Saturday, 24 June 2006

Best friends

Gyp pushing her luck with Dennis


Getting what she wanted



Friday, 23 June 2006

Fruit and nut.

My little granddaughter Constance recently visited as part of a group of 4 year olds from her Nursery the primary school she is to attend from September.  Her sister who attends the same Primary saw a troop of Nursery tots trailing into a nearby classroom and when the teacher came past asked her if Connie was with them and was told that she wasn't.  The teacher later discovered that Connie, also aka Constance, indeed was there, and took her into her sister's classroom where she asked Constance which name she preferred to be known by.
Connie went into deep thought for a minute or two and then answered. 
She wants to be known as 'banana'.

Cursing coerced cursive

In past ages humans communicated by word of mouth and storytelling was a sought after and highly valued skill for that reason - a storyteller who spoke well was an oral historian, a newsreader and a communicator of social values.  Storytelling was aided by dance, mime and other 'theatre' and the skills of performers were also highly valued.  They interpreted history and current affairs and also communicated social values.
Humans then developed literacy skills and those who could read and write were valued.  They wrote the history and the news and their opinions both communicated and influenced social values.  Writing and reading have been the main communications network for several centuries now and storytelling, dance, mime etc have fallen by the wayside - they are not skills that our schoolchildren are either taught or taught to value.  Even speaking skills have been downgraded in many countries, our own included and as a result most British children find themselves tongue tied and stumbling if asked to give their views. 
Writing by hand is on the way out.  Think when you last wrote anything by hand - do you still have a milkman to write billets doux to?  Do you handwrite your Tesco Online shopping list? Do you handwrite letters to your bank or your siblings?  Do you even sign cheques since the advent of chip and pin?  At a guess the only time that many of us use a pen is to sign a greetings card - and even then many of us send e-cards - and most men don't even do that. 
We use keyboards or we text on our mobile phones, and those are the principal means of textual communication.  Books and poems, journals and memos, calendars and banking withdrawal 'slips' are all now typed on a keyboard.  It's keyboard skills which play a large and ever increasing part in our dealings with the worlds of both work and leisure and imo should be an integral feature of every classroom and every homework assignment.
Why then do you imagine the government is suggesting that every child in the land be taught and regularly have practise lessons in just the one 'national state school' form of handwriting?  Even they admit that they're principally concerned about pupils' abilities to write legibly and quickly in examinations but does that mean that each and every child must be taught the writing style that some government department decides is 'best'?  What does an italic or cursive 'hand' contribute towards a child's intellectual expression or future prospects?  Why should an examinee have to concern themselves about stylistic writing rather than on the content of their exam answers?
When the notoriously challenging Year 9 pupils ask why they're having to practise handwriting all the time like infant school children, how can their teachers answer?  Because some government minister with an antediluvian mindframe thinks it would be good if you all wrote in the same characterless style.  Well, Year 9 will fall to with a will once they hear that.  Not.

Monday, 19 June 2006

Here's Felix again :O))


My youngest grandson Felix was born in Leicester at about 10.30pm on Saturday 17th June.  He weighs 8lbs 9oz and is absolutely adorable.


The apple of my eye, with her little pip.


Friday, 16 June 2006

Eureka or is it Yureeekah :O)

Today with my husband's help I've found records of a family member whose unusual first name was all I knew of her.  My mother once wrote to me and mentioned the Christian name Beder but today I've found her listed variously as Beder, Beeder and Beada.  Born in 1851 and married in 1871 she was my Granny's Granny which is only another way of saying that she was my Great Great Grandmother, but somehow the first way sounds more real to me.  For my grandchildren she was one of their Great Great Great Great Grandmothers and doesn't that sound as if she lived almost before the Flood rather than 150 years ago!
Wouldn't you have thought that with a first name like that finding her would have been a doddle, but then searching these records rarely produces recognisable results the first time because of the widespread laissez faire attitudes towards spelling, even within officialdom - which goes to show that people who try to make out that folks in those days were better educated are talking out of what would have been known as their RCs 
Imagine how long it took me to find the multi mispelt Fiensia on my Dad's side of the family - and they were travelling people too and much given to calling their children X on official documents  or, for an occasional change, the odd lad would be named 'Boy'.  Helpful to posterity NOT <gg>

Boy but its hot

Boy but it's hot today.  The ponies went into shade at 10.30am and haven't left it yet.  I bet my pregnant and overdue daughter wouldn't mind a few hours somnolent rest in the cool green shade either. 


Thursday, 15 June 2006

Almost a miracle

Yesterday I took my dog for a walk in the vicinity of Colemere which is one of my favourite haunts on warm summer days because if I get hot I can shuck off my bibntucker and have a quick dip.  I was crossing a very marshy area and came across acres of purple orchid, looking from a distance for all the world like a field of mauve lupins they were such large flower spikes.  I've never seen anything like it and stood for ages in astonished wonderment at the unexpected profusion. 
Turning towards the mere I noticed a large blue cloud hovering about 4' from the water and drifting from side to side with the breeze.  My first thought was that maybe it was some effluence given off by that vile blue algae altho the mere isn't known for that.  Once close enough I could see that it was a mass hatching of blue damsel flies.  I've never seen such a beautiful phenonomen before. 
I would say it was an afternoon of natural miracles except...........  I'd forgotten to take my camera 

Saturday, 10 June 2006

THE Question

A member of an email group to which I belong recently asked a couple of rather difficult questions which, altho sorely tempted to duck, I have attempted to answer below.  I'd be interested to hear anyone else's views on this: 

question :
how do you know what is reliable historically ?
what makes one ancient writing evidence, while another
is not?
Some ancient 'stories' which have commonly been thought of as myth or fable, such as the Illiad for example, are now through archeological research being reassessed as factually accurate in the light of evidentiary findings, specifically at the site of Troy and other locations from the story.  Others once believed to be accurate renderings of real events such as the battle of Jericho, which has been the subject of research undertaken by Israeli archeologists, have been found to be myth at least in part.  Jericho did not exist at the time when Joshua was blowing his horn :O)
Some ancient writing we can know to be true because the evidence is there, others we can know to be untrue or allegorical because the events depicted cannot literally have happened.  There are and have been many ugly women for example but none with living snakes for hair who turn those who see them into stone.
Yet others we believe or disbelieve because we want them to be true, and we want that enough to make the leap of faith and take what we read as truth.  There are many who believe that Joseph of Arithmea came to the west of England, and some go further and claim that he brought the young Christ with him.  There's no evidence imo and I believe this story to be no more than wishful thinking, altho many would point to certain trees which customarily but unseasonally blossom on specific religious dates and claim they were descended from the tree which grew when Joseph of Arithmea thrust his staff into the ground.
Most in the West once, and some now believe that Genesis is a factual rendition of how the world came into being.   Having for many years regularly read the work of Steven Jay Gould and several other paleantological and botanical archeologists I believe that the mass of evidence indicates (I meant to say rather 'proves') that evolution is the true explanation.  However, like Darwin himself stated in his opus (altho it is usually ignored or unknown), evolution does not explain nor attempt to explain how life began - Darwin credited the originary gift of life itself to God, and so do I. 

Friday, 9 June 2006

Gone fishin........

Today my cat has been almost driven to distraction by 3 fledgling jackdaws which this morning exited their nest in one of my chimneys.  They've spent much of the day practising their fairly ropey flying techniques in the branches of an old apple tree in the shade of which, when Grace's climbing ropes aren't needed, we have a table and chairs.  Dennis has spent his day sitting on and stalking up and down the table screaming with frustration and keeping a very watchful eye on these muppet birds in hopes that one will be clumsily foolhardy and land close enough to be caught and dispatched.
He had a taster of baby blue tit around dawn and wants more.  
I'm glad to say that he's been disappointed and the little jackdaws have transferred to the top of the large oak tree bordering the paddock.  Dennis knows where they are but so far it seems he just can't be arsed to follow.  Well, it is very hot! 

Thursday, 8 June 2006

1st rate bug, 2nd rate pic

Some people are perfectionists.  They'll go all out to acquire or perfect a new skill, studying manuals and 'how to' books until the dawn light breaks, and then they'll practise and practise again until they are expert.

I'm not like that.  My life has been spent saying 'oh, that's good enough, it'll do' 

I'm a good enough gardener, good enough cook, good enough fiddle player, good enough at virtually everything - but of course my 'good enoughs' are at a level set by me - for many people my peformance would be what real experts would call a barely passable botch job.

I've always kept a hope in the back of my mind that one wonderful day I'll discover something at which I'm 'naturally' talented, thus achieving an enviable expert status without actually having to put in any graft.  It hasn't happened yet altho if I say so myself, my Margot Leadbetter impersonation does come naturally and has incredible powers of embarrassment if my children are within earshot.

Anyway, all that preamble is by way of an explanation of why you cannot in this photograph see the incredible Italian Skies blue of this Darter dragonfly's body, nor the iridescent shimmer of its diaphanous wings.  I really must read that digicam manual sometime.



Bleep is the word

This afternoon I used the Park and Ride service to do some plastic slapping in Shrewsbury.  The P&R buses are equipped with multiway radios which emit a regular bleep thus reassuring those passengers who have doubts that they are indeed in the land of the living, altho they may still believe themselves semi-comatose in an overheated ICU..... bleep......bleep......bleep....
My driver today took full advantage of her radio to ask the exact location of each of her colleagues, including those operating P&R from other locations and using other routes.  At one point this interminable trivia was punctuated by an excited interjection from another bus driver who screamed ' Gary's on Wyle Cop, I have eyeball, I have eyeball'
I realise that driving such a route all day every day must be extremely tedious but surely this sort of endless drivel doesn't do much to lighten their hearts or occupy their minds.  I blame television, I really do.

Medical trauma

A very senior medical man has suggested that consultants should, in cases of very severe and extreme head trauma, be allowed  to give an injection to end life.  This suggestion is eliciting strong opposition from people outraged that medics should actively seek to end life rather than preserve it.  It would appear that this suggestion is doomed to fail and that should such intentional and proactive means to end life be acted out, the medic will be open to a charge of murder.
So, should you or your loved ones be involved in a major car accident say, and lose a substantial part of your cranium and brain then the medics treating you will not be allowed to give you an injection to bring your life to a speedy and painfree end. 
No, you can rest assured that won't happen.
What will happen is that current practice will continue to be applied.  All sustenance and liquids will be withdrawn.  You'll die a perfectly legal lingering and painful death from starvation and dehydration.

Begging letter

I wonder if anyone has any little game exes on their hard drive suitable for tots to practice their mouse skills?  I'd be very grateful for any mosquito splatting games or similar.

Sun arise, early in the morning!

Wednesday, 7 June 2006

Tonight's question

What useful purpose does it serve when a mature, balanced, socially well-adjusted and normally functioning adult comes out about having been sexually abused as a child? 

I'm so altruistic - not :O)

A couple of weeks ago I posted about Freecycle and this morning had a dozen huge and ugly old cement slabs taken away by a chap wanting to make a hard base for his shed.

Not only was I pleased to have these grotty snail hotels moved with no physical effort on my part but I also had the happy glow of having done a stranger a good turn.  The chap was very easy on the eyes too so a good deal all round! <g>

Not that I would, of course..... but

According to R4 a new type of speed camera is to be introduced to British roads.  The current cameras apparently only take photographs from the rear of the vehicle whereas the new one will take pictures from the front.  This will allow driver recognition so that fewer ticketed drivers will claim their car was driven by their clean-licensed sister, son, cousin or alternatively by their American, Japanese or Azerbaijani visitor.  The useful things we 6 pointers learn when we listen to the news! 
My Indonesian pal Annette Kurtin may come in useful if I ever get another ticket for doing 32mph in a 30 zone.
Another item may have prompted millions of listeners to do their bit for wildlife by creating numerous small ponds around their gardens, next to their veg plots or flower beds perhaps.  Old fashioned metal dustbins could be utilized for this purpose, or people could use silage sheeting over old carpet as I have done myself. 
It's within the water regulations for ponds to be filled via hosepipes even when there's a hosepipe ban (which there isn't, nor likely to be in my region).  It's also acceptable for watering cans to be filled from ponds.

Sunday, 4 June 2006

Saturday, 3 June 2006

Pick n mix 2

Thinking further on this it seemed to me that both contentment and happiness are related to the operation of psychological mechanisms, and in particular to comparison and expectation.  Thus we see, when people achieve above what they expected and better than their peer group, then they are likely to express themselves as having been made happy by that achievement.  Once they become au fait with the environment at their new level however it becomes apparent to them that others have achieved more and better.  In a sense it's like the big fish in a small pond effect. 
We see this with Lottery winners; those who remain in the same locality and socialize within the same milieu maintain much higher levels of happiness than before their win.  Alternatively those  winners who buy large country mansions, join expensive Golf Clubs and begin to hanker for the Royal Enclosure at Ascot find themselves progressively more unhappy and discontent and tend to believe that winning has ruined their lives. 
A similar effect pertains when children achieve good GCSE results compared to their classmates and their own anxious expectations.  Their first reaction is ecstatic tears of joy as we see on TV every year when Results are published.  By the time they've completed their first term studying for A Levels at VI Form College they are likely to be discontented with those same results which previously made them overjoyed because their new peer group has the same as them or better.
I have in the past believed that when a society is on a downward economic spiral then everyone experiences lower levels of contentment.  I expected that seeing poverty and suffering around them coupled with fears about job security would make people more anxious and generally less happy. 
Not so it would seem. 
In reading around this issue of happiness etc I came across some research undertaken in the US which throws my previous thinking on this out of kilter. This research shows that each percentage point increase in the local unemployment rate was associated with an increase in the average levels of well-being experienced by both those in and those out of work.  One explanation for this seemingly jarring finding is that when we observe our peers suffering we lower our own standards and thus perceive ourselves to be better off in hard times.  When things are difficult then we become more grateful for small mercies; a job, no matter how dulling and low paid is a job and having any job is better than none.
Other recent research in the UK this time also found that higher rates of regional unemployment increased the happiness of the unemployed.   Seeking an explanation for this drove me back to the words of my Mother - who was also known as the Queen of Cliches - misery loves company. 

Thursday, 1 June 2006

He's really a lovely boy except for the killing

Early this morning I noticed my cat Dennis acting in an unusually lively manner, twisting his body madly from side to side and rolling on his back in an odd way.  When I went over to have a closer look at him I saw that what was causing his excitement was the body of a young stoat that he'd caught and killed.  Stoats, even youngsters, are very fast and very agile whereas Dennis as a ten year old is somewhat more of a lurk in the rhododendrons type of hunter.  His usual (daily) prey is voles and mice altho on one celebrated occasion he came home with a rat almost as large as himself.  He's a natural killer but also the sweetest natured cat you might wish for. 
I daresay most murderers families say the same of them tho