My mind boggles at the idea of
Volcano House going downhill. Not a lava flow I trust, just an economic
It used to be private, but the
state took it over to be the official hotel for Volcanoes National Park and
traditional state apathy took over. Now if you go, stay at Kilauea Lodge
in Volcano Village. Very very nice and the food is out of this
world. You probably wouldn't be charmed much by fireplaces in the rooms,
but I assure you they're highly unusual in Hawaii.
You'd be charmed by my fireplaces. I have 3 big marble
Well, I'd probably be
charmed by them if they had ferns living in them or something. I have
a skivvy's mentality. I am always tidying something up, and the thing
about fireplaces is that they need to be cleaned after use.
Logs. Sometimes I think I'll put in a gas imitation
'coal-fire', I've had one stashed away somewhere, for the last 10 years, but
I never get around to it.
With reference to two stories in
the above article"The Hottest Curry in
My, how thrilling.
> A few weeks later Lyudmila decided to make a
Bully for her. The one tragedy of my life
that kept me from a renovated cottage in Richmond: I don't like
Indian food. I like everything else, but (sigh) not Indian
food. It depresses me immensely. I like Yorkshire.
not have any other food in Richmond? I was born in (south) Yorkshire
for what it is worth.
I don't remember, and the last time I
was through it was 1983. I 'spect it has changed a
>Natasha had a friend
staying to tea,
wonderful experience for the friend!
> Turn off the gas main, and electricity while I am at
Yay for Tim,
it got us a nice kitchen and bathroom.
Wow, that must have been one heck of a fire. And on top
of everything else! What an exciting (as in not pleasantly exciting)
year you had last
"Look before you
You're lucky this didn't happen in the U.S. He would have
sued you, and he would have won, as your yard and garden constitute an
"attractive nuisance." That's one of the reasons I talked David into
not buying the very cool house in Bellevue he originally found when planning
to move up here. It had a bomb shelter in the back yard, and I
faintingly imagined the children of the neighborhood breaking into it to
snog, etc., and possibly getting locked in and dying down there.
(sniff. It was very nice.)
You mean if some guy throws
himself off a cliff he can then go and sue the owner of the cliff?!
What is an attractive nuisance (apart from my Natasha).
An American legal concept. You must
have an eight-foot fence around your swimming pool, because neighborhood
children might sneak into it and drown. Then their parents can sue
you. The pool is the attractive nuisance.
understand kids sneaking into a swimming pool, but sneaking to a cliff to
jump off it sounds a bit far fetched. WHy not sneak onto the roof of
your house and jump off? This guy crossed a flowerbed and jumped a
wall, in the dark, while pissed, without looking what was on the other
side. These walls are a a normal hazard in the area, this is hill
country, most walls are 'earth retaining' and have a long drop on one
side. In the US do all earth retaining walls have to be extended to 8'
high just in case some arsehole decides it might make a nice short cut home
from the pub? It would be nice to think you can get totally ratfaced
and still be sure that if you encounter any hazards on the way home at least
you can sue. What if you fall down and bang your head on the
road. That sort of 'nanny state' surely belongs under socialism, not
in the land of the free.
morning there was a bunch of men sitting by themselves, laughing very
loudly. Even at the age of eight, I was interested in men laughing loudly,
and I casually slunk past their table several times. They FINALLY took
notice of me. It turned out that they were astronauts! NASA sent
each class of astronauts heading to the moon to the Volcano House to learn how
to walk in volcanic ash, as there were several locations which were identical in
topography to the moon. (Except for having an atmosphere.)
My brother and I were very excited
and spent the rest of the day spying on them as they tramped around in their
I never got their names. I
don't think that class of astronauts ever actually made it to the moon. It
still is an exciting memory from my childhood, though.
Gosh, I think it is so sad that a)
here it is 2000 and we don't have colonies on Mars yet and b) I have absolutely
no aptitude for anything that would get me on a space flight.
That must have been fun. We met
one of the Russians from the Mir space station last year, he came around UK
doing talks to schools, the Principal of the local further education college (
for ages 15-17) has Russian interests and used Lyudmila for interpretation work
etc. sometimes. So we got invited to the talk and met the speakers
Wow. Remember a couple of
years ago when Mir was orbiting in a very low position or something? In
Hawaii, around 8:00 p.m., you could look straight up and see it whiz through
the air. It just thrilled the heck out of me. I know, I know, I've seen
satellites before; it's just that was the first time I had seen something in
space with the naked eye that had *people* in it. It was also cool
because it moved so fast, not like a satellite or a plane.
colonies on Mars, I think we'd need another world war to do that. I
think the moon shot was using up surplus energy generated for WW2.
Wow. What an
interesting and original thought. I'm not being sarcastic; I had never
thought of it that way before. I don't
think it's original.
It was never really
economically justifiable, and was probably long before its proper time.
We do have a rustbucket old space station and quite well developed
exploitation of the economic possibilities of earth-orbit technology.
Not quite what most of the sci-fi writers had in mind I admit, but 2001 was
never representative of what technology is really
Sniff. Sic semper gloria mundi. I was so shocked
when the Concorde crashed and even more shocked to realize how clunky and
old-fashioned it is.
Air accidents are a special, somewhat ghoulish, interest
of mine. My job is figuring out what has gone wrong with machines, and
I can't help applying the skills to highly public incidents like that.
A couple of years ago we spent New Year with an aero engineer who used to
have an airstrip on his farm. Ok that's common in the States, but it's
serious wierdo stuff here. Anyway we got to discussing the military
transport that had just crashed in Irkutsk. The reports had been
saying it might be a computer fault. Three engines had failed at about
5 second intervals after take-off. I said no way is that a computer
problem, the events cluster after rotation and rotation isn't an
engine-system event. I'd said its got to be fuel, trash in the tanks
or something to affect all the engines like that and to be controlled by the
aircraft's attitude. Well I almost got it, it had been filled with
summer-grade fuel (in winter in IRKUTSK where they laid railway lines across
lake Baikal every winter!) and the filters had blocked with ice
crystals. I then got a long lecture about the design of jet fuel pumps
and how 'ours' would survive that sort of treatment.
interesting. (I hope, for your sake.)
I loved the idea of the future,
(you know, the one with air cars and floating cities and jump jets and
etc.) and am quite disgruntled to find that 2000 feels just like 1972,
only with PDAs and the Internet.
When I was at college I could never
get over the difference between the Physics department and the Electrical
Engineering department (I did a combined degree). In Physics all the
equipment was or looked fairly new, neatly packaged and plugged together in
racks as needed (like 2001). In Engineering similar equipment was
battered, had its covers off and strewn around or lost, and bits of wire
soldered into the works as it had been modified for successive tasks (more
like the real world). I (as an undergrad) once got told off by a
technician for working with my feet resting on a mass spectrometer. "Do
you know what that is you've got your feet on?" "Mass spec. I'm not hurting
it." "Do you know what they cost?" "Couple of thousand." "Huh."
Unpleasant little sod wasn't I.
Naah. You were an
EE. My dad is also one. I recognize the breed.
Hmm, there is something there, in the BC repartee
isn't Charon is a former engineer too?
We also sat through a
repeat in Russian language for the benefit of a group of visiting Chernobyl
kids. (At any time in any town here you will find about a dozen Ukranian
or Belarus kids on Chernobyl 'respite' visits.).
Do they glow?
she asked politely. Not in normal room
wonder about such visits. Does it really do them good, or does it expose them to
a standard of living that then makes them envious and miserable when they get
What it does is get them a square
meal every day for a week or two, which must help quite a lot, considering the
general standard of living in that area. When you talk to them they seem
very happy to be able to come, and see it like a holiday. You don't get
envious and miserable because you can't live in Disneyland all the time.
Do you? Maybe some do.
I have a
complicated feeling when I leave a place I've visited and realize that life is
going on without me. Did you ever see "Local Hero"? It's my
favorite movie. It brilliantly displays this complicated, sad
Afraid not. I'll watch
out for it.
it. It's by the same guy who did "Gregory's Girl." Yes, I am stuck
in the '80s.
I'm sure some get that way when they're older, and
(females at least) probably wind up advertising on alt.uk.personals and such
places for some guy to carry them off to a land where the streets are paved with
D'you mean the U.K.? Ha. Snort, etc. I
nearly married a guy from Leeds. I *know* what those streets are paved
Yes, I've been to Leeds and stepped in it. The Former
Soviets don't know that though. It's one of the first things I tell them
when they write to me.
terrible for poor Russia. They have such great potential, why can't they
get it together? My own morbid and disgusting interest is epidemiology,
and I am *furious* about the drug-resistant TB strain floating around Russia
I figured a while ago that Russia has too many people
for its infrastructure and it is soon going to reduce its population. The
most likely method is by epidemics starting in the cities. I don't mean
this is a deliberate action on anyone's part, just a population
Hmm. Well, Stalin's purges didn't seem to do
I'm sure they helped. Someone there asked me
where I thought it would all end. I thought about it and came to the
The basic problem is the central government made life
in the cities attractive to agricultural workers, while making life on
collective farms most unattractive. As has happened all over the world... see Manila. (Bleccch.)
So there was a long term drift of population away from the land and
into the cities, and a total lack of investment in agriculture, resulting in the
country eventually not growing enough food to feed its people. For a while
they 'sold off the family silver', but eventually the system collapsed and
So now they have large hungry cities, a collapsed
agricultural system, and no capital to invest in putting things right.
Also an almost totally corrupt system of government which has no interest in
governing the people, only of creaming off wealth for itself like a feudal
So there is no prospect of supporting the overpopulated cities, and
insufficient food to keep them healthy. There is also a shortage of
medical and health resources and a lack of investment in the
infrastructure. In the two months I was in St Petersburg in '92 I forded
the same burst water main every day, by the time I left it had washed away half
This seems to me like a formula for epidemic.
but it still strikes me as sad.
certainly is, especially when it is people you know that are going to suffer, or
are suffering. It isn't just a news item. I wish I could think of anything
I could do about it, but the forces involved are enormous. I don't see any
political intervention could set it aside from its present course. I was
watching the career of Alexandr Lebed with interest. He is a real politician,
not just self interested. His star is eclipsed now, but he was fighting on
an anti-corruption position, and if he could have got to Moscow things might
have been different. If he didn't have enough momentum to do it, then I
don't know who could have. We planned to print 'Lebed for Tsar'
A couple of years ago this wistful American guy
who was trying to establish his family's place in the pre-revolutionary Russian
aristocracy got in touch with me through another newsgroup. I'm not sure
what this would have accomplished. I don't ever see the Youssopovs
mentioned in "Time" magazine as among the In crowd in Moscow in 2000. I am
thrilled that my great- and great-great- grandparents
a Lyubov Youssopova in Sverdlosk. She's a wealthy fashion designer who
God, we're probably very very distant cousins of some
I've been out working all day, a
long drive again. Driving home, I found I was looking forward to getting
home to your letter.
It's good that I wrote back, then, she said complacently.
was ridiculously happy today. I did my job well, and on the way home from
work I stopped at the library. The library is very nice, and I walked out
with my customary thirty pounds of books, and ordered everything I've been dying
to read for the last six months. Now, finally, I can stop wasting my money
I wish I had time for
30lb of books. I have to restrict myself to one a week or else I never get
anything done. It's all too easy do go into housewife mode, deal with
children, cook and clean and feel good about it, then wonder when I'm going to
have time do some work and earn some money to pay for it all. Easy until
irate customers start getting on the phone.
That's why I don't
get weepy over my kidless state anymore. I am a very good aunt; I would be
a terrible mother. I have learned from sad experience that you can't
change a diaper and read at the same time. Nor can you read while giving a
toddler a bath. It is great to finally be old enough to accept the fact
that I'm not meant to be a mommy... and even cherish it. Apologies to your
dear Lyudmila, but I don't know how I would have gotten through breast cancer
with a child.
Sometimes I worry that I read too much, as opposed to
actually experiencing things. Then I remind myself that I have experienced
a few interesting things in real life, and thing that one can experience and
then write a book about often tend to be hot, uncomfortable, and infested with
bugs, and I am content to sit in my comfy chair and read about the big, wide
(hot, buggy) world.
I am immensely depressed. I
just watched a TV special about Jennifer Patterson. I look JUST like her
when she was young. (Except my hair is not longer black.) Oh,
heavens, I am about to stop eating. Stand back while I go for a
I don't watch much TV. I didn't even have one until I
normally, but I am getting over two years on Midway with *no* TV. I am
ODing a tad. I will get over it, though, and go back to my normal
presentation of frowning into a book.
Who is Jennifer Patterson?
black-haired fat lady of the Two Fat Ladies. British food-TV-type
Oh that Jennifer
Patterson! Didn't connect at all. Yes, I have seen her a few times,
think she's terrific. Do you ride a motorcycle combination too?
Nope. Never ridden a motorcycle in my life. I come
from a long line of trauma physicians... the urge has never hit
She has a wonderful
up-yours attitude. When the series was new there was a write-up in the
'Radio Times' about them. I recall it described them sitting in deckchairs
on the film set, and their response to the call to food was said to be
"Greyhound like, in speed if not figure." or something like that.
I always say of myself: "She arose from the table with stealth and
approached the refrigerator with the speed and deadly grace of a great jungle
I once had a motor bike
like hers, although I never had a sidecar on that one. It was wonderful
around town compared to the 'fast' bikes most of my friends had because the
centre of gravity was so low (like on a Harley) so it was very stable at low
speeds. Once a dog tried to run under my front wheel (maybe I should
have sued?) when I was doing little more than walking pace and I drove around
it, I actually outmanoeuvred
the bastard. You could stop, turn and set off again without
losing balance. It blew its head gasket about 20 miles from home once
because it was old I was carrying a pillion passenger. We parked it in a
pub car park and cut a new gasket for it out of a sheet of aluminium plate and
rode it home. Later I bought an old Velocette, a real vintage machine
(well, 'post vintage thoroughbred' or PVT to be precise). That is a
500cc high compression single cylinder, a real leg-breaker to start. I
once bit my tongue when it backfired. (? Yes my foot came back up so
fast my knee hit my chin! I couldn't do that voluntarily naked, never
mind wearing a full heavy waxed-cotton suit) For a holiday I shipped it
to New York and rode it across Canada for a month or so. When I got
rich, I gave up bikes and drove an MG-B for years and years until I had
children. (I didn't stay rich though, I always had better things to do
I hope you
only hunt fridges during the open season. I would hate to think of one of your
strength, grace and beauty and size taking advantage of these poor little
Pfui; I am a force of nature, not
confined by your petty human laws. I take fridges when the killing
spirit rises in me, regardless of the time or season.
report you to Charon!
Sometimes you should chase something a bit
bigger and faster for exercise, like an ice-cream van.
(I think, if memory
serves, that the open season on fridges is 0630-0700 and 1800-1900 daily except
vans are no challenge. My people believe that their spirits lead them to
self-sacrificial behavior; they *want* to be
A fridge is the ultimate prey. It
may look as though it's squatting numbly in the grass, waiting for death, but it
is actually wily. A nice piece of leftover chicken may be concealed behind
a boring-looking jug of orange juice. You never know what you'll
not my experience, I find that they display themselves temptingly until you are
about 100 yards away, then they run just far enough that you cannot catch them
before they move again. Maybe the ones I chased had young nearby and were
leading me away from the nest.
I am confused about the song of the
ice-cream truck, though. Is it a mating song, a territorial song, or a
danger/distress call?It's a mating call,
but they *are* fiercely territorial. The four wheeled ones are all female.
The males of the species are quite
different, small and grubby. This is always the way. You
often see them clustered around a stationary female. Ditto ditto.
Immature males have two legs, the mature ones have two wheels.
You occasionally see one in the process of metamorphosing, with small wheels
growing on the end of its legs.
(Tim, An expert on immature males)
And here I thought I
How are they related to milk floats? I
assume they are at least same genus.
I've never seen milk float. Are you sure it was
When I was last in Albion, the milkman
had a little three-wheeled vehicle from which he delivered milk. Both in
Chelmsford and Leeds, his vehicle was called a "milk float."
Do I remember
No you remember perfectly
well. Milk is delivered in most urban areas by these small electric
trucks. However note the lack of an article, it was not a
Oh. (lumberingly changing gears) I get it.
My reply was, as usual, facetious.
I had a couple of friends over for Sunday dinner and we had been at the
wine. They had come over to use my Internet facilities for him to research
a job application. He is a male nurse and was applying for an interesting
position in what might be described as a "Geriatric Outward-Bound" scheme,
taking 80-year-olds abseiling and on similar activities. He has been a
geriatric nurse for most of his life (he is about 50) and spends most of the
rest of his time on outdoor pursuits, so he sounds like the ideal
candidate. He also does clog-dancing, but perhaps we should draw a veil
I thought that was a
phenomenon limited to Appalachia. And here you are the nation that gave
us Shakespeare and Absolutely Fabulous.
This is one of many ancient
English customs, Morris Dancing, Maypoles etc. which are reputed to have
pre-Christian roots, and to be fertility oriented. Although what
dressing up in silly clothes and dancing in the street while consuming large
quantities of ale does for a man's fertility I shudder to think. I think
we could probably summon up an occasional Irish folk band that he plays
percussion in too, but I never quite understood where the Irish was in that
group of Geordies and Mancunians. Their fiddler is married to one of my
ex's. They do a wonderful
It was a
very medical day: while they were here, Steve, an orthopaedic surgeon, called to
collect his two boys who were playing with Natasha, and so I got buried in an
exchange of Health Service anecdotes for a
Yes, it's torture while it's
happening, but it does make good conversation later. Like many other life
Has Natasha seen
"Chicken Run" yet? If not, I recommend it.
It's a very Yorkshire thing, although there are a few trekkie jokes
at the end.
The pie machine is wonderful, really *industrial*. I felt
like I could get up and fix it.
The trip was on the spur of the moment
prompted by a feature on a cereal packet and me finding we actually had family
time uncommitted at an appropriate time of day. She loved it, and we then
explored their website, downloaded the necessary Shockwave stuff and she has
been playing "Escape the Pie Machine" ever since.
The grand finale with the
scissors and the cleaver (and the star-trek references) was a complete
hoot. Fortunately we went to an early evening show and the cinema was
almost empty, so I did not offend anyone by rolling around several seats
I've met a lot of machine operators like Mr Tweedy: "What
sort of pies?" "Apple!". (I've always wanted to introduce one to one of
those Mensa people who need to feel superior. Neither would notice that
the other was laughing at him)
You were at a comedy; how could anyone be offended? I
howled. I knew I was in for a good time when I noticed that Ginger lived
in hut 17, and when, in solitary, she was tossing the ball against the wall a la
Steve McQueen. It was truly, truly great.
If they had been in the next seat they might well have been
offended at being rolled on.
Oh, heavens, such stuffy persons
shouldn't be at the movie.
I think the rats were my favorites -- that and
the Scottish chicken, whose name I forget. "Thrust!" I adored the
swing song they danced to. I was mad at David because I got kind of dancy
on the way out of the theater as the credits were rolling, and he wouldn't
play. What a party-pooper.
loved the rats working their buts off for all the eggs the cockerel could
The Scottish chicken was called 'Mac'. I giggled at the bit where
she says 'Hen' (for a 2nd person familiar) in the Glasgow vernacular in a phrase
something like "So what do you think, Hen?" and there is a short pause as
everyone looks at her.
Yes, and at one point someone called the old
rooster a sausage... I was confused. The Aussies on Midway called me a
poor little sausage when I was pathetic. I thought it was a term of
Well, I think it is. I don't remember that bit,
but calling someone 'a silly sausage' would be friendly criticism. Then
again in Yorkshire calling someone a 'daft bugger' is a critical endearment in
the same way, but could be an insult elsewhere. I suspect it was meant to
mean "You're wrong but I like you anyway."
now sending me weekly episodes of the Chicken Run interactive cartoon by email,
because I signed up for it on the website. Hmm.. not as funny as the real
thing. Ginger walks around the bottom of your desktop trying to hide
behind folders or to escape. In the first episode she builds a catapult
out of bits of desktop furniture like the start button and the recycle
That's it. I'm going to download some
I was pleased that Ginger was played by Julie Sawalha. I haven't
seen her in anything but re-runs of "Absolutely Fabulous" on Comedy Central, but
I really liked her in that. I'm always happy when actors I like can make a
I like my job, but I must remember to
bring lunch. I keep forgetting, and as a result I am falling over sideways
with starvation when it's time to go home. I just found an Asian grocery
store on the way to work, though, and I can get a pork bun. That will be a
nice lunch. MUST STOP ON WAY TO WORK TOMORROW.
I have driven very small
cars all my life. I am currently driving my boyfriend's huge pickup truck
with a camper back and HATE it. I can't see out the rear-view
mirror. He says, "Well, plenty of trucks don't have a rear-view mirror;
they just have side mirrors. Get used to it." I don't care. I
am still scared and I can't wait until I can afford my own (very small)
car. He has an elderly Toyota MR-2 that goes like a bat out of hell when
it works, and it is small enough, but as much as I hate driving big trucks, I
hate having my car not start even more, so I drive the
Oh well that's lady drivers. I drive a
3.5 ton van, converted to a 5-seater so it can be multifunction, a family car, a
'mobile workshop' or a basic camper. I don't really mean that about lady
drivers, A woman from 'One-and-Only' contacted me because also uses a van the
same way (but only a 2-tonner, more ladylike?), and a couple of the Mums at
Natasha's school use minibuses to ferry their broods.
Good. Because when I was doing outreach
to homeless people I drove a Chevy Astro van, which I also loathed, but I
*could* drive it. I could even parallel park it, which is another thing I
My other problem is my lead foot. I love driving fast, and
the truck is not terribly zippy.
I resent the canard about lady
drivers. I have never had a speeding ticket or (knock wood) an
accident. And I have driven a LOT, including in Manila, the U.K., and
I love lady drivers. I love anyone who
does the driving instead of me.
This afternoon I actually travelled a mile in
the back seat of someone else's car! (more later)
One strange thing, My
van is an ordinary 'panel van' with an extra window on each side, and extra
seats for two. A minibus is the same frame with one more windows on each
side and more seats still. So why should my van have a 10mph lower legal
speed limit? Last year I got a ticket for doing 60 on a rural 2-lane
A-road. I was just keeping up with the traffic. Cars and minibuses
are allowed 60, but 'vehicles constructed for the carriage of goods' are only
allowed 50. It's class
warfare. - Red Catharine (There are no such distinctions on any other
class of road.) The police read 'constructed' as meaning the manufacturers
original construction, not what the vehicle is actually used or modified
for. They haven't yet come up with a radar that can count the
windows though, so the automatic cameras can't trap that one, it has to be a
'human' policeman (if there is such a thing).
Oh yes, Mum had her lumpectomy yesterday.
Everything seems OK, no real worries. We should get the analysis next
week. Still seems to have been a small slow tumour, promptly treated, so
should be OK. She is cheerful and expecting to go home tomorrow.
Maybe I'm in denial, but after Lyudmila I can't get terribly worked up about
it. She's 75 and disgustingly healthy. Her mother lived to 92, she
played bridge and she lived on her own, cooked for herself and gardened and
everything until the end.
certainly understand. My mom is always getting huhu about some health thing, and
it's hard for me to get excited about her disease of the week.