Our daughter is missing!

It was one of those times you hear about on the news, but you never really think it’ll happen to you. Our daughter, who is 13 missed the school bus this morning and had to catch the regular bus from our village to her school in the next village along, a journey of about 2.5 miles. I was cycling to work along the same road and was overtaken by the bus she should have been on, but she wasn’t so I phone home and we agreed she’d probably be on the next bus and I continued on to work. As soon as I arrived my wife was on the phone really distressed that our daughter still hadn’t shown up at school. It would have taken me too long to cycle back home so a colleague kindly drove me there. At this point we were both very worried as our daughter doesn’t bunk off school or anything like that so we knew something had happened. I phoned 999 for the police and reported her missing, as soon as I’d hung up the school rang, she’d finally arrived having taken the wrong bus. We jumped in the car and picked her up, relieved that she was OK. Although she was only missing for a short time nevertheless the panic that hits you is horrible and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. We listened to her story and at least we can now laugh about it since she’ OK. She got on the bus and realised after a while it was going the wrong way, but assumed she must have taken the circular route bus. She eventually plucked up the nerve to ask the driver who confirmed she was on the wrong bus. He let her off and told her where to get the bus back, but some how she ended up on the wrong side of the road and the next bus she stopped was also going the wrong way. She walked to the next stop, sat down to read her book and waited, but as the shelter had been vandalised and the windows were no longer see through when the bus came the driver didn’t see her and didn’t stop, now she had to wait again for the next bus, which finally took her to school. To cap it all this had to be one of the few days when she didn’t have her mobile, so couldn’t call and let us know. Needless to say she feels a bit silly for getting on the wrong bus in the first place but everyone is relieved that nothing really bad happened.

Skye

oronsay skye causwaySpent a week on the Isle of Skye and as always the island gave us everything from beautiful stunning landscapes in glorious sunshine to non stop torrential rain and mist as thick as soup. We were based on the Ullinish peninsula with fantastic views of MacLeod’s tables across Loch Bracadale. We were able to explore the west of Skye from this location on daytrips, weather permitting…… On the good days we managed to get to Neist point, coral beach, Dunvegan, Portree and via causway to Oronsay.

Holiday!!!!!!!!

We’re off on holiday to the Isle of Skye on Saturday. We decided to go in our old beat up Peugeot 405, although it is getting a bit ‘ify’ these days. It developed a leek in the cooling system the other day, but I think I managed to fix it (I hope). We discussed hiring a car for the week but it was really too expensive for us. Any way I hope the old car makes it there and back without too many problems.

Really looking forward to going back to Skye, we love it there, If I could we’d live there.

Live8 : G8 : Particip8

Just finished watching the Live8 concert here in the UK. Whilst events of this kind in themselves don’t change anything they can however help to raise awareness. As far as we know humans evolved in Africa so it’s about time we recognised the the importance of the birthplace of humanity and did everything in our power to halt the grotesque suffering that goes on their daily. We’ve all read the statistics and seen the reports 30, 40, 50% of some countries populations with HIV-AIDS whilst we in the west have the drugs and the technology to help, the 21st century, and people still dying of starvation. We all know this should not be, but what can we do? we may be on the brink of something quite momentus, that is politicians actually doing what we elect them for…..listening to the people and acting on our behalf. It remains to be seen if Tony Blair and Gordon Brown can deliver and persuade the others to do the right thing, but I think, if people keep up the pressure on our politicians we may actually start to see a difference in our world.

march past Gleneagles hotel
makepovertyhistory
Live8Live
Live8 from BBC news
march in Edinburgh
g8alternatives
G8blog

Asthma is a pain in the ***

I have been a lifelong asthma sufferer and recently was admitted to hospital with an acute attack. To say this is distressing is an understatement, as an adult I can now rationalise what is happening to my body but but I do remember as a child being absolutely terrified. This recent incident took 45 minutes to atabalise me with continuous salbutamol/oxygen, oral steriods, IV steroids and a 250 ml infusion of Magnesium Sulphate which was a new treatment to me. I ended up spending 3 days in hospital and left still on medication. Whilst in the midst of an attack all sorts of thoughts go through your head, primarily

“relax…keep breathing…it’ll pass”,

but you also find yourself thinking

“well, is this how it’s going to end for me….gasping for air like some fish out of water? “.

Rather morbid, but there you go. I would not wish asthma on my worst enemy but I also don’t think non sufferers can really understand the fear in a full blown acute attack.

ClacksNet Chairperson??

Around this time last year I came across a web site, ClacksNet looking for volunteers. ClacksNet is a local charity with the aim of helping local community groups get online and to be able to design and maintain their own web sites. I went along to the AGM in 2003 and signed up. I thought I’d learn a few things myself whilst helping others. Little did I know that by the 2004 AGM the chairperson and founder, along with another long standing member were going to resign, and that I’d be elected chairperson. The aims of ClacksNet are to promote local community use of the Internet, and to provide assistance for community groups to get on-line and have a web presence. I hope I can follow the example of the previous chairperson and help Clacksnet go from strength to strength.

SQL Oracle Database design

Although my first degrees are in chemistry I’ve been getting heavily into computing for a few years now, so I took advantage of working at a university to do a part time degree in computing science. It’s pretty good actually as the university pays. I am only allowed to take one unit per semester usually on a Tuesday and Wednesday evening. It’s a bit intense at times juggling a full time job and a degree but I enjoy it. This semester there wasn’t an evening unit available so I enrolled on a daytime unit ‘Database Principles and Applications’. Each unit normally has two assignments and an exam, the first assignment wasn’t too bad, I had to take a description of a bookshop, translate it into an ER diagram then generate a series of relations from the diagram. But, the second assignment was a killer for me, I really though it was going to be the first assignment I wasn’t able to hand in. The task was to decompose a relation in 1NF into a set of relations in 3NF then design some queeries. In the end I think I was reading more complexity into the task than was actually there so I really struggled. Once I’d got over the first part it all seemed a bit clearer. Unfortunataly the deadline was 17:00 on Fri 19th and things only started clarity only occured around 15:00 so I was franticaly trying to get the SQL statements to work and write a report for the dealine. In the end I didn’t quite finish but I managed most of it and hopefully have done enough to pass. In hindsight I should have started earlier but, I’ve always been like that, never starting things early enough and just making the deadline, suppose it’s too late to change at the age of 45. Ho Hum!

First cycling crash in ages

Crashed my bike this morning, as usual with these things it was all very avoidable but nevertheless inevitable. I cycle along the busy A91 to work each day, which in itself is quite hazardous, but the accident happened in a much safer place. I had arrived at work at the University of Stirling and was cycling through the campus talking to a colleague. I said goodbye and cycled off only to hit a patch of wet grass cuttings on the road with my front wheel and over I went. I grazed my hand, bashed my knee and now I have a bruise developing on my left shoulder. Thankfully my bike appears undamaged.
Like many tumbles of this nature there was a large audience of people arriving for work and i did feel a bit of a twit…..Ho Hum.

Cycling…the joys and the perils

I’ve been cycling for over 40 years now…I remember my first 2 wheel bike, my mother took me into town to buy it and because we didn’t have a car and couldn’t get on the bus with it I rode it all the way home and my mother walked. Over the years I’ve cycled round Scotland a few times, around Ireland and most of Europe. But these days most of my cycling is restricted to going to and from work.
Cycling in the UK as a form of transport is both a pleasure and to say the least life threatening. The dangers clearly lie in the fact that the majority of drivers either don’t know how to deal with cyclists or, more likely there are impatient, rude, arrogant, ignorant… stop me if I’m ranting but I’ve come close to death a few times due to bad or at the least lazy driving. There have been many great developments in cycling in Britain by such organisations as SUSTRANS and the CTC but it has been an uphill struggle. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of political support for cycling initiatives. Sure there have been old railway lines turned into cycle paths etc. but these are mainly for recreational riding. Where local authorities do actually install cycle lanes along normanl routes they are invariably poorly thought out, badly constructed and even downright dangerous.