Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Climate of Extremes

The Climate is in most peoples thoughts, the weather is generally of interest to us all. We are experiencing a rather protracted winter which begs the question about global warming. It seems to me that if it rains, it really rains, if it's sunny and hot, it's really hot, If it's windy then it's Really windy and so on. We need to adapt and accommodate. A read of this book may help one to relax with greater understanding.

Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don't Want You to Know. This is basically a major rewrite of Michaels' 2004 "Meltdown" book. Like Meltdown, it is very good. The authors accept that CO2 emissions are responsible for some global warming but they counsel against the alarmism that we see everywhere. They go to the science, and they make their case very well. Are there more hurricanes than there used to be? What might sea level rises be by 2100? What is the 'hockey stick' debate about? Are the poles melting and by how much? These questions and many more are examined with clarity and wit.
Michaels is an excellent writer and one always feels him to have a real command of his subject. He is a climatologist with years of employment at the university of Virginia under his belt.
He is unpopular with the mainstream scientific 'consensus' who regard him as too much of a sceptic - questions are asked as to his funding and his motivation, and sure some of his funding looks to be dubious and the Cato Institute is a right wing libertarian outfit. But this does not intrude into the text, except in a few areas where the authors offer potential solutions to some of the problems they perceive within the current scientific research environment.
This is an excellent and very accessible read, and I recommend it to mainstream and sceptic alike, and for all who like to do a bit of thinking 'outside the box'.Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don't Want You to Know

Spring Tide Newburgh March 31st

Parkhill farm fields awash today 31st March. The ancient dyke built to keep water out is now keeping it in. The difference in water levels being about 3+ metres. From the the photograph you can see that the fields are of flood plain anyway and that none of this is new. Last night, the wind was strong off the East pushing the River Tay waters hard upstream. The waterside roads and dwellings were awash, boats lost and roads full of debris. Sandbags at doors, police in attendance to prevent frolicking children inadvertently coming to grief.
Compared to other weather related incidents it's all small beer. That's Newburgh March 30th 2010.

Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades

Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades. Holy war: Christianity versus Islam. Brutality, greed, honour, chivalry, the clink of chain mail, the clatter of hooves, and the call of the muezzin. Such are the stock ingredients of the Crusades. But to what extent do the stereotypes fit with the reality? In his remarkable new book, Jonathan Phillips explores this conflict of ideas, beliefs and cultures and shows both the contradictions and the diversity of holy war: friendships and alliances between Christians and Muslims; triumphs of diplomacy rather than the sword; the launch of crusades against Christians, and calls for jihads against Muslims. Phillips draws on contemporary writings - on chronicles, songs, sermons, travel diaries, letters, financial accounts and peace treaties - to throw a brilliant new lights on people and events we thought we knew well: the bloody conquest of Jerusalem in the First Crusade; the titanic struggle between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin; the breathtaking naivety of the Children's Crusade; and the ruthless suppression of the Knight's Templar. Less familiar but no less central are the stories of the intimidating and astute politician, Queen Melisende of Jerusalem; the fiery preacher, Al-Sulami; the Arab-speaking excommunicate and Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II. Over time the Crusades were directed against a variety of opponents: not only Muslims in the Middle East but against Cathar heretics, political enemies of the papacy, the Mongols, pagan tribes of northern Europe, and the Ottoman Turks. Although the notion of fighting for one's faith fell into disrepute in the Enlightenment, in a final chapter Jonathan Phillips traces the crusading impulse up to the present day - to George W. Bush's characterization of the war on terrorism as a crusade. Vivid, original and illuminating, "Holy Warriors" provides an unparalleled account of one of the great cultural, political and religious movements in world history. Buy now. Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal. 30 years ago I experienced this site, since, maybe 60 million others have, too. All of us will remember. It is now designated a world heritage building and if you have the inclination then treat yourself and enjoy its magnificence.

The Taj Mahal. In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughal empire's period of greatest prosperity, was grief-stricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632, one year after her death. The court chronicles of Shah Jahan's grief illustrate the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for Taj Mahal. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later. Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words:

Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory.

The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian architecture and earlier Mughal architecture. Specific inspiration came from successful Timurid and Mughal buildings including; the Gur-e Amir (the tomb of Timur, progenitor of the Mughal dynasty, in Samarkand), Humayun's Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj), and Shah Jahan's own Jama Masjid in Delhi. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones, and buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement.

Stone detail. The Taj Mahal is built in marble and inlaid with precious and semiprecious stones. This is but one example.

The Qur'an

Muslims, Christians and Judaism are again at odds with extremists on all sides becoming more intolerant. This rash of ignorance can only be overcome by becoming informed.
The Qur'an: English translation with parallel Arabic text. The Qur'an, believed by Muslims to be the word of God, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad 1400 years ago. Recognized as the greatest literary masterpiece in Arabic, the sacred text has nevertheless remained difficult to understand in its English translations. First published in 2004, M.A.S. Abdel Haleem's translation has been acclaimed for its success in avoiding archaism and cryptic language to produce a version that is both faithful to the original and easy to read. Now for the first time it is published with the original Arabic text to give a greater appreciation and understanding of the holy book. The traditional Arabic calligraphic pages are displayed alongside the English translation, which has been revised for this new edition. A useful general introduction on the revelation, stylistic features, issues of interpretation and translation of the Qur'an is included, together with summaries of each sura, essential footnotes and an index. The verses are individually numbered to facilitate comparison with the Arabic. It is an edition both for those familiar with the Qur'an and for those coming to it for the first time; the message of the Qur'an was directly addressed to all people regardless of class, gender, or age, and this dual-language edition is equally accessible to everyone.The Qur'an: English translation with parallel Arabic text

The Message of the Qur'an

The Message of the Qur'an: The Full Account of the Revealed Arabic Text Accompanied by Parallel Transliteration. (Hardcover)
Comment by a reader:-
This has to be, for me, the finest translation I have come across. Asad's translation is careful to explain WHY he has chosen to translate a word as this rather than as that and puts many references into their historical context.
Comparing to other translations, at least this sort of information allows you to make your own mind up.
I read this cover to cover and not long after, converted. That is how inspiring and powerful I found this text. There are several occasions where Asad has gone beyond the translation and explained the logic of a particular statement in the Qur'an (why men are permitted 4 wives but women not permitted 4 husbands, for example) allowing the reader to actively engage with the Qur'an message.. but what i like most is that he goes beyond the translation but only in the footnotes, not in the actual text (not putting words into God's mouth, as it were)
I found reading this to be inspiring, an eye opener and my first big step into what Islam really is about. The Message of the Quran: The Full Account of the Revealed Arabic Text Accompanied by Parallel Transliteration

The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning

The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning.
Jim Lovelock is an iconic figure in British science, a prophet whose prophecies are coming true. Lovelock is best known as the 'father' of Gaia theory, which is now established as the most useful way of understanding the dramatic changes happening to the environment of the Earth. Yet, throughout his life - as a student, independent scientist and writer - Lovelock has met with disagreement and disparagement. His drive came from personal belief, curiosity and conviction. He has been right for all his working life and, although it is frightening for us to believe the scenario he describes in The Vanishing Face of Gaia, he is right again.
James Lovelock described his previous book, The Revenge of Gaia, as 'a wake-up call for humanity'. Stark though it was in many respects, in The Vanishing Face of Gaia Lovelock says that even though the weather seems cooler and pollution lessens as the recession bites, the environmental problems we will face in the twenty-first century are even more terrifying than he previously realised. The Arctic and Antarctic ice-caps are melting very quickly, and water shortages and natural disasters are more common occurrences than at any time in recent history. The civilisations of many countries will be jeopardised and life as we know it severely disrupted.

'Our wish to continue business as usual will probably prevent us from saving ourselves' says Lovelock, so we must adapt as best we can and try to ensure that enough of us survive to allow a more capable species to evolve from us. There could hardly be a more important message for humankind.
Get acquainted with how it will probably become. The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lindores House North Fife.

Lindores House which sits at the North of Lindores Loch Fife. Lindores Loch is a freshwater loch situated in North Fife in the Parish of Abdie. The Loch has for many years been used as a fishery and is well known for its abundant fish life. A curling pond is situated on the Northern shoreline and is nominally used by the Abdie Curling Club and Abdie ladies Curling Club. A speculative study suggests that the loch was created by glacial deposits from the surrounding Ochil Hills at the end of the last ice-age. The water level and shoreline have changed over time due to roads, railway, sluice gate and farmland. This how it was last month.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Equinox Moon Phase Calendar 2010

Equinox Moon Phase Calendar 2010. Beautiful Moon Phase Calendar for 2010. Silk-screen printed in silver onto thick paper. Set for Northern Hemisphere. Lunar phases include timings of New & Full Moons, Eclipses and zodiac sign changes. Each Lunar Calendar comes with an explanatory leaflet on the Moon's Phases and Lunar Lore. Size: 12" [305mm] by 32.5" [815mm]. Ideal for stargazers or anyone keeping in touch with the lunar cycle. Equinox Moon Phase Calendar 2010

River Tay March 27th

The River Tay on the evening of 27th March. This view is an ever changing wonder, as the clouds pass the sunbeams fall on different places, you may have seen similar posts before, different colour, different tides but the same view.

The moon on March 27th coming up to full in few days.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Greenpan Aluminium Induction Casserole, Vienna Black, 24 cm

Revolutionary Cookware.

Greenpan Aluminium Induction Casserole, Vienna Black, 24 cm.
Manufacturer's Description
GreenPan is a range of beautifully designed, technologically advanced cookware pieces with a unique environmental message.
No PFOA is used in the manufacture of GreenPan. The ceramic non stick coating contains no PTFE. Less energy used in the manufacturing process and Environmentally friendly materials are used as much as possible.
The ceramic coating is heat resistant to 450°C / 850°F - If you accidentally overheat your pan, no toxic fumes will be released and the coating itself will not be destroyed. It is hard wearing and has excellent food release properties. No more rubbing and scrubbing, clean-up has become a breeze!
Thanks to the unique properties of the ceramic non stick coating, GreenPan cookware makes it possible to prepare meals with less oil.
To clean your GreenPan cookware, simply wash in warm soapy water with a soft cloth, rinse and dry with a towel.
You can use metal utensils such as spoons and whisks. The use of forks and knives is not recommended, as you can damage the surface of your pan when cutting the food.
GreenPan is a Belgian Cookware manufacturer which is the first to launch PTFE free non stick cookware.
Our products have truly revolutionalised the cookware market.
Each of our products makes a serious commitment to your Health, your Convenience and the Environment.
High-End materials and the latest state-of-the-art technology make it possible to create unique pieces.
Enjoy the new dimension and expand your cooking skills with GreenPan.
Product Description.
Ecologically created from the most recyclable of resources ~ Green Pan 24 cm Casserole.

To Buy 31% cheaper through Amazon.Greenpan Aluminium Induction Casserole, Vienna Black, 24 cm

Lodge for sale Cupar North Fife

Ferrymuir Lodge, Westfield Road, Cupar, North Fife for sale.
Offers around £275,000
Property Type : Detached
Public Rooms : 1
Bedrooms : 3
Bathrooms : 2
Garden : yes
Garage : yes

This traditional lodge is set in a popular location on the outskirts of Cupar. The property has been upgraded to offer modern fitments throughout. There are extensive gardens, garage and off street parking.
Entrance porch. Lounge with study area off. Dining kitchen. Three bedrooms. En-suite. Bathroom. Gardens. Garage. Gas central heating. Double glazing. Pictures
Pagan Osborne Property Services
Solicitors and Estate Agents
1 Crossgate
KY15 4HA
Tel : 01334 656525
Fax : 01334 654119
E-mail :
Website :

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Normans Law North Fife March 24

Normans Law North Fife March 24. Looking across from Rathillet over Star Farm near Luthrie

Hungry cows at Rathillet.

A row of really hungry beasties. I wondered just how much methane gas is issued!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Black Orpingtons Cockerel

Six months old and quite a specimen.

One of our two black orpingtons cross cockerels, the most aggressive of the pair photographed with the sigma lens, 300mm on macro setting, highlighted two days ago. Much as we like him it's likely he will be providing us as a tasty meal.

Newburgh North Fife March 2010

Reeds at Newburgh on the Tay. All along the estuary there are extensive reed beds which in the past was the normal roof covering for housing. At the turn of the 19th/20th centuries and throughout slate replaced thatch. Signs of previous thatch roofing is evident on most houses in the area. In the high street one house remains with a thatched roof and interestingly a flat is for sale in that dwelling. I might be posting details soon.

Mud exposed as The River Tay recedes at near low tide in Newburgh north fife. The difference between high and low at the present moon phase is 2.6 metres.

Looking across from Old Parkhill to Newburgh Cemetery and beyond to the single line rail track carrying passengers from Edinburgh via Ladybank to Perth.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ballinbreich Castle March 2010

Ballinbreich Castle as viewed from the road to Newburgh North Fife. A friend has lent me a shot of a Sigma lens, much longer than my normal for the Nikon D90. Hand held in relatively low light conditions. I'm needing a longer lens and it's becoming a question of taste and see. I see the this castle every day and find it hard to resist
recording it.

Newburgh as seen half a mile further along the road this morning. Same lens. It makes a change to have a different perspective.

Mugdrum Island off Newburgh last night on my way home. I liked the light.

Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 DG Macro For Nikon Digital & Film Cameras. This is the lens I've just started using, so far I'm really tempted to buy for my own use.
Technical Details

* An excellent budget priced tele-zoom for film and digital SLR cameras
* Versatile zoom for sport, portraiture and nature photography
* Low dispersion glass element for effective control of colour abberations
* Multi layer coating optimises quality for digital photography
* Maximum magnification 1:2 in macro mode at 300mm
Manufacturer's Description
This lens has a 1:2 maximum close-up magnification at the 300mm focal length. Excellent performance telephoto zoom lens for digital and 35mm SLR cameras. It also has a switch for changeover to macro photography at focal lengths between 200mm and 300mm. The minimum focusing distance is 1.5m (59.1 inches) at all zoom settings. We used SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass in this lens for excellent correction of chromatic aberration. It is effectively corrected for fluctuation of aberration due to focusing. Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 DG Macro For Nikon Digital & Film Cameras

Monday, March 22, 2010

Poultry North Fife 2010

Poultry north fife. We have two kinds, purchased a few weeks old as layers. They free range in the garden and have become dominant over the ducks which waddle away if approached. The two larger birds (black orpingtons cross) are cockerels and as they approach maturity will start fighting. One of them will have to go. The other three are Isa Browns.

These are the ducks that share the same ground with the poultry converting a lawn into a tufted mire. The ducks have taken to sheltering under cover due to over flights from various raptors, Sparrowhawks and Buzzards. Now the weather is improving egg production is gathering apace so we are now in a good weekly surplus.
If you have the space and wish to be self sufficient in organic eggs and meat, then a gander at this book may be of benefit.

A reader of this publication reports.
By A Customer
I thoroughly recommend this book. There is a wealth of information crammed into its modest size, making it a must-have for chicken keepers; beginners and old-hands alike.
It enters into adequate detail for most keepers' day-to-day needs regarding housing, health etc., but (hence the 4/5 rating), you may wish to buy some more specialised books on the above to find more in-depth information.
The breed section is excellent, giving far more detail (and photos) than any other book I've read. The info included is relevant and up-to-date, which is great if you've not got the time to trawl through specialist breed books.
This book is a visual treat, having a simple but effective layout, and of course being packed full of high quality, captioned photos of every breed featured. There are a number of mistakes in the allocation of the captions, but we can forgive them for that, considering the amount of photos to be captioned!
Overall, a great read at a great price.Complete Encyclopedia of Chickens

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Beehives North Fife

Beehives abandoned by the owners in north fife, this cluster of 5 altogether highlights the demise of honey bees generally. It's a worldwide problem partly caused by intense commercial demand by growers that need pollination of crops, movement of beehives to accommodate that need, clustering them closely together and importation of infected colonies from other parts of the world. I kept bees for many years during which I needed to treat them with antibiotic once. In my case they had Nosema. Infection, just like in us can and do spread. Whatever caused the loss of these colonies is not know to me as there can be many reasons. I gave up bee keeping a long while ago but that's another story.

Snowdrops North Fife 2010.

Snowdrops north fife 2010, it's been a long cold winter and everything is late compared to the last few years but at last spring is upon us. Yippee.

I always find these and other Ivy growths amusing clinging onto the fence posts with nowhere to go.

Beech woods at Higham near Ballinbreich, this where deer dwell and can be frequently met along this road at night, caution is the word for their sake and bodywork of ones car.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Woodlice North Fife

Slater/woodlice. It's getting warmer, as a consequence this little beastie along with others made an appearance last night at Upper Flisk North Fife.
Woodlice need moisture because they breathe through gills, called pseudotrachea, and so are usually found in damp, dark places, such as under rocks and logs. They are usually nocturnal and are detritivores, feeding mostly on dead plant matter, although they have been known to feed on cultivated plants, such as ripening strawberries and tender seedlings. Woodlice then recycle the nutrients back into the soil. In artificial environments such as greenhouses where it can be very moist, woodlice may become abundant and damage young plants.
The woodlouse has a shell-like exoskeleton, which it must progressively shed as it grows. The moult takes place in two stages; the back half is lost first, followed two or three days later by the front. This method of moulting is different from that of most arthropods, which shed their cuticle in a single process.
A female woodlouse will keep fertilised eggs in a marsupium on the underside of her body until they hatch into small, white offspring. The mother then appears to "give birth" to her offspring.
Some species of woodlouse are able to roll into a ball-like form when threatened by predators, leaving only their armoured back exposed. This ability, or dominant behaviour, explains many of the woodlouse's common names.
Metabolic rate is temperature dependent in woodlice. In contrast to mammals and birds, invertebrates are not "self heating": the external environmental temperature relates directly to their rate of respiration. They are not generally regarded as a serious household pest as they do not spread disease and do not damage wood or structures; however, their presence can indicate dampness problems.
Woodlice are eaten by a wide range of insectivores, but the only animals known to prey exclusively on woodlice are spiders of the genus Dysdera, such as the woodlouse spider Dysdera crocata.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Organic Cook's Bible

If you are discerning of food quality then maybe this is the book for you.

The Organic Food Shopper's Guide: How to Select and Cook the Best Ingredients on the Market (Hardcover)
Cox (Cellaring Wine), a veteran organic gardener, provides an encyclopaedic guide to organic ingredients from fruits and vegetables to meats and dairy products, plus "kitchen staples" like coffee, bouillon and flour. Unlike most reference books, his is filled with personal touches: sidebars like "My Favourite Cherries" and "Keep an Eye Out for Black Walnuts" tell about Cox′s encounters with foods, and even within the technical portions of the entries—which give information on nutrition, seasonality, storage, preparation and so on, as well as brief, fascinating histories of a food′s cultivation—Cox often takes a personal approach. There are recipes using nearly every ingredient, most prepared simply to highlight a particular flavor, as in potent Rosemary Pesto, but others incorporate a food into heartier fare, like Caraway–Infused Pork. Though Cox′s frequent pauses to extol organic food′s virtues are of the preaching–to–the–choir variety, his abundant, knowledgeable advice on how to find and use the best products, and his presentation of special varieties of the ingredients make this a helpful resource for shoppers who are both bewildered and excited by the offerings in an ever–expanding field.The Organic Food Shopper's Guide: How to Select and Cook the Best Ingredients on the Market

Toads and Frog North Fife

Last night here in north fife there was a slight rainfall and just like the night before the amphibians were amassing to mate. Calling and croaking the road outside the garden was littered with these little creatures, unfortunately some get squashed by passing traffic, others make it to the pond. This pair were in the garden.

Amongst the toads was this really unusually coloured frog, not typical at all, perhaps a reader could comment why.