A Monday catch-up

I haven’t found one specific thing worthy of a blog post of its own yet today, so I thought I’d share several of the thing which were almost worthy of a blog post of their own. Collectively, these things are worth far more than a single blog post, so you’re certainly getting your money’s worth today.

First up: flooding in Paris:

Insane! Or rather not in Seine at all right now. This is of specific interest to me because we’ve just booked a trip to Europe in June/July and Paris and French waterways are included. I particularly enjoyed the line:

The national flood monitoring agency Vigicrues said the water levels hit a maximum height of 5.84 meters (19 feet, 2 inches) on the Austerlitz scale early Monday. That’s below initial fears last week, and well below record levels of 8.62 meters in 1910.

Yeah. But that’s only really a bonus if your property lies between 5.85 and 8.62m on the Austerlitz scale though, isn’t it?

Then: Superpods of dolphins are gathering off the coast of South Africa

Am I the only one who finds this headline vaguely threatening?
The “are gathering” bit does sound as if there is some common porpoise (stop it!) to their behaviour, and I think we’re all aware that what I mean by that is dolphin invasion, something we’ve covered here before.
Researchers suggest that it may rather be something to do with defending themselves against sharks, but then researchers would suggest that, wouldn’t they? They’re in on the act.
It’s telling that the majority of the pods have been sighted off the sleepy seaside village of Port Elizabeth. PE is the ideal place to begin an takeover: by the time the locals have worked out what is going on and release the emergency carrier pigeons from the Campanile, the tanks (either kind, you do the maths) of invading dolphins will be on the Free State border.

Playing with photos

Practice, they say, makes perfect. And one day, I’d like my photo editing to be perfect. So, whenever I can, I’m finding photos to practice on. Since I didn’t take any this weekend (again, despite this), I’ve borrowed one from Brian Micklethwait over at BrianMicklethwait.com. I loved his photo of Victoria Station (link), and so I shamelessly stole borrowed it and put a bit of a spin on it with Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.

Just for absolute clarity, I’m not suggesting that my version is in any way better. I’m just suggesting that it’s different. I was inspired by two things: firstly, the “vintage” look of the station roof, and secondly, Brian’s own thoughts on his image:

I like how this kind of scene permits bright colours, like those little union jacks, but turns fainter colours monochrome, like when that little girl in a red coat appears in Schindler’s List.

The more washed out feel that I’ve tried to give it still allows for those flags to stand out. Maybe they should stand out more. Maybe I should practice more.

And, just because I liked the headlines, these:

Because the data from their fitness apps are now publicly available.


Only, of course, if you’re singing and dancing pornographically in Cambodia.

Nitty gritty

Incoming from one of those doctors I mentioned here.

Live Scottish Gritter Tracking!

(“Gritters”, for the uninitiated, being the lorries which go around spreading rock salt on snowy and icy roads, lowering the melting point of the slippy stuff, and therefore making the roads safer to drive on.)

Even better is the fact that some of the vehicles have comedy names, like the ones you see above. Sprinkles seems like a wholly inappropriate name for a 15-tonne monster throwing grit at anything in the vicinity.

So just as it should be.

Obviously, you need it to be wintery (like today) for the full benefit of the above site. You’re not going to see much happening on there in July.

The email also included some good wishes for my knee.
My knee is doing ok, thank you. Even after a short barefoot run (first one in 7 months) last night.
My feet are full of thorns though. Full. Wynberg Boys need to sort out their bottom



Thanks Doc

Spiderman ornament struck by rocket in…

Presented without comment:

Actually, no. Forget that. There are too many questions and comments which are occupying my mind having read this article.

Brace yourself, Phyllis: I’m going in.

First off (if we ignore the obvious question as to why an elderly couple from an Essex have have a large Spiderman ornament in their back garden) is why the hole in Spiderman’s lower back (let’s face it, it’s not actually in his bum, is it?) has been described as “the size of a saucepan”.
Helpful tip: When choosing a random object with which to compare the dimensions of something, always choose a random object with a single, well-known, well-understood form, and not in a huge variety of sizes.
How does “the size of a saucepan” help anyone who hasn’t had the benefit (and the undoubted pleasure) of viewing the image of the firework sticking out of Spidey’s arse, above? Are you talking about something for boiling an egg? Or making a stew? You might get away with an egg boiling sized saucepan, but presumably, the latter would be fatal (the size of the hole, not the stew).

It had flown into their garden, narrowly missing an aviary housing about 30 birds, and their home.
Mr Spears said: “If that had happened on my porch it could have blown my house up.”

Well, no. Not really. I think you might be mixing it up with a Cruise Missile.
This is merely a firework. I doubt that it would even have made it into your porch. Fireworks aren’t very good at that kind of thing, generally being stopped by stuff like the roof. Again, a Cruise Missile won’t be fazed by anything so flimsy as a few tiles on a porch roof. Or the rest of the building.

We’re looking at damage to a ceramic representation of a comic book superhero here. It’s hardly porch roof stuff. You’ll be fine.

The biggest worry here is that one of Spiderman’s enemies – there are, I believe, a selection of comic book supervillains to choose from – sees this article and recognises a big yellow firework right between the kidneys as a potential means of defeating our hero:

When a junior reporter mysteriously doesn’t turn up for work at the Daily Bugle after the Christmas break, a manhunt is launched. However, Peter Parker is quickly located in the ICU of a local hospital. He is suffering from severe trauma to the lower spine, and – should he even survive – will be wholly unable to continue with his intended career in journalism or any of his extra-curricular activities.

I digress. On with the story:

Mr Spears said he bought the comic ornament for £45 at a car boot sale – not the world wide web – as it seemed like a good deal.

First off, FORTY FIVE QUID?!??!??! They must have seen you coming, mate. Who pays £45 for a second hand Spiderman garden ornament?
Mr Spears does, that’s who.

And why the insistence that this was bought in person and “not the world wide web”? Is this meant to be a spider-pun? If so, you should be ashamed of yourself, local reporter Catherine Johnson. That’s terrible.

He said: “I shall probably repair it, but that’s not the point.”

You’re absolutely right. The point is lodged very neatly in what’s left of Peter Parker’s lumbar spine.


UPDATE: Note to self. Remember: never share the link to these sort of blog posts with the reporter what has wrote the original story.

Eish. I continue to learn the hard way in 2018.

Quota sun… rise

Ja. Not mine, obviously. And not here either. The dawn chorus currently starts at about 4:40am in Cape Town at the moment, about an hour ahead of official sunrise. So you’ll hopefully forgive me for being in bed at that time.

Fortunately, there are others who (albeit with a later start) are willing to go out and get that shot of the sunrise. Like this one of Higger Tor in in the Peak District.

The rocks you see are millstone grit. They’re coarse-grained sandstones of Carboniferous age and were used to make… wait for it… millstones(!) for use in the local water mills (and they gave the National Park its logo).
If you’re into your geology, there’s loads to learn right here. These dark rocks give the name to the “Dark Peak”, whereas the “White Peak” further south in the Park is characterised by its light-coloured limestone geology.

Now you know.

This photo was taken less than 15km from my family home in Sheffield. But I would still not have got up in time to take it.


For some reason, it seems that I like planes. Not in a Let’s Go And Stand At The Airport For Days On End And Note Down Their Registration Numbers way, but definitely in a Since We’re At The Airport Let’s Go And Have A Coffee Somewhere We Can See The Runway From way. It’s an interest, not an obsession.

Of course, the only obsessive bit of this interest is the Airbus A380. Scarce in Cape Town thanks to our thin taxiways, but always a pleasure to get on in Dubai and go to Manchester. This (mild) obsession resulted in me following British Airways A380 pilot Dave Wallsworth on twitter. I mentioned this to you on here almost two years ago.

Captain Dave  has now released a pair of YouTube videos showing exactly how an A380 takes off and lands. Yes, it’s a bit nerdy, in that it’s 10 minutes (each time) of real time footage, and it seems that aside from a few short words and actions, the crew don’t actually seem to do very much*, but it’s also annotated so that each thing that they do do is explained clearly.
If you have some spare time (and who doesn’t in early January?), it’s worth a watch:

And then, should you so wish, there’s the landing to look at as well.
WARNING: You will end up in Johannesburg at the end of this particular video.

One thing I did notice in both videos is that there’s an awful lot of looking out of the windows, presumably for other planes. I’m not sure if I find this comforting or not. Sure, a final check left before heading onto the runway seems like a pretty good idea, but should it really be necessary? I suppose that it takes minimal effort and it could make a huge difference, but I do wonder if it ever has. A bit like me looking left when turning onto the dual carriageway this morning, so as not to hit the utter twat of a cyclist going the wrong way. (An incident that was apparently entirely my fault with only a few months until the Cycle Tour, obvs.)

Having flown on these beasts several (or more) times, albeit never on a BA one or into Joburg, it’s really interesting to see what happens up front when we’re sitting in the back having our headphones and blankets collected and trying to find where our shoes have disappeared to.


* almost certainly because they’ve done an awful lot of things previously to make sure that they actually don’t have to do very much during this ten minutes.