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.

Wednesday 29th February 2012

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It only happens once every four years, and it is the first time that it has happened while I have been writing this blog, so it deserves a whole write up to itself.  As you may know the leap day is an extra day added to most years (except ‘end of century‘ years that are not divisible by 400) that are divisible by 4.  This is to take into account the fact that the Earth does not take 365 days to revolve around the Sun.  In fact, the Earth takes 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes and 16 seconds to complete its journey around our local star hence the need for the additional day to keep our fragile grasp on notional time in sync with nature.  Therefore our calendar repeats itself every 400 years, which is exactly 20,871 weeks which includes 97 leap days.  These 97 days are divided thus: 29th February falls 13 times on a Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday, 14 times on a Friday or a Saturday and 15 times on a Monday or a Wednesday.  In 2012 we find that the leap day is on a Wednesday.

So what happened on Wednesday 29th February 2012?

From a personal point of view, Wednesday saw the family split up.  Both myself and my wife were working and our oldest child was at pre-school and the youngest at her grandparents.  An early start for my wife meant that I had to get the kids ready and drop them off in their respective locations.  The drive into work was fairly standard the overcast skies adding to the monotony of the journey, however as I joined the main artery that leads directly to work I saw a colleague’s car in front.  A quick hands-free conversation later and he realised who was tailgating him and we continued the journey in convoy.

A standard day at work followed and it was home for Salmon stir-fry and an early night to try and catch up on the sleep that our little one isn’t letting us have lately.  Not the most exciting of days but nevertheless a true reflection of a day in our household.

What happened in the World at large?

The main news of the day was that Davy Jones from the 1960’s group The Monkees died of a heart attack at his home in Florida.  The Monkees were probably the first ‘maufactured’ band and were marketed as America’s answer to the Beatles.  Davy Jones was from Manchester and appeared on the iconic Manchester soap opera Coronation street as Ena Sharples’ grandson.

The technology story of the day was the release of the Raspberry Pi a credit card sized computer designed to encourage the next generation of computer programmers.  In the world of biggest is best the £22 computer does not wow the average man in the street with its specifications (single core 700MHz ARM processor, 256 Megabytes of RAM, SD Card slot for storage but does contain 2 USB ports; an ethernet port and a HDMI port) but it has definitely captured the imagination as the two supplies RS and Premier Farnell were hit with so much internet traffic that their websites were down for most of the day.

With only a few short months before London hosts the Olympic games, Len McCluskey the leader of the UK’s biggest union, UNITE, has called for co-ordinated strike action, just what the capital needs!  It is going to be difficult enough for the infrastructure of London to cope without increasing those difficulties unnecessarily.  How will the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh manage to get there on time to open the games?

England lost 3-2 to the Netherlands in a pre-tournament friendly game at Wembley.  This was the first game for England’s  caretaker manager Stuart Peace after Fabio Capello’s departure last month.  With no goals in the first half The Netherlands looked to be easing to a comfortable win after two early goals in the second half.  But two goals in the last five minutes gave England hope that they would secure a draw until Arjen Robben scored a late goal.  After the game Stuart Pearce insisted that he would be happy to lead England to Euro 2012 but is probably not the right long-term option.  Harry Redknapp still seems favourite to take that honour.  We will see.

So that was 2012’s leap day, how was it for you?  Tune in, in four years time for the next chapter of this project!