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Friday, 23 December 2005
The rain

rain falling

We arrived in Durban this morning, but bluemeanie’s suitcase didn’t make the tight transit at Johannesburg airport and arrived on a later flight. My two suitcases, and pinkie’s did.  As my brother in law commented, the times have changed. Before, he said, SAA would have told you when the suitcase they had lost had arrived at your destination airport (in this case Durban). Now they actually deliver the suitcase to where you are staying.

After refreshing ourselves, we headed off to the beach where most of us swam in the sea, dodging bluebottles (Physalia). Later we took a drive up the coast, supped and then partook of an early night ... both to recover from the lack of sleep the night before and to prepare for an early outing to the beach (ambitiously planned for 7am this morning).  The rain started when we were swimming, and contained lightning and thunder (sporadically).

Posted by bigblue on 23/12/2005 at 06:39 AM
Filed under: AfricaSouth Africa • (1) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Thursday, 22 December 2005
The Shortest Day


I took the above photo yesterday during the hour before sunset somewhere above the North Sea or Northern Germany.  As bluemeanie pointed out we flew last night from the shortest day to the shortest night, having swapped the Northern hemisphere for the Southern hemisphere.  This meant an early sunset, but also an early sunrise on the other end of the flight.

At the time this post appears (I am posting it in advance from Frankfurt, during a stopover) we will have landed in Johannesburg to change over to an internal South African flight, to Durban.  (The links are to Wikipedia, although I am not overly impressed with their entries on those two cities).

Posted by bigblue on 22/12/2005 at 08:33 AM
Filed under: EuropeGermany • (4) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Wednesday, 21 December 2005
Off again

Smisby sunset

These rain clouds represent some kind of delight to the shepherds of Smisby (rather than a warning).

I am off again, on a short holiday to a warmer climate with les filles, until the New Year. I may be posting intermittently until then.

Yesterday evening was pretty exciting as an elderly couple kept phoning me. They were dialing the correct number for their daughter but some lines in the village seem crossed so they got through to my number. They confessed afterwards to having suspected me of being a kidnapper, and of having been concerned about the safety of their daughter.  At the time of the (repeated) calls I assumed that they were simply a bit dim, but it seems they may have been hard of hearing too (in addition to being panicky that is, not dim).  Eventually I dialed my mobile phone from the landline and noticed from caller ID that my landline was now linked to a strange number.  When I dialled the landline number from my mobile, the phone in the apartment didn’t ring although I got a ringing tone. Shortly afterwards the daughter of the elderly couple phoned her own number, got through to me, and we agreed to report the fault.

This would explain the young lady who left a strange message on my answering machine earlier in the day.  And the fact that my broadband is not working, so I am forced to connect to the Internet via GSM.

Posted by bigblue on 21/12/2005 at 08:40 AM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (2) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Monday, 19 December 2005
Too far to walk


This is the moon tonight. This evening I went to Belper to have supper with Lynette and Alan, for the last time this year.  In two sleeps I am flying South to a warmer place for Christmas.

With the increase in online shopping this shopping season, the articles Avoiding Web Scams Part 1 and Part 2 are timely.

There are so many internet shopping portals available now, such as Pricerunner and Froogle, and still they appear. A recent addition is Gooshing which claims to be a free ethical shopping tool.

No doubt their system still needs tweaking. On the digital cameras page they list the Canon 1DS Mark II camera as being available for under £250.  This is a professional camera that costs over £5000, so that is quite a deal, or would be if it were true.  There seem to be four (very different) cameras selling for exactly the same price:

Posted by bigblue on 19/12/2005 at 11:38 PM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (0) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Saturday, 17 December 2005
Advisory sign


We suggest that you rather give your precious belongings away, or sell them.  The above photograph makes its appearance on the wall of a restaurant in Dubai.

It suggests, despite all appearances, that there may be incidents of petty crime in the emirate after all.  According to Destinations:

Voted the safest City in the world for four consecutive years, by a study compiled by Interpol, crime in Dubai is almost non-exisent.

The Economist city guide to Dubai puts a different perspective on crime and safety. It seems that even crime is on a grander scale than most other places:

Dubai is in general a very safe place; there are some horrific murders and assaults, but these are largely confined to family disputes and organised crime. Semi-organised crime is present in the form of the so-called Russian and Indian mafias. The Russian mafia is reputed to control much of the prostitution industry, while the Indian mafia is involved in money-lending and inter-family trade feuds.

They also suggest that Dubai’s status as a trading hub makes it a natural conduit for drug smuggling from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Europe, although this has little impact on Dubai society as drug usage there is low (but rising).  Organised prostitution is also mentioned.  The Galactic Guide includes some advice as to some of the consequences for those who may be inclined to get involved in “criminal activities”:

According to the very severe local laws, you may get your arm chopped off for theft, and get hanged for the use or storing of drugs. If the police stops you drunk at the street, you may spend several weeks in prison. But normally police hardly ever stop people to check their passports and driving licenses. Foreigners are treated friendly.

Posted by bigblue on 17/12/2005 at 02:16 AM
Filed under: Middle East • (0) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Thursday, 15 December 2005
No moon tonight


With extensive cloud-cover tonight I am forced to repost this old photograph (from October) of a near full moon. The cloudy conditions mean that I have missed the highest full moon (above the horizon) until the year 2023, apparently.  (I can’t find a reference to this, but I believe the person who told me).  I will be catching up by looking at other Flickr users full moon photographs over the next day or two.

The moon is the most prominent of two or maybe three natural satellites (or moons) that orbit earth. Someone needs to tell the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, (SEDS) in Arizona who state

The Moon is the only natural satellite of Earth:

      orbit:  384,400 km from Earth
      diameter: 3476 km
      mass:    7.35e22 kg

Called Luna by the Romans, Selene and Artemis by the Greeks, and many other names in other mythologies.

Then again, they must be an old bunch of students if they can ask on their webpage:

The first [moon] landing was on July 20, 1969 (do you remember where you were?)

A BBC recommended moon site is Inconstant Moon.

Posted by bigblue on 15/12/2005 at 09:35 PM
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Wednesday, 14 December 2005
Won't be long at all


Here is another view of yesterday’s sunset, some 30 minutes after the photo that I posted yesterday.

This evening five of us from work (plus one spouse) went to the Smisby Arms for supper. It was pretty festive and the Smisby Arms supplied the Christmas crackers.  For those of you who couldn’t make it, you can download your own partypack here.  My own festive season is turning rapidly sour after I bumped my car this evening (before supper and drinks I hasten to add).  So feel free to send yourselves a bah humbug card from me. 

I’ve been trying to catch the Space Cadets reality game show this week. The bits that I have seen have been amusing.  However what if the joke isn’t on the contestants, but the joke is on the viewers?  This is a question that the Guardian Mediablog also picks up on.

Posted by bigblue on 14/12/2005 at 10:19 PM
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Tuesday, 13 December 2005
One of these mornings


The view from my bedroom window this morning, at daybreak.

Today is one of those days when the panic of Christmas starts to set in. Twelve days left, and there’s still a long outstanding list of gifts to buy. Don’t be surprised if you open up your present from me and find a goat , donkey or camel (in order of expense).  If I’m feeling really cheapo I might just give you a can of worms.

Posted by bigblue on 13/12/2005 at 10:34 PM
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