Friday, November 26, 2010

We only want a table at a restaurant .....

Me: "I would like to book a table please - and I should let you know that we have 1 vegan, 1 vegetarian, and 1 with gluten-free needs. I hope you can accomodate us?"
Fankie&Bennies (an hour later they call me back): "I'm sorry. We cannot give you gluten free food, but if you want to bring a gluten free pizza from Tesco we will heat it up for you."
Me:"I'm sorry - did you just tell me to bring my own food?"
F&B:"Not at all, madame. It's just that we can't offer gluten free food, but I know for a fact that Tesco do a gluten free pizza. If you bring a pizza from Tesco, it will be more cost effective for you, madame, and you still get to have that full restaurant experience."
Me: "ummm ..... No thanks."

Me: "I would like to book a table please - and I should let you know that we have 1 vegan, 1 vegetarian, and 1 with gluten-free needs. I hope you can accomodate us?"
Prezzo:" Well, for gluten free you could have the chicken salad, or the calzone, or ...."
Me:"Hang on .. isn't calzone like a folded pizza?"
Prezzo: "Umm... I don't understand ..."
Me:"Isn't it made from dough?"
ME:"Made from wheat flour?"
Me:"So, not gluten free, then?"
Me:"OK ... well, I know I can have the risotto- I've had it before, but the important diner is the vegan - it's for her birthday. Can you accomodate her?"
Prezzo:"Well, there's the garlic bread ..."
Me:" Does that have butter?"
Me:"So, not vegan, then"
Prezzo:" Ummm... no? There's the bruschetta"
Me:"Your online menu says that has mozzerella on. Is that right?"
Prezzo:"Sometimes. There is also the pasta al forno."
Me:"Does that have cheese on?"
Me:"So ... not vegan?"
Prezzo:"But it has the 'V' on the menu, this must be wrong..."
Me:"V for VEGETARIAN, but I need to know about VEGAN food?"
Prezzo:"Well, there's the chicken salad...."
Me:"Are you serious?"
Me: ...

Good Grief.
We're booked in at ASK.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Beauty at Dawn (flash fiction)

I'm feeling like I should get back to writing again, so step 1 is going through my older collection. This piece was originally 100 words exactly, for a competition (I won), but I recently re-found it with an extra 50 words tagged on, and I like the twist I gave it (though it's not perfect - there's an obvious flaw). I might come back to expand it further though.

Beauty at Dawn

He knelt by her slender, naked body.
No resistance was offered as he lifted her, arm behind her shoulders. He tilted her chin gently, raising her face closer to his. Brushing back a few stray hairs, he stared deep into her brown eyes. Slowly he let his eyes wander over every detail of her pale face.
In the brightening sunlight water rainbowed in her hair.

Finally he laid her gently back on the riverbank. Taking a deep breath he stood, and turned to face his fellow officers, huddled, hushed.
“It’s not our mis-per. Take her to the morgue… identity unknown.”

He turned away; returned to his car. Now a new file would open for this murdered enchantress. The missing teenager would slip from people’s minds and he could breathe easy again. The investigation had almost come too close.

Turning the mirror he smiled at his reflected eyes. “You did good.”

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Update on Chiropractice and Libel

I've been meaning to put together something about the situation with Simon Singh and the BCA as referred to in an earlier post, but I think this article:

Science-Based Medicine

does a much better job than I could. It explains beautifully how the BCA have done more to discredit themselves than anyone else could have done.


Simon Singh is a science journalist who last year wrote an article in the Guardian critical of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) for promoting chiropractic treatment for certain childhood ailments. Singh characterized these treatments as “bogus” because they lack evidence to back up claims for clinical efficacy. The BCA responded by suing Singh for libel. In the English court system the person being sued for libel is essentially guilty until proven innocent, and even successfully defending oneself can be ruinously expensive. Therefore suing for libel in English court is a very successful strategy for silencing critics.

This case resulted in a bit of a backlash against the BCA, who were accused of silencing legitimate and very necessary public scientific debate regarding the safety and efficacy of medical interventions. The BCA could have simply responded by providing evidence to back up their claims, and the Guardian even offered them space to do so, but instead they sued.

Part of this backlash is a movement, supported by many scientific organizations, to keep libel laws out of science.

Recently the BCA has responded to this backlash with a statement and a list of studies they claim provides the evidence Singh said was lacking.

....snip ....

The BCA’s list of evidence for these four clinical claims is not impressive. The best they have to offer is a few weak and poorly designed studies. They also ignore larger better trials where available that are negative.

A more thorough assessment of the evidence for chiropractic treatment for asthma and colic is reveals evidence for lack of efficacy. For otitis media and nocturnal enuresis there is a lack of evidence for efficacy.

Despite the state of the evidence, the BCA feels they are justified in promoting chiropractic for these pediatric indications. The reader can decide if the term “bogus” applies.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Standards .... of .... ???

An email from the Prime Minister's Office regarding a petition to regulate quack medicine.

The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) does not promote the efficacy of disciplines practised by its registrants. The aim of the CNHC is protection of the public. Registration means that the practitioner has met certain entry standards (in terms of having an accredited qualification or relevant experience) and that they subscribe to a set of professional standards. The public will have the reassurance that the practitioner they choose meets these standards and will be subject to fitness to practise procedures should they behave inappropriately.

Regulation, whether statutory or voluntary, is about protecting the public. For this reason, the Government fully supports the work of the CNHC. If patients choose to use complementary or alternative therapy, the Government’s advice is to choose a practitioner registered with a reputable voluntary registration body such as the CNHC.

(bolding mine)

So, the public can rest assured ... not that the treatment has any validity ... but that the practitioner has subscribed to a certain set of standards. So the practitioner's behaviour is held to a set standard, but the actuall efficacy of the treatment is not. Your treatment may be costing you plenty and not be proven to work at all, but at least your practitioner will behave appropriately.

In my opinion, the government should be concerned about the efficacy of treatments, and should be concerned that people are enouraged to use treatments such as acupuncture, which has scientifically be shown to yield the exact same results if it is done incorrectly - therefore only benefitting a patient due to the placebo effect.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Never forget - make sure the younger generations know

Twenty years on, and the youth in China reportedly do not know what happened there.
Tiananmen Square defiance

New defiance as people try to mark remembrance

Sad News

David Carradine found dead

I couldn't let this go unremarked, given the impact Kung Fu had on me over the years. Very sad news indeed. I feel almost as if I've lost a mentor, although I know that he was an actor playing a part. He did it so well, though, and I had been delighted to see his career revamped a little more recently thanks to Kill Bill.

Simon Singh, JREF, and Sense about Science

Randi's comments

My family will find this amusing because I am the least science-oriented person they know. Throw words with 6 or more syllables, or definitive terminology at me and I start to get a little flustered. However, since my conversion from a stance believing nature guides and supports us to understanding the importance of a scientific approach, I'm all for supporting science and its progress wherever possible.

I fully support Simon Singh in his legal battle against the BCA, and therefore was delighted to see JREF's support, and their link to 'Sense about Science' who are also supporting Simon Singh.
Sense about Science

I hope you will also lend your support - go blog it, twitter it, or at the very least link to their 'Keep libel laws out of science' campaign - such as I have done to the right.
link for button

Thursday, May 28, 2009

'Natural Remedy' sellers run away from Q&A

My thanks to Teek at the Skepchick blog for bringing this to my attention. It brightened my day after the rather depressing news that acupuncture and other 'alternative' medicines are to be covered under the NHS.

Go here for an amusing read of what happened when a purveyor of 'natural remedies' opened themselves up to some Q&A with the Guardian readers:

Not a single answer!
This is a shame because many of the questions are entirely reasonable, and are simple questions anyone who believes these items are useful shoudl have been prepared to answer. Shame on them for running away, and more shame on them for continuing in business, given the rather outrageous claims made against some of their products which they clearly cannot support.

Edited to add:
Of all the good questions asked, I think the following is my favourite, and one I would have liked to have seen answered:
If I have discovered a new homeopathic remedy how do I go about getting it on the shelves of your shops?

Will it hinder my pitch that I have no evidence for my new remedy?

In my efforts, I have noted from your Canadian website that all your products meet your "stringent requirements" for quality and that they are "thoroughly tested". What are these stringent requirements for quality and what do these thorough tests involve? I would want to make sure that my new product will stand up to these impressive sounding standards.

I also see that you have a "team of highly qualified scientists" responsible for checking this, what are your minimum qualification requirements to join this esteemed body?

Friday, March 06, 2009

A little gem in the city sidestreets

Down in the docks area of Aberdeen is a location I know little about, and not an area I'd tend to wander around unless heading from one place to another. However, we were directed today to a little cafe there, and we'll need to thank the lady who sent us there.

Musa Art Cafe is located off the main road that passes by the docks, and the bus and railway stations, on Exchange Street. A little converted church that dates from 1880, it has been restored to show off the beautiful wooden carved beams in the ceiling and the rose windows.

Inside it is rather chaotic, but in a fun, just-give-into-it kind of way. You need to identify the best path by which to weave through to your chosen table, but the staff were immediately welcoming, friendly, and able to assist in finding a spot. It was quite busy when we were in so we missed the ceramics and some of the art that it claims are on offer, but as we sat upstairs we had a good overall view of the cafe, and a stunning view of the elaborate ceiling and the windows.

The menu was a rare thing for me - I was actually stuck for choice on several possible options. I picked "chilli cooked haddock with mash, crispy bacon and a poached duck egg". It was several meals in one, really, and came with a rich creamy sauce around the haddock. The chilli wasn't intrusive on the haddock, and the egg was poached perfectly - something I had been experimenting with last week, with much less success! The mash included spring onions, so was actually champ - a real home favourite for me that I don't get often enough over here. We were seriously tempted by some of the desserts, but were too full to try some, so happily agreed that we will be coming back.

So, a delightful surprise in a part of the city I never would have considered for good healthy food. Highly recommended.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Spice Mill

I went out last night to a local Indian restaurant called The Spice Mill.

In advance of visiting I'd tried calling to discuss my dietary needs with someone, but had real problems getting the man answering the phone to understand me, so decided to try with the waiter on the night instead.

Let's deal with the good news first - the food was fantastic. The portions weren't as huge as many Indian restaurants do them for some reason, and they were fresh and beautifully seasoned.

Unfortunately the staff let it down. We had one waiter who had really good english, and was polite and helpful ... when he was available.

We asked for a jug of water at the start of the evening, and after the third time of asking, got some glasses of water during our main meal. We had to wait a fair bit between ordering, and courses, and had to try hard to get the attention of a waiter. On two occasions, getting that attention supplied us with some incomprehensible grunts - and no resolution to our requests.

When our main courses arrived, the waiter for some reason started picking through my friend's dish with a spoon, between handing each of the other dishes and rice to the table. We asked several times what the problem was, and were rewarded with more incomprehensible grunts before he ran away, taking the dish with him! Another waiter was next to our table as he ran, and my friend took advantage of him looking at us to say she didn't know why he took the dish (it seemed to be the correct dish). This waiter grunted something else, and then met the decent waiter on the way up the stairs. He turned to our table and we told him the waiter had taken a dish away with no explanation. He went to find out what happened. After a few minutes, a dish (looking like the same dish) was brought to my friend. He made a half-assed attempt of an apology and left - we are still completely in the dark as to what happened, and it didn't fill us with much comfort for the rest of the evening. Nobody came to see how we were doing and if everything was ok, and we were left for a fair amount of time again after our meals before we were asked if we wanted coffees or desserts. We were too disgusted to stay much longer by that point.

So, we had an enjoyable evening - because the company was good and we had plenty of time to waste (luckily enough). The meal was not overly expensive, and we were unimpressed with the presentation of a rose each as we left. We'd have preferred better service.

Our final verdict was that we'd eat the food again, but only from the takeaway service.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Al Pitcher's Picture Show

I went back to the Lemon Tree last night to watch a comedy gig. Al Pitcher isn't someone I'd heard of before, and the whole show was entirely enjoyable.

I managed to retain my mysterious mask of public invisibilty, so was spared the attention of this Kiwi comedian, who keeps the show very intimate and individualised for each town he goes to. He does this partly by turning it into a 'chat' with the audience and partly through a 'slide show' of photos he takes of each town he visits before that night's show. Unlike many comedians who abuse their audience as part of the show, Al Pitcher was very friendly, and people were mostly happy to respond and speak to him. Even my daughter and I were prepared at various points to add our comments, but each time we were either too slow, or someone changed the track of the discussion before we piped up. I've seen Aberdeen audiences brutally heckle comedians in my previous life at the Lemon Tree as door steward, so I knew if he didn't get the balance right, they had the capability to reduce him to tears.

His take on Aberdeen through the photos he took was highly amusing, and it seemed the only thing to cause anything close to offence in them was his commentary that Aberdonians (scots in general, really) will put anything in a pie. Personally, I think the lull didn't come from offense, though. I think people were just wondering if they should tell him to have a rowie for breakfast next day. This weird concoction, also known as a buttery, is a fatty, salty, pat of pastry that looks like it was scraped off the bottom of a grill and is unique to the Aberdeen area, I believe.

In any case, everyone participated happily - even the Irish schoolteacher who frowned severely on his ... banter .... about whether or not teachers are ever tempted to try it on with the kids. (There was a bunch of Irish lady schoolteachers in together, and he was surmising that although it's definitely nasty and condemned by the media when male teachers do it... it seems to be thought of as as very sexy, when the teacher's a lady). As you'd expect, not too many people were laughing hard at such jokes, and yet Al managed to turn it around, and was told by the lady before the break that he was very funny - even if those particular jokes weren't. :D

I expect that this show depends very heavily on the audience - by its very nature. The Aberdeen audience was split about evenly between actual Aberdonians, and immigrants such as myself and the Irish ladies, which may have helped the comedian out a little. I've found a similarity though, between my native Belfast and Aberdeen, in that they tend not to take themselves too seriously anyway. They were happy to sit back and laugh at the way Aberdeen looks to a tourist, and to join in the banter (or craic, as my lot would say).

So although we had not set ourselves any expectations, other than hiding if he was brutal with the audience participation stuff (which he wasn't by any stretch), both my daughter and I came home still smiling and laughing, having had an evening out that was as interesting as it was entertaining. We'd definitely recommend it, and would see him again if we get the chance.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Blues at the Lemon Tree

So, I've been out of cirulation for quite a while, and this week it got on top of me. I decided to take some positive action, and start getting out a bit more, even if it means alone (all but one of my friends being at least 500 miles away). Scary stuff.

I decided to start somewhere familiar to me. I used to go to The Lemon Tree quite regularly, and worked there as a door steward a few years back. Added to the facts that my ex husband was 2nd chef there, and I met my last partner there, it's a bit like revisiting an old home. None of the old staff remain, however - not even in the kitchen from what I could see (it's open to the restaurant), but the restaurant itself was as familiar and comfortable as I expected - despite a lovely fresh revamp on the decor.

I admit to hiding myself at one of my favourite old tables right at the back away from the stage and the bar and kitchen - but at least I was out of the house. :)

I started with a course of courgette, sun-dried tomatoes and haddock risotto, which was absolutely delightful. I had expected to spend a little time picking out the tomatoes, but luckily for me the description was wrong. These tomatoes were little loops of light, moist (definitely not any form of dried) tomatoes that left a lovely juice in the mouth. The courgettes were in nice big chunks and perfectly cooked so that they weren't crunchy, but not mushy either. The haddock was mixed in so that unless you had a piece on your fork, you didn't taste it over everything else; a difficult balance to achieve with fish. The rice had a few small forkfuls that were a little crunchy, but I don't mind that - I prefer it to a risotto that ends up all gooey and overdone, and it was only a few forks' worth. Overall I was really glad I chose that dish.

By now the band had started playing. They were called Papa Mojo and played a style of quite traditional blues music. They were mostly unobtrusive with just a few horrible jokes, and the music was great. One of the two singers apologised for a croaky throat, but I had enjoyed his songs more than the other as there was a slight Joe Cocker effect. Of course - I don't know if that's how he always sounds, but it was the kind of raspy blues vocal that I like. They mixed in a few songs that they said were by 'confused' blues musicians - with an element of gospel mixed in. I have to say they were the parts I didn't enjoy so much, but they didn't do enough of them to spoil the outing for me.

I was enjoying the music so much that I settled down for the whole show, and to follow my risotto I decided to set my diet aside, and had the orange creme brulee. This dish was absolutely heavenly. It had the thinnest crispest layer of burnt sugar, and under that was a light cream that was deliciously icy cold. It had the exact measure of orange in it so that the dish tasted light and creamy, and also refreshingly zesty. The only issue I had with it was that it was in a little ramekin, and served with a large dessert spoon! However, when my hot chocolate arrived in a tall glass, it came with a short teaspoon, so I was able to use that spoon for my dessert - it was basically useless for the drink.

At least both spoons were clean - I had to move my table settings around to get a clean fork (something I've encountered before at the venue). I found this ironic as I watched two waiters polish up heaps of cutlery while I was waiting to be served initially. I wasn't aware that it had changed to a system where you order your food at the bar yourself. There is a little menu holder on the table that says "Welcome to the Lemon Tree" on one side, and - as I later discovered because it had been turned to the back of the table and covered by a wilting paper menu - "Please order at the bar" on the other. I think they should put this information on the menu as well, or both sides of the menu holder to be sure it can bve easily seen. I wuold have suggested this to the guy I placed my orders with, but I have the distinct feeling it was his first day, and I didn't want to cause him more panic than he was already experiencing. He did ok with my queries about gluten free options, so I let him off the hook. The waiting staff were slow to clear away (I seem to become invisible in public places - the table next to me was attended to twice and cleared away on a third visit, while I sat with the same dishes clearly left aside to be lifted) but that's no big deal.

But - none of the latter comments spoiled my visit in any way. I felt relaxed, and the food was just divine, and the music was enjoyable and not overbearing. I would be happy to return, but more importabtly, it went well enough for me that I'm a little happier to venture to somewhere less known to me. Maybe I'll start reviewing such places a little more often. :)

Monday, December 01, 2008

America's Top Ten Ideas - help make Project Jason one of them.

The following is information received from Kelly Jolkowski about Project Jason's latest endeavours. Please vote and pass it on.

Most of you have heard of our Campaign for the Missing, a state by state effort to pass legislation which would positively impact how missing and unidentified deceased person cases are handled. (

We’ve been successful mentoring volunteers with the passage of legislation in 6 states, with several more active. These efforts will continue on.

I recently learned of an effort called Ideas for Change in America. This is a is a citizen-driven project that aims to identify and create momentum around the best ideas for how the 111th Congress can turn the broad call for "change" across the country into specific policies. The project is nonpartisan, and is not connected to the Obama Administration.

In this effort, the top 10 rated ideas will be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009 as the "Top 10 Ideas for America." The sponsor organization,, will then launch a national campaign behind each idea and mobilize the collective energy of a selected and related nonprofit, the millions of members of, MySpace, and partner organizations to ensure that each winning idea gets the full consideration of the Obama Administration and Members of Congress.

The "Top 10 Ideas for America" will be determined through two rounds of voting. In the first round, ideas will compete against other ideas in the same issue category. The first round will end on December 31, 2008, and the top 3 rated ideas from each category will make it into the second round. The second round of voting will begin on Monday, January 5, and each qualifying idea will compete against the qualifying ideas from all other categories. Second round voting will end on Thursday, January 15.

I have submitted “Establish National Protocol in Missing and Unidentified Person Cases” for consideration. It is now on the website and votes can be placed. It is listed in the Criminal Justice category.

As you can see by the posted information and link to the protocol, this is the 2008 revision of the Campaign for the Missing legislation. While we have never pursued federal passage, this seemed like a good opportunity to make an attempt, or at least bring attention to our plight if nothing more. Education is important, with so many not having awareness of the situation as it exists, and what those of us who live with this experience daily. If we do not try, nothing will be accomplished, that is a certainty.

What I ask of you is your vote. It’s as easy as clicking on the link above, and then on the Vote button. There is also a widget you can copy and place on your website, blog, Facebook, or MySpace page. It will, however, take more than your vote. It will take you forwarding the link to your friends and family, and asking them to vote. It will take many of you adding the widget to your page.

My son, and thousands upon thousands of other sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, etc, might be an unidentified body lying in a morgue waiting to be buried or cremated without DNA analysis done. When that happens, and it may already have, my family may never have the answers we desire. We need to put a halt to this tragedy on top of tragedy and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure everything that can be done in these cases is done. (There is much more to it than DNA, but that is one of many key elements.)

Please vote, and forward this email to everyone in your address book.

Collectively, we are the voice for the missing, speaking for those who are not among us but who are forever in our hearts.

Kelly Jolkowski, Mother of Missing Jason Jolkowski
President and Founder,
Project Jason
Help us find the missing: Become an AAN Member

All missing persons are loved by someone, and their families deserve to find the answers they seek in regards to the disappearance.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Fundraising for Robert Lancaster

The wonderful Robert Lancaster ( had a stroke in the summer this year. This site is to assist with ongoing fundraising efforts for him and his family, such as:
Paypal donations which can be given through the following site:

The new website for purchasing merchandise is now at:
Fundraising for Robert

Please come and show your support and get some cool stuff to wear to TAM, or just to have.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Awareness Angels Network

Here's a way to elp the wonderful Project Jason.

It’s a fact that one in six missing persons are found as a result of a visual aid, such as a billboard or a poster, thus the importance of poster dissemination in missing person cases. Placing posters is an easy way for you to get involved, and it can make a real difference for the families of the missing.

With your Awareness Angels Network (AAN) membership, you’ll receive notifications via email about new missing person cases, updates on current cases, and recovered persons. These notifications inlcude a link to a special Awareness Angels Network poster you can print and place.

Once you are subscribed, the email notifications you receive include a link to the printable poster for a specific missing person, plus a link to Project Jason’s forum, where you can keep up on the latest case news and information.

We encourage you to:

*Print copies of this poster and display them near your home, at your workplace and in public places.

*Give copies of this poster to friends and associates who can place posters near their homes and workplaces.

*Give copies to friends or associates who travel so they can place the posters in more wide-reaching areas.

When the missing person is located, we will notify you. At that time, you will be asked to remove any indoor, outdoor and Internet postings of this person.

Project Jason has divided the US into 14 geographical regions for this program. You may subscribe to as many regions as you wish. We encourage multiple region subscriptions since we’re a very mobile society. It doesn’t take long for a person to travel great distances. In some cases, a missing person may not necessarily be in the same area or location where he/she was last seen. Your notification emails will cover missing persons who were last seen in the region to which you subscribed.

Once you subscribe to a region, you will be offered a special widget which you may add to your website, blog, MySpace, Facebook, etc. The widget is our thank you for being an Awareness Angels Network member. It will also serve to encourage others to become members, as the widget links right to our site. The more helping eyes, ears, and hands we have, the greater the odds of success.

From now until about mid-September, the focus of the program will be outreach to gain subscribers. When we begin the email notifications, it is important to have a reasonable subscriber base. In mid-September, we will begin to send the notifications on a more regular basis.

We're asking interested persons to subscribe AND to send this message to others.

With your help, we'll have many happy endings.

Subscribe here today:

Note: You can also subscribe to our Project Jason newsletters on the website noted above.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Meet ID Kitty, and get your ID kits for the family (US)

Keeping Kids Safe: New “I.D. Kitty” Mascot to Give Free I.D. Kits in Celebration of Family Safety
I.D. Kitty to debut in Omaha August 23 at the Omaha Royals game, with additional public appearances to follow

It is every parent’s nightmare – your child is here one minute, and out of sight the next. Most often, you can find them quickly. But sometimes, you need to call for help from people nearby and possibly even the police.

An average of 2,000 children per day disappear in the United States. Would you know what to do if your child or other loved one disappeared? Would you be prepared to quickly take the steps necessary to locate your missing loved one?

Project Jason, a nonprofit organization providing assistance for families of missing persons, offers free identification kits to help families to prepare. And now, Project Jason announces a fun new way to prepare your family when you need to spring into action, fast.

The new mascot, “I.D. Kitty,” is a large, warm and fuzzy, 6-foot-tall live action figure designed to make children and their families enjoy getting their own identification kits. Children will be delighted by him, and parents will appreciate how Project Jason is taking the “fear factor” out of obtaining and creating I.D. Kits, which should be part of every household, and for every family member.

I.D. Kitty will make his debut Saturday, August 23, 2008 at the Omaha Royals 2nd Annual Public Service Appreciation Night at 4 p.m. The public can visit I.D. Kitty at the main parking lot and get your FREE I.D. Kits!

I.D. Kitty will also appear Sunday, September 21 at Project Jason’s “Miles for the Missing” fundraiser at Zorinski Lake Park, and Sunday, October 5 at the Family Safety Day, held in conjunction with the Omaha Chapter of the National Safety Council.

About the I.D. Kit

Since its inception in 2003, Project Jason has given out more than 13,500 I.D. Kits to assist families with safety preparation.

These free I.D. Kits are provided by Project Jason at public events, and as a free downloads in English and in Spanish from the organization website. The kit contains a list of the first steps to take in the event a loved one is missing, plus valuable information that law enforcement will need. The kit should be printed on heavier stock paper, kept in a safe place, and updated at least every 6-12 months.

The kit can be downloaded at

Friday, August 08, 2008

Chinese State Circus

I've started loading some of my photos to my site for sale, but I thought I'd add my favourites here.
As I grew up the Monkey Legend was something that had quite an impact on me, so I was chuffed to see Monkey lead the narration at the Circus. The actor did well with facial expressions and involving the audience.

The plate spinners were impressive ....

As was the contortionist ....

But as always, I think my favourites are the dragon dancers.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Best wishes to a wonderful man

Robert Lancaster is one of the warmest, calmest and most intelligent people I know. A caring person through and through he acts on things that he finds unfair, and has done amazing work in shining a light on frauds and users of people's grief.

"Stop Kaz!"

"Stop Sylvia Browne!"

I was honoured to meet him and his lovely wife, and I look forward to repeating the opportunity at some event in the future. I was very sad to hear he is currently in hospital, and I wish him all the best that modern medicine can offer him.

All my best wishes to RSL and his family. I hope you have a speedy recovery, and as little stress as possoble for you and your Better Half.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Goodbye, I'd hoped to call you friend

In January this year I met a wonderful guy, who was interesting to talk to, and very funny. He ran the BlueCollarScientist blog, and was fascinated to learn about the kinds of people we come across as members and moderators on the JREF forum. Of all the people I met that week, he was one who made a real impact, and I had hoped to get to know him better.

I'm sorry to report, bad news this morning:

I'd like to remember the nice stuff he did and said, so here is an entry I had enjoyed, from his blog:

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Trybe ... as requested by Dr A.

Here ya go dad. :-D

This band played at the Stonehaven Folk Festival, and were highly enjoyable. The handsome chap with the pipes and kilt was very welcoming and amusing.

My personal favourite was a rendition of 'My Grandfather's Clock' (by a different group that played that day) which brought back a slew of childhood memories. One of my favourite toys was a little wind-up clock that played the tune, and my dad or grandfather taught me the words to go with it.

My favourite photographic subject

...apart from my beautiful daughter.

I don't know what it is about the Grey Heron that fascinates me, but it does. This one was waiting at the Bridge of Feughs last week. Unfortunately, it didn't hang around for long.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Knights of Royal England

Yesterday I went to a jousting festival at Urqhart Castle overlooking Loch Ness. No sign of Nessie, but a great day all round anyway.

The first arrival was the very funny and effective commentator for the day:

The kids got involved as fighters for the King:

Then the knights arrived, and the fun began:

More, or a link to more pics, during the week.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Curse Of The Beijing Olympics

Bad Luck for China

Perhaps it's the absence of organised religion, but the Chinese are quick to link natural disasters, accidents and violence to a combination of divine intervention and heavenly anger.

Now China's online soothsayers are linking Beijing's Olympic mascots to a string of misfortunes in the run-up to the Games.

Four out of the five "fuwas" - literally friendly toys - are being tied in to the natural and human disasters visited on China during the turbulent build-up.

Jingjing - the Panda - an animal closely associated with Sichuan Province, epicentre of last month's terrible quake.

Huanhuan - the Olympic torch - the round the world torch relay was a PR disaster of awesome proportions.

Yingying - the Antelope - native to Tibet, the location of the March riots and the military crackdown.

Nini - the Kite - the kite city of Weifang is located in Shandong, scene of April's deadly train crash that killed 72 people.

Beibei - the Fish - a Chinese sturgeon found only in the Yangtze River. Is this the location for China's next major disaster, ask cyberspace doom merchants.


Saturday, June 21, 2008


Three names = Assassin!

Someone really needs to lighten up. :-D

During an appearance on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," Jerry Seinfeld said Lapine was accusing his wife of "vegetable plagiarism" and compared her to the three-name killers of John Lennon and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"If you read history, many of the three-name people do become assassins," Seinfeld said. "Mark David Chapman. And you know, James Earl Ray. So that's my concern."

His lawyers said in court papers filed late Tuesday: "No reasonable viewer could have thought that Seinfeld really meant that Lapine ... might become an `assassin' simply because she has three names."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Great idea

Let's get rid of all the paramilitary murals, and replace them with stuff like this instead. It's good to see a celebration of a Belfast born celebrity of merit.

CS Lewis mural

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Filmed in Belfast - sci-fi epic!

City of Ember

Just watched the trailer, and I think this looks like one to watch on release in October. When I learned it was filmed in Belfast I have to admit a little twinge of concern, but looking at the set and imagery in the trailer, it looks at least as good as anything from Hollywood.

The film, co-financed by Northern Ireland Screen and produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, features a stellar cast including Academy Award nominees Saoirse Ronan and Bill Murray, Harry Treadaway and Academy Award winners Martin Landau and Tim Robbins.

Martin Landau said: "It's amazing. It's quite an amazing set, extensive and tall and comfortable. I would say it's quite remarkable."

At the end of the last financial year City of Ember delivered an estimated £9.2m to the Northern Ireland economy. This was against an investment of just £800,000 from Northern Ireland Screen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cool hobby - pencil carving!

Thanks to -Fran- at the JREF Forum for posting about this. I felt I had to share it!
Some of these carvings are pretty cool, and make my teenage 'efforts' of artistic nibblings seem pretty feeble.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lame Government Cop-out

Petition presented to the government

Without compromise to freedom of thought or expression, the teachings and beliefs of Scientology, Dianetics and science-fiction writer L Ron Hubbard must never be legally be accepted as a religion – regardless of any recent EU decision to the contrary.

We consider the ‘Church’ of Scientology is an exclusive business venture that by prohibiting access to scientifically-proven psychiatric therapy and medicine is effectively enslaving its believers.

Government Response

In our approach to religious groups, the Government must seek to balance its responsibility to protect vulnerable individuals with the UK's long held commitment to freedom of worship and belief.

The Government does not consider that it would be feasible or appropriate to introduce specific legislation or regulation of religious groups, their activities or their beliefs. There would be considerable difficulty in drawing up legislation in a way that did not interfere with the individual's right to choose their beliefs and lifestyles so long as they do no harm to others. There is also no obvious way in which legislation could deal with cases where adults participate in activities of religious organisations entirely voluntarily.

I definitely support freedom of worship, although I have no form of deist beliefs at all. However, the point that was being made, that the government ignored, is that Scientology is not a religion. It's a cult, and a cult with dangerous beliefs regarding health care. It's a business, and a business that promotes ignorance and sucks up the resources of its members.

The government has dropped the ball here, in my opinion.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day dad!

We found some old films when we moved, which explains the speckling in this picture. We really thought you'd like to see it, 'cos we think it's a great photo.

All our love,
CZ and your granddaughter.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Unicorn in Italy

and it's so cute!

A deer with a single horn in the center of its head -- much like the fabled, mythical unicorn -- has been spotted in a nature preserve in Italy, park officials said Wednesday.

"This is fantasy becoming reality," Gilberto Tozzi, director of the Center of Natural Sciences in Prato, told The Associated Press. "The unicorn has always been a mythological animal."

The 1-year-old Roe Deer -- nicknamed "Unicorn" -- was born in captivity in the research center's park in the Tuscan town of Prato, near Florence, Tozzi said.

He is believed to have been born with a genetic flaw; his twin has two horns.