Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sunday Smile

This'll put a smile on your face, or I'm not a puddock (which I am).

Pinched from the inspirational azahar

Friday, 28 November 2008

Hugs Please!

Hi everyone

I am shamelessly using this post to get sympathy. I was in a reasonably minor car accident yesterday and now that the shock has worn off I'm feeling miserable (and sore).

I live up a hill on a single track road and it was as I was heading up the hill yesterday that I met someone coming down rather fast. There's not a lot you can do in those circumstances except try to minimise the impact by moving to the side. No-one was injured beyond a few bruises but the cars were a hell of a mess - it was a big bang!

Luckily a friend and neighbour was passing and she stuck to me for the rest of the day while I sorted, or at least tried, everything out. Thank goodness for good friends.

The guys who were in the other car seem so far to be reasonable and we have agreed that it was a no-fault accident. Let's just hope that good spirit continues, although you can never tell what people will do once they've gone home and had a think.

The accident was bad but dealing with the insurance company was worse. Four hours later I was no closer to getting the car shifted, never mind a replacement car, which is part of the deal. I seemed to have been shifted from one call-centre to another, all of them talking complete gobbledegook, for hours on end.

Eventually I had the brainwave of calling the RAC to see if they could do anything. (In the meantime I had had the cops on the phone because a neighbour had complained that my car was obstructing the road - very neighbourly, very supportive). The RAC were wonderful. Their cover included dealing with accidents as well as breakdowns, so they sent a guy out and in less than an hour they were there taking charge. They took my little car away to the car doctors, patted me on the head, and sent me home. I can't speak highly enough of them.

My friend insisted that I went and had tea with her, so I forgot about it all for a while, apart from cursing selfish and stupid neighbours periodically. When I was finally back at home I decided to have one last go at the insurance company to try to understand what was going on - they still hadn't even arranged for the tow, never mind anything else. I was very lucky and spoke to a guy who actually spoke in English instead of robot-speak and he explained exactly what was happening, and told me in very simple terms what I should do the next day.

So at last I can relax. There is a car on the way, my garage is estimating repairs which the insurers are likely to accept...I think that's it. Of course I still have to find out which neighbour called the cops so I can put a hex on their house but apart from that I have done all I need to do. I ache all over and my wrist is sore but I know I am very lucky not to have been more seriously injured. I want to get back out on the road as soon as possible to test my confidence but this stupid accident has dented it a bit I fear. So all hugs gratefully received :)

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Galactic Smoke Rings

I had to share this stunning picture with you all, which I saw on Astronomy Picture of the Day. It was taken only last week by the Hubble Space Telescope so it's right at the forefront of our knowledge of what the Universe looks like.

It shows two very different, but neighbouring, galaxies. Each is unusual because of its ring structure but look at how different they are. Apparently, and I'm not a scientist so you'll have to forgive me if I get the detail wrong, the galaxy on the left passed through the one on the right and, just like a pebble hitting a pond, it left behind an outwardly moving 'ripple' of, in this case, incredibly densely packed stars. Astronomers believe that the red patch at the bottom of the blue galaxy marks the original nucleus of the galaxy that was struck.

It must be incredibly exciting to be an astronomer just now. Every month brings dazzling new observations of objects countless light years away - the pair of galaxies above lie 400 MILLION light years away from us - and our understanding of the universe we live in advances. I wish I'd stuck in at science at school now...

Images like these make me glad I'm alive in the 21st century because they tell me about the Universe I live in without needing to be a rocket scientist. They show me how stunningly beautiful it is out there, how unimaginably big it is and how terribly, terribly small we are.

If you want to find out more about galaxies, and even help to catalogue them, take a look at the Galaxy Zoo website.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

The Tyranny of Cats

This video made me laugh like a fool - hope it does the same for you:

There is so much talent out there - this is as good as anything I've seen on the conventional media. Quite cheers me up.

Oh, and it's not just cats. I have very similar experiences with my Jack Russell - they don't scratch so much but they are great at asking to go out outside just as the penalty kick is about to be taken. Gotta love 'em.