Friday, August 20, 2004

One more move and that's it!

M&G delivered some of our Houston "stuff" today and removed other "stuff" to storage. The bottom lines to this apparently never ending saga include:

Nothing appears to be broken - everything was well packed and handled (Thanks, guys!)

Things in Texas really are larger than everywhere else! Will everything fit? I don't thinks so!

It takes as long to unpack as it does to pack

Maybe longer

It usually rains on move-out and move-in days

It's good to have everything on one continent

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Should the BBC be politically active?

The BBC is an interesting organization that generally provides excellent news around the globe. But much of of its web-site content is contentious, politically motivated and to my mind inaccurate. This page is a good example. The BBC clearly believes that global warming is a proven fact of life, yet it isn't by any reasonable measurement. Too many people have been taken in by the global warming bandwagon. It's time I started to counter some of the wrongs that have been done in the name of "scientific research funding".

Basically, global warming has been floated as a means to gain access to public funding for research. Never mind that geologists can demonstrate huge shifts in temperature through (geologic) time frames and that in many cases there appears to be a strong correlation between the sun's activity and warming/cooling trends here on earth. Most models established to demonstrate recent "global warming trends" don't work (but give them more funding and they will try to perfect the models to prove their point!) There is scant evidence that humankind during the past 100 years has made any significant and long-lasting impact to the state of our planet. In fact, volcanos have created more impact than all the man-made emissions in reducing the effectiveness of the ozone layer.

It is worth considering that a reduced ozone layer may have been responsible for allowing radiation to cause the mutations that gave rise to the evolution of homo sapiens. Now there's a thought! Only a thought, mind you, so why not spend huge amounts of money to test that theory?

Coming back to the BBC. I personally resent the fact that our mandatory TV and Radio License Fee is paying for web pages such as the example given. It is wrong to allow an "independent" body to have so much political sway and yet remain unaccountable to those that foot the bill.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The most visited place in Europe is?

Would you believe it isn't Disney Paris and it isn't the London Eye. No, it's the Bullring (in Birmingham)!

How to unload a car from a container

First the container shows up (at M&G Storage, Redditch) but the driver knows nothing about there being a vehicle inside. No ramps. Frantic call to shipping agent. Two men are on the road with ramps. They soon arrive (anyone who knows Redditch also knows that its road system is most confusing) and get to work. Needless to say, there were the usual jokes - "OK, one on each corner, lift!" and "It's an off-road vehicle, init?"

Problem solved!

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Swans of Avon

Swans are a very popular feature of English waterways and nowhere more so than around Stratford on Avon. On Saturday we went to Charlcote Manor, upstream from Stratford, and walked around the grounds of this National Trust property. The first sighting of a swan was on the River Avon. The second was of a family close to their nest by a stream that feeds the artificial lake designed by the famous landscape gardener "Capability" Brown. They were grooming and it took quite a while to finally get a shot off with all three swans' necks erect! Beautiful birds in a beautiful setting.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Canon Powershot S500

April has had good reason to use her new Canon digital camera - the birth of her first grandchild, Olivia Grace Jones (congratulations, Philip and Alex!). Pictures to appear later. Meantime I have to say that this camera is superb! Easy to use but packed with good features, the quality of the images is excellent. It is very compact and there can be no excuse not to have it with you at all times. This cannot be said for my Fuji FinePix S7000 which is too large to carry on the waist yet offers very few advantages over the Canon.

Travel, Weather, Customer Service

Regular readers of this page will know that I have a soft spot for Continental Airlines. It is rare that they let me down in any way, and on a recent three leg 27 hour journey their standards of service were high - until the last flight arrived at Birmingham approximately 4 hours late. This in itself was not Continental's fault, but their baggage handling agents managed to delay transfer of the baggage for over an hour, claiming "operational problems". Turns out there were no staff available at 3 p.m. That in itself is again no cause to complain (well, perhaps it is) but the total lack of communication to nearly 200 weary passengers was most un-Continental in its approach. Continental uses Servisair to handle their Birmingham operation but this company does not live up to its name.

Good to be home, all the same!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Life without the Internet, part 2

Access to the internet in Venezuela is a hit and miss affair. I do have access to a network in Maturin and once again the airport hotel near Caracas has free in-room high speed ethernet (they suspended it for a few months after a change of ownership). But the hotel in Puerto La Cruz and the hotel in Maturin both have access in a business center that is closed - always when you happen to need it.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Political Update from Barcelona

That's the Barcelona in Venezuela! In the weeks leading up to a significant recall vote of confidence in President Hugo Chavez, the political slogans are everywhere. On August 15 Venezulanos will vote "No" to keep Chavez and Si" to remove him. Political rallies in uptown Lecheria are of the "Si" variety and include plenty of music and pretty girls handing out leaflets and stickers. In the barrios it is mostly"No" and "Chavez no se va!" Here are some of the posters in Lecheria: