Wednesday, December 31, 2008
A couple of the steepest sections weren't sufficiently formed to climb, but could be bypassed by a few moves on rock on the side.
There was water flowing behind and next to the ice in some places but generally plenty of bosses to get good placements.
Next I continued up into Cwm Glas and took Parsley Fern Gully up the slopes above towards the summit of Crib y Ddysgl.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
2006; 2007) so that's a virtual tradition in blogdom. Therefore I felt obliged to get out yesterday and make it three in a row. No one wanted to come with me, so it stars only my feet.
Christmas Day Running from Toby A. on Vimeo.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Benedict XVI said that the "Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and demands that this order of creation be respected." Some have argued that this isn't an outright attack on gay people, but that will of course depend on what Benedict sees as the "order of creation". Very little of his previous high profile statements would lead one to suspect that this would be a liberal interpretation.
On a related note, Polly Tonybee notes some interesting research(towards the end) that suggests church goers are more likely to nick newspapers that non-church goers. Make of that what you will. But on that vaguely atheistic point, Happy Christmas to all.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
In retrospect this could be seen as something of a give away - as in he made off with about 50 billion of rich people's money and the SEC leadership was too damn stupid AGAIN to see it. So folks, if someone is trying to sell you a burglar alarm and is called "Mr. Picklock", take it as a sign and say no thanks.
White Nikes or Adidas, but some combat boots. I bite into my burger. More Nikes, all white versions of classic late 80s Air Jordans, hi-tops and lows. That’s three pairs now, clearly this season’s must-have. Queues are forming, the crew spin between tills and the burger bins - piling macs, large fries and drinks onto trays. Taking money, slapping down change. The first combats boots, a conscript, gets his burger meal and finds a seat to sit and eat. His combat trousers are the classic year round pattern, but his parka is the new camo – pixelated white, grey, browns and greens – the Finnish ministry of defence’s acceptance that global warming is happening and pure white will hide you no more in the winter forests of the south. The other combat boots are the security guard’s – he’s all in black, very SWAT team. His badge says "Securitas Events". Wednesday midnight in McDonalds is an event? The kid has an easy smile, he swiftly shakes or slaps hands with numerous presumably-regulars as they come in. He’s not wearing a stab-vest like the Securitas guys on the train platforms, nor has mace or a nightstick. I once taught English to the CFO of Securitas Finland – he had started as prison guard on night-shifts when an accountancy student. He told me the guys who carries sticks are the guys who need sticks. Our guys smiles and shakes hands, he’s at ease, he doesn’t need a stick. Effortlessly hip-hop generation.
The serving crew is two white girls and one Somali guy. More black kids are flipping burger in the back. Say what you want about McDonalds food but, like the bus companies, they are most obviously not racist employers in Finland. All the crew drop seamlessly between Finnish and English without missing a beat. “Salaam Alaykum. How you doin’ mate?” says a customer to the black guy. The customer has white Nikes, too much hair gel and the “mate” is affected in a – maybe – Francophone accent. He says something to white girl in Finnish that I miss, she smiles.The security guard is chatting in Finnish to one black guy - NY Yankees cap and (guess what) white Nikes - who has finished his food but like me doesn't seem in rush to go and stand outside at the bus station. Then the guard is speaking English to a bunch of East Asians - Chinese exchange students maybe? Or perhaps tourists from the hotel above looking for food they know. The guard is in charge of the tokens for using the toilets. He doles them out to the Chinese, still friendly and smiling - magnanimous in his power over the access to the conveniences. No trouble here.
The guy opposite me is speaking, I think, Arabic at his phone. Again - lots of hair gel, swept up into the centre, David Beckham circa 1998 style. He must be in rush because he has the loudspeaker on and has placed the phone on the table so he can continue his conversation with his heard but unseen friend whilst still using both hands to manipulate his McFeast, fries and Coke. He neatly stabs two fries at a time into the little paper cup of ketchup.
There are real queues now at the three open tills. Customers stare at the menu boards, or count coins from their pockets, nod to iPod, or laugh at their friends' lame jokes. Most people seem to be speaking English in an array of different accents. No one's from here yet everyone is. Like all capitals. Behind the counter, the crew artfully weave between each other, grabbing cokes and fries and burgers - stuffing them into McDonalds bags with the obligatory too many napkins and not enough ketchup sachets. The security guy keeps a watchful eye from the door that they hungry hordes don't get too boisterous as they queue, but he still smiles, nods or shakes hands as people leave.
I slurp the last of my Sprite, finish the Economist article that I was sort of reading, and bin my trash. The security guy holds open the door for me, I thank him pull my hood up and head out into the snow.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
(the picture is a link to a webcam in Helsinki - I think it should self update. If it looks dark and its only 2 pm, that's not the webcam is showing last night. That is what Helsinki at 2 pm in December looks like.)
I'm off to the UK in a few days - it's a sad state of affairs when you are relying on a holiday in England in December for good weather and plenty of daylight!
Monday, December 15, 2008
A wise man, who is from Minnesota where they seem to produce wise men, once told me: "life is too short for bad beer". He is so right. So when I was in the supermarket last, I decided to try some Lia Fail which I haven't supped before and jolly nice it is too. Just try to get over the paint-yer-face-blue cliche Scottishness of the branding, which the continentals eat up with a spoon, and enjoy.
Today, I have been mainly listening to Stephen Fry podcasts, which accounts for my good humour despite the lateness of the hour and darkness of the night.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I only ask because YLE reports:
"Minister of Education Sari Sarkomaa of the National Coalition Party has decided to step down from government in order to spend more time with her family".So is Sari being a good mum or has she been a naughty girl?
Saturday, December 06, 2008
I'm just about to listen to Mark Kermode review Jason Statham's latest film. As any other Mayo/Kermode-regulars know this something to be really, really excited about. If you want to hear who wins, click the link above. Okey dokey - I'm getting back to my podcast now.
Friday, December 05, 2008
One of the things that I didn't know before but was mentioned in the programme a couple of times was in 'the letter from beyond the grave' that is sealed in the then Polaris and now Trident submarine's safe. These letters written by every prime minister when they come into office set out the wishes of the prime minister to the submarine captain in the event that the UK has been effectively destroyed by nuclear assualt. These letters are destroyed unopened when the prime ministers change and only one prime minister has revealed what his said. This included that the captain should, once having followed the proceedures to make sure that there is no chain of command in the UK, attempt to put himself and his ship under Australian command. I wonder if anyone ever asked the Australian government what they thought of this - that in the event of the destruction of the UK, they could become by default a nuclear power?
By the way, the title of this post is from a discussion in the programme over whether Britain would have responded if deterrence failed. Callaghan said probably, Dennis Healey - to his credit - said not.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Right: Javier Solana - prince of Europe. Ask
yourself - have you ever seen them both in
the same room!?)
I've spent too much of today reading official EU documents and treaties. In fact any time reading them, is too much time for me - the process just seems to suck the very core of my soul out. But now I know why! It's not just that trying to understand "Permanent Structured Cooperation" is marginally less interesting than watching paint dry. It is that actually Permanent Structured Cooperation is the work of the Antichrist!
So who is the future target of this building of “emergency powers” being handed to this one man they call Mr. Europe? Would he really start a war against Jews and Christians worldwide?
I'd like to see Javier Solana take on "Jews and Christians worldwide", although my money would be on the Jews and Christians knocking out Javier by the second round.
We can skip over a few minor issues such as that the writer of this deep prophetic insight was writing in 2007 about a text that had been rejected by voters in France and Holland two years earlier, or that the the EU becoming shock troops for the UN is about as likely as, well, Jesus deciding to stage his second coming in my back garden tomorrow afternoon. Presumably if God works in mysterious ways, so must the devil. And when you have spent your day reading things like this:
The permanent structured cooperation referred to in Article I‑41(6) of the Constitution shall be open to any Member State which undertakes, from the date of entry into force of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, to:(and that is just Article 1!) you would probably also come to the conclusions of its diabolical origins.
(a) proceed more intensively to develop its defence capacities through the development of its national contributions and participation, where appropriate, in multinational forces, in the main European equipment programmes, and in the activity of the Agency in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments (European Defence Agency), and
(b) have the capacity to supply by 2007 at the latest, either at national level or as a component of multinational force groups, targeted combat units for the missions planned, structured at a tactical level as a battle group, with support elements including transport and logistics, capable of carrying out the tasks referred to in Article III‑309, within a period of 5 to 30 days, in particular in response to requests from the United Nations Organisation, and which can be sustained for an initial period of 30 days and be extended up to at least 120 days.