25 December 2007

The "Christmas Truce"

The "Christmas Truce" of World War I (1914)

The “Christmas truce” of 1914, which took place between British and German troops stationed on the Western Front of WWI, left a lasting legacy of mutual respect, kindness, and honor.
The unofficial cease-fire began after British troops responded to German caroling with Christmas songs of their own. Before long, the enemy soldiers were socializing, exchanging gifts, and even attending funerals together.

21 December 2007

A Sad Day for Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988

Pan Am Flight 103 Explodes (1988)

After a three-year investigation, US and UK authorities announced indictments against two Libyan intelligence officials in connection with the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland—an attack that killed 270 people. During a trial held a decade later in the Netherlands, one of the defendants was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Criminal inquiry

Known as the Lockerbie bombing and the Lockerbie air disaster in the UK, it became the subject of Britain's largest criminal inquiry, led by its smallest police force, Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary. The bombing was widely regarded as an assault on a symbol of the United States, and with 189 of the victims being Americans, it stood as the deadliest terrorist attack against the United States until the September 11, 2001 attacks.

After a three-year joint investigation by the Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary and the U.S.
Federal Bureau of Investigation, during which 15,000 witness statements were taken, indictments for murder were issued on November 13, 1991, against Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer and the head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines (LAA), and Lamin Khalifah Fhimah, the LAA station manager in Luqa Airport, Malta. United Nations sanctions against Libya and protracted negotiations with the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi secured the handover of the accused on April 5, 1999 to Scottish police at Camp Zeist, Netherlands, chosen as a neutral venue. On January 31, 2001, Megrahi was convicted of murder by a panel of three Scottish judges, and sentenced to 27 years in prison. Fhimah was acquitted. Megrahi's appeal against his conviction was refused on March 14, 2002, and his application to the European Court of Human Rights was declared inadmissible in July 2003. On September 23, 2003, Megrahi applied to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) for his conviction to be reviewed, and for his case to be referred back to the High Court for a fresh appeal. On June 28, 2007, the SCCRC announced[2] its decision to refer the case to the Court of Criminal Appeal after it found he "may have suffered a miscarriage of justice". Megrahi is serving his sentence in Greenock Prison, where he continues to profess his innocence.

Flight plan
Pan Am Flight 103 was a
Boeing 747-100 named Clipper Maid of the Seas. The fifteenth jumbo jet ever built, it was delivered in February 1970,[3] one month after the very first 747 had entered service with Pan Am. On December 21, 1988, Clipper Maid of the Seas touched down at London's Heathrow International Airport at noon from San Francisco. The aircraft was parked at stand K-14, Terminal 3, was guarded for two hours by Pan Am's security company, Alert Security, but otherwise was not watched. The first leg of Pan Am Flight 103's journey began as the Boeing 727 feeder flight, PA103A, from Frankfurt International Airport, West Germany to London Heathrow. Forty-seven of the 89 passengers on PA103A transferred at Heathrow to the Boeing 747 flight PA103 which was scheduled to fly to JFK. A Boeing 727 would have been used for the final leg of the journey from JFK to Detroit. There were 243 passengers and 16 crew members on board, led by the pilot Captain James MacQuarrie, First Officer Raymond Wagner, and Flight Engineer Jerry Avritt. The flight was scheduled to depart at 18:00, and pushed back from the gate at 18:04, but because of a rush-hour delay, it took off from runway 27L at 18:25, flying northwest out of Heathrow, a so-called Daventry departure. Once clear of Heathrow, the crew steered due north toward Scotland. At 18:56, as the aircraft approached the border, it reached its cruising altitude of 31,000 ft (9400 m), and MacQuarrie throttled the engines back to cruising power. At 19:00, PA103 was picked up by the Scottish Area Control Centre at Prestwick, Scotland, where it needed clearance to begin its flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Alan Topp, an air traffic controller, made contact with the clipper as it entered Scottish airspace. Captain MacQuarrie replied: "Good evening Scottish, Clipper one zero three. We are at level three one zero." Then First Officer Wagner spoke: "Clipper 103 requesting oceanic clearance." Those were the last words heard from the aircraft.

At 19:01, Topp watched Flight 103 approach the corner of the Solway Firth, and at 19:02, it crossed its northern coast. The aircraft appeared as a small green square with a cross at its centre showing its transponder code or "squawk"—0357 and flight level—310. The code gave Topp information about the time and height of the airliner: the last code he saw for the Clipper told him it was flying at 31,000 ft (9400 m) on a heading of 316 degrees magnetic, and at a speed of 313 knots (580 km/h) calibrated airspeed, at 19:02:46.9. Subsequent analysis of the radar returns by RSRE concluded that the aircraft was tracking 321° (grid) and travelling at a ground speed of 434 knots (804 km/h). At that moment, the airliner's code and the cross in the middle of the square disappeared. Topp tried to make contact with Captain MacQuarrie, and asked a nearby KLM flight to do the same, but there was no reply. At first, Topp believed he was watching the flight enter a so-called zone of silence, dead space where objects are invisible to radar. Where there should have been one green square on his screen, there were four, and as the seconds passed, the squares began to fan out (Cox and Foster 1992). Comparison of the cockpit voice recorder with the radar returns showed that 8 seconds after the explosion, wreckage had a 1-nautical-mile (2 km) spread.[4] A minute later, the wing section containing 200,000 lb (91,000 kg) of fuel hit the ground at Sherwood Crescent, Lockerbie. The British Geological Survey at nearby Eskdalemuir, registered a seismic event measuring 1.6 on the Richter scale as all trace of two families, several houses, and the 196 ft (60 m) wing of the aircraft disappeared. A British Airways pilot, Captain Robin Chamberlain, flying the Glasgow–London shuttle near Carlisle called Scottish to report that he could see a huge fire on the ground. The destruction of PA103 continued on Topp's screen, by now full of bright squares moving eastwards with the wind.

Aircraft break up
The explosion punched a 20-inch-wide (0.5 m) hole, almost directly under the P in Pan Am, on the left side of the fuselage. The disintegration of the aircraft was rapid. Investigators from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) of the British Department of Transport concluded that the nose of the aircraft separated from the main section within three seconds of the explosion. The cockpit voice recorder, a recording device in the tail section of the aircraft, was found in a field by police searchers within 24 hours of the bombing. There was no evidence of a distress call: a 180-millisecond hissing noise could be heard as the explosion destroyed the aircraft's communications centre. After being lowered into the cockpit in Lockerbie before it was moved, and while the bodies of the flight crew were still inside it, investigators from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) concluded that no emergency procedures had been started. The pressure control and fuel switches were both set for cruise, and the crew had not used their oxygen masks, which would have descended within five seconds of a rapid depressurisation of the aircraft (Cox and Foster 1992). The nerve centre of a 747, from which all the navigation and communication systems are controlled, sits two floors below the cockpit, separated from the forward cargo hold only by a bulkhead wall. Investigators concluded that the force of the explosion broke through this wall and shook the flight-control cables, causing the front section of the fuselage to begin to roll, pitch, and yaw. These violent movements snapped the reinforcing belt that secured the front section to the row of windows on the left side and it began to break away. At the same time, shock waves from the blast ricocheted back from the fuselage skin in the direction of the bomb, meeting pulses still coming from the initial explosion. This produced Mach stem shock waves, calculated to be 25% faster than, and double the power of, the waves from the explosion itself (Cox and Foster, 1992). These shock waves rebounded from one side of the aircraft to the other, running down the length of the fuselage through the air-conditioning ducts and splitting the fuselage open.[6] A section of the 747's roof several feet above the point of detonation peeled away. The Mach stem waves pulsing through the ductwork bounced off overhead luggage racks and other hard surfaces, jolting the passengers. The power of the explosion was increased by the difference in air pressure between the inside of the aircraft, where it was kept at breathable levels, and outside, where it was about a quarter of that at sea level. The nose of the aircraft, containing the crew and the first class section, broke away, striking the No. 3 Pratt & Whitney engine as it snapped off. Investigators believe that within three seconds of the explosion, the cockpit, fuselage, and No. 3 engine were falling separately. The fuselage continued moving forward and down until it reached 19,000 ft (6000 m), at which point its dive became almost vertical.[7] As it descended, the fuselage broke into smaller pieces, with the section attached to the wings landing first in Sherwood Crescent, where the aviation fuel inside the wings ignited, causing a fireball that destroyed several houses, and which was so intense that nothing remained of the left wing of the aircraft. Investigators were able to determine that both wings had landed in the crater only after counting the number of large steel flap drive jackscrews that were found there (Cox and Foster 1992).

Victims -
Passengers and crew
All 243 passengers and 16 crew members were killed. A Scottish
Fatal Accident Inquiry, which opened on October 1 1990, heard that, when the cockpit broke off, tornado-force winds tore through the fuselage, tearing clothes off passengers and turning objects like drink carts into lethal pieces of shrapnel. Because of the sudden change in air pressure, the gases inside the passengers' bodies would have expanded to four times their normal volume, causing their lungs to swell and then collapse. People and objects not fixed down would have been blown out of the aircraft at an air temperature of −46 °C (−50 °F), their 6-mile (9 km) fall lasting about two minutes (Cox and Foster 1992). Some passengers remained attached to the fuselage by their seat belts, landing in Lockerbie strapped to their seats. Although the passengers would have lost consciousness through lack of oxygen, forensic examiners believe some of them might have regained consciousness as they fell toward oxygen-rich lower altitudes. Forensic pathologist Dr. William G. Eckert, director of the Milton Helpern International Center of Forensic Sciences at Wichita State University, who examined the autopsy evidence, told Scottish police he believed the flight crew, some of the flight attendants, and 147 other passengers survived the bomb blast and depressurization of the aircraft, and may have been alive on impact. None of these passengers showed signs of injury from the explosion itself, or from the decompression and disintegration of the aircraft. The inquest heard that a mother was found holding her baby, two friends were holding hands, and a number of passengers were found clutching crucifixes. Dr Eckert told Scottish police that distinctive marks on Captain MacQuarrie's thumb suggested he had been hanging onto the yoke of the plane as it descended, and may have been alive when the plane crashed. The captain, first officer, flight engineer, a flight attendant, and a number of first-class passengers were found still strapped to their seats inside the nose section when it crashed in a field by a tiny church in the village of Tundergarth. The inquest heard that the flight attendant was alive when found by a farmer's wife, but died before her rescuer could summon help. A male passenger was also found alive, and medical authorities believe he might have survived had he been found earlier (Cox and Foster 1992).

17 December 2007

The Simpsons, 18 years old

The Simpsons Debuts (1989)
One of the most popular animated TV shows in US history, The Simpsons has earned its spot in pop culture history through its parodies of the "Middle American" lifestyle.
The show, created by Matt Groening, is a spin-off of a series of animated shorts originally aired on The Tracey Ullman Show and is currently both the longest-running American sitcom and the longest-running American animated program.

23 November 2007

Happy Birthday Dr Who

First episode of Doctor Who Debuts on BBC, 23rd November 1963.

This long-running science fiction program about a mysterious time-traveling adventurer known only as "the Doctor" has become a significant part of British popular culture.
Despite its featuring of low-budget special effects, it was widely recognized for creative story-telling and use of innovative music.
After twenty-six seasons and a TV movie, Doctor Who recently reappeared as a new series.

07 November 2007

Crazy Laws of the U.K.

Legislation said to prohibit people dying while in the Houses of Parliament has been voted one of the most ludicrous laws in the UK.
Treason laws which reportedly could be used against someone who places a stamp upside down on a letter were also cited by those polled by UKTV Gold.

Nearly 4,000 people picked laws on a list compiled by UKTV Gold researchers.

It examined laws that have never been repealed even though statutes could have rendered them obsolete.

A UKTV Gold spokeswoman said many of the regulations were referenced in the book The Strange Laws of Old England by Nigel Cawthorne.

A total of 27% of those questioned by UKTV Gold thought the law against dying in the Houses of Parliament was the most absurd.

Mr Cawthorne told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that anyone who dies in Parliament is technically entitled to a state funeral and the law is in place to ensure this does not happen.

However, a spokesman for the House of Commons said: "The people who know about these things here say there is no basis for such a law, not to say it does not exist somewhere in writing."

Cannon firing

Other lesser-known laws making the list included one banning eating mince pies on Christmas Day and another from 1313 stating it is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour.
Almost half of those asked confessed to breaking the mince pie law, which was brought in by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th Century.
Last year, the Law Society last year highlighted a number of bizarre laws still in existence on the statute book in England and Wales.
These included a ban on firing a cannon close to a dwelling house (Met Police Act 1839); a ban on the use of any slide upon ice or snow (Town Police Clauses Act 1847); and the prohibition of driving cattle through the streets of London (Metropolitan Streets Act 1867).
An ongoing cull of obsolete laws by the statute law revision team, has seen 2,000 abolished since 1965.

Dead whales

Among the most ridiculous laws listed by UKTV Gold were:
  • It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament (27%)
  • It could be regarded an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British king or queen's image upside-down (7%)
  • Eating mince pies on Christmas Day is banned (5%)
  • In the UK, a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants (4%)
  • The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail of the Queen (3.5%)
  • It is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing (3%)
  • It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour (3%)

17 September 2007

No More Crack!

Taken from Yahoo.
TRENTON, N.J. - It's a fashion that started in prison, and now the saggy pants craze has come full circle — low-slung street strutting in some cities may soon mean run-ins with the law, including a stint in jail.
Proposals to ban saggy pants are starting to ride up in several places. At the extreme end, wearing pants low enough to show boxers or bare buttocks in one small Louisiana town means six months in jail and a $500 fine. A crackdown also is being pushed in Atlanta. And in Trenton, getting caught with your pants down may soon result in not only a fine, but a city worker assessing where your life is headed.

"Are they employed? Do they have a high school diploma? It's a wonderful way to redirect at that point," said Trenton Councilwoman Annette Lartigue, who is drafting a law to outlaw saggy pants. "The message is clear: We don't want to see your backside."

The bare-your-britches fashion is believed to have started in prisons, where inmates aren't given belts with their baggy uniform pants to prevent hangings and beatings. By the late 80s, the trend had made it to gangster rap videos, then went on to skateboarders in the suburbs and high school hallways.

"For young people, it's a form of rebellion and identity," Adrian "Easy A.D." Harris, 43, a founding member of the Bronx's legendary rap group Cold Crush Brothers. "The young people think it's fashionable. They don't think it's negative."

But for those who want to stop them see it as an indecent, sloppy trend that is a bad influence on children.

"It has the potential to catch on with elementary school kids, and we want to stop it before it gets there," said C.T. Martin, an Atlanta councilman. "Teachers have raised questions about what a distraction it is."

In Atlanta, a law has been introduced to ban sagging and punishment could include small fines or community work — but no jail time, Martin said.

The penalty is stiffer in Delcambre, La., where in June the town council passed an ordinance that carries a fine of up to $500 or six months in jail for exposing underwear in public. Several other municipalities and parish governments in Louisiana have enacted similar laws in recent months.

At Trenton hip-hop clothing store Razor Sharp Clothing Shop 4 Ballers, shopper Mark Wise, 30, said his jeans sag for practical reasons.

"The reason I don't wear tight pants is because it's easier to get money out of my pocket this way," Wise said. "It's just more comfortable."

Shop owner Mack Murray said Trenton's proposed ordinance unfairly targets blacks.

"Are they going to go after construction workers and plumbers, because their pants sag, too?" Murray asked. "They're stereotyping us."

The American Civil Liberties Union agrees.

"In Atlanta, we see this as racial profiling," said Benetta Standly, statewide organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. "It's going to target African-American male youths. There's a fear with people associating the way you dress with crimes being committed."

04 September 2007

An American and His Castle

Ed Jarrett collapses in exhaustion after completing his world-record 31.7-foot-high sand castle, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007, at the Point Sebago Resort in Casco, Maine. Jarrett spent the summer building a 'Castle to the Sun' to raise funds to benefit Camp Sunshine, a camp on Sebago Lake for children with life-threatening illnesses. Just under a million pounds of sand - forty dump truck loads - went into building the castle.

31 August 2007

Britain To Try New Tactic With Smokers

This image provided by Britain's Department of Health showing a healthy lung, left and a diseased lung, right, is one of the graphic pictures to be place on packs of cigarettes to discourage smokers.
Words failed to stamp out smoking, so Britain will require graphic pictures of diseased organs on cigarette packs next year, the government announced Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007.
The images include a diseased lung, a chest cut open for heart surgery, and a large tumor on a man's neck.
In all, Britain chose 15 images from a selection developed by the European Commission. Britain will be the first member of the European Union to require such warnings, Health Secretary Alan Johnson said. The new warnings will be required on cigarette packs in the second half of 2008, the department said.

03 August 2007

Where No Man Has Been Before...

After correcting an initial problem with the lens, when the Hubble Space Telescope was first launched in 1990, the floating astro-observatory began to relay back to Earth, incredible snapshots of the "final frontier" it was perusing.
Recently, astronauts voted on the top photographs taken by Hubble, in its 16-year journey so far. Remarking in the article from the Daily Mail, reporter Michael Hanlon says the photos "illustrate that our universe is not only deeply strange, but also almost impossibly beautiful."

Hubble telescope's top ten greatest space photographs.
The Sombrero Galaxy - 28 million light years from Earth - was voted best picture taken
by the Hubble telescope. The d! imensions of the galaxy, officially called M104, are as
spectacular as its appearance. It has 800 billion suns and is 50,000 light years across.

The Ant Nebula, a cloud of dust and gas whose technical name is Mz3, resembles
an ant when observed using ground-based telescopes. The nebula lies within our
galaxy between 3,000 and 6,000 light years from Earth.

In third place is Nebula NGC 2392, called Eskimo because it looks like a face
surrounded by a furry hood. The hood is, in fact, a ring of comet-shaped objects
flying away from a dying star. Eskimo is 5,000 light years from Earth.

At four is the Cat's Eye Nebula

The Hourglass Nebula, 8,000 light years away, has a pinched-in-the-middle
look because the winds that shape it are weaker at the centre.

The Perfect Storm, a small region in the Swan Nebula, 5,500 light years away,
described as 'a bubbly ocean of hydrogen and small amounts of oxygen, sulphur and other elements'.

Starry Night, so named because it reminded astronomers of the Van Gogh painting.
It is a halo of light around a star in the Milky Way.

The glowering eyes from 114 million light years away are the swirling cores of two
merging galaxies called NGC 2207 and IC 2163 in the distant Canis Major constellation.

The Trifid Nebula.. A 'stellar nursery', 9,000 light years from here, it is
where new stars are being born.

25 July 2007

Little & Large

Radar, a Belgian draft horse and reigning Guinness World Record holder as the 'Tallest Living Horse,' at 19 hands 3.5 inches (6ft 6in), and Thumbelina, a miniature sorrel brown mare and the world's 'Smallest Living Horse,' 17.5 inches, are united for the first time for a photo shoot that will appear in the Guinness World Records 2008 edition, on sale August 7th.

10 July 2007

This Is Why You Should Use Your Rear View Mirror

Paramedics place the driver of a Ford Taurus onto a stretcher after a 1,500-pound wrecking ball slammed into the back of it North Main Street at Randolph Street in Meadville, Pa., Monday, July 9, 2007.
The wrecking ball damaged numerous vehicles after it broke loose from a crane on the campus of Allegheny College and rolled down North Main Street before hitting the Taurus. Two other people were also taken to the Meadville Medical Center for treatment of injuries they suffered in the accident, police said.

04 July 2007

In Memory of Terry


My deepest sympathies go out to you and the family. The one saving grace at this very sad time is, that Terry is no longer in pain, he is now at peace.

Terry was truly a great man, who'll I will miss very much and I know by everyone else that was fortunate enough to have been able to know and meet him.
I feel honoured that I was a friend of Terry's. He was also a great role model in the working environment and I enjoyed working with him so much. Those were some great times, which haven't been matched anywhere else I have worked.
Although he has now passed on to a better place, he will continue to live on in my memories and heart forever.

No person is ever truly alone. Those who live no more, Whom we loved, Echo still within our thoughts, Our words, our hearts.
by Richard Fife

02 July 2007

Renaissance Festival, Colorado

Welcome back to my blog! King Henry invited us to spend the day at the 2007 Colorado Renaissance Festival. So we took him up on his offer and attended the festival's 31st season on Saturday 30th June.

The festival takes you on a magical tour through time and legend, taking you back to the 16th Century.

As you wander down the village streets and pathways of the Colorado Renaissance Festival, you'll experience thyself to revel with master revelers, watch artisans create original works of their ancient craft and be taken in by the tantalizing aromas of roast turkey legges, steak on a stake, fresh baked goods and much more.

There is a cast of hundreds of authentically costumed merrymakers living and working throughout the village and performing, continuously, upon the Festival's seven stages, the illusion of a rollicking 16th Century festival day is created. Impromptu encounters with the royalty and peasantry of Tudor England are commonplace. We met all kinds, from jousters to jugglers to minstrels to maidens faire, all schooled in art of interactive theatre! This year, there was some new entertainment, which had been summoned by Good King Henry.

As we walked around, we saw plenty of classical creativity and craftsmanship of over 200 skilled artisans exhibiting in a wide variety of mediums including fine art, glassblowing, pottery, jewelry, wood working, blacksmithing, leather working and more.

Don't eat much before you arrive at the festival, so you can take advantage of the great food being offered. Your taste buds will be pleaseed with such renaissance delicacies as turkey drumsticks, steak on a stake, roasted corn, Leonardo DaVinci meatball sandwich, artichokes, a variety of sausage on a stick, and more.

An assortment of the finest ales and drinks are available to quench the heartiest of thirsts.

To view photo's of our visit to this year's Renaissance festival, go to the link below:


27 June 2007

Eggs and a Laser

These egg shells were cut with a high intensity precision Laser Beam.

From this can be surmised what laser surgery performed on one's eye is all about.
Is it any wonder how one's vision can be improved in just a few moments?
Science is sometimes wonderful, and it's still on the frontier of gaining new knowledge.

Incredible what can be done with an eggshell and a laser beam!

19 June 2007

Visit to England, June 07

The following is a selection of photo's of our recent trip to England.

Ferry at Sandbanks

Local building in Sopley

King Charles pub in Poole

Another pub in Poole!

Old castle ruin in Christchurch

Two naughty people!

Windsor castle

Windsor castle

Queen's guard at Windsor castle

Queen's guard at Windsor castle

St. George's chapel at Windsor castle

Kate standing in front of a patrolling guard

Old building in Salisbury

Salisbury cathedral



Legoland, Windsor

Legoland, Windsor

Legoland, Windsor

Legoland, Windsor

Legoland, Windsor

Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo

To see more photo's, just click on the link below: http://www.ikstone.myphotoalbum.com