|The fledgling leaves the nest|
|... and takes flight.|
|The fledgling leaves the nest|
|... and takes flight.|
Engifugue:- the state of sitting in your house while an engineer operates on it.
I am currently in a state of engifugue, characterised by nervous excitement and enforced passivity as the Sky engineer drills holes in our walls and brandishes his dish. Later, the Anglian engineers will be installing double-glazed doors and windows for most of the day, so engifugue is set to persist.
Yesterday we were at Brean, near Weston super Mare, visiting my brother and his family. It's half-term and the caravan sites and funfairs were bustling - heroic really given the mist and chill wind. As we left at half past five it began to chuck it down.
Adrian's major concern was the lack of Internet access for his kindle fire. One day 3G or better will be pervasive: in its absence the cleverest smartphone wifi hot spot function is useless.
When Paul Simon moved to England in 1964, he met Kathleen Mary "Kathy" Chitty at the first English folk club he played, The Hermit Club in Brentwood, Essex, where Chitty worked part-time selling tickets. She was 17, he was 22, and they fell in love.
Later that year they visited the US together, touring around mainly by bus. Kathy returned to England on her own with Simon returning to her some weeks later. When Simon returned to the US with the growing success of "The Sound of Silence" Kathy (who was quite shy) wanted no part of the success and fame that awaited Simon and they split up.Here she is: nice-looking girl.
She is mentioned by name in at least two of his songs: "Kathy's Song" and "America," and is referred to in "Homeward Bound" and "The Late Great Johnny Ace." There is a photo of Simon and Kathy on the cover of The Paul Simon Songbook.
|Paul Simon with Kathleen Mary "Kathy" Chitty|
"Let us be lovers we'll marry our fortunes together"
"I've got some real estate here in my bag"
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner pies
And we walked off to look for America
"Kathy," I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh
"Michigan seems like a dream to me now"
It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw
I've gone to look for America
Laughing on the bus
Playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said "Be careful his bowtie is really a camera"
"Toss me a cigarette, I think there's one in my raincoat"
"We smoked the last one an hour ago"
So I looked at the scenery, she read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field
"Kathy, I'm lost," I said, though I knew she was sleeping
I'm empty and aching and I don't know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all gone to look for America
All gone to look for America
All gone to look for America.
|Clare enjoys the sun at King's Castle Wood near Wells|
"Brain imaging should be used to guide parole decisions for murderers and violent offenders, according to a leading British criminologist.Prof. Adrian Raine has written a book, The Anatomy of Violence, on this topic.
Adrian Raine, who is based at Pennsylvania State University, said that recent research had proved, in principle, that brain scans could help to assess the risk of reoffending, creating a powerful argument for using these techniques when deciding between custodial sentences and probation, and eligibility for parole.
In one study, published in the journal PNAS, scientists analysed the brain activity of 96 male prisoners, who underwent MRI scans shortly before they were released and were followed up four years later. The team showed that men with lower activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain area linked to regulating behaviour and impulsivity, were 2.6 times more likely to reoffend than those with higher activity.
The brain imaging data was as much as 4.5 times as helpful as standard variables, such as age, psychopathy or drug use, which are currently used in the UK and US to predict the risk of recidivism."
'Vaughan Bell, a neuroscientist at King’s College London, said: “This study was good science, but to suggest it could be even slightly useful in the real world is an exaggeration."'For those of us who inhabit the real world, the issue is what to do with this information. Biologists interested in the way environment channels gene-directed development use the concept of a benign environment. This is an environment with adequate food, shelter, affection, care and lack of traumatic stress so that the individual's genetic potential has full developmental capability. In benign environments, the differences between people are largely driven by their different genetic programs (for those traits under genetic control).
|Clare watching the blue-tit fledglings|
|Spot the bird box - the occupant is too much to hope for!|
|Floria Tosca - star of the show|
|My letter from BT Vision|
Yes, I'm at Birmingham today attending a client meeting. As usual, acronyms densely adorn the discussion and I am always relieved to understand most of them. The dilemma of the consultant: you are expected to be an instant expert in every aspect of your field of work - it's quite amazing how close you can get to this ideal in practice.
I'm waiting for my final meeting of the day as I write. The rain beats against the windows and the evening traffic is beginning to assemble. The drive home will certainly take three hours: this too is part of consultancy.
Home, pursued by a storm front. The cat, which had been entrusted with guarding the house, was fine: my gym bag had been dragged along the floor and there were vole droppings in my gym shoe. We failed to find the vole.
The cat had carefully avoided the living room where I had set up my surveillance camera. He slept instead upstairs on our duvet which was covered with a thick layer of fur and garden detritus. I had to hoover the mess before stripping the duvet cover. At times like this my mind turns to cost-benefit analysis and then to plastic bags.
Not a recapitulation of a childhood dream of train-driving. Instead a commentary on the English seaside's ability to drop ten degrees in a day (pictured).
The electric tramway from Seaton to Colyton takes you from Tesco to the Colyton gift shop in twenty minutes. Today it was noisy and a bit cold.
The gift shop was amusing:
"I have child-proofed my house but still they manage to get in."
But we left without our quota of kitchen-kitsch coasters.
The beach east of Lyme Regis is renowned for fossils. You walk the pebbles and the fossils just leap into your hands. Just as well as your eyes are fixated on the cliffs above, which are poised to collapse on top of you.
Gerry and Clare (pictured) had some success, but no ichthyosaurus.
A biologist measures the bacteria count on a pair of jeans after a week's wear. The same painstaking measurement is then repeated after three months continual usage - same jeans. The bacterial count is just the same. The biologist is amazed and concludes that washing jeans is pointless.
(Reflect upon the bacterial carrying capacity of jeans).
The five second rule is tested. This piece of folklore states that if a piece of food falls on the floor, you have five seconds to pick it up before it gets contaminated. Be quick and you can still feed it to baby!
The TV scientist takes swabs from a slice of bread (and other diverse food items) which have been dropped on the floor and then swiftly retrieved. The swabs are applied to culture dishes for incubation. After several days you see vast bacterial colony-circles expanded out from those initial dabs.
Mums, if baby drops its food discard at once, don't put back in its mouth!!
No swabs were taken from food which had not been dropped on the floor.
(Exponential growth can suggest many spurious things about initial conditions).
Humid air over a cold sea is a recipe for sea fog. And so it was at Beer today (pictured). But as I write, it is beautifully sunny over the hills of Lyme Regis.
I get credit for doing the driving but it's quite unwarranted.
"Surveillance cameras at 200 yards, slow down; turn left in half a mile, then turn right; feel the force ..."
Driving the Dorset coast roads under automated instruction from satnav Yoda feels like flying a combat mission in an SF movie. What's not to like?
Today: the Swanage steam railway (featuring a three course lunch); Durdle Door (that sea-eroded arch at the Jurassic coast); the Maiden Castle neolithic fort (with a view of Prince Charles's modern equivalent ... Poundbury); a view of Chesil beach. Mostly pictured below.