Thursday, December 15, 2005

A festive Solstice & drunken year end to you all

Well I’m off for Christmas fairly soon. So no more blogs from OMR this year.

So have a good one. And as you sit in front of the telly regretting that third portion of Christmas pud, enjoying the smell of elderly relatives after too many sprouts and quietly hoping no one suggests charades, think of poor old man rich, who will be stuck on a sun drenched beach in The Gambia being forced to drink cold beer served by beautiful girls .... its a hard life ...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Seahorses (for Steve)

Ok. Some interesting stuff about hippocampus. That's seahorses. There are 33 species of seahorse. 19 are considered vunerable to extinction. 1 is endangered. No one is sure about the other 13.
Seahorses form monogamous couples. They are unique in that it is the male that gives birth. Seahorses have fairly low birthrates and populations take a long time to re-establish.
Its estimated that over 70 tones of dried seahorses were traded in 75 countries in 2000. That's about twentyfour and a half million seahorses. Most are used in traditional medicine but a considerable number are used hobbies and crafts. There is also a large live trade for aquariums.
Whilst many species of seahorse can be bread successfully in captivity, so far all attempts at commercial farming have failed. This is mainly due to the seahorses diet, which demands large quantities of live food.
As of 2004 seahorses were protected By CITES. Any seahorses traded amongst the 160 signing countries must come from a sustainable source.
Trade in seahorses has not been banned as it was felt that an illegal trade would be harder to monitor and many small scale dependent fishers would be forced move onto harvesting alternate species which may be more endangered and harder to protect.

So. Hobbies and Crafts? What sort of weirdo freak thinks sticking a dead seahorse to a picture frame enhances it in any way? Are there really deranged creepoids who think dried seahorse earrings are attractive? I'm not a violent man, but any sicko who sends me a homemade card with a dried seahorse on it will be up for a big Christmas smack in the mouth.

10 Green resolutions for 2006

Ok, I confess that normally my new years resolutions don’t last until the end of January. (although the not smoking has been 5 years so there is hope). So here they are for 2006 – OMR’s environment friendly year.

1. Insulate the house properly. Get the windows replaced (already in progress). Double insulate the loft. It’s a crappy job, but long term it saves money & helps the environment. Replace the immersion heater cover. Not just to save money & help the environment, but because it is worn, torn & looks crap.
2. Replace all the bulbs with long lasting low energy jobbies. Again there is an initial expense but it pays long term. Make sure all new electrical goods are A rated for efficiency. Turn off the lights, TV and PC when not in use. (standby on a PC or TV uses almost as much power as leaving it on apparently).
3. Recycle. I’m so bad at this. Its so easy just to stick everything into the bin. But 2006. Glass, newspaper, cardboard & tins will all get sorted & recycled. Honest.
4. Start the wildlife garden. Having to have a slight rethink on this, as the location I had in mind for the pond has a main sewer just underneath the ground. But I want this to be ready for spring. Put up the bird and bat boxes, bug huts & butterfly home. Sort out a bird table & plant some trees & indigenous, wildlife friendly shrubs. Fill the bird feeders regularly.
5. Walk to work every day, not just when the weather is nice. I own an umbrella. Its only 20 minutes. There is no excuse.
6. Fix the garage roof & install a rainwater collection system, with overflow to bog garden & wildlife pond. Also consider a rainwater reuse system for the house. Water costs money, I will reduce my waste.
7. Cost up PV solar tiles for the roof . PV solar is expensive but it will produce about half my yearly electric requirement, and I can sell any excess electric to my energy supplier. Its green and long term it pays.
8. Lobby green issues. I sit and moan but I don’t lobby. I have a voice. The government works for me. I’m gonna get out there and start shouting. And not just the government. Large flat roofed buildings like supermarkets are ideal places for solar PV installations which long term save the company money. It greener and its cheaper. I just need to let Sainsbury’s know.
9. Don’t take carrier bags at the supermarket. I have a shopping bag, I will use the damn thing. Buy loose vegetables, not pre-wrapped, look for the fair trade & free range labels, buy eco friendly soap powder.
10. Less beer, more sex. Not particularly environmentally friendly this one, but I need to lose the weight.

And as well as making the world a little bit better most of these things either save me money long term or cost nothing but a little effort. They should improve my life and make me feel good about myself. Its got to be worth the effort. Go on, join me…

Monday, December 12, 2005

Thanks Bill

The news in the UK is dominated by the huge fire at the fuel depot at Hemel Hempstead. A huge cloud of evil black smoke slowly engulfs southern England. And as part of their coverage the BBC asked an environmentalist how damaging this was to the Planet. And his response. “well, its terrible. But what do you think would have happened to this fuel without the fire? It would have been burnt. We destroy the planet every day. Every day its terrible. Its just a bit more obvious this time.”

And so to the Canadian environment summit. Well the countries that signed Keyoto agreed to come up with a new plan for post 2012. But since these countries count for less than one third of the planets pollution, with super polluters the USA & China refusing to sign, This may not mean much. Particularly as some signing countries are going to be no where near meeting the 2012 targets. Britain under Mr Blair in particular has made almost no significant attempt to reach its targets – nice one Tony.
The Canadians proposed further talks over two years involving all nations with a view to attempting some long term global emission reduction. The USA refused to agree even to talks. It was suggested that the USA did not have a divine right to screw the planet for profit & their delegation stormed out. And many other countries started to think ‘well, if the USA won’t even talk about reducing emissions what’s the point?’ And with just a couple of days to go the whole summit was collapsing.

Before I am accused of being anti US, let me say that the guy who saved it was one of your finest. Your president may be a retarded war-mongering pro-pollution scumbag, but that has not always been true. So, all was doom and gloom when Big Bill Clinton stepped up to the plate. I wish I had a transcript of his speech that I could post. It was brilliant.
The claim that the Kyoto treaty would damage the US economy is "flat wrong", former President Bill Clinton told the UN climate conference in Montreal. “(it is) crazy to play games with our children's future".

And the shamefaced US delegation agreed to Canada’s proposal for further talks. And the rest of the world fell into line. And ok, future talks. Its not much of a victory. But at least there is still a little hope. Thanks Bill.

Ahhhh ....Pain

I put the glass back in my greenhouse this weekend. The lovely Mrs Austin-Booth is using Chez Rich for her newyears eve party. And the party room is currently full of fuchias. So, I needed to get the greenhouse up. And I was on the penultimate pane of glass, and just thinking that everything had gone remarkably well & there were no breakages & the damn glass popped for no good reason. Amazingly I did not slice off any body parts. So to make up for this I pressed my wrist against the incinerator. Ahh, the heady smell of burning flesh. God & I had words that afternoon. The ******.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Christmas is sexist

I have never believed in equality. There are things that blokes are better at (drinking beer, watching sport, breaking wind, manual labour) and there are things girls are better at (more or less everything else). Normally, this doesnt worry me. After all, we blokes are good at the really important things (drinking beer, watching sport, breaking wind) so who cares. But I look at the pile of christmas presents (not one is square), I look at the festive paper, scissors and tape, and I know that after several hours of swearing I will end up with something resembling roadkill. And I know that in half the time a girl would have wrapped this stuff beautifully. And it irks me.
Last night I put up my christmas tree. And I gave it my best shot. But quite frankly, it looks crap. Which would be tolerable if I didn't know that every girl I have ever been fortunate enough to have a relationship with would have made it look great.

Christmas. Its sexist nonsence. Ban it now. Bah and humbug to you all.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I have seen the light

There is a god

Now I just need a pirate costume.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Solar PV ?

As you know if your a regular here, I'm a bit of a green hippy freak. I really believe that mans impact on the planet is the single most pressing issue today. If we continue as we are then our grandchildren are going to have a poor time of it. The great wheat growing states of the central USA will be to arid to grow wheat. Europe will be much reduced by flooding & a lot, lot colder. The next big hurricane season (due in 30 years) will wipe out most of the gulf of Mexico (goodbye Florida). The Sahara will expand to cover most of north Africa. Bangladesh will no longer exist. There will be no frogs. Can you imagine a childhood without the joy of paddling through ponds armed with a net, frog hunting? Every climate model in existence predicts this. The question is not if, its when. The worst case scenario says 25 years. The best says 150. Our grandchildren will see this. Our children may well see this. Hell, If I'm lucky I might still be here.

It can be turned around. But we are running out of time. Unfortunately, we are blessed with politicians incapable of looking past the next election. At the recent climate conference in Canada the US delegation refused to even discuss long term solutions for reducing global warming. Refused even to talk!

But I believe that there is hope. I think the little guy can make a difference. If I do my best, and everybody does their best, to be environmentally friendly then we can turn this around. And even if we can't, I will be able to look my nephews & nieces in the face & say 'I tried my damnedest'.

I will shortly be blogging my 10 green resolutions for 2006. Meanwhile, I am considering PV solar tiles for the roof. PV solar is initially expensive (about £6000 for a 2kw plant I think) but it will produce about half my yearly electric requirement, I think I can get a grant for half the cost, and I can sell any excess electric to my energy supplier. It looks like it would pay for itself in under 10 years & has a 25 year lifetime, so I would be quids in long term, assuming I can get a fairly low interest loan for the initial cost. The UK could easily supply all its daytime electrical needs using PV solar electric. This would result in a massive reduction in our greenhouse gas production without the need for a second generation of nuclear power plants. I would really like the government to legislate that all newbuild property had to be roofed with PV solar tiles or panels. Meanwhile, I think I have a responsibility to install it at my place if at all practical. If you talk the talk you must walk the walk. Has anyone out there used PV solar themselves?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Good kids, bad kids.

Reading Jessica's blog made me think back (way back) to my school days. I was a kind of weird geeky kid (still am) but I was pretty much 'good' (if lazy). Most of the kids were good. But a few were bad. Perhaps more of the bad kids were from a socially disadvantaged background. But there were plenty of good kids from worse places. And certainly a few bad kids from nice middle class backgrounds. And back then we didn't see any social distinction. There were just good kids and bad kids. And the bad kids were some how cooler than the good kids.
Now I enjoyed school. I rarely skived off (well, apart from football & French) And mostly only the bad kids went truant a significant amount. But it was so much better when the bad kids played hooky. Not just because they weren't around to beat me up. They didn't get to mess up the lessons. And that dreadful peer pressure to be cool, to aspire to be a bad kid was gone.
There seems to be this huge effort to get truant kids into school today. If we don't educate them we are failing them. But I sometimes wonder if by dragging these kids back into the classroom we aren't failing all the other kids.

I remember we had one old teacher, nearing retirement I guess, although everyone is old when your 12. On our first lesson with him I remember him saying. If you don't want to come to my class that's fine. I wont be taking a role call or reporting anyone. And if you want to sit quietly at the back reading a book or doing homework for some other class, that's fine. And if you want to learn Chemistry, get good exam results and go on to achieve greatness then that's fantastic. But if you think your going to mess around in my class & ruin it for those who want to learn then think again. Don't even bother turning up. It saves me throwing you out.

And OK, its probably not very PC, and maybe a teacher does have a duty to try and educate all the kids in the class regardless of their interest, or lack of, in the subject. But I can't help thinking Yeah. And the strange thing was, after a few lessons where people didn't show, or did homework, or messed about and were promptly ejected, mof the time everyone turned up & learnt chemistry.

Of course, I'm rapidly going senile so maybe it wasn't like that at all.