A tribute to tradesmen

Talking of decorating, I found this post from 2014. Only a few of you have seen it before. 🙂

beetleypete

And I should add, tradeswomen too.

I have been decorating a small room in our house. It was a relatively easy project, as I did not have to paint the windows, or gloss the door and surrounding wood. Clear the room, fill the cracks and screw-holes, sand down and wash the walls. This was followed by two coats of paint on the ceiling, then two coats of a different colour, on the walls. Some fiddly finishing touches followed. Making good the straight lines, going over tiny bits that were missed, and clearing the dust and spills from the carpet. This was not a mammoth task, and many readers could have probably completed this in a weekend, without giving it a second thought. However, I was hampered by a serious decorating liability.

I am just no good at it. Adding to that, I hate doing it, and can get absolutely no…

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Got the painters in

That title means something else, in English slang. Apologies to anyone who found it offensive. I just realised, after publishing.

But in this case, it just means that the decorating continues, at least until late tomorrow. In practical terms, this means that I am unable to get access to the PC, when the painter is doing the various doors in the hallways/corridors.

So, no new posts, and a delay in replying to all the blogs I follow, or comments received on my own blog. Sorry.

It should be back to normal on Thursday, ready for Easter. That’s until the carpet layers start work, soon after. 🙂

Best wishes, Pete.

Book Review: Race Against Time

Remember when the world was supposed to end, in 2012? It didn’t of course, and this novel by fellow blogger Jack Eason offers a fascinating theory about why there was no Mayan Apocalypse.

Combining archaeology with adventure, then adding a touch of science fiction, this enjoyable roller-coaster of a story packs in a host of fascinating characters too. From eminent academics, to the Russian Mafia, Vatican cardinals, and even a beautiful female alien, everyone in this book is wonderfully described, until you can picture them all on their hazardous quest.

Using a theory of how Earth was once populated, and protected from natural disaster, we are taken on a world tour of interesting ancient archaeological sites. Each one holds part of the key that will save mankind from destruction, and our heroes must combat not only a secret organisation, but also the ancient demon it serves. This is not ‘Raiders of The Lost Ark’, but it has equally exciting elements, and a tension that endures right to the last of its 158 pages.

The author undoubtedly knows his stuff, and compliments that knowledge with detailed research, convincing geographical detail, and a wide understanding of travel by sea and by road. And he also knows when to insert the required action, so that no chapter is ever dry, or feels dull to read.
I finished it in just two sessions, keen to discover the fate of the characters that I had readily invested in.

This is ‘old-school’ adventure, in a very good way, brought up to date by ecological issues, and a theory that is all too easy to believe.

Here are some links to the book on Amazon.

And here is a link to Jack’s own blog.
https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/

Just been watching…(99)

Beauty And The Dogs (2017)
(Arabic and French, with English subtitles)
***No spoilers***

Regular readers of my film posts will know how much I like foreign films, those ‘World Cinema’ offerings, with subtitles. I was lucky to spot this Tunisian film being shown late one night on a TV film channel, and recorded it on the PVR.

This is based on the true story of Mariam, a young woman studying at university in Tunis. One night, she organises a party for the students, and goes along with her friends to have an enjoyable evening. Whilst there, she meets a man, Youssef, and they go outside to walk on the beach.

The story that follows is told in numbered chapters, and plays out over the course of just one night, the night following the party. A night when Mariam is raped by police offers, who handcuff her boyfriend while they assault the girl. Crucially, the actual rape is not shown, not even in flashback. As viewers, we only get to hear about it through the stories of Mariam and the man she met. In many respects, the absence of any ‘shock’ footage is even more disturbing, as the lead actress uses emotions to convey her horror, fear, and disgust to powerful effect.

As she tries to get medical help, then file a police report, we see a savage indictment of the state of Tunisia as a country. Poor infrastructure, corruption, a country still ruled and dominated by men, and women treated with little respect or regard. Mariam encounters indifference, and outright hostility, even from female police officers. She is treated like a whore, and made to feel humiliated at every turn. Most of this is based on the fact that she is wearing a skimpy party dress, has make-up on, and is stunningly beautiful.

The attitudes she is faced with range from she got what she deserved, to the idea that reporting such a crime will bring shame on her family. During that harrowing night, she is steadily worn down by officialdom, and deliberate obstruction. But this treatment makes her all the more determined to seek justice.

This is an amazing film, with a central performance by Mariam Al-Ferjani as Mariam that deserved to win a crop of international awards. She is not only perfect for the role, but her acting range is there for all to see, and she must surely have a great future. Filmed mostly on location, and with a convincing cast of actors mostly playing ‘bad guy’ roles, we are rooting for Mariam from the opening scene, to the closing credits.

This may not be easy to find, but I urge you to watch it.

Blogging: Basic Errors

For years now, I have been banging on about new bloggers who embark on the process of blogging without really trying to understand anything about how it works. Regular readers and followers can look away now, as I will be repeating myself here. A lot.

Everyone loves to get genuine new followers. After all, building that community is an important part of being a fulfilled blogger. Yet despite previous posts from me, and many others, so many new bloggers continue to make the most basic mistakes, both in communication, and etiquette.
At the risk of being very boring, here I go again.

Following.

You do not follow someone’s blog by adding the words ‘Please follow back’
For the thousandth time, be told that this is not Twitter or Facebook.

If you decide to follow a blog, try to occasionally read and comment on a post. Clicking ‘Like’ in the Reader is not following.

If you are too busy to follow so many blogs, then just ‘unfollow’ them. It’s easy.

Contact.

There is very little point being a blogger if other bloggers are unable to see or read your posts. If you do not link your Gravatar image to your site, then you will be impossible to find, and end up wondering why nobody ever reads your blog.

If you only want to follow a blog by email, that’s fine. It probably means that you don’t want to have your own blog.

Making your blog accessible ‘By request’ seems rather superior, and also totally pointless to me. I am not about to fill in lots of personal details for the privilege of being able to view your blog, believe me.

Sort out your comments thread. Having to add name email, website, etc every single time I want to leave a comment is tiresome.

If someone takes the trouble to leave a relevant comment on one of your blog posts, then have the decency to acknowledge that.

Religion.

If people have decided to be religious, that has usually happened by the time they are writing a blog. By all means enjoy your religion, but please stop telling me that I am doomed because I have none. There are so many evangelical blogs out there, and they all look and sound the same.

Be nice.

If you don’t agree with a point of view, or just want to criticise a writing style, that’s fine. Healthy debate is to be encouraged in blogging. It would be a dull life if we all agreed all the time, I get that. And ‘banter’ can be fun. But avoid harsh sarcasm, sniping, or deliberate rudeness. There is no place for such things in our community.

Blogging can be such a rewarding activity. You can make lifelong friends, expand your knowledge, and discover so much too. But just like so many other things in life, there are some ‘natural rules’ to follow. You should not have to be reminded what they are, as they fall under the category of commonsense and decency.

Best wishes to you all, and happy blogging!

Thinking Aloud On A Sunday

Space: The Final Frontier.

I woke up thinking about Space today. Probably because there has been a lot of fuss this week about the photo of a black hole in space. Scientists don’t really know what happens inside a black hole, but they have theories of course. They may lead to another dimension entirely, or back to one that is parallel to our own. Time might stand still inside a black hole, creating a Star-Trek style time warp, changing the concept of time as we understand it.

That sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

But then I heard that this monster black hole is actually 55,000,000 light years away from Earth. I don’t know a lot about light years, but driving 130 miles to London seems like a mission to me, so I am guessing that 55,000,000 light years is a considerable distance, to say the least.

I looked up how many miles are in just one light year. I don’t really understand the answer, but here it is. 5.8786254 x 1012 miles. Sounds like a lot of miles to me. I multiplied that by 55,000,000, and got this answer. 327 204 289 764 miles. I’m guessing the 327 is ‘trillion’, and the 204 is ‘billion’. If so, it’s a lot further than my imagination can reach, in terms of comprehending distance. Much further away than anything else that is a long way away, I’m guessing.

Is it just me, or does this all seem rather pointless to anyone else? The cost of producing these current photos alone is estimated to be around $16,000,000 dollars. And it’s not actually a photo of the black hole at all. It is the result of pointing a number of radio telescopes into the region, and then getting a computerised prediction of what it would look like, based on the ‘findings’. If you gave a group of nursery children enough marker pens and asked them to draw a black hole in space, they would probably have come up with something remarkably similar. A big red circle, with a black hole in the middle of it.

I am old enough to remember when the first spaceships were launched, and I have always wondered about the point of it all, and how much better the money could have been spent on problems we face on Earth. Since then, we have had Moon Landings, (or did they?) Space Walks, Space Stations, Space Weapons, and Satellites. Then there were ‘ robot landers’, small vehicles creeping around on planets that looked a lot like Death Valley in America, sending back hazy images of ‘other worlds’.

Now there is talk of an American ‘Space Force’, armies based in space, presumably on very large space stations. In the decades following Yuri Gagarin’s trip into space in 1961, we have had some very nice photos of planet Earth from above, the idea of teflon-coating saucepans, (apparently) and satellites to make using mobile phones and TV channels easier. The military can watch their drones and bombs kill people across continents, in real time, and terrorist suspects can be observed as they enjoy a mint tea in Damascus.

But was it all worth it? Do we still need to keep spending money on something so far away, we cannot even imagine the distance in our educated minds?

I suggest not.

Not on a planet where we face untold issues around climate change, plastic pollution, water shortages, disease, and a list of other problems too big to add here.

Spam: New Proxy Lists

For the last few weeks, I have been notified of an increasing number of Spam comments on my main blog. I noticed that despite various names and website addresses, they all had the words ‘new proxy lists’ attached to the text.

I looked that up, and discovered that there are numerous companies offering this service, in countries all around the world. The main purpose appears to be to hide the IP address of anyone sending out all this junk, so they cannot be blocked by the recipient, or investigated by the providers.

It goes without saying that none of us should ever click onto one of those links, and also be vigilant in clearing out our Spam Folders.

On a lighter note, many of the made-up names used by these companies are simply hilarious. They remind me of the invented names of characters in pulp romance novels, or sci-fi books. So as a service to budding authors who may want to use some of those names, I present a selection here.

Madison Migl

Emerita Yurko

Eldridge Hoerl

Sterling Larousse

Elenora Kapnick

Jerrica Woodby