Friday, May 28, 2004


Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday. Today is my last day at work until June 15th and I've been trying to get things finished off before I go home tonight. Add to that the fact that I've battling through a cold and you'll understand that blogging has been done my list of priorities a little. It hasn't helped the cause that it took twice as long to get to work as normal this morning. All in all, a bit of a nightmare.

Although I won't be at work for the next two weeks, I will still be blogging since we're not going away (apart from a weekend break somewhere, hopefully).

I have just about managed to keep up with how the chain has developed; there are now at least twenty posts in ten separate strands and it continues to grow. I'm going to be adding to one of the strands when I can find a spare five minutes (probably tomorrow, then) so look out for that. I hope you're all enjoying following the links into unknown areas of blogland and seeing how the theme mutates along the way. Hopefully, you'll find your blogroll expanding as a result of reading someone new through chainblogging.

I think the ultimate sign that this latest venture of mine has been successful will be if when I come back to work there are still new posts being added to the chain. That would be absolutely fantastic.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Chainblogging Update

Chainblogging has been going for a day now and we already have at least eleven posts across six strands. The longest strand has five posts in it and from here goes via Blue Witch , Headcleaner, and Santiago Dreaming to Lost Pilgrim.

So far we have had posts on a variety of subjects, including weddings, photography, music and living in the country. I think it's fantastic to see it working so well.

However, I don't think we've reached critical mass yet. Maybe a few more strands reaching out into parts of the blogworld that aren't normally seen from here and this could really become huge. So if you haven't participated, yet, then why not do so? Add to an existing strand or start a new one from somewhere.

BTW, I've noticed that when some of you are writing your posts, you're only linking back to the blog that came before yours in the chain instead of the specific post. While this is okay for now, before long the posts will start disappearing into archives and the chain will become much harder to trace backwards. If you use the permalink to the previous post then the chain will last for ever.

Keep up the good work and watch as this thing grows...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Chainblogging: Tube Adverts

Have you ever noticed how the adverts at London tube stations vary depending on where you are? Like any other sort of advertising medium, it's most effective when it's tailored to the audience and that is the reason for these differences.

Adverts for West End shows are prolific everywhere but especially so at the major railway termini, like Euston and Waterloo, where tourists entering the city are most likely to see them. Of course, in Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square you see little else.

Along the shopping corridor of Oxford Street you start to see ads for department stores and exclusive boutiques, trying to tempt you as you travel up the escalator. In particular, Tottenham Court Road is full of adverts for electrical goods, in light of the plethora of electronics stores just up the road.

Quite naturally, you'll see ads for major tourist attractions in the local tube stations; London Zoo at Camden Town; the museums at South Ken; the London Dungeon at London Bridge.

The widest range of all can be found in the heart of the financial city. At Bank station you'll see posters for shows, job opportunities, holidays, personal finance, alcohol, newspapers, books and all sorts of other products. It looks like an odd mix to start with until you see that the advertising is targeted at two different sets of people; those who want to further their careers and those who want to escape from them.

So, next time you're underground, staring blankly at the posters as you go past, why not take a little more interest in them and see if you can work out why that advert in front of you is there and who is meant to see it.

This is part of a chain of posts linked together by word association. The previous link in the chain was here. If you want to write another link here's what to do: Find a word, phrase or theme from this post to inspire your own and go and write it. It's that simple. Try not to write something that's similar to this post. That way the subject of the posts along the chain will vary. E.g. if I write about going to the doctor's, then don't talk about the last time you were ill, instead describe how you used to play Doctors and Nurses with the girl next door. Get the idea? Your post can be in any style you want. Copy this paragraph and tack it onto the end of your post, updating the link to point here, then leave a comment here that points to your new post.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Post Association

You may remember, and indeed have taken part in, the word association games the Blue Witch played a few weeks ago. Well, that sort of gave me an idea for another CBS Blogevent. Not word association but Post Association.

Tomorrow I am going to write a post and I want you to pick out something I from it; a word or phrase or something; and use that to inspire a post on your own blog. You will in turn ask your readers to do the same and hopefully we'll have a chain of connected posts in a few days or so.

There won't be many rules to follow or anything; just a simple explanatory note to put at the top of your post and to leave a comment on the post you've just been inspired by so people can follow the chain from beginning to end.

I think the best resuls will come out of this if you try and go off at a bit of a tangent from the last post in the chain. For example, if I write about going to the doctors, then instead of you writing about the last time you were ill, talk about how you played Doctors and Nurses with the girl next-door when you were kids or something. Get the idea?

Also, whatever you write about, try and allow plenty of points of inspiration for anyone who might want to follow on from your post.

That's about it really. The first post in the chain will appear here tomorrow lunchtime.

Up and Down

I was down in Bristol at the weekend for a friend's birthday. Having been out late on Saturday night and slept in most of Sunday morning, we decided it would be a good idea to walk up to Clifton, see the suspension bridge and get some lunch.

My friend and her boyfriend live in a flat at the base of the hill near the waterfront. The bridge, which famously spans the Avon Gorge, is a mere half-mile away. However, to get there, you have to climb the hill and boy, was that tough. The slope averaged about 1 in 5 and was as steep as 1 in 4 in places and we were knackered when we got to the top. Still, we were there and walked across the bridge and back, admiring the views (which are fantastic). From there we walked the rest of the way up onto the downs (not much further, really).

At that end of the downs, near the cliff face, is a camera obscura and the entrance to something called Giants Cave. This is a cave about halfway up the cliff face that you could get to via a tunnel out the back of the observatory. We'd seen it from the bridge and it was only a pound to go down there so we decided to do it.

The cave is about ninety feet down from the top of the cliff and the tunnel down to the back of it goes pretty much straight there, so it's ridiculously steep. There are steps all the way, but the problem is in the height of the tunnel. My friend is only about 5'6" or so but even she had to bend at times. Towards the end of the tunnel it got so steep that you couldn't bend forwards any more and instead had to lean backwards and try and peer round your feet to see where you were going. Nice.

Once we were down there we spent a few minutes looking out at the view and standing out from the cliff face on a metal grill, trying not to look at the drop immediately beneath us. Not good is you don't have a head for heights. Thankfully, I do. We then killed ourselves getting up to the top again and swore never to do it again.

As we were heading back towards Clifton to go for a drink, we passed what my friend called the "Slidey Stone" - a great slab of rock which is exposed from the hillside. This slab is sloped fairly gently and down the middle of it a path about 15-20" long has been polished smooth by the passage of generations of bottoms. There were people sliding down it even as we stood and watched; nervously starting off at the top before picking up speed and frantically trying to stop before the smooth rock ran out and a rough sandstone boulder began. Not all of them were entirely successful and a couple of faces were contorted in pain as the came to a halt.

For some reason I refused to have a go.

We then went for a drink on a terrace overlooking the gorge. We basked in the sun and let our legs recover before we took ourselves off again, down the hill to the flat.

All in all it was a very good weekend. I just have to catch up on some sleep, now.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Rail Disruption

Today is the last day that trains on the West Coast Mainline (the Silverlink part of it, anyhow) will be running without disruption until 21st June. There are minor amendments to the published timetable over this weekend but on Monday the fun and games really start.

There is a revised timetable in effect for Monday to Friday next week. In actual fact, we appear to benefit from this change rather than suffer. Our usual morning train (the 7.49 from Hemel) is still running but now appears to be starting from Hemel, so there should be plenty of seats available. In the evening, not only is our normal train running as it does now but there is an additional service leaving just four minutes earlier that is first stop Hemel, which will shave about 15 minutes off our homeward journey. During the off-peak times of the day, services are more drastically affected.

Tomorrow week things get worse. The whole of the West Coast Mainline from Euston to Birmingham will be closed for nine days, ensuring travel chaos will ensue. For the four workdays that fall into that period, rush-hour passengers will be taken by bus to nearby stations on alternate lines that will hopefully be able to cope with the extra numbers. For us that would mean going to Amersham and getting on the Metropolitan Line. Going from Amersham to Moorgate would take 75 minutes (about as long as the journey takes me door-to-door at the moment) so the total journey time would be up at two hours or more. We've done the sensible thing and booked time off instead.

On Monday 7th June the line reopens again but next week's revised timetable is in force for another two weeks before everything gets back to normal.

So, what will they be doing during all this disruption? Well, there's actually quite an impressive list of work that should be going on over the next month. It includes putting in new signalling, repairing bridges, overhead line maintenance and lengthening some platforms so that all stations can hold twelve carriage trains. It's this last one that interests me the most because it should mean it will become easier to get a seat in the future.

If they were to do all of this work at weekends, it would take months to complete and, to my mind, it's as well to get it all out of the way as soon as possible. I just hope it's all worth it and we will end up with a better, more reliable rail service as a result.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Memories of Parties Past (II)

One of the best nights out I had in Manchester was New Year's Eve in 1997. I was back from Germany for a few weeks and was kipping for a couple of nights on the sofa in the place that my ex-housemates were now sharing with my ex-girlfriend (we're still friendly so it wasn't a problem). There were quite a number of us staying there plus a few more staying elsewhere so there was getting on for twenty of us going out in all.

We started off the evening at the house, drinking and making merry before we went out for the night. We'd each paid a fiver, which doesn't seem like a lot now but back then we thought it a bit steep, to get into a pub called Hardy's Well in Rusholme. If you know South Manchester at all then you may well know Hardy's. It's on Wilmslow Road at the southern end of the Curry Mile and it has a huge poem covering almost the whole of one of the side walls. You can't miss it if you're heading up Wilmslow Road towards the university. When we got in there, the pool table was miraculously free and we commandeered it, and the surrounding area, for the night.

At about nine o'clock there were a couple of stand-up routines. The first was some guy from Key 103 and was largely unmemorable. The second, though, was the legendary Frank Sidebottom. Him of the giant papier-mache head and squeaky voice. Absolutely mad but absolutely brilliant.

The night moved on towards midnight and we were having a great time. The music (cheesy disco tunes) was just about right for the mood we were all in, the beer was flowing well and we had almost exclusive use of the pool table. After the bells had rung to signify the new year had begun and we'd sung the obligatory round of Auld Lang Syne, the music started right back up again with that all-time cheese classic, YMCA. Amazingly, we were pretty much the only people in the pub who knew the dance so we took it upon ourselves to teach everyone else. And we did, even if it meant having to repeat the track three times.

Eventually we were chucked out of the pub and made our way, drunk and happy back to the house to carry on until we passed out wherever we stood.

At another time, a night like that could quite easily have fallen quite flat but the combination of people, music, entertainment and alcohol that night was such that we all had a fantastic time and we still talk about it from time to time even now.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Further Recollections

Today, the backblog goes even further back in time, almost as far as it can go, to Feb 1999 with a tale of a beginning.

Is that a bomb in your pocket...?

If you happen to live in London or the Home Counties you may have seen a local news item a couple of weeks ago about armed police patrolling stations in Hertfordshire on the off chance they might find a terrorist. It's really just for show; a way of reassuring passengers that Hertfordshire Police are on the lookout for terrorist activity.

Well, this morning they were at Watford Junction; patrolling the platforms, probably conducting random searches, you know the sort of thing. I tell, you, it's one thing seeing them on the news but actually in front of your eyes it's something else.

Those guns. Bloody hell they're big. You definitely wouldn't want to be looking down the wrong end of one of them. They're not you prissy little handguns. These are huge, mean-looking semi-automatic weapons. Very impressive.

I thought about it as we pulled out of the station. I think that's probably the first real gun I've ever seen; in this country, at least. It didn't shock me, though. You get so used to seeing them on the news, I suppose, that seeing them for real doesn't come as a surprise.

In the seats directly behind us was a woman and her young daughter. The girl couldn't have been more than five or six and as the train was sat alongside the platform said:

"Mummy, does that policeman use the gun to shoot bad people?"

"Yes, he does" (in a tone that said "No, he doesn't but you're too young to understand the difference")

"But we're not bad, are we?"

Out of the mouths of babes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

May Madness

There's something about the month of May when it comes to having children. Yesterday morning, 4 birthday cards for people in my department landed on my desk for me to sign. Then, at lunchtime, we all went to the pub to celebrate with another two members of the department who were suddenly a year older.

At the end of last week there was a seventh birthday and, I think, an eighth earlier in the month. So, between a quarter and a third of the department were born in May. That's a pretty high proportion.

What is it about balmy August evenings when it comes to making lurve?

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Normality Resumes

Well, I'm back to normal now. It's been fun being a wizard for the last 48 hours but I don't think it will work out as a long term career change.

Yesterday I used my magical powers (as well as a thirty-year old pair of shears in need of a little bit of attention with a whetstone) to trim the hedge that runs along the side and in front of the house. My topiary skills are not highly developed but at least it looks a little more under control, now. I also hacked back the weeds that are growing in the beds in the yard so that we can do some real planting in them when we're off work in a couple of weeks.

On top of that I replaced the washing line in the back garden that snapped as I was loading it with washing a few weeks ago and trimmed the dead wood out of what we think is a clematis going wild along the back fence. It's in need of chopping right back and properly training along the fence but it will have to do for this year as it's already growing well and should provide a lot of colour in a few months.

In all I spent two or three hours outside and, although I was wearing a hat most of the time to protect my bald pate, I forgot the spell to protect my forearms and neck so they are a little pink today. Not badly burnt but enough to serve as a reminder for the rest of the year. I get a touch of sunburn once a year so it's good to get it out of the way now, with the whole of the summer still to come.

We're going out for lunch today; down to a lovely pub right alongside the canal; and then I'm determined to get a few things done inside the house; there are various things that need to go up in the loft and there's a myriad of little jobs that need doing in the bedroom so that we can get it decorated sometime soon.

All in all, it's a fairly busy weekend.

Friday, May 14, 2004


I have been a wizard for a considerable period of time now (it's over three hours, you know) and it has come to my attention that there are some serious inequalities between us and witches. Particularly when it comes to accessorising.

Take your average witch. She's probably got a hooked nose, a pointed hat, a large black cauldron, a broomstick and a black cat. She may even carry a wand or a poisoned apple.

What do wizards get? A scruffy cloak and a straggly white beard.

Does that sound fair to you?

Sick Note

Mrs CBW has spent the week becoming re-acquainted with (and rapidly bored by) daytime television. She complained yesterday that her timing was really bad because the last time she was off work for any great length of time, the BBC were showing the same series of Diagnosis Murder as they are now. I think it's just as well she's going back to work next week; she'd probably be mad by Wednesday afternoon if she didn't.

Last Saturday morning I was under instructions to get various bits and pieces to occupy her while she was off this week. You know, puzzle books, snacks, that sort of thing. One thing she asked for was the latest copy of Hello! magazine. It's not something she buys regularly so I was able to swallow my pride and my objections (I really can't see the point in that sort of magazine - the banal minutae of two-bit celebrities and all that) and pick it off the shelf. My thoughts brightened considerably as I picked it up because attached to the front of it was a large, free bar of Lindt Caramel.

We started it the other night and it's absolutely gorgeous. Smooth milk chocolate with hard chunks of caramel running through it. Mmmmmm. Hopefully, there'll be some left when I get back to the Lair tonight.

Thought for the afternoon

You can't always get what you want.
But if you try sometimes
You might find,
You get what you need.

-Rolling Stones


I've got a Cheap tip for you now.

The cost of magical ingedients has soared recently and the knock-on effect on the price of even the mildest of spells and curses is becoming noticeable. However, by following these few simple ideas for your own Lair-produced ingredients, you should be able to undercut any of the competing wizards in your area.

1. Grow your won Toadstools and Magic Mushrooms. Not only does this give you a free source of these key ingredients; it also makes very effective use of those dark, abandoned areas of your lair that you never go into. (Extra Cheap Tip: selective use of magic mushrooms can give a party a bit of 'fizz')

2. Build a roost in the grounds and you need never be short of Wing of Bat again.

3. Dig out a pond and stock it well. Voila! Eye of Newt whenever you need it. (Extra Cheap Tip: At the party described above, use frogs-legs to accompany the mushrooms.)

There, you're all set. Cheap Wizard, me. ;)


I'm going to have to find some time this weekend to get out into the grounds of the Lair. The hedges are starting to get out of control and the grass out the back is starting to challenge the fence for height. I think I'm going to have to have a look through my copy of 'Ye Olde Booke Of Enchantments and Magikal Rhymes' to find something to combat it.

While I'm on the subject of the Lair's gardens, I've noticed recently that the feathers on the R'ooks have been looking a little grey. My wiardly incantations have been going a little wrong recently and I think this might be the reason. A few days ago I cast one to stop the local kids from climbing our garden wall for fear one of them would fall and crack his head on the concrete in the yard. While they have indeed done this, I think they were safer doing that than the are now, trying to scramble up the walls of the house. R'ook feathers formed a key part of the incantation. Does any of you know how to make R'ook's feathers black again?

Taking up the Gauntlet

Not being one to resist a challenge, I hereby give notice that, for the rest of the day, I will be undergoing a small transformation in what will probably be a pointless quest.

From here on, then, I am no longer Dave of Clear Blue Skies...

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Post in Disarray?

What the heel has been happening to our postal service recently? It's a service we're supposed to be able to rely on to deliver our mail quickly and accurately but at the moment that just isn't true.

Last Friday a fortnightly magazine I subscribe do was delivered over a week late. At the time I thought it was a bit too long since the previous edition but I put it from my mind until the next edition turned up pretty much on time yesterday. On Monday, I got home from work to find a letter to a previous owner of the house on the mat. Nothing odd in that, apart from L swearing blind that she'd been down to check if there was any post at about midday. The post normally arrives between 8 and half past.

Then yesterday I got home at about 6.00p.m. and the postman was only just delivering the post along our terrace! I got in to find the magazine and five other letters. Two of them were 'Guaranteed Prize Notification' letters from some company that sells healthcare plans or something. I get them periodically and I don't bother opening them anymore but I can't remember having ever received two on the same day before. There was also a gas bill dated early last week, an annual statement for L's ISA (I got mine, from the same building society, a couple of weeks ago because it's still being sent to Stevenage), and a letter from me from the National Blood Service.

I give blood near work and I haven't been able to go for the last couple of dates they suggested so it was no surprise to see another invitation to donate. What was a surprise, though, was that the date they suggested was the 30th April. Since these invitations usually arrive at least a week before the date they suggest, it means that this one had been in the post for around three weeks. Granted, it had to be redirected from Finchley, but I don't think that should any more than a day or two to the length of time it's in the system. Three weeks is just disgraceful.

I haven't heard a word about any problems, either locally or nationally, but something is clearly wrong and a solution needs to be found. Have any of you been having trouble with your mail?

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Memories of Parties Past (I)

Writing yesterday's post reminded me about the annual party that the Manchester University Maths Department used to throw. They still may do, for all I know, though when I left its future was in doubt.

Some years ago an ex-member of the department bequeathed a large sum of money to it and from that fund an annual grant provided the money for a party for the whole department with the exception of the first-year undergraduates (presumably on the grounds that they already partied too much and everyone else needed a welcome break from their work). The only first-years allowed in were those who were working behind the bar. In my first-year, that was us.


We were the canniest of the cliques that sprang up within the year. We had got to know the people who ran the department undergraduate society, The Colloquium (now sadly known by the far more common and dull Mathsoc). As normal members we had subsidised trips to Blackpool and Dublin plus various other events organised through the year but, on top of that, we had contacts in the second and third years and links into the department staff that other people didn't. So, when the Colloquium committee needed half a dozen first-years to man the bar at this party they quite naturally turned to us.

We didn't need much time to think about it.

The grant paid for six 88-pint barrels of beer (bitter and lager) plus a dozen or more boxes of wine and several large bottles of cider. By the end of the party, the 200 people there had drunk everything and swiftly departed in search of more alcohol.

Of course, we'd done more than our fair share in helping to get through all of it. The great thing about working the bar was that, while everyone else had to wait until you got to them with a refill, we could just help ourselves whenever we wanted. And we did.

At the end of the party, we had to stay behind long enough to clear up the rubbish (it was all plastic glasses and paper plates so that was pretty quick and easy) and we each departed with £20 for our trouble (You're having a laugh aren't you? We'd quite happily have done it for nowt) , a free ticket into the cheesy 80s night, 'Club Tropicana', and a skinful.

What a great night.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


The next post in my efforts to fill in my backblog is now ready for you to read in the May 1999 archive.


Monday, May 10, 2004

Mental Exhaustion

I am too tired to think of anything to post today. Looking after someone following surgery really takes it out of you. It's likely I'll feel like this for the rest of the week so inspiration will be practically non-existent.

It is for that reason that I am opening up the position of muse to you, my dear readers. For this week only, if you suggest something for me to write about, then I will attempt to do so. When I'm feeling up to it, naturally.


P.S. Not sure whether or not I like the new Blogger, yet. After a few days of using it I'll let you know.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Bloghunt Results

I've been meaning to write a post all week to round up the bloghunting but work and lethargy have invariable gotten in the way. Anyway, for the final bloghunt last Friday, Gary scored 13, which means the final leaderboard looks like this:

1st - Gary (134 pts)
2nd - Harriet (85)
3rd - e (73)
=4th - BW and Nic (50)
6th - Jo (7)
=7th - Laura and lemonpillows (5)

So, well done to Gary who ended the month with a massive lead and is accordingly crowned Bloghunt Champion. Somehow, though, I don't think that result would have been so certain if e and BW had carried on for the whole competition.

Anyway, thank you and well done to all of you. You came up with some interesting blogs and a lot of good posts and that was the aim from the start. I've also ended up adding a few more blogs to my sidebar as a result, which is great.

I do hope you enjoyed the little stories and passages that I introduced 13 of the hunts with. That was my contribution to the month (apart from setting and scoring the hunts, that is) and I certainly liked writing them all.

I've got other ideas for events along these sorts of lines so keep your eyes open for those. If there's one thing I've learnt from this last month, though, it's to keep these blogevents shorter in duration as I think the interest starts to wane after a couple of weeks. The next event will probably be along in a month or two.

If you're new to reading Clear Blue Skies then I hope you've enjoyed what you've seen so far and will stick around to see what's coming up.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


It's been said many times that we live in an age of great change and it's not difficult to see how true that is. A comparison of life today with life 50, 30, even 20 years ago will show up great differences.

Certain periods in history change the world so much that they gain names for doing just that. The Industrial Revolution is the obvious example and the Atomic Revolution would have been the same had humanity not shied away from that change because it feared the potential problems it could have brought with it.

So far in my life, I have lived (am living) through one such revolution: that of Information and Communication. Even ten years ago it would have been difficult to foresee the consequences that the internet and mobile phone technology would have on our lives now. I would guess history will look back on the last few years of the 20th Century and the first few years of the 21st as a time of great change indeed.

The problem with these revolutions is that they are so difficult to predict in advance and therefore, it is almost impossible to evaluate all of the implications, both good and bad. Such as the health problems that you get when you live in the vicinity of factories belching out toxic smoke. The internet is a prime example. I'm sure, that if we were to scrap the web as it currently exists and build something from scratch to replace it, the W3C would make sure that the problems of security, standards and disabled access (among others) would be addressed from the beginning to ensure what we ended up with would be as stable and secure as possible.

So, what will the next revolution be? Will we foresee it enough to be able to avoid the pitfalls and make a complete success of it?

Surprisingly, I think the answer to both of those questions is yes, this time. In fact, the next revolution has already been predicted and warnings are starting to ring out that if we don't start thinking about it now we could be in serious trouble.

What am I talking about? The Energy Revolution.

Commercially viable oil production has a limited amount of time left. The most pessimistic people say that, in as little as ten years, oil prices could be forced through the roof as the production becomes more difficult. More realistic estimates put it more like thirty years away. That's still not very long.

If we do nothing, the world as we know it will grind to a halt. Most of us, I'm sure, aren't aware of how much oil affects our lives at the moment. There are some very obvious ways; fuel for transport and power stations; but there are also other, much more subtle uses for black gold. Such as plastics, synthetic clothing & upholstery, fertilisers and medicines. Can you imagine what the world would be like if it suddenly couldn't generate as much electricity as before? If we couldn't drive our cars any more? If we couldn't grow food so efficiently? If we couldn't manufacture the synthetic materials that so pervade our every day lives? It would be chaos.

We have a golden opportunity, right now, to start looking for alternative sources for all of these things and making the decisions that will stave off any problems.

There are still big obstacles in the way, though. The first is the power of the oil companies, especially in the US, and their reluctance to really commit to finding viable, limitless alternatives. The second, more dangerous obstacle is in our own minds. It's all very well hoping that governments will get up off their arses and make real commitments to finding solutions to problems that may not yet occur for decades, but if we remain largely apathetic to the potential issues then those governments will take any excuse they can not to bother.

We need a revolution in the minds of the public. And we need it soon.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


I'm feeling unaccountably low this afternoon and I don't know why.

Maybe it's because I'm really tired and had to drag myself out of bed this morning when I could quite happily have slept on.

Maybe it's because I'm putting on weight at the moment, when I really want to be losing it. And I'm finding it difficult to resist the Cadbury's Miniature Heroes that someone brought into the office yesterday.

Maybe being emotionally supportive to others over the last few days has left me drained.

Maybe it's because I think I've got an ingrowing toenail.

Maybe it's because I can't get myself motivated at work.

Maybe it's all, or none of the above.

Maybe I just need a cup of tea.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Stormy Weather

We had an amazing storm in the city this afternoon.

It's been raining for most of the day but at around 3.00 the clouds gathered in more tightly. There was a flash of lightning, followed just a second later by a very loud crash of thunder. Then the rain came pelting down sending everyone running for the nearest bus shelter or shop doorway.

It slackened off slightly before another flash-bang (almost simultaneous, this time) heralded the start of a hail storm. Within a couple of minutes there was so much hail on the ground that cars were leaving tracks in it as the went past. It was an amazing sight.

Before long the thunderhead moved off and the hail melted and now it's bright and sunny.

I don't think it will last, though; I can see another dark cloud off to the west...

Monday, May 03, 2004

I speak proper

If you've been reading me for a while you'll probably be aware that numbers are my thing. Mathematics was always my strongest subject at school and I think very logically.

It may come as a bit of a surprise to know that I also have a keen interest in language. The structure and rules of language, to be more precise.

My degree may have been in Maths (with German) but I sometimes think I would have enjoyed a course in Linguistics more. Every now and then I consider the possibilities of doing a second degree but I never get beyond that.

I'm currently reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss and it's got me thinking about the particular misuses of English that really get me worked up.

A lot of bad English annoys me but if there's one mistake that's guaranteed to have me cursing the offender's intellectual capacity, it's using effect when they mean affect, or vice versa.

During the recent power cut at work there were various emails that came out about failures to systems that would "effect all users" and still others that talked about the "affects of power spikes".

Grrr! I got so mad. I mean, it's not that difficult to learn the difference between the two, is it?

Which grammatical or semantic errors that people regularly make do you hate?


Many people in our little corner of Blogland have been making note of how things have been changing recently. It seems there has been a lot of unrest among our local bloggers and one or two serious thoughts about giving the whole thing up.

I have to say, I didn't think I'd noticed any of it at all. I read posts about it but couldn't see the symptoms they described at all. I certainly hadn't changed. I was beginning to think that paranoia was breaking out around here.

Then, last week, I realised something. Someone (I think it was Harriet) celebrating their blogday thanked everyone for visiting, including all the lurkers who never comment. It struck me then that I don't comment anywhere near as much as I used to, even in reply to those of you kind enough to leave your thoughts on Clear Blue Skies.

Wow, it appears that my attitude to blogging has changed after all. Thinking about it, I know that part of it at least is because I have less spare time at work and connecting from home has been more difficult since we moved. But I think it would also be fair to say that I have been gradually drawing in on myself and becoming a little insular when it comes to blogging. I've been reading all over the place but have been reluctant to comment.

I don't really understand why I've been doing that. After all, being able to leave comments on what other people write is probably what got me into writing CBS in the first place and I don't think that has changed. So what has?

I have to confess I don't know. But admitting the problem is half the battle and I'm not going to rest on my laurels while I try and work it out. So, if your blog is one I regularly lurk on you may find the odd comment or two with my name on them turning up soon.

Saturday, May 01, 2004


The Backblog Project started today with a post way back on this day in 2000.