Monday, September 28, 2009

Amnesia

I heard something on the news this morning that I wanted to blog about. I nearly sent myself an email as a reminder (from work to home, not quite as mad as it sounds) but thought I didn't need to. Now I realise I did need to as I ahve absolutely no idea what it was. This is not good, old age is setting in.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Crash and Burn

If you want an example of how money corrupts then look no further than sport at the moment. The bloodgate incident was a shock in itself. That a rugby player would have a blood capsule on his person to bite into if he needed to come off to allow a replacement on is bad enough. That the physio then cut the players cheek so there was a wound is even worse. But this pales into insignifiance when viewed alongside Renault and the F1 crash. I can't work out if Piquet himself suggested crashing in order to help his team-mate, or whether it was a Renault idea. Whoever thoguht it up should have known better, and no-one should have agreed to go along with it. The number of people put at risk is unimagineable. So for Renault to get off with a suspended sentence is a joke. It shows that the industry is more concerned about money than the rights and wrongs of an action. Clearly motor racing has always been a sport fraght with danger, but that doesn't mean that anyone should get blase about it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Swimming Time

Yesterday I went to see the fish ladder in Pitlochry. This was a lot less exciting than I imagined. I thought that this ladder would be designed to allow the salmon to exhibit normal behaviour, jumping their way up the river. Instead it is a series of square pools interconnected by little tunnels for the fish to swim up. This year there have been 3496 salmon making use of the system, but I didn't see any. I return with netter knowledge as I know how it works but also disappointed.

I also have images of all these salmon meeting up in the oceans. The Alaskan salmon regale the shoal with stories about how they escaped grizzlies, outmanouvred eagles, traveled great waterfalls and generally lived the wild and adventurous life. What are they going to think of the Scottish salmon who then explains how they negotiated the great terrors of the concrete tunnel!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Meatloaf

There is a great hooha brewing over a school in Kent. It appears that the Lydd Primary School started rearing livestock. When the time came then "Marcus" the wether lamb was sent off to become lamb chops. A number of people including some celebrities seem to think that this is terrible.

I think the headmistress deserves applause for going through with it and not accepting money from a certain Mr O'Grady who wanted to buy the lamb. The children had it all explained at the beginning what was going to happen. In fact they were allowed to vote at the end. This was set up by the school as a lesson in where food comes from. It would have been a travesty if the final deed had not been carried out. Too many children (and adults for that matter) do not understand where meat comes from. They don't associate the pack in the supermarket aisle with having come from a living animal. This is the true injustice to the animal as it means people don't treat food with the respect they should.

These children will grow up with a better understanding of food, and farming, and that should only be encouraged.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Faster Than The Speed Of Light

Broadband promised to unite the world with super-fast data delivery - but in South Africa it seems the web is still no faster than a humble pigeon.
A Durban IT company pitted an 11-month-old bird armed with a 4GB memory stick against the ADSL service from the country's biggest web firm, Telkom.
Winston the pigeon took two hours to carry the data 60 miles - in the same time the ADSL had sent 4% of the data.
Telkom said it was not responsible for the firm's slow internet speeds.
The idea for the race came when a member of staff at Unlimited IT complained about the speed of data transmission on ADSL.
He said it would be faster by carrier pigeon.
"We renown ourselves on being innovative, so we decided to test that statement," Unlimited's Kevin Rolfe told the Beeld newspaper.
'No cats allowed'
Winston took off from Unlimited IT's call centre in the town of Howick to deliver the memory stick to the firm's office in Durban.
According to Winston's website there were strict rules in place to ensure he had no unfair advantage.
They included "no cats allowed" and "birdseed must not have any performance-enhancing seeds within".
The firm said Winston took one hour and eight minutes to fly between the offices, and the data took another hour to upload on to their system.
Mr Rolfe said the ADSL transmission of the same data size was about 4% complete in the same time.
Hundreds of South Africans followed the race on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.
"Winston is over the moon," Mr Rolfe said.
"He is happy to be back at the office and is now just chilling with his friends."
Meanwhile Telkom said it could not be blamed for slow broadband services at the Durban-based company.
"Several recommendations have, in the past, been made to the customer but none of these have, to date, been accepted," Telkom's Troy Hector told South Africa's Sapa news agency in an e-mail.
South Africa is one of the countries hoping to benefit from three new fibre optic cables being laid around the African continent to improve internet connections.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Voiceless

The man doesn't show even an ounce of nerve. Challenged to a debate, yet again Brown ducks and weaves without giving an answer. His entire leadership style is based on avoiding a direct reply to a problem in the hope that it will be forgotten because something else comes up. And in some ways it works. Something else does always come up. That's what happens when you lurch without making any decision. But each time he fails to show courage, fails to stand by his convictions, then it is another mark against him. Both Cameron and Clegg are willing to take part in a TV debate, what is Brown so scared of? This was a position that Brown hankered after for so long, and yet he will go down in the history books as an also ran who couldn't make his mind up, most remembered for bringing us into a recession.

{I was planning on postng this a few days ago but a few connection issues got in the way}

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Home Comfort

It is somewhat strange being home. Sleeping in a warm bed with a comfy mattress rather than on the hard ground. Having a shower available whenever it is wanted. Putting food in the oven rather than handing over meal vouchers. Real coffee. Alcohol. And what is even stranger is that I am not sure I really missed any of them that much. Yes, lying in a tent wondering if the wind is about to rip it from the ground isn't great. Hearing rain pattering on the canvas and thinking that the shift is going to be a wet one isn't wonderful. But, as a way of life, it isn't bad. There is a lot to be said for the simplicity of a tent.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Round Up

Last night was a rather brief sign off, I was too tired to do anything else, but now I am home I can round up the Greenbelt weekend a bit.

Last night itself was a fairly normal evening. We had some evictions to do, but nothing too difficult. In fact the worst of them was someone who we spotted again later, but this time with a wrist band. It seems he was trying to make a point, however I made the point that we check for passes and evict those without them simply because we are trying to protect those who have paid and who just want a good time.

There was a moment of confusion when a team radio'd in to us that they were mobile again. Zippie took the call, but misheard. So he thought they were reporting in mobile phones being charged in the Grandstand. A five minute rather confused conversation then took place over the radio, with me trying to signal the tell him it was mobiles not that they were mobile.

So, a couple of medical calls, a couple of youths breaking in, a bit too much alcohol here and there (interestingly, I felt that there may have been more alcohol on site but there were less alcohol related incidents), basically the usual stuff.

Considering all the weather forecasts I saw we were extremely lucky, the occassional drizzle but no real rain to speak of, even when it was all around us, the racecourse stayed relatively dry. The wind is possibly another issue. I normally wear a hat at Greenbelt, but not this year, it would never have stayed on.

The team were as awesome as ever. Their understanding of when to joke and when to be serious is part of what makes it so good. We can have fun and enjoy ourselves but the moment something serious turns up then they can switch to the correct mode to handle it. Invaluable. The also have an amazing ability to anticipate where the problems will be. I think that this can be put down to three things. First is that we place them in roughly the right areas when we know things are going to be busy. However, the areas are still large, so the second is that they listen to the radio and consider the implications of conversations so that they are moving in the right direction. Thirdly, but probably most important, there has to be a certain amount of steering from God, just to keep us on the right track. The only real problem with this is that it means the level of challenge for Zippie and myself is rather low now, and I do need a challenge to keep me interested.

We had a few people shadowing us this year which was good. I specifically want to say that we were not actively poaching but were approached by stewards interested in the Support Team. I hope they enjoyed it and they were all welcome. We have so many in jokes that I sometimes worry we can appear a clique. However, it seems that the team see new blood as a new excuse to tell the stories again, so no-one seems to be kept out of the loop for long.

We issued the team with pedometers this year. A bit of a competition to see who walked the furthes. Ignoring the people who shook them up and down in their hands, or who jumped on the spot, it appears that our team walk approximately 8 miles over the 8 hour shift (the record was 10 miles). Armed with that information I dread to think how far we used to walk as Night Security at Castle Ashby or Deane Park but, even so, that in itself deseres a round of applause. Thank you all.

End Of

It's over. Considering how, on Wednesday morning, I couldn't get motivated to come here, it has gone incredibly quickly. I have left the team to go to the beer tent (having learnt that it is best for me not to be there worrying about them) but the last shift is finished and Greenbelt 2009 is finished, except for the packing away of tents.