Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Book Review - Final Assault by Stephen Ames Berry

I've said it before, I am not a huge science fiction fan but then I read some books by a guy called Michael R Hicks, the In Her Name series.   Through Mr Hicks I found Stephen Ames Berry, who like Mr Hicks had written a small series of space based adventures and I am coming round to be a fan of SyFy alongside all the other genres that I read.  The other thing about these guys are that they are Indie Authors, self published through the various e book formats. And I am fast becoming a HUGE fan of Indie authors, folk who market their own books because they can't get a publishing deal, why the hell not, there are some fine Indie writers out there, and they engage with you, although so do some more established authors as well, Julian Stockwin, a firm favourite, who takes time to respond to you through social media,  but, this is about A Book and not my gripe on publishing agencies, so here goes....

Final Assault by Stephen Ames Berry, last in a quartet of books:

100000 years ago humanoids fled from an other universe to escape the sentient Telens, biofab beings that had created them and used them as slaves.  With the help of the Scotar, an insectoid shape shifting, teleporting race, they establish on new planets setting up their own planetary systems and hierarchical structures.

For 100000 years they lived under an emperors rule; but then the Scotar introduced a new element into the mix. An element that tore the new planetary systems apart in wars that spanned the known universe killing billions. Why? The Scotars knew that the Telens would eventually come for their escaped slaves and determined that over the centuries they had become fat on commerce; lazy and unable to defend themselves against the Telens.  By starting  such a destructive war the Scotars believed that the surviving humans would be better able to defend themselves against what was to come, regardless of the cost in lives and planetary systems.......

The Final Assault is the culmination of that war and to the coming of the Telans.  It brings together all the parts of the previous books, in a fast paced Galaxy and Alternate reality spanning flight and fight and withdrawal to defend Kronar the home planet established after the first flight to safety all those centuries ago.

Spiders webs of intrigue and double dealing start to unravel, the truth of who the Scotars really were are revealed, central characters are revealed to be more than we thought in previous books, and it all makes perfect sense.

It's Science Fiction and it is out of this world, it scans as you read and it is fast paced action from start to finish.

Editing for Kindle: 4 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Story: 5 out of 5

Previous Posts:

The Battle for Terra Two
The AI War

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Mr Fat gets on his Bike

You'll recall that December was a pretty quiet month for me in that I completely took the month off.

To get back on track I decided to increase my step count from 10000 steps per day to 12000 per day.  that has been going well and in fact I am averaging between 13 and 18000 steps per day.

Additionally, I have decreased my calorie intake dramatically, but, and again I am not to worried about it, although slightly frustrating, I still don't seem to be shedding the weight!

This morning I decided to get out on the bike for the first time in months.  Now I don't have a super expensive all singing all dancing road racer or even an off road bike.  No, my bike is a bog standard, less than £200.00, street bike that I bought in 2009 when I first gave up the car, with panniers so that that I could do the shopping, sad but true.....

When I bought it in 2009 and got on it for the first time, it was sheer hell, I was so fat and so unfit I was in agony.  I couldn't even swing my leg over the cross bar to mount it. I had to lower the bike down to one side to allow me to get my 'leg over' as it were! But I persevered and enjoyed it.  After a while the sore legs and the very sore ass got less sore, and I always wondered how an ass my size, with so much cushioning, could hurt so much!

Anyway, I haven't been on the bike for a few months as, concentrating more on the steps as I think unless you are cycling for a couple of hours and a lot of miles, you get more benefit from a brisk walk, than you do from a cycle to the shops and back.

So, that's what I did, I got on the bike to go to the shops this morning which are a ten minute walk or a three minute cycle.  I've discovered that if you don't cycle regularly that getting back on to it, even for a few minutes, makes you feel as if you have just taken part in a gruelling stage of the Tour De France, seriously, you start to get pains in the top of your legs caused by the unfamiliar rotational movement, your ass starts to hurt again, even although there is still plenty of cushioning there and all of this as you cycled to the end of the street, shit what's it going to be like by the time I get to the shops.......  Do I stop and walk the bike back to the house or carry on pushing those stiff pedals that seem to be in need of some oil as they really don't feel like turning after being neglected for so many months.  Persevere was the answer so off I went teetering on my way to the shops to buy some paprika, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers and corn, for a spicy sauce I'm making later.

It was only when I got home later, that I realised and remembered that there are 27 gears on my old bike and guess why the pedals were so hard to turn............ yeah Mr Fat Numpty had them on the lowest gear or is it the highest, I never know which is which, anyway the one that makes it harder to pedal, but I suppose in a way that's better for me, right, so my stupidity is actually helping my fitness....

I think the answer may be that as I am managing to get my steps in from my morning walk and then by getting away from my desk while at work, that as the lighter evenings are starting to come in, instead of going for another walk, would be to get out on my bike for an hour or so as well and then get the benefit of the steps and the cycle each day.... I'll let you know how that goes

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Battle for Terra Two by Stephen Ames Berry

Wow, well that was an unexpected turn of events! There are four books in Ames Berry’s BioFab wars and as usual, numpty that I am I picked them up out of sequence and completely missed No 1! 

I started with the AI War, No 3 in the sequence missing out No 1 The BioFab War and this one, The Battle for Terra Two, the final novel in the quartet being The Final Assault....  The story does follow through in each book so, if you are going to pick them up for reading, can I suggest doing it in the correct order, it is less confusing that way.  Having said that it is less confusing, I still did enjoy the two books that I have read and so have immediately downloaded the last book in the series to my Kindle to finish them off!

As far as I can tell our earth is still stumbling along in a universe that has greatly outpaced us in evolvement and technology, which it seems to an extent we should be grateful for.

While we stumble along other humanoid races, such as the Kronarin and Utrians developed to an extent where they have engineered machines to do almost everything for them up to the point, where we get Terminatoresque Machines deciding that they can do things better than their human creators and spark a war.  It seems to have been complicated by a race of insectoid (Starship Trooperesque) life forms, known as Scotar, that can shape shift and teleport themselves in and out of situations.  A war rages across universes with whole star systems being laid waste and billions of lives lost.

These books follow the war through Commodore Detrelna and his Flag Captain Lawrona and the crew of the battle cruiser Implacable.  

The books were all originally written in the 80’s and reformatted for ebook in recent years, my biggest criticism is not with the stories although there are some small holes in them, but it is rather with the crossover formatting where words are misspelled.  There wasn’t that many to be honest, but you are in the middle of a gripping story and your eyes are racing over the words drinking it in and suddenly your brain disengages from the story to a typographical error and you go back to it to see if it was you or what you were reading that threw you off track.  Just a little disconcerting, and with a little more attention could have been avoided...

Detralna and Lawrona in Implacable are in orbit around Terra, Earth to you and I.  They learn from Guan-Sharick, one of the enemy insectoid, who appears to be ‘friendly’, that one of the Scotars, as the insects are called, has managed to travel to an alternate reality and is ‘growing’ a new breed of insect warriors who will come through a portal and the war will start again, this time with humanoids being completely destroyed.  Guan-Sharick goes on to inform them that the only way to prevent this, is for them to travel to the alternate reality and stop it from happening.

It turns out that in the alternate reality, America switched sides during the 2nd World War, to fight with Germany against Russia and Japan and that Russia and Germany are the ones who end up with nuclear weapons.  America is largely in ruins and while self governing, it is controlled by the Fourth Reich and under military rule with German Wermacht officers serving on US soil to help control the ‘Gangers’.  Cities are small enclaves of the chosen few, surrounded by gangs controlling the suburbs and fighting back.....  It is a fascinating concept.

The story follows the insertion of agents from ‘our’ reality into the alternate reality in a bid to track down and destroy the Scotar base while the Commodore on Implacable tries to find a way to get his battle cruiser to the alternate reality to make sure another stolen Battleship from his reality is taken out of play.........   It is fast paced from beginning to end and SyFy buffs will, I think love it.

 The Battle for Terra Two really does have an intriguing storyline and if I was Mr Ames Berry I would probably look at the whole thing with a view to developing a few stories based on the alternate reality as standalone novels, going back to that point in the war where everything changes.......
               Editing for Kindle: 4 out of 5
               Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5  
   Plot: 4 out of 5
   Overall Story: 5 out of 5

Related Posts:  The AI War by Stephen Ames Berry 

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Book Review - The Perils of Morning Coffee: An Isabel Dalhousie story by Alexander McCall Smith

The Perils of Morning Coffee
Well, not much to say really about McCall Smith's books except if you want a slow gentle meandering stroll through the streets of Edinburgh, there is no better person to do it with than The Editor in Chief of the Sunday Philosopher Club, Ms Isabel Dalhousie.

The prose is gentle as are most of the characters, with just the odd occasional munchkin thrown into the plot, well plot is really the wrong word to describe what takes place in a McCall Smith novel, they're more a gentle soliloquy told from the perspective of Isabel as she wanders through Edinburgh life engaged to her younger lover, a musician in the Scottish Orchestra and bringing up their toddler son together.

Isabel edits and publishes a Philosophy periodical the, 'Review of Applied Ethics', with two thousand four hundred and eighty seven  subscribers, (always pays to be precise in these kind of things!) which doesn't make any money, but that doesn't matter as she is 'secretly' well off.

Her relationship with her niece, Cat, is a fragile one as Cat owns and runs a delicatessen and seems, in Isabel's eyes to go through men quite quickly.  Of course the relationship is strained more than a little as Jaimie, Isabels lover, fiancée and father to Charlie their toddler son, was a 'cast off' of Cat's and she did not take kindly to her aunt taking up with him, even although she was the one who had ended their relationship......

The title of this one refers to a mistaken invitation to morning coffee that was accepted, acknowledged as a mistake, but the coffee morning then takes place between Isabel and an academic from the local university only for Isabel to be accosted in the street by the man's wife sometime later accusing her of having an affair with her husband. The sheer effrontery of the accusation is enough to send Isabel into all sorts of philosophical debate with herself, with Jaime and all and sundry and to begin to 'stick her nose in to places' where she would be better leaving alone.....

Complicated, but gentle soliloquy, it's the only way to describe these books.... you will either love them or hate them, Me, I love them.  You just get wrapped up in them but they are easy put downs and intermissions to something more serious that you might also be reading at the time, and if you love them, you will always find yourself sneaking back into it if you have put it down and turned to something else.

I know that is a strange description to give to any book, but there you go, it's the only way I can do it.

from me and because I am a huge fan it has to be

5 out of 5 stars  

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A Dishonourable System of Honours

The British Honours system is a Joke that we shouldn't be laughing at any more.

I see that a group of MP's, as reported in the Telegraph,  are now calling for Sir Fred Goodwin to have his knighthood taken away from him, not before time.  I also note that the last time this happened was in 2010 when American Robert Allen Stanford who is in prison awaiting trial on charges that his investment company was a massive Ponzi Scheme.  Prior to that Robert Mugabe, the leader of Zimbabwe had his knighthood removed in 2008!

Now while I think it is right and proper this is at last happening in regard to Goodwin for the misery his actions and poor management have inflicted on many lives touched by the banking scandal I again ask why there are no calls for members of the House of Lords to be similarly treated?

I see in a local rag today that Lord Hanningfield's lawyer says that he,'may return to public life' and he goes on to state that, "He has first hand experience of how people are treated in the criminal arena, and thinks he can make a significant contribution to debates on the issue".

This is the man you may recall was charged and convicted of fraud over his expenses and is still under investigation by Essex Police for expenses related to his time as leader of the County Council.  This is the man who, when convicted, was sentenced to 9 months, yes 9 months in prison and served 9 weeks yes NINE WEEKS and so, this makes him eminently qualified to resume his seat in the house of lords and to sit in and contribute and vote on laws that we, the ordinary people of the land,  must abide by!  I think not!

But it is by no means just this piece of human garbage who attained political status and position through the offices of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Labour), who nodded this through in 1998 from a list supplied by the Tories. 

Then there is Lord Taylor , he got 12 months and served 3 months.
Baroness Uddin never charges but told to repay £125k 
Lord Archer   Who can ever forget his list of criminal proclivities, and the list goes on and on, and apart from all being members of the house of lords and all being disgraced members of that body the other thing they have in common is that at some point, even those who become convicted criminals, can take their seats back in the house, claim their expenses and pronounce on laws that we have to abide by.

This is wrong and yet what do we get we get a committee of their chums saying that if they pay back the funds that they defrauded from us,(via The Huffington Post) the people, they can resume their seats and all will be well and they will be forgiven!  WRONG, WRONG, WRONG on so many levels.

If they are convicted, they should have these titles removed from them and thrown out on their ears, they should not be allowed to sit in judgement of laws that we have to adhere to, but will that happen, no it wont because the boys and girls club that is Parliament probably recognise that underneath many MP's and members of the Lords are just as dodgy as each other and it is a case of 'thank god I haven't been caught out, yet'.  Cynical, yes I am, and so too should you be....   

Related Posts: A Smorgesboard of Eruptions 

Monday, 16 January 2012

Parking - when it is just plain wrong - but a newspaper seems to think otherwise

Is it Me?  I noticed this in the Basildon Echo today and I got angry on two counts. An angry reader had written  to the paper to complain about receiving a parking ticket  while  parked at the hospital  in the wee small hours of the morning and the  'News' paper had given it prominence on their letters page with the bold headline , 

" Hospital's parking ticket at 3.20am is preying on the sick" 

Now, don't get me wrong, every one has the right to complain, that's what I am doing here.  I am complaining about the author of the letter in the first place, who and while in difficult circumstance's, followed an ambulance carrying her sick husband to the hospital and then parked in the Accident and Emergency Zone and followed the ambulance crew and her husband into A & E and waited with him for a couple of hours while he waited and was then attended to!  A natural course of events in trying circumstances, BUT, and here is the rub, she does say in her letter that there are two parking areas, and she DID PARK IN THE A & E area.  Now we all know, or at least we should know, that the area outside any hospital A & E department is for the setting down of patients by ambulance crews and that if we all parked in there, at any time of the day or night, then it would become difficult if not impossible for ambulance crews to get their patient into the department.  

And, while we have all railed against the obscene waiting times in most A & E departments when we have had the misfortune to turn up at one, in general, when a patient is brought in by an ambulance crew they tend to be seen rather more quickly than we, the walking wounded are ( and dependant of course on the nature of the illness or injury of the crew carried patient).  So, after following the ambulance to the hospital, seeing that her husband was being looked after, why did she not just move her car to a designated car park.  Yes, I know that some of you reading this will think that I am being unfair in my interpretation and that under the circumstances  the poor woman was more concerned about her husband than her car, and I do accept that as a fact. But, again having done what she did and then returned and found the parking ticket, is it not reasonable to assume that you would look at the ticket and think what money grabbing B*^%$*^ds  , and then have another rational thought and think to yourself, 'S*^t, I am parked in A & E, I should have moved the bloody car!

You might well go on to write a letter of complaint to the local rag about the injustice you feel about the situation, but would the family of a critically ill person be wrong to feel aggrieved at your inconsiderate parking if their loved one was deprived of a few minutes of time in a life or death situation as an ambulance crew fought their way through a row of parked cars, and this is where my second complaint lies, and it is this;

On receiving the letter from the disgruntled member of the public, and reading it, why then does the 'News Rag' publish it in the way that it has, giving it a prominence that it does not deserve.  Surely the so called 'intelligentsia' of the press know exactly why there are parking restrictions in front of an Accident and Emergency department and that parking by members of the public must be targeted in these locations, 24 hours a day, as I am sure like me, you too would always try and get as close to where you want to be, in terms of parking, and hope we get away with it, but then accept with annoyance at being caught, if we then get a ticket!

Yet, they publish the letter with the provocative headline to give it some semblance of credibility, why?  Crass sensationalism, of a petty complaint and justification by many as to why they do not take newspapers anymore.......  

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Book Review, Out of Range by c.j. Box

Out of Range is No 5 in the 'Joe Pickett' series from author c.j. Box.

As is usual Joe is in the wilderness of intrigue, double dealing and burgeoning matrimonial problems.

The book opens with Joe and the family at Missy Vankueren's 4th wedding, Missy being Joe's mother in law.  While there, Joe hears from the new sheriff, Kyle McLanahan, that his freind and fellow Game Warden, Will Jensen, who operated out of Jackson, had committed 'suicide'.

Joe is assigned to temporary look after that district, which means leaving the family for a while. Before we leave we discover that Joe has been receiving silent phone calls over the last couple of months and this with the order to leave for another district troubles him.

Nate Romanowski, the recluse 'ex government agent' tells Joe that he will look after the family while he is away.  Not knowing that a mysterious guy from his past is about to arrive in Saddlestring armed with sniper rifles and who engages the help of ex Sheriff Barnum.........  what happens next is....................................... sorry no spoilers, you are going to have to check out the book. Although we do find an interesting piece of news early on in the book about a find out in the wilderness by Nate that seemingly plays a part in....... no, too much give away.

So,  Joe heads off to Jackson and meets up with his supervisor Trey before he gets there while they track down a rogue grizzly, and the trapping of that gives Trey some doubts about Joe as he seems to freeze at a critical moment, but if you read the previous book this may not come as a surprise......

Finally Joe gets to Jackson and finds that his history with 'Sheriff' Barnum and his propensity for sticking his nose in where it isn't wanted or needed, has followed him.

Joe finds that his predecessor had been blocking a multi million $ land development deal and that the developer was desperate to get him on his side.  To complicate things Joe felt the same spark that he had only felt twice before in his life, once, when he 'did it' for the first time and the second time, 'when he first saw Marybeth'.  He found that spark again when he met 'Stella Ennis' the developer's wife.  Unknown to Joe, Marybeth in Saddlestring, was having similar feelings towards Nate......

Animal rights people and 'Outfitters' the people licensed by the state to guide hunters into the wilderness are all thrown at us in this book as well as Joe been thrown in jail for allegedly 'taking a swing' at the American Vice President..........

Out of Range, really is as good as the previous 4 books in the series.  Box hits the right notes with the loneliness that guys in that line of work must feel and of that of their wives and families and intermingles all of this with the intrigue of land deals, politics, murder and loyalty, what motre can you want from a good book................

Well deserving of 5 out of 5 stars

Friday, 13 January 2012

Life is a curve ball and you just can't stop it from hitting you

Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes out of nowhere a bit of a curved ball is thrown at you.

You know who threw it, but, for the life of you you can't figure out why it was thrown and what caused it to be thrown.  The call comes out of the blue at an unexpected  time of the day.  The conversation is strained and short and hurtful.

It comes from a source that you have nurtured and loved, which makes it all the more difficult to hear things that you have no understanding of, or as to the reasons that they are being said.  You are confused and dizzy at the comments being made, you are speechless, you just don't how to respond and then the final spiteful comment is made and the phone is slammed down.........

You are left staring at the silent receiver, reeling from the comments trying to remember, even although it has just happened, you still have no idea why and then you look around to see where you are imagining just for a moment that you aren't sitting at your desk, you're still asleep and you have just had a nightmare and then reality dawns, you are awake and the call did just happen and a feeling of sadness overwhelms you at what just occurred and you suddenly also realise that you have no idea what to do.........

Have you ever had a day like that, I hope not........

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Book Review: Trophy Hunt by C.J. Box

Trophy Hunt by C.J. Box is the fourth book in the 'Joe Pickett' series of books by the same author.  I came to Mr Box late, and I am still playing catch up this book having been written and published around 2004.

If you have not read any 'Joe Pickett' novels by this author I can highly recommend them to you...

Joe Pickett is a married father who is a US Game Warden in Wyoming, living on the Bighorn Road 8 miles from the town of Saddlestring with the Twelve Sleep River running through it....

As a series it has a set of characters running through it like a soap opera, Joe and his wife Marybeth. Their two girls, Sheridan and Lucy, (there was a third, who was an adopted daughter who died in a previous novel ) Sheriff Barnum, Joe's nemesis and his deputy Kyle McLanahan, Missy Vankueren, Joe's thrice married mother-in-law and on her way to No 4, Agent Portenson of the FBI posted to the wilderness of Wyoming and hating Joe for that, and finally, Nate Romanowski an ex special forces recluse.

These charachters make up the main cast of the first four novels and you will love most and despise others.

Picket is an unusual Game Warden in that instead of dealing with hunters and licenses in and out of season he keeps getting embroiled in major crimes and death, government conspiracies and tales of aliens.  Mr Box is an excellent story teller in these books, he paints a picture of wide open country in one scene and then boxes you in a tree covered canyon in another.  You can visualise the wide open sky's and the peacefulness of the country as described and then he throws in a dead animal or two followed by a body or two and once again Joe Picket is getting under the skin of the 28 year service of the Sheriff as he starts to investigate the murders as well as the dead animals.

While doing this we have the usual assortment of family problems with Marybeth the wife, who, as a stay at home wife has suddenly started a bookkeeping service for local businesses and Joe is coming home to empty fridges and non prepared meals, and wonders if it is all worth it.

The girls are getting older and the dynamics between mother and daughters and sisters is changing, one is nearly a teenager in this book and the other is still under 10 and all of this interaction is played out in a sharply written narrative that gets you hooked in and turning the pages.

These books are gentle reading in places and gruesome  in other parts.  Joe is teaching his daughters to fish on a day off when they come across a dead moose, a dead animal is nothing new to him or his girls by the nature of their lives.  But you have the gentle family scene of a father with his daughters fishing and then you have a dead moose, but the moose has been surgically butchered and parts of it are missing.  it appears to have been dead for a while, but strangely no other animals or birds have been feeding on the carcase so in a few short lines we have moved from a picturesque family fishing trip to a gruesome find with a conundrum, and that's what Box is good at.  It doesn't sound as if it should work, this close interaction of black versus white but it does and makes for compelling reading.  After the moose is found, the next find is some cattle, again they have been killed and surgically butchered and then it is moved up a gear when two bodies are also found apparently killed in the same manner as the animals, with no tracks around the animals to suggest what or who the killer or killers might be.

Twists and turns abound, a red herring or two is thrown into the mix and all this is used to good effect to keep you engaged and intrigued and turning page after page.  The thing is having read the previous novels and seen a young daughter killed off you begin to realise that Box isn't afraid to take chances and kill off and hurt central characters in these books and this makes you continually wonder if Joe Picket and his family will survive to the end of each novel

Well worth checking out and a 5 out of 5 page turner

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A Question For Scots

The debate over Scottish Independence from the rest of the Union is turning into a bit of a political hot potato since the British Prime Minister opened it up fully on the Andrew Mar Show on Sunday last.

Now my feelings have already been made known on this subject through my previous post last October in Scottish Independence  when I nailed my colours to the mast in favour of maintaining the three hundred year old Union.

Everyone is laying into the debate and apparently the British Parliament through the current government are letting it be known that if Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister and the SNP, the ruling party in the devolved Scottish Parliament, ignores the law and tries to hold a referendum without the consent and agreement of the UK Parliament, they, the UK Parliament will go to court over the matter.

Something happened today to make me think about this again, something close to home that is.  You may recall that I have mentioned that Ishbel suffers from something called Laryngeal Dystonia This is a condition that affects the vocal chords of sufferers and makes it difficult for them to speak.  There is no cure but it can be moderated through continued visits to the hospital for specialist treatment every three or four months, resulting in a painful injection into the vocal chords.

Now a few years ago Ishbel told me that she met people when attending the clinic in London who were also waiting for their injections, and she told me that they came from all over the country as there is only one consultant in the country who specialises in this.  Well, today she came home from her treatment and told me that she met a very nice man who had come all the way from Scotland, with the NHS picking up his travel costs and hotel for an overnight stay......

Now there are a couple of points that this raises, one being why the hell is there only one clinic seemingly in the whole of the UNITED KINGDOM, that offers this treatment or which has the expertise for it, I am sure that there are probably reasonable answers to that question? But, the far more important question for Scots, is this.

If the SNP get their way and become the architects of the breakup of the Union, what happens to all the UK wide services that are currently offered, even under Devolved countries, such as sharing NHS facilities.  yes, I know that NHS services are currently different in the UK with free prescriptions, and care homes for the elderly in some parts, but not in others.  But, Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland are funded by the UK exchequer from revenue raised, mainly through taxation.  Now taxation as we all know takes many forms from income tax to corporation tax to VAT, to fuel tax and energy surcharges and so on and on and on.

But I keep coming back to that same point, will there be enough people and jobs for an estranged Scotland to raise the taxes for the country to be self sufficient?  And, will people in Scotland, and eventually Wales and Northern Ireland, if they see Scotland achieving Independence, will they go the same way, and will those who suffer from these obscure illnesses suffer, because the English NHS will not fund treatment for them and will the NHS of those countries be able to provide the treatment that they need to maintain  a decent and comfortable lifestyle that is provided through the treatment they receive at the moment?

BBC News article

Monday, 9 January 2012

5 Minute Management Course

5 Minute Management Course
1 :   

A priest offered a Nun a lift... 

She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg.

The priest nearly had an accident. 

After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg..... 

The nun said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?' 

The priest removed his hand. But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again. The nun once again said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?' 

The priest apologized 'Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.' 

Arriving at the convent, the nun sighed heavily and went on her way. 

On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129. It said, 'Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.' 

Moral of the story:
If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity. 

2 :   

A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. 

They rub it and a Genie comes out. The Genie says, 'I'll give each of you just one wish.'

'Me first! Me first!' says the admin clerk.. 'I want to be in the Bahamas , driving a speedboat, without a care in the world..' Poof! She's gone. 

'Me next! Me next!' says the sales rep. 'I want to be in Hawaii , relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas, and  the love of my life.' Poof! He's gone.

'OK, you're up,' the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, 'I want those two back in the office after lunch.' 

Moral of the story:
Always let your boss have the first say. 

3 :   

An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. 

A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, 'Can I also sit like you and do nothing?' The eagle answered: 'Sure, why not.'

So, the rabbit sat on the  ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it. 

Moral of the story: 

To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up. 

4 :   

A turkey was chatting with a bull.  'I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree' sighed the turkey, 'but I haven't got the energy.'

'Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?' replied the bull. It's full of nutrients.' 

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. 

The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch..

Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree. 

He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree. 

Moral of the story:
Bull Shit  might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there...

5 :

A little bird was flying South for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field. 

While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him. 

As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. 

The dung was actually thawing him out! 

He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate.....

Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him. 

Moral of the story:
(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy. 

(2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.

(3) And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut!


Courtesy of P Kennedy and others 

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Don't Blame Me if You're Not Laughing II

A businessman meets a beautiful girl and agrees to spend the night with her for £500. So they do. Before he leaves, he tells her that he does not have any cash with him, but he will have his secretary write a cheque and mail it to her, calling the payment 'RENT FOR APARTMENT.' On the way to the office he regrets what he has done, realizing   that the whole event was not worth the price. So he has his secretary send a cheque for £250 and enclosed the following typed note:

Dear Madam:
Enclosed you will find a cheque in the amount of £250  for   rent   of   your apartment. I am not sending the amount agreed upon,  because  when I   rented   the apartment, I was under the impression that:    

1) it had neverbeen occupied    
2) that there was plenty of heat    
3) that it was small enough to make me feel cozy and at home.

However, I found out that it had been previously occupied, that there wasn't any heat, and that it was entirely too large. Upon receipt of the note, the girl immediately returned the cheque for £250 with the following note:    

Dear Sir,
First of all, I cannot understand how you expect a beautiful apartment to remain unoccupied indefinitely. As for the heat, there is plenty of it, if you know how to turn it on. Regarding the space, the apartment is indeed of regular size, but if you don't have enough furniture to fill it, please don't blame the landlady. Send the rent in full or we will be forced to contact your present landlady. 


One day, in line at the works cafeteria, Jack says to Mike behind him,  "My elbow hurts like hell. I suppose I'd better see a doctor."

"Listen, don't waste your time down at the surgery," Mike replies.
There's a diagnostic computer at Asda. Just give it a urine sample and the computer will tell you what's wrong, and what to do about it. It takes ten seconds and only costs five pounds a lot quicker and better than a doctor".

So Jack collects a urine sample in a small jar and takes it to Asda.
He deposits five pounds and the computer lights up and asks for the urine sample. He pours the sample into the slot and waits. Ten seconds later, the computer ejects a printout:

"You have tennis elbow. Soak your arm in warm water and avoid heavy activity. It will improve in two weeks".

That evening while thinking how amazing this new technology was, Jack began wondering if the computer could be fooled.

He mixed some tap water, a stool sample from his dog, urine samples from his wife and daughter, and masturbated into the mixture for good measure.

Jack hurried back to Asda, eager to check what would happen. He Deposits five pounds, pours in his concoction, and awaits the results.

The computer prints the following:

1. Your tap water is too hard. Get a water softener.
2. Your dog has ringworm. Bathe him with anti-fungal shampoo.
3. Your daughter has a cocaine habit. Get her into rehab.
4. Your wife is pregnant. Twins. They aren't yours. Get a lawyer.
5. And if you don't stop playing with yourself, your elbow will never get better... thank you for shopping at Asda


A gentleman asked a waiter to take a bottle of Merlot over to an attractive woman. The waiter took the Merlot to the woman and said, "This is from the gentleman seated over there," indicating the sender.

She regarded the wine coolly for a second, not looking at the man, and decided to send a reply note to the man. The waiter, who was lingering for a response, took the note from her and conveyed it to the gentleman.

The note read: "For me to accept this bottle, you need to have a Mercedes in your garage, a million dollars in the bank, and 7 inches in your pants." After reading the note, the man decided to compose one of his own in return. He folded the note, handed it to the waiter and instructed him to return this to the woman.

It read: "For your information, I have a Ferrari Maranello, a BMW Z8, a Mercedes CL600 and a Porsche Turbo in my garage. There is over twenty million dollars in my bank account. But, not even for a woman as beautiful as you would I cut three inches off. Just send the bottle back.”


One day in the future, George Bush has a heart attack and dies. He immediately goes to hell, where the devil is waiting for him. "I don't know what to do," says the devil. "You're on my list, but I have no room for you. You definitely have to stay here, so I'll tell you what I'm going to do.

Believe it or not I've got some folks here who weren't quite as bad as you.  I'll let one of them go, but you have to take their place. I'll even let YOU decide who leaves." Bush thought that sounded pretty good, so the devil opened the first room. 

In it was Ronald Reagan and a large pool of water. He kept diving in and surfacing over and over again. Such was his fate in hell. "No,"George said. "I don't think so. I'm not a good swimmer & I don't think I could do that all day long".

The devil led him to the next room. In it was Richard Nixon with a sledge hammer and a room full of rocks. All he did was swing that hammer, time after time after time. "No, I've got this problem with my shoulder. I'd be in constant agony if all I could do was break rocks all day," said George.

The devil opened a third door. In it, Bush saw Bill Clinton, lying on the floor with his arms tied behind his head, and his legs in a spread eagle pose. Bent over him was Monica Lewinsky, doing what she does best. Bush looked in disbelief and finally said, "Yea, I can handle this."

The devil smiled and said "OK, Monica, you're free to go." 


(Read this to yourself aloud - it's great!)

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port, and the bus is interrupted at a very last resort, and the access of the memory makes your floppy disk  abort, then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash, and the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash,
and your data is corrupted 'cos the index doesn't hash, then your situation's hopeless and your system's gonna crash!

If the label on the cable on the table at your house, says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
but your packets want to tunnel to another protocol, that's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall.

And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss, so your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse;
then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang, 'cuz sure as I'm a poet, the sucker's gonna hang.

When the copy on your floppy's getting sloppy in the disk, and the macro code instructions is causing unnecessary
risk, then you'll have to flash the memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM, and then quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your Mom!

Well, that certainly clears things up for me......

How about you?


You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell the herd and retire on the income.

You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.

You have two cows.
You re-design them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and
produce twenty times the milk.
You then create irritating cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market
them world-wide at a fantastic profit.

You have two cows.
You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk

You have two cows.
Both are mad.

You have two cows, but you don't know where they are.
You break for lunch.

You have two cows.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
You count them again and learn you have 12 cows.
You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you.
You charge others for storing them.

You have two cows.
You worship them.

You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.
You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman
who reported the numbers.

You have two cows.
The younger one is rather attractive

You have 2 stolen bulls but think they are cows
You die the first time you try and milk them.

Who cares, The EU Really owns them now and the pub is still serving.

You had three cows.
You shot one of them, gave the second 24 hours to get out of the field and
put the third with the Swiss Corporation as the President's retirement fund.
Then you tell everyone to blame colonialism for the shortage of milk.


It was Postman Pat's last day on the job after 35 years of carrying the post through all kinds of
weather to the same neighbourhood.

When he arrived at the first house on his route, he was greeted by the whole family there who all hugged and congratulated him and sent him on his way with a gift cheque for £50.

At the second house they presented him fine Cuban cigars in an 18-carat gold box.
The folks at the third house handed him a case of 30-year old Scotch whisky.
At the fourth house he was met at the door by a blonde in her lingerie.

She took him by the arm and led him up the stairs to the bedroom where she blew his mind with the most passionate love he had ever experienced.

When he had had enough they went downstairs, where the dumb blonde fixed him a giant breakfast: eggs, tomatoes, bacon, sausage, beans and freshly-squeezed orange juice. When he was truly satisfied she poured him a cup of steaming coffee.

As she was pouring, he noticed a five pound note sticking out from under the cup's bottom edge. "All this was just too wonderful for words,"he said, "but  what's the fiver for?"

Well," said the blonde, "last night, I told my husband that today would be your last day, and that we should do something special for you. I asked him what  to give you.
He said, "F**k him....Give him a fiver."  "The breakfast was my idea."

Two priests decided to go to Hawaii on vacation. They were determined to make this a real vacation by not wearing anything that would identify them as clergy. As soon as the plane landed, they headed for a store and bought some really outrageous shorts, shirts, sandals, sunglasses, etc.

The next morning, they went to the beach, dressed in their "tourist" garb.

They were sitting on beach chairs, enjoying a drink, the sunshine and the scenery when a "drop dead gorgeous" topless blonde in a thong bikini came walking straight towards them.

They couldn't help but stare. As the blonde passed them, she smiled and said "good morning, Father", nodding and addressing each of them individually, then passed on by. They were both stunned. How in the world did she know they were priests?

So the next day, they went back to the store and bought even more outrageous outfits. These were so loud you could hear them before you even saw them.

Once again the two priests settled on the beach in their chairs to enjoy the sunshine. After a while, the same gorgeous topless blonde, wearing a string, taking her sweet time, came walking towards them. Again she nodded
at each of them, said "good morning, Father" and started to walk away.

One of the priests couldn't stand it any longer and said. "Just a minute young lady."

Yes?" she replied.

"We are priests, and proud of it, but I have to know, how in the world did you know we are priests dressed as we are?"

"Father, it's me, Sister Angela," she replied.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Fish Pie

Firm favourite with Ishbel, this one, and have to say one of my favs too.  Popped out to get some fresh fish to make it and was tempted to buy a packet of creamy sauce mix, but then thought what the hell it is so easy to make for yourself.

So what do we need:  Again this is all depending on you appetite and how many you are feeding, but this is just for Ishbel and I tonight, so this is for two.

Fish filling 

1 decent sized small to medium fillet Smoked haddock
2 decent sized small to medium salmon fillets 
1 decent sized small to medium cod fillet

handful of prawns, squid and mussels

3/4 pint of milk
1 ozs (25grams) of plain flour 
2 ozs (50 grams) of  butter (unsalted)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of chopped Parsley
Cheddar cheese for grating 
Parmesan cheese for grating 
1 tablespoon of lemon juice 

Mashed Potatoes for the topping (to be mashed)  Dependent on the size of the dish you are using you will need to decide how much mashed potato you need to cover the top of your pie.  If you have to many just freeze them for reuse another day.


Pre heat the oven to 200 C  or 180 C if using a fan oven.

Cut the fish into chunks and place in an oven proof dish.  Add salt  and pepper dot with 1 oz of the butter. 

Add 1/4 pint of milk to the dish and place on the pre heated oven for 15 to 20 mins 

Pour over a 1/4 pint of the milk and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes to poach the fish in the milk and butter. 

Not having made this for a wee while \i remembered at this point that I normally don't chop up the fish, until after I poach it, but hey, do it either way, but you will need the poaching liquor to add to your sauce in a while and it is easier to take the fish out of the poaching pan if fillets still whole!

Remove poached fish from the oven and liquor

and place in a well buttered dish for the pie.

Add the prawns  and lemon juice etc and set aside


Take the remainder of the butter and place in a pan and gently melt down.  Add the flour and mix well.  Start adding the remaining milk in small dashes, stirring continuously.  As you stir the sauce will begin to thicken.

Continue to add the reaming milk and the milk from the poached fish until you have a nice smooth consistency, pour over fish, prawns etc

Sprinkle with Parsley....

While all of that has been going on potatoes have been peeled and put on to boil.  Once cooked, drain and mash and spread over fish dish.

Sprinkle with some grated cheese and place in oven on the high shelf at the same temperature, for about 20 - 25 mins and serve with  veg of your choice.


Preparation time:

Poaching 20 - 25 mins

sauce prep 10 mins

Potatoes  cooking time 15 - 20 mins cooking while fish poaching

Pie cooking time 25 - 30 mins  (Tip: place a tray or some foil under the shelf as the sauce can sometimes spill out over the sides of the dish, saves on the cleaning of the oven)

Overall time 45 mins to 1 hr 

Monday, 2 January 2012

Pork Chops with Relish and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Another quick and simple recipe for two, or 4, dependant on your hunger!

2 or 4 pork chops, fat on or off.
Tomato Relish
Sun dried tomatoes





knob of butter

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

prep and cooking time around 25 mins

Cut the unpeeled potatoes into quarters (or smaller if overly large) wash and rinse, put on to boil

Peas in a pan and bring to gently simmer

While the potatoes are cooking turn on the grill to highest heat.

Cook potatoes for about 10 mins than put the chops under the grill.

Once chops have browned on one side turn over and grill the other side, potatoes should just be coming to the boil.

Once chops are cooked on second side remove from grill. Place two or 3 sun dried tomatoes on each chop and then smother in tomato relish.  Baxter's if you can get it, alternatively a good smothering of Pesto is also great.  Another idea of course if you have plenty of tomatoes, onion, sweetcorn, etc, is make your own relish, there is nothing quite like home made (but today for quickness a jar was used)

Return chops under the grill and continue to cook.  You need to judge this yourself, we like the Pesto/ Relish just to be getting that little grilled brown crispiness to it, you may prefer just to ensure that that the Pesto/ Relish is warmed through.....

While the chops are finishing remove the potatoes and drain return to pan and add a decent knob of butter and or a dash of extra virgin olive oil and slightly crush with a fork, skins still on, sprinkle with some fresh chopped parsley.

Remove the peas from the heat and drain.  Again add a knob of butter and or extra virgin olive oil.  Add a heaped spoonful of fresh mint mix together.

Remove chops from the heat and serve up with a nice glass of red wine