Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sibil or Pythia

Well. What can I say?

I can say, "I told you so", for sure, right here in this blog.

In my post dated Jan 1st I published my own top 10 and at #1 was... Replay by Iyaz.

Now please bear in mind I actually wrote that in advance of when it was published after the Christmas chart came out.

When I first became aware of the track I couldn't actually get a UK download from I-tunes, they only had it on their US site. Why do they do that? The internet is World wide, that why it has www in it. I felt for sure it should be a hit tho and got myself a copy.

So back to my prescient post... In my reply to James and LGS on Jan 3rd I went further "My bet would be for 'Replay' or 'No other one' to hit the charts sometime in the next month or three."

Well, even I was surprised by the success of my prediction. Replay has now hit the #1 spot in the UK charts!!

Bounces around going "WoooHooo! I-yam-so-cle-verrr."

I wonder if the other track I thought was good and commercial 'No other one' will do half as well. Even if it doesn't I still like it and that I guess is the point.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Spotted


This little fellow is certainly spotted although not with the traditional type of spots we think of in that context. Red maple leaves! My daughter bought this bear for herself at the Build a Bear store in Vancouver. Yes my 43 year old daughter, not my 6 year old granddaughter! I guess she misses living in Canada and he is rather cute in his Mountie uniform!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Balanced


It was quite the grey day on my walk when I took these balanced photos. I hope they are not stretching the theme too far. Click to see the photos enlarged.

This log was stranded by the high tide and balanced precariously until the next high tide which would carry it away.

Balanced quite firmly on their holders these canoes await their owners' next foray onto the water.

No trouble at all for these geese to balance here and survey their domain.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Police Protecting Criminal's Rights

Well here is another hard hat post I guess. It is a bit longer than usual. If anyone wants to argue in favour, or against, what I have to say feel free, because I feel really strongly about this.

I was really annoyed to find out that a law abiding young mother who brandished a kitchen knife in her own kitchen to scare off intruders found herself being warned about her behaviour by the police. Hertfordshire County Police in the UK.

The young mother was the classically trained musician, former chart star and popular celebrity Myleene Klass, she was at home, alone with her little daughter.

She was in her kitchen and male intruders to her property were in her yard, her daughter was upstairs, she was terrified, banged on the kitchen window and brandished a knife...

The intruders retreated and she called the police.

What happened when Hertfordshire's “finest” got there?. They warned the potential criminal who had called them about her behaviour using an offensive weapon to threaten the intruders is what!!

Now at this point surely any right thinking person has so got to start to wonder what the point of these useless public employees is.

Did they protect her in any way?. Did their existence put off these intruders in any way?

So we have a situation in the UK where the police seem to be very little actual practical use to the average law abiding citizen and householder, other than to turn up after the event and make a note of the details of any crime or disaster which happened. Maybe arrange for someone to clean up any mess and notify relatives.

When they do bother to turn up they are as likely to prosecute the victim as the perpetrator.

It used to be the British police had a natural store of good will from the law abiding majority of citizens.

Officers mostly tried to provide the sort of policing the majority wanted and expected. They protected the public from criminals. They saw themselves as working for and protecting the average law abiding citizen. Seeing a British bobby in a pointed helmet made you feel a little bit safer.

Not any more... and they mostly look like scary SWAT team members away from the tourist traps these days.

Over the last 20 years things seem to have really changed. These days the police act like they prefer an easy target that boosts their figures, and I guess there are none easier than a generally law abiding member of the public, especially with a huge increase in laws and rules that the normal person can't keep up with.

The police need to remember they are not some paramilitary occupying force. They are citizens, civil public servants, there to protect society and its honest citizens. Not treat everyone like crooks.

You can't have a much better example of who the police should be protecting, who they should be working on behalf of, than an innocent young mother and child menaced by trespassers in their own home.

They shouldn't be bullying her. If the Police feel they need to lean on such a person when they make a mild attempt to scare off intruders then there is something really wrong with how they think and are trained. Also maybe with the sort of person who runs/controls the police.

If what Myleene Klass did is against the law then there is something quite wrong with the law ...and those who make and interpret the law, because it should not be!!

If someone trespasses where they clearly should not be and without a lawful excuse then their rights should not be given preference, or even equal rating, over the owner of that property.

If they get injured being where they should not while doing wrong then surely it is their own fault. If they are injured by someone defending themselves their family and their property then again that is just too bad and the law should recognise it.

I really don't wonder the police are so against the public ever defending themselves, because it must show up what a poor job the police themselves do for the average citizen.

If an intruder is injured or killed, and the force used is fairly reasonable, taking into account what the defender knew, or thought and how physically able they were, then the householder should not be prosecuted.

If you have two physically mature male intruders and one female defender, then even if she shot them with a legally owned firearm then it should be lawful self defence.

The fact is that the average female is physically unlikely to be able to win against two males. Even if she is trained in unarmed combat it is not something a sensible person would want to try.

What option does a woman have under those circumstances? Especially knowing there is only her between her child and a threat, what option but to use any to a weapon to hand to make a believable threat? And if their bluff us called then maybe to use it.

This is always the problem for a woman defending herself. Against physical violence, actual or imminent.

She has to up the ante and do it first, or she loses.

If there is no escape she is left with the choice of “laying back and thinking of England” as it used to be said and hoping if they get what they want they won't hurt her... and then having to explain why she didn't try defend herself, or to try to take the guy out with a crippling attack.

I firmly believe a woman should be trained to defend herself, but I am realistic enough to know there are limitations. You try not to get in a bad situation, but sometimes it comes to you. Chances are way high there will be no police there to protect you if it does.

Now it looks like if you realistically try to defend yourself it makes you a criminal.

It is true not just for women, but for anyone who is weaker than or outnumbered by their attackers.

Am I unreasonable to be livid about this? I really don't think so.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Jiggly


This proved to be an impossibly difficult theme for me. I should have kept the seals I used for last's weeks bulky theme for this week. But instead I have to stretch your credulity so thin it might break just as this lovely little window ornament did as it proved to be so jiggly here it fell and smashed into pieces.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Technical Overload for this Poor Old Brain!

I have no one to blame but myself of course as I answered people's questions about what I would like for Christmas this year. They all seem to be computer related directly or indirectly. So in one day I acquired half a dozen things which require either a huge online manual or one of those books I call the bible for ......... whatever it is.

First up, new software for the Mac. Microsoft Office for Mac, Home & Student Edition, 2008 version. Now I have used Office for years but in a much more ancient edition. The Old Scientist upgraded to 2007 on his Windows machine just before Christmas and told me that there had been some pretty big changes so I thought I would ask for the program for the Mac. It came with this "free" very neat little folding notebook mouse, which fortunately is just plug and play. So that required no skill to get up and running quickly. The bible for the program comes from the library at the moment but I will be buying one as soon as I decide which one suits me best.

I rather fancied one of these digital video frames and tossed that notion out randomly at one stage. Naturally someone glommed onto it and I was presented with one to organize and load with photos. It came in a huge box with a smallish manual, although we all know that these getting started manuals never tell you anything you want to know and I have no idea how anyone manages to get the item up and running with only those slim volumes to guide one. I am sure I will enjoy the slideshow of photos of my granddaughter once I get it sorted out. I've been putting it off for the moment but I should bite the bullet soon.

I'm still struggling with Photoshop Elements so I was grateful to receive Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac -the Missing Manual. Of course it's a not only a chest crusher but also not something you can pick up and read page after page. It's really a reference book although you do have to explore what the program has to offer as well in there. One of the problems is that I have so many photo editing programs on my computer, what with iPhoto and Gimp and Picasa, none of which I have mastered except perhaps iPhoto, which has its limitations, or even scratched the surface, as it is hard to decide which one to use. And I keep dabbling with one or the other. But let's face it, does anyone ever master any of these programs these days? They are so complex and overwhelming that I am sure that most people use only a small percentage of their capability.

Last but not least, I was given my third iPod. From my first iPod mini I fell in love with the iPod. iTunes, the organizational software for the iPod is brilliant. I also love my iPod touch but it has turned out to be too bulky for a lot of occasions. So I coveted an iPod nano. A red nano, my favourite colour. You can only buy the red one from the Apple store and if you buy it online you can have it engraved, which my daughter did. But did she choose some wonderful quotation to use? Or some soppy message? Nope. Just my name and telephone number. Sigh.
Now having two iPods already you would think I would have no trouble whatsoever but of course improvements have been made since my last one. This one has an FM radio which is no problem but it also can take videos. What the heck? Why on earth would you want to take a video with your iPod? I guess the teen market is driving the features these days but frankly I think it a total waste of memory. But we shall see, we shall see. Maybe I will love it, when I figure it out that is.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Avatar the review

It is a while since I have done a review of anything and I feel a couple of them coming on...

This one is sort of appropriate really. It's about Avatar.

Avatar the Movie. And just in case you didn't hear of it yet, it is not about JMB, me, or Second Life.

No this, as I guess you must know, is a movie.

Now before I say anything else at all I simply must say that if you ever plan, or think you might plan, to see this movie... pleeease don't wait till it comes out on DVD, or goes to TV. If you are ever going to see it then go see it in 3D at a movie theatre on the big screen, preferably at an I-Max.

This movie is an absolute visual feast. The Graphics are truly marvelous, beautiful, stunning. Acknowledgments to the movie for the stills used here.

I can still see some of the night time forest scenes. They are etched on my imagination. It was all so real, especially in 3D. It was pitched perfectly. I did duck once...

The only way I know there must have been Graphics involved, is that there are no forests like that and no creatures like that here, because I could not tell for sure otherwise.

The only other option to my mind is conspiracy theory territory. Maybe it is all real somehow. Maybe Pandora really is out there... I should maybe check that out with Elvis, I am pretty sure he runs the local burger joint ^_^

Ok, so back to the review. The main hero is an ex marine, Jake Sulley (Sam Worthington) who has spinal damage and is paralysed from the waist down.

The Movie is set entirely on location on Pandora. It is a habitable moon of a gas giant that orbits another star.

Pandora is absolutely teeming with exotic life. One of the species are the humanoid Navi pronounced Naah-vee. They kind of remind me of exotic Neko. There is a strong hint of pre-Columbian Native American, about them, or perhaps Zulu.

Here is a neat idea, all Pandoran life has a sort of built in biological USB cable that can interface with other animals and also plants, That allows them a sort of telepathy.

An Earth corporation (Boo! Hiss!) is mining for minerals (the unimaginatively named wait-for-it Unobtanium) on Pandora and the mother lode is right under a native settlement..

Meanwhile Sigourney Weaver or Dr Grace Augustine has invented this way of mixing human DNA with the Navi and growing the Human/Navi look alike bodies in tanks. This has to be done individually for each human. Then they somehow tune the body's brain to the human and sort of download them into the body becoming an Avatar..

Our hero Jake is the twin brother of a scientist who was on the project and has been killed. So they want him to drive the Avatar. This easily beats being in a wheelchair and he jumps at the chance.

On one of his first outings he gets separated from the group he is protecting, loses his weapons and gets left behind. He is alone in a dangerous jungle. Just when it looks like his goose is cooked he runs into Neytiri, a native, daughter of the chief.

Now if I say much more then it might spoil things so I will stop there.

I will say if a guy wants to take you to see it then go see it, even if you don't think it is your sort of thing, make sure he buys you chocolate to eat while you watch as it is quite long, but do go.

In fact if you don't get invited then think about inviting someone to go with you as a treat

...and go anyway.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Bulky


These California sea lions bulky enough for you? They are for me and these fellows were sunning themselves on some floating docks in San Diego harbour when we took a harbour tour last year. It is pretty amazing to me that they can lift all that bulk out of the water and onto the dock but they do manage with relative ease. Click to see a little more detail, if you wish.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back to Normal --- Whatever Normal is!

Every year my daughter and her family visit one of the sets of "grandparents" for Christmas and so we were fortunate to have them spend ten days with us over the holiday period this year.

They do come at least once a year so my six year old granddaughter already had a list of places she wanted to visit while they were in Vancouver.

"Nanna, when are we going to Granville Island?" Several of her favourite places are there, including the Kids Market and the "rock shop" or the Crystal Ark where she fills a plastic bag with tumbled rocks of her choice. I'm afraid that she is no longer satisfied with the small bag. So far the medium one is satisfactory but I am sure she will be graduating to the large one soon.

"Nanna, when are we going on the little train?" This is the miniature train which runs year round in Stanley Park but the route is decorated with lights and wonderful displays for the Christmas season, more formally known as Bright Nights.

"Nanna, do they have Build a Bear in Vancouver?" Well they surely do, although this involved a trip to a far-off mall I am not familiar with. The beaver was her choice but my 43 year old daughter just had to have the Canadian bear and she bought a Mountie outfit for him as well. She called him Trudeau, after our charismatic Prime Minister of the late sixties to the early eighties, a slightly more dignified name than Woody, the choice for the beaver!

Woody and Trudeau

A family tradition in our house when my children were young was that the stocking could be opened first then the gifts were opened after church. My granddaughter was quite happy to go along with this now that she is 6 and what's more she insisted on us waiting for her uncle to arrive before we could touch a thing under the tree except the stockings. Luckily he came right after we returned.

Stockings are serious business!

A big hit this year was the gingerbread house I bought for her at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. The students made them, with all the proceeds going to the local children's hospital. I think it was supposed to be a circus tent but I called it the Yurt. We dove into it right away but it did last a long time and we ended up discarding the last of the base which had become more like concrete than gingerbread. Sorry the photo is not brilliant but it turned out to be not so easy to photograph.

Gingerbread House

Now they have returned to their own home and lives. They survived the new restrictions for flying into the USA, which of course were not effect when they travelled here. This adds an extra hour to the check in and now that hand luggage is so severely restricted those overhead bins are quite empty. The six year old was not allowed her tiny backpack with her books and games so lucky they were going on the red eye flight. Her parents were forced to carry their laptops in their hands as their laptop bags had to be checked. So many people were muttering, clutching their laptops in their hands but they were not allowed the battery chargers. Of course those checking in for the BA flight to London had no such restrictions which made everyone ever crosser. There were 15 security people at the gate alone, even after the previous check everyone had gone through and they were thoroughly patted down. The pleasures of flying these days!

The grandparents have resumed their quiet lives and all the toys have been put away until they return to visit again in the summer. Trudeau was left behind till then since there was simply no room for him in the suitcases but I will take good care of him till then.

The first photo above was taken at a trip to the beach and this was a treasure she found. Of course it had to be recorded, "Nanna, take a photo!" was the imperious demand. I always used to think that a four year old was the "perfect" child but I think a six year old might be even better!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas Music Charts

I guess if you read some of my posts... Hi Mom... you will know I like pop music.

Probably no one who hasn't lived in the UK at some time will really have all that much awareness of this, but getting UK the Christmas #1 song is quite a big thing. It makes the news.

For the last few years the TV Pop talent show winners have had the Christmas #1 pretty much sewn up. They are screened perfectly for the winner to have a hit on the publicity the show generates at Christmas.

The winner of the X-Factor show Joe McEdlerry released a cover of Miley Cirus' “The Climb”. It looked like it would be that way this year too...

...until Jon Morter from the County of Essex started a Facebook campaign called “Rage Against the Machine for Christmas No 1” to get Rage Against the Machine's “Killing in the name” to #1 instead of the X-Factor song.

It is a 'least likely to be Christmas #1' type song with the lyric "F#[& you, I won't do what you tell me."

Rage Against the Machine added their support to the campaign by promising to donate their royalties from the song to go to support the homeless. They also promised to do a 'thank you' gig in the UK next year, if the campaign was successful.

It worked too! I have to confess even I downloaded it and I really don't like it much at all. And I quite like Miley Cirus' version of “The Climb”.

Probably the publicity gained extra sales for both tracks and it will make the lives of homeless people a little better.

When Jon Morter was told the campaign worked after an exclamation he said "I think it just shows that in this day and age, if you want to say something, then you can – with the help of the internet and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. If enough people are with you, you can beat the status quo."

My personal Christmas chart?

Replay by Iyaz
All this time (Pick-me-up song) by Maria Mena
This is the Life by Amy McDonald
No other one Tao Cruz
Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
Untouchable by Taylor Swift
Shark in the water by VV Brown
Summer Wine by VitoValo & Natalia Avelon
Undeniable by Katelyn Tarver