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.

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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!