Thursday, 30 August 2012

Remote Area Medical

Of course, the British model of universal healthcare, treating all who come, isn't going to suit everybody.
Some areas of the world don't accept the idea that we should all be entitled to universal healthcare, paid for by taxing all those who earn, but of benefit to all, no matter their status.
We believe that access to healthcare should be a right, not a privilege.

 "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", is all very well if you can afford it, but if you can't pay the fees, well, you'll struggle to meet those ideals. You'll be unhappy, and die significantly younger than your more affluent countrymen.

 "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".
 "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

RAM's expeditions this year: A=Airborne, D=Dental, M=Medical, Vet=Veterinary, Vis=Vision, W=Women's Health
feb 4-5 Knox County, Knoxville, TN - Jacob Building D, Vis, M, W

March 3-4 Rockbridge Co., Buena Vista, VA - Southern Virginia University D, Vis, M
March 10-11 Rhea Co., Evensville, TN - Rhea County High School D, Vis
March 22-25* Oakland, CA - Oakland Coliseum, East Concourse D, Vis, M
March 30-April 2* Sacramento, CA - Cal Expo, Buildings C & D D, Vis, M

April 13-15 Sullivan County, Bristol, TN - Bristol Motor Speedway D, Vis, M, W

May 19-20 Franklin County, Sewanee, TN - University of the South D, Vis, M, W

June 2-3 Claiborne County, Harrogate, TN - Lincoln Memorial University D, Vis, M, W, Vet June 9-10** Pikeville, KY D, Vis, M July 7-9 Rosebud, South Dakota D, Vis, M

July 12-15 Pine Ridge, South Dakota - For info & to volunteer: e-mail RAM D. Vis, M, July 20-22 Wise County, VA, at the Wise County Fairground D, Vis, M, W
July 23-27 Operation Lonestar - Brownsville, TX For info & to volunteer: e-mail RAM D, Vis, M, W

August 4-5 Jefferson County, Dandridge, TN D, Vis, M, W
August 25-26*** Oklahoma City, OK D, Vis, M

Sept 8-9** Pulaski County, Somerset, KY - Southwestern High School D, Vis, M
Sept. 16-30 Guyana, South America - For info & to volunteer: e-mail RAM D, Vis, M September 22-23 Hamilton County, East Ridge, TN - Camp Jordan D, Vis, M, W

October 6-7 Buchanan County, Grundy, VA D, Vis, M
October 13-21 Siguatepeque, Honduras - For info & to volunteer: e-mail RAM D, Vis, M

Nov 3-4 Pickett County, Byrdstown, TN - Pickett County K-8 D, Vis, M, W
Nov 10 Knoxville Veterans Stand Down D, Vis

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

So, About the Hospital, Again

Back a few posts, I was talking about The Vic, a pub, and about strolling along in front of the Infirmary. I was, in fact, on the way to another hospital.
The reason for this was that I had an appointment to see a surgeon, (I went to the Vic on the way back), about a tooth. Yes, a tooth. 
About thirty years ago, I had a filling in the said tooth. Then I was hit in the face by a twelve-ton truck. Well, at the moment of impact I had 2/3 the width of a van between me and the truck. But he was doing fifty miles per hour and was quite determined to get to me, so after the loudness, which I vaguely recall, there was a pause, silence, echoing dripping noises.
Silence again. 

Next time my eyes opened, there were diamonds in red sauce across the back of my hand. I thought: "that's strange", and drifted back into dripping, echoey silence.
There's about a thousand words of ensuing drama  that I'll spare you. It was funny in places though. Ouch.

If, however, we fast forward, I ended up back then, needing to see a dentist, after all the doctors and nurses had done their thing (and the police officer had threatened to kill his prisoner on the late-night observation ward, if he didn't stop moaning and let the rest of us sleep), because the door pillar, that should have been a yard from my head, had imprinted itself on my face, and the filled second upper left molar had become explosively unfilled. 
I blame that incident. It got a gold cap on it, but that came out some years later. Bit by bit, over the intervening years, pieces of my tooth got broken off, or drilled off, and a few weeks ago I had an infection in the root. My dentist told me it was best if the tooth came out, but that she would prefer I had a surgical extraction in a hospital. 

I'm no expert, I trust her to be one, so she referred me to a specialist. And last week I had a consultation with him, and set a date, today, for surgery. Originally, they said it would be under a general anaesthetic, but, I'm asthmatic, so general anaesthesia is to be avoided wherever possible. We agreed on local anaesthesia. 

So this morning, at seven, I was booked in to a private hospital, for a procedure funded completely by britain's national health service, and I can report that all went well. Right now, there's a bit of a throb, but I'm trying to ration the painkillers, I'll take another soon, before bed. 
However, I know some of my U.S. readers are great opponents of "socialized medicine", and fear our ramshackle commie system may be imposed upon them, with 'politicians deciding who lives or dies' (as opposed to the current U.S. system, where insurance companies decide who lives or dies).
Here's some views of the commie hospital's death-row cell, with my fees paid by the NHS.

Primitive, huh? I've certainly stayed in worse hotels. So this tooth-out business. It's the first time ever for me that a visit to the dentist require me to strip naked, then don disposable underwear, and one of those nasty tie-at the back gowns.
It's also the first time that I've ever been conscious whilst being attached immovably to an operating table, under those huge lights that could fry a whole planet. 
After a lot of crunching noises, drills, cutters, chainsaws and so on, (I think there was even a hedgetrimmer at one point), it was over. The surgeon practiced his best sewing techniques, cracked a few jokes, and I made inaudible noises of gratitude, as I was wheeled out to the recovery room, where a very nice nurse hooked me up to the machine that goes beep, and undertook a one sided conversation with me for? I have no idea how long, then wheeled me back down to my room, where I read the same page in my book over and over again, until the fog in my head started to clear. Another nurse came to check on me, hooked me up to another beepbox, talked through the medications she'd brought, and asked me to confirm my name date of birth and address, which was about the zillionth time today I'd given it. I also had a wristband with all that plus a QR code, for which I was very grateful, I had visions of getting mis-identified and coming out with the wrong number of kidneys, or maybe a boob job.

I'm not to drive for 24 hours, or operate machinery. I'll bet a computer counts as machinery, phoo, I might post naked images of myself  that I'd regret after they went viral.
No. I care too much for you people, so I'll post naked pictures of someone else instead.

Special Forces Cuddly Bunnies, vs Bad Guy Sand-Eating Camels.

Cat Shit One.  Apocalypse Meow.

No, I don't understand it either, they're bunnies, not cats.  But it's based on a Japanese Manga comic, originally set in Viet Nam...... now updated to a desert nation.

Cat Shit One Ep.01 par juggaloday

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Metaphor and Simile, or Semaphore or Something Else.

 "The Destruction of Sennacherib"

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord! 
Lord Byron. (first pub.1815)

It occurs to me that,  if you're not versed in the old testament,you might be unfamiliar with Sennacherib. He was an assyrian king who rebuilt Nineveh in Mesopotamia, as his capital city. The Judaeans were a thorn in his side, so he took an army to show them who was the boss.
The Sennacherib Prism

In my third campaign I marched against Hatti. Luli, king of Sidon, whom the terror-inspiring glamor of my lordship had overwhelmed, fled far overseas and perished.... As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to his strong cities, walled forts, and countless small villages, and conquered them by means of well-stamped earth-ramps and battering-rams brought near the walls with an attack by foot soldiers, using mines, breeches as well as trenches. I drove out 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting, and considered them slaves. Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage. I surrounded him with earthwork in order to molest those who were his city's gate. Thus I reduced his country, but I still increased the tribute and the presents to me as overlord which I imposed upon him beyond the former tribute, to be delivered annually. Hezekiah himself, did send me, later, to Nineveh, my lordly city, together with 30 talents of gold, 800 talents of silver, precious stones, antimony, large cuts of red stone, couches inlaid with ivory, nimedu-chairs inlaid with ivory, elephant-hides, ebony-wood, boxwood and all kinds of valuable treasures, his own daughters and concubines. . 

According to the bible, the god of the Hebrews was busy somewhere else, sitting upon cherubim,  when all this happened, but eventually Hezekiah, the king, managed to get a prayer through, by way of the prophet Isaiah, pretty much at the last possible moment, what with Jerusalem being besieged, and Sennacherib about to smash down the walls. 
Well. lo, the wrath of the Lord was pretty mighty, once he'd decided to listen to Hezekiah, who'd been somewhat out of favour, and he sent down an angel that night to do a bit of smiting. Yea verily, for the Lord, despite all his talk of mercy and love, and so on, never could resist a good smiting, and by the morning, so the hebrew record tells, " And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred fourscore and five thousand; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses." (that's a hundred and eighty five thousand, by the way).
So Sennacherib packed up and went home. Interesting that, how histories are written.
Because, there's no mention of those vast losses at all in the Assyrian record.
Herodotus, however, tells us this camp was at Pelusium, far south of Jerusalem:
-Josephus, Antiquities 10;1
Now concerning this Sennacherib, Herodotus also says, in the second
book of his histories, how "this king came against the Egyptian king, who
was the priest of Vulcan; and that as he was besieging Pelusium, he broke
up the siege on the following occasion: This Egyptian priest prayed to God,
and God heard his prayer, and sent a judgment upon the Arabian king." But
in this Herodotus was mistaken, when he called this king not king of the
Assyrians, but of the Arabians; for he saith that "a multitude of mice
gnawed to pieces in one night both the bows and the rest of the armor of
the Assyrians, and that it was on that account that the king, when he had
no bows left, drew off his army from Pelusium." 
Other commentators point out that a plague of rodents carries with it disease, and typhus might be what disabled the assyrian army.

  Ogden Nash- Very Like a Whale*
One thing that literature would be greatly the better for
Would be a more restricted employment by the authors of simile and

Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts,
Can't seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but have to
   go out of their way to say that it is like something else.

What does it mean when we are told
That that Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold?
In the first place, George Gordon Byron had enough experience
To know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lot of

However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and
   thus hinder longevity.
We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.
Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts were
   gleaming in purple and gold,
Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a
   wold on the fold?

In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy
   there are great many things.
But I don't imagine that among them there is a wolf with purple
   and gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings.
No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was
   actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof;
Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail and a big red
   mouth and big white teeth and did he say Woof Woof?

Frankly I think it is very unlikely, and all you were entitled to say,
   at the very most,
Was that the Assyrian cohorts came down like a lot of Assyrian
   cohorts about to destroy the Hebrew host.

But that wasn't fancy enough for Lord Byron, oh dear me no, he
   had to invent a lot of figures of speech and then interpolate them,
With the result that whenever you mention Old Testament soldiers
   to people they say Oh yes, they're the ones that a lot of
   wolves dressed up in gold and purple ate them.

That's the kind of thing that's being done all the time by poets,
   from Homer to Tennyson;
They're always comparing ladies to lilies and veal to venison,
And they always say things like that the snow is a white blanket
   after a winter storm.

Oh it is, is it, all right then, you sleep under a six-inch blanket of
   snow and I'll sleep under a half-inch blanket of unpoetical
   blanket material and we'll see which one keeps warm,
And after that maybe you'll begin to comprehend dimly
What I mean by too much metaphor and simile.

"Very Like a Whale" is a quote from a line spoken by Polonius in Shakespeare's play, 'Hamlet',

Ham. Do you see yonder cloud that ’s almost in shape of a camel?
Pol. By the mass, and ’t is like a camel, indeed.
Ham. Methinks it is like a weasel.
Pol. It is backed like a weasel.
Ham. Or like a whale?
Pol. Very like a whale.

At this point, Hamlet is playing with Polonius, seeking to show that he's an unreliable sycophant, ready to say whatever he thinks is required to keep his mastter happy

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong, The Man Who Made One Giant Leap for Mankind.

I watched live, as the lunar module, piloted by Armstrong, descended toward the surface of the moon.
It was July 1969, I was a teenager, and a science-fiction aficionado, and I was in hospital. I'd spent six weeks desperately ill, with a severe bout of asthma, I'd lost weight, unable to eat,  but by July 21st, I was up and about in the hospital, and there was no way I'd be sleeping through this.
Back then, televisions were not common issue in hospitals, but there was one in a smaller room at the end of the ward, and a determined group of patients and nurses were there,  at almost four in the morning, watching the blurry images, hearing the beeps and crackles of static, and rapt as we watched him descend the ladder.

One man, in with lung cancer said "That's it. That's what I stayed to see."
And, some three hours later, he was wheeled, covered in a sheet, past my bed, to the mortuary.

I remember that summer, the intensity of it. I remember the sounds from outside,  I remember a lot of pain and living right on the edge of life, and wishing it would end, one way or another. Being carried out of the house, and into an ambulance, with the neighbour's kids staring. I remember the ambulance driver braking hard to avoid a small child who darted across his path, and the paramedic who was holding an oxygen mask to my face, joking with my distraught mother, who was crushing all the bones in my right hand with her grip, "It's alright Missus, if we knocks them down, we picks them up!"

Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, they were my heroes at the time, they were the ones who were going to the edge of man's frontiers, and I was gasping for breath, and wondering if we'd all die at the same time. Because it was the unknown. All these years later, when we're watching the latest probe exploring Mars, it's easy to forget how fragile and tenuous the whole mission was, how few seconds of fuel were left, how nobody knew if the L.E.M. would land safe and stable, crash, or topple and sink. Would they ever lift off again? could they rejoin the command module?

They did, and the man who piloted that module, and first human to set foot on another world, died today.

On Poetry, a Repost -or is it a Riposte?

I love poetry.
But, there's poetry, and there's poetry.

As I think I may have mentioned once or a hundred times,  way back, far back in my distant memory, I set out on a path as a student of english literature, which seemed a good idea at the time. English was my favourite subject at school, I was fascinated by language, words, the ways in which humans have communicated their thoughts and feelings.

While the other kids in our row of caves were learning to shout "Ug!" and throwing a rock or two at pretty much anything that bounded, soared, wriggled, slithered, or scuttled, I was sitting with the old guys, who were certain some scratches on a bit of rock weren't random.

Well, it seemed there was a wise man in the next valley who had views on this, and one day he came over, and showed us how you could use scratches to keep count of stuff. Like how many rocks you had, even if you couldn't see them.
That was cool. We graduated onto scratching outlines, that, if you squinted a bit, looked like animals seen at a distance. Eventually, we got scratches that we all agreed each had a noise. And every time you saw that scratch.. you made the matching noise! And that was pretty much it. No more cries of UG! ug! ug?, you could have a hunter send a message back saying... "I'm following a mammoth along the side of the stream which smells funny, near the black-burned tree, toward the hill of good rocks for bashing with. Send six hunters with sharp pointy sticks, forthwith. Signed "Og".
Oh yes, writing was a good invention. Pretty soon we had lectures in the big cave, where visiting professors would draw antelope, bison, koala bears, and other stuff we didn't know about. The talks were popular. People used to scratch brief versions onto bark and send them down-river to the marsh-dwellers. We called it texting.
Anyway, a few millennia passed, and I found myself studying Shakespeare, Donne, Marvell, Dickens, Ted Hughes, T.S.Eliot, Robert Browning, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolfe...
It started out with the pretext that it was all very good stuff, to be revered, because it was written by famous, mostly dead,  people.
But then my teachers set about turning all those certainties upside-down, by telling me to challenge, to break down and reconstruct, to try writing it in my own words.
What I wrote, oh how embarrassing it would be now if I still had all that stuff.
And to criticise myself, harshly, and my peers. I'll tell you, getting an essay sent back with negative comments from a tutor doesn't hurt a fraction as much as being savaged by your peers. It's a way we learn not to be too precious though. Write it,  read it back, try to see it through fresh eyes.
I was a bit thin-skinned then, but I learned that "critics" are not gods. That just because the critics love it, doesn't mean it's good. And vice-versa. History shows us that the critics are often proved wrong, long afterwards.
Charles Dickens, in his day, was immensely popular, a superstar, but the critics pursed their lips and muttered nasty words about penny-dreadfuls, here today and gone tomorrow. Seems old Charlie's had the last laugh.
Shakespeare, oh yes, I had to learn plot, subplot, learn about Elizabethan history, learn how he was dangerous and subversive, satirizing current affairs, I'd learn of Elizabethan views on classics, greek and roman mythology, navigation. Everything Will wrote, I was told, was masterly multilayered subterfuge.
Yet I couldn't help sometimes thinking of Shaksper getting a brief  "We  want two hours for seven men, two women and a donkey... We can borrow a chariot, and two of the boys look vaguely alike, and the thin guy can sing. Can you have it ready for thursday?"
Sometimes, I think, it's just a story. 
Stop trying to read hidden messages into it.

This is rambling, isn't it? Blame the medication and lack of sleep.
Where was I?
Oh yes. What I learned was that my opinion is valid. That I don't need to assume that if it's in print it must be good.

You see, I've been challenging this poem at "Through the Garden Gate", I first read it as a nice but unspecial love-poem, but then, in every line, almost, I found something that annoyed me.

Some Years in the History of Love Poetry
Two streams careened from mountains
aimlessly driven, like all lovers, searching
basin and rill, hurrying but hardly giving
the other a thought.
You forded deserts
where mud banks crackled and eased.
I crossed granite depths where trout
shifted, intent as fuses. Senso unico,
an endless aria of forward
and a thousand dialects to try—
the clatter of palm leaves or a clutch
of apples rolled across a table.
birds were passing between us carrying
warbles and tufted seeds. Beneath
a spread of stars we found
ourselves side by side,
two fluences shading into each other
while a score of fingers scored
the delta's tranquil riot.

by Michelle Boisseau

Maybe I'm a ratty tempered curmudgeon, but I really think this is one the poet should have screwed up and tossed in the bin.
I recommend you go to the post and read all the comments,  there was a lively lunge and riposte going on there. I failed to change the blogger's mind on that one, and she failed in her attempt to persuade me my attack was wrong.
Now the blogger who posted it is herself a poet, (this one isn't one of hers) her poems are better than this, by far. I'm always a little afraid to criticise anything on the web, and I don't want her to think this is a criticism of her.
It's a challenge, a challenge to the idea that a published poem is unassailable.

Get in there! Challenge what you read.
Scratch under the mammoth drawing on the cave wall "Og's crap at drawing trunks!"

 Here's a poem, from a man who, it seems, is not afraid to disagree with the printed word.


Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
"Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
"Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written "Man vs. Nature"
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love."

Billy Collins

A Poem. Chew it Slowly, Inspect its Blood and Bones

Litany, by Billy Collins.

“You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and—somehow—the wine.”

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Vic and a Bumble-Bee

It's years since I had a pint in the Vic. This ode to Victoriana has been supplying succour to the weary for about a hundred and fifty years. Situated directly opposite the rear steps of Leeds Town Hall, it was once a handy place to stay, when attending the courts, or the public registrar, or the many concerts, exhibitions, and other events held there.
In the main bar there are great booths with padded upholstery and cut-glass windows, I suppose, once a place where weighty matters could be debated in relative privacy.

Ornate was very definitely the order of the day.

I love those spiralling wooden pillars.
Cosy fireplace. Not exactly needed just now.
On a concert evening, in the intermission, there's a stampede out of these doorways, to the Vic. Or there was, in the days when I used to frequent concerts in the town hall. If there's an orchestra playing, you can bet the first blokes out of the door will be the brass section. I've observed them, ordering several drinks, chucking them down their throats and rushing back for the second part of the show. How they play, with enough alcohol to pickle a dead horse running through their veins, I have no idea. And it's also long fascinated me to ponder the bladder capacity of musicians. How do they not burst?

I only went into the Vic because of my dedication to my readers, and any pint of Guinness I might have had was solely for the purposes of journalistic research. 
Anyway. Shortly afterwards I was strolling along in front of the Infirmary, when my ears were assailed by an unholy clatter and roar. The original front of the Infirmary is victorian gothic, but the rear sections are firmly esconced within the modern world. There's a helipad on the top of the Accident and Emergency department, and the bright yellow bumblebee known as the Yorkshire Air Ambulance was just lifting off.
Although  they make a horrendous racket, the air ambulances, funded only by donations, not by government, local or national,  are a welcome sight. I have friends who would be dead were it not for them. They can reach casualties in terrain a ground ambulance can not get to, they can transport an injured person faster or further in a given time.

And so I wend my way toward home.

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Saturday, 18 August 2012

Some of My Past Toys


Disclaimer: They're not necessarily all 'mine', I'm also good at borrowing stuff.
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My Outdoor Camping Aspirations.

Red Dirt Girl posted this Red Land Rover picture, on her latest "Frivolous Friday", with these words:

"Soub is moving house
He lives in tented splendor
Have wheels will travel."

Now, it's true I'm a bit of a Land-Rover addict and have had several in the past, only owning two right now....  But the one in the picture is not actually mine, though, like the obsessive rivet counter that I am, I could tell you altogether far more than any sane person would ever need to know about it. 
She'd want it RED, but me, I'm a muted colour guy. Dull green, military matt, suits me. I like to blend into the landscape, rather than have irate people pointing at me from miles away.

And these days, I think I'd like a bit more comfort than a tent on the roof. (been there, done that). Besides, I'd be expecting her to come along on my expedition.
So. How about a Unimog camper? 6X6, by German company Unicat? The off-road reliability of a Unimog is unbelievable, and Unicat build some pretty good bodies for them, even, like this, with slide-out sides.
Or there's a raised top version. The interior pictures below are raised top, In normal travel, the top of the vehicle is lowered, covering the windows, which makes it pretty secure in world travel. When camping, you raise it, getting extra headroom, and an upper deck bedroom.

Raised top. Note the rear body angle. No grounding on steep climbs.

 I'd say there's a tad too much seating there.I wouldn't plan to be hosting big dinner-parties. 

 Kitchen is good, blogging desk at the rear, opposite the shower and w.c.

But if we're being really crazy? How about a M.A.N. Kat 6X6?

 Or the ultimate go anywhere madness, a M.A.N. Kat 8X8 from Action Works in Austria?

The original military specification for this vehicle was that  it had to go anywhere a main battle-tank could go, and just as rapidly.

 Consequently, desert-racing in the Paris Dakar rally is all in a day's work for it.

For a space age look, how about one based on these modern all-terrain airfield fire-tenders?
Paint this in silver and it would fit into any sci-fi movie.

As it is, I could not afford to even fill the fuel tank......
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Unintentional Sculptures

One of the many  interesting places I visit at work, on a regular basis, is a warehouse where casting forms are made and stored. Most of these pieces are used to make the foundry moulds for cast-iron pumps and turbines. The people who work there are just ordinary working men. They take the plans from the designers and turn them into three-dimensional forms of the spaces outside a cast-iron part.
And in doing so, they create what to me are artworks to rival any sculptures I've seen in a gallery.
I walk in here, and I imagine just one of these pieces displayed at the centre of an upmarket gallery, spotlit, with people standing around, drinking wine, and discussing the allegorical nature of the artist's message.

I like the ancient look of this, and the form appeals to my potter's heart.

These pieces always make me think of the works of Eduardo Paolozzi.

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