1 EAGLETON NOTES: October 2011



Monday 31 October 2011

One L or Two?

This week I shall be travelling.  Or will I be traveling?
travel |ˈtravəl|
verb ( -eled , -eling ; also chiefly Brit. -elled, -elling)
1 [ intrans. ] make a journey, typically of some length or abroad : the vessel had been traveling from Libya to Ireland | we traveled thousands of miles.
People who use British English have a small problem with Blogger because it uses US English.  Now I am the last person to say that one is correct and one is not but it is quite irritating when every time I spell a word with 'll' or 'ise' (as in realise) I'm told that I'm wrong.  'Cos I'm not!  I used to be a very good speller.  Now I'm constantly making errors (much to CJ's chagrin when we are doing crosswords) and am frequently racked (or wracked) with doubt which is not helped (and may even be caused in part) by spillchuckers.  

Of course there are words which are a particular bête noire.  Mine was 'across' which  for the first 60+ years of my life I always spelled 'accross'.

One I only recently discovered or realised was inquiry (US) instead of enquiry (UK).  Odd that it had taken me so long to come across that one.

PS.  I managed everything in town in record time so am doing this over a cup of coffee before I mend the shed roof and make lunch.  Oh how I love days when I get lots done. 

Wasp Spiders

It's 9.15am.  I have two days before I leave Eagleton.  I've brought in the storm shutters from the garage because there is not much wind this morning for the first time for a week.  I was getting concerned because they are too big and heavy to carry in a strong wind.  I have a HUGE list of things to do this morning in town including taking all Gaz's pictures to An Llantair for the annual  Grinneas nan Eilean Art Exhibition.  Then I have a friend coming for lunch at noon.  So why am I thinking about Wasp Spiders and standing in front of a laptop?  Don't ask 'cos I don't know the answer.  It defies common sense.

But I woke up with a desire to share wasp spider pictures.  The first two were taken at Chudleigh Knighton Heath near Exeter in 2007 and the last one in the Lot-et-Garonne this year. 

Sunday 30 October 2011

Passwords and Usernames

How many web pages, online stores, online services, cellphones, utility accounts and so on do you have?  I have no idea how many I have but the general list I keep (ie the low security websites and not things like bank accounts, telecoms, email accounts and so on) has just reached 100 and that's after a culling of the old ones I no longer use.

I don't know about other people but I do not use the same username or password all the time: in fact I have dozens and dozens of passwords.  Having had my American Express identity stolen on one occasion (and Amex sorted it out quickly and effectively and removed all the fraudulent charges without my even asking thus making me an even more loyal customer) I am very finicky about password and pin number security.

However my feeble brainpower is just not able to keep all that information in my head so I have a spreadsheet with it all on and I keep bank and email account information completely separate.

All of it is, however, in encrypted files of one sort or another.  I used PGP Encryption back in the day when it was free and public encryption programs were not so readily available.  Now I use various other programs including McAfee and Apple.  The only problem is that, in order to satisfy any enquiry into the security of the encryption, the passwords I use are all a full sentence long.  I've been using them for so many years I doubt I shall ever forget them.  But you never know.  And if that happens........

Travelling Travails

My son, Gaz, and his girlfriend are supposed to be going to Hong Kong tomorrow on their way to Auckland where they are due to arrive the day after I arrive.  I flew Quantas to Australia in 1999.  I  learned my lesson.  I've never set foot on a Quantas plane since.  When I went to New Zealand in 2005 I stayed in Hong Kong en route and flew Cathay Pacific.  The service was superb.  However since then I've flown Air New Zealand and have been well satisfied. 

So what didn't occur to me was that Gaz and Carol were flying Quantas.  Or at least that was their intention.  As readers will probably know Quantas have grounded their entire overseas and domestic fleet and locked out their staff.  Their website gives absolutely no information.

So will Gaz and Carol get to Hong Kong?  Will their holiday be ruined?  And that's just the people I care about. What about the thousands of others?  What about the Australian economy and the hit that will take?  What about Quantas?  Well time will tell but just now all I care about is my family.  No Quantas, you still won't be getting any of my business - however cheap you make your flights.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Island Isolation

My Mum always used to say that she could never have lived on Lewis because she found island life very claustrophobic.  If you consider that this is one of the most open places in the UK with huge skies where you can see the horizon on all four points of the compass in many places that can sound odd to some people.  For a while it sounded odd to me.

Recently the ferry has been disrupted a lot because of the severe weather with people either being stranded in Ullapool overnight or stranded on the Island.

Therein lies the answer to the conundrum.

When my Mum used to come to the Island there was no way to get off the Island on a Sunday: no planes and no ferries.  No way to get off in extreme weather.  Now it is rare for there to be no way off the Island on any day.  The planes and ferries travel on Sundays.  When the wind is high and confines the ferry to port the planes usually fly and when the ice and fog ground the planes the ferry sails.

However the stretch of water - nearly 30 miles between the nearest points and 50 miles between ferry ports - which separates the Mainland and Lewis (The Minch) is the very barrier which makes the Island the place that it is: wonderfully free to live in because of its isolation and terribly claustrophobic to live in because of its isolation.

New Zealand is an Island group miles away from anywhere else including its neighbour Australia and the other Pacific Islands.  Many people in New Zealand feel cut off and claustrophobic.  Many, like me, feel liberated by its remoteness.

Australia is an Island. Perth is possibly the most remote city on earth being geographically closer to both Dili (2,785 kilometres (1,731 mi)) and Jakarta (3,002 kilometres (1,865 mi)) than Sydney (3,291 kilometres (2,045 mi)), Brisbane (3,604 kilometres (2,239 mi)) or Canberra (3,106 kilometres (1,930 mi)).  I found Perth one of the most wonderful cities I've ever stayed in.

So I have come to the conclusion after that rather odd rambling post that there are two sorts of people.  Those who like living on Islands (or isolated situations such as Perth) and those who don't.  

I don't think I'll get any plaudits for coming to that conclusion.  Sorry if I bored you!

Thursday 27 October 2011

Thankful Thursday

My Thankful Thursday post will only just make it on Thursday.  I set up the post when I got up this morning but had other things to do first.  For the rest of the day I've been living in Wednesday.  It wasn't until I texted a friend a short while ago to wish her a safe journey home from France tomorrow and received a reply saying she was already home that I realised.  I am beginning seriously to wonder.....

The original building of Quarry Bank Grammar School.    
I've recently been contributing the occasional post to a Facebook page on my old Prep School, Ryebank.  On the whole I can't recall it being a particularly bad place to be although I never liked school at any stage.  It prepared me well enough to get though the 11Plus (the Grammar School entrance exam) with a high enough pass to get to Quarry Bank, my first choice of Grammar School.  At 630 pupils it was quite small and, together with the Liverpool Institute, was the most sought-after Grammar School in Liverpool.  Quarry Bank was John Lennon's school and The Institute was Paul McCartney's.  Like all pupils at Quarry at the time I had my John Lennon memories.  I wish that I'd kept his maths book that I inherited a couple of years after he'd left!

So today I am thankful for the fact that I survived unscathed from a school system which I can say without any doubt provided the unhappiest days of my life.