Abandoned Russian Polar Nuclear Lighthouses

More lighthouse stuff, via @ChrisRoperZA.

Does exactly what it says in the title.

lh2Dmitriy Vyacheslavovich lighthouse, Taymyroslavich Peninsula*

Some explanation:

…the Communist Party of the Soviet Union decided to build a chain of lighthouses to guide ships finding their way in the dark polar night across uninhabited shores of the Soviet Russian Empire. So it has been done and a series of such lighthouses has been erected. They had to be fully autonomous, because they were situated hundreds and hundreds miles aways from any populated areas. After reviewing different ideas on how to make them work for a years without service and any external power supply, Soviet engineers decided to implement atomic energy to power up those structures. So, special lightweight small atomic reactors were produced in limited series to be delivered to the Polar Circle lands and to be installed on the lighthouses.

Some great photos and handy hints for rogue states and terrorist groups on where to find unguarded plutonium.

Everybody wins. Happy days.

* completely made up.

Rogue Abyssinian is a menace

The batty residents of Claremont are at it again in the invaluable Southern Suburbs Tatler:

To the owner of the roaming Abyssinian cat in the Lynfrae Avenue area: your cat comes into my home on a daily basis to eat my cats’ food, to urinate in and against my kitchen cupboards and other furniture, and terrorise my cats who are feeling violated and insecure in their own home.
I have to clean up after your cat, buy extra cat food, purchase various cleaning materials to clean up his mess and tolerate the inconvenience of trying to keep him out. My house reeks of your cat, and it is very embarrassing.
I have walked around knocking on neighbours’ doors to find the owner of this cat, and several people told me that they have to endure the same problems caused by your cat.

Dr Elzabé Dürr-Fitchen, Claremont

So many images. Not least the poor “violated and insecure” cats in their own home. How does one identify those sorts of traits in felines? Low self-esteem? Self-loathing? Lots of sleeping near heaters?

These are the risks you take when you have pets – the chance that someone else’s bigger pet will come into your home, eat their food and pee on your cupboards. I see it as a metaphor for life. You’re either a big fish in a little pond or someone comes into your home, eats your big fish and pees on your cupboards. But is writing letters to the local rag – however heartfelt they may be – really the way to go about solving the problem? And isn’t “tolerating the inconvenience of trying to keep him out”, a little dramatic?

Because – and sit down, because here’s a plan – why don’t you close your door?

I have found that even the most agile of felines find it near impossible to navigate their way through a couple of centimetres of solid wood. No matter how hard you throw them. In trying this method, you’ll probably come across other unforeseen benefits of door closing. Not only will rogue Abyssinian cats be kept out, but so will other annoying things like wind and rain and leaves and burglars. And, as an added bonus, things like warmth, your TV and your laptop will remain in your house.

With the lack of support they’re getting in this worrying situation, it’s only a matter of time before the good doctor’s cats take matters into their own hands, follow the rogue Abyssinian home and wreak havoc upon his house by going in and sleeping near their heaters. Unless his owners have taken the radical step of closing their door, of course.

I must, however, mention that while living in Oxford back in the mid-90’s, I did experience a similar problem to that suffered by Dr Komplik8ed-Sürñåmê, whereby a neighbour’s cat came into our kitchen and pee’d against the cupboards. Once.
However, rather than writing to the local freebie newspaper in an effort to trace its owner, I was more proactive, trapped it in the kitchen and then took a broom handle to it (in the style of the Maid from Tom and Jerry, but without the fat legs) and soundly beat it until it was black and red.

That seemed to sort the problem out almost instantaneously: once released (I helped it over the garden fence), it never came back. Although I too had to purchase various cleaning materials to clean up the mess.

Anyway, bye for now, Abyssinia.
(sorry)

Eating on the run

This post dedicated to Nix-Grim, who can (hopefully) now relax for at least a couple of weeks.

One of the benefit [sic] of our current Medical Aid is the Discovery HealthyFood™ programme, whereby members can get up to 25% off healthy foodstuffs bought at Pick n Pay supermarkets. I feel better because I’m healthier and saving money, Discovery feel better because I’m healthier and claiming less money from them and Pick n Pay feel better because I go there to buy my fruit and veg with 25% off and take the opportunity stock up on curry and chocolate while I’m at it.
So everyone’s happy.

As part of the enrollment for this ground-breaking new initiative, I was forced requested to fill in a Personal Health Review which covered everything from Smoking (I don’t), through Drinking (I do) and Stress (I am) to Physical activity (chance would be a fine thing). Prospective answers for each question were given from a drop-down menu, like this example from the stress section:

disc

Do I eat on the run? Well, not if I can help it, but sometimes it’s either that or nothing. So never is right out, but I certainly don’t do it daily either.
Which leaves me with “a few times a week” or “1-3 times a year”. Because let’s be clear, there can be no middle ground in the eating on the run scenario. Either you are a serial on the run eater*, eating on the run a few times a week or you eat on the run 1-3 times a year. Not four, not five: one to three.
That’s why, the first time you eat on the run each year (probably mid January, I’m guessing), you have to make the big decision – are you going to do it again a few times that week or are you going to limit yourself to next eating on the run only in July and then again once more in September? That’s a big ask, believe me.

Suddenly the mass fainting episodes at schools in KZN are explained. This isn’t a case of witchcraft, nor pollution, nor drugs. This is  an example of what happens when you foolishly take the 1-3 times a year option and then use up all your eating on the run opportunities by the first week in February. You go hungry and you faint.

Safer then, to do as I did, risk the wrath of your Medical Aid and tell them you eat on the run most days. Of course, in doing this, I suggest that I lead a high-stress lifestyle which puts me at greater risk of all sorts of nasty disorders and they told me that they’re pretty unhappy with me because of that.
A heated argument ensued over the phone, with Discovery threatening to increase my monthly premiums unless I cut back and only ate on the run 1-3 times a year. In the end, blood pressure sky-high and anxiety levels through the roof after a full-on 20 minute row with the dear Boitshepo in the Johannesburg call centre, I gave in and promised to eat on the run less often.
(She was ever so forceful.)

I put the phone down and had to have 4 beers and slab of chocolate to get over the stress of the whole situation.

* Note that this is different from eating cereal on the run.

Isle of Man Quota Photo

Since the organisation of the upcoming 2009 Kids in Tow Tour has been dominating much of my free time of late (not to mention that of Mrs 6k), I figured that it was about time I looked forward to the actual event, rather than cursing the eternal paperwork and pondering over what drugs to give the children before the 12 hour flight.

Thus, I went searching for a suitable photo to illustrate the beauty of what used to be my second home – now probably relegated to about fourth, but still somewhere I’m very fond of – The Isle of Man.

Here’s one of those photos – this is the top end (geographically) of the Island.


Sunset at the Point of Ayre – Ray Collister

Now here’s a bit of a pet peeve. I don’t mind photographs being altered, enhanced, fiddled with etc. I recognise that it can be an extension of the creative process which began with actually spotting the opportunity and taking the photograph. What annoys me slightly is when almost every photo seems to be adulterated in that way. Especially when the subject matter – in this case, my beloved Island – is surely beautiful enough not to need touching up in this way.

But maybe I’m wrong. Ray Collister, Barbara Elaw and Suddhajit Sen, whose names appeared more than any others in my flickr search, have all tinkered extensively with their pictures of the island.
As I said, this is  a pet peeve of mine, but since I’ve always been a sucker for black and white images and – since that balmy Thursday afternoon back in ’89 when I met Jean Guichard on a District Line train near Victoria* – lighthouses as well, I’m more than happy to have this picture on the site, since it ticks the important boxes.

* Another lie.

Bits & Pieces

There are too many things running around my cluttered mind right now, so it’s time to unload, discharge, release, ejaculate, drop and roll them back into the water; it’s time to declutter with a bits and pieces post.
If you want to know more – go explore. I’ll give you the tools.

1. The owner of a small bakery in Dorset which is bucking the economic downturn is called Emma Goss Custard.

2. Well-respected Cape Town blogger publishes invaluable list of local restaurants with awesome winter specials. Go eat, drink, be merry and spend less than you might previously have done.

3. Cornish Liberal-Democrats apologise for calling a rival candidate a “greasy-haired twat” in an election leaflet.
Leader of the Mebyon Kernow party, Dick Cole, is appalled. I have no comment.

4. I downloaded two albums last night: Greatest Hits of Deacon Blue and Eminem’s Relapse. Even my iPod is confused. Some chalk with your cheese, Sir?
There are some handy hints for any unimaginative Cornish LibDems on Relapse, although of course, we already know that LibDem’s can rap anyway. 

5. I would love to repeat Gareth Cliff’s Air France joke from this morning, but as even I thought it was a little near the knuckle, I’d probably better not.

6. Talking of flying, if the UK Government need to know any more bloody details about me ahead of the 2009 Kids in Tow Tour, they can come and bloody measure it themselves. A million forms and documents later and they’re still asking for my daughter’s passport number and whether she has ever “glorified terrorism”. Honestly – does this really look like a terrorist to you?

may209-042

It drools. It giggles. It says “Taaaaaaah!” loudly. It doesn’t bomb things. Although the nappies can be dangerous.

7. Finally, I can reveal that I have won some rather decent tickets to Brazil vs Egypt in Bloemfontein later this month. Looking forward to it, although I’m told there are some lingering bad feelings towards the English up in the Free State. A 10-hour (each way) road trip just to be abused doesn’t sound like much fun. But it is football and I will be there. With bells on. And blowing a vuvuzela out of my… car.

EDIT: 8. Phone call tells me that I have secured free tickets to both the British & Irish Lions’ games in Cape Town. Game on!