Sunday, August 28, 2005


One might be forgiven for thinking that this is going to be about the liquid gold that is on most people’s minds these days….oil! As the price of the stuff we apparently cannot do without, rockets to nearly $70 a barrel. But there is another liquid far more important to all of us. Just ask the residents of Africa, Middle East, Portugal & Spain what that fluid is? WATER Of course this is nothing new. We all know that we cannot live without water for more than a few days. Yet we treat this precious liquid very badly, wasting millions of gallons of it every day. Even the inhabitants of that excessively greedy city, Las Vegas, are slowly coming to the realisation that the Nevada desert which surrounds it has finite amounts of water flowing through its rocky terrain. Environmentalists and water engineers are warning that the city must curb its excessive and largely unnecessary use of water. Only 30% is currently used in the home for washing and drinking. The remainder being used to provide water parks, spectacular fountains and swimming pools etc. That must seem pathetic to those of us who are dying of thirst in Africa, or in current danger of being burnt out of their homes (and perhaps lives) in Portugal and Spain. Even the oil rich states in the Middle East, long ago realised that water was much more precious than the black ‘gold’ the west craves. A bottle of water in Saudi Arabia is more expensive than a bottle of oil and the longest continuous pipeline in the world carries water not oil. Unfortunately, like most problems associated with the environment, governments and people do seem to have buried their heads in the sand. We all know that water is the most precious commodity save only for oxygen. Yet we treat it with scant regard in the west. Millions of litres leak from badly fitting and broken pipelines. We waste more in the home – when was the last time you turned off the tap while shaving or brushing your teeth? Like oil, water is drying up in many areas. We are witnessing the not-so-slow desertification of the Iberian Peninsula. In other parts of Europe sudden torrential downpours flood large swathes of land because the drainage is unable to cope and we lose another opportunity to store the precious liquid. One gets the feeling that most people are aware of the environmental dangers that face us. Yet they feel they are powerless to do anything about it – so best not to even think of it. That is folly in the extreme. We are all responsible for the protection and proper usage of the earth’s natural resources, be it finite, like oil or seemingly endless - as water appears to be. We can all do something about it and one day we will have to address these problems seriously and vigorously – because all our lives will depend on it, as the inhabitants of Africa, Iberia and the Middle East will surely verify.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

British English uncovered!

WHAT WE SAY……WHAT THEY* UNDERSTAND…… WHAT WE MEAN…… I’m sure it’s my fault…… It’s his fault……It’s your fault. I’ll bear it in mind……He will probably do it……I’ve forgotten it already. I was a bit disappointed that….It doesn’t really matter…..You’ve really annoyed me! By the way/Incidentally…This is not very important……This is most important. I hear what you say….... He accepts my point of view…….You’re wrong! Correct me if I’m wrong…Tell me what you think....I know I’m right and that’s that. With the greatest respect…He is listening to me……I think you are wrong, or a fool. That is an original point of view…… He likes my ideas……You must be crazy! Very interesting……He is impressed……I don’t agree, or I don’t believe you. You must come for dinner sometime……I’ll get an invitation soon……No invitation (just being polite). Quite good……Quite good……A bit disappointing. Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2005. From a guide intended to help foreigners understand the idiosyncrasies of British English, found by a journalist for The Economist in 2004 on an office wall in the European Court of Justice. Originally from Harper's Magazine, December 2004. Found again on the WWW and doctored somewhat (in the interests of accuracy) by Gerimedic(Peripatetic Language Consultant and English gentleman) * THEY -denotes anybody originating from across the Atlantic/Channel/North Sea ponds

Sunday, August 07, 2005


There is only one explanation for the number of Brits who shame themselves and others at home and abroad, by their inability to hold their drink. The British are quite aggressive as a race (witness our colonial past). Mix this latent aggression with copious amounts of alcohol and you have a recipe for violence towards people and property - all in the name of 'having a laugh'. I know this because I have spent 22 years of my life dealing with the public as an Ambulanceman/Paramedic. Where 70% of red (emergency) calls after 2100 hours were alcohol related - and that's a conservative estimate. I was also a lay Magistrate and saw the same anti-social problems associated with alcohol, via the court cases. Having lived in Prague for 6 years and witnessed drinking parties of Brits all too often. I can now confirm my reluctance to admit to being from the UK. Prague has attracted countless numbers of these people (usually young men) because of the cheap drink available here. Now more and more establishments are banning these groups due to countless incidents of drunkenness and violence. Interestingly, the Czechs (who are noted for their beer consumption) are not a problem when they get drunk - a little noisy perhaps, but you are still safe to walk the streets here at night. Czechs (unlike the British) have a phlegmatic attitude and rarely feel the need to destroy or injure when they drink a lot. Other European countries have a similar relaxed attitude after drinking - but not those from the UK where the beer is often weaker. So changing the licensing laws probably won't make much difference. The British need to improve their socialization skills and adopt a thoughtfulness, that currently, is sadly lacking in many young men and women.

The Stampe was designed in 1933 by Belgian WWI pilot Jean Stampe as a rival to the Tiger Moth. With a maximum speed of 165mph and a ceiling of 13,000f

GETTING READY FOR TAKE-OFF....... Posted by Picasa




As someone who loves all forms of flying i.e. watching birds and watching and travelling in anything that flies.I should remark on how lucky some airline passengers have been this week. Who can forget the miraculous escape of 309 passengers and crew from the Air France Airbus 340 which slid off the end of the runway at Toronto's Pearson airport. Witnessing the incident (along with millions of others) via the CTV/BBC/CNN live feed from a traffic camera. Imagining the horror as we observed explosions and thick black smoke engulfing the aircraft. Little did we realise then how fortunate the passengers were to escape with their lives - due in part, no doubt, to the skill and professionalism of the cabin crew. BUT what of the Captain and First Officer? It seems unfair that the guy in the left seat should take all the blame and shoulder so much responsibility, when the passengers, airlines, ATC etc. all have some responsibility in their need to land at the right airport, at the right time. Thus putting pressure on all Captains to deliver the goods! Who can imagine the pressure the pilots were under to get that plane down safely, thus avoiding lengthy delays to their passengers and others due to fly later. Delays are inconvenient and expensive after all! In this incident the weather obviously played a big part....should the Captain (who has the final say) have landed or aborted and flown to another airport - Montreal was within range? The evidence is suggesting he made a 'long landing' not giving the aircraft time/distance enough to stop within acceptable parameters. What part ATC and technological problems might have played in this drama is less evident. I hope the flight crew will not be made the fall guys for this accident, as it seems they will be. How many of us have to make such important and immediate decisions in our working day. How many of us complain when we are kept waiting for a delayed flight? Who really understands the pressure these flightcrew are under every time they take-off? Of course there is a multi-million dollar lawsuit in the offing, instigated by greedy lawyers and passengers. Personally I would just be pleased to have escaped with my life, without worrying about my bank balance.....after all it was the passengers decision to fly in the first place. They took the risk that inevitably comes with this form of travel.