Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ayr to Strong

SO SOLID CREW. Selkirk skipper Neil Darling does his best to burst through Ayr's defence at Millbrae on Saturday, but the league leaders proved a tough nut to crack and eventually defeated Selkirk 18-5. Click here for match report.

The boys are out for the day, Selkirk versus West O Scotland. Hoping for a better result this week. Come on the Souters.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Castle Howard

Pitched up at Cayton Bay near Filey with the Speedbird, great beach for the kids to explore. Visited Castle Howard,which much to my surprise was more enjoyable than i expected. Great gardens, with plenty of interesting stuff for the kids as well as the adults. If you are in the area, take a look you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Inchgarth, Night View

This was TheTamshee trying to capture the scene of Heather Burning, on the distant hills of the Yarrow Valley, an early evening view from the deck of Inchgarth

Things to Ponder

What do you do when you see an endangered animal that is eating an endangered plant ?

Buell XB12S Lighting

Time to get the wraps of the trusty Buell, dry tar, the curves and twists of the Yarrow Valley. I,am in heaven. Bring it on.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Seasteading, Oil Community

Possible blue print for Seasteading structures, without the work ethic off course. No boss, no rich or poor, all friends no enemies. I wonder!

Floating Utopias

Wow, the vison of Friedman and others before him appeals to my inner belief that life at sea has great appeal. Having already spent many years living onboard the steel structures we call oil rigs, I can tell you that its no bed of roses. The adverse weather we endure to exploit the Earth's resources is a challenge to say the least. The banter among individuals from all corners of Europe with different cultures can be strained at times. Self sufficiency is not an option, yes we can make +/- 30 tons of fresh water per day but its not so easy to grow the crops, thus we are at the mercy of Diesel Fuel to power the vessels and heli-copters to service our every need. We continue to Dream

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Male Brain

A male doctor notices a sidewalk stand that says 'brains for sale.' He goes over to investigate and sees a sign that says 'Doctor brains $8.00 a pound’ and another sign that says ‘Paramedic brains $12.00 a pound, Nurses brains $30.00 a pound, truck driver $40.00 a pound and lawyers brains $90.00 a pound.’ So he asks the man behind the cash register, “how come his brains are only worth 8.00 and a lawyer's worth 90.00?” The man replies, “do you know how many lawyers it takes to make a pound of brains?”

Indiana Kids

There is some draw backs to life offshore, you miss your family and the joy they bring you. I'am coming home, Yippe

Pharmakon by Dirk Wittenborn

"The man who had his heart removed from his body and peeled like an orange" fights back from the excesses of life. I look forward to the immient release of this talented authors third novel. Review by Lionel Shriver.
Now that unhappiness has been redefined from existential state to chemical imbalance, the subject matter of Dirk Wittenborn’s third novel, Pharmakon, is timely. Indeed, the fascinating questions it raises about prescription contentment make the novel’s structural shortcomings only more frustrating.
In 1952, Dr William Friedrich is a psychology professor at Yale on the new frontier of mood-altering drugs. His fellow researcher Bunny Winton discovers a plant-based substance from New Guinea called gai kau dong that shows promise as an antidepressant. Together they ferment and distil the “GKD”, first testing their potion on rats.
How can you tell if a rat is depressed? Sadness being akin to hopelessness, Friedrich and Winton release their subjects into a pool too deep for the rats to rest. It’s a lovely scene: the control rats soon succumb to despair, and drown. The rats high on GKD continue to swim merrily back and forth across the pool, in faith that tomorrow, tomorrow, there’s always tomorrow, it’s only a day away.
The researchers promptly recruit human subjects for trials. Fatefully, however, they include Casper Gedsic, a bright but socially awkward misfit. Nearly every subject taking GKD benefits – losing weight, recovering interest in sex, conquering phobias.
But Casper transforms utterly, becoming a suave, manipulative social climber who deploys his gift for mathematics on the gold market. The experiment concludes; suddenly deprived of GKD, the prince reverts to frog. But Casper no longer cares for being a frog. Vengefully, he shoots Winton dead, cripples her husband, and (maybe) kills Friedrich’s son Jack.
This whole initial section of Pharmakon is delightful. The writing is witty, the storytelling engaging. However, once Casper is incarcerated in a mental institution, from which thankfully he escapes for a reprise menacing of Friedrich’s family, the book assures us that we’ve pretty much heard the last from Casper, and the narrative suddenly goes limp.
What follows is an all too routine coming-of-age story, told from the perspective of Zach, the boy born as a replacement for the hapless Jack. Zach dutifully sustains the novel’s pharmaceutical theme by taking a plethora of recreational drugs in his teens, and by getting addicted to cocaine in his adulthood.
Yet meanwhile a sharp, distinguished story with some of the well-observed period details of TC Boyle’s The Inner Circle has slid into a bog-standard family epic, marrying off and resolving the sexual confusions of the other three siblings and every once in a while dropping Casper’s name in the prose to remind us of the olden days when Pharmakon was really, really fun.
Aside from this huge not only structural but emotional problem – we do not care about Zach; we want to go back to Casper – there’s also a problem with Friedrich, who is meant to be a complex, larger-than-life figure dominating the book, a man who understands what makes people tick by occupation, but who can’t navigate relationships in his own family.
But the character never coheres into more than a hard-working, ambitious psychologist who sometimes gets on the wrong side of his children, like any normal father. Wittenborn’s failure to manifest Friedrich as a fictional character worthy of his role in the novel may be traced to the distractions of autobiography. Wittenborn makes no bones about the fact that Friedrich is based on his father. Towering eminences in an author’s life do not always tower on the page.
Pharmakon is quite well written. The dialogue is lively, and some descriptive lines zing: “His face was pink, wizened, and ticked with age spots. He looked like a skull inside an udder.” In both Before and After incarnations, Casper Gedsic is a marvellous creation; perhaps because he feels wholly made up, he comes to life as successful fiction.
Wittenborn’s reflections on the nature of contentment aren’t always deep, but perhaps because they have to make room for so much soap opera from ancillary characters whose marriages are not central to his themes. More on the pursuit of happiness would have been welcome.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Address to a Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect sconner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Hairy Haggis

It's that time O the year to celebrate the Bard. First you must catch your Hairy Haggis!
These little creatures are very shy and EXTREMELY wiley - so you must proceed with caution and patience! I find the best place to find them is behind or under Highland heather bushes, although I have been known to catch a couple lurking near thistles! Having caught your haggis - you must treat it with GREAT respect and cook it well for the Burns Night Tribute Supper! That is why my haggis is baked instead of boiled - and it is served with special Cumberland sauce with lashings of good Scotch whisky! Other traditional accompaniments are: clapshot, bashed neeps and tatties, rumbledethumps, buttered leeks, skirlie mash, champit tatties and buttered cabbage. Don't forget the "correct" format for a Burns Night Supper:
Chairperson's opening address. A few welcoming words start the evening and the meal commences with the Selkirk Grace. The company are asked to stand to receive the haggis. A piper then leads the chef, carrying the haggis to the top table, while the guests accompany them with a slow handclap. The chairman or invited guest then recites Burns' famous poem To A Haggis, with great enthusiasm. When he reaches the line 'an cut you up wi' ready slight', he cuts open the haggis with a sharp knife. It's customary for the company to applaud the speaker then stand and toast the haggis with a glass of whisky. The Immortal Memory: One of the central features of the evening; an invited guest is asked to give a short speech on Burns. There are many different types of Immortal Memory speeches, from light-hearted to literary, but the aim is the same - to outline the greatness and relevance of the poet today.

Toast To The Lasses: The main speech is followed by a more light-hearted address to the women in the audience. Originally this was a thank you to the ladies for preparing the food and a time to toast the 'lasses' in Burns' life. The tone should be witty, but never offensive, and should always end on a concilliatory note. Response: The turn of the lasses to detail men's foibles. Again, should be humorous but not insulting.

Poem and Songs: Once the speeches are complete the evening continues with songs and poems. These should be a good variety to fully show the different moods of Burns muse. Favourites for recitations are Tam O' Shanter, Address to the Unco Guid, To A Mouse and Holy Willie's Prayer. The evening will culminate with the company standing, linking hands and singing Auld Lang Syne to conclude the programme.

To a Mouse

It's that time O the month when we celebrate the "Ploughman Bard"

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle....
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An' fellow mortal! ....
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't....
Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!...
Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell....
That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld....
But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!...
Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Friday, January 23, 2009

At the Theatre

A man was sprawled across three entire seats in a theater. When the usher came by and noticed this, he whispered to the man, "Sorry sir, but you're only allowed one seat."
The man groaned but didn't budge. The usher became impatient.
"Sir," the usher said, "if you don't get up from there, I'm going to have to call the manager."
Again, the man just groaned, which infuriated the usher who turned and marched briskly back up the aisle in search of his manager. In a few moments, both the usher and the manager returned and stood over the man. Together the two of them tried repeatedly to move him, but with no success. Finally, they summoned the police. The cop surveyed the situation briefly.
"All right, buddy. What's your name?"
"Sam," the man moaned.
"Where ya from, Sam?" the cop asked.
"The balcony."

Wyeth's Wisdom

" Nick & Jamie " Water Colour on paper
Andrew Wyeth was a Magic Realist. Wyeth is a master of the dry brush and egg tempera techniques which allowed him to achieve great detail in his work. Certainly the strong feeling of nostalgia and rural isolation that emanates from his work helps bring a mysterious quality to his paintings. This is combined with many unusual viewpoints, including sharp focus in both the foreground and background, as well as the sharp detail in his work verifies his standing as a great master of Magic Realism .
" I think one's art goes only as far and deep as your love goes" Wyeth's wisdom.

Edith in Bronze

Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.

Quotes by Edith Sitwell

Good taste is the worst vice ever invented.

I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.

My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.

The public will believe anything, so long as it is not founded on truth.

My poems are hymns of praise to the glory of life.

The aim of flattery is to soothe and encourage us by assuring us of the truth of an opinion we have already formed about ourselves.

I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty... But I am too busy thinking about myself.

I'm afraid I'm being an awful nuisance.

Poetry is the deification of reality.

Vulgarity is, in reality, nothing but a modern, chic, pert descendant of the goddess Dullness.
Edith Sitwell, Taken Care Of ,1965

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wyeth's Women

Andrew Newell Wyeth, was born (12th July 1917) in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, United States, the youngest of five children to the successful American artist / illustrator Newell Convers and Carolyn Wyeth. His father, the great illustrator of such childhood classics as Kidnapped and Treasure Island.
Wyeth was one of the most popular American Realist painters of his time. His paintings, meticulously rendered, convey a deep sympathy for people and a sense of the hardness and brevity of life. This paintings won the reclusive artist a tremendous amount of fame; their quiet views of landscapes and figures seem quintessentially American and timeless. He learned to paint with the keen observation and the drafting skills that his father pocessed. The hullabaloo over Andrew Wyeth's "secret' paintings" casts doubt on his talents, raising the question. Is Wyeth really an artist at all? Such redoubtable critics as Hilton Kramer said No: Wyeth is not an artist, he's an illustrator.... I don't agree he was a master of the brush.
Andrew was a weak and sickly child. He studied at home, although he never really mastered spelling. Mostly, he roamed the countryside in solitude or stayed in the house playing with tin soldiers. Imbued with the love of narrative that shines from his father's work, Andrew spent almost a year creating a miniature theater. They were the players, sets, and costumes for a one-man production of Arthur Conan Doyle's romance The White Company, which he presented to the family at age 15. Deeply impressed by Andrew's virtuosity, his father immediately took him on as apprentice and student. When Wyeth was ten his family began spending summers in Maine, a tradition the artist continued throughout his entire life. During his teenage years, Wyeth's early forays into watercolor painting were of the Maine landscape and ocean vistas, and with these he enjoyed his first one-man show at New York's William Macbeth Gallery in 1937. All of the works were sold, but Wyeth felt almost disheartened by his early success. He began to experiment with rendering the human form, perhaps the most difficult of all subjects. As an exercise, his father recommended that he sketch a skeleton from every possible angle. His work as a young American artist of this period set him apart from his contemporaries, who were busy experimenting with more radical, abstract styles. Noted art critic John Russell remarked to Newsweek that Wyeth's "work has always had a secret and subterranean motivation, conscious or unconscious, which surfaces in strange and unexpected ways."
In 1945 Wyeth's father was killed at a railroad crossing in Chadds Ford, and the sudden death made Wyeth resolve to take his artistic career more seriously. He began to use models, often painting them over several years, a practice which he began in 1939 when he met Christina Olson. The Maine woman was a friend of Betsy Merle James, who would later become Wyeth's wife. Olson was paralyzed from polio, and Wyeth's image of her in a field, Christina's World (1948), is perhaps his most famous work. He continued to render Olson, or her Maine house, in a series of works that stretched on until the late 1960s, including Miss Olson (1952) and Weather Side (1965).
Wyeth and his wife Betsy bought a set of farm buildings in Chadds Ford dating back to the 18th century and restored it as a studio for him and a home for the couple and their two sons, Jamie and Nicholas. (Jamie would eventually become a painter himself). In the late 1940s Wyeth became fascinated with Karl Kuerner, a farmer of German origin who lived nearby, and Wyeth painted images of Kuerner and his property, as well as his wife Anna, over the next few decades. In Maine, where the Wyeth family spent the summer months, the artist also befriended another neighbor who became a frequent subject. Teenaged Siri Erickson was the subject of several portraits that Wyeth painted during the 1960s.
Most major American museums have examples of Wyeth's work. He was given a large retrospective at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1967. Earlier, and for many years, he was more or less systematically ignored by American art officials, although not by critics, because his work seemed so completely removed from mainstream American art. President John F. Kennedy awarded him the
Medal of Freedom in 1963, and The National Institute of Arts and Letters bestowed its 1965 gold medal for Wyeth's artistic achievements. In 1970 Wyeth then had a one-man exhibition in the White House, the first ever held there.
Sadly this "Painter of the People" passed away peacefully on the 16th January 2009 aged 91

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cango Caves

With my mind blowing experience of the Swartberg Pass still fresh in my swede, our mine hosts treats us to the delights of the Cango Caves, some 30 km from Oudtshoorn. They are among the biggest dripstone formations, stalagmites, stalactites and helictite roof formations in the world. One can go for extensive subterranean walks in the widely branching caves with some of the sandstone formations colourfully illuminated. There is guided tours with various levels of difficulity, and believe me the letter box route is a one way trip not for the faint hearted or those unfortunate enough to be carrying a few kilo's to many.

DUC North Sea

People often ask what it is like working offshore, but the answer can range from the simple one liner to the complexities of the industry. In years gone by it was a tough life indeed with little privileges. If the rig was stand alone, working on exploration or "Wild Cat" the bears were lucky to get a ship to shore phone call home only once a week, with the tarrif in the region of six pounds per minute. Not good if you are a family man with young kids. These issue's always raised tensions. Fortunately conditions have changed for the better with excellent facilities to keep the troops amused. And the Internet off course.

The Mushroom Cloud Effect

OOp,s has G.W. pushed the button on the way out the door, seems like it from this photo of our approach to new location, Halfdan BA wellhead platform. We continue to suck the earth dry of her rich resources to the benefit of all mankind. Ye that's right.

Monday, January 19, 2009

South Africa Feast

While working for the Institute of Geological Sciences, later to become the British Geological Survey, back in the eighties i was fortunate enough to experience the delights of this of great country. At this time my experience of foreign lands was limited and being a "Souter" from the Scottish Borders had not prepared me for the sheer awfulness of South Africa under apartheid although it was only later that i realized the full extent of the suppression by the National Party with roots embedded in the history of colonisation.
The trip to Cape Town via Johannesburg was well planned with diplomatic paperwork in place should i find myself in a spot of bother, thankfully i did not speak out of turn thus avoiding a term in Nelson's place of residence for many years on Robbin Island. The vibro-corer drilling rig had been developed within the close knit engineering team headed by Jack Pheasant, a good friend and mentor who dragged me out of the border engineering company Aimer's McLeans some years earlier. Sadly, Jack is no longer with us, scummed to the dreaded Leukemia at a young age, after lengthy battle. The work involved, setting up equipment on ship and sailing from Cape Town harbour up the east coast to Mossel Bay for pipeline survey work. On the bad weather days we were back in harbour, with our host arranging all sorts of trips to see the sites. On one of these occasions we were loaded into the custom mini bus and driven to Cango Caves @ Oudtshoorn via the magnificient Swartberg Mountain Pass. The mountains are a magnificent backdrop to the village of Prince Albert. Once considered almost impenetrable, there are now three major gateways to the Swartberg Pass, Meiringspoort
Meiringspoort and the Swartberg Pass are on Prince Albert's doorstep. Both fall within the Swartberg Nature Reserve (whose aims are to conserve fynbos and provide water). Both offer geological and natural splendours and the construction of both were spectacular engineering feats. You can wonder at the folds of the Table Mountain sandstone strata which constantly changing colour as you move through sunlight and shade. Look out for the bright green lychen, an indicator of the sparkling clear, pollution free air. The area can boast 130 species of bird-life. Watch out for black eagles, Baboons, klipspringers. Vegetation includes renosterveld, mountain fynbos, Karoo veld, spekboom veld and numerous geophyte species. Tenacious succulents, pelagoniums and other hardy plants cling to rock faces. On the plateau at the top of the Swartberg Pass and down towards the Oudsthoorn side you will drive through mountains bright with erica's and proteas. My trip was during the summer with temperature's in the 30's but in winter you can see snow on the Swartberg. The journey continued over the Swartberg Pass to the unbelievable
Cango Caves, then home to Prince Albert through de Rust and Meiringspoort? An awe-inspiring experience.

The Boss, Working On A Dream

Bruce Springsteen, seventies hero and my all time rock legend has followed up his "Magic" album, a record underscored by fear, disgust and shame at the direction of his country under Bush, with his 24th album "Working On A Dream" But now, as he plays to inaugurate a (New President) the weight seems to have been lifted. The most political thing about Working On A Dream is that it is not political at all. The Boss is in love, and doesn't care who knows it. On Queen of the Supermarket, Bruce Springsteen drives a shopping cart rather than a Cadillac, swooning over a check out girl with the wry tenderness of a Midwestern Morrissey.
The E Street Band fill the supermarket aisles with a lush update of Roy Orbison-style operatic rock 'n roll. At times the sentiments come close to Tin Pan Alley cheesiness. In Kingdom of Days he rhymes "I love you", "I do", and "blue", while also drawing attention to the moon and sun. Yet Springsteen is too substantial a songwriter to fall into cliché. The dark heart of love is glimpsed in the desperate epic Life Itself, while even the simplest songs contain hard won wisdom. On rare occasions when he strays from amour it is to celebrate hearty male friendship. The album's opener, Outlaw Pete is a sprawling folk saga, comic and touching, with a wild arrangement that hearkens back to the kind of music Springsteen made in the early 70s, before he really started to define himself. The epic qualities of the E Street Band's sound ( albiet without the Phantom Dan ) is easily pastiched (indeed, others have built entire careers on it, from Bon Jovi to the Hold Steady) but Springsteen is moving forward by looking backwards. He has clearly been listening to 5th Dimension era Byrds, The Beach Boys, West Coast Psychedelia and even pre-rock big band ballads. The arrangements are as likely to include swoonsome strings and choral singing as Clarence Clemons' trademark ripe sax. This, I suspect, is Springsteen's idea of a pop album. But don't accuse the Boss of going soft. If anyone can make romance sound like manly business, Bruce can, bring on the party

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tamarack Pines

There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept

Discover Ansel Adams

Ansel Easton Adams American photographer: born February 20, 1902, San Francisco, California, U.S. died April 22, 1984, Carmel, California "Legend with the Lens"
Without doubt, the most important landscape photographer of the 20th century. He is also perhaps the most widely known and beloved photographer in the history of the United States; the popularity of his work has only increased since his death. Adams’s most important work was devoted to what was or appeared to be the country’s remaining fragments of untouched wilderness, especially in national parks and other protected areas of the American West. He was also a vigorous and outspoken leader of the conservation movement.
Early life and work:
Adams was a hopeless, rebellious student, but, once his father bowed to the inevitable and removed him from school at age 12, he proved a remarkable autodidact. He became a serious and ambitious musician who was considered by qualified judges (including the musicologist and composer Henry Cowell) to be a highly gifted pianist. After he received his first camera in 1916, Adams also proved to be a talented photographer. Throughout the 1920s, when he worked as the custodian of the Sierra Club’s lodge in
Yosemite National Park, he created impressive landscape photographs. During this period he formed a powerful attachment—verging on devotion—to Yosemite Valley and to the High Sierra that guarded the valley on the east. It might be said that the most powerful and original work throughout his career came from the effort to discover an adequate visual expression for his near-mystical youthful experience of the Sierra.
While photography and the piano shared his attention during his early adulthood, by about 1930 Adams decided to devote his life to photography. (As late as 1945, however, he still thought enough of his playing to have a recording made of his interpretations of Beethoven, Chopin, and perhaps others.) In 1930 he met the American photographer Paul Strand and was shown the negatives that Strand was then making in New Mexico. Adams was deeply impressed with the simplicity of the images’ conception and by their rich and luminous tonality, a style in contrast to the soft-focus Pictorialism still in vogue among many contemporary photographers. The experience confirmed in him his evolution toward a purer and more realistic style. In 1932 Adams helped form Group f.64, a loose and short-lived association of West Coast photographers (including Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham) who favoured sharp focus and the use of the entire photographic gray scale, from black to white, and who shunned any effects borrowed from traditional fine arts such as painting. Maturity
By 1935 Adams was famous in the photographic community, largely on the strength of a series of articles written for the popular photography press, especially Camera Craft. These articles were primarily technical in nature, and they brought a new clarity and rigour to the practical problems of photography. It was probably these articles that encouraged Studio Publications (London) to commission Adams to create
Making a Photograph (1935), a guide to photographic technique illustrated primarily with his own photographs. This book was a remarkable success, partly because of the astonishing quality of its letterpress reproductions, which were printed separately from the text and tipped into the book page. These reproductions were so good that they were often mistaken for original (chemical) prints.
By the time Making a Photograph was published, Adams had already established the subject matter—the natural environment of his beloved West Coast—and the pristine, technically perfect style that characterize his consistent oeuvre. His work is distinguished from that of his great 19th-century predecessors who photographed the American West—most notably, Carleton Watkins—by his concern for the transient and ephemeral. One might say that Watkins photographed the geology of the place, while Adams photographed the weather. This acute attention to the specifics of the physical world was also the root of his intense appreciation of the landscape in microcosm, in which a detail of the forest floor could be as moving as a grand vista. His work on this single extended motif expresses a remarkable variety of response, ranging from childish wonder, to languorous pleasure, to the biblical excitement of nature in storm, to the recognition of a stern and austere natural world, in which human priorities are not necessarily served. One might view this range in mood in Adams’s work to reflect the contrast between the benevolent generosity of the valley, with its cool, clear water and lush vegetation, and the desiccated, inhospitable stringency of the eastern slope of the Sierra.
The importance of Adams’s work was recognized in 1936 by
Alfred Stieglitz, who awarded him the first one-artist show by a new photographer in his gallery, An American Place, since he had first shown Paul Strand 20 years earlier. However, many of Adams’s contemporaries thought that photographers—and even painters—should be making pictures that related more directly to the huge economic and political issues of the day. At the time, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, and others were photographing the Dust Bowl and the plight of migrants; Margaret Bourke-White was capturing Soviet Russia and great engineering projects; and Walker Evans was recording the inscrutable—or at least ambiguous—face of America’s built culture. To some critics, these projects seemed more of the moment than did Adams’s impeccable photographs of remote mountain peaks in the High Sierra and of the lakes at their feet—so pure that they were almost sterile. Not until a generation later did it come to be widely understood that a concern for the character and health of the natural landscape was in fact a social priority of the highest order.
Adams increasingly used his prominent position in the field to increase the public acceptance of photography as a fine art. In 1940 he helped found the first curatorial department devoted to photography as an art form at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In 1946 he established at the
California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco the first academic department to teach photography as a profession. He also revived the idea of the original (chemical) photographic print as an artifact, something that might be sold as an art object. His Portfolio I of 1948 offered 12 original prints of extraordinary quality for $100. Eventually, Adams produced seven such portfolios, the last in 1976.
Interestingly, in contrast to this work on behalf of the photographic print, Adams also became directly involved, and was often a motivator, in advances in photomechanical reproduction. Throughout the 1940s he continued to explore the technical possibilities of photography in this and other ways. In the early part of the decade he codified the technical principles that he had long practiced into a pedagogical system he called the “
zone system,” which rationalized the relationship among exposure, development, and resulting densities in the photographic negative. The purpose of the system was ultimately not technical but rather expressive: it was a tool to aid in visualizing a finished photograph before the exposure was made. The first edition of his often-reprinted book The Negative was published in 1948; written for photographers and not the general reader, the book expresses Adams’s technical and aesthetic views in an uncompromising manner.
Later career
Most of Adams’s great work as a photographer was completed by 1950: only a handful of important pictures were made during the last half of his adult life. Rather, in his later life, he spent most of his energy as a photographer on reinterpreting his earlier work and on editing books of his own work (often with his frequent collaborator, Nancy Newhall).
An ardent
conservationist since adolescence, from 1934 to 1971 Adams served as a director of the Sierra Club. (Later, in the 1980s, he explicitly and forcefully attacked the environmental policies of the very popular President Ronald Reagan and his secretary of the interior, James Watt.) Many of the books Adams generated in his later career were concerned not only with the art of photography but also with the goal of raising awareness for the campaign to preserve the natural landscape and the life it supported. The most notable of these was This Is the American Earth (1960; with Newhall), published by the Sierra Club. It was one of the essential books in the reawakening of the conservation movement of the 1960s and ’70s, along with Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There (1949) and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962). Other major titles by Adams include My Camera in the National Parks (1950) and Photographs of the Southwest (1976). The Portfolios of Ansel Adams (1977) reproduced the 90 prints that Adams first published (between 1948 and 1976) as seven portfolios of original prints. The results can thus be trusted to represent a selection from what the photographer considered his best work.
In 1980 Adams was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter. Acknowledging Adams’s years of work as both a photographer and an environmentalist, the president’s citation said, “It is through [Adams’s] foresight and fortitude that so much of America has been saved for future Americans.”

Mozart Beyond the Grave

When Mozart passed away, he was buried in a churchyard. A couple of days later, the town drunk was walking through the cemetery and heard some strange noise coming from the area where Mozart was buried. Terrified, the drunk ran and got the town magistrate to come and listen to it. When the magistrate arrived, he bent his ear to the grave, listened for a moment, and said, "Ah, yes, that's Mozart's Ninth Symphony, being played backwards."
He listened a while longer, and said, "There's the Eighth Symphony, and it's backwards, too. Most puzzling." So the magistrate kept listening; "There's the Seventh... the Sixth... the Fifth..." Suddenly the realization of what was happening dawned on the magistrate; he stood up and announced to the crowd that had gathered in the cemetery, "My fellow citizens, there's nothing to worry about.

It's just Mozart decomposing."
Famous Quote: It is sobering to think that when Mozart was my age he had already been dead a year. Tom Lehrer (speaking of Mozart's early death at the age of just 35 years)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dinosaurs Gaints of Patagonia

Travel back over 80 million years in Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia and see these amazing creatures come to life. Soaring over breathtaking Argentinean landscapes, this film visits sites of major discoveries and tells the remarkable evolutionary life stories of two of the largest living animals ever to have walked the Earth. Narrated by Donald Sutherland, we are taken from the emergence of the dinosaurs from their eggs, to the arrival of the comet that triggered their demise, and reminded that their descendants are still with us today. Watching this movie on Rheged's big screen is the closest you will ever get to the real thing! Kesock in the Lake district has been a favourite location for the Speedbird, great walking and ma wee lass found the best Conker tree in the world, as far as she is concerned anyway

Bolton versus Man"U"

Berba comes to the rescue, it's never over until the fat lady sings. Bolton sunk, The Red Devils sit proudly on top "O" the pile, yet again.

The Famous Literary Trio

Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell
Cecil Beaton was one of the proteges of the young Sitwells, who discovered and supported artists, writers, musicians and photographers, many of whom became extremely well known. They included William Walton, Cecil Beaton, John Piper and Rex Whistler. This is a Beaton photograph of the three, capturing their eccentricity and originality.
Dame Edith Sitwell (1887 - 1964)
Edith Sitwell was a grandly eccentric woman, described by one observer as "an altar on the move." She set her aquiline nose and long fingers off with sweeping fabrics and many large rings, and she involved herself in the world of literature and the arts with gusto.
From 1916 to 1921 she edited Wheels, an annual anthology of modern verse. Her own poems explored the musical qualities of language and some were set to the music of William Walton, which matched their moods and rhythms.
They produced a challengingly modern piece of work, Façade, which was first performed at the Aeolian Hall in London in 1923, and produced one newspaper headline which enraged her brother Osbert - "Drivel They Paid to Hear".
Another writer called it "the jolliest entertainment of the season" and commented "it is all very well for old-fashioned purists to say that poetry should not be read through a megaphone. The answer is that the Sitwells know what they are driving at better than we do".
Edith had a perceptive and mocking wit, and her letters to her literary friends and to her family are a delight.
Here she writes to her sister-in-law Georgia from her London flat in the twenties:"I can't tell you what I am going through. 'They' are putting fresh tiles into the flat beneath, and doing it up. So they say. But I don't think it is that. I think they are doing a sound-film of the Battle of Verdun, accompanied by racing contests between traction engines and elephants. Massed choirs are singing the March of the Men of Harlech, and a whole nation of mice seems to be nibbling through the wood work. Avenge, O Lord, Thy slaughtered saints. What a life! What a Life!"
Whatever anyone thought of her, they could not ignore her. She and her brothers sponsored William Walton, T S Eliot, John Piper and Rex Whistler among others, and between them they contributed significantly to English letters of the 20th century.
Edith was made a Dame of the Order of the British Empire in 1954. She was also made an Honorary Doctory of Literature in 1948 of Leeds and Durham, of Oxford 1951 (the first woman to become so) and Sheffield 1954.
She died, unmarried, in 1964, and her autobiography, Taken Care Of was published posthumously.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Crude Oil Pricing

It seems that every time you turn on a TV news program these days. There is talk about crude oil prices but it's hard to explain how crude oil markets work and what factors impact pricing in 30 second sound bites. Lets take a closer look at how this works. The Basics: Crude oil is the world's most actively traded commodity. The largest markets for crude are in New York (on the NY Commodities Exchange or NYMEX) London and Singapore, but crude oil and refined products such as gasoline, diesel and heating oil are bought and sold all over the world. Crude oil comes in many varieties and qualities, depending on it's specific gravity and sulfur content. Futures Contracts: Typically, a futures contract is for crude to be delivered in the following month. The buyer agrees to take delivery and the seller agrees to provide a fixed amount of oil at a preset price at a specified location. However, it is not uncommon for these transactions to be purely financial in nature, using different sets of complex trades, buyers and sellers don't necessarily need to physically exchange crude oil to turn a profit (or loss) The minimum purchase for such a contract is 1000 barrels. World Benchmark: Because there are so many varieties and grades of crude oil, buyers and sellers find it easier to refer to a limited number of references, or benchmark, crude oils. Other varieties are then priced at a discount or premium, according to their quality. Brent is considered the world benchmark and is used to price more than 60 percent of the world's internationally traded crude oil supplies. U.S. Benchmarks: WTI is the U.S. benchmark, meaning that crude oil sales into the U.S. are usually priced in relation to WTI. Prices quoted on the NYMEX generally refer to light, sweet crudes with a specific gravity and sulfur content within a certain range similar to WTI. OPEC Basket: The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) a cartel of some leading world producers has it's own reference. Known as the OPEC basket price, this is an average of 15 different crudes from Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran,Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. OPEC aims to control the amount of oil it pumps into the marketplace to keep the basket price within a predetermined range. In practise, the price difference between Brent, WTI and OPEC basket are not large. So what is the "Therefore" A question many have asked is what drives changes in pricing. It may seem swings that saw prices up 50 percent to a record level of almost $150 a barrel in June followed by equally rapid declines defy logic. Not so, as the value of the dollar and global demand were generally agreed to have been the major factors in recent pricing trends. The sharp jump in prices since 2005 has coincided with the plunge in the value of the U.S. dollar against other leading currencies. A weak dollar encourages financial investors to look for more lucrative investment opportunities, with oil top of their list. Also, because oil is traded in dollars, a weak dollar means it takes more dollars to buy the same barrel of oil. Analysts say growth in global supplies is failing to keep pace with growth in demand. Global thirst for oil is intense. Demand has risen by about 3 million barrels a day since 2005 and is expected to rise by 32 million barrels a day in the next two decades. The U.S. remains the worlds largest oil consumer, so a rise or fall in economic activity in the states has a huge impact on crude prices. Increasingly industrial growth and higher standards of living in China and India also influence crude prices. Oil exporters say the recent price surge cannot be explained by just the laws of supply to demand. They point to the role of market speculators who bid up the price of crude based on the assumption of continued increases in demand.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Buzzards at Risk

Landowners demand the right to kill birds of prey as the numbers grow out of control, this is the controversial suggestion made by the moorlands director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance who thinks numbers of some raptors, especially buzzards and goshawks, are becoming unmanageable. He is worried that wading moorland birds and red squirrels are at risk, however the suggestion has been met with fierce criticism from RSPB. Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management said it has taken 200 years for the buzzard population to recover from persecution during the Victorian period. He also added that evidence shows that the main prey eaten by buzzards is rabbits, not vulnerable species. We can be grateful that many hurdles have to be crossed before a licence to cull is granted, under current laws, scrupulous evidence spanning five years is required before a licence would be considered. Landowners have applied to Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Government in the past for licences to control buzzards to protect pheasants and other species but to my delight none has ever been granted. Information about raptor poisonings and other incidents of wildlife crime can be passed to National Wildlife Crime Unit in North Berwick on 01620-893607

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Birds Of Prey

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth to read the headlines relating to the persecution of birds of prey, at least 34 were poisoned in Scotland last year. Victims ranged from a golden eagle (one of the only breeding pair in the Borders) to peregrines and buzzards. Twelve red kites were poisoned, making it the worst year on record for persecution of that rare species. Tests conducted by the Scotish Agricultural Science Agency, confirmed that most commonly used, bait laced with the agricultural pesticide "carbofuran" a chemical that has been banned since 2001
These figures are deeply troubling but by no means the worst figures on record, this was a reduction on 2006 when there was 42 confirmed incidents. While we know that many land managers behave responsibly, it is important that they stand up and provide information to the police on criminal activity against wildlife that comes to their attention. Believe me,the Grouse will survive. RSPB Scotland (see here) says birds of prey produce so few young during their lives that illegal killing is putting populations of rare raptors such as golden eagles and red kites at risk. There was only 3 prosecutions last year for crimes against these magnicifent creatures of the skies and the penalties ranged from community service to a £1000 fine, these punishments are no deterent against the few mindless individuals who carry out the lairds dirty work.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Man"U" verses Chelsea

Its not smart to be smug but it comes as no surprised to here that the (best team in the world) had blasted three fantastic goals into the roof of the Chelsea net. It sends out a reminder that Fergies boys are up for the challenge of retaining the silverware. Unfortunitily i was unable to follow the action live due to high winds which took out a couple of satalite dishes onboard the rig. The (Berba) goal was a reel gem to put the icing on the cake, the Chelsea fans must be gutted that a one legged striker with what seems to be a squirrel on his head can cause so much havoc on a football field.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Master Tactician

Well the canny scot, Sir Alex has managed to get under the skin and add a touch of "Red" to the Rafa (see here) will they ever learn. The legend, who has picked up 30 trophies in his time is the master tactician on the pitch with the ability to wind up the opposite camp at will, it seems. Offcourse time will tell if Liverpool or the "Blues" have the bottle to take the title from the champions of England, Europe the World.

How do they square up as players ?

Sir Alex, 1957 - 1974 Six senior clubs, 327 appearences resulting in 167 goals


Rafael "Rafa" Benitez 1974-1986, Three senior clubs, 405 appearences resulting in 118goals

Two nil to the Jock as far as I am concerned, Bring on the "Blues

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Offshore Denmark

The pleasures of Hogmany have finally ended, time to travel back to my place of work, the NBW ( see here ) Offshore Denmark. It,s always a bit of a drag leaving the wife and kids but the bills have to be paid i keep telling myself. The journey, Edinburgh through Amsterdam then Billund and final destination at Esbjerg is never straight forward, there always seems to be delays with some farcical scenes at check in with the general public being humilitated. Imagine this "father carrying young kid sleeping over his shoulder is asked to remove his belt, hey presto gravity takes effect, say no more" Do the authorities really think they will identify some terroist by following these procedures, I think not. Anyway, now that i have got that of my chest, on arrival at rig site it was a pleasant surprise to find that i had won some prizes in the Xmas raffle, Westminster 44 piece cutlery set in gift box, a top notch Regatta all weather jacket, perfect for the hillwalking and a pair of cracking sun glasses, you know the ones those football blokey,s at Man"U" wear. Talking of the best "fitba" team in the World. Giggsy the pocket rocket, who has proved over many years to be a true profesional has been recognised in the art world (see here) portrait displayed in the National Library of Wales @ Aberystwyth, fame at long last, but i think Peter Edwards the artist has used a bit to much Grecian 2000

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dr Who

So the BBC has come good and selected a relativily unknown actor ? as the new "Doctor" Matt Smith first caught my eye when he played Danny Foster in the BBC political drama Party Animals the lads got talent, my only hope is that Agyness Deyn is the chosen one as his partner in saving the world from all kinds of mind bending catastrophes.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Things to Ponder

If a book about failures doesn't sell, is it a success ?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tarland by Deeside

Talked with the blokes at Crossburn Caravans today to check on progress, the Speedbird went into there workshop at the end of our touring season for the end of year maintenance service / body work! but I'll not go into the details regarding my tussle with the Dumpsters on exit from our last outing to Tarland by Deeside, we tagged along with some like minded friends to enjoy the delights of this quality site situated five minutes walk from Tarland Village. It is a good starting point for walks, with lovely open views towards Mount Keen, Lochnagar and Morven. Aberdeen, the Granite City - is some thirty miles East if you prefer the hussle and bussle of Union Street. Aboyne, six miles from the site, has shops and a swimming pool. The theatre is central to the Aboyne and Deeside Festival in July with the local Highland Games held in August. The Royal Deeside Station at Ballater, where Queen Victoria used to arrive is now a Vistor Centre and has a replica railway coach restored to how Queen Victoria used to travel up from London. Part of the line at Crathes Castle is being rebuilt with steam train rides. Glen Tanar and Muir of Dinnet are two superb local nature reserves. The fairytale Craigievar Castle is pinkish in colour and on Scotlands Castle Trail. For the petrol heads out there you can take a run along to Alford and visit the transport museum, there is everything from Penny Farthing to F1 racing car. On entry the kids were set a task of identifing various treasures, which they loved, believe me you will not be disapointed.

Scotlands Oldest Clock

So Scotlands oldest known working clock is telling the time once again after the completion of major conservation work. The restored clock, sporting a new face, was put back in its rightful place on the belltower of the 14th century parish church of St Bride's in Douglas, Lanarkshire. This ancient timepiece dates back to 1565 and is said to have been a gift to the village of Douglas from Mary Queen of Scots. To reflect the Clan Douglas motto, Jamais Arriere, "never behind" it is meant to strike three minutes before each hour.

When the mechanism failed last year, the good people at Historic Scotland arranged for specialist repair work to be carried out on the mechanism by long established Edinburgh clockmakers James Ritchie & Son. At the same time, the decision was taken to replace the clock face, which had suffered substantial decay and erosion.

Skilled craftsmen and women from Historic Scotland's St Ann's Maltings Croft An Righ workshop fashioned the replacement clock face from a teak-like hardwood, with the numerals and hands adorned with the finest gold leaf.

The church's weather vane has also been regilded by a second team at Stenhouse Convervation Centre. All the work was carried out using traditional, specialist techniques and authentic materials.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Three Brethern

Well has,nt life been rosy over the festive period, over indulging in all sorts of ways. The time had come to get some fresh air into the lungs. Decided to come good with my promise to the wee boy ( age 5 ) regarding some off road 4 x 4 and lots of mud.

The quest was The Three Brethern, first driving to the top pond and if the kids managed to walk the hill section all the way to the cairns without complainting or being carried, they would get the pleasure of sitting on dad,s knee and driving the motor on the return leg of the journey, having upheld their end of the deal i was duty bound to come good with the driving lesson, this turned out to be a scream for the kids as well as their mum but for different reasons. Anyway all,s well that ends well, no damage done to said vehical other than a visit to the car wash required.

That reminds me of previous "stupid" experience with my new Audi. The wife had suggested that i stop using the car wash because the roller brushes pick up all the grit and dust thus causing scratches to the paint work of the motor. This seemed like sound advise so i decide to use the basin of soapy water and the pan scrubber for a change, problem was i used the scour side of the sponge and removed all the lacquer from the body work, this was only noticable when the paint work dried, OOP,s lesson learned.


Well it all started in the summer when we had the "Tradesman" in to fit a new kitchen with the inclusion of the built in micro wave, much to my delight because Uncles Ben's rice, two minutes full power, perfect, us blokes like to keep it simple.

Anyway the misses was,nt keen on such a gastily thing but the deal was struct, four ton O top soil and an equal amout of quartz chips for one of sal,s many garden projects did the trick.

Everything seemed to be in order until i used the for longer periods which resulted in one of the down lights below the cabinet overheating and fusing the bulb. This was all rather annoying for some months and four bulbs to boot.
Finally i got my finger out of my backside when Santa came to the rescue with the grand prezzy of a Leatherman multi-tool, the time had come to sort this niggle out once and for all. Appliance removed and re-configured the wiring while re-positioning the light housing, job done, I,am feeling good, think I,ll tackle the GoldFish soon.