Friday, August 24, 2007

A National Icon? Almost..

Anybody travelling the highways of Spain will have seen one of these. It is a very large billboard advert for Grupo Osborne, wine and spirits producer. It has no wording on it because a law was passed some years ago banning roadside advertising, and the lettering was painted out. Later, there was a move to take all of them down, but after a 'spirited' campaign by the Osborne company where over 70% of people asked thought that they were a national icon, it was decided to leave them standing. They are the largest bulls anywhere, standing a little over 40' tall.

If over 70% said yes, that would indicate over 20% saying no. Most of the 20% and more live in the Cataluña region, where it has become the target of separatist groups.

Hungarian Goulash

Every family has it's own variation on this Austro-Hungarian dish. This is just one variation, and we are sure that it will satisfy..


  • ¼ cup shortening (such as half butter and half light olive oil)
  • 4 cups of coarsely chopped onions
  • 2 lb of chuck beef, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 small tomato. chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika, make that genuine sweet Hungarian paprika SZEGED
  • 1 small green pepper, seeded and chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 large raw potatoes, cubed


  1. In a heavy 2½ quart saucepan heat the fat, add the onions and cook until golden brown
  2. Add the tomato, green pepper, paprika, beef and salt
  3. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until the meat loses its redness
  4. Reduce the heat and add the water, cover and simmer 1½ hours
  5. Add the potatoes and simmer until tender, about one more hour. If necessary add some water during cooking
  6. Remove bay leaves and adjust seasoning to taste

    Serve with fresh French bread and red wine.. serves 5 - 6

Your meal may not look exactly like the illustration..

Making The Environment Look Better..

Are you ready?

  1. Pick a narrow road passing through a pretty English village.
  2. Sit in conference for weeks, months, years even.
  3. Present the findings and plans to local residents.
  4. Take steps to ensure that as few as possible learn about them.
  5. Pass the plans regardless of any opposition.
  6. Secure funding, and organise the work detail.
  7. Tell the Public Works Department to start.

'Give way to oncoming vehicles'

A Job Well Done

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thought of the day

When you don't know what you want, you may end up where you don't want to be.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Coal is in the news..

.. but for all of the wrong reasons. Coal mining, in fact any kind of mining, has always been a dangerous occupation, and we owe a great deal to the people who are prepared to do it.

Coal fuelled the Industrial Revolution, and is still the primary fuel used in the generation of electricity. A small coal fired power station can generate far more power than any other type. It is the most efficient fuel, and there is a huge stock of coal around. The problem is getting to it and then extracting it.

Coal is formed by the laying down of forests, fallen trees gradually covered over and compressed. By the very nature of where trees grow and the fact that they need a substantial layer of topsoil, the levels at which coal is found tend not to be too secure. Coal seams are trapped between what was once a relatively loose surface, and the extraction of coal renders the surrounding material back to its loose state quite easily.

Accidents are all too common in mines around the world, the fate of the six miners and nine rescuers in Utah and the one hundred and seventy two presently trapped in a Chinese mine adding to a long list of brave souls who risk their lives daily such that our lives are more bearable.

Below is a link to the mining history of just one small corner, but it will give you an insight into the lives of miners. Please take the time to look through the site, read the poems and stories of the miners from South Wales (Britain), whose lives reflect the life of miners worldwide.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A wish for all my friends

Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles ~
A fresh pot of coffee you didn't make yourself.
An unexpected phone call from an old friend.
Green stoplights on your way to work.
The fastest line at the grocery store.
A good sing-along song on the radio.
Your keys found right where you left them.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Thought of the day

Even if I have pains, I don't have to be one.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Global Warming..

For those of us who have read about the Ice Age, global warming should come as no surprise. Where once there were glacier 'fingers' extending across most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, there are now cities, farms, industrial parks etc. The ice has undoubtedly receded over time. So what is the big deal regarding global warming now? Surely it is just a natural cycle running its course? To the North of me, large pieces of glacier are breaking off, but they always have, hence no glacier for a good few thousand years where I now live.

Weather patterns do seem to be different to when I was a child, and there also appears to be more seismic and volcanic activity now. Can this also be put down to global warming in as much as more heat at the surface raises the temperature at lower levels?

I live in an area where it is said that the ozone layer above is depleted. Is this why the black parts of my vehicle are looking decidedly 'bleached' to a grayish color? If the Sun's rays are doing this, what is the effect on other things? I do believe that our world is warming up, and that we and many other species will be, and in some cases already are adversely affected. What to do next?

Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, we have been on a path that seems to have speeded up the process of global warming. We are victims of our own success. It will not be easy to give up the spoils. Even the livestock herders of Mongolia put out the solar panels first thing in the morning so that they can watch TV. Theirs is the clean end. The company transmitting TV can't rely totally on solar panels for its power.

Wind power helps, but nobody wants the generators in their own backyard. Nuclear power substitutes one problem for another. Solar power is not overly effective in countries like Britain. Fossil fuel burning is of course a huge no-no. The use of cars, trucks, and airplanes is not helping the cause, but our reliance on them is so great.

There are ideas being thrown into the pot. The first is to put brakes on the developing world such that we can still maintain our own standards while appearing to be doing something about the problem. There are plans to put iron in the oceans which will promote algae growth, which in turn will consume Carbon Dioxide. There are designs for strange ships fitted with enormous upward facing tubes and gadgetry that will apparently help. A more arcane plan is to erect a sun shield in space.

Slowing the effects of global warming will be our biggest battle, and we will lose ultimately because our planet has been warming up for the longest time without any intervention from us. All we have done is reduce the time it will take for the warming cycle to run its course. We don't know just how bad it will all get, but one thing is for sure, the creation of mountains, valleys, gorges, lakes and oceans must have been cataclysmic and most definitely not conducive to easy living.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Monster Truck Madness..

.. turned into Monster Truck Mayhem after nine people were injured, two seriously, while watching an event organized by the NAPA auto parts store in Dekalb, Illinois.

These vehicles do shows around the country, drawing in crowds, very often 'all the family', who appear to get a sense of enjoyment out of watching a lumbering, clumsy, over sized four wheel drive 'truck' crush cars and smash through mobile homes/trailers. All exciting stuff, for sure. The picture above and to the right shows an event of the type seen in Dekalb.

The official shows are well organized, and the crowd is protected as well as one can, bearing in mind that these vehicles, huge tires, four wheel drive, engines around 575 cubic inches and fuelled by methanol can more or less climb any barrier or fence.

Many feel that anything to do with motor sports is just an accident waiting to happen, and it has to be said that an event of the type held in Dekalb, Illinois fits the description perfectly. No large arena, no proper protective barriers, and a crowd blissfully unaware of the danger, seeing only the 'excitement'.

Motor sport is dangerous for the drivers, pit crews, event marshalls, and spectators. When attending events, be aware of the dangers. Stand at a distance that you feel is safe, taking into account factors like how fast you could get out of the way of danger if infirm or when you have small children in your care. An 'out of control' vehicle does not recognize barriers, and there is very little that the driver can do about it. There are safety features built into racing vehicles, but they do not always work as well as they might, and rarely do they enable a vehicle to come to an abrupt stop.

In the Dekalb incident, what happened to members of the crowd was bad enough, but it could have been much worse, the vehicle having crashed through a fence, finally coming to rest on railroad tracks.

Next time you and your family go to a motor sport event, enjoy the spectacle, color, noise, but do it from a safe distance and apart from keeping your eyes on the action, keep your eyes on your family too.

Have a great day and may all go well for you.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sink Holes..

Cavers love them, as do divers when they fill with water. Many occur naturally where Limestone is present, and are caused by underground water erosion. They also occur when we pump too much water from the water table, if there is leakage from man made water supply and sewage pipes, or as a result of deep mining.

They are a threat to homes and cities and also become a threat to water supplies if they fill up with water from rain. We sometimes use them as landfill, so worsening the effects of them filling with rainwater which then seeps into the water table we rely on so much for fresh supplies.
Sink holes vary in size, and can increase in size, a particularly bad trait if they occur in a city. This little beauty recently appeared in Guatemala City. It is said to be some 330 feet deep, twice as deep as the Statue of Liberty is tall. One has to wonder how the City authorities will deal with it. Worse still, will it increase in size? More could appear.

It is said that one hears rumbling before a sink hole creation. I would imagine that it is difficult to tell exactly where a sink hole will appear. One thing is sure, the people of Guatemala City will have to be very careful.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Credibility Is Not Just What You Say..

It also relies on 'delivery', as any good comedian will tell you. An example.......

Fool me once (pause for thought) shame on (pause for thought) shame on you (pause for thought)

Fool me, you can't get fooled again..

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


A married couple was in a terrible accident where the man's face was severely burned. The doctor told the husband that they couldn't graft any skin from his body because he was too skinny.

So, the wife offered to donate some of her own skin. However, the only skin on her body that the doctor felt was suitable would have to come from her buttocks. The husband and wife agreed that they would tell no one about where the skin came from, and they requested that the doctor also honor their secret. After all, this was a very delicate matter.

After the surgery was completed, everyone was astounded at the man's new face. He looked more handsome than he ever had before! All his friends and relatives just went on and on about his youthful beauty!

One day, he was alone with his wife, and he was overcome with emotion at her sacrifice. He said, "Dear, I just want to thank you for everything you did for me. How can I possibly repay you?" "My darling," she replied, "I get all the thanks I need every time I see your mother kiss you on the cheek."

Zodiac signs do matter..

All of his life Ole had heard stories of an amazing family tradition.

It seems that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather had all been able to walk on water on their 21st birthday.

On that day, they'd walk across the lake to the boat club for their first legal drink.

So when Ole's 21st birthday came around, he and his pal Sven took a boat out to the middle of the lake.

Ole stepped out of the boat and nearly drowned! Sven just managed to pull him to safety.

Furious and confused, Ole went to see his grandmother.

"Grandma, it's my 21st birthday, so why can't I walk across the lake like my father, his father, and his father before him?"

Granny looked into Ole's eyes and said,

"Because, you idiot, your father, grandfather and great-grandfather were born in January; you were born in July!