30.3.07

ARMCHAIR
TRAVEL


Well, in my case bed travel.

One good thing about having the lurgy was
that I could catch up on my reading and
especially the guidebooks for the up and
coming trips to
Vienna and Amsterdam.


The only book I bought new out of that whole
lot (above) is the Vienna
Eye Witness guide,
the rest of them I've found in charity shops
and on eBay for a pound or so each.

I bought the maps from
Stanfords in Covent Garden,
possibly the best travel book shop in the world.
I could spend hours in there just browsing the
maps etc, it's a fantastic place for
any traveller to visit.


MAKING PROGRESS

First apologies to "regular viewers" for
this unscheduled intermission.

The good news is the lurgy has loosened
it's grip a wee bit so normal transmission
should resume next week. I even left the
house today for the first time in a week,
in a car, but still. It was weird being
somewhere with other people!


Also Siouxsie The Hopalong is feeling a bit better
after we started her on the course of steroids. She
eats and drinks as per normal and is always up
for a walk although the last couple of times she's
managed about 50 yards. But still, she wants to
go and is wagging her tail and looks
happy, that's the main thing.


Thank you for all the well wishes we've had for
her, they mean a lot. She's got another
check-up on Monday, I think the vet wants
to know how the tablets are working.

Siouxsie and Archie chillin'
this afternoon.


27.3.07

SAD DAY

Yesterday was a sad day.

We found out that our beloved
Great Dane Siouxsie has a bone
cancer (Osteosarcoma) tumour
in her shoulder.

It can't be operated on and there is
no way of stopping it spreading. If she
was younger an amputation might be an
option but at her age it's not something
we can do. Nor chemotherapy, I am not
willing to put her through all that.

The vet gives her between 3 months and a year.
I am going to make sure her days from now
on are as comfortable as possible with plenty
of warmth, nice comfy clean bed,
good food and fresh drink.

She's still eating and drinking with gusto, wagging
her tail and wants to go for walks but they are
going to have to very limited and short
because as the tumour spreads there is
going to be a danger of the
bone actually breaking.

We're taking each day as it comes and
enjoying the moments we have left.


23.3.07

PLASTIC KEEPS
LAMBS WARM


Little lambs are jumping for joy after
their farmer came up with a new
idea for keeping them warm.


Farmer John Garnett wanted to move his
lambs from their crowded indoor pens
to the fields in the
Yorkshire Dales.


But he was worried that some would die as some nights
the temperature has dropped below freezing.

So he's fitted the lambs with stylish blue
plastic raincoats to protect them from
the bad weather as they run around
the fields near
Skipton

Mr Garnett said: "Well, the lambs seem to
like them and the sheep don't
seem to be bothered.


"The farm buildings are filling up with sheep
and lambs so we needed to get some out into
the fields."
As well as protecting the lambs from
the weather, the jackets have an extra
advantage - foxes seem to be confused by
the coats and stay away.


HAVE A KNUT DAY

Germany's youngest celebrity, Knut the polar
bear cub, made his much-anticipated public debut
at
Berlin Zoo today and appeared unfazed
by the media scrum surrounding
his first excursion.


The three-and-a-half-month old white cub
padded gingerly round his new enclosure
to the gasps and sighs of onlookers.


Fortified by a breakfast of porridge, the
puppy-sized cub sniffed the grass and
rolled in the dust before delighting
the crowds by splashing in a pond.


Knut stole the heart of Berliners after he
was born in December but rejected by
his mother Tosca. A bearded zookeeper
moved into the enclosure to
look after him round the clock.


But Knut's fate grabbed global attention
after an animal rights campaigner said
hand-rearing polar bears was a violation
of animal rights. German media
interpreted his comments as a
call for Knut to be put to sleep.


"We are not worried about Knut's future,"
Berlin Zoo vet Andre Schuele told reporters.
"As a male he will grow big and strong.
Polar bears are loners and he will be fine
-it doesn't matter that he has
been hand-reared."


A THRIFT STORE
TREASURE


A rare 1823 copy of the Declaration
of Independence sold at auction for
£243 000 ($477,650) by a man who found
it last year in a Nashville thrift store
for £1.26 ($2.48)

Michael Sparks, a music equipment technician,
sold the document Thursday at Raynors'
Historical Collectible Auctions
in Burlington, North Carolina.

Six bidders contended for the document,
most by phone or Internet, when bidding
opened at £63 000 ($125,000) The identity
of the winner was not disclosed.


Sparks found his bargain last March
while browsing at Music City Thrift Shop.
When he asked the price on a yellowed,
shellacked, rolled-up document, the
clerk marked it at $2.48 plus tax.

The document turned out to be an "official
copy" of the Declaration of Independence -
one of 200 commissioned by
John Quincy
Adams (below) in 1820 when he was secretary
of state and printed by
William
Stone in 1823.

Sparks said he had a few plans for the money:
a used car, adding a sun room to his house,
helping to support his parents and giving some
to charity.
"You think it is a huge fortune,
but by the time you figure it up and put some
off for the taxes it is not", he said.


22.3.07

AMAZING PIC OF THE DAY

This image taken by Japan's Hinode spacecraft
studying the Sun reveals the structure
of the solar magnetic field rising
vertically from a sunspot.


HOOKED

I think I've managed to reach new levels
of, ...er, sadness: I am completely and utterly
hooked on instant
cappuccino's! Oh dear.

21.3.07

THE FOUL SMELL
OF SUCCESS


Thirteen-year-old Katharine Tuck's sneakers
are equal opportunity offenders.

They smell as bad as they look. Now, the Utah seventh
grader is £1270 ($2,500) richer because of it:
yesterday she out-ranked six other children
to win the 32nd annual National Odor-Eaters
Rotten Sneaker Contest, stinking up the joint with
a pair of well-worn 1 1/2-year-old Nikes so
noxious they had the judges wincing.

"I'm so proud of the little stinker,"
said her mother, Paula Tuck.

The contest, which was founded in 1975
as a sporting good store promotion and
is now sponsored by the manufacturer
of anti-foot odor products, pits children
from around the nation who have won
state-level competitions for the generally
cruddy condition of their footwear.

Each contestant had to jump in place once
and make one full turn before taking off his or
her shoes and handing them to the judges.
It was 24 degrees outside, but only one
of them wore socks - since foot sweat
is a boon not a bane in this game.


Once judge William Fraser got a look - and a
whiff - of Katherine's Nikes, he took a deep
breath and asked her mother "Do you actually
let her wear these in public?"
After the judges'
decision was announced, Tuck shyly granted
interviews. Was she proud? "Yeah, I guess."

"She's going to put this on her first job
application," said her father, Michael Tuck.

"I am?" she said looking puzzled.


FUNNY

Heard a funny joke yesterday:
"I'm thinking of writing my autobiography
and to make it an absolute mega seller
I'm going to call it "Harry Potter
And The Da Vinci Code Of Sudoku."


20.3.07

HEAR NO SPARE PARTS,
SEE NO SPARE PARTS


Cars have been Larry Woody's life for more
than 30 years. He fixed them, he raced them,
he restored them. But five years ago on
Interstate 5 a truck blew across the median
and drove over his tiny Toyota Celica.
He almost died, and he was blinded.

But Woody, 46, still works on his 1968 El Camino,
dabbles in racing and recently bought his
own shop, D & D Foreign Automotive, in
Cottage Grove, Oregon.

And he has hired a deaf assistant.

"So much of it is done by feel anyway," he says.
"I use my hands to see what I'm doing now."

He has hired Otto Shima, 17, an apprentice
from Cottage Grove High School, but they
have never spoken directly.
Shima was born deaf.


Interpreter J.J. Johansson accompanies
Shima on his twice-weekly visits to the shop.
Her hands fly as she first translates what
Woody says to Shima and then turns
and voices his reply.

Recently the two stood under the open
hood of a truck in need of clutch parts.

Woody felt among boxes until he grasped
the right one. Removing a hose, he ran
his fingers along it, telling Shima
what role it played in the engine.

"He's just another student and I'm just another
guy trying to help him," Woody said.
"I kinda put the disabilities aside."

Shima said that Woody inspires
him because "he never gives up."


Kathleen O'Gieblyn, a vocational rehabilitation
counselor at the
Eugene Oregon Commission
for the Blind , worked with Woody following
his accident. She called his story
"extremely empowering."


Woody left high school to work in 1978 and
married his sweetheart, Della. With help
from Della and the Oregon Commission for
the Blind he vowed to return to work
less than a year after his accident. He
learned Braille, to walk with a cane,
and to operate in total darkness.


"Some people wake up and say, 'Oh, man,
I've gotta go to work.' I get up and say,
'Oh man, I get to go to work," Woody said.


BEST THEME TUNE?

Lately I've seen watching the re-runs of
Bergerac on UK Drama on cable, mainly
because there seems to be bugger
all on "normal" telly!

The theme tune is one of my all time favourites
and probably one of the best TV theme
tunes ever. Other themes I like are

Roseanne and Charmed. And of course...
Dallas!


HAVE YOU EVER
WONDERED...


1. Do infants enjoy infancy as
much as adults enjoy adultery?


2. How is it possible
to have a civil war?


3. If God dropped acid,
would he see people?


4. If you try to fail, and succeed,
which have you done?


5. Why is it called tourist season
if we can't shoot at them?


6. If the "black box" flight recorder is never
damaged during a plane crash, why isn't
the whole damn airplane
made out of that stuff?


7. Why is there an expiration
date on sour cream?


8. If all those psychics know the winning
lottery numbers, why are
they all still working?


9. Is the reason Santa is so jolly
because he knows where
all the bad girls live?


10. If a mute swears, does his
mother wash his hands with soap?


11. If someone with multiple personalities
threatens to kill himself, is it
considered a hostage situation?


12. Isn't it a bit unnerving that
doctors call what they
do "practice?"


13. What do you do when you see an
endangered animal eating
an endangered plant?


14. If a parsley farmer is sued,
can they garnish his wage
s?

15. Would a fly without
wings be called a walk?


16. Can vegans eat animal crackers?

17. If the police arrest a mime, do
they tell him he has the right
to remain silent?


18. Why do they put Braille on
the drive-through bank machines?


19. One nice thing about egotists:
they don't talk about other people.


WALKING ON AIR

I'm not scared of hights but I'd have to
think twice before going on this!

When we were on the
London Eye last
Thursday it was swaying in the wind when
we reached the top and it did make
me feel a bit uncomfortable...


Visitors to the Grand Canyon are to get
stunning views from a raised glass platform
being inaugurated today.


Rising 4,000ft (1,220m) from the canyon's
floor and 70ft (20m) beyond its rim,
the Skywalk is being described
as an engineering first.

Former astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin
will be among the first to
go onto the walkway.


Construction of the Skywalk began in March 2004
- and it will open to the public on 28 March
with 120 people allowed on the
platform at any one time.


The bridge will be able to sustain winds in
excess of 100mph (161km/h), as well as
an 8.0-magnitude earthquake
within 50 miles (80.5km).



ANIMAL HOSPITAL

It's a right old animal hospital in the house
this week. First Siouxsie The Great Dane
had to go to the vet yesterday as she's been
limping rather badly for over a week.

Turns out she's pulled a muscle in her
shoulder. She did lunge after a cat one
night when we were out walking so she
must've done it then. Not a great lover
of cats our Siouxsie! Apart from the two
we've got of course, she doesn't mind
them as they've all grown up together.


And today Archie The Irish Wolfhound went
in for an operation (red bandage) on his nail.
The "fleshy bit" popped out last week, so he
was on antibiotics to bring the infection
down and the nail was finally cut off this
morning. He had the same problem
last June (green bandage),
same paw, different nail.

I'm on pee watch for the rest of the afternoon,
he's still a bit dopey form the anaesthetic
so have to wake him up every hour to take
him outside for a widdle and a drink.

19.3.07

HOOVER HENRY'S
PIPE ADVENTURE


A hamster trapped in a kitchen pipe
was sucked to safety with the
help of a vacuum cleaner.

The RSPCA couldn't get Henry out of the
tube so his owners called out two wardens
from Tamworth council to help.

They tried to free Henry using hamster
ladders and chocolate bars tied together
but couldn't quite reach him.

So they carefully sucked him out of his hideout
using a special nozzle attached to a vacuum cleaner,
making sure he didn't get sucked into the bag.

Henry was taken to see a vet for a check-up
and he was unharmed apart from being a
bit thirsty and having worn-down nails
from scratching around in the pipe.


Putting a vacuum cleaner close to a hamster
is dangerous
but after a day of trying to rescue
Henry experts decided this was the
only way he could be saved.


SPAG BOL

I love Spag Bol but I
don't eat it twice a week!

The average Briton eats it nearly 3,000 times
in his or her life, according to a survey.
The Italian dish is cooked
twice a week in many homes.

That works out at 2,960 times over an
average lifetime - like eating it every
day for more than eight years.

Our second favourite dish is stew, which
we eat 2,612 times, followed by sausages
and mash (2,264 times) and fish
and chips (2,089 times).


That's followed by chilli con carne (1,567 times),
steak and chips (1,741) and chicken
tikka masala (871 times).


The findings were revealed by celebrity
chef
Loyd Grossman , who is launching a
campaign to encourage Brits to be more
imaginative in the kitchen.
Grossman says
"a combination of time pressure and fear of
failure" was limiting Brits' ambition in
the kitchen, particularly on weekdays.


Men regularly make just 3.5 dishes,
on average, while women rotate
an average of 4.5 regular recipes.


Almost 40% of the 2000 adults surveyed
said they didn't have time to try new recipes
while 20% didn't have enough confidence.

Loyd said: "The best way to start expanding
your repertoire is to add new or
different ingredients to familiar dishes."


18.3.07

ME AND A BEAR

Veea e-mailed me some of the pics
she took while over here.

I especially like this one taken in the
Natural History Museum: it's a reflection
of me and a stuffed
Polar Bear.


AM I BOVVERED?

One of the funniest things in this years Comic
Relief was a sketch where Catherine Tate's
unruly creation schoolgirl Lauren goes to

Number 10 for work experience. I'm not
a fan of the"Bliar" at all but he
is quite funny in it.



17.3.07

THIS YEAR'S
TOURIST DAYS (SO FAR)


My friend Sanna and her daughter Veea
arrived Wednesday afternoon. We popped
to Tooting Broadway to do some shopping
(Veea bought half of
Primark!) and took it
easy for the rest of the day. We decided to
reserve our energy as Thursday it was
straight down to serious tourist stuff!

First we had a ride on the London Eye,
walked past
Number 10 and the Horseguards
at Whitehall, carried on to
Trafalgar Squre
and
Covent Garden.

From there we wondered over to
Oxford Street
and it was already 5 o'clock. We hopped on
the tube and came back to Colliers Wood
for an Indian meal in our favourite

restaurant Spice Of Raj. Karelian Blonde
joined us as well as it's on her
way home from work anyway.

The Blues Brothers?

On Friday we took the bus to Wimbledon and headed
for South Kensington to The
Natural History Museum.
From there we carried on to Oxford Street,
Carnaby Street and Regent Street.

Our original plan was to go to the
Tate Modern
(the girls wanted to go down the big
slide they've got
in there at the moment) as well but again the day
went so quickly! It's amazing how much time just
wondering around and looking in shops takes!


We came home, bought fish & chips on
the way and later me and Sanna patronised
our locals,
Gj's and The Royal Standard.

Thanks for coming guys, it was
really great to see you both!


Here's some photos from along the way:

The girls on the Northern Line.

View from The London Eye.

The girls and a view
towards Westminster.


A view towards
Buckingham Palace.


Sanna and a view
towards
The City.

Veea and a view towards Charing Cross
station and the
BT Tower .


A view of Thames
towards
Battersea .


The girls on
Westminster Bridge.


Sanna and Big Ben.

Telephone boxes in the corner of Duncannon
Street and The Strand in Covent Garden.

The front entrance of The
Natural History Museum.

The girls in the entrance
hall of the NHM.

The back wall of the entrance
hall of the NHM.

A dinosour in the NHM.

Dinosour heads in the NHM.

Dolphins hanging from
the ceiling in the NHM.

A lamp outside the NHM.

A golden boat on top of Liberty department
store in Great Malborough Street.

The girls in our local chippie waiting for dinner.
We had Rock, Cod and Haddock.
And tons of chips!