Sunday, September 19, 2010

Unpluged church

This Sunday will be back-to-church Sunday, basically Church, but a bit unplugged. Although it's church as normal next week, we will be expecting a good few new faces, hopefully just people who have not gone to church for some reason or other, and not just because Sundays are just too busy in your home. I suppose the holiness of a Sunday is a difficult issue for some folk, I'm one of them, because I kick against all things establishment based.
Some folk have fancy holidays, they save up an entire year of stress or just work for just a week or two in a faraway country. Personally I prefer to have 52 holidays a year, I call them Sundays, each one is different - I even have photos of some of them.
I'm tempted to come in real holiday mood this Sunday, partly because I am working with the young folk this Sunday, Cottenham Baptist call ours Supernovas. This video is not the Supernovas, Supernovas are a little shorter.

But you get this idea, we have fun on Sundays, they are rest days, but the 27th is special.
Revd Ian Bunce: “I would say to anyone thinking of coming back to church this Sunday that there is no need to wear something special, no need to pre-book, you do not need to bring anything. We would just be glad to see you and to welcome you into our community, God’s family. We hope you will feel wanted and relaxed as you experience worship with us, so come on, ‘come as you are’! We would love to see you.”  

Worldwide, participating Christian churches will be "doing church" as usual, but differently - some are dressing down, and some are dressing up. If you think Sunday is a rest day, come along in your pajamas - actually rather not, especially since you should be bringing a friend.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fungus or Mushroom Identification

It looks pretty much like a dried out black grape at first glance.
But it has a hole which releases a black powder - which turnes out to be spores, which are more olive brown than black. Here you can see a blade of grass has pierced this one, the base is at the bottom, and just out of sight is the hole in the top from which comes the spores. The shape is not for a mushroom really since it has no visible stem.

This is what it looks like from underneath.

The inside of the fungus shown here, it has a carpet of fluffy dust - brownish in this pic, but almost black in the other one I found. It's a powdery dust that gets airborne quite easily.
For scale, that's a windscreen wiper blade.
It "looks" like these fungus are Gasteromycetes, puffballs for us non-fungii, meaning stomach. Not a family as such, so this is not an identification, puffball is more an identification aid.
Time: is late August - I'm guessing this is the mature stage.
Location: Norwich, Norfolk
Site: A school field - an unused field, which we were allowed to pitch tents on. They appear to be loose amongst the grass.

Can anyone tell me what it's called?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Political Comment

2010 is probably the stress year for european politicians. I blame them for the collapse of the economy, but I also blame individuals for job losses at home. Far too many people fly kites, some of us without knowing it, ...before I move onto August being the month of brilliant kite flying weather, I share one more criminal thought with you.
If a house brick can be used to hit someone with, does that make the makers bad people?
On the other hand, should a maker of house bricks supply them to someone who has a track record of hitting people with them?
All this does is force us to legalise making a black-list, something known to cause problems of it's own in terms of corruption. We black list weapons, oil, cryptography and even jobs, STOP!
Sunset in late July
Get some fresh air - everything is a lovely green this month with all the rain. With the days getting shorter, I shall be packing more into them than actually fits - but what can I pack into my soul?
Check out this inspiring tweeter and blogger on the soul. Lee Bezotte

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sometimes it rains gently

It starts to rain
She opens a window
Firmly I close it again
Relenting I open the window

Not because I may get wet
But for the love I always get

Monday, June 28, 2010

Proniunciation on Govt spending cuts

Govt is not responsible for jobs. : WE ARE! I moved house, so did my grandad, over 8000 miles. WAKE UP!
Hey just because I am not entitled to benefits in the UK does not mean I have a reasonable opinion on this matter at all, so if you are faint of heart, please click here now.

Ok, the intro. and public safety anouncement over, let's take our seats, or should I say thrones for the onion awards once again. I just listened to some people who clearly are so lost that they are afraid to lose their homes if they move elsewhere to find work. I think admiral Nelson might call them lilly livers, but I have a less harsh pronunciation over the council housing estates... simply poor schools. I have traced back most of western society problems to a wave of miss-guided education policy from the 1970's and 1980s. Just look it up and you will see how true it is, I mean they must have scrapped classes in home economics, because nobody can ballance their credit cards, and we all blame the bankers for it... schools also failed to teach history properly over the same period, (In South Africa we wasted too much time on a guy called 'Jan', and then how thousands of people got slaughtered in one day in a battle which later got commemorated as a holy day, yes that was evil), but in europe, we totally screwed up history teaching. I mean they forgot to mention the industrial revolution in class somehow, maybe because it meant people of low education or skills suffered when machines took over. Maybe they forgot to teach about how man has constantly roamed the face of the planet for almost 5000 years, and it's the roaming, and not staying stuck in council houses that got shipbuilders mobilised, created a invincible navy, got coal extracted from the ground, and finally built a economy to be proud of in a land one can be proud of. I have one thing to say to number 10 : "David, do not give us jobs nor food, instead teach us how to feed ourselves."
I'm just a grumpy old man now, pride does not feature for me now : maybe I should just stay where I am and wait to die.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Public events searching dead

When it comes to finding out what is happening in your neighbourhood, Google calendar used to be the 'up-comming' way of doing it. Just log into google, find a calendar maintained by someone net door, and add it to your 'empty because I'm lazy' calendar... And hey look - there's a food festival on this weekend, I'll have to turn aunt Doris down for tea.
But Google turned off the public calendar search, which hurts for people who are lazy like me and since Google know well, 90% of their users are subscribers and have never published a octet or a pixel in their lives. So while we wait, here is a Cottenham Calendar to try add by URL to your calendar. The Cottenham Village College also have a calendar, showing school breakup days and school-specific events naturally.

Here is a ping to everyone’s got an opinion about the B1049.It talks about the B1049, and a few other local routes under stress and how residents think they are unsafe, particularly affecting Histon. In Cottenham, the issue I have is volume of traffic at 5pm making crossing un-usually dangerous. Unusually, because it's normally very easy to cross the high street by just listening out for cars coming along (excluding a Honda prius), but gets to the point where I wish we had a traffic light. Turning in or out on a bike gets hard too at busy times, and I just feel a tad vulnerable in a narrow space.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fun with the family

As usual, summers in England are camped or rather packed full of things to do. It's depressing how manic the brits get over that tiny bit of sunshine that does get through - remarkably this is one of the colder summers again, the only hot summer I had in the UK was my first one in 2006. Summer 2006 was hot for me just because I had to put up with going into London and dealing with the tube. Ridding the tube in the sweltering stinky summer just put me off London completely - yes it did! That's not saying I never go, there is tonnes to do in London, you just got to make a day of it.
It's just too obvious, that summer in the countryside is not as prone to the depression of entrapping smilling concrete, the gross runny tummy feeling, and sweaty dirty, but rather it's one of runny noses :-) Ah you cannot win, I mean the hayfever. But it is inspirational.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Yesteryear Road run

Yesteryear Road run next weekend YAY! :

Every year over 300 vehicles gather to support "magpas" The Emergency Medical Charity. To date over £125,000 has been raised. The 2010 run will take place on Sunday 25 th April.
For those of us not into classic cars (and tractors)... while browsing the world wide wait this morning, I also found a history lesson on our Parish Church . but what I am actually looking for is a photo of our village cross or 'sign' which was comissioned as far as I can see by the WI, but who has a copy of the origional artwork or even draft art. The sign is starting to peel and fade a tad, so taking a picture right now is not going to accomplish much at all, anyone know who looks after it?

And lastly, found this little ditty by Rod Halls (for Ralph Carpenters Workshop advert).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hyperlocal Community Idea

I am very much a 'villager', it's a bit of a joke running back to a series that used to run in RSA called "the village people", all about a mining town. It was very racist in it's portrayal of life, but was keenly followed at the time. Well we all live in the future, and pressures on communities are great, and not viewable on the TV.

it's all linked in with the theme of community engagement and openness and transparency:
I was forwarded this hyperlocal site We are all incredibly
busy, what with elections, volcanic ash comming over from Iceland, making that area a source of double disaster, but closer to home, is our fledgling Community Centre, which will soon move to the next stage of service. ...there is a trustees meeting next Tuesday 20th as well where there will be some presenting of a PR strategy to get more members in. The plan is for the coffee shop to open in September  -  with a proper Gaggia type machine! I don't think many people really know this and the opening is only a few months away. However to convert the rest of the church we need another 170k grand. So we need to get some more money in. So any ideas welcome!

Age of Stupid on Tuesday 20 April at the Community Centre ( the old Methodist Church)  - can we try and get whoever we know along to see this moving and interesting film about climate change and promote Cottenham as an exemplar of sustainable living more info here .

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter egg hunting

This lettle fellow was muscling in on the action - stealing from the bird feeder in Ross back yard.
location Bromley.

Easter 2010 - Daniel's birthday is pretty close to Rhys and Greg, hmmmmm something is happening here I think, or maybe it was just that time of year. We arranged a little diversion, and aunt Claire together with Caron started concealing chocolate treats, the funny bit was hiding things at eye-level really does work on adults and kids, the sweet stuff hanging in branches was amongst the last of the eggs to be discovered by my 2 hunters. A pitty Daniel is too young for chocolate still, that would really have set him off.It was a pretty cool day, and so we wrapped up and set off to the park for a walk and to let the little boys play off some energy
before we had to start heading home again.

Additional Flickr Photo sets of LEGO . And from Diggerland.
This is incidentally my 200th post, which is a kind of milestone.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A date for your diary

A date for your diary:
Film showing in Cottenham
 On Tuesday 20 April at 7.30pm
 At Cottenham Community Centre (opposite the Co-op)

Sustainable Cottenham
invites you to a free showing of Franny Armstrong’s documentary about climate change: The Age of Stupid. Pete Postlethwaite plays the last man alive in a post-apocalyptic world, the caretaker of a video archive of the last years of the Earth before climate disaster struck. It’s a powerful reminder of what we have to lose by not acting to combat climate change.
The film will be shown in Cottenham Community Centre ­– so it’s also an excellent chance to come and see inside the new centre if you haven’t done so already.
Follow this link for a Guardian review of the film:
For more information on the film showing or Sustainable  Cottenham visit: or contact Catherine Burch.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Failed to walk on water!

failed to walk on water!
Originally uploaded by zaphodikus
Yep - the mud in Norfolk may look shallow, but you cannot walk across it.

The result of taking a short cut on an otherwize damp but clear and cool day. I was consequently pretty sore after having let my fitness drop badly in the winter. We cycled 30 miles, from Newmarket up to Bury, a bit sandy in places, beutifull, but tough. We then caught the train (which we did keep clean) back down to Waterbeach, only to ride the last bit home in a cold cool drizz :-)

Rabbit going into the oven

Thanks to Hallum, we have a rabbit. We also had a skinning demo, here is how it starts, it get's gross soon after, so I will spare you that bit. It is a bit like chicken, but this one was really tough, so I reckon he/she will have to cook longer.

 Big thanks for this one, apparently they are not regular visitors in the Roses' kitchen.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It takes 94 tonnes of Co2 to make an Indie movie "green"

thats equivalent to either:
  • 8 British people for 1 year
  • 4 American people for 1 year
  • 1000 Tanzanians people for 1 year
  • 91 people living sustainably for 1 year
  • 1 of Piers’ big turbines for 6 days
  • Recycling 910,000 bottles
  • 15 British homes for 1 year
  • 18 American cars for 1 year
  • 185 gas patio-heaters for one month
Get the picture?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Would e-voting improve turnout?

The answer is NO "£$%"$£%^£" NO. I'm sorry but I think we need a pragmatic look at this question,
1. The timing of the question is supect.
2. It will only temporarily make a difference.
3. It will waste more money setting it up.
4. Security will be a huge concern on my own part at least.
Anyone who say it is a good idea is a gadget freak (and hence is unwittingly skewing the results anyway by simply reading this) and not applying the same scepticicism we professionals did that actually brought calm and sanity in a world that believed (was more let to actually...) that Y2K would cause critical service failures.

I am sorry, but the people who are failing to vote due to apathy should not be voting by convenience instead!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Monday, February 08, 2010

Are you wrapped up warmly?

Is your home tucked up warmly this winter?  Want to reduce your carbon footprint?

Have you been thinking that you may need better loft insulation or wondering about getting cavity wall insulation? If so, you might be interested to hear about Eastern CRI, which can help you work out what you need and tell you if you can get a grant to help pay for it.

Eastern CRI is a Local Authority initiative to help give homeowners and tenants affordable loft and cavity wall insulation using the grants that abound in the energy market place. If you have access to the internet, all you have to do is visit to get a free quotation on insulating your home. It’s very simple and you’ll be given one price for all your home insulation. If you qualify as a Priority Group customer what you need may be free, otherwise it may cost as little as £149. (To qualify as a Priority Group customer you need to be in receipt of various benefits or allowances.)

The government have now set a target to insulate all homes to today's standards by 2015, this project is doing just that.

Did you know:

    * 25% of the heat loss in your home could be escaping through the roof
    * 27% of all UK carbon emissions are thought to be emitted by our homes

This project will show you some of the best offers being made today, reducing your heating and energy bills as well as reducing your carbon footprint! The Eastern Carbon Reduction Initiative is planned to deliver cavity wall and loft insulation to all properties in the region by 2015, and to deliver wider carbon savings to 2050 by ensuring that existing and emerging energy efficient technologies are adopted by Eastern households.

Want to know more? Visit freephone 0800 2321677.

Information provided by Sustainable Cottenham

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Refrigerator art

And for something completely different, I present, a combined composition by the great Gregorius and an anonymous friend. This is the stuff little boys are made of, don't we miss it?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Sustainable Villages in Cambridgeshire

Sustainable villages are springing up all over the place, and in Cambridgeshire there appears to be quite a lot of energy, if not, hot air to be let out. Loft insulation is probably the simplest and most cost effective savers, but if you already have some, the grants available make topping up less attractive. I must say, that is crazy, but with an un-loaded cost to insulate your loft at around £400 for a smallish home, it is still a deal if you get that at just over half price through a grant. Because there are so many options caveats and catches and we live in an age of simple, Eastern CRI (Carbon Reduction Initiative) have been created and set up to reduce the cost and complexity of accessing a grant. I must say - I was tempted to say - let's rip the old stuff out, because installing from fresh will cost you about £90 less. But the pink stuff is not safe so do not try this at home kids. I'll not go into the logic of why a top-up insulation costs more than installing 10 inches from scratch though I will segway into another disposal item. Batteries!
I'm just a bit confused as to why it is suddenly that I see bins in Morrisons for your old batteries - we are never supposed to have turfed these into the bin in the first place, so this is my RANT. The UK is so fast asleep in attitude to the disposal of hazardous materials; I have to believe this is because of industry push-back. We throw far too much into landfill, and although I think that paying more for the removal right outside our front door might fix the picture, it's not going to change people's attitudes. Neither will shouting, so perhaps it's time to shame those who have not played their part as model citizens. With so many pressures on our time, our attention and wallets all together under strain, how do we start?
my ceiling (in the picture, the blue area has no insulation.)
So before you go and throw out the toys, and collapse in despair... it's an idea time to head into the loft and spot the gaps, from inside your ceiling. If you live in Cottenham, please talk to a parish councilor, or post a comment on this posting, alternately watch the local village publications and learn about how you can have a volunteer for the Sustainable Cottenham Group help you to better insulate your home today.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sustainable Cottenham Group

With the end of winter almost in sight, we will stop thinking about heating bills, recover from the Christmas giving crunch, and probably have discarded another diet plan. But while matters hot and cold are still foremost; remember the environment and prepare your pocket before next winter. If your energy bill has been stressing you out, read on.
my best foot
The Sustainable Cottenham group was created to implement the goals of the Sustainable Parish Energy Partnership (SPEP) which helps parish councils support residents and communities to reduce energy bills, tackle climate change and build sustainable communities. The Cottenham group's main project at the moment is to get Cottenham insulated via the Eastern CRI Scheme.

The Sustainable Cottenham Group, has partnered with Cambridge Carbon Footprint who are guiding us in doing home surveys intended to help us find poor insulation, drafts, and other problems in our homes. Consisting of volunteers and some steerage from our councilors I would urge those interested to engage with the group via a councilor or group member. Not only are Cambridge Carbon Footprint arranging learning sessions which take homeowners through the technology, attitude change and available help sources, but they have also made a special thermal surveying camera available to Sustainable Cottenham and other groups. With these tools we can visit your home on request, and help you get started keeping your home warmer, bills down, and eventually greener too. A visit typically takes an hour, and we can help you find the exact cause of the cold air leaks you suspect are there but cannot find. We will show you ways to heat your home more efficiently without spending any money to start with.
my letter slot is letting in the cold

At the moment, thermal insulation surveys done can be particularly effective because cold air leaking into your home is so much colder and easier to detect, so you may want to hurry. A winter survey must be done in the cold of the evenings, with the house being heated at the time. The walk-through starts downstairs, moves upstairs, and then to the outside. Although recently built homes are well insulated, typical problems found are:
  • a gap under the front door?
  • gaps where door insulation has come away?
  • radiators hidden behind large furniture?
  • insulation disturbed by recent wiring or plumbing?
Get a check list tailored to what is going on in your home, and formulate your own family energy sustainability plan. Then move on to the structural changes and have Eastern CRI quote you on cavity wall and ceiling insulation.

The Sustainable Cottenham group plans to re-show the Age of Stupid DVD and to arrange a visit to the Donarbon recycling center. Energy monitors are available on loan for the power wizards amongst us; please contact Cllr Kelso for further information.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sustainable Cottenham Group

Probably the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to take steps to reduce permanently, without affecting your lifestyle. People will always reject long term sacrifice, a major reason why all diets start in January and fail in February, so better insulation and appliance use in your home (about a third of your footprint) can reduce impact long term. The Cottenham group are encouraging villagers to take up an offer to insulate your home based on a standardized quote and work order. This has been set up in conjunction with local councils to simplify getting insulation installed and reduce the cost to homeowners.
For anyone using this scheme, a referral portion is given back to the Parish Council through the Sustainable Cottenham Group.
See also -Community escapes big British Freeze and Thermal Imaging for Insulation.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A different community

Last night I met up with a different community, an obscure underground movement that challenges the educational values held by the captains of democracy. They call themselves happy hackers.
Technology has become more affordable to the mass-market, but at the same time more accessible. You can perform scientific observations, investigations and home learning now, more than ever before. It's a bit like open-source, but for education.

For more on what they do, visit my e-journal.
For that that find this prospect scary, do not visit my techno blog/journal.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Community escapes big British Freeze

Well to be honest, the whole county seems to have escaped the horror stories about the entire United Kingdom. There has been the good-natured grumble, the dismayed grumble, and then defense of Councils and the Highway Agency maintenance of our roads. The gritty part of this story is how the state has now gotten involved in what is really a day-today matter of letting a tiny team of often overlooked men, women and their machines get out there and grit the roads. Ok, it's not that funny - seriously; why do we need to get salt imported from the mainland in such a hurry? Are the 'food-miles' out of proportion with the emergency? That's not going to do my carbon footprint any good at all.
Talking about carbon, I wonder how green we can make our websites?
I have lost count of the internet interests in the village I live in. For 2500 households, we have at least 10 websites, all doing different things, for different reasons, many looking a bit Web 1.0. Sure, sites link to each other, we have to do this kind of thing to survive, but are we just surviving, or are the geeks in the community actually going somewhere with all this computing power.

I got a newsletter recently, one of the Cambridge professors has a plan to make PCs greener, perhaps things like desktops that shut off when not in use, servers that go into sleep mode when not used; I'm probably breaking some patent law by just talking about this. So where are you going today Conrad? (Wow, this journal is looking like a blog, suddenly I'm talking to myself)
Greener printing, greener load-time web pages, in short greener conscience.
In more pertinent news, an update on a new plan to start a Cottenham e-newsletter circulation will be up next. The site is still blank, but it won't hurt to get some early visits.

I should get ready for my big interview tomorrow. Ciao.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Thermal Imaging for Insulation

Our village has been awarded some funding recently by peoples ITV millions program for our community center. It meant we had to get together and vote for our village via phone over a single day. The number of telephone votes proved, that the village has a lot going for it, and a lot of spirit.

Hopefully the Sustainable Cottenham project will see similar support. The part of the program that interests me is energy saving, in all it's forms.

The interesting bit for me at the moment is thermal insulation surveying, and a cool tool called a Thermal Imaging Camera - sometimes used in firefighting, electrical fault detection, and in building inspection.

The picture  left is the kind of thing the camera does. There are a number of conditions that need to be right for the survey to be effective, and even tools that can assist in amplifying the leak detection opportunities.
Aspects like:
  • Rain
  • wind
  • Sunshine
  • Heating not actually running
All mess with the survey, meaning it has to be
  • Cold at night, or
  • Overcast
I can only imagine, this survey - although lots of it is done indoors too will be a lot of hard difficult work. The survey is being assisted by the loan of the device from 'Carbon Footprint'.