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Slightly Cloudy

After almost two weeks away, I see the battery life on my Amazon Kindle reader still shows half charge and that's after wading through Dan Simmons' novel, Ilium, and having started the sequel Olympos as well. If you can imagine, Homer's 'Iliad', Shakespeare's 'Tempest' and some advanced quantum physics, all shaken vigorously together, then you've the basis for a rather imaginative novel of both the distant past and far future. The great thing about the Kindle device is that I can also load for free, the complete Iliad, Herodotus' travels in ancient Egypt and a great deal more besides and so in a very short period, it's completely changed my reading habits.

I can see a near future where devices like this one actually have liquid crystal pages as the technology now exists. So you buy perhaps a six-page device or twelve-page device to suit your budget and the first page is wirelessly synchronized with your email, several more display word or PDF documents, another is the book you are reading and so on. Soon they will be as cheap as any other commodity device and with electronic paper cheaper than the real thing, children will carry them to school in the place of books and will have access to everything and anything mankind has ever published in their schoolbag as well as everything and anything they have ever written during their school years at their fingertips.

It was the kind of idea I was giving a talk on in Spain a week ago, with the rapid evolution of what is called virtualization or cloud computing, where technology is delivered as a utility, much like electricity, a model we are already seeing with the evolution of a number of products from Google and Amazon. Anyway, given the exponential growth in computing power, still doubling every two years, thanks to Moore's Law, Christmas in 2015 is going to have on display some quite remarkable technology in PC World and Comet that we haven't even thought of yet!

Back in the real world, I'm confronted by boxes of Christmas cards to sign and seal. One day, someone's going to come-up with a process that automates that too, I'm sure. Just supply the names and addresses and a scan of your signature(s) and season's greetings will become as magic as a Jamie Oliver Christmas. Me, I'll have to make do with inky fingers for now as my fountain pen leaks and I'm running short of stamps. Yesterday, I visited Westwood Cross on my motorcycle to buy some presents. Given the frenzied seasonal madness that now surrounds it; I plan to avoid the roads around it now until the New Year if at all possible

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A Christmas Tale

It’s pitch blackness in places along the sea wall this evening and I'm momentarily startled by a small dog with orange flashing yuletide antlers along the way. I’m the only person crazy enough to be running and I know the route well enough to negotiate it in the dark, part of my Christmas exercise regime and a good way of relieving stress.

Why stress you might ask. After all, it is Christmas Day.

True but I’ve just spent over two hours assembling the giant Playmobil ‘Pony Farm’ set when most other fathers should be asleep in front of the television.



I was warned that the Playmobil ‘Pirate Ship’ had driven some fathers to drink or suicide and now I understand why. If your eyesight isn’t perfect or if you’ve had a few drinks with your Christmas lunch then it’s a challenge best left until Boxing day but not an option if you happen to have a nine year old daughter who wants it ready to take horses by tea time.

Perhaps I should stick to technology but then, the instruc…

Merlins over Thanet

Marooned, temporarily at Manston this afternoon are the Merlins over Malta team on the way to the Mediterranean for a display to mark the historic Second World War defence of the island.


Charlie Brown

Unfortunately, the weather over Thanet is appalling this afternoon and the Spitfire and Hurricane can’t get airborne again until it clears, so the celebrity Battle of Britain aircraft pilots, Charlie Brown, Clive Denny and their team-mates are contemplating an evening among the fleshpots of Margate.


Clive Denny (Hurricane) & Charlie Brown (Spitfire) Pilots

I’m rather hoping the weather it will clear through though as they have to get to Jersey before dusk if possible and I have to take some photos of the Spitfire and Hurricane for Pilot Magazine and I’ve always wanted a chance to get in either aircraft!

An Interview with Charlie Brown

They just got off, squadron scramble or what? They were ready and gone in ten minutes towards the nearest patch of blue sky!

An interview with the legendary S…
Median Saleh

I mentioned in the last post, the 1981 expedition that took in Median Saleh, the ruined Nabatean city in Saudi Arabia


A temple carved from the rock from Petra's sister city.

By coincidence, one of the most important train stations on the Hejaz railway sat next to the ruins and when Lawrence of Arabia blew the line in 1917, the trains were trapped there and are still there today, gathering dust and with "Krupp" on the engine casings.


One of the trains, sitting where T.E. Lawrence left themwith Dr Paul Garnett as the passenger

Below, you can see one of the fortified train stations that Lawrence attacked along the Hejaz railway between Damascus and Medina.



More photos Medain Saleh can be found on THIS Site - Apparently you can catch a tourist bus these days, rather different from risking life and limb to cross an unfriendly Saudi Arabia twenty years ago!