October 2008

At the time of writing this there are still a lot of people unaccounted for in the OMM.  Yesterday they faced conditions such as this:

The interesting thing is the media hype around it.  It seems that the media read 100’s of people unaccounted for = 100’s of people in trouble.  I also heard a news reporter asking a competitor if a lack of gps devices might have contributed to safety being compromised.  This is a question which highlights some people’s reliance in in-car sat navs.  As far as I know, gps systems are not allowed (it’s cheating) and if I was given a choice between a large plastic bivvy bag and a gps; I’d take the plastic bag, it’s far more useful.

A couple of our friends are out there and we were a bit worried for them.  But, then we thought about it and about how experienced they are in the mountains.  They have been through weather like this before.  They have their safety equipment and they also have a habit of bringing, and eating, a huge amount of food.

After saying all this I still realise the dangers.  I hope the competitors in hospital are ok and I hope the competitors who were out on the mountain last night did not get to cold.  Thinking about it, the main thing that would scare me are the rivers.  Frighteningly powerful and very dangerous rivers.

sleepmonster reports here

I had my first experience of tesco direct and am undecided about the service.  I was told that they had silva type 4 compasses for a bargain 20 pounds.  This is the type of compass needed for accurate navigation and the one I have at the moment needs to be sent back as the numbers are rubbing off!  So I visited the tesco site and ordered a new compass.  It turns out they add 5 pounds p & p onto the cost.  I tried to see if I could lose this by picking it up from a tesco store.  I could have picked it up but there was a pick up fee……. you guessed it, 5 pounds.  Sigh.

I ordered it anyway.  For my 5 pounds it is delivered first class.  I ordered it on Wednesday of last week and just got it today.  As soon as I looked at it I knew it had to go back, it had a bubble.  Bubbles are the nemesis of accurate navigation.  They destabilise magnetic needles the world over.  Another sigh.

I rang them straight away.  The nice person told me I would get a full refund and had to simply drop it into a store which can take tesco direct returns.  He asked his little computer and it told him the nearest one was about 15 miles away.  I was just about to say, “oh yes, that one. I drive past it sometimes on the way home from work”.  Then he interjected that it might be too far and he could get a courier to pick it up from me.  I instantly accepted and instantly felt guilty.  I could have went out of my way slightly to hand it in.  However, I thought of the queuing in the store and the fact that i paid 5 pounds for a very light package to take over a week to be delivered.

What shall I do for a compass now?  I rang up a nice small company and spoke directly to a nice man who was holding the compass as I spoke to him; “no bubbles and it will be in the post first thing tomorrow”.  Now that’s a first class service.

Homework tonight.  In preparation for my a level lesson tomorrow I am doing lots of equilibrium sums and baking brownies.  Chocolate and beetroot, very seasonal.  No coffee Friday this year as the Friday lesson falls in the middle of a very packed day.  It’s now been christened chemistea day by the students, and it falls midweek.  Maybe I got got my priorities all wrong when I wrote the timetable.

Free stuff?


And I am learning how to read these diagrams:

A long day Yesterday (Wednesday), with a parent’s evening for two year groups and a lecture to attend in the evening.

The lecture was on nutrition in sports, organised by the NIYCT and sponsored by the MCI.  Most of the time I craved a cup of coffee as I had very little time between the end of school and the parent’s evening and even less time after the parent’s evening.

It is interesting to see that students have the potential to get as obsessive about food as many adults do.  And it is scary to see how easy it is for them to get the wrong nutritional information.  Companies are out to make money.

The talk was fascinating, or as fascinating as it could be in my hazy tired state.  It even had pictures of molecules, and graphs! Brilliant.  My favorite bits ere:

– The explanation about why diets are bad.  In a nut shell they make your body super efficient at preparing for famine (i.e. makes you better at putting on weight).

– The fact that most athletes don’t need or benefit from protein supplements.  It mostly ends up in your pee anyway.  The Strange bit is that one group who do benefit from extra protein are endurance athletes.   This is not the group I would have thought of first.

– Your body can make fat from anything.  Excess fat.  Excess carbs.  Excess alcohol.  Even Excess protein.

– Fat is GOOD!  Apart from saturated fat and trans fat (very bad).

– Nutrition advice is very simple – Eat a varied diet.

It has not been too long ago that the days began to turn and the leaves on the trees have been telling us that it was on its way.  Tonight as the sun went down it feels quite cool and the mist was beginning to hang over the river.  Nothing is in a hurry.

The lovely Sharon and I spent the weekend micro navigating in the mountains as part of our ML training.  We didn’t walk very far at all.  We simply spent 2 days going from calculated precision point to point.  However, we had it easy as we had brilliant weather.  We even had a little help on the night navigation from the blood moon (hunter’s moon).

I also have new projects inspired by the weekend;

To learn more about our weather systems and learn more about the flora of Ireland.

Colder weather makes me want to eat.  Loads.

Today my A level chemistry lesson was hijacked.  People whispered at the door, strangers appeared.  I knew something was up.  Then the cake arrived.  The monster cake.  It was a thank you cake from the sixth form.  A thank you for dragging them up mountains.  The really touching thing was that they had made it themselves.  This was not a bought tesco job, this had 6 hours of sweat and blood (hopefully not literally).  It also had 8 eggs, 500g of butter and nearly 3 bottles of food colouring.  It was also a cake of mystery, of changing colours, stuffed with marshmallows, cherries, smarties and chocolate “things”.

The population of the class tripled for this lesson including people I had never taught before.  There was plenty of cake to go round while still leaving us all very bloated.

I stayed on after school to get some work done, but on the way home I did something different.  I stopped off in Belfast to grab a relaxing cup of coffee and a little read.  I should do that more often.