Army worms? what on earth are these attacking the crops in Northern Liberia? Seems they are a caterpillar of a moth. Insects and snakes dominated my first few weeks in Liberia, mainly through expats, not really winding you up (that did work) but it's a kind of "induction". In 1979 I arrived as a seldom drinker and emerged 6 months later as a regular drinker. I blame McCluskey, and he has carried on being an expat, where I no not where? McCluskey you're a Luddite without a pen. Liberia, my first third world country, I was seconded to Ove Arup…
Even those poor inhabitants of Gaza will have realised that change has happened in America. Mainly because their plight is linked to America, but not through being able to watch TVs, with lumpy and restricted electricity, in situations like these the power of the radio becomes the communication media. I have for years listened to the BBC world service. In Oman I had a Nissan Patrol that had a short wave feature on the radio and I could pick up the world service, brilliant. A link to home and the rest of the world. I am not a newspaper fan,…
Northern Rock bank, our bank, the tax payers bank declaring today to pay themselves a bonus. I mean the brass neck of it, I'm astounded. Reason for bonus? paid back more than expected to the government. What about mortgages and helping small businesses? what about inputting to the economy that they so successfully wrecked? well not single handed but with the the other casino bankers. A couple of years in the Siberian salt mines is too good for the lot of them. Fred the shred from RBS has been declared the worst banker in the world, does he care does…
Maybe we will discover our own island now that the pound has less than parity with the Euro and we have less disposable income. I have been privileged or took my chances on working abroad during the early years of my marriage. This project to project country hopping business, did in my pension but it gave me a wider view. Travel does broaden the mind and working as an expat does make you singularly able, or sent home. I have seen more than a few very able in the UK not cope with expat life. What I paint is a…
Loch Leven, Pinkfeet

Loch Leven, Pinkfeet

Readers of this site may be excused for considering this site to be personal moan blog. Perhaps it is the things that irk that are highest on the agenda, does good news sell newspapers? Well it did the other day with the successful rescue of all passengers from the airline that ditched in the Hudson river, a very rare circumstance. Geese and engines don't mix too well. Wonder how they will exercise control over that incident. Bet the geese are the losers. Loch leven near me is a wildlife haven, particularly for geese in winter. I had…

Jan 17th by Ian under Miscellaneous

Increasingly as you get older comments and situations make you react. Maybe because years of experience (of living) personal opinions can be formed, usually in a grumpy old man form. Well I'm not grumpy RE this, how often have you heard "they behaved like animals" in regard to a human situation? Well surprise surprise, we are animals, we are part of the animal kingdom, animals with backbones (includes politicians) is our phylum. Below is how the zoologists have sorted it out. Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: cordota class: mammalia order: primata family: hominidae Genus: Homo Species: sapien Thanks above to wikipedia answers,…
At the moment the biggest inland windfarm in Europe, built by a JV of Morrison Construction and Balfour Kilpatrick, for the client Scottish Power.  There was a talk about it in the Teacher Building in St Enoch square last night. I wasn't there but it prompted me to google "whitelee windfarm" to see how we were beating our chests at having nearly completed this huge prestigious project. Ten pages later in google, nothing, nada, ziltch. Every man and his dog is featured including a video of a quarry blast on U tube. My involvement (unknown to me at the time) …
The standard of detail is appalling and the bulletin issues never help as it is just overload, then as you find apparent mistakes and dichotomies and TQ them, it jams up the system. Much time is spent not in producing solutions but trying to understand what the client requires.
The pavement's weakest link? I think so, a survivor from Macadam?, seems to have been around so long that we have become complacent. Before stiffness measurement, performance was a particle size distribution (PSD), frost heave, and the quite strict laying and compaction specification. I should say here to foreign visitors, wish I had some!!, that I refer to the specification for highway works. A monumental work from the UK's government engineers, a species not often seen walking on subbase, it is written to protect the client (well they write it?) and provide the tax payer with a good for value…
Higher densities, better physical properties, all civil engineering graduates know this. The specification for highway works has a method specification for general soil compaction and an end of product density for special fills. Now special fills that require density measurements are generally those behind structures, with limited space and therefore limited choice of compaction plant, you can begin to understand this, especially as the structure will not move. Where do you feel serious bumps on motorways? generally at structures. So is density measurement working? The difficulty I approach, is returning to measuring densities on general embankment fill, the method compaction…
Half somnolent at the ridiculous time of 10.00 am, I entered an already functioning kitchen where the bird feeding table has the kitchen window framing the scene. I needed no binoculars to declare "look a male blackcap" I froze lest to disturb, this blackcap was on the scoff like a starling he gulped beak full after beak full. I exclaimed amazing "what ten seconds of time makes", kitchen was unresponsive, Dad is mad on birds or just mad, the latter pervaded. Think about it I said, this is the first Blackcap ever in this garden, yeh that you have seen…

Dec 29th by Ian under Miscellaneous

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Started reading about the study of the Peregrine Falcon in Greenland, well the book is from the seventies and is about environmental effects of DDT and other organochlorides. Set me wondering 30 or more years on if we can do something equally stupid to the environment but not recognise it at the time, for it's potential harm. One on which the jury is still out. I cannot include the whole world, who knows what China does, when I worked in Hong Kong I passed streams that ran red, then next day blue and fragrance bay was better known for a…

Dec 26th by Ian under Miscellaneous

p1020611p10206101I like simple devices that work, my sometimes erudite son who made this site, got me a logmaker for Christmas. This if you have a woodburner or open fire will re-cycle waste paper and other burnable waste, into logs. well log shaped compressed paper etc. I have been raiding the paper re-cycling bin after the crimble present paper was used up. I made seven logs from wrapping paper! very pretty they were. I recommend this product, one hitch is you have to have a fire going first then add the "logs", I failed to start a fire with logmaker logs…
There is, I my opinion, a feel good factor that comes from gardening, allotmentering, (new word) and birdwatching. It is our link to the Earth and literally the soil. Is this in everyone's psyche ? mmm wii playing young things, maybe not cultivated yet, time enough. I grew up in the country and I only remember the countryside as a part of my education by one teacher in primary school, I hope things have changed given our environmental situation. Holidays never meant that much to me, well what I mean is the concept of " I am dying to go…
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