It isn’t 42, but I know what it is

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‘Be happy. Be polite. Help those less fortunate than yourself.’

Not too difficult except you need money to live so you need some kind of job. Most of us aren’t lucky enough to find a job we love doing which means achieving the first point above will only be an occasional feat. This in turn affects our propensity to be polite so that when we do think about actioning item three, we’re stuck in our miserable little spiral and don’t particularly feel up to doing anything about it.

Those offering the solace of living a free life in a tent or a similar off-grid experience should be aware that the responsibility of a family and a mortgage prevent this for most. For most people’s idea of a civilised society anyway. But this isn’t a chat about lifestyles. Even with the disillusionment of an uninspiring job, it it still possible to achieve the three points above and stick to it because the alternative is this mantra to live by:

‘Treat everyone like a **** until you know otherwise’

However true this seems to be sometimes, it should never be used in preference to the first sentence.




the ‘fun’ of children at bathtime

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It was the wooden duck this evening, the kind you push along with the big stick coming out of its back, straight in it went and it took hours to dry on the radiator. This is the new favourite game my son has found to amuse himself while the bath is running. Over the past few nights it has been towels, a hairbrush, clothes and his toothbrush all getting an unexpected soaking. Our smiles as he passes by on the landing, cutely playing with a toy or with some trousers on his head, turn to panic as we realise where he’s headed and try to reach him before he can gleefully deposit his load into the water.

Then, after they’re washed and the splashing has emptied the bath of most of its contents, the trial of fitting a nappy to the wriggling octopus begins. Last night it began with a tinkle up the wall, the towel caught most of it but the rest trickled slowly behind the changing unit (which is screwed to the wall) to be discovered next time the room is rearranged. Next comes the conveyor belt of being handed stuff by the little cherub, which I have to take, or putting it into his mouth and attempting to bite chunks out of whatever it is, or just throwing it over the side and laughing. The fun never ends.



Storing up trouble

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I can’t help but wonder about how much of a problem the current social media obsession will be in the future. Not just in terms of privacy and fake news but also of the declining attention spans of young people. I’ve certainly noticed when talking to a person of any age that uses their mobile heavily for such activity that they have difficulty sticking to the subject of the conversation and instead flit about randomly as if they’re scrolling their news feed on their phone.

Much like the studies done by ‘independent’ companies into the use of mobile phones and how it affects the brain when on a call, the breadth of investigations into the long term effects of constant mobile use is seriously inadequate. Who knows what consequences lie ahead for heavy mobile users in 10-15 years, not just the RSI and other muscular and postural complaints no doubt but other far more serious conditions including psychological and societal.

The addictive nature of humans is hard wired, there will always be another addiction as technology progresses, individually we can make a choice to resist this but for those who cannot do so all we can do is research and present the facts and hope they take heed. All in 140 words though of course.


Take action now

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This generation has to take on some responsibility right now and take action if we are to safeguard our global environment for the future. It isn’t simply the obvious industrial polluters that need to change but every individual person needs to consider their own impact on the planet and they need to do it now.

A trip around any shopping mall or High Street highlights the excessive amounts of packaging used for everything on offer to us, often containing ridiculous amounts of plastic, metals and other materials that will end up discarded in landfill. When I see the shelves lined with intricately packaged items I don’t need, I despair at the amount of impending waste, I genuinely do. This one shelf represents a tiny percentage of the similar shelves in other stores, in all the towns and cities across the world. A factory somewhere is churning these goods out by the thousand, every single day. It makes the factory owners money, basic supply and demand, people buy it, they produce more and everyone’s happy. Repeat this for millions of manufacturers and the waste produced is unimaginable and this is just the stuff on view on the shelves in shops.

Although recycling is way more prevalent these days, my daughter’s Christmas presents were carefully selected this time to be, a) wanted, b) hand-onable and c) not over-packed. Any toy which she doesn’t need is passed to a friend or charity shop. We all need to get more savvy on re-using what we can, this capitalist consumerism that is forced into our psyche at every turn is not sustainable. We can’t continue to pollute the oceans with our rubbish without consequence and burying our waste in landfill sites is the laziest of options. We really don’t have to have that latest gadget or a newer car or a bigger TV, we need to wake up and stop buying simply because we can; we all have to realise this cannot continue forever.

London has already exceeded it’s toxic air limits for the whole of 2017 in just 5 days, Beijing continues to suffer with excessive smog and air quality in major cities is an increasing concern for authorities. The tipping point, if there is such a thing, may already have been surpassed, what if we can’t reign the effects of pollution in anymore, what if it’s too late? We’ll all have to get used to wearing masks in our towns and accept the decreased life expectancy with a shrug of the shoulders, ‘what can you do’  we’ll cough to each other.

Obama attempted to protect the Arctic in one of the last acts of his presidency by banning oil and gas drilling but this is already thought to be a futile action likened to trying to stop a bulldozer with a twig. The big companies will override this eventually, there is simply too much money to be made for this not to happen, too many executives to further stuff their pockets with dirty cash and leave the results for their offspring to inherit. I can’t foresee a way out of this currently, every one of us has to change their thinking, a new alternative to capitalism has to be found and we all have to play our part in preserving our planet, we have to do this together. We cannot continue like this.




Another Planet

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This is another actual planet. It’s Mars and it never fails to stagger me that we are able to see such high quality images of the surface of a different world. It’s taken by a robot that we managed to place there and which we control from about 225 million km away. Mind-blowing really.


Fracking crazy

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Oklahoma seemed to have more than it’s fair share of earthquakes from my regular checks on the US Geological Survey website,  for a place that’s not on a known major fault. So I decided to have a little peak at the records. Here are my findings for an area roughly 150 square miles around Oklahoma:

Date                          No. of earthquakes more than magnitude 2.5

March 2007-8                       7

March 2008-9                       15

March 2009-10                     59

March 2010-11                      146

March 2011-12                      146

March 2012-13                       78

March 2013-14                      406

March 2014- September 2014  (too many for the search engine, 6 month total = 977)

March 2015 – September 2015  (too many for the search engine, 6 month total = 1472)

Fracking in this area began in 2010. New regulations were introduced in 2012 that made companies disclose what chemicals they were using for fracking purposes. Just saying. Now this area around Oklahoma has the largest number of earthquakes on the planet. Yes, you read that correctly. The USGS have a very carefully worded report about the unusually high number of earthquakes there, which is worth a read:

And this is the important point about fracking, no-one has done a specific scientific study about it, we just don’t know what effect it has, no-one does, not a clue. The answers certainly won’t come from state-sponsored groups and I suspect this particular cash cow will be protected from any such study until we’ve all been fracked completely.






This is great, it really is

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These are photos taken by Scott Kelly of NASA during his 340 days in space and they’re amazing: via Best Year In Space Photographs from Scott Kelly | NASA. He’s now back on the planet.

What’s pretty awesome is that Mr. Kelly has an identical twin brother so the NASA scientists can now compare the two to find any possible genetic changes they may have happened after all those days in space. For instance, Scott is now 2 inches taller than he used to be on Earth! This will all be useful stuff for planning the proposed  manned mission to Mars. All aboard…..