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Saturday, 29 January 2005
The boy who likes to say YES


This is an apple tree, in the Smisby churchyard.  I have been taking quite a few night photographs lately. There are several things one can do. In this photo I didn’t take a torch with me, and as there is no lighting my challenge was to find something that would present an interesting composition when illuminated by the flash.  The unpruned branches of this tree contrast with the neat branches of the trees in Place de la Republique in Strasbourg, see here and here.  I also wonder at the significance of an apple tree in a church graveyard: did start with a woman and an apple? (In the bible I think it talks about the fruit of the tree of knowledge, but an apple is often used as a metaphor for this metaphor).

I find that I listen to the radio quite while travelling in my car, and over the internet, but never at home. One morning last year I heard an (unintentionally) funny interview (called The boy who likes to say YES). Apparently this is actually an example of interviewer panic: the interviewer was nervous and kept asking the wrong kind of question to the seven year old boy.  (Questions should generally be open-ended rather than closed).

Posted by bigblue on 29/01/2005 at 11:00 PM
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Friday, 28 January 2005
Same time last year


On this day last year (above) I was in Haguenau, France, and it was snowing. Today I am in Ashby-de-la-Zouch in the UK and it is a grey drizzle.

I prefer the snow. No wonder the last week in January is (according to the experts quoted by the BBC) the most depressing in the UK.  Tonight I made myself oats for supper. That’s comfort food, at least the way I make it with ginger, cardomon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, etc. Anything to keep the big black dog away.  And I worked until 8:00 pm this evening which meant I didn’t feel like doing my grocery shopping, and the cupboards were a bit bare.

Posted by bigblue on 28/01/2005 at 10:08 PM
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Thursday, 27 January 2005
Breedon church


This is a shot I took of the church at Breedon on the Hill recently.  I have posted about this place before (here and there).  The church is lit up at night and is quite a striking sight, situated as it is on the top of a hill.

Yesterday after work I switched on Radio Derby and heard this commentator say:

I was surprised to read that 61 percent of children in this country don’t know what Ashford is.

For a minute or so I thought that was a strange remark. After all, Ashford is a town in Kent and hosts a station that is serviced by Eurostar. But it’s not a big deal, surely?

But after a few moments of confusion I discovered that the commentator was trying to pronounce Auschwitz.  Anyway, Radio Leeds had a more interesting program on Auschwitz, and Tim Daley’s commemorative trip. And you can listen again to the program segment here (3 min 05 sec).

Posted by bigblue on 27/01/2005 at 10:25 PM
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Wednesday, 26 January 2005
Big pussycats


It became fashionable recently for every sports team to adopt an animal. So we have the Rhinos, the Tigers, the Cheetahs, the Sharks, etc.  That is why it is refreshing when you come across a club that sticks to tradition and calls itself The Rams.  The incongruous word in that sentence is refreshing, but I hope you know what I mean.  Sheep (of both the ram and ewe variety)  are solid and traditional creatures, but you wouldn’t expect to be mauled by one. They don’t especially conjure up an image of pride, strength, ferociousness or daring.

This evening six of us from work went to watch Derby play Leeds at Pride Park in Derby, and the least said about the match the better.  Martin did extremely well to drive us there and back very smoothly with 2 or 3 back seat drivers and a sat.nav. system all giving different opinions. It felt pretty cold, but I believe the chill factor played a role.

Posted by bigblue on 26/01/2005 at 11:36 AM
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Tuesday, 25 January 2005
Bonny Burns’ night!


As tonight is Burns’ Night, in honour of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, I thought I would post the above photo which I took walking into Eskdalemuir, a little over a year ago. I will also share the instructions on How to Weigh a Hog, by Robert Burns:

  1. Get a perfectly symmetrical plank and balance it across a sawhorse.
  2. Put the hog on one end of the plank.
  3. Pile rocks on the other end until the plank is again perfectly balanced.
  4. Carefully guess the weight of the rocks.

Of course this is a very impractical method because where is one to get a sawhorse these days?

While on the subject of Eskdalemuir, there is an Observatory nearby. It provides images and weather data for a weathercam.

Posted by bigblue on 25/01/2005 at 08:49 PM
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Sunday, 23 January 2005
In the event of fire


It was interesting to listen to tonight’s Something Understood, the eclectic BBC Radio 4 religious program, attack advanced capitalism for limiting our choice.

We are not so much spoiled for choice, but deprived of choice.

It was also funny to listen to their version of the “New South African Anthem” start with the militant Makubanjalo verse. This verse was added by the Black Conciousness movement in the 1970’s, but expunged from the compromise National anthem adopted in 1994. 

I’m not complaining: I still prefer the original, without the Die Stem bits.  The national symbols of the new South Africa are explained here.

Posted by bigblue on 23/01/2005 at 11:59 PM
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Saturday, 22 January 2005
The Wild Fig


The above tree is a Ficus macrophylla, also known as a Moreton Bay Fig. This tree gives its name to the Wild Fig Restaurant in Cape Town, one of my old haunts and scene of an horrific robbery in June last year.  (See also Wild Fig ‘won’t close’). 

I bought the above painting from the artist, Heather Mockridge of Clovelly, and recently gave it to my cousin. Her wedding reception was held at the Wild Fig and I thought the painting would be a good memento.  (Actually it was a wedding present to the happy couple, but I had mislaid the painting for about 2 years).

Interesting fact: The Wild Fig Restaurant is still publishing their Christmas 2004 Menu on their web page on 22 January 2005, and their latest newsletter is dated 12 December 2004 and covers events up to 22 December 2004. 

I found two photographs of the fig tree: one at the image gallery of the Courtyard Hotel (adjacent to the restaurant), here and another on the Wild Fig Restaurant site at the bottom of this page.  In the latter image you can see more of the same features as the above painting.

Posted by bigblue on 22/01/2005 at 10:11 PM
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Friday, 21 January 2005
Context-sensitive help


I know that one is not supposed to talk about your work in your blog, but I will ensure that this remains bland and innofensive.

We moved office last week, to a new office on the opposite side of the building which is nicknamed The Dark Side, presumably because it lacks natural light (and air). I am now sharing a phone (pictured above) with another colleague. When we inherited this phone from the previous user, it was already installed with context-sensitive help as shown in the above photograph. This tells us how to do such things as transfer calls. This was useful because for the first few days all the calls were for the people who had moved out of this office to another one.

Posted by bigblue on 21/01/2005 at 10:58 PM
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