesterday's horrible weather, we are now looking out on bright blue skies with fluffy clouds and the odd snow shower. Temperature is at a fantastic +3C / 37F. Very cold in other words, and I've got a few things to do that require me to go outside. Not looking forward to that.

Tonight at 2030 GMT, several landmarks in Scotland will have their illumination switched off for Earth Hour. Private individuals could switch off as many electrical appliances as possible, including lights. Did that last year, was great fun.

And tonight at 0100 GMT, the clocks go forward one hour in the whole of Western Europe. In Britain, we'll be on British Summer Time until 25 October.

Friday, 27 March 2009

North wind

It is blowing a force 7 from the north this evening, straight in from the Arctic. Temperature at the moment +5C, which is not too bad for late March. At 7pm, I went outside to get some coal in, but I was 'frozen' by the time I came in. It is pouring with rain as well, which makes it doubly cold. A northerly wind is bad news in this part of the world, and it is borne out by the disruptions page on the Calmac website - full of orange and red, meaning disrupted or cancelled sailings. The 5.35pm sailing from Ullapool to Stornoway was called off, meaning the 7 am sailing in the opposite direction tomorrow morning will not operate either. Looking at AIS Minch, I see nearly a dozen fishing vessels of Dutch, Danish and Norwegian registration in port or sheltering south of here along the coast, where the Point peninsula provides some shelter.

Friday 27 March

March still rules supreme, and it's the usual alternating between brilliant sunshine and heavy showers. A battle royal between summer warmth and winter cold, and the battlefield as per usual lies over Scotland. I don't really mind, it's what makes these parts interesting and attractive.

Three weeks ago, a horse was taken on the ferry between Ullapool and Stornoway to go into semi-retirement in Lewis. Unfortunately, upon arrival at Stornoway the animal was found dead in its horsebox on the vehicle deck. There are suggestions that carbon monoxide fumes from a refrigeration unit on an adjacent trailer were to blame, but there is no firm evidence. Ferry operators Calmac state that the air on the vehicle deck is refreshed every 3 minutes, and the horsebox was placed next to an air intake.

Buses in Lewis have gone to summer timetable as of today, but due to a legally required tendering exercise and cutbacks, there have been some serious changes. As not many of my readers are intimately familiar with the geography of this island, I won't bother you with the details. Suffice to say, there is a good chance that some people can't find their bus, and even if they find a bus it may well not take them to their destination.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Karen Aim

This woman of 26 was walking home from a party in Taupo, New Zealand, in January 2008 when she was wantonly attacked by a boy of 14. He struck her over the head with a baseball bat, killing her. Fourteen months later, her attacker was sent to life imprisonment, with a minimal term of 12½ years. He is one of the youngest convicts ever to receive a life term. Karen came from Orkney, and her family was there to hear the verdict in New Zealand. Her father, speaking on BBC Scotland, said he was smiling broadly - because he had known her. Although he was very sad that instead of seeing her in her wedding dress, he now had to see her in her coffin. She was buried in Holm, Mainland Orkney, in late January '08. RIP.
More on this story here.

Thursday 26 March

Very unfriendly weather today, with winds gusting in excess of 60 mph at the moment. The ferry services up and down the west coast are severely disrupted. Calmac, the ferry company, tell us that on 26/03/09 Ullapool/Stornoway route is liable to disruption and is sailing on a sailing by sailing basis. Sun has just come out, but that doesn't negate the heavy showers. South of here, I can just make out the outline of a cable-laying ship, the Leonid Thevenin. It has been joined by another cable-layer, the Silure. I do not know whether they are laying cables, or just sheltering from the weather. I get the information from this website. If you live near a port, either in the UK or elsewhere, there may be an AIS site for your location.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Sat nav is naff

There continues to be a steady stream of stories of people who are led astray by their satellite navigation system. The latest involved a man who was going to drive his car over the edge of a 100 feet precipice because his sat-nav insisted his narrow track was a road. His vehicle was left dangling over the edge of the cliff, and the emergency services took 9 hours to get it out again. The man is now facing a court appearance for driving without due care and attention.

When you're using a satellite navigation system, don't close your eyes to the world around you. If it leads you onto a cliff, into water or onto undrivable terrain, just don't follow it. Satnav systems are known to be out of date or just plain wrong.

Wednesday 25 March

Bit of a non-descript day, weatherwise. We get the odd shower, it's neither really cold or really mild. Tomorrow should see the start of a decidedly windy spell. The weatherchart shows a deep depression moving in over Scotland, and hanging around for a day or so. Result: galeforce northwesterly winds in the Hebrides.

Those familiar with affairs in the West Highlands and Islands of recent years will have heard of community buy-outs. That means that local residents can buy the land they sit on from the landowner, who more often than not is not himself living in the area. The most high-profile ones were in Assynt and the Isle of Eigg in 1992 and 1997 respectively. They were not the first community-owned tracts of land in the West. Back in 1923, Lord Leverhulme was going to sell the islands of Lewis and Harris (one landmass), but offered the residents of Lewis the right of first refusal. The parishes of Lochs, Uig and Barvas declined, not trusting anything a landlord offered. The parish of Stornoway accepted, and the Stornoway Trust was set up to administer the area. Elections for trustees were held yesterday. The focus was on Sunday ferry sailings and renewable energy. I disagree with the Trust's stance on both issues. I am in favour of a ferry on Sunday, and I don't want huge big turbines spoiling the natural beauty of this island.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Closing notes

Not that much more to comment on really. Although the sun did come out later in the afternoon, the weather remained unpleasant and cold. The lorries rumbled past on their way to the freight ferry half an hour ago, and by 11.30pm, we'll see MV Muirneag sailing by on its way to Ullapool.

Today, elections were held for the Stornoway Trust. Since 1923, all the land between Stornoway and Tolsta is managed for the community by the Trust. Trustees are elected by secret ballot, and in recent times candidates have been issuing their policy statements. That sounds grand, but is not. It mainly focuses on land usage (crofting) and the vexed issue of Sunday sailing and trading. The Sabbatarians have a strong foothold in Lewis, and are opposed to the breaking of the Sabbath, the Day of Rest. Without being disrespectful, I just don't see how that reconciles with the opening on Sundays of pubs, restaurants, airport and the petrol station cum shop. This link, 13 days old, explains further.

Off to bed shortly, and hoping for more springlike weather tomorrow. Fat chance.

Tuesday 24 March

The day started wet and windy, but the rain stopped a little while ago. Whether we had a frost last night I do not know; the reports say we went down to -3C, but I find that very hard to believe. Looking at the Met Office reports, we had +1.1C. That's more like it. We certainly had high winds yesterday, going up to 54 mph at one stage.

So we now have zero inflation, and going down further. That means we're having deflation in the UK for the first time since 1960. Not as good as it appears on the surface, according to the economists who say it will slow the economy down even further. When you expect prices to fall in the future, you'll put off your purchases, won't you.

More later.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Sold out


This is the look of one of our local supermarkets on Monday. It will also look like this if supplies have been disrupted due to poor weather. Although it is currently blowing a near-gale (see report in previous entry), the ferry is sailing. However, we had Mothering Sunday yesterday, which explains the bare shelves. I hope everybody who was celebrating yesterday had a great time.

Otherwise, the current weather does provide for some great cloudscapes, so here goes.




And I'm going to close with this greenfinch

Monday 23 March 2009

We've lost spring and are back to soft hail and rain showers. Oh, isn't that normal in March? Yes, actually it is. I've just been to the shop, a five-minute walk up the road, but it was singularly empty of stock. Had to have an in-depth search for bread and other stuff. Ferry was late getting in this afternoon, and consequently equally late going out again.

I couldn't help noticing when checking the weather reports on the NOAA site that the quality control had missed that dip to -25C in the middle of the night out here. This is the listing for the last 24 hours:



Think it just went down to about 4C in the night, actually. Don't see how you could possibly get light rain at -25C.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Sundown notes

Ten to seven and it's not even dark. The equinox is behind us, and from now on the nights will become shorter - and a lot shorter than points south. As I say every year, Stornoway lies on the 58th parallel north, and that leads to short nights in summer and short days in winter. Come June, the sun will rise at 4.20 am and set at 10.35 pm.

Not springlike at all today, intermittent rain at the moment. The navigation lights around Glumag Harbour (which lies across my field of vision) are on, with the buoy next to the lighthouse and two smaller lights by the Fabrication Yard, more than a mile away to the south. A small sailing craft came in earlier this afternoon.

There is not much going on regards hurricanes (Ilsa keeps trundling west across the Indian Ocean, more than 600 miles from any land), the email inboxes are checked, I have been round those of you who posted in journals, Facebook and Twitter. Have downloaded Tweetdeck, but will probably throw it off - don't need it that much, really. Dinner will be served shortly, and I am going to close my Internet and computer activities for the day.

Sunday 22 March 2009

Sunny intervals and showers on a cooler day than of late, with the mercury back at 9C / 48F. The end of the past week saw us at 13C, but that quickly went.

Jade Goody has died in the night. RIP.
She has made good use of her celebrity status by raising awareness of cervical cancer and the importance of cervical smear tests and following up any adverse results. There is ample coverage in the media about her, so will simply refer to that, and my previous postings.

The search for two men, missing (now presumed dead) on Loch Awe in Argyll, has resumed this morning. They disappeared after setting forth in a boat at 11pm on Friday night. Two others were found dead on Saturday morning.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Exhibition

Well, made the bold move and entered a framed photograph of mine in local exhibition Grinneas nan Eilean. This runs in Stornoway's art centre An Lanntair from next Saturday until mid-May. There is the odd chance someone may buy it, but it's more for the sake of making a contribution of sorts. Like the book I plugged last night. That was not the first book I produced on lulu.com, but the first one (a printed copy of Faces from the War Memorial) is not publicly available.

Saturday 21 March

First day of spring by the astronomical calendar. Quite a springlike day, with blue skies, scattered clouds and a mild breeze. I am watching the afternoon ferry coming in, which will depart back to Ullapool at 2.30pm, in 90 minutes from now. It will return here at 9 o'clock this evening. The crossing takes just under 3 hours, and can be a bumpy affair.

Police are searching Loch Awe, east of Oban, for two men who went missing on the loch overnight. They were in a party of four, two of whom were found dead in the water. Searching was severely hampered by dense fog (visibility 5 yards) overnight. Loch Awe stretches for 24 miles and is up to 300 feet deep. It is not as deep as Loch Morar, further northwest near the port town of Mallaig, which goes down more than 1,000 feet.

All Coastguard helicopters in the north of Scotland are grounded, pending the fitting of essential parts. Last week, a fatal crash off Newfoundland claimed 17 lives, and a faulty part was found to have played a role in that incident. Replacement parts are being transported to Lewis and Shetland, but the 4 helicopters will remain out of action until they are fitted. RAF helicopters out of Prestwick and Lossiemouth will provide cover in the meantime.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Picture book

I have now compiled a book with about 260 of my pictures, which is available for anyone to purchase on-line. It's a wee bit on the dear side (£20.75 baseline price, excluding P&P), but if you're feeling like it, why not get yourself a copy of Lewis Light from lulu.com.

End of commercial.

Friday 20 March

Last day of winter, and I'm glad to leave it behind. Another sunny day, but quite blustery in contrast to yesterday's mild breeze. Temperatures at 12C at the moment, and may rise higher.

It seems to be relatively common for women to give birth on planes, but one lady from Samoa left her newborn baby in the garbage bin in the toilet. Charges are now likely to be brought against the woman involved; she was spotted by airport staff at Auckland as her clothes were bloodstained.

I am pleased to note that a debate has commenced in the UK on the difficult subject of assisted suicide, mercy killing, euthanasia. All descriptions of the same. Helping someone end their life when there is great suffering with no hope of alleviation or improvement. The BBC has a forum thread into the subject which shows the spectrum of opinion.

Personally, I advocate the Dutch model, in force in the 1980s. In such a situation, the patient discusses the subject with their doctor, who then seeks a second opinion. It is ensured that the decision is made by the patient of their own free will, being of sound mind at the time. After the patient is deceased, the death is reported to the procurator as an unnatural death. He will review the evidence and decide not to prosecute if all prerequisites are met.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Blogger Community Photo Challenge

Mailboxes is the subject of this challenge. Well, this picture dates from 6 August 2006 and shows a house in the village of Laxay, some 12 miles south of Stornoway in the Isle of Lewis (Scotland). The microwave oven on the post is actually the mailbox for 38 Laxay.

Volcano

I have always found volcanoes intriguing natural phenomena, and my interest was tweaked when an underwater volcano erupted near Tonga in the South Pacific. My attention was already focused there on account of tropical cyclone Ken (now a mid-latitude depression). The link shows an impressive display of ash and steam being ejected from the volcano.

Fritzl

Josef Fritzl, aged 73, was sentenced to life in prison today. He kept his own daughter imprisoned for 24 years, raping her and fathering 7 children by her - one of whom died because Fritzl denied medical help to the child. The man will be held at a secure psychiatric facility, and will be assessed whether he can be treated. If so, he will be transferred to a normal prison and could be eligible for parole in 15 years from now.

The twists and turns of this mind-boggling case have gained high prominence in the media in the past year or so, and the nation of Austria is still to come to terms with the horror of this scenario, enacted by one of its own citizens.

Thursday 19 March 2009

Bright and sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky. Feels like spring, and certainly the birds are behaving in that fashion. The mercury has crept up to 13C / 55F, a value not seen on a sunny day like this so far this year. So, long may it continue.

Hurricane season is drawing towards a close in the southern hemisphere. Tropical cyclone Ilsa is roaring away with winds in excess of 110 mph, about 600 miles from Australia. It is not going near any land as far as the forecasters can tell. Hurricanes are one of Mother Nature's safety valves, and serve to disperse heat from the tropics to higher latitudes through a venting mechanism in the upper atmosphere. The amount of energy involved in your average hurricane would be sufficient to power everyone on planet Earth for a year - 200 times over. Annually, there are about 100 tropical cyclones anywhere on the planet. They can only occur over warm water (80F / 26C or more) with a specific set-up in the atmosphere (winds all blowing at the same speed and in the same direction at all levels) and away from the equator. They only happen in summer - which is why the southern hemisphere is currently having cyclones (= hurricanes). The phenomena are poorly understood, and are highly unpredictable, both in terms of course and intensity.

Hurricane season in the northern hemisphere will resume in two months from now. If you are in an area likely to be affected by these storms, please review your preparations now and make sure everything is in readiness for hurricane season.

I have kept my Tropical Cyclones blog since July 2006, and update it daily - if there are any storms or tropical disturbances to be reported on.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Wednesday 18 March

Late entry for today, after being sidetracked on various fronts. Had to install Windows Vista Service Pack 1, which took me several hours this afternoon. Downloading nearly half a gigabyte of file (took me about 45 minutes), then installing the update, which took me 3 hours in all. Let's hope it does make a difference - we shall see. So far so good, I can now try to update my firewall software which it would not do without SP1.

It has been a grey and overcast day, although dry. Not exactly warm either. Caught a glimpse of one of the press conferences linked to the trial of Austrian man Josef Fritzl, who held his own daughter captive for 24 years, fathered 7 children by her, allegedly killing one of them. I speak German, although the Austrian accents had me straining a bit. The trial is expected to be over by the end of the week.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Tuesday 17 March

Another sunny day in Stornoway, although the actual temperature is still low, 7 degrees this afternoon. Behind glass, it feels a lot warmer. You feel the chill when you're outside in the wind. Visibility is very good, as I can clearly see the hills of Applecross Forest [no trees there by the way] some 60 miles to the southeast across the Minch.

I am currently trying to get Windows Vista Service Pack 1 installed on this computer. It doesn't show up on the Automatic Updates list, so I have asked Microsoft for help. Can't find anything useful on the web, apart from downloading the 434MB stand-alone version. The A.U. version is 45MB, so if I can get and spare my broadband traffic cap, that would be great.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Spring is here?

Sunny afternoon in the Outer Hebrides, even though it is not very warm. Mercury is firmly stuck on 9C / 48F once again, although the sun does help to take the edge off it. Took an amble earlier on to Sandwick Cemetery, a 20 minute walk from here, to take photographs of some World War II gravestones. A WWI stone that I had pictured before was now untraceable. Looked up and down both the Old and New cemeteries, without result. Anyway, as I said, it was a nice afternoon so I didn't really mind.


Sandwick Bay


Lower Sandwick

Monday 16 March 2009

Overcast today, but not much wind and mainly dry. The South Pacific is eyeballing a developing tropical cyclone, which the agency in Honolulu suspects will develop soon; their colleagues in Fiji say it won't have much chance. Just goes to show that forecasting for these phenomena is still fraught with much uncertainty.

Josef Fritzl, who incarcerated his own daughter for 24 years, raped her and fathered 7 children with her (one of whom was allegedly murdered by him) has pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him. The judge presiding over the trial at St Pölten in Austria closed proceedings to the public due to the sensitivity of the evidence about to be submitted in court.

The family of Simon Macmillan, whose remains were recovered from Loch Bee in South Uist yesterday, is returning to the island. A post-mortem will be carried out in due course and, as per procedure in Scotland, a report submitted to the Procurator Fiscal into the circumstances of the man's death.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Map skills

How good is your knowledge of the geography of the Middle East? This region has a large influence on our daily lives (e.g.: oil), yet can you pinpoint each of the states there? Traci posted this interesting link - see how well you do.

Sunday 15 March

Windy day with occasional light rain. The ferry is docked for the Sunday, but big plumes of dirty smoke were coming from its funnels at a time this morning. Rumour has it that the new fuel is giving the engines a spot of bother; it is rather heavier than previously, and comes under the header of cheap and nasty.

The remains of a young man were recovered from a fresh-water loch in South Uist this morning. Police are conducting enquiries, but it is thought likely that the corpse is that of Simon Macmillan, who went missing over Christmas. He was last seen alighting from a minibus a few miles from his home village. Persistent searching by local residents has finally paid off, even though the police had given up the formal search. Simon was missing for 11 weeks. He was a merchant navy seaman, home for unexpected leave. He was returning home from a social event in Daliburgh, in the south of the island of South Uist when he disappeared.
RIP.

I am pleased to note that the English chief medical officer is proposing to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. The Scottish Government has already launched proposals, and not doing a similar thing in England is feared would lead to a huge blackmarket in drink. The minimum price for a can of beer in England would be £1, and for a bottle of wine about £4.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Saturday 14 March

Pretty dreadful weather today, with strong winds blowing in a lot of rain. Visibility barely 1 mile, although the sun is trying to put in an appearance. Mercury is at 9C / 48F, and the wind is blowing a near-gale (35 mph) with gusts of nearly 50 mph.

Hebridean blogger Donnie, who specialises in black and white images of the western islands of Scotland, posted a very evocative image. Boreraig is a derelict township in the south of the Isle of Skye (click on the Location link at the bottom of this post to view its position on a map), which was cleared in the middle of the 19th century. Historian David Craig did some great research on it, which he published in his book On the Crofter's Trail. The villagers of Boreraig, together with their neighbours from Suisnis, were thrown out of their houses and marched east along the coast towards Druimfearn on the Sleat peninsula (if you are familiar with Skye you'll know the area I'm talking about). The people were kicked out to make way for sheep.

Donnie's picture shows the ruins of a cottage, with the opening for a door and a lintel across it; the sun shines in. Makes you think of the people that will have seen that afternoon light coming into their house for many a year; and then never to see that, or the hills around them, or the view down Loch Eishort, never again.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Mission Statement

Originally drafted: April 2005, revised March 2009

I was amazed at the colours at sunset these past days. And at sunrise as well. Normally, I expect light to start to fail 25 minutes after sunset, but at this latitude this is extended to 40 minutes. I am not a native of the islands, but one of the reasons I have come here is the natural beauty. Whether it is in the images shown on Flickr, at a time of good weather - or in bad.

Being caught up in a thunder, hail, snow, sleet (and kitchensink) shower back in January 2005, whilst going down the Lochs Road at Leurbost, with the bus driver being forced to reduce speed to a crawl. No snow or ice at the next village, Keose.

The many rainbows in the spring, going down the Lochs road.

The joy at seeing the first green shoots, in April, out at Keose.

Hearing the first bleating of lambs in a pasture at Breascleit late in March. Walking the island in the bitter winds of February, and seeing the sad remains of the sheep that did not make it through the winter. Or the sheep that was knocked down at the Marybank cattlegrid in April, and was slowly decomposing in peace in the ditch that it was dumped in over a period of 6 months.

Seeing the days lengthen to an incredible extent, sunset at 22.30, with the light lingering to the nadir of the night at 01.30, then returning fully at 03.30. But also shortening of the days, with the daylight hours of 09.15 to 15.35 at Christmas.

The howling of the gales. Clattering of hail and thumping of the wind against the window at night - waking up in the middle of the night because there is no noise.

Watching the breathtaking coastal scenery at Filiscleitir, or the stunning mountain scenery from Rapaire, Teileasbhal, Mullach an Langa. Or beautiful Glen Langadale, where I'm forever fording that river under the frown of Stulabhal. The little mouse on the slopes of that mountain, the one that allowed me to stroke it.

The yellow grasses on the moors of South Lochs, finding your way in amongst a myriad of lochs, streams and bogs. Loch nan Eilean, south of Garyvard.

Place seems to have gotten under my skin.

Gobbledegook

Apologies for the entry (now deleted, but probably showing on your Google Reader), saying it was a message from a mobile phone. Please ignore.

Easter sidebar


I have changed my sidebar to reflect the advent of Easter (sic) in just over 4 weeks from now. Lent came upon us some 2 weeks ago or so, and I hope everybody manages to stay off whatever they resolved to stay off for 6 weeks. The above-left graphic is one of Donna's creations, and I am sure all readers will wish her a speedy recovery in her current ill health.

Adsense

I've removed the advertising block from the top of this blog. Google have recently started to introduce picture ads, and I found the busty babe that has been adorning my journal of late not entirely in keeping with my writing. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate natural beauty, but not to the point of distraction. Adsense hasn't made me packets of money; I used to get a lot of revenue (few dollars) out of my webcam site, which was discontinued last May. There now is a steady trickle. My first cheque will probably come some time in 2011 or so.

Was out for a wee walk round the basin across the street; it is a tidal affair, and as the tide was out, I was able to walk round the bottom of it. I even found a healthily sized scallop. However, one scallop does not fill a stomach, so I'll probably put it back later today.

Friday 13 March

Once more Friday the 13th. I used to have a black cat, and it was a very sweet, half-human cat that ate what we ate, would tap me on the shoulder to ask for a bit out of my plate. Outside our house, it would chase mice, birds and rabbits, bring latter in for live consumption under bed at 3 in the morning with attending screeching by rabbit followed by crunching of its bones. Leaving only its tail. Same cat also went out on the pull at this time of the year, resulting in black kittens all over the place.

The teenager who shot 15 people in Germany last Wednesday was being treated for depression last year. He did not continue treatment after it was relocated from one town to another. More on this story on the BBC News website.

A vast amount of information on casualties from the First World War has been uncovered in Geneva, and is currently being collated. It is hoped to have it on-line in five years' time. British man Peter Barton has been given access to the vaults of the Red Cross headquarters, and details on 20 million casualties were found on index cards and ledgers. Read more here.

Midnight post

I have drastically cut the number of applications on Facebook from about 300 to 50. The number of requests was getting silly, and if you don't get a reply from me on a certain app, it just means one of two things: either I have not added the app, or I have just clicked through.

As far as journals are concerned, I am monitoring Call for Support daily, and will try to reestablish my reading routine. This has been disrupted by Facebook, and some attendant difficulties off-line, as I reported at the start of this week. Twitter I do not find much use for if truth be known; you'd have to monitor it continually, which I can't do. However, if you look up adb44, you'll get my postings, if and when. Many of them are directed at tweeters in the Isle of Lewis.

I have decided to ditch Open Office.org. I was processing a document that originated from Word, and it was turned into a mess that needed clearing up in Word. I've purchased a license, and now have the program in its full glory (Word, Excel and Powerpoint).

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Thursday 12 March

Where I am from, April showers are referred to as March showers. So, that's what we're having today. Sunshine and beefy showers, blown on a strong wind. No complaints about temperatures: 10C is very acceptable for mid March. Tide is going out from a high of 5.1 metres (17 feet) at 7.25 am to an ebbtide of 0.2 metres (8 inches) at 2pm. I may go out and look for scallops, although there were not many last time we had a springtide that low. Only one baby scallop, that needed to grow a lot bigger before I'd have it on my dinner plate.

I have recently commented on the actions of the Vatican in relation to bishop Williamson, who is on record as denying the Holocaust. I can only say that I wish the Holy See would stop digging, as they are only making the hole they are in deeper with every statement they issue on the subject. I applaud their statement of contrition, admitting that mistakes have been made. The Vatican now says that they should do more research on the Internet before making decisions of this nature. Excuse me? They don't know what problems are caused by their own senior clergy? Oh please.

I am very upset this morning: those who read Linda's World (from Washington State) and / or Call for Support know that she's had to take her cat Gabi to the Rainbow Bridge. The poor creature was very seriously ill, without any prospect of getting better. As all pet owners know, you do carry an ultimate responsibility to end suffering in those circumstances, however upsetting that is.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Wednesday 11 March

Unpleasantly wet and windy today, although the temperature has shot up from -2C at 11pm last night to +10C right now. The tropical cyclone that has grumbled along the Queensland coast for a few days has been torn apart by conflicting winds at various levels in the atmosphere. Hamish is now little more than a spell of bad weather, bringing gales to the coast north of Brisbane. Another cyclone is bringing gale-force winds to the islands around Rarotonga, 50 degrees in longitude to the east in the Pacific. Joni won't get much above force 9 on the Beaufort scale.

Had a laugh when watching Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon. The MP for Chesterfield in Derbyshire had a go at the neighbouring constituency for Bolsover - and the MP for that town is veteran Dennis Skinner who promptly had a go back at Chesterfield. Skinner, a left-wing Labour MP for a former mining constituency, is one of the characters in the House of Commons, and everybody had a good laugh out of the encounter.

Absolutely not amusing was an incident in southern Germany, when a 17-year old gunman entered his former school at Winnenden near Stuttgart and opened fire. After killing 9 pupils and 3 teachers, he fled to the town of Wendlingen, 25 miles away, and was killed in a shoot-out  in the supermarket. This also left 2 bystanders dead.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Tuesday 10 March

Clear end to the day, as the sun is just about setting now. Sun was out for most of the afternoon, after one or two showers in the morning.

I am pleased to note that two arrests have been made in connection with the murder of a policeman in Northern Ireland last night. This follows hard on the heels of the killing of two soldiers in a barracks elsewhere in the province. The two factions alleged to be involved in the incidents have been roundly condemned.

Gerry McCann, father of the disappeared girl Madeleine McCann, has spoken out critically about sections of the media in connection with her disappearance in 2007. Speculation was branded as less than helpful. Mr McCann has every right to be critical of the press, but he should remember that he courted publicity quite deliberately with the aim of tracing his daughter. Madeleine remains missing, nearly 2 years after she disappeared from her parents' holiday apartment in Portugal.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Monday 9 March

A very late post for today, which has not found me very happy. My motto for the Internet is You don't know what goes on behind closed doors, and this is a door I have to keep closed. Suffice to say that we all have off-line lives as well as on-line, and in my case, the former has clashed with the latter. Full stop.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Abortion

What would you do, if your daughter aged 9 was raped by her stepfather, resulting in a double pregnancy? That awful decision was cast at the parents of a young girl in Brazil. The mother of the girl decided on an abortion, which was carried out last week.

The Roman Catholic Church in Brazil has excommunicated the girl, her mother and the doctors involved in the abortion, saying that the law of God stands above any law of man. The law of God is 'you will not kill'. The law of man was: Abortion only allowed if the pregnancy is a threat to the health of the woman involved.

I am absolutely appalled at this attitude, condoned by the Vatican incidentally, which is beyond description in my book. A girl of 9, having twins? After sexual abuse? Oh dear. What sort of a message does that send out. I'd better cut short my post, else I'd offend a fair few people.

Sunday 8 March

Cloudy day out here, with some heavy downpours. Earlier on, there was some wet snow in amongst it all. Spring is supposed to be on its way, but we usually don't see much of it before mid April, early May. My crop of beans is sprouting nicely in the windowsill, showing large green leaves and promise of much more. The birds outside are going through one birdfeeder's worth of seeds every other day, greedy things.

I read that the woman who threw green custard in the face of Business Secretary Lord Mandelson on Friday has (finally) been arrested. She should have been taken arrested on the scene. Mandelson, although not my favourite politician, is a former Northern Ireland Secretary, enjoying 24/7 police protection during his stint in that office.

Talking of Northern Ireland, I was sickened to hear of the murder of two soldiers at a barracks in County Antrim. The crime is thought to have been committed by a Republican splintergroup - may I suggest we just call them a criminal gang without granting them the dignity of political affiliation? That should take the wind out of their sails. They enjoy no public support, as everybody in Ulster was sick to death with all the mindless violence and thuggery of the Civil War, otherwise referred to as the Troubles.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

I'm a Blogaddict

With thanks to Traci

82%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Jade Goody

So this poor woman has now been christened in the hospital, alongside her children. I don't want to appear crass or insensitive, but I don't wanna hear much more about her.

Who is Jade Goody? That is a question justifiably asked by many people outside the UK. Jade was a Z-rated celebrity, who shot to prominence in 2002 as not exactly the brightest spark in the universe on the equally Z-rated Big Brother show. A year or so ago, she reappeared in a celebrity version of BB, and she was quite rude and loud to a Bollywood actress. It almost led to an international incident. Fortunately not - both women have now kissed and made up.

Her current spell in the limelight stems from a diagnosis of metastatic cervical cancer. She was given an abnormal papsmear result earlier in 2008, but did not act on it. Jade's prominence has led to an increased uptake in cervical smear tests among younger women, which is the way celebrity status should work. Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, and she was quite open about disease and treatment. Jade got married in hospital recently, and it is recommended to her that now that the publicity has generated the funds needed to safeguard the future of her two children, she should withdraw from the public eye. Jade only has weeks to live, and is in much pain and discomfort.

The Dark Ship

I'm currently making my way through this Anne Macleod novel, set (mainly) in the years of the First World War. As you all know, one of my current interests is this episode from the 20th century, and the book puts a human face on those affected by it. Dark Ship is set in Stornoway, just before a bunch of young men are going off to the war in France. Occasionally, there is a Fast Forward movement to the mid 1990s or the late 1930s. It's a reasonable read, but a tad long-winded for my liking. However, the fact that I have made it to the half-way stage does mean it is quite acceptable.

More info here.

Afternoon notes

Brilliantly sunny afternoon, with a bank of distant high cloud to the southeast. We are threatened with severe gales, and there is this ominous lump of cloud out in the Atlantic. We shall see.

Just found a solution, of sorts, for my problem with Flickr.com. Whenever I add a set, the site would freeze when using Firefox. So, I removed Firefox from the PC and reinstalled it. Seems to have worked, I now get warnings that a Javascript is not responding. Bearing in mind that I have in excess of 300 sets on Flickr, that is no surprise. Just a flipping nuisance.

The picture beside this post shows the interior of Lewis, along the Grimersta River. Not been there for about 4 years or so. The spot shown is reached relatively easily, using one's own legs after leaving the B8011 road just past the Great Bernera turn-off. The only fly in the ointment comes a few miles further south, when you have to cross two rivers. And there ain't no bridges. Click on the location link to find out exactly where this pic was taken.

Remembering Today - 7 March

On this day in the First World War, this man laid down his life in the service of King and Country. RIP.

Quarter-master Serjeant ANGUS MACKAY
Aonghas Uisdean
Last address in Lewis: 31 Valtos,
Son of Hugh and Ann Mackay, married to Christina
Regiment or division: 1039th MT Coy Royal Army Service Corps
Service number: DM2/097042
Date of death: 7 March 1918 at the age of 49
Died in an accident in Egypt
Interred: Gaza War Cemetery
Memorial reference: XXXII. B. 3
Lewis Memorial: Uig, Timsgarry

Saturday 7 March

Today started with pouring rain, but the sun has come out since about 1pm. Ferry just came in, trailing plumes of smoke. The engines were refurbished in its recent overhaul, making them fit for burning cheap and nasty fuel. Well, that's patently obvious. It is supposed to be better for the environment - I don't know what's worse, a large carbon footprint or a large sulphur footprint.

For those that joined Atlantic Lines recently: I sometimes make note of tropical cyclones (hurricanes) that occur around the world. These happen year round, and at the moment one is grazing the Australian east coast. Summer is coming to a close down there, hence the presence of Hamish. The Atlantic and Eastern Pacific season will start in the middle of May, another two months away.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Remembering Today - 6 March

Today on this day in the First World War, these two men from the Isle of Lewis laid down their lives for King and Country. RIP

Corporal COLIN MACIVER
Last address in Lewis: 62 North Tolsta,
Son of John and Margaret MacIver, of 62, North Tolsta, Stornoway.
Regiment or division: Gordon Highlanders, Depot
Service number: 3/5668
Date of death: 6 March 1916 at the age of 26
Died of wounds in Brighton Military Hospital
Interred: North Tolsta Cemetery, Lewis
Local memorial: North Tolsta

Private JOHN MURRAY
Last address in Lewis: 27 South Dell,
Son of the late Angus and Catherine Murray, of 27, South Dell, Ness, Stornoway.
Regiment or division: 1st Seaforth Highlanders
Service number: 3/7233
Date of death: 6 March 1915 at the age of 21
Died of wounds sustained 2 days before. Died in hospital
Interred: Merville Communal Cemetery
Memorial reference: I. D. 9
Local memorial: North Lewis, Cross

The Onion

Before you play the below video clip, be warned it is full of foul language. Extremely funny though. Warning over, here goes.


Sony Releases New Stupid Piece Of Shit That Doesn't Fucking Work

Hurricane update - 6 March

Tropical cyclone Hamish is currently located 120 miles / 200 km northeast of Cairns, Queensland, Australia. The storm is a category 2 system on the Saffir-System scale (Australia uses a slightly different scale, making it a category 3 storm). Hamish is expected to move parallel to the coast, approaching it gradually. Tomorrow, winds near the storm's centre are anticipated to exceed 115 mph. As it approaches the coast, the influence of land will cause some weakening.

Winds of 65 knots (75 mph) and more extend for 20 miles from the centre of the cyclone
Winds of 34 knots (40 mph) and more extend for 60 to 70 miles from the centre
A tropical cyclone WARNING is in force between Cooktown and Bowen in Queensland.
A tropical cyclone WATCH is in force between Bowen and Yeppoon.

More details and 3-hourly updates on the BOM Australia website.

Friday 6 March

Overcast and some light rain from time to time. Will be paying another visit to the library this afternoon to continue my collation of data for Faces from the War Memorial. The small print of the book that is my source strains the eyes - maybe the lighting has something to do with that? Oh, glasses. Yes, I wear glasses.

Years ago, I lived a few miles from a restaurant called the Mucky Duck. Since demolished for the construction of a high-speed raillink. I was reminded of it when I read that a Berkshire restaurant called the Fat Duck had left up to 400 of its patrons with sickness and diarrhoea. It is a Michelin-star rated place, where you have to shell out well in excess of £130 for a cover. The cause for the D&V is unknown; food poisoning has been ruled out.

Tropical cyclone Hamish continues to bear down on the Queensland coast, and looks set to peak at 90 knots, that is 105 mph, winds. By the time the storm reaches the coast, it will have lost some of its puff. Queensland can anticipate even more rain, following in the wake of two previous cyclones and the monsoon which left the state drenched.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Remembering Today - 5 March

Today on this day in the First World War, these men from the Isle of Lewis laid down their lives in the service of King and Country. RIP.

Seaman DONALD MORRISON
Last address in Lewis: 41 South Shawbost,
Son of Murdo and Christy Morrison, of 41, South Shawbost, Stornoway; husband of Catherine Morrison, of 41, South Shawbost, Stornoway, Lewis. Served in the South African War with the 3rd Bn. Seaforth Highlanders.
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, HMT Flicker
Service number: 3541/C
Date of death: 5 March 1916 at the age of 42
Ship sunk by mine
Interred: Dover (St James) Cemetery, grave N. H. 9.

Seaman NORMAN MACLEAN
Last address in Lewis: 19 North Bragar,
Son of John and Maggie MacLean, of 19, North Bragar, Stornoway.
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, HMS President III
Service number: 3109A
Date of death: 5 March 1917 at the age of 28
Died at home whilst on leave
Interred at Bragar Old Churchyard
Local memorial: West Side, Bragar

Late night notes

Is anyone else experiencing a long wait before blogs load? You'll have to bear with me regarding the reading of journals and updates on Facebook.

And is there anyone out there that cares a pin that Michael Jackson will finally leave the music scene this year? I'm not among them.

Was watching a very nice program tonight about a tour around the Arctic with Glasgow comedian Billy Connolly. Stunning landscapes in Alaska, wow.

And a trip down memory lane earlier in the evening with Ballykissangel, which was first transmitted by the BBC in 1996.

The Australian state of Queensland is eyeballing tropical cyclone Hamish, which is winding up some 200 miles north of Cairns. This storm will skirt the east coast of the state, and I have this hunch that it could get quite nasty.

Thursday 5 March

Quite a nice afternoon, with some bright and (behind glass) warm sunshine. Weather conditions in southern England are described as atrocious, with lorries being abandoned in snow on the A37 road between Dorchester and Yeovil. Last night, we had a heavy fall of wet snow which melted within minutes of falling. It was carried along on a strong breeze, which made it stick to the windows for a little while. The strange thing is though, that the narcissi, crocuses and snowdrops are all out, and the wild roses up the road are sprouting leaves. Yep, it is March and spring isn't far off.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Remembering Today - 3 March

Today on this day during the First World War, this man from the Isle of Lewis lost his life in the service of King and Country. RIP.

Seaman ALEX MACRAE
Last address in Lewis: 10 Aignish
Son of Evander and Christina MacRae, of 10, Aignish, Stornoway, Ross-shire.
Regiment / service: HMT Calliope II, Royal Naval Reserve
Service number: 7255DA
Date of death: 3 March 1916 at the age of 25
Drowned at sea in collision with SS Dane off Butt of Lewis
Memorial / cemetery: Chatham Naval Memorial, panel 19
Local memorial: Point (Garrabost)

Remembering Today - 2 March

On this day during the First World War, these men from the Isle of Lewis lost their lives in the service of King and Country. RIP.

Leading Deckhand JOHN MACAULAY


Last address in Lewis: 7 Islivig,
Regiment or division: Merchant Marine, SS Kenmore
Date of death: 2 March 1918 at the age of 37
Ship sunk by U-boat
Lewis Memorial: Uig, Timsgarry

Private DONALD MACLEOD
Last address in Lewis: 39B Ranish,
Son of Catherine MacLeod, of 39, Ranish, Lochs, Stornoway, Lewis.
Regiment or division: 1st Gordon Highlanders
Service number: 3/6210
Date of death: 2 March 1916 at the age of 18
Killed in action in France
Memorial: Ypres, Menin Gate
Memorial reference: Panel 38
Local memorial: North Lochs, Crossbost

Private NORMAN MACKAY
Last address in Lewis: 1 Upper Bayble,
Regiment or division: 1st Gordon Highlanders
Service number: 3/5614
Date of death: 2 March 1916 at the age of 25
Killed in action
Memorial: Ypres (Menin Gate), panel 38
Lewis Memorial: Point (Garrabost)

Wednesday 4 March

Overcast today, but with glimpses of a glorious, bright red sunset at around 6pm. Feeling cold, with occasional showers. Only 5C today.

Last week's crash at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport appears to be attributable to a faulty altimeter. This misled the crew to believe they were about to touch down, whereas in fact they were still several hundred feet up in the air. When they realised their mistake, it was too late for the plane to be able to regain height. Nine people died in the crash.

The Italian bishop for Modena has asked people to give up texting, social networking and computer games for Lent. Don't think that's gonna happen in a hurry. The Italians are the second-most prolific texters behind the British.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Tuesday 3 March

Overcast and bitterly cold, with a stiff breeze and temperatures below 5C. An overnight fall of snow, leaving only a light dusting on the hills, had melted by midday.

The world of cricket had a rude awakening when a coach carrying Sri Lankan players was attacked by a dozen gunmen in Lahore, Pakistan, this morning. They thought they were immune from the harsh reality of the world today: unfortunately, not. Fortunately, none of the players were seriously injured, although half a dozen policemen were killed in the line of fire. The Sri Lankan players are on their way home. An extensive security review is in progress, whilst the hunt for the gunmen goes on. It's just not cricket. Sorry for the sarcasm.

Radovan Karadzic, former leader of the Bosnian Serbs, has refused to enter a plea at his trial on indictment of war crimes in the Bosnian war in the early 1990s. He says the International Court in The Hague does not have the authority to try him, and that the former envoy Richard Holbrooke had promised him immunity from prosecution, something denied by Mr Holbrooke.

Would you go into hospital to visit a friend or relative, and drink the handgel officially there to disinfect your hands? Granted, it contains 70% alcohol, but it also contains toxic chemicals. People have died doing this.

Midnight notes

Bit late for me to still be on here, but there you go. It has turned very cold here tonight, with the mercury at freezing point and hail, sleet and snow showers coming down. The windchill is at -5C, so not very pleasant. Warning for all points south: this has your name on it.

Quite a few of you are on Facebook (as am I myself). A warning has gone out that there are rogue apps about which carry viruses, malware, you name it. Be watchful - have posted this on Facebook as well.

Off to bed with a cup of tea. More tomorrow.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Monday 2 March

Pretty dismal day, with frequent showers, a stiff breeze and lowering temperatures. The sun tries to put in an appearance, but that doesn't really help.

Some good news this morning, in that the Scottish Government has announced it will act against the availability of cut-price alcohol. Alcohol mis-use is a major problem in Scotland, causing costs at least £4oo million a year for the NHS alone, not to mention the misery and death associated with it. In some shops, alcohol costs less than mineral water. The Scottish Government now seeks to introduce a minimum unit price and encourages a minimum age for purchasing alcohol of 21 - for local authorities to decide. A social responsibility fee will be levied on supermarkets. Of course, not everybody is happy about that. In certain quarters, getting drunk out of your mind is a rite of passage, and having that postponed to 21, tut.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Remembering Today - 1 March

On this day in the First World War, these men from the Isle of Lewis laid down their lives in the service of King and Country. RIP.

Seaman DONALD MACLEOD

Last address in Lewis: 4 Garenin,
Son of Donald and Mary Macleod, of 4A, Garenin, Carloway, Stornoway.
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Division, Benbow Bttn.
Service number: PO/3409/A
Date of death: 1 March 1916 at the age of 24
Died in internment camp at Groningen, Holland
Interred: Groningen Southern Cemetery
Memorial reference: Northwest part, Class 4, Row 37
Lewis Memorial: Carloway

Private MALCOLM MACDONALD
"Callum Dhol"
Last address in Lewis: 11 Kirkibost, Great Bernera
Son of Donald and Mary Ann Macdonald, of 11, Kirkibert, Bernera, Stornoway.
Regiment or division: 2nd Seaforth Highlanders
Service number: 3/6993
Date of death: 1 March 1915 at the age of 23
Killed in action in France
Had been employed in tramway department of Glasgow Corporation before the outbreak of war
Interred: Bailleul Communal Cemetery (Nord)
Memorial reference: J. 14
Lewis Memorial: Great Bernera

Remembering Today - 28 February

On this day during the First World War, these men from the Isle of Lewis lost their lives in the service of King and Country. RIP.

Seaman DONALD MACLEOD

Last address in Lewis: 14 Borrowston,
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, HMS Piscatorial
Date of death: 28 February 1917 at the age of 18
Ship sunk by mine
Lewis Memorial: Carloway

Private JOHN NICOLSON

Last address in Lewis: 9 North Tolsta,
Regiment or division: 1st Gordon Highlanders
Service number: S/5957
Date of death: 28 February 1915 at the age of 19
Died of wounds
Interred: Wytschaete Military Cemetery
Memorial reference: III. B. 10
Local memorial: North Tolsta

Private JOSEPH JAMES MAIR

Last address in Lewis: 2 Shell Street, Stornoway
Regiment or division: Australians
Date of death: 28 February 1919 at the age of 32
Died in Melbourne
View War Record
Local memorial: Lewis War Memorial

Seaman R MACKENZIE
Last address in Lewis: unknown
Service, unit: Royal Naval Reserve, HMS Excellent
Service number: 4160/B
Date of death: 28 February 1919 at the age of 33
Interred: Crossbost Cemetery

Density of population

Local blogger asgerd has an interesting take on population density.

Sunday 1 March

Good afternoon from a bright Stornoway, which is plagued by beefy downpours. Today is St David's Day, so leeks and daffs galore west of Offa's Dyke. For those who wonder what on earth I'm talking about: it's the national day for Wales today.

Found an interesting article on the phenomenon of the trillion, which has hit the headlines in the wake of the advent of that economic crisis. Being of continental provenance, I am more confussed than ever. You see, where I'm from, the term 'billion' is used for the number 1012, or 1,000,000,000,000 - or 1,000 times what is termed a billion in Anglo-Saxon / American terms. What comes beyond that is a totally different ballgame: a 'billiard' - yep, that's a game with two white and one red ball, a cue-stick and green baize tables - is 1015, or 1,000,000,000,000,000. You are lost? So am I. Wish they'd all stick to the same blinking terms. And did I say I'm fed up to the back teeth with all this talk of money, the greedy bankers, still wishing to pocket nearly three-quarters of a million pounds a year for a pension at the age of 50 for achieving an absolute and abject failure of their business.