Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What on earth is going on with the weather? For some time now all the so-called “experts” have been wittering on about global warming, the melting of the Polar icecaps and the risk of us all suffering from skin cancer due to all the cancerous rays from the sun reaching us through the holes in the ozone layer.

And what have we actually experienced in the weather? Well, in Britain we’ve had two summers which have been cold and wet. Exceptionally wet when one considers the summer that we never had this year. It was as cold and damp as our usual autumn. Last winter (2007/8) wasn’t too bad, I suppose although I say this as someone who lives in East Anglia. Scotland and the North had a bad winter for weather, although it meant the resurgence of winter sports holidays in Scotland which became great popularity and lots of snow and skiing for the first time for some years.

And what has brought on my moans about the weather? This lunchtime’s weather forecast where we were told that today we are seeing the weather we normally don’t see here until the end of December/beginning of January – snow showers not only in Scotland but in many other areas in the North and the Midlands and freezing weather everywhere with temperatures only a few degrees above zero.

Global warming? Ha!

But seriously, are the “experts” who are predicting global warming talking the news media into a panic? Or are the news media currently trying to persuade us all that we are all doomed? I’ve been convinced for some time that the current “Credit Crunch” would not be half as bad if the TV and Newspapers haven’t told us for months now how the world is on the edge of a financial precipice and we are all doomed. No wonder so many have heeded what they have seen or read and given into panics on the price of shares and all the other mysterious financial things that make up the International money markets today.

Another example of believing in so-called “experts”. In today’s edition of The Times there is a half page article which starts by saying that the huge flocks of Beswick’s Swans which normally arrive at the Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust by 21st October have yet to arrive, preferring to stay on the Siberian tundra. The experts say that this is because the Arctic is so warm that the swans are happy to stay put and not attempt the journey to the Gloucestershire wetlands. The experts also say that there is a risk that the swans will lose their collective memory of their journey to the British wetland and may never return here again. But then, if you continue to read on past the first couple of paragraphs in the article you discover that past records of the swan’s arrival show that they do not necessarily arrive on 21st October: in 1969 they arrived on November 6th; and in 1981 and 1982 they arrived on November 3rd. So, my interpretation of the article is that someone –whether “experts” or the newspaper, I don’t know – is trying to whip us up into a frenzy of panic about global warming. I don’t think I am going to be immediately frightened though. I think I shall wait for another couple of weeks before deciding that some swans have decided not to join us here in Britain this year. And another couple of years thereafter to see whether the swans will come next year or the year after.

What I won’t do is to shout we are all doomed on the basis of supposition from so-called “experts”.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

An Engineer's Guide to Voting (Ginger Cat for President)

And here is that other TouTube piece Paul Klausman mentioned. Enjoy!

I am staggered. When I found the YouTube video "An Engineer's Guide to Cats" I thought it funny and quirky. I also thought that my friend CopCar would especially like it, given that she was an Engineer for so many years. And so I posted the YouTube video here, on this blog.

CopCar almost immediately responded in the comments, saying

Although I cannot run this video on my computer (security issues!), I can only assume that it is one that I saw on a local TV channel, whose co-author/ producer/director used to work for me at the Little Airplane Company (Cessna). The young man, Paul Klusman, is quite delightful to know, and I have exchanged a few emails with him about the video. On 1 Oct 2008, he wrote, "I'll be in an article in the NY Times this Sunday. It is about single guys who have cats. This cat thing is going to just keep going I guess!" I'm happy that you found his video on cats. Cop Car

P.S. He also wrote, in the above-mentioned email, "We still need more ladies in engineering today. Perhaps I'll do a video interview with you some day to inspire more ladies to go into engineering. I probably never told you this but I really admire how you did not let your gender stop you from doing what you wanted to do. I particularly admire how you got checked out in every taildragger Cessna ever built. I would have LOVED to have done that!"

CopCar subsequently sent me an e-mail that she had received from one of the Engineers who made that original video. It says

I have a new cat video up on YouTube: "An Engineer's Guide to Voting (Ginger Cat for President)" that your friend may also enjoy.

It is not quite as popular as the first cat video but still well received. I tried to figure out a way to contact her but did not see a means for this on her blog page. If you are in touch with her you might mention the new video. Also I was recently featured in the NY Times in an article about single, straight guys who own cats:
Thanks and good to hear from you,Paul

And so I went looking for the New York Times article. And I enjoyed reading it so much that I'm posting it here for us all to enjoy. As I said it is from the New York Times.

IF you ask Adam Fulrath who is the love of his life, he will barely blink
an eye before responding: Parappa.

Mr. Fulrath, a 37-year-old design director at Time Out New York, keeps five
photographs of Parappa, a shorthaired, bicolored, mixed-breed cat, on his desktop. He knows that it might be considered a little weird that a grown man would be so enamored with his kitty, but Mr. Fulrath, who is into video games and comic books and calls himself a “straight, geeky guy,” doesn’t care. “She’s my primary relationship,” he said.

Mr. Fulrath is one of a growing number of single — and yes, heterosexual — men who seem to be coming out of the cat closet and unabashedly embracing their feline side. To that end, they are posting photographs and videos of their little buddies on YouTube and on Web sites like menandcats.com, and Twittering
about them to anyone who will listen.

Indeed, it seems that man’s best friend is no longer a golden retriever, but a cuddly cat named Fluffy. This movement, such as it is, is in direct contrast to the most notable in the recent spate of reports about the relationship between a man and a cat, which were far darker; they focused on a young actor who was recently on trial in New York City for killing his girlfriend’s cat — he said it attacked him — only to have a jury decide after several days that it could not reach a verdict.
If it had been a little less violent, that case might have been more in line with what the world seems to expect of men and cats.

The image of the crazy spinster cat lady persists, and plenty of people do wonder about a guy with a cat. As a writer on adventuresofacitygirl.blogspot.com
put it: “Single men and cats are like a burger and broccoli. Separately they are okay, but together it just seems off.”

But those who see a growing link between men and cats see that attitude (not to mention the cat slaying) as old-fashioned.

Clea Simon, who wrote “The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats,” said: “I do think it has become more acceptable for men to own cats — partly for practical reasons, like the growing realization that they’re better city pets, and partly the whole acceptance of our cross-gender traits that men crave intimacy, too.”

Stacy Mantle, the founder of Petsweekly.com, a magazine for pet lovers, said that men are becoming more “cat literate” because they themselves are evolving.
“It’s the unevolved members of the species who tend toward abuse of cats — and oftentimes, women and children,” said Ms. Mantle, who owns 18 cats.

Although there are no hard (or soft) statistics (it is rare to find an owner, man or woman, walking a cat in public), it seems that single, heterosexual male cat owners are on the rise. Over the last few years Sandra DeFeo, an executive director at the Humane Society of New York, said she had seen an increase in the number of single, straight men who are adopting cats.

Carole Wilbourn, a cat therapist (yes, really) in Manhattan, said that
the number of her single, straight male clients has risen about 25 percent over
the last five years.

When the Web site PetPlace.com asked its readers, “Do Real Men Own
Cats?” almost 84 percent of respondents said “yes.” “Only intelligent, aware,
caring men love cats,” one reader said. And in a 2005 survey by Cats Protection,
an animal welfare agency in the United Kingdom, the majority of the 790 people
who responded said it was cool for a guy to own cats.

This line of thinking does not surprise cat lovers, many of whom believe that only pillars of virility and masculinity would dare to own one. They are quick to point out other well-known macho cat owners: Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo and Marlon Brando, who reportedly found a stray cat on the set of “The Godfather” and incorporated it into a scene.

John Scalzi, 39, an author in Bradford, Ohio, has been a cat guy his entire life. In September 2006, he posted a picture of a piece of bacon taped to his cat, Ghlaghghee (pronounced Fluffy — an ode to George Bernard Shaw), on his Web site www.scalzi.com/whatever. Thousands of viewers apparently found this hilarious.
Mr. Scalzi, who is now married and has a daughter, blames Hollywood for the continual bad rap that has befallen the male cat owner. Originally, he said, only strong men like Don Corleone, or the villains in a James Bond film, had cats.
“But then in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, Hollywood decided that we need to have the token gay man as the witty sidekick friend of the main female protagonist,” he said. “ ‘What kind of signature thing can we give him to convey that he is not an
entirely masculine being? I know! We’ll give him a big fluffy cat!’ ”

In fact, Mr. Scalzi thinks that dogs are for the weaker of spirit, since the dog
is, in effect, “your wingman.” “If you’re feeling insecure about your space
in the world, you get a dog because he will always back you up,” he said. “He’s
the insecure man’s best friend.” A man with a cat, on the other hand, “is
secure with himself,” he said. “He’s sharing his space with a predator.”

Many women agree that guys with cats are extra special. “They make the best
boyfriends because they’re totally cool with staying home and watching a movie,”
said Elizabeth Daza, 28, a video producer in Manhattan, who dated a cat-owning
man for eight years. “Straight men with cats seem to be really secure and stable. They don’t need to be running around the park and proving their masculinity like the dog guys.”

On a practical level, cats are easier, male owners say — especially if they (the men) travel a lot. They can leave the cat alone for days on end, and the cat will survive.
“I would feel guilty if I had a dog and was out of the country for three weeks,” said Mark Fletcher, 38, an entrepreneur in Redwood City, Calif. who has two cats, Einstein and Babe (as in Ruth).

What’s more, cats are relatively low maintenance. “A dog is a lot of work,” said Nader Ali-Hassan, 29, an account executive with a digital marketing firm in Cleveland.
Although he is married, he has had cats his entire life, and even has a picture of Ringo, a longtime feline companion, in his office. “Maybe it’s not the most masculine thing in the world, but I’m comfortable enough in my own manhood,” he said. “The cat’s nice. I come home after a long day of work, it sits in my lap, I pet it, and then it goes about its business.”

SOME guys are even using their cats as vehicles to celebrity, like Paul Klusman, 39, a Wichita, Kan., engineer who catapulted to Internet fame after posting “An Engineer’s Guide to Cats” on YouTube in April. The film, which features his three cats, Oscar, Ginger and Zoey, garnered about 3 million views. Mr. Klusman said he received about 300 marriage proposals from “lonely cat ladies from all over the world,” in addition to more risqué propositions. “Any single, straight man who has the slightest bit of insecurity about his own sexuality will probably find it difficult to admit to owning or even appreciating cats” he said, echoing Mr. Scalzi’s sentiments.

Of course, it can become tricky, like when the cat gets in the way of a relationship.
The Cats Protection study found that single male cat owners were more likely than their female counterparts to have made, or consider making, a sacrifice for their cat — including giving up a holiday or going into debt for their cat if necessary.

Single men were also almost as likely as single women to break a friendship rather than lose their cat, and would consider choosing their cat over their partner.
This happened to Mr. Fulrath, who dated a woman who was allergic to cats.
“I thought, ‘This is never going to work,’ ” he recalled. “My cat takes priority over the new relationship.

Realistically, unless there’s something absolutely amazing about her, he

(I highlighted the bit in red.)

Talk about Serendipity. I saw something I liked, thought my friends would like it also and it turns out that the chap who made it is a friend of a friend. Thank you so much CopCar for this.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Scotch Broth and Facebook

Last June I wrote about having just joined Facebook and made a totally incorrect prediction. I said "I doubt I shall spend as much time on Facebook". I was wrong. It sort of sucks you in and you find yourself using it a lot. Also it's a very easy and quick way to keep in touch with family and friends. Both the Stepdaughter and Stepson are on Facebook as are two of my cousins plus several other members of their family. Then there are several Red hat ladies I know and keep in touch with. Using Facebook is a quick and easy way to keep in touch with them all.

Anyway, advertisement for Facebook over. One of the facilities on your own page is quick and easy way to say what you are doing at that particular moment. One day last week I stated that I was in the middle of making a big pot of Scotch Broth. And I was approached by two friends asking for the recipe. In addition to having it written in my personal book of useful recipes I was (and still am) absolutely convinced that I'd put it on the interweb somewhere. Do you think I could find it? Nowhere and I tried looking all over the place. I think it is somewhere in this blog but the blog has been going now for about three and a half years and my quick search through all the posts in the archives couldn't find it. So I typed the recipe onto a Facebook message and sent it out.

So this is why I am posting the recipe here and now. If it is a repeat of an earlier post then sobeit.

100 grms pearl barley
750grms shoulder of lamb cut into chunks ( and with the bone)
2.5 litres stock
1 tsp salt
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 leeks, chopped
300 grms swede (or turnip) peeled and diced
300 grms carrots, peeled and diced
200 grms savoy cabbage, shredded

Put the barley, lamb, stock and salt in a large pot. Bring to the boil, skimming off the froth that rises to the surface. Cover and simmer for an hour.

Add the onion, leeks, swede and carrots. Simmer for a further 40 minutes. Add the shedded cabbage and cook for 10 minutes or until tender. Remove the lamb and shred the meat, discarding the bone. Return the meat to the broth, heat through and season to taste.

This makes a lot but cooled and refrigerated it provides a meal for the Husband and myself for a day or two. Sometimes the soup is so thick that I let it down with some more stock so it goes still further. Delicious.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

From the letters page of Thursday's The Times.


Could I take the opportunity to gloat to my family. It seems that banking was not a more sensible choice than theatre.

Jimmy Jewell

Friday, October 17, 2008

I am back

I haven’t been around here for a few weeks, for which I am sorry. But life gets a bit complicated at times. You reach your late 50’s in a healthy condition, the kids have their own lives, you have finished with work and you don’t have to commute to the center of London every weekday. Everything should be going well with you. But, how often is there a spanner in the works. Because this period in your life is often the time when you find new things in your life to worry you.

That is the stage the Husband and I have reached. Each of us has one living parent: his father and my mother. And each of them have lives overshadowed by health problems. My Father-in-Law has mobility problems, since he lost a leg a few years ago. My mother has serious health problems and, at 87, her mind is at times a little muddled and forgetful.

I’m afraid that for a few weeks my life became overshadowed with my worries about the situation. And at the time I decided to suspend posting to my blog for a while as I found it difficult to think of anything to write. But time passes and you get used to the new situation and the different life that you are living. I think one of the things that has helped me is a passion for the quotations of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (AD121- AD180). I have a book of his sayings that I frequently read. Also one of his quotations appears each day on my desktop and I always read them and find comfort in them. Today’s quotation is;
If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing
itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any

How true and something I believe in.

Anyway, I am back and feeling more with it. Hello everybody.