Archive for February, 2007

Weather Report

February 24, 2007

Today there is an ice storm. While it is not as cold as it has been (it’s actually quite mild) everything is frozen. The weight of the ice on the trees is making them collapse and this is a danger to people walking underneath them.

I took these pics from my window. In few months everything will be green and beautiful.

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Marie Antoinette – the movie

February 19, 2007

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Marie Antoinette is an Academy Award-nominated 2006 film written and directed by Sofia Coppola (her father did The Godfather) about the life of Marie Antoinette. It was Coppola’s first film since winning an Academy Award for the screenplay of 2003’s Lost In Translation. The film is loosely based on the historical biography Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Lady Antonia Fraser, and ends with the fall of Versailles.

This movie is nothing like what you’d expect. The music is modern. It’s all in English and nobody speaks with an accent. It is very entertaining and will change your perception about Marie Antoinette and that whole bit of history.

Even though it looks like a chick flic, it doesn’t really fit into that category, nor drama, nor comedy. It is interesting and entertaining and very well made.

If you liked Lost in Translation, or if you like Kirsten Dunst, then see this movie. Highly recommended.

Storm rider’s miracle survival

February 16, 2007

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A German paraglider survived lightning, pounding hail, minus 40-degree Celsius temperatures and oxygen deprivation after a storm system sucked her to an altitude higher than Mount Everest.

Ewa Wisnierska, 35, passed out due to a lack of oxygen and flew unconscious for up to an hour covered in ice after reaching an altitude of 9947 metres – near the cruising height of a jumbo jet.

The champion sportswoman’s survival was like “winning Lotto 10 times in a row”, Australia’s most experienced paraglider says.

Continued at:
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/02/16/1171405415598.html?from=top5

Inclement Weather

February 13, 2007

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I rang a company and got an answering machine (Yanks don’t say answerphone) with the message, “We are closed today due to the inclement weather.”

Dictionary.com defines inclement as:
1. (of the weather, the elements, etc.) severe, rough, or harsh; stormy.
2. not kind or merciful.

This is indeed an accurate word for today. This morning I looked out the window and saw that it was snowing – horizontally. So I put on my cold-weather gear and walked to work. It turned out not to be that cold, just snowing and windy. But it’s a pain in the ass having to walk through knee deep snow if I’m going any distance – like to town, which I also did today. Now I’m home, I’m going to turn off the phone, lock my door, have a hot shower and veg out until tomorrow when I’ll do it all again. (The pics above were taken from my dorm at dusk.)

I keep thinking that the smartest man in the presidential race is Al Gore. This is because he hasn’t said that he’s running yet. I think he’s waiting for the other candidates to exhaust themselves and their sponsors’ funds and over-expose themselves to the public in the near two-year run up to the election (election day is 4 Nov 08). He’ll show up one day as a fresh face, having stood back and taken in the ever-shifting political landscape and solve the voters’ dilemma: Do I vote for a black man or a white woman? Al Gore has rebranded himself as far more charismatic than the boring fuddy-duddy that we used to think he was. I’ll vote for him by persuading a Yank to vote my way.

Queenstown

February 3, 2007

Here is pic of Milbrook in Queenstown that Gorran sent me. He’s just got back from there.

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Weather Warning

February 3, 2007

Dear Campus Residents and M.U.M. Community,

Please be advised, and share this information with all your friends:

* In Fairfield and throughout Southeast Iowa, we can expect, through the weekend and several days following, bitterly cold temperatures accompanied by significant wind speeds. The combination of these factors produces a “Wind Chill Index.”

* For the next several days, we could experience a wind chill index of -20 degrees F (-29C). The wind speed, combined with freezing temperatures, can make you feel even colder, because the wind pulls heat away from the body.

* Through the next several days, you could experience frostbite in as little as 20 minutes of exposure. Frostbite is when your body tissue freezes. While outside, take extra care to cover face, hands and ears.

* A loss of feeling on the exposed body parts is an indication you should go indoors immediately and slowly re-warm your skin.

Fish man starts his swim of the Amazon River

February 2, 2007

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A middle-aged man with the physique of a bear slipped into the warm water of the Amazon River yesterday to begin the longest and probably most dangerous swim ever attempted.

Martin Strel, 52, from Slovenia, known variously as the Big Man of the River and the “fish man”, is attempting to swim the full length of the world’s biggest river – all 5400 kilometres of it – or in his own words, “die trying”.

The bearded marathon swimmer is no stranger to staggering feats of endurance. After accomplishing the modest crossing of the English Channel early in his career he has gone on to successfully swim the length of the Danube, the Mississippi and the Yangtze rivers. None of them, however, compare to the terrors waiting for him in the Amazon: five-metre anacondas, crocodiles, poisonous fresh water stingrays and even the occasional bull shark that works its way upstream and likes to attack swimmers.

But Mr Strel remains philosophical: “I’m concerned, of course, but if I think of that stuff I would never jump into the water,” he said.

He even had a ready reply when asked about every man’s greatest fear in the equatorial waters – the toothpick fish that can enter the body by swimming up the penis, and can only be removed by surgery. “I never urinate straight into the water, I always urinate straight into my wetsuit,” he said.

Yesterday’s starting point was Atalaya in Peru, from where Mr Strel will attempt to make it to where the river spills out of the Amazon Basin into the Atlantic, at Belem. His first challenge will be ferocious local whirlpools that have sunk passenger ships in recent weeks, killing 170 people.

The world record distance swimmer intends to get there in 70 days, which means swimming from dusk to dawn to clock up the necessary 77km a day.

Mr Strel will be accompanied by 45 people across three boats including a doctor and trainers. The main vessel in the $2.9 million mission is a boat that belonged to the French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.

The team will be carrying buckets of animal blood to distract predators as a first line of defence. If that doesn’t work there will be armed personnel in the support flotilla. And if the attackers still make it through, the medical team have a couple of pints of Mr Strel’s own blood in reserve for emergencies.

With the promise of dramatic encounters and human triumph, there is of course a US documentary team recording the feat for a film.

While admitting that his effort appears to defy logic, the veteran peace campaigner insists that his goal is to show that nothing is impossible.