Saturday, 19 December 2009

Christmastime …

Of course, this is the season to be jolly, but it is also a good time to be thinking about those who aren't.
Helen Valentine



The Copenhagen gab-fest has ended. Not surprisingly, OUR leaders didn't really reach any agreement. They agreed to agree on a compromise by reaching an 'Accord', but shied away from actually agreeing on a legally binding 'Treaty'. I don't wish to make light of it because the problem is frustratingly complex. But it could also be a simple one to solve. It all depends on whether, as a leader, you are willing to accept that your people are intelligent enough to understand that you, and they, may have to give up a few of the 'good' things of life. I suppose it all depends on where you're sitting, and how comfortable you've become with your luxuries.

President Obama was the last to arrive as he has his own battle to fight with the Senate. I gather he has been successful (Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat, Nebraska, became the pivotal 60th vote on Saturday). Obama knocked a few heads together in Copenhagen, obviously made some promises (and no doubt a few threats), and managed to get China, India, Brazil and South Africa to join him in the Accord. This has now been ratified by the UN, with indecent haste, much to the displeasure of the majority of the other 187 attending countries. There is even one called Tuvalu. Do you know where it is? Look it up; I had to. Can you imagine that 192 countries were represented at the Summit, and that each of those countries sent a team from all corners of the globe? And then try to imagine the carbon footprint they left, getting there and back!

There was high class entertainment too. The internationally famous comedians Chavez (Venezuela) and Mugabe (Zimbabwe) grabbed their chance to address the delegates, and ranted and raved at their sworn enemies, the USA (Chavez) and the UK (Mugabe). Never once did these two clowns mention the subject of the meeting, 'climate change' and 'global warming'! You really have to wonder whether "knocking their heads together" ought to be introduced as an Olympic sport for 2012.

Do they know it's Christmas?



I very much doubt it.

And I doubt if they care ...

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Friday, 18 December 2009

6.3 …

An earthquake achieves what the law promises but does not in practice maintain - the equality of all men
Ignazio Silon



At precisely 01:37:46 on Thursday morning, December 17, 2009, Maria and I, almost simultaneously, castigated the dog loudly for scratching himself with such abandon that it was causing the bed and furniture in the room to shake.

The dog lifted his doleful eyes to us, from where he was lying at the foot of the bed, as if to demand we take back our verbal assault. He was right to do so!

The cause of the furniture dancing around the room, the computers doing a fandango, and the most unpleasant rippling effect running through us, was a shift of the earth's tectonic plates about 165 miles (265 kilometres) SSW of our location in Lisbon, that seemed to last for an eternity.

In reality it probably only lasted for 30 seconds. But take my word for it - it sure as hell felt like an eternity!


The USGS data map. The USGS data map. 


The USGS map states the location as being 'WEST OF GIBRALTAR'. Well, that is certainly geographically correct, but it would have been more helpful if they had described it as being, 'SOUTH OF PORTUGAL'. I am sure that some people on 'The Rock' may have felt the slightest of tremors, but it sure as hell shook us up on the west coast of Portugal!

I am happy to report that there have been no reports of casualties or structural damage.

However, this 'little' incident has once again brought the dormant fear of earthquakes once more to the surface. It certainly makes one rush to an on-line source to re-read information on the 'big one' that struck Lisbon in 1755. That is one I need to blog about because there were some excellent lessons learned and some of the 'forward-thinking' of the men of the day is worth commenting on.

In the meanwhile I shall review our 'plans' should we suffer a major hit. There are simple things to try to remember, which I am sure will completely desert us under stress, so it may well be of value to scribble things down in a prioritised order of action.

Can it wait until after Christmas? Probably.

Could it be required before Christmas? Hmmmm..., hope not!

Sleep tight ...



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Here's a toast to your health.

"Lang May Yer Lumb Reek!"
(Scottish for 'long may your chimney smoke')

or if you prefer,

"Bottoms Up!"