View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Thursday 30 September

The last day of the month, with reasonable weather - there is quite a bit of brightness about, but the clouds are announcing the advent of very windy conditions through tomorrow. Tragedy has continued to affect Lochaber, the area west of Fort William. The body of a man has washed up on a beach in the Isle of Canna, prompting fears that it might be that of a missing yachtsman, Neil Mackenzie. His yacht was found near Arisaig last week. Last year, a diver who went missing at Ardnamurchan turned up on a beach on the southern coast of the Isle of Skye. No confirmation of the identity of the dead man, found in Canna, has been issued.

It is two years ago today that AOL announced they were going to withdraw their Journals service, heralding the end of J-land as we know it. We had just over four weeks to relocate elsewhere, as AOL was not even prepared to archive the journals. By Hallowe'en, they were all pulled off the Net. Many journallers did not continue on other platforms, such as Blogger or Wordpress. Facebook and Twitter have taken over parts of the function that AOL abandoned.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Wednesday 29 September

The day started very wet, but when I went to the post office, at 11 am, the rain had stopped. The sun came out after 4 o'clock, following a trip to the library for more tribute stories from the Stornoway Gazette. I also unearthed a story of a message in a bottle, that had been washed up somewhere in 1917. It had come from one of the Canaries, where three island sailors had been shipwrecked in 1916. The message requested a lady in Stornoway to be contacted to be told that her nephew was ok. The only thing was that the name given was not that of one of her nephews. The other story concerned the sailor who was found dead on the deck of the barque (a sailing ship) one morning. His remains were taken ashore at Stornoway and buried at Sandwick. The ship, the Yuba, was torpedoed five weeks later; the U-boat that fired the fatal torpedoes ran into a mine off Terschelling, Holland, at the end of August 1917 and was sunk with all hands.

I end with some of today's pictures.

Here comes the sun

A still morning

Awaiting the schoolbus

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Tuesday 28 September

Overcast today, and after about 3pm, the rain started. Not amounting to very much, and the rainfall radar shows it's only a relatively narrow and patchy band of precipitation moving across from the Atlantic. Looking at the weathercharts, it appears that we're in for a gale on Friday, which could well last into the weekend.

I've been into the library this afternoon to look at ancient copies of the Stornoway Gazette (our local weekly paper) from 1917. These have been put on microfiche, and I'm looking for tributes to island men who had fallen in battle during the First World War. There is a steady trickly of these, and I'm adding them to my WW1 tribute site "Faces from the Lewis War Memorial".

Looking across the water at the Arnish Fabrication Yard, the barge that came in on Sunday is now in place alongside the quay at Glumag Harbour, and a crane is moving stuff either to or from the barge. The Yard makes items for the renewable energy industry (e.g. windturbines).

Monday, 27 September 2010

Monday 27 September

A very nice day, full of sunshine - until highlevel cloud moved in and obscured the sun. After an overnight low of only +1C, the sun managed to push the mercury up to 14C / 57F this afternoon, and out of the wind it was quite pleasant. Operation Skip is now over, following the removal of said implement to the dump. It's a quiet autumn day here in the Western Isles, with the only major news item (locally) being the community buy-out bid being launched by the villagers of Mangersta, (35 miles west of Stornoway) whose number stands at 29. They seek control of their common land, which stretches to 9,000 acres to the south and east of their township (view below courtesy Google Street View).

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sunday 26 September

A bright and sunny day, with some high cloud about but not very warm - 12C/54F at the moment. It will grow a bit milder later in the new week. Another tug-with-barge has turned up at the Arnish Fabrication Yard; I could not properly see it, as the sun was in my eye when I tried to have a look. Will carry on with the transcription of the Napier Commission Reports later.

Sunday 26 September

Saturday 25 September

Friday 24 September

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Saturday 25 September

Another day like yesterday, although I should mention that it has grown rather colder than of late; daytime maximum temps are not much above 11C at the moment. Went into the library to scour the Stornoway Gazette of 1917 for tributes to those who fell in the First World War at the time. The month of January 1917 saw some very harsh weather in Lewis, with heavy snow and strong northeasterly winds.
I am continuing my transcripts of the Napier Commission's reports on Shetland, with a foray out to Foula, west of the Shetland Mainland.What remains is twenty submissions to be taken at Lerwick, from mainland Shetland and Whalsay.

Lone yachtsman Neil Mackenzie is still being sought near Arisaig, following the find of his yacht at Rhu on Thursday. The family have expressed their mounting concerns, after an all day search today in the area between Skye and Ardnamurchan yielded nothing.

Friday 24 September

Quite a nice day in terms of weather, with spells of brightness following in the wake of early showers. Spent the afternoon transcribing the Hillswick section of the Napier Commission's report for Shetland.

Down the West Coast of mainland Scotland, a search is continuing for a lone yachtsman, whose vessel (the Solitaire) was found abandoned at Rhu near Arisaig following an alert on Thursday. 59-year old Neil Mackenzie had not been in touch with his wife for a long period of time, contrary to previous habits. Mr Mackenzie was an experienced sailor, and the emergency services were out in force to look for him. (Image courtesy Press & Journal, photograph Sandy McCook)

Greenpeace is mounting a protest on a ship which was set to leave for the oilfields of the Atlantic, west of Shetland. They have affixed a survival pod to an anchor chain, to prevent the Stena Carron from departing. Legally, logistically and practically it is very difficult to dislodge the protesters; it would appear that an imminent gale might be more helpful to end the protest.(Image Greenpeace, via BBC)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Thursday 23 September

A gradual improvement in the weather, with rain and showers fading through the day. We saw the sun again before midday, although it did remain quite breezy. The filling of the skip continues.

Another windfarm is on the cards for the Isle of Lewis, something that nobody really wants. I am an opponent (as if the previous sentence hadn't already made that crystal clear), and think that other forms of renewable energy should be tapped around this island, other than windfarms which are a blot on the landscape. People come to visit Lewis because of the desolate wilderness quality of the interior.

On the Barvas Moor road



From the Barvas Hills

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Wednesday 22 September

The first day of autumn brought the wettest day for a long time. Heavy rain all day. No, Mr BBC Announcer, it was NOT a lovely day in the Western Isles. We'll be able to pull a long nose at those in England who were basking in Indian Summer temperatures of 25C today. You'll get our rain tomorrow, so there. Thrown more stuff in the skip today.

Talking of India, I was completely stunned by the news that the athletes' accommodation for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi was unfit for human habitation. You'd expect a major nation like India to pull out all the stops to make it work, particularly as they've had seven years to prepare. There is a chance the games are called off altogether. The games are scheduled to start on 3 October.

During the 23 years that I have been visiting (and latterly staying) in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, the number of German visitors has always surprised me. It would appear that the advent of Nazism and communism has something to do with it. Seems we all need some culture to identify with, and when German culture was poisoned by Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, the ordinary folk turned to Gaelic culture. Interesting.

I'm not a great football afficionado, but feel disappointed that the two main teams in the north of Scotland lost their cup matches tonight. Ross County (from Dingwall) lost 1-2 to Dundee United, and Inverness Caledonian Thistle were clobbered 6-0 by Celtic Glasgow.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Tuesday 21 September

Overcast and windy, with rain commencing after 6 o'clock. More skip-filling today, or to be precise: preparations to chuck more into the skip. I've completed the first major section of the Napier report into Shetland, with findings from the island of Yell. The main complaint was poor housing and insufficient land. I've so far covered 1600 out of the 4000 questions from Shetland.

I could not believe my eyes, when I read on the STV (Scottish commercial television) twitterfeed that a leading clergyman felt that soldiers should not be decorated for killing people. Excuse me, isn't it a soldier's job to kill if that's what it takes to defend your country? The comment came amidst a debate on euthanasia, currently subject to debate in the Scottish Parliament.

If you're on Twitter, you will have seen the kingsized letters on your screen this morning, which spelled trouble: on hovering your mouse cursor over them, this opened your browser to all sorts of nasties. It took several hours to plug the hole.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Monday 20 September

An overcast and cold day, although it has thankfully remained dry. Bermuda is slowly reappearing from under the canopy of Igor, having suffered not much worse than force 11 winds with gusts in excess of 70 mph. I've spent the day assisting someone in a major clear-out, involving a skip. And I've started transcribing more of the Napier Commission's Report, this time for Shetland.

I was going through my email contact file this evening, and I came across two names that I'd like to hear more about. Has anyone heard of Raven, who used to write "Rebuke the World", back in the days of AOL? And I'm also wondering about "chatzeekay" (Cathy), who had suffered braindamage as a result of physical abuse. She could not cope with the switch-over to Blogger, two years ago, and has disappeared under the radar since then.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sunday 19 September

A dreich Sunday in Stornoway - rain all day. I'm monitoring the weather conditions in Bermuda, a couple of thousand miles southwest of here, where hurricane Igor is bearing down. As I'm typing this, the sustained windspeeds are 50 mph, with gusts to 65 mph. The centre of the hurricane will pass within about 20 miles of Bermuda, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, gusting in excess of 100 mph. I'm also keeping an eye on the Bermuda section of, where local correspondents continue to post updates - for as long as it's safe to do so. Many have already lost power, and cannot go outside to start generators. Keep them in mind for this Igor Sunday.

Bermuda in normal mode, courtesy

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Saturday 18 September

Finished the transcription of the Napier Report on Skye, with the last of the appendices now also on the site. It's not a straightforward exercise in copy & paste, this also requires a lot of cleaning up of OCR problems. Before I move on to the transcripts for Orkney and Shetland, I'll compile an index for both Skye and the Western Isles.

Hurricane Igor is closing in on Bermuda, with rain starting to fall there within the last hour. Although the hurricane is weakening, the storm is still expected to pack winds close on 100 mph near its centre. Igor is a very large system, with galeforce winds extending to nearly 350 miles from the centre. After the weekend, this hurricane will transform into an "ordinary" depression to the east of Newfoundland. It remains to be seen whether it will move east towards Europe, or north to Greenland.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Roma in France

Roma in this instance refers to a category of travelling people, who have migrated from Romania and Bulgaria to France to evade persecution. It would appear that, judging by recent developments, they have gotten from the frying pan into the fire.

In July, a French policeman shot and killed a young Roma man. The next day, a police station and several cars were torched by Roma people. French president Sarkozy called a cabinet meeting and decided to clear 300 illegal camps, occupied by Roma, and evict their occupants from the country.

This policy has sparked scathing criticism from within the European Union, leading to an equally scathing backlash from M. Sarkozy. The EU has stated that this policy harks back to the dark days of the Second World War, an assertion not exactly appreciated by the French presidency.

Both in the UK and elsewhere on the European continent, the sight of encampments of travelling folk of varying description is common. Their are not usually appreciated by nearby residents, on account of alleged increased levels of petty crime and public disorder. However, evicting one group out of the country as a measure to pander to public opinion has debased Mr Sarkozy to the levels of Maréchal Pétain, who headed up the puppet regime in Vichy France during World War II.

Friday 17 September

A bright but cold day, with a veil of high-level cloud leaving the sky looking white. Adverse weather conditions kept our ferry in Ullapool, on the mainland, overnight. The Isle of Lewis has now made her customary lunchtime call into Stornoway and is on its way across to Ullapool as I type. It would appear the freight ferry Muirneag is back on duty after being off for technical reasons. This caused problems for the freight, bound for the islands, which is normally carried by the Muirneag. Calmac, the ferry company, has diverted that traffic through Skye to go on the Harris ferry.

The war memorial in the district of Uig in Lewis has been selected as the best kept village memorial not-in-a-garden in Scotland. I have not (yet) found a link, it is news from the twitter feed of the Uig historical society.

overlooking this view

Hurricane update - 17 September

Hurricane Karl is now a category III hurricane, approaching Mexico between La Cruz and Punta El Lagarto on the Gulf of Mexico. The storm continues to strengthen and could be at category IV strength, with winds of 135 mph by landfall within the next 12 to 24 hours. Apart from the high winds, the storm will also bring a storm surge, with tidal levels 12 to 15 feet above normal, with large and destructive waves to the area of landfall and points to the north. Six-hourly updates are provided through the NHC website.

I copy the effects a category IV hurricane has on the area of landfall - this relates to the USA; I cannot ascertain what the conditions in eastern Mexico are like.

Winds: 131-155 mph
Catastrophic damage will occur
There is a very high risk of injury or death to people, livestock, and pets due to flying and falling debris. Nearly all older (pre-1994) mobile homes will be destroyed. A high percentage of newer mobile homes also will be destroyed. Poorly constructed homes can sustain complete collapse of all walls as well as the loss of the roof structure. Well-built homes also can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Extensive damage to roof coverings, windows, and doors will occur.

Large amounts of windborne debris will be lofted into the air. Windborne debris damage will break most unprotected windows and penetrate some protected windows. There will be a high percentage of structural damage to the top floors of apartment buildings. Steel frames in older industrial buildings can collapse. There will be a high percentage of collapse to older unreinforced masonry buildings.

Most windows will be blown out of high-rise buildings resulting in falling glass, which will pose a threat for days to weeks after the storm. Nearly all commercial signage, fences, and canopies will be destroyed. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Long-term water shortages will increase human suffering.

Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months. Hurricane Charley (2004) is an example of a hurricane that brought Category 4 winds and impacts to coastal portions of Punta Gorda, Florida with Category 3 conditions experienced elsewhere in the city.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Hurricane update - 16 September

Three hurricanes at the same time in the Atlantic tonight, for the first time in 12 years. This is the eighth time in recorded history that this has occurred.

Karl is headed for Mexico, with landfall expected between Tampico and Veracruz with winds of about 85 knots (near 100 mph) and a projected rainfall total of 5 to 15 inches (125 to 375 mm).

Julia is not posing a threat to land, being located 2000 miles southwest of the Azores, and its proximity to Igor (below) will bring about its demise after the weekend.

Igor has slowly weakened from a top intensity of 125 knots (that's a trifling 140 mph) down to 110 knots (125 mph) this evening as it heads towards Bermuda. This island will feel the effects of Igor during Saturday.

NASA/GSFC provided this below image, showing (left to right), Karl, Igor and Julia.  Jeff Masters' Wunderblog supplied some of the information relayed.

Thursday 16 September

A breezy but bright day, with the odd shower about. Isles FM made my day with the clanger of the week: "Pope Benedict XVI is arriving in Stornoway today for a state visit...". The newsreader realised his mistake, but kept going without saying a word about it - but his embarassment was audible in his voice. His colleague, who took over after the weatherforecast, mentioned that you can always tell when someone hasn't had their morning coffee.

The Pope has arrived at Edinburgh, 200 miles southeast of Stornoway, for a four-day state visit to the United Kingdom. He was greeted at the airport by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen's husband. After a speedlimit-breaking drive from the airport, the pontiff arrived at Holyrood House, the Queen's official residence in Edinburgh, where he was greeted by Her Majesty, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the UK Deputy Prime Minister, the Scottish First Minister and other senior officials. Later, Pope Benedict will be driven through Edinburgh on his way to Glasgow, 45 miles to the west, where he will conduct mass on Friday. A Gaelic choir from the Uists will sing at that event.

Wednesday 15 September

A day of short but very sharp showers, interspersed with pleasant warm sunshine. Went to the cemetery at Gress during the afternoon, where I located another seven war-related gravestones. I took my time going through the graveyard, which is fairly extensive. It now gets dark before 8pm, which is getting depressing.

Gress during a shower

Gress Beach

Gress Village

Tiumpan Head Lighthouse from Gress

The village of Back across the Gress River

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Chatlog - September 2006

Four years ago (on 17 September 2006), we held a J-land chat on good ole AOL. I was going through my records, and I found the log for that chat. Taking part were 40 journalers (ok, not all of them kept a journal, I know that for a fact), namely

AM4039, Astra1547, BhbnEr2Him, Brainwhispers, BrandiLynnEliz, CacklinRosie101,
CANDLEJMR, Debbiewebb4465, Edwardssoapy, Fisherkristina, Frankandmary, GaBoatMan, GeminiWilder, HelmsWonderMom, INAFRNZ247, Kimbellina1956, LANursePRN, Leardex, LINDACHAPMANUK, Lindapaterson177, Lsfp1960, Luddie343, Lurkynat, ManiacEyelid, MansNott, Maxsox5, Memes121, Motoxmom72, MzGoochi, NJ LITTLE BEAR, OneCrabN3LilFish, Onestrangecat, Pharmolo, QueenieMart, Ralutja, Rap4143, RYanagi, Stellarghirl, Trishaham and VivianSulliNwank

I have left AOL altogether now. Mzgoochi passed away in November 2007; Stellarghirl was a contact from the AOL News Debate Chatroom, which was my first encounter with Internet chats. And raw it was an' all. Blast from the past? No kiddin'! 

Tuesday 14 September

Autumn has reached the islands, with a procession of short but quite sharp showers, one of them even with thunder. The northwesterly wind, already gusting to galeforce, will reach sustained windspeeds equivalent to severe gale, force 9, overnight. Spent the day sorting out more files, which I found on my USB-sticks, and keeping up to date with hurricanes Igor and Julia. I'm also going through the appendices for the Napier Commission's report on Skye, which is a mere 85 pages. And, the nearly 26,500 photographs that I have of the Hebrides also need ordering.

I came across the chatlogs for some of the J-land anniversaries and other community chats we had. I'll put some of those up for you all to have a re-read of the fun we had some years ago.

I have closed comments and feedbacks on J-land Central.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Monday 13 September

My day dawned to the dulcet tones of local radio station Isles FM telling me it was Monday 16th September - no folks, it's the 13th today. Followed by the usual Monday morning rundown of drunk and disorderly of the past weekend. If that's all that fills the news headlines, then all in the garden is fine.

Not so for the fellow islander who thought he'd take advantage of an offer from the Cats Protection League to have his cat neutered for £5 - only for the vet to find she was pregnant. Again. For the second time this year. I remember the pictures of the black kittens scampering about around his house this spring.

The Conference season is upon us again, and the Trades Union Congress is meeting in Manchester. Its boss delivered some pertinent one-liners, such as "not a coalition government but a demolition government", referring to the swingeing cuts that will be implemented in the government in London as of next month. Each government department has been charged with finding 20% cuts in their budgets. The prospects appear to be bleak - according to the TUC.

Well, I think I'll stick to the local news that the traffic flow around the council offices on Sandwick Road (about a quarter mile from my position) has been altered, and that increased construction traffic is to be expected on Sandwick Road (the main road from the airport into town) and Matheson Road (the shortcut bypassing the town centre). They're building a new campus for the Nicolson Institute.

The weather? Don't ask.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Hurricane update - 12 September

Hurricane Igor, a category IV hurricane, is moving west across the Atlantic, midway between Africa and South America. The storm strengthened very rapidly, and is now carrying winds of 115 knots (130 mph) near the centre, and will intensify further to 130 knots (150 mph) during this week. As this system will veer northwest, it will probably miss the Lesser Antilles and remain out at sea for a number of days yet.

The twelfth tropical cyclone of the North Atlantic hurricane season is bringing heavy rains to the Cape Verde islands off the west coast of Africa. It will become tropical storm Julia within the next 24 hours. This system will also head northwest out to sea.

Sunshine on fire

I was very sad when I read about the wildfire that destroyed most of Sunshine CO, the home of fellow blogger David Wheeler. A few years ago, David kindly sent me a copy of a book on the village and its history.

Now some 90% of its building lie in ashes, including David's own home. Although I've never visited Sunshine, having read the book almost makes me feel as if I have. I wish its inhabitants strength in rebuilding the place.

Sunday 12 September

The weather slowly deteriorated as the day went on, and it's been drizzling for the past few hours now - it's 6.30pm. Spent the afternoon on the final transcripts of the Napier Commission Report on Skye, leaving me only the 25 appendices to transcribe (60 pages in total). Some quite strong language coming to the fore, particularly from the landowners some of whom were quite averse to change. Once I've finished this, I may continue with the reports from the Northern Isles of Scotland (Orkney and Shetland), and carrying on with Sutherland.

Cleared village, Boreraig, Skye
Image courtesy

I'm glad the Koran burning in Florida has been called off, as it would have played right into the hands of the very people who endorse the carrying out of atrocities like 9/11. Polarising statements, like the one made by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, just don't help. I am extremely concerned about Mr Wilders, whose party may be called upon to provide parliamentary support to a new coalition in Holland, combining the Christian Democrat (CDA) and Liberal (VVD) parties.

Swan of Tuonela

To close my 9/11 entries, I post this video with music by Jean Sibelius, the Swan of Tuonela.

Saturday 11 September

A scheduled posting, as I am writing this on the day as marked in the post title - but deferred for a few hours in order to leave my 9/11 tributes as sole entries for today.Viewing the 9/11 commemorations in New York was quite moving, and watching the replay of the television images of that day, 9 years ago, harrowing. The wounds are still raw for many, and it only seems like yesterday that the events unfolded. But it is not.

I cannot be bothered to give any more airtime to dotty preachers (Terry Jones) or cracked politicians (Geert Wilders) who seek to undermine the rapprochement between religions that (I hope) is occurring between Christians and Muslims. Events like 9/11 highlight problems that exist in world society at large, yes on that scale. Sending the military in might temporarily alleviate the issue, but the underlying causes should be addressed as well. The intractable Israeli / Palestinian confrontation is one of these, and I do not believe that any resolution is in sight. Actions speak louder than words. Hatred, borne of terrorist events, do not resolve anything either. I have no cut and dried solution, and nobody has. Chance events will dictate the progression of issues, and when one is resolved, another will rear its head.

For now, I'd like to close with this cartoon, made by Mike Lubovich.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

9/11 - nine years on

This tribute is published on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001, under the auspices of Project 2996.

Jeffrey Dwayne Collman

Image: Family photograph, via

Source: Aurora Beacon News, Aurora IL 9-23-2001
Jeffrey Dwayne Collman, age 41, of Novato, California, formerly of Yorkville, IL, a flight attendant for American Airlines, died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City at 8:45a.m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Jeffrey was a 1977 graduate of Yorkville High School in Yorkville, IL. Jeff was formerly employed, for over 10 years, at All-Steel in Montgomery, IL. He had then worked, for a brief time, at Cedar Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California before attaining his dream of being a flight attendant with American Airlines. Jeffrey loved his job and traveling to other countries around the world. He also loved to play and watch tennis. Jeff was a true people person who enjoyed visiting with and getting to know others. He became a flight attendant in 1997. Two years later, Jeff received the American Professional Flight Attendant Award and was considered a spirited and dedicated flight attendant. He liked to entertain children on his flights, and he was fond of playing tennis and traveling, friends said.

He is survived by his parents, Dwayne and Kay Collman of Yorkville, IL and Beverly Sutton of North Aurora, IL; his close companion, Keith Bradkowski of Novato, Ca; his brothers, Charles Collman of Fort Meyers, FL and Brian Collman of Las Vegas, NV; his sister, Brenda Sorenson of Aurora, IL; his step-brothers, Steve (Linda) Gengler of Yorkville, IL and Chuck (Lakshmi) Gengler of South Orange, NJ; his step-sister, Susan Bohan of California; a god-child, Marlene Wakelin; his half-sisters, Laura Kries of Brooklyn Park, MN, Caroline Sutton of Joliet, IL and Vickie Michel of Aurora, IL; several nieces and nephews, many loving aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Jeffrey will also be missed by 100 other flight attendants.

He is preceded in death by his grandparents and his brother, Mark Allen Collman.
A memorial service was held on Monday, October 1, 2001 at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Yorkville, IL with Pastor John Leaf officiating.

Father’s thoughts
Dwayne Collman's imagination gets the best of him when he thinks about the final minutes of his son's life on American Airlines Flight 11. He's filled with horror thinking about what the 41-year-old flight attendant from Yorkville went through as terrorists with knives steered the plane into the first World Trade Center tower. Collman knows his son received safety training in flight school, but he doubts it ever could have prepared him for the challenges he would face on the morning of Sept. 11. The grieving father is sure of one thing about his son, though, even if the details about his death are not certain:
"He would have fought like hell."

Jeffrey Collman, an American Airlines flight attendant for five years who grew up in Yorkville, died Tuesday morning when his hijacked plane, destined for Los Angeles, crashed into New York's famous landmark at 8:45 a.m. Though his body has not been recovered, his parents knew he was gone when he didn't call within a few hours after the tragedy. He had sent his stepmother, Kay, an e-mail the night before, telling her he would be flying from Boston to Los Angeles the next morning.

"I knew he was in that accident because every time there was something going on with airplanes, he would call and say, 'Hey, I'm all right,' " said Kay Collman. "So I knew that, when he didn't call, he was on that plane."

His parents [...] say Jeffrey Collman wanted to be a flight attendant because he loved to travel and meet people around the world. After working for years at Allsteel in Montgomery, he moved to California about five years ago to pursue that dream. Lifelong friend Dolores Humphrey, who went to school with Jeffrey Collman at all grade levels in Yorkville, said she feared he was killed when she heard the news because he often flew early-week flights from Boston to Los Angeles.
She said Collman never lost contact with his friends, even though his job took him around the world.

"Every time he got into town, he would call anyone he knew to meet for breakfast," said Humphrey, who last talked to Collman [5 days before 9/11]. "He would talk for a couple hours, then have to go fly somewhere else."

His stepmother said Jeffrey was the type of person who could "sit down next to someone on a plane and walk away knowing their life story." His father said Jeffrey loved tennis and flew around the world to watch professionals play. Kay Collman says her stepson never went anywhere meekly, and he loved his job so much that she's sure he didn't back down in the face of terror. "He took it seriously," she said, "and he would not have let anyone walk on him."

Humphrey said Jeffrey talked of flying even when he was a child, and his dream came true when American Airlines gave him a job. He was never afraid to fly, she said, always asserting that he was safer in the air than anyone on the ground. Collman's parents have begun to realize how their son died, and that he will always be remembered as a victim on one of the saddest days ever in the United States.

"It's completely different than just someone dying," Kay Collman said. "We'll have the pictures forever. We'll always see where he died. It's part of history."

Seattle Times, 17 September 2001
His partner, Keith Bradkowski, said Collman was courageous and safety-conscious. "He was so focused on safety," Bradkowski said. "If there was a threat, he would have done anything in his power to prevent it." He didn't normally work the Boston-to-Los Angeles route but made an exception to get vacation time at the end of the month. Collman grew up in Yorkville, Ill., and besides Bradkowski left behind four brothers and a sister. (Seattle Times)

Further information: the fate of Flight 11.

Memorial to flight crew


Blogger Nathanael V.  found out 5 years after 9/11, that Jeffrey Collman was a neighbour's grandson.


and as attributed above.

9/11 - nine years on

When this post is published, it will be exactly nine years to the minute that the first aircraft hit the World Trade Center in New York. The events of what is now referred to as 9/11 are only too well known.

My thoughts are with all victims, whether identified afterwards, or not. In New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

My thoughts are with the passengers and crew on the four flights destroyed. My thoughts are with the victims killed in the World Trade Center. My thoughts are with those emergency workers who lost their lives trying to save others'.

My thoughts today are with the families of those who perpetrated these atrocities, for they lost too. Even before the events of September 2001, they lost their loved ones to a delusion of hate that is not of the religion they claimed to be faithful to. Hatred leads to destruction - as shown seven years ago. Forgiveness is a pillar of Christian faith, as it is one of the Islamic faith. Whether those that lost a loved one in 9/11 can find it in themselves to forgive is beyond my scope.

But first and foremost, my thoughts are with Norberto Hernandez, whose tribute I filed on Northern Trip, the predecessor to Atlantic Lines, in 2006 and 2007. The searches for Norberto on Google are contaminated with references to the Falling Man, who was in fact another victim, Jonathan Briley. This confusion has led to much anger and anguish, something the families of both men could do well without.

Norberto, rest in peace.

This entry, as stated above is dedicated to the memory of

Norberto was a pastry chef from Elmhurst, working in the restaurant Windows on the World on the 106th and 107th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. After the attacks, he was reported missing for a week until parts of a torso and an arm were found in a collapsed stairwell. DNA testing and finger printing reveiled that these were the remains of Norberto. It also invalidated claims that the image of the Falling Man was that of Norberto; this was another victim of 9/11 who will be the subject of a different tribute.

At the time of the attacks on the WTC, Norberto was aged 42 and had been married for 25 years. He was the fourth of ten children by his parents’ marriage, and also had six half-siblings through his father. His parents separated when he was young. Norberto himself had three daughters, three grandchildren and 37 nephews. He was a man of Puerto Rican origins, and had hoped to spend his final days there. Instead, after 9/11, a funeral service was held and his remains cremated in Puerto Rico.

His sister Luz described Norberto. “He was quiet, kind”, she said. “He was a handsome man. Everybody loved him, you know. Everybody.” Norberto’s nickname was Bible, as he was very dependable. Together Forever was his motto.

Norberto started work in Windows on the World at the age of 17, washing dishes. He was interested in cooking, so a manager paid for his tuition at cooking school. Norberto became pastry chef and worked up to 10 hours a day. His sister Luz said that he made cakes, desserts, cookies and bread. His cakes were fabulous.

Outside work, Norberto loved sports, and was a fan of a Puerto Rican boxer, Felix Trinidad Jr. Four days before the attacks, he rang his mother and asked her to play “I would cry but I have no more tears” four times.

In the immediate aftermath of the plane striking the North Tower, Norberto called his sister Luz. “He said: ‘Yeah, don’t worry, I’m OK”.They were disconnected, and when Luz tried to call back she could not get through. Other accounts from Windows on the World tell that smoke and dust filled the restaurant after the strike, and that people lay on the floor to escape the worst of it. Air was beginning to run out at the time of the last contact.

These are the facts that I have managed to pull together from the Internet.

From the little that I have learned of Norberto, he came through as a gentle giant. Although 6’2” (1.84m) tall, he was always listening, and talked later. His family suffered a double loss, as Claribel Hernandez (his sister-in-law), a secretary working elsewhere in the North Tower, was also killed in the attacks. Norberto was close in the family and responsible, which earned him the nickname Bible. He loved his work, and by the look of one of the images, loved to impart that knowledge to others around him.

September 11th, 2001, dawned as a brilliantly sunny morning in New York. Two planes were flown into the two towers of the World Trade Center, leading to their collapse within 2 hours. The destruction of so many lives was brought about by mindless hatred and madness, fuelled by religious zealotry which was not based on any writing in any scriptures in any religion.

Norberto may have heard of that on news reports, but it was probably quite far from him. He was a man that lived for his family, always there for them. A diligent worker, putting in up to 10 hours a day, loving his creations from the oven. Travelling to the WTC on the Subway every morning, his thoughts were probably far from what was to happen not that much later on that fateful Tuesday.

Two thousand nine hundred and ninety-six are known to have died that day, or in its immediate aftermath. Norberto’s ashes were scattered in his homeland of Puerto Rico. His memory lives on in his family, and in the memory of those that read this. He is deeply missed by those close to him.

To Norberto Hernandez

Rest In Peace

This link is no longer operational

I have attempted to contact the University of Columbia to use the material in this link, but have not received a reply. As it is central to the tribute, I have used it, and acknowledge the writer, Sarah Clemence.

This is a poem by Barbara Phillips, from which I have used some factual references to Norberto. It refers to him being the Falling Man though.

I have been granted permission by UIM to reproduce the commemorative quilt for Norberto.

The poster, pictured above, proclaiming Norberto as missing after the attacks, hung on a walkway of Manhattan for more than a week

Friday, 10 September 2010

Friday 10 September

The day started breezy, cold and wet, but as I type (5.30 pm), the sun is out and the wind has picked up further. Last night, I found a bag with four photographic films, which were nearing their expiry date. Fortunately, someone still had a use for them, so I posted them to the other side of the country where a degree student photography will be quite happy.

The nutty parson in Florida has apparently decided not to burn copies of the Koran. Well, aren't we all relieved. I think this 50-of-a-flock preacher has gotten way too much publicity, and whilst I'm an overuser of the Internet, I'm more than happy to acknowledge the power for the worse that the WWW has put on display here. Some 10-15 years ago in comparable circumstances, this numpty would never have gotten the publicity he got in 2010. I maintain my position that it should be possible to have an Islamic study centre in the vicinity of Ground Zero.  The perpetrators of 9/11 acted not out of religious conviction, rather, they abused religion for political motives. Whilst American foreign policy is at times breathtakingly horrific, it is never fair to blame or abuse individual citizens for that. One of my former Internet contacts, a lady from Virginia, broke off contact with me (as a European) over the abuse she received in Rome for being an American.

Unless I think of anything else to blog about this evening, my next two postings will appear simultaneously at 1.46pm BST tomorrow afternoon, that is 8.46 am EDT - the anniversary of 9/11. I shall resume normal posting on Sunday.

Thursday 9 September

Reasonable day, with a bit of sunshine about. Spent most of the day completing the penultimate chapter of the Napier Commission's report for the Isle of Skye. The factor for about half that island's estates was grilled over dozens and dozens of pages, some of it boring in the extreme, other items interesting. However, it was remarkable that nobody from the estate that Alexander Macdonald himself owned had come forward to give evidence to the Commission. Macdonald said he was 'very proud of his crofters'. However, the Commission was not hesitant to pose pertinent questions, and in all, the evidence does not do the landed gentry in Skye any favours. Much has changed since 1883.

Image courtesy BBC
On Wednesday, it was 50 years ago since the causeway was opened that linked the islands of North Uist and Benbecula. Previously, people had to cross the waters on foot, fording at the lowest point of the tides, dodging quicksand and some having to engage the services of a guide. Before 1960, some Uisteachs had been to Yokohama before they'd visited Benbecula.

Also on Wednesday, Princess Anne visited the Isle of Eigg. All power on that island is generated using wind, hydro and solar energy, with diesel generators only present as a back-up. Eigg was bought by its residents in 1997 for £2m, after the sitting laird turned out to have bought the island with no money in the bank.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Drawing - 9 September

Trying out softer pencils. Result is better; pity I only have 6 colours.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Wednesday 8 September

Brilliantly sunny day with some distant clouds to the south and a breeze. Temperature is once more 20C, which is more than respectable for the time of year, and for this location. Did a drawing (see previous post) outside, and helped to pot pansies. Last month's gale burned the tenderer plants outside, but this lot should make it a bit more cheerful.

I can understand why Islam is looked at askance in certain quarters of the USA. However, I can only describe as lunacy the highly publicised event at a church in Florida where copies of the Koran are to be burned on Saturday, the 9th anniversary of 9/11. I wonder how the same people would feel about an event, hosted by native Americans, where copies of the Bible were burned. I am saying that because it was a warped interpretation of the Christian holy scripts which was used to justify the genocide of said ethnic group on the American continent. 9/11 is nine years ago, and I was under the impression that a healing process was in motion. However, the hubbub surrounding the Cordoba Centre in New York (that's that mosque near Ground Zero) has showed that nothing of the sort has taken place, which worries me.
I spent yesterday morning compiling a new tribute for my 9/11 commemoration on Saturday, one of two that will me my sole postings for Saturday, both scheduled for posting at 8.46 EDT (1.46pm BST). I reread the events that befell flight AA 11, which flew into the North Tower of the WTC in New York, as my victim was a flight attendant on that plane. The horror of that day came back to me in full - and I was not even directly or indirectly affected on a personal level. I still see the face of my colleague who rushed out from his lunchbreak at 1.46 pm to tell us a plane had flown into the Twin Towers in New York.
I do not blame Islam as a religion for these atrocities. I blame the warped interpretation of Islam's holy scripts for that, which was used alongside frustration and dissatisfaction which is rife in the Middle East - as is an all-consuming hatred for the Americans. Idiotic pranks like the sort to be carried out by the Dove World Outreach Center serve no purpose other than to inflame an already present hatred of the Americans - and I leave it to others more qualified than I to point out the other dangers that will result from this action.

Drawing - 8 September

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Raasay weeps

A harrowing tale of evictions from the island of Raasay, as I continue to copy, paste and clean up the findings of the Napier Commission, now sitting at Torran in Raasay. Raasay is the longish island off the east coast of Skye. Donald Mcleod, a 78-year old former fisherman from Rona, just north of Raasay, tells of the evictions of fourteen townships. Chairman Lord Napier is asking about this.

7837. We want to find out if you know about the evictions in former times. The first one began in the time of M'Leod himself about forty years ago. Do you recollect that?
—I don't remember the first removing, but I remember Mr Rainy about thirty years ago clearing fourteen townships, and he made them into a sheep farm which he had in his own hands.

7838. What became of the people?
—They went to other kingdoms—some to America, some to Australia, and other places that they could think of. Mr Rainy enacted a rule that no one should marry in the island. There was one man there who married in spite of him, and because he did so, he put him out of his father's house, and that man went to a bothy—to a sheep cot. Mr Rainy then came and demolished the sheep cot upon him, and extinguished his fire, and neither friend nor any one else dared give him a night's shelter. He was not allowed entrance into any house.

7839. What was his name?
—John MLeod.

7840. What is the name of the town were his father was?

7841. Will you give us a rough estimate of the population of the fourteen townships?
—I cannot; there were a great number of people.

7842. Were they hundreds?
—Yes, hundreds, young and old. I am sure there were about one hundred in each of two townships.

7843. Will you name the towns?
—Castle, Screpidale, two Hallaigs, Ceancnock, Leachd, two Fearns, Eyre, Suisinish, Doirredomhain, Mainish.

7858. Did the people out of these fourteen townships that Rainy cleared go of their own accord?
—No, not at all. The people were very sorry to leave at that time. They were weeping and wailing and lamenting. They were taking handfuls of grass that was growing over the graves of their families in the churchyard, as remembrances of their kindred.

7859. Mr Cameron.
—Might that not occur even though the people left of their own free-will, if they were much attached to their kindred?
—No, they were sent away against their will, in spite of them.

Tuesday 7 September

Although the day started fairly bright, cloud increased through the afternoon and bits and pieces of rain started to bother us. The wind remained fairly strong through the day, leading to a slight delay on the ferry service to Ullapool. As my previous post indicated, I have been transcribing more evidence from the 1883 Napier Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of the Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands. The submissions at Glendale were a touch worse than from elsewhere in Skye, but I have yet to do Raasay and Portree.

Today saw the 70th anniversary of the start of the London Blitz, and the beginning of the end of Hitler's bid to invade Great Britain. It has been suggested that if he had kept up his attacks on RAF airfields and aircraft, the RAF would have been on its knees in a week or so. The Blitz, which was sustained for weeks and months, claimed thousands of lives, and not just in London. In 1941, a bombing raid on the Glasgow suburb of Clydebank was devastating, and the raid on Coventry in 1940 infamous. After bombing with aircraft, the Nazis switched to bombing with flying bombs (the V1) and rockets (V2) in 1944 and 1945. Again, it is suggested that Hitler's Germany was within weeks or months of developing a jet-propelled aeroplane, which would easily have outflown the propellor-driven planes that the Allies were using.

Napier Commission in Skye - Attitude

I am currently working my way through the Napier Commission's Report for the Isle of Skye. The landowner at the time (1883) in the northwest of the island was Dr Nicol Martin. His attitude towards his tenantry is eloquently portrayed in reply to:

7570. You think they could not pay the rent?
—I know they could not do it, and they would not do it. They are getting indolent and lazy besides. Look at this winter; they did nothing but go about with fires on every hill, and playing sentinels to watch for fear of sheriff's officers coming with warnings to take their cattle for rent. They went about with pitch-forks and scythes and poles pointed with iron or steel, and it was a mercy no one would serve the processes upon them, or they would have murdered him sure enough. You cannot get a sheriffs officer now to serve a process on any tenant in Skye.

Monday 6 September

Quite a nice day, but very breezy out here. I took delivery of an external harddrive with a terabyte (1 million megabytes) storage capacity. So I spent the afternoon transferring pictures and files onto it, including my collection of videos that I've shot with my photocamera. Cleaned up the laptop's harddisk at any rate, and I now have all my pictures (more than 26,000 at this time) in one place. I also have all the tags that people have sent me over the year in one place. I have everything backed up on CD-ROMs, but the disadvantage of those is that you cannot (normally) add to them. The external harddrive works just like a normal computer HDD.

I have also continued to transcribe the reports from the Napier Commission in the Isle of Skye, and you can follow progress on the link provided.

A reminder, as if I need to remind, that the 9th anniversary of 9/11 will be this coming Saturday. As per usual, there will be only one post from me - possibly two, if I get that other tribute sorted out before then.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Hurricane update - 6 September

Tropical storm Hermine has formed in the Bay of Campeche, west of the Yucatan Peninsula. The system is moving north and strengthening steadily. At the moment, the NHC has warnings out for 45 knots of wind, equivalent to force 9-10 on the Beaufort scale, although there is a possibility that Hermine could intensify to a hurricane.

A Hurricane watch has been declared from Rio San Fernando (MX) to Baffin Bay (TX)
A Tropical storm warning is in force from La Cruz (MX) to Port Oconnor (TX)
NWS Brownville is issuing Hurricane Local Statements. 

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Sunday 5 September

After days of having up to half a dozen tropical cyclones to monitor, we're now back down to 1. Tropical storm Malou, which is churning its way up the Yellow Sea towards the Korean peninsula. Hurricane Earl is no more, just an early autumn depression east of Labrador. The remains of Gaston could turn back into a tropical depression in a day or so, to worry the Lesser Antilles; and something might brew up in the Bay of Campeche, in southern Mexico.

Here in Stornoway, it was Sunday, i.e. very quiet. Once more a sunny day, but with a breeze going, so not incentivised to sit outside. Instead I revamped my website, and renamed it "Across Two Seas", reflecting the fact that these days I undertake infrequent forays back and forth across the Minch and the North Sea. I have updated several pages, found a number of dead links that needed weeding out, and may add to the Walks page. The History page is still the heaviest part of the website, as that has and still is my main activity in Lewis.

Saturday 4 September

A brilliantly sunny and warm day, with the mercury reaching at least 21C. Spent much of the afternoon outside, until high clouds came over and obscured the sun. Not much of a breeze, until an approaching band of rain brought some wind as well. Two large cruiseliners in today, the Silver Cloud and the Princess Daphne. The former was tied up alongside the ferry pier, standing out a mile against the dark green of the trees in the Castle Grounds. The Princess Daphne is a very old lady of the seas, launched in 1955 as the Port Sydney. She  lay at anchor off Sandwick, ferrying its passengers ashore using tenders. I walked over to the Battery area of Stornoway to take pictures of the Princess and came across several cats, sunning themselves under trees and on top of an outside gasmeter.

Silver Cloud

Princess Daphne

Cats in the sun