Friday 13th April 2012

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Once again, welcome to the Ides and for the second time this year it is a Friday the 13th!  Fear not you friggatriskaidekaphobiacs for there is only one more to go before the end of the year (July if you want to prepare your cleansing rituals!).  For the second Ides in a row I have planned to be off work (O.K. the previous Ides was for a funeral and ended up ill in bed) a day off in lieu of the Easter Bank Holidays which saw me at work for both Bank Holidays – Good Friday and Easter Monday.  This Ides however went a little more to plan.

My eldest was off school and so I had promised to talk her to the cinema as a treat (the fact that I enjoy going to the cinema too, had nothing to do with it!).  We went to see Pirates, In Adventure With Scientists the latest Aardman Animations feature length film.  My mini review is based on the fact that for certain sections of the film I was explaining what was going on to my eldest and so missed many of the subtleties of the script.  However, I thought it was excellent, if a little predictable but the humour was a mixture of subtle, slapstick and clever wordplay and definitely needs a second viewing.  Blu-ray ordered.

Afterwards we met my wife and youngest and booked our family holiday and week in Tenerife.  so a very successful and not at all unlucky day for our little quartet.

So what was happening in the world?

David Cameron visited Myanamar (or Burma as we still call it in Britain as we do not recognise the legitimacy of the military rule).  This is historic as I believe he is the first British Prime Minister to visit the country and it allows the British to look for the 25 unused Spitfires that were buried at the end of World War II.  By all accounts they are still in the crates they were shipped in, wrapped in wax and oil sheets to protect them from the elements, so hopefully they will still look like they did when they arrived in Burma nearly 70 years ago.  Fascinating.

Mount Etna erupted for the 6th time this year, making it one of its most active periods for many years.

Closer to home, the Royal Mail is accused of rationing stamps as the public snap up first class stamps before the price increases 25% from 48p for a first class letter to 60p.  A huge increase and because the design of the stamp doesn’t change a first class stamp bought for 48p is still a first class stamp when the price increases to 60p.  Hence the Royal Mail are attempting to prevent stockpiling at this crossover period.

There is also a possible deal in the fuel drivers talks.  The government have been accused of helping panic the public into buying fuel even though there is only a hint of industrial action and petrol is something that you can not stockpile (unlike stamps).  We will see how this pans out throughout the next few weeks and see if they do go on strike whether it brings the country to its knees or forces the resignation of a government minister.  Somehow I don’t think so.

Also, tying in with an earlier post, the first Raspberry Pis begun shipment.  I still haven’t decided if I am going to buy one or not.


Thursday 15th March 2012

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Welcome to the first Ides of the year that is not on the 13th of the month.  The Ides of March is undoubtedly the most famous of the Ides being the date in 44 B.C. that Julius Caesar was assassinated.  According to Plutarch, Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times by a group of conspirators (over 60 in number) lead by Marcus Junius Brutus (Et tu, Brute!) in the Roman Senate.  Also, according to Plutarch a seer had foretold that Caesar would be harmed no later than the Ides of March.  On his way to his death, Caesar met that seer and mocked ‘The Ides of March have come’ (only in Latin not English), to which the seer replied ‘Ay, Caesar; but not gone.’  This is immortalised in William Shakespear’s play Julius Caesar by the phrase ‘beware the Ides of March’.

So what happened on the Ides of March?  Well personally it wasn’t a great day.  I arrived home the night before and after putting the kids to bed starting feeling really woozy.  I took myself off to bed at just after eight pm feeling nauseous.  It wasn’t long before the feeling came to fruition.  So for me the Ides of March was a complete wash out.  It wasn’t until the late afternoon that I managed to get out of bed and then only to collapse on the sofa.  So I didn’t manage to take the customary photos nor really pay any attention to the news so the following is lifted retrospectively from the internet.

So what happened in the world (and forgive any omissions):

  • Argentina has begun intensifying its campaign to block oil development in the Falkland Islands.  This is the latest in the increasing war of words over the ownership of the Falkland Islands as the approaching 30th anniversary of the Falkland’s war looms.  This is bound to rumble on over the coming year and it will be interesting what  both sides will attempt to get out of the conflict.  I can’t see it ending in war but you never know.
  • This week David Cameron (the UK Prime Minister) has been on a State visit to the US.  The visit has been given favourable coverage in both countries but Dana Milbank one of the most senior and influential writers at the Washington Post has given David Cameron the moniker Obama’s Guard Dog.  I think it is a term that Downing street will quickly want to quash but I suppose it is better than George W Bush’s poodle that Tony Blair was haunted by.  However I think the fact that Obama is in the early stages of an election race and that he invited the Prime Minister to a basketball match in the swing state of Ohio they may be a grain of truth in the title.  Although it is slightly worrying that the President of the US needs David Cameron to be his Guard Dog.  The English readers of this blog will find that amusing.
  • Finally (and no coincidence intended), Yoda, the reigning world’s ugliest dog has passed away.  The 15 year old Chinese crested/ Chihuahua mix breed died in her sleep last Saturday but her death was only announced on the 15th.  She was 0.8kgs had short tuffs of hair, a protruding tongue and short skinny legs and her owner Terry Schumacher mistook her for a rat when she first saw her.  She will be missed.