Monthly Archives: February 2018

Pride Coming Before a Fall

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18

Only yesterday we were discussing driving in the shop, with particular reference to the idiocy of other drivers. I stayed quiet on the subject. This was partly because I have done a lot of driving and done it safely, and am therefore quietly confident (possibly even smug) about my abilities. It was also because over the last year or two it has begun to occur to me that I’m not quite as good as I used to be. I’m less alert, not quite as quick-thinking and have more trouble looking over my shoulder than I used to. It’s a troubling thought as it involves admitting I’m getting old.

This was driven home forcibly at lunchtime.

However, before telling you about that, I will briefly describe our activities of the morning.

First we looked at the snow that had fallen overnight. It wasn’t particularly impressive, but it was a complete covering. It was also much fluffier than usual, and brushed off the car easily. I’m told that this is because it’s coming across land, where our normal snow is soggy from a journey across the sea.

Then we went for a late breakfast at Harvester in Wilford. I had a smaller breakfast than usual. I probably isn’t such good value for money as the bigger one but I left feeling I could have fitted a few more morsels in. This is how it should be. Ramming the last few forkfuls home like I’m loading a cannon is uncomfortable, and probably not helping my diet.  Anyway, having fitted in fruit, yogurt, an extensive Full English and several crumpets, I really didn’t need any more.

Next stop was the MENCAP garden. It’s closed for the week as it’s likely to be too cold to work, particularly as it has no electricity and little shelter until the polytunnel is re-built. There is a container, but Julia has increased membership of the group as part of her job and they can no longer fit in it comfortably.

While we were there we collected some paint and woodstain, filled the bird feeders and noted that something in the garden likes kale. The obvious culprits are pigeons. Even though kale is generally considered safe from pigeons we can’t think of anything else likely to have done the damage – it certainly isn’t caterpillar weather.

Kale, Wilford

Wrecked Kale at Wilford

Finally the long-suffering taxi-driver was allowed to listen to the radio in the car park outside Hobbycraft as his wife made a dent in their extensive stock.

This proved to be the highpoint of the day.

On the way home I turned onto a steep road. It’s called Mapperley Rise at one end and Winchester Street at the other. In between it is quite steep. However, it’s a reasonably busy road and it’s used by buses, so road, I assumed there would be no problem using it.

How wrong I was.

About half-way down one of the cars in front of us started fish-tailing and skidding wildly. It didn’t seem to do anything, the slide just started. Fortunately it regained control after about twenty yards.

The same thing happened to the one in front of us.

Me next.

I was very careful. I was gentle on the controls. And I didn’t slide where the other two had slid.

However, I did seem to be going a bit too fast.

I tried a bit of cadence braking.

It didn’t work.

As the rear end of the Peugeot in front loomed larger I had three choices.

Choice One – overtake. which might involve the front end of an oncoming car. Did I mention we were on a bend and I couldn’t see what was coming?

Option Two – hit the Peugeot. My experience of French cars is that they are quite soft.

Option Three – hit the kerb to slow down or mount the pavement and squeeze into the narrow space available between the Peugeot and the somewhat menacing wall that runs  along the side of the footpath at that point.

(Please note that these “options” were more like swift thoughts accompanied by a touch of panic. I’ve dressed them up in hindsight to make myself look more competent than I actually was.)

I completely failed to find the kerb and was most of the way past the Peugeot on the footpath when the tyres started to grip.  At that point it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought of pedestrians. Fortunately there were none.

Looking back, I think that there was a layer of melting water running down the hill on top of ice, and nothing short of snow chains was going to prevent us slipping. When the cars in front skidded they scrubbed speed off by going sideways and hitting the kerb. My careful approach prevented me skidding, and meant I was going too fast when I finally lost control.

I’d have been better off skidding in the first place.

I still have a few errands to do, but they can wait until the weather improves. Until then I’m going to sit at home and consider the benefits of humility.

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Julia struggling

The final picture shows Julia struggling with the feeders. I could have helped, but then I wouldn’t have been able to take the photo.

Photos added later.

A Quick Update

Though some parts of the country have been hammered, including neighbouring Lincolnshire, which has had several car accidents, including a triple fatality. Nottingham has so far escaped.

After an early blood test, I noted that the sky was divided into two parts. One section was bright blue with fluffy white clouds. The other was grey and threatening, with more than a hint of roiling and portent.

Eventually the latter won through, the world turned grey and large fluffy flakes of snow came falling. Once it had laid a half inch of snow it slackened off, the sun came out and the thaw commenced. Yes, it was that quick. Ten minutes falling, ten minutes melting.  We had a few flurries later, and even a few soft ice pellets, but little stuck.

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Moon over Sherwood

On the way home I bought a few supplies (sausages and bread) to see us through any further snow, and took pictures of sunsets. There is still some snow on the shady side of the streets here, but that’s it so far.

The temperature is low, but no lower than normal winter temperature.

All in all, I’m happy with the lack of snow and keeping my fingers crossed that it will continue. I’m also happy with the sunsets – most of which were taken in the supermarket car park after buying the aforementioned supplies.

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Sunset in Sherwood

 

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And again…

Thinking of Snow and Siberia

Well, we woke up to find a light dusting of snow this morning, which was at least 12 hours before it was forecast.

We then went for breakfast and were interested to see that the snow came back, Some of it was small and speedy, some big and more leisurely. Snow can be quite fascinating and it started me wondering what the study of snow is called.

The Latin for snow starts with a “niv” as I understand it from a superficial knowledge of snowdrops –  Galanthus nivalis. My schoolboy Latin was never much to write home about and forty-odd years of disuse haven’t improved it. This is in contrast to my sporting achievements, which have definitely improved with hindsight – also known as “The older I get, the better I was” syndrome.

Nivology seems a bit dull so it was off to Professor Google for an infusion of knowledge. Snow, nix, nivis, as we Latinists say. Nixology definitely sounds wrong. To snow is, ninguo, ninguere (No, I don’t remember why we have all this multiple choice grammar.) Ningology would be OK – being Latin and sounding quite cheerful.

Unfortunately, despite all this linguistic promise, the study of snow is snow hydrology.  Yes, snow hydrology. Disappointing, isn’t it. There’s a whole world of Ningology out there, and the scientists decided to call it snow hydrology.

The snow continued to fall intermittently and we even had a few minutes of ice pellets. So far “The Beast from the East” hasn’t been too bad, though this just the beginning, and it looks like Tuesday and Wednesday are going to be the worst days. There were snow ploughs out on the A1 as we went visiting, so it looks like we will at least be properly prepared.

So far this winter in the Midlands has been marked by scaremongering headlines, rather than by actual bad weather. I’m hoping the trend may continue in the next few days.

 

A Salad, a Vicar and Time Management

I have returned to cutting out bread and potatoes, and rice and pasta, and I’m feeling a lot more energetic again. Last time this happened I wasn’t sure whether it was cutting carbs or a new dose of pills that did the job. Looks like it’s the carbs, as the pills haven’t changed this time.

I’m currently making salads for lunch by using microwavable quinoa then adding herbs, tinned beans, vegetables and dressing. It’s probably still not as healthy as it could be but it’s healthier than cheese sandwiches and less harmful than buying a succession of plastic-wrapped supermarket salads. It’s also cheaper, which is something I admire. Once I start cooking my quinoa from scratch and boiling my own beans it’s going to get even cheaper.

In time I suppose I may even begin to enjoy it.

This afternoon I saw a vicar. I had to look twice as she was a woman and I’m still always surprised by that even though we’ve had women vicars for years and I’ve met several. What was actually surprising was that she was in the supermarket – you don’t normally see vicars about on a Sunday as it’s their busy day.

I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it’s just something you don’t usually see.

Finally, having acted on the suggestions in the time management book I read a couple of weeks ago I’ve now completed a task I first started 25 years ago and had been putting off ever since. It’s nice to know that the techniques do work, even though I’m unlikely to achieve a high-flying career between now and retirement.

Of course, it isn’t actually that difficult. If you want to finish a task you just have to start it then keep going until you finish.

I didn’t really need a book to tell me that.

 

Days Lengthen, Spirits Lift…

The theme of coldness carries over from the last post.

At around 10pm I went out to put a sheet on the car windscreen and ended up having to clear the screen before I could put the cover on.

It’s notably crispy this morning, though not quite as bad as I was expecting.

On a brighter note, I’m excused washing duties as we have Number One son visiting. We have a quinoa salad for lunch, made with tinned beans and sweetcorn, Eventually I intend making pots of the stuff using proper quinoa instead of the microwavable alternative and I will soak my own beans.

For the moment it’s enough of a culture shock without the extra cooking.

And talking of culture shock – it’s full daylight now. The days are really starting to open up now. If only the weather was more spring-like.

This may be good news for North Korean athletes who, it seems, are likely to do a spell in a labour camp after failing to perform in the Winter Olympics. At least it won’t be dark and dismal. This would tend to suggest that the carrot and stick approach may not work, particularly when the carrot is “extra rice” according to the article.

Meanwhile, anyone who came fourth in an event where one of the Russians won a medal is waiting to see if they are going to get an upgrade. I really despair of a world where an entire country is banned for drug use and the replacement “neutral” team provides 50% of the positive drug tests at the games.

I’m not going to add anything more, as there are plenty of accusations flying about relating to GB’s rise to sporting success and I don’t want to say anything that may prove embarrassing in the future.

This article is interesting, and puts things in stronger terms than I would dare.  You can’t blame people for taking a chance to be an international athlete, but it’s important to keep it in perspective. There is no surge in African Winter Sport. If we want to help Africa we should make it possible for the continent to host the Olympics. After what happened with the Commonwealth Games this may take some doing.

At least my joints are feeling better and I seem to be able to think again, even if I can’t solve any world problems.

What Does £32,000,000 Buy? (Part 2)

I’ve been doing more thinking since yesterday, specifically about President Trump’s comments on the “cowardly” security guard at the school shooting.

I thought about two things at that point. One was that if I’d been there I’d have been hiding behind him, so it’s not for me to talk about courage. The other is that a man who avoided service in Vietnam should perhaps follow my lead and not lecture others about lack of courage.

Mainly, however, I’ve been thinking about how to spend £32,000,000.

I could buy 100,000 good used handguns for that money, but I’m English and I wouldn’t know what to do with them.

When Derby built a velodrome recently (which can also host other events) it cost £22 million. Allow a bit for inflation, buying land and some running costs and I don’t suppose there will be much change out of the £32 million.

That’s a shame, as I was hoping the budget would stretch to some fact-finding tours in exotic locations and a couple of years as a “consultant”.  (I have been learning from things I have seen over the last few years).

From what I’ve seen over the years you could set up a nice rugby club with £10 million.

Perhaps an ice rink – from looking at the internet it looks like you might be able to build one for the price of a rugby club. You could even build a rink for long track speed skating, as we don’t have any in the UK. I imagine there’s a good reason for that, such as a lack of long track speed skaters but it’s probably a Field of Dreams situation – if you build it they will come. If not, you’re going to be stuck with a lot of empty ice.

In my mind’s eye I’m seeing a cross between a velodrome and a long track rink. It features quite a long, banked track and features bicycles with studded tyres. It probably won’t catch on. Anyway, you’d probably find it hard to freeze water on a slope.

However, even as that idea fades a picture of men on skis going down a bobsleigh track replaces it…

How about a nice tropical island instead?

At least we now  have a definite answer to the question of money and the Winter Olympics. For £32,000,000 you can buy one Gold and four Bronze medals, plus a lot of heartbreak, character building and learning experiences. And cliches.

Is it worth it? In truth, probably not. We don’t really have the facilities or the snow for most winter sports so it will always be a bit of frippery.  In most cases we aren’t going to derive any lasting benefit from the Games as people generally don’t have access to the facilities needed to train, apart from curling and short track skating.

At this point I really should show the depth of my character and sensitivity and tell you how many starving children I could support if I had £32 million..

I’ve spoken about Mary’s Meals before, a charity that provides breakfast at school for kids in the developing world. They could provide a year of breakfasts for over 2,300,000 kids. That sounds like good value to me.

I’m sure there are many other projects that would benefit too.

Unfortunately for my reputation as a deep and sensitive soul I am having trouble getting past the idea of a tropical island. It’s getting colder at the moment and I’m beginning to think of warmth and sunshine.

 

 

 

A Poor Selection of Thoughts

Just a few random thoughts today.

I’ve just been watching Donald Trump talking about  arming teachers. Putting a million guns into schools is a novel solution to the problem of school shootings and has certainly enhanced his reputation for innovative thinking.

The curling situation has developed in a way not necessarily to Team GB’s advantage. That is to say that after the men lost, the women also lost. They may still win tomorrow and gain a bronze medal, which will make it our most successful Winter Olympics ever. We’re currently lying 18th in the table.

If you add every medal we’ve ever won in Winter Olympics, it’s 10 Gold, 4 Silver and 12 Bronze. Norway, Canada and Germany have already surpassed that total in these games alone. I think Eddie the Eagle might be right.

That’s about it. Those two subjects are giving me all the thinking I can handle, apart from the thoughts I’m having about future posts. These will cover Part Two of the £32 million post, salad, quick meals and several on collectables.

The thinking, of course, is the easy bit. It’s the writing that takes the time.