29 October 2008

the no-plastic challenge ends

Congratulations to Rose and Ele on completing their challenge to try to live without buying any new plastic for 3 months. Their efforts have certainly made me think a bit more about the choices I make on a day-to-day basis, and whilst I don't think I'll fully follow their example,  I like to think that my habits are a bit better than they were before.
Thanks to Rose and Ele for making us all think.

26 October 2008

Lake District weather

We spent most of yesterday within miles of the Original Mountain Marathon and I've been interested to review the news coverage. As we travelled back through fairly nasty weather last night, we listened out for news reports on the radio in case our chosen route was affected by road closures. At that point, I recall thinking that the news footage was lacking in the usual hyperbole and judgementalism. I expect we'd be told how irresponsible the organisers and competitors had been, but instead there was a balanced tone of concern about the affected people.
In the end though, the media rose to the challenge with a mild example from the BBC here. I'm sure there will be more extreme examples in the kinds of papers I prefer not to read.
My opinion is that the competitors were experienced and well equipped outdoor enthusiasts. As we heard on a live interview on the BBC News channel when we arrived home last night, each competitor was required to carry kit which would allow them to survive in extreme weather conditions. 
My only reservation concerns the safety of the emergency workers who would probably have preferred a quiet day. I particularly feel for the mountain rescue volunteers who, along with the RNLI (and probably others), should be funded by the taxpayer.

24 October 2008

Yet more on Dawkins

Have a look here for some alternative suggestions for Dawkins and his fellow campaigners.

21 October 2008

St Pancras surprise

We were in London this weekend and chose to have our breakfast in the wonderful St Pancras Station (at the Betjeman Arms). I was impressed with the Betjeman statue. 
I was more impressed - perhaps somewhat oppressed - by the sheer scale of the statue of the kissing couple. It really is colossal!

More on Dawkins

Whilst reading about Dawkins' bendy-bus campaign, I was reminded of Ruth Gledhill's interview with the man himself.

Richard Dawkins

We had a great discussion about 'Dawkinsism' at our regular meeting for postgraduate students, staff and general misfits at the University Chaplaincy last night. We were led by an emeritus professor of Biology, who provided an interesting critical angle on some the notable omissions from Dawkins' books. He highlighted the fact that whilst Dawkins paints himself as an advocate of modern science, he only advocates a narrow part of the scientific landscape. Further to this, it seems to be the case that most biologists wouldn't name Dawkins as one of the notable academics in the field of evolutionary biology. So if he's not a leading figure in the world of biological research, and he doesn't even see theology as a legitimate academic discipline, where does his authority come from? For which academic community is he speaking? Anyway, there was much more in last night's discussion - I can't represent it all here.

I was amused to see that Dawkins was featured on the Church Times blog today, and I love the ironies that run through the story.

18 October 2008

New boiler

Further to my previous post on the woes of a dysfunctional combi boiler, I am pleased to announce that we now have a fully working new boiler. It's great, it really is! We can actually have hot water and heat whenever we want it.

I realise that there are many people in the world for whom the notion of clean running water of any temperature would be a wonderful thing, but I'm trying to feel grateful rather than guilty.
The great thing about our new boiler is that it's much more effective and much more efficient. Good for our finances and good for the planet.

Laying down the Law

It looks like times are a little turbulent at (the proper) Old Trafford. First, stalwart Dominic Cork was given his P45, and now the club have decided not to renew to contract of captain Stuart Law.

This is reported to be in response to his commitments to the IPL, but I expect the fuss over Cork's exit probably had a bit to do with it too. When you add in the fact the the Lancashire batting lineup failed to perform this year, you can see why the club felt it was time for a change.
So good luck to Glen Chapple. I hope he succeeds where previous skippers have failed. 

14 October 2008

No time to blog

I have a lot to say at the moment, but I'm afraid  don't have enough time to say it. Maybe I'll catch up tomorrow sometime, but to jog my own memory here's a bullet-listed brain dump:

Dave Walker - letter to the Brewers
New Macs
Forms submitted
Working combi boiler DONE 18/10/08
Stuart Law DONE 18/10/08

...and that's just for starters. Check back in 24 hours to see if I found time.

10 October 2008

I promise this is my final post for the day!

It's a strage feeling when you wake up to hear a familiar voice on the radio. I don't mean Gordon Brown, or John Humphreys. They are familiar, but not in the same way as a friend or a colleague's voice is familiar.

Nigel Paul from the Lancaster Environment Centre was on The Today Programme the other day. It was a bit weird to say the least! Good to hear Lanacster research making the news.

I promise I've not been reading the Daily Mail

My wife sent me this link to a story from my home town. A neglected and boarded-up shop has just been investigated in preparation for redevelopment. It looks like they've discovered a treasure-trove of nostalgia. The one thing that I find a bit surprising is that the shop was left untouched for so long.

Just seen this on Mike Peatman's Facebook page.

Poor old Graham

I never thought I'd be posting in defence of Graham Kendrick, but he seems to have got a bit of a raw deal in being named as one of the top 50 people who have ruined Britain. He's not mentioned in the online article, but Jonathan Wynne-Jones of the Telegraph gives a few more details (thanks to Dave Walker for the link).

I have a couple of issues with the original Daily Mail article. For starters, has Britain actually been ruined? If it has, I didn't notice. Secondly, if Britain has been ruined, I can't imagine that any church music (or service book) could be responsible for this sad state of affairs.

9 October 2008

In hot water!

It's a well worn concept, but you don't realise how much you take things for granted until they disappear! Our combi boiler has been on the blink for some time now. It seems to decide in a completely arbitrary way whether or not it will work.

I started with an annoying but consistent fault. We could only get hot water when the heating wasn't on. Then it changed, whilst remaining predictable; we could get hot water, but only when the heating was on. This was the way it stayed for a while.

Our landlord pointed us in the direction of the plumber, who made numerous visits and changed numerous parts. Alas, the fault remained, though still predictable.

Last week, the predictability of our ailing boiler disappeared. Whether the heating is on or off, there is no way of telling in advance whether the water from the hot tap will be hot or cold. Added to this is a new problem with the central heating. this now suffers from the same fault as the hot water - completely unpredictable!

Morning showers are not guaranteed, relaxing baths are not often possible and the gas fire is seeing extraordinary levels of service. On the plus side, we have learnt the finer points of the 1 minute shower and the cold shower - we've probably reduced our water consumption drastically!

On a positive note, the plumber came this morning to make some preliminary checks before the installation of our new boiler. This is great news, but it made me realise the extent to which we become accustomed to our creature comforts.

7 October 2008

Apple freebie

Life has been incredibly busy over the last couple of weeks; hence the lack of blogging. A new job, family visits and the start of the academic year are my excuses.

Today we went to Manchester for a free session on the Apple software application 'Aperture 2'. Having bought the software with my new Macbook pro, Apple sent me an invitation to the event, held at the Printworks.

The session was presented by an Apple 'high-up', sporting the obligatory all-black uniform and funky radio mic. I was anticipating a full-on sales pitch for all things Apple, but I was pleasantly surprised when he launched into a demo of the main features of the package. I hoped it would be useful and it was. Now I just need to put all of the advice into practice.

One interesting observation about the clientele though. Perhaps predictably, here's my estimate of the profile of the audience: 98% men, 85% wearing black, 50% holding cameras and 65% aged over 50.