22.5.07

FOX NEIGHBOURS

We've had a family of foxes living under next
doors shed for the last few months.

I managed to sneak right up to the them
today as they were playing in
the afternoon sunshine.




Mum was out keeping an eye on things
and I counted
four cubs, although
we think there's 5 all together.


21.5.07

HEF'S BUNNIES
IN DANGER


Panic over boys!
The Playboy girls are all fine.
This time we're talking
about actual bunnies.

Hugh Hefner may seem like he will live
forever, but the Florida Keys rabbits
named after him may not.

The population of rabbits on Big Pine Key
has dwindled by about 50 percent in the
past two years and is in danger of being
wiped out. The Latin name for the rabbit
is
Sylvilagus palustris hefneri.

The reference to Hefner, the Playboy
magazine founder comes from the fact
that he financed the research that
identified the species in 1980.


The medium-sized, dark brown cottontail
with a grayish-white belly was put on the
federal endangered species list in 1990
when the population in the Florida
Keys was estimated at 200.


Wildlife officials plan to begin a program next
week to trap feral and stray cats, hoping
that keeping a predator away will mean
that the population of Lower Keys
marsh rabbits will grow.

The strategy worked on another group of the
animals at the Naval Air Facility at Boca Chica.

Officials will begin the program to trap cats
Monday near the rabbit habitat
at the on Big Pine Key.

Hef with his bunnies
Kendra (left), Holly and Bridget.

Not everyone is happy about the program.
Some activists dressed up in cat suits and
waved signs in protest near the refuge when
the program was announced a month
ago. Refuge officials said the cats will
be "humanely trapped alive" and then
transported to animal shelters.


THINGS YOU FIND
ON THE TUBE


Last Sunday's Observer had this free book
with it and somebody left it on the
tube
which was good for a weather freak like me!


Since I picked it up haven't been able to
put it down. I do love my weather
bits & pieces and facts.

Sad, I know, but I like it!


HISTORY BURNS

Sad news this morning.

A fire which has severely damaged the
famous 19th Century ship Cutty Sark is
being treated as suspicious by police.

The ship, which was undergoing a major
£25 m restoration project, is kept in a dry
dock at
Greenwich in south-east London.

An area around the 138-year-old tea
clipper had to be evacuated when the
fire broke out in the early hours.


A Cutty Sark Trust spokesman said 50%
of the ship was removed for restoration
work. He said the Trust was devastated
but it could have been worse and added
that the ship would be "irreplaceable".


The decks of the ship are said to be
unsalvageable. But much of the boat,
including the masts, had already been
removed as part of the restoration work.


Inspector Bruce Middlemiss from the
Metropolitan Police said they are
looking into the possibility that the
fire was deliberately started.

Police are analysing CCTV images which
are thought to show people in
the area shortly before the fire
started at about 0500 BST.


CUTTY SARK

  • Built in 1869 at Dumbarton
  • on the River Clyde
  • First voyage February 1870
  • 280ft (85m) long
  • Main mast stood 152ft
  • (46.3m) above the deck
  • Attracts 15m visitors a year
  • Preserved as a tribute to
  • merchant navy workers
Here's what the ship looks
after the blaze was put out.

20.5.07

FINDERS KEEPERS

A 17th Century shipwreck with a fortune
in gold, silver and jewels has been
found in the Atlantic Ocean,
off the Cornish coast.

The haul made by treasure hunters from
an American company called Odyssey
Marine Exploration is likely to
make more than £253m.

This El Dorado of ventures had nothing to do
with luck though: it took months of research,
dozens of dedicated crew members,
a needle-in-a-haystack type search and
several millions pounds to recover
one of the largest coin
collections ever salvaged.


Shipwreck expert Richard Larn,
of
Shipwrecks UK, said the explorers
would have probably spent an entire
year researching the ship to find out
exactly what it carried, to whom it
belonged and who owns the cargo.


"To start the search they would draw
a huge circle around the spot and
double it, and then start
'mowing the lawn'," he said.

This involves travelling up and down a
100-or-so mile channel, turning around
and then moving several yards across
before heading back.

In the meantime, a multi-beam side
scan sonar would bounce signals down
to the seabed to show signs of lumps
which could indicate a shipwreck.


Behind the leading ship would be sister
ship, called into action if there is a hit.
It would then take co-ordinates and
lower an underwater robot into the
sea in a bid to salvage treasure.


Mr Larn said at 800ft (243 m) down,
the wreck was not beyond diving, but
beyond "economic diving".


Odyssey have not put a figure on their costs,
but Mr Larn suggested a two-year search,
a crew of 80 and the running costs of two
huge ships could have been at least £50,000
a day.
So while it is mainly a case of
"finders keepers", Odyssey needed to
be sure that as much of the haul
as possible would remain theirs.


Critically, the coins were taken to the US.
Had they been brought into the UK, the
Receiver of Wreck would have impounded
them until ownership was decided
which could take years.


The robot used in the salvage and Odyssey
co-founder Greg Stemm, left, and
project manager Tom Dettweiler
examining a coin.


Lawyers will have been alerted to
deal with any claims to ownership.

As some experts believe the wreck to
be the Merchant Royal, an English ship
carrying stolen Spanish treasure which
sank in 1641, claims could be made
by Spain or the British government.

Odyssey has been very secretive about the
recovery, saying it is important to limit
speculation about the wreck's identity
and the value of the haul.

It says the coins will be sold off to
collectors, with a sample of the
different varieties of coins sold for
study and display purposes.


VULPES VULPES
THE LEEK DESTROYERS

We have a fox nest under our neighbours
shed and now that the cubs are getting
bigger they've started to use our garden

as a playground during the
night when our dogs are in.

This morning
KB went out to find our

teepee we build to protect the leeks
completely torn down.

It's about the fourth time it's happened
now so it was time for action.

I could just about stop her from going
and buying a shotgun so we build this


plastic fence pen instead.

It's fairly sturdy so we'll see how the
little blighters get on with it.



19.5.07

DRAMATIC PIC
OF THE DAY


This dramatic photo is from the recent
wildfire in Los Angeles' Griffith Park.

SUNSET OF THE DAY

Brisbane by Joff Summerfield.
(see "Round The World
On A Penny" below)


ROUND THE WORLD
ON A PENNY


With 13,600 kilometres (8,400 miles)
already covered on his 19th century

"penny farthing" bicycle, a 39-year-old
Briton has embarked on one of the
toughest legs of his world
trek - China.


Fresh from the roads of New Zealand where
he was nearly run over by a lorry, Joff
Summerfield is hoping that drivers
in the nation known as the "Kingdom
of Bicycles" will be more friendly.


"The lorries in New Zealand have been
the worst in any country so far, and one
finally managed to get me, breaking my
wrist,"Summerfield said near China's
Great Wall this week on his second
day out of Beijing.


The penny farthing is one of the world's
earliest bicycles, boasting a giant front
wheel that has a 47-inch diameter
and a tiny back wheel.

The bike has no chains or gears, making
hills extremely difficult to climb and
dangerous to descend due
to its small brake.


Summerfield said he had always wanted to
cycle around the world, but it was only
in 1996 when he started building
penny farthings that he decided
the big wheeler would be
his vehicle of choice.


Since leaving London on May 1, 2006, the
engineer and bike builder cycled through
Britain, the Netherlands, Germany,
the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary,
Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey
before running into trouble.


A bout of dysentery and altitude sickness
ended travel through
Iran and the Middle
East and resulted in Summerfield
changing tack for the roads of Oceania,
where he began a tour of Australia and
New Zealand in November last year.

"I needed to get away from the meat-based
diet the Middle East and get to somewhere
where I could fatten up on carbohydrates,"
Summerfield said of his switch.


Depending on time and money constraints
he hopes to either exit China by way of
Myanmar and the Bay of Bengal, or
swing eastward towards Hong Kong.


"Basically I have allotted about six
months here. After China I hope to
do the United States and
Canada."

Besides his saving and proceeds from a book
on a previous round-the-world attempt,
Summerfield relies on donations and
maintains a log of his trip on his
website
www.crazyguyonabike.com

He carries a tent, sleeping bag and a stove,
while his all-important water bottles
are strapped to his handle bars.


DIABOLUS
FELINO!


It's the Devil Cat,
Part Two.

TURSIOPS TRUNCATES
AREITHIO CYMRAEG


Scientists say that dolphins off
Wales have their own accent.


The 240 living in Cardigan Bay have
developed different sounds from others
around the British Isles.


Scientists analysed 1,882 noises from
Irish Sea dolphins - and found those
nearest Wales had a unique whistle.


The experts from University of Wales
and the
Shannon Dolphin Foundation
in Ireland are now building a
"dictionary" of meanings.


Project leader Dr Simon Berrow said: "We're
trying to associate whistle types with
different behaviour - like foraging."


ALRIGHT, LOVE?

Personally I loathe it if I get called "love"
or "darling" but I like "dear" and
"sweetheart"!

Weird, eh?


Men have become too concerned about
political correctness to give a compliment
to the opposite sex, a new survey says.


And 65% of women suspect there is nothing
innocent behind a flattering remark from
a work colleague or new acquaintance.

While 89% of women loved to receive a
compliment, 67% felt uncomfortable if
it came from anybody other
than their partner.


Some 12% said no one had paid them a
compliment in the past three months, the
poll for
Loire Valley White Wines found.

Christine Webber, a relationship expert,
said: "While it may seem somewhat
frivolous, a compliment is in fact
a vital ingredient for well-being.


"The trick though is to be able to pay someone
a compliment and make them feel good about
themselves, rather than coming over
as smarmy or, worse, a bit lecherous."


18.5.07

LOTTERY FUND BIDS
THAT BOLDLY
WENT NOWHERE


The National Lottery has revealed
the 10 strangest requests for grants.


"Applicants will only get funding for projects
that benefit the wider community,"
said Carole Souter, who chairs the
Lottery Forum, a group made up
of the chief executives of the
bodies that award grants.


One of the weird requests was by a
Star Trek fan who hoped to recreate the
Starship Enterprise to provide a safe
place for "lonely people" to meet.


Here's the Top 10 curious
requests for money:


1) To respray a Ford Cortina

2) Double-glaze a private house

3) Buy a pub

4) Publish evidence to prove
Albert Einstein and
Isaac Newton wrong


5) Set up a dinosaur farm

6) Fund dog toilets

7) Set up an insect museum

8) Pay off a filmmaker's debts

9) Make over a garden

10) Build a replica
of the Starship Enterprise


A BEAR WITHOUT
AN APPOINTMENT


A young patient sauntered into a medical
clinic in
Albaquerque in New Mexico Friday
morning and got prompt treatment -
a tranquilizer dart and a quick
trip back to the wild.

But again, this patient was the four-legged
kind: a young black bear who was probably
hungry from a winter of hibernation.

"He did not have an appointment,"
Todd Sandman from
Presbyterian
Health Care Services said.

The 125-pound male bear, perhaps
2 to 3 years old, wandered into the
gastroenterology laboratory through
an automatic door around 7:15 a.m.

"There were just a handful of people there,
before the time when it was really open
for appointments — I think the person in
the waiting room was pretty surprised."


A New Mexico Department of Game
and Fish officer fired a tranquilizer dart,
sedating the bear in a little
more than a minute.

The bear was released in the Manzano Mountains
(above),about 20 miles to the southeast,
but not before being tagged on his ear
"so we'll recognize him if we see
him again," the officer said.


ME AND MY FONT

It's funny how you
get used to a certain font.

Mine's Georgia Bold (which this writing
is in). I can't really say why - I've tried
others but Georgia flots my boat the best.


Isn't it strange when newspapers or
magazines change fonts and layouts its
throws you for a bit beacause
we get so used to certain look.


Article about fonts


BBC GIVES THE BOOT TO
RAMSAY STREET


I'm going to sound really sad now but I
do like my
Neighbours and was miffed to
read today that BBC's
dropping the show
after it's gotten too expensive
for them to buy.

At £300 million (0ver 8 years)
it's understantable.


"We'd love to have kept it but not at any
price", BBC One controller Peter
Fincham said. The show will
end on BBC One next spring.


I just hope a another UK channel will buy the
rights as I'd like to carry on watching
it, after all I've seen it from
the very beginning!

Update 18.20:
Five has bought the rights, yay!


NICE PIC OF
THE DAY


17.5.07

KATRINA, BEAUTIFUL
BUT DEADLY


These amazing images are from Magee,
about 150 miles north of Waveland,
Mississippi, where Hurricane Katrina
made its 2nd and 3rd land falls.

Please click on the image
to view a larger version.

DEXTER'S TEA PARTY

Can you come up with a funny caption
for this picture in BBC's
competition?

Dexter, a Staffordshire bull terrier,
enjoys a traditional English tea -
complete with cream cakes - at

Claridge's hotel in London.


GOOD IDEA

A British inventor has come up with a
way to prevent thousands of tons of
plastic milk bottles from being
dumped in landfills each year.

Martin Myerscough from Framlingham
has developed a recyclable cardboard
bottle with a
biodegradable bag
inside to hold the milk.

Once the milk has been consumed, the
cardboard bottle can be recycled along
with newspapers and the bag holding
the milk can be discarded
with other household rubbish.


Known as the Greenbottle, Myerscough
said he came up with the idea for his
invention while talking to an employee
of a local waste dump a year ago.

His background in mechanical engineering
helped him design a milk container, which
is being tested in a local grocery store.

It's been sold for the same price as milk in
plastic but it costsabout 30 percent
more to produce. He said the price
difference will be less once
production steps up.


More than 100,000 tons of plastic milk
containers are dumped in British
landfills each year.


TIGER'S HAVE
A DOG MUMMY


It's a dog's life for three newborn
tiger triplets in eastern China.

The cubs, whom officials at the Jinan
Paomaling Wild Animal World in
Shandong
province are so far just calling "One,"
"Two" and "Three," have been nursed
by a dog since they were rejected by
their tiger mother shortly after birth.

The trio's adoptive mother, a mixed
breed farm dog called "Huani,"
(above with her own puppy far right)
is expected to nurse them for about a
month or until their appetites
outpace her supply.


Chen said it is common for Chinese zoos
to use surrogate dog mothers to nurse
rejected tiger cubs and that Huani
has nursed tigers before.


In the past, they've put dog urine on the
rejected cub's fur to make the surrogate
think she was nursing one of her own
puppies but they didn't bother with
Huani because she seemed
not to mind nursing the tigers.


KEW COLOURS

Some spring colour, this time from
Kew Gardens in South West London.

Pics from the BBC's

Springwatch photos page.


DIABOLUS
FELINO!


On no... it's the devil cat!

16.5.07

STILL GOT THIS THING

On the playlist this week:
Allanh Myles'
debut.

What a top album! It's one of my all
time favourites and one of those rare
collections where not one song is a filler.

I love her album Rockinghorse as well,
"Our World Our Times" is one
of the best songs ever.

WHAT? I HAVEN'T...

...done anything!

Every dog owner
will know what I mean!


PAPER COVERS
ROCK


Here's one sport I'd love to
watch in the Olympics!


A male nurse from Texas won £25,000
after winning the final of the

US Rock Paper Scissors Tournament
with a "papers covers rock" move.


Jaime Langridge (above right), from
Odessa, beat more than 300
contestants to the title.


The pre-tournament favourite, Antonie
"Shears" Maanum, was eliminated
despite trying to put off opponents
by wearing a red silk boxing gown.


Paramedics were on hand in case of
"wrist or shoulder dislocations",
while each bout took place
under trained referees.


Fouls include the vertical paper throw,
known as "the handshake", illegal because
it resembles scissors - as well as the
horizontal scissors throw, outlawed
for the opposite reason.


The game, traditionally a way of settling
playground disputes, is on the cusp
of recognition as a global sport.

Matti Leshem, the American national
league's commissioner, has petitioned
the International Olympic Committee
to make it an event.


"This is a sport that creates harmony," he
says. "I want to set up the RPS Foundation
to promote this sport as a simple
method of conflict resolution."


28 year old Bob Cooper (above right)from
London is the current
World Champion
after he won the title last November.