Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Kayaking on The Isle of Barra

Congratulations Tom (thats him in the surf)
on becoming a level 2 kayaking coach and becoming a '4 Star' kayaker.

He's my youngest son and when not studying Engineering at Edinburgh University works for Chris of Clearwater Paddling:

For a good podcast and pictures about paddling around Barra:

For pictures of Barra:

Monday, September 25, 2006

New UK Passports, Identity Cards and Big Brother

In my new biometric passport is a large aerial which enables details to be read at a distance (RFID). Carriers of such passports could be identified and tracked not only at airports. Worse, if such technology were included on identity cards we could all be tracked in any public space and personal information read without our knowledge. Terrible! We could all be tagged!

But just wrap your passport in metal foil and it can't be read. In fact I think the passport has foil in the cover to prevent it being read when not open.

Information on this RFID technology can be found at:

The UK Passport position can be found at:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Poem, All his Life

Looking for Love.
All his life
He didn't know he was.

Earwigs scurried away from beneath an overturned stone.
Girls lived in another world.

Once sitting quietly on a bridge over his stream
A rat appeared.
She didn't know he was there.
Suddenly they looked into each other's eyes.
Beautiful eyes.
It's a magic moment falling in love.
Wanting to share your life with another,
In your own little stream, a world hidden by trees, rich with good food,
Exciting, when it's a river of waterfalls.
He never saw her again.

Another romance lasted a week.
It was a fish, a blenny in a rock pool cave.
He'd entice her out with crushed mussels.
(We kill for love).

She'd turn her head sideways to look up at him.
Slowly she'd come out, take the food
And return to her cave.
He eventually lost interest and she moved home.

Most of the time he talked to himself.
Far out the Atlantic must talk to itself.
Nice when it can make waves on Barra.
She's loved it to bits for thousands of years.
Whole beaches,
Shells ground to sand, broken for you.
Curvy carved rocks at Scurival.
Look me, touch me, stroke me curves.
Man, I need a woman!

In the cool sea he found her.
They danced in the waves
Making foamy pictures in the air.
She was always there,
In him and he in her.

Monday, September 18, 2006

End Poem

Trees are skeletons,
Life withdrawn
In wooden cupboards.

The house is derelict, empty, vandalized.
Broken windows have let in leaves,
Dried leaves in his wardrobe,
The coloured clothes
He once gave life.
Some faded,
Some like the bright plastic living forever, arbitrarily.
All his life was there, his dark suits, old working clothes,
His collection of odd socks,
His box of poems.

Outside a few yellow leaves cling on,
He’s gone now but I think he’s happy,
Blowing in the wind, evergreen
In the firs, pines, spruces and hollies.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Beyond Pain, 300 B.C. Poem

A coarse rope,
black night thoughts,
bind me
to you.
It is the black ‘Loch an Duin’,
from which a Big Dark Bud rises.
Red lily’s petals and glossy orange stamens
to reveal
an intoxicating nectar pool.
And I, drunk, paralysed 'Tollund' man,
within this glossy holographic dream,
drown in the bog,
which is
your Sacred Nectar Heart.
This flower is closed.
Lakshmi image from
The Water Lily is 'James Brydon'
After I’d written this poem I found this relevant information on ‘Girl Scientist’s 360 Yahoo blog:

It has to do with sex. Now most people know that bugs normally fly from flower to flower, getting pollen all over their body while gathering nectar to eat. Landing on a different flower, the flower hopes that some of the pollen will come off and stick to the stigma (female part of the flower). That way a pollen tube can form and fertilize the eggs.

The water lily has put a little twist on things. The first day it opens, it lacks pollen. Instead the structures that carry the pollen (stamens) are smooth and slippery and surround a clear pool of poisonous nectar. The bug, after visiting an older water lily with pollen, sees a pool of what it thinks to be nectar and lands in the centre.
It struggles but cannot fly out, because it is wet and the poison is affecting it. It cannot crawl out because of those incredibly smooth pollen less stamens. It dies.

The pollen from its body floats about in the pool of poison and when the flower closes for the night the pool drains, carrying the pollen to the stigma. The next day, when flower opens the stamens are covered in pollen ready for a new bug to carry it in a fatal journey to another day old lily.

For more fun with plant sex, ‘Girl Scientist’, from whom I got this information, highly recommends the video ‘Sexual encounters of the floral kind’.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Heart's Astronomy by Julia Ward Howe (1890-1910)

This evening, as the twilight fell,
My younger children watched for me;
Like cherubs in the window framed,
I saw the smiling group of three.

While round and round the house I trudged,
Intent to walk a weary mile,
Oft as I passed within their range,
The little things would beck and smile.

They watched me, as Astronomers,
Whose business lies in heaven afar,
Await, beside the slanting glass,
The re-appearance of a star.

Not so, not so, my pretty ones,
Seek stars in yonder cloudless sky;
But mark no steadfast path for me,
A comet dire and strange am I.

Now to the inmost spheres of light
Lifted, my wondering soul dilates;
Now, dropped in endless depth of night,
My hope God's slow recall awaits.

Among the shining I have shone,
Among the blessings have been blest;
Then wearying years have held me bound
Where darkness deadness gives, not rest.

Between extremes distraught and rent,
I question not the way I go;
Who made me, gave it to me, I deem,
Thus to aspire, to languish so.

But comets, too, have holy laws,
Their fiery sinews to restrain,
And from their outmost wanderings
Are drawn to heaven's dear heart again.

And ye, beloved ones, when ye know
What wild, erratic natures are,
Pray that the laws of heavenly force
Would help and guide the Mother star.

Today I discovered this brilliant poet who I'm sure you'd like.
The complete text of her poem book, 'Passion Flowers' is at
Photo from