Sunday, January 29, 2006

What a busy month this is turning out to be. The return to teaching initiative sems to be going well so far, and I have two tutorial days completed, an agreed placement at the local school, and more files of government initiatives on education than you can shake a stick at.

I look forward, in due course, to posting what it feels like to be back in the classroom, but I have to get there yet. Quite when that will be will depend on the Head of Science at the school, but I'm hoping to be able to see him next week so that this can move along at the required pace.

In the meantime I am making as much progress as I can preparing the garden for the coming spring sowing season, to which end I am going to construct my first raised bed. I have the relevant bits of wood, so today will be devoted to putting it all together - although how far I get will depend on just how cold it is today.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hooray, finally things are moving along at a reasonable pace, and I find I am all signed up for the return to teaching course, and so with a bit of luck I shall be in a position to plausibly apply for teaching jobs by the beginning of April. Since teaching science is both in demand, and eminently portable, it makes a great deal of sense for us - given our intention to move in the next few years.

But to where, I wonder? James Lovelock appears to be re-igniting the climate change debate with his view that we are probably already past the point of no return. Bugger! I simply don't want to believe that Gaia will bite back so hard so soon, but I have to admit that signs of positive feedback entering the equation are becoming alarmingly common, and the environmental news in the past year has been unremittingly bad.

But perhaps the imminence of disaster, as indicated by one of the leading scientists and thinkers on this matter anywhere on the planet, will start to focus enough ordinary peoples' minds to start to focus the politicians.

While we wait for that to happen, I am now looking at contour maps and trying to find the limit of the 20m+ contour in our selected areas for a move. Once the Greenland ice sheet starts to melt I could make a nice little pension hiring out boats from the marina on the front garden!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Coo, sometimes a walk with the dog can be like going on safari. The other morning was one such, as I took Molly, the terrier-colly, on a surprise early morning stroll through the fields and down to the river. Rabbits, a Green Woodpecker, as female deer, and two foxes, not to mention a myriad small birds.

But the highlight was putting up a Grey Heron at the river, and watching it gain height while avoiding overhanging tree branches. The sheer scale of the bird, fairly close up, with the wings beating relatively slowly, yet effectively, gave a real sense of paddling through the air, much as humans might swim through water. And this was re-inforced by watching how it avoided the tree branches, making small course changes by favouring one wing and then the other and so moving slightly right or left while still climbing.

It was a very neat experience in terms of both quality and compactness.

Meanwhile, I pursue the goal of getting on to the Return2teaching course on the 19th. So far so good, and I now await a printing head for the printer so that I can print and fill out the application form. But happily, the device is still within the warranty period, and a new printer head is on its way (allegedly, anyway) so all should be well tomorrow - do I sound like a politician, or what?

And in the US more wheels fall of the Administration's bandwagon with the resignation of De Lay. Perhaps more usefully, there appears to be a growing recognition within the US that their politics really is horribly corrupt and maybe they should do something about it. This is going to be fun to observe.

Monday, January 02, 2006

I am reminded that it's three whole weeks since I last updated this - most remiss. I plead festive planning and the seemingly endless search for work of a paying kind.

During that time a new family member has emerged in Nederland, Stevan Gert, who's my cousin's new son, but I'm a bit confused as to whether that makes me a second cousin, or a half uncle, or a second cousin with removal potential or what. But it doesn't really matter at the end of the day, since the most important thing is that he arrived all in one piece and with all bits working properly.

While the rest of the UK has been assaulted by snow in various depths, we have been spared having to get around through the white stuff. It just always petered out before it got to us. I'm jolly grateful for this because although it's very prettywhen covering green stuff, it's a bloody nuisance when it gets on the black stuff.

Now we're in to 2006 we have decided that we seek a year of harmony, happiness, and familial project progress. That seems safe enough, and we hope it is. Last year we determined it needed to be a year of change, but that appears to have been a bit broad, because we certainly got a lot of change, but came out of the other end feeling rather battered by it all. So stability would be a good intention for this year, although I guess that's true for all, especially in other parts of the world.

For me the best bit is that the days are now getting longer, and the quality of sunlight is on an improving track. So now I can start planning for the Spring, beginning with a tidying up and refurbishment project in the lower garden (sounds very grand but it's just because we're on a slope). This year I am going to ream out the greenhouse and start again from ground zero, since it all got a bit out of hand last season and became impossibly unkempt - not least because it ended up with a population explosion among the strawberry plants. Quite what plants I shall attempt this year I'm not sure, given that it seems impossible to guarantee proper ripening conditions for things like melons (two years ago). But I'm sure I'll come up with something interesting, although first-off the greenhouse has to be done, so.....

In amongst all that I note that the Montreal meeting on greenhouse gas emissions was hailed as a success because they managed to agree on how to measure and monitor, and came up with an intention to talk some more. I must admit that my first reaction was broadly positive, but the more I have read about the actual wording, and the more I have thought about it, the less I think of it. Although apparently publicly humiliated, the US still has a clause allowing it to continue prevaricating and doing nothing. Maybe Washington has to get flooded before they take it seriously; all a bit late by then, of course, since at that point we'll be well past the principle tipping points of climatic change.

So, given that the politicians are clearly going to do very little beyond the cosmetic appearance of policy, and for the most part the people of the developed world don't want to change, I am rersetting the height threshold on our new house project at 20 metres, because it looks like the ice sheets will have melted before the blindingly obvious intrudes upon public policy.