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Today we packed a picnic lunch and headed just under 30 miles south to visit the Melrose Abbey.
This abbey was first built around 1136 or so, was torn asunder around 1322 and rebuilt. The last resident monk died there in 1390. So, it’s basically been unlived in for around 620 years or so. One of the most interesting things about the Abbey is the fact that Robert The Bruce’s heart is buried there. It seems he always wanted to go on a crusade, so his friend James Lord of Douglas had his heart removed after death, embalmed, and placed in a small casket and took his heart with him on the crusades.

Sadly, the Black Douglas (as he was also known) was killed during the crusades. It’s been rumored that while in the heat of battle, his last, he removed Robert the Bruce’s heart and threw it into the battling Moors saying “Where Robert leads I will follow!” After his death both Sir James Douglas and Robert the Bruce’s heart (which were found on the battle field next to each other) were returned to Scotland and Robert’s son, King David II,  had his heart buried at Melrose Abbey.
Here is a picture of the inside of what’s of the main Abbey. I had the girls in this picture to give a clue as to the massive scale of the building.
We had a good time visiting the site.
For a better write up of the day visit Roberta’s blog site.

Well, I’ve been slow to update. I’ve been busy. Let’s see, I’ve flown to the states to take a class on the new Cray X2 system we’ll be getting in Edinburgh soon. I’m into the second week of training. I took a break over the weekend and went sailing with a friend and ex-coworker from my IBM days, Charles Grassl and his family. Had a great time. It was good to spend some time with him and catch up. I’ll have some pictures of the trip to update later.

I’m now in Mendotta Heights working with some of the developers and software folks. Our X2 is currently going to be the only one in the world that’s not in a black shop. So, it’s going to be interesting to say the least.

While here I’ve hit the Mall of America again. What a crazy place.

It’s funny how wound up I can get over some things that have such little impact on life. My computer crashed this morning after about 4 hours of sleep. So while I was running diags, gathering sysdump data, and rebooting I was reading digg and saw the article about Polar Bears being put on the endangered list, “because of Global Warming.”  The World Wildlife Fund has a big article saying that “POLAR BEARS WILL BE EXTINCT IN 100 YEARS!!! ” This was then referenced by the South Florida Water Control Board as a reason to think sea levels could rise 5 feet in a century and sink all of south Florida.

Instead of ranting about the stupidity of humankind it made me wax philosophical.  Why is it I find it so frustrating when I read these articles? I’ve never seen a Polar Bear and I doubt I’ll drive up to Churchhill to check them out. Why does the silliness of the South Florida Water council matter to me, I don’t plan on living there.

And yet it really bothers me to read these things. I guess it’s an innate fear that some do gooder eco zealot will use items like this to bludgeon my life in some way. I won’t be able to use a tumble dryer to dry my clothes because it’s not eco friendly. You have to put them out on the line to dry like the 1950’s. Oh wait, I have to do that here already. hmmm…. I’ll have to pay some outrageous fee to drive a car. Oh wait, that’s already happened here in the UK. I want to have family fly to the UK to visit. $750 flight, not bad, Uh wait a minute? Total cost $1350, oh ya, taxes, carbon taxes, fuel fees, environmental impact fee.

I hope people realize that by driving a car you can be fined for harming an endangered species. IE you drive a car which produces carbon dioxide which causes the earth to warm which melts the ice at the north pole which causes the polar bears to have to swim farther to kill seals which causes their population to decline. IE you’re killing polar bears by driving your car. Now you’re subject to a fine and imprisonment.

By the way. Polar Bears, unless you think they are fairly new to the earth, have already survived at least two warming and cooling cycles worse than anything happening right now. Oh well.

Well, I’ve finished the second phase of building a console for my Mini Cooper. I’ve used some cheap wood from B&Q for this version. I did find enough room for two, count em two, cup holders. I’ve also added a pair of illuminated power plugs that I found at Halfords. 7.99 a pop. Ouch, but I wanted power.

Here is what this version looks like. I’ll probably run with this one for a month or so before doing the next step. I’ve already figured I want to extend the lower portion to cover and surround the gear shifter. I think that would look better.

I have left enough room in the middle below the heater controls to add an ipod dock.


And yes, I know, Paint the INSIDE also next time. (-:

Have you ever had one of those moments in life where nothing is really out of the ordinary, and yet it is? Something about that moment sets it apart from all the other moments that make up the day. It’s going to be one of those moments you’ll remember 10 years down the line.

Today I went up to M&S, a local UK chain store, to pick up some lunch. On the way back in my little rattle box Mini Cooper I’m cruising along some back roads to avoid construction. As I motor along through the farm fields on this hot sunny Scottish day, munching on some cheese and listening to a lousy UK radio station, something about that moment is going to stay in my memory for years. I don’t know if it was the smell and feel of the air blowing through the open window, the sound of the car, the way the white sheep stood out in the vibrant green fields, or the way the sun shone down highlighting all around me. But the whole combination combined to a perfect moment in time.

It will be a memory I will enjoy for years to come.

This weekend the lady’s and I went over to Falkirk Scotland and checked out the Falkirk Wheel. The Wheel is a boat lift slash lock system. It’s a very interesting way to do things.


Here is what it’s like in motion. Believe it or not it only uses the same power as two boiling kettles of water while in motion. This is because it uses the principle that Archimedes came up with on floating bodies in water. Basically it turns out that if both sides of the Wheel have the same water level, then both sides weigh the same amount. So, open locks, let boats in, equalize water level, and away you go.


Here’s the lady’s checking it out.

I ran across this on LiveLeak. It’s a current commercial on the BBC around here. I’ve seen it a dozen times or more, and I shake my head in disbelief every time I see it.

For those of you who don’t know, if you want to watch TV here in the UK you have to pay a yearly TV Tax. For a color TV it’s about 140 Pounds a year. And yes, they have one for black and white tv’s still also, it’s cheaper. Supposedly it pays for the BBC. Funny I thought all the commercials they show did that.

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May 2008
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