So that left Sunday in which to mop the floor, write the board papers and dust the furniture.
Gone are the days when I could spring out of bed, jump in the shower, throw a couple of rashers of bacon in the pan with a tomato, eat, wash up, and be out of the door in 20 minutes.
A neighbour once said to Partner and I, that I woke up thinking. (Didn’t endear her to Partner after that). These days I don’t even wake up for at least an hour. Let alone think.
Waking up consists of reading and replying to overnight comments on my blogs when North America has been up and active, and reading any new posts on fave blogs, although probably leaving my comments on theirs until later.
So Sunday morning saw me with my nose stuck to the screen. Literally. Saturday night hadn’t been too busy on the blogosphere so I resorted to solving a geocaching puzzle. All those no longer interested in this part can skip to the next section of this post.
However. For the benefit of non-cachers, geocaches involve finding pots of tat treasure using a GPS and with a given set of co-ordinates. Sort of like olde-fashionde treasure hunting using OS co-ords. (OS = Ordnance Survey for non-Brits, our former extremely good mapping system. Unsurpassable).
A puzzle cache means that you don’t get the co-ords, you have to solve a puzzle to find out what they are.
So, there were two images that meant nothing at all to me. I started by counting similar looking bits on the puzzle but that didn’t work.
I emailed an expert friend, who mailed back and asked if I had seen the 3D images. Uh? What 3D images?
So I decided to take Partner’s advice and looked up the website on the bottom of the images. Stereogram. Sounds like a record player to me.
Apparently not. Sort of like black and white optical illusions, the old vase and face one, or the young beauty and the old crone one. But these are in 3D. Never seen one before in my life. Sheltered life me.
How to see the 3D part of it though? Apparently you can make yourself cross-eyed and that shows it up. Well, I have enough problems with being short-sighted so I’m not messing around with my eyes more than necessary so that was out.
Alternatively, you can stick your nose to the computer screen and slowly draw away whereupon the 3D image pops out. Well, it did for me, although not for Partner. Perhaps being short-sighted does have amazing advantages.
So I’m left with a 3D heart and a prehistoric reptile. On a second look, I decided the reptile could be a car. Either way, at this point I was feeling distinctly sick after looking at whacky images for far too long and decided to leave it alone and ponder how to convert a heart and a car into numbers.
As I’d been
wasting time diligently researching cryptic puzzle-solving, I remembered one of the obvious ones was to substitute letters for numbers. So I did. There is a little gizmo on the site that lets you check your guesses so I gazed at the screen expectantly. I nearly fell off my chair. Congratulations you have solved the puzzle!
‘Oh,’ said Partner, leaping out of the chair. ‘Let’s go and find it.’
At which point I thought about more dishes to wash, another lunch to cook, furniture to dust and board papers to write. I had, in fact, mopped the floor.
What the hell. Off we went.
Here is the interesting part. There had been a pic of the location on the geocache site, and as Partner had been to the location before when he delivered a CV (not that he got a reply), he just knew exactly where to go. I probably didn’t need to solve the puzzle after all.
There were a lot of rocks. Once on the breakwater the GPS went haywire. We clambered up and down. I spent most of my time worrying that I was going to drop a) my iPhone b) my camera c) my ID card d) my keys e) anything else in my pockets, that had no zip or button, down some irretrievable hole. Oh and the GPS too.
I figured having solved the puzzle it would be one of life’s ironies that we wouldn’t find the cache. I didn’t. But he did.
Anyway, I did watch a British Airways ‘plane taxi-ing around for take-off, and vroooom up it went.
Described as one of the world’s most dangerous and scary runways. Um, it’s not exactly got a bad track record for accidents. Or rather lack of accidents. So it’s short, and goes into the sea. So what? Apparently we are fifth most dangerous in the world, beating Hong Kong into sixth place and the most dangerous one in Europe. But we have had no deaths apart from the suspicious Polish incident in 1943. I remember the Hong Kong airport from years back, and haven’t used the Gib one. But statistically, how can one incident, 70 years ago make it one of the most dangerous in the world? Anyway the BA ‘plane took off OK.
And there were lots of boats too.
So another day of good intentions that didn’t come to fruition. But does it matter if something else takes its place?
Moving on down other roads to hell, or to paradise, depending on your perspective.
I’ve read a little about the Boston bombing both on news sites and blogs. Maurice wrote a thoughtful piece and it reminded me of terrorism over the years.
Here’s a quote from Reuters about the two brothers behind the bombing:
The brothers spent their early years in a small community of Chechens in the central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, a mainly Muslim nation of 5.5 million. The family moved in 2001 to Dagestan, a southern Russian province that lies at the heart of a violent Islamist insurgency and where their parents now live.
But as I commented on Maurice’s blog, who hasn’t lived with the fear of terrorism?
M62 coach bombing in 1974 – UK, Provisional IRA
This was a bomb placed in a coach carrying off-duty British armed forces and their families. Twelve people were killed, nine soldiers and three civilians. Thirty eight other people were injured.
Tucked up safely in my little bed, I awoke to hear a loud boom. My view at the time was that it was on the M62 which crosses the Pennine hills between Lancashire and Yorkshire. I thought it must have been one hell of a bomb for me to have heard it.
In fact, only now, looking at Michelin, have I realised how close it was. Ten miles, half an hour’s drive away at Hartshead Moor service station. No wonder it sounded loud.
My first awareness that terrorism could come quite near to home.
This was an active revolutionary group in Germany when I was at university and often hit the headlines because of assassinations of prominent capitalist and judicial figures.
When I had a passport photo taken to visit Amsterdam with a friend from university he told me I looked like a member of the Baader Meinhof gang. Black pullover and steely cold expression.
Famous for the killing of Aldo Moro, but stuck in my mind because of the bombing of Bologna (Italy) railway station which killed 85 people and injured more than 200 people.
In fact, they denied the bombing and it was later attributed to a neo-fascist group. Who knows?
But at the time I embarked on my Euro-rail and world trip, it was still in my mind, and when I went to Bologna, I did not hang around the railway station.
No, not a terrorist group although some might consider an irresponsible company causing thousands of deaths and injuries to be worse.
Baader Meinhof and The Red Brigades between them managed around 120 deaths.
Look what Union Carbide achieved in India:
The Bhopal disaster, was a gas leak incident in India, considered the world’s worst industrial disaster. It occurred on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals. The toxic substance made its way in and around the shantytowns located near the plant. Estimates vary on the death toll.
The official immediate death toll was 2,259. The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Others estimate 8,000 died within two weeks and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases.
A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.
I mention Bhopal because I was there not long after the incident. Our train stopped there. I tried to hold my breath, but the train stopped for too long.
Pesticides eh? They kill in more ways than one.
And back to the UK with the Manchester bombing in 1996 where 212 people were injured but no-one was killed.
I was no longer visiting Manchester, but I had done in my university years, and I’d walked those streets and visited that shopping centre. There is something very spooky reading about a bomb blast in a place you used to frequent and your heart goes out to the people injured in that explosion.
In London, in the 1980s, our government building was on a constant state of alert, and I often took the tube in trepidation thinking what a horrific way to die a bomb blast in the tube would be. And in 2005 it happened and a combined attack on the tube and buses resulted in 52 people killed and more than 700 people injured.
Bombs have been placed on the underground for more than 100 years.
The year before, Spain suffered a much worse attack with a prime-time commuter attack at the beautiful Atocha station in Madrid in 2004. Another place I had frequently visited, either to go to Madrid, or to pass through en-route to the UK. Nearly 200 people were killed and 1800 people were injured.
And in Spain (and France), we have ETA, fighting for an independent Basque country, and currently with a ceasefire status, although not sure how long that will last with the hard-line Rajoy government. ETA killed more than 800 people using similar tactics to PIRA and the left-wing revolutionary groups.
Terrorism doesn’t go away. Whether it’s political or religious, it’s here to stay.
Another blogger’s experience of terrorism – Wrong time, Wrong Place A good read, if that’s the right description.
According to Michael Collins (Irish) who used Lenin’s quote:
The purpose of terrorism is to terrorise.
I learned this from my voracious reading of Jack Higgins’ novels. Mr Higgins doesn’t waste time writing his books. Characters are given different names in different novels, but they all use the same language, the same guns, the same silver cigarette case because they all smoke, and they rarely have sex. Too busy killing people I suppose.
He must copy and paste for each novel and just change a few names and the location of the plots. Still, they are an easy read. And make the fight against terrorism seem so simple when a few latter-day James Bonds save the world. I wish.
To end on a bright note.
The road to hell.
Just thought I would also point out that Chris Rea comes from Yorkshire.
But if that one is too gloomy, try the road to nowhere.