Category: People

The Time Machine

Time!

When you read this post, assuming you will be reading it on Sunday 8th April, you may be wondering why there is no Picture Parade today.

Indeed, there are not going to be Picture Parades until the first Sunday in May.

Actually, to be completely honest, there are going to be no posts at all from tomorrow all the way through to May; the next post being a guest post on Tuesday, 1st May. Nor will I be popping into this place to acknowledge comments and replies! Sorry!

Why?

Simply because Jean and I are taking a little vacation. Will explain more when we return.

Jana Stewart will be living here at home caring for all the dogs, cats, horses, ponies, chickens and parakeets! Oh, nearly forgot! And putting out feed for the wild deer!

So this post is to share with you the aptly named The Time Machine album by Alan Parsons

Also, I wanted to specifically share with you three of the tracks from that album!

 

 

Can’t imagine you haven’t come across Alan Parsons before but in that unlikely event his website is here.

Plus, I will close with a copy of the opening WikiPedia information on Alan Parsons.

Alan Parsons (born 20 December 1948)[1] is an English audio engineer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. He was involved with the production of several significant albums, including the BeatlesAbbey Road and Let It Be, and the art rock band Ambrosia‘s debut album Ambrosia as well as Pink Floyd‘s The Dark Side of the Moon for which Pink Floyd credit him as an important contributor. Parsons’ own group, the Alan Parsons Project, as well as his subsequent solo recordings, have also been successful commercially.

Yes, I know I’m showing my age!!

Things!

And I am not speaking of things that go bump in the night!

I switched from being a Microsoft Windows user to a Mac some time ago.

Apple products are not the cheapest by a very long shot but their operating systems are fabulous. So it was natural to follow-up having an iMac by getting myself an iPAD.

Not too many months ago I came across an application for the Apple Mac and iPAD that is called Things. As the website explains:

Things is the award-winning personal task manager that helps you achieve your goals.

This all-new version has been rethought from the ground up: it’s got an all-new design, delightful new interactions, and powerful new features.

I started off getting to know the app on the Mac and very quickly found it so useful and with such a clear and intuitive ‘user interface’ that I downloaded the version for the iPAD.

Here’s the little intro video that is on the Things website (and, please, understand that this review of this app is purely because of my own personal experience and has no connection whatsoever with the firm).

So if you are finding that keeping track of your to-do lists is becoming a bit of a headache and you are a MAC or iOS user, as in Apple MAC, iPad, iPhone or Apple Watch, then I really do recommend taking a closer look. Done so easily by looking at the features in the all-new Things!

Plus, the Things team offer great support!

For as Henry Ford is reputed to have said: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” (Thanks BrainyQuote.)

UPDATE: In the last 72 hours I received a newly-ordered iPhone and Apple Watch. The iPhone has had the Things 3 application installed upon it and, hey presto!, my watch now reminds me of the things coming up; even when the phone is some distance away from where I am. Plus it does tell the time rather accurately!!

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Thirty-Six

A pictorial account of our recent trip to Klamath Falls and Crater Lake.

Last Satuday, the day we drove from home up to Klamath Falls to meet up with Andy and Trish.

On the road to the high country.

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Reading a little about the geology of the area.

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Looking dowm on Upper Klamath Lake

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Then ten minutes later alongside Upper Klamath Lake itself.

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To the South-East of the lake lay the city of Klamath Falls.

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Blast! Didn’t bring any food for the wild deer!

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We decided to eat in the first night. Jeannie and Trish doing the honours!

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Andy looking on while Jean and Trish chit-chat.

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Outside the trees spoke about the weather we would be experiencing tomorrow.

Our trip to Crater Lake would be tomorrow’s event; as in last Sunday. More photographs for you in a week’s time!

Hertfordshire’s Finest is a Dog!

Again and again our dogs demonstrate their incredible characters!

I’m a very ‘ex’ typewriter salesman, in that for the period of 1970 to 1978 I was a salesman for IBM Office Products in the UK.

I have had two great friends for many, many years. Dan, whom I met in Boston, Mass., in 1980 at a Commodore PET Computer event, and Richard, whom I met in England a couple of years previously. Richard used to work as a salesman for Olivetti Typewriters more or less the same time that I was selling for IBM.

I speak to Dan and Richard several times each week.

A few days ago, Richard’s lovely partner, Julie, sent me an email with a link to a recent item carried by the BBC.

As follows:

It didn’t take me long to find another video. This time broadcast by Channel 5 News that had apparently led with the story. (NB: when I reviewed today’s post a little after 6am local time that FB page seemed to be missing.)

Brave, brave Finn!

When I spoke with Julie she added that earlier on in her lifetime she had been a police officer at that Hertfordshire Station.

Shit Happens!

A very inspirational essay from George Monbiot.

It is said that there are only two certainties in life: Death and Taxes.

I think that is one short: The Unexpected. As in Death, Taxes and The Unexpected!

As evidence of The Unexpected, one could put falling off one’s bike or being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Or the many other ‘hiccups’ that are an attribute of the real world that we humans live in. Put in the words of the street: Shit Happens!

Now read this very inspirational essay from George Monbiot. Republished here with Mr. Monbiot’s very kind permission.

ooOOoo

Unprostrated

16th March 2018

I have prostate cancer, but I’m happy. Here’s how.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 14th March 2018

It came, as these things often do, like a gunshot on a quiet street: shocking and disorienting. In early December, my urine turned brown. The following day I felt feverish and found it hard to pee. I soon realised I had a urinary tract infection. It was unpleasant, but seemed to be no big deal. Now I know that it might have saved my life.

The doctor told me this infection was unusual in a man of my age, and hinted at an underlying condition. So I had a blood test, which revealed that my prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels were off the scale. An MRI scan and a mortifying biopsy confirmed my suspicions. Prostate cancer: all the smart young men have it this season.

On Monday, I go into surgery. The prostate gland is buried deep in the body, so removing it is a major operation: there are six entry points and it takes four hours. The procedure will hack at the roots of my manhood. Because of the damage that will be caused to the surrounding nerves, there’s a high risk of permanent erectile dysfunction. Because the urethra needs to be cut and reattached to the bladder, I will almost certainly suffer urinary incontinence for a few months, and possibly permanently. Because the removal of part of the urethra retracts the penis, it appears to shrink, at least until it can be stretched back into shape.

I was offered a choice: radical surgery or brachytherapy. This means implanting radioactive seeds in the parts of the prostrate affected by cancer. Brachytherapy has fewer side effects, and recovery is much faster. But there’s a catch. If it fails to eliminate the cancer, there’s nothing more that can be done. This treatment sticks the prostate gland to the bowel and bladder, making surgery extremely difficult. Once you’ve had one dose of radiation, they won’t give you another. I was told that the chances of brachytherapy working in my case were between 70 and 80%. The odds were worse, in other words, than playing Russian roulette (which, with one bullet in a six-chambered revolver, gives you 83%). Though I have a tendency to embrace risk, this was not an attractive option.

It would be easy to curse my luck and start to ask “why me?”. I have never smoked and hardly drink; I have a ridiculously healthy diet and follow a severe fitness regime. I’m 20 or 30 years younger than most of the men I see in the waiting rooms. In other words, I would have had a lower risk of prostate cancer only if I had been female. And yet … I am happy. In fact, I’m happier than I was before my diagnosis. How can this be?

The reason is that I’ve sought to apply the three principles which, I believe, sit at the heart of a good life. The first is the most important: imagine how much worse it could be, rather than how much better.

When you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, your condition is ranked on the Gleason Score, which measures its level of aggression. Mine is graded at 7 out of 10. But this doesn’t tell me where I stand in general. I needed another index to assess the severity of my condition, so I invented one: the Shitstorm Scale. How does my situation compare to those of people I know, who contend with other medical problems or family tragedies? How does it compare to what might have been, had the cancer had not been caught while it is still – apparently – confined to the prostate gland? How does it compare to innumerable other disasters that could have befallen me?

When I completed the exercise, I realised that this bad luck, far from being a cause of woe, is a reminder of how lucky I am. I have the love of my family and friends. I have the support of those with whom I work. I have the NHS. My Shitstorm Score is a mere 2 out of 10.

The tragedy of our times is that, rather than apply the most useful of English proverbs – “cheer up, it could be worse” – we are constantly induced to imagine how much better things could be. The rich lists and power lists with which the newspapers are filled, our wall-to-wall celebrity culture, the invidious billions spent on marketing and advertising, create an infrastructure of comparison that ensures we see ourselves as deprived of what others possess. It is a formula for misery.

The second principle is this: change what you can change, accept what you can’t. This is not a formula for passivity. I’ve spent my working life trying to alter outcomes that might have seemed immovable to other people. The theme of my latest book is that political failure is, at heart, a failure of imagination. But sometimes we simply have to accept an obstacle as insuperable. Fatalism in these circumstances is protective. I accept that my lap is in the lap of the gods.

So I will not rage against the morbidity this surgery might cause. I won’t find myself following Groucho Marx who, at the age of 81, magnificently lamented, “I’m going to Iowa to collect an award. Then I’m appearing at Carnegie Hall, it’s sold out. Then I’m sailing to France to pick up an honour from the French government. I’d give it all up for one erection.” And today there’s viagra.

The third principle is this: do not let fear rule your life. Fear hems us in, stops us from thinking clearly and prevents us from either challenging oppression or engaging calmly with the impersonal fates. When I was told that this operation has an 80% chance of success, my first thought was “that’s roughly the same as one of my kayaking trips. And about twice as good as the chance of emerging from those investigations in West Papua and the Amazon”.

There are, I believe, three steps to overcoming fear: name it, normalise it, socialise it. For too long, cancer has been locked in the drawer labelled Things We Don’t Talk About. When we call it the Big C, it becomes, as the term suggests, not smaller, but larger in our minds. He Who Must Not Be Named is diminished by being identified, and diminished further when he becomes a topic of daily conversation.

The super-volunteer Jeanne Chattoe, whom I interviewed recently for another column, reminded me that, just 25 years ago, breast cancer was a taboo subject. Thanks to the amazing advocacy of its victims, this is almost impossible to imagine today. Now we need to do the same for other cancers. Let there be no more terrible secrets.

So I have sought to discuss my prostate cancer as I would discuss any other issue. I make no apologies for subjecting you to the grisly details: the more familiar they become, the less horrifying. In doing so, I socialise my condition. Last month, I discussed the remarkable evidence suggesting that a caring community enhances recovery and reduces mortality. In talking about my cancer with family and friends, I feel the love that I know will get me through this. The old strategy of suffering in silence could not have been more misguided.

I had intended to use this column to urge men to get themselves tested. But since my diagnosis, we’ve discovered two things. The first is that prostate cancer has overtaken breast cancer to become the third biggest cancer killer in the UK. The second is that the standard assessment (the PSA blood test) is of limited use. As prostate cancer in its early stages is likely to produce no symptoms, it’s hard to see what men can do to protect themselves. That urinary tract infection was a remarkably lucky break.

Instead, I urge you to support the efforts led by Prostate Cancer UK to develop a better test. Breast cancer has attracted twice as much money and research as prostate cancer, not because (as the Daily Mail suggests) men are the victims of injustice, but because women’s advocacy has been so effective. Campaigns such as Men United and the Movember Foundation have sought to bridge this gap, but there’s a long way to go. Prostate cancer is discriminatory: for reasons unknown, black men are twice as likely to suffer it as white men. Finding better tests and treatments is a matter of both urgency and equity.

I will ride this out. I will own this disease but I won’t be defined by it: I will not be prostrated by my prostate. I will be gone for a few weeks but when I return, I do solemnly swear I will still be the argumentative old git with whom you are familiar.

http://www.monbiot.com

ooOOoo

It appears to be a unique aspect of the human mind. I am referring to our ability to worry about the future, to struggle to break away from ‘habitual’ responses to unanticipated crap coming along, to see the glass as half full as opposed to half empty, and so on, and so on.

Oh, to be like our dear, sweet, wise dogs.

Just let the world roll by!

Saving lives!

Saving the lives of our dogs and their owner/carers!

The Smithsonian website recently featured a dog rescue centre in Costa Rica that has the odd dog or one thousand being cared for!

I kid you not!

This Costa Rican Paradise Shelters Over 1,000 Stray Dogs

A photographer documents scenes from Territorio De Zaguates, a converted farm in the Santa Bárbara mountains that’s giving abandoned dogs a second chance
By Jennifer Billock, smithsonian.com, March 6, 2018

The article also includes a range of incredible photographs. I have ‘borrowed’ a couple to share with you.

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What rescuing a dog means to thousands of gentle-hearted people is no better spoken about than in the words of a poem that Colin published over on his blog A Dog’s Life.

It is republished here with Colin’s very kind permission.

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“A Stray they named Ray”

The following is one of the poems in my book “Just Thinking”, which is available direct from Friesen Press, Amazon, and other on-line book retailers.

https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000032944229/Colin-Chappell-Just-Thinking

This is such a sweet collection of beautiful thoughts and sentiments and reflections. The people and stories and memories are so real and tangible, easy to connect with, easy to read. For each poem I have read so far, it’s like he is talking about someone I know… or someone I would want to know 🙂 This books explores so many things, takes you on so many journeys.. the good and the bad and the beauty in between. This book was given as a gift, and it’s one I will treasure!” (Amazon review)

 “A Stray they named Ray”

They were found on a farm

Not too far away,

But… where was their home?

Two dogs, frightened, hungry,

So very tired and,

Surviving somehow on their own.

***

The rescue van arrived,

And the crew discussed

How best to capture this pair.

Traps were determined

To be the most humane,

But… so many questions were there.

***

Why were these two dogs

Having to scavenge for food?

Why were they out on their own?

The treats in the traps,

Put an end to all that,

And they were captured, scared… and alone.

***

They had no collars; no tags;

No microchips were found.

They were just two dogs without names.

Their faces were expressionless,

And their fur in poor condition.

Were they siblings? Perhaps their mother was the same?

***

Once back at the shelter

They were caged together,

But then a fight ensued.

Trainers intervened,

And gave them separate cages,

But then had to decide what to do.

***

One (they later named Ray) was not unfriendly,

Although cautious and rather aloof.

He seemed to know he was no longer alone.

He was given a bath and a bowl of food

And, with some loving care (they thought),

He could possibly adapt to a home.

***

He was a sorry sight,

And no doubt a once proud dog.

Clearly a German Shepherd cross,

Just managing to survive,

By eating scraps to stay alive.

To explain him, they were quite at a loss.

***

They tried to find his owners.

They checked the Missing Pets files,

But there only seemed one option.

He now belonged to the shelter

And… as he was neither reported lost, nor stolen,

He would be trained for adoption.

***

Four months later he was ready.

His adoption photo was published,

And all were looking for a sign.

He needed a family,

To love… and be loved by.

This will, hopefully, be his time.

***

Eventually a couple arrived

Who clearly were drawn to him,

And regular walks were arranged.

It was soon to be seen

That his life, as it had been,

Was quickly going to change.

***

His day of adoption came.

The staff all said their farewells.

Smiles, and tears, were all around,

For the life of a stray;

Of a dog they named Ray;

A life almost lost… had been found.

*

ooOOoo

I am finishing today’s post with another photograph from the Costa Rican Paradise Shelter.

Then my final words are those in that Smithsonian article:

Now, more than 1,000 dogs roam the countryside of the Costa Rican estate. They go on daily walks in the mountains and eat roughly 858 pounds of food per day. They’re bathed and treated on-site for illness or injury (though more intense cases go to a specialist vet in San Jose). And most importantly, they’re given a better quality of life than they’d experience on the streets.

“There is a major problem with stray and abandoned dogs in Costa Rica,” Dan Giannopoulos, a photographer who recently visited the shelter, told Smithsonian.com. “The government line on [the] treatment of strays is to destroy them. This is the only shelter of its kind in Costa Rica. It offers a new lease [on] life to the dogs, many of whom have lived terrible lives and have terminal illnesses.”

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/these-photos-transport-you-dogs-central-american-paradise-180968018/#v9xZpKmRadL5JHeA.99
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South Devon snow report!

Wanted to share this with you!

First of all the weather forecast from the UK Met Office as at 1pm PST yesterday.

Between 18:05 Thu 1st and 08:00 Fri 2nd

Heavy snow affecting southwest England and parts of Wales is extending further east across parts of southern and central England. The snow will be accompanied by very strong easterly winds leading to blizzards and considerable drifting. From Thursday evening some places could also see ice build up due to freezing rain, mainly across southwest England. Long delays and cancellations of public transport seem very likely. Some roads may become blocked by deep snow, stranding vehicles and passengers. Long interruptions to power supplies and other utilities are likely to occur, along with possible damage to trees and other structures due to heavy snow or ice. This is an update to extend the amber area northeastwards.

Then here’s a photograph taken by Neil Kelly, a good friend from my Devon days, from half-way up Totnes High Street yesterday morning.

And this was before the blizzard arrived. N

Wherever you are in the world, stay warm and dry!