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Thu, Oct. 4th, 2007, 06:30 pm
Space-age 50 years old!

It was 50 years today that Sputnik was launched: the first spacecraft of any kind, the first satellite. I wonder where we'll be in another 50 years?

Tue, Jul. 24th, 2007, 10:59 am

You scored as Keeper of the Grove, The enchanted Keepers are the favored sons of the demigod Cenarius. Like their lesser Dryad sisters, the Keepers appear to be half Night Elf, half stag. They have enormous antlers and manes of leaves that flow down their backs. Their right hands are disfigured and twisted - as if they had become like the gnarled root-claws of the Treants. Keepers possess many strange powers over nature and the animals. Though they typically remain within the sacred Moon Groves of Ashenvale forest, the Keepers always heed the call to arms when the greater lands of Kalimdor are threatened.


Keeper of the Grove


Priestess of the Moon


Demon Hunter


Shadow Hunter








Tauren Chieftain


Death Knight


Far Seer


Mountain King








What Warcraft Hero are You?
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Mon, Jul. 23rd, 2007, 09:30 am
ConTent II: Take Me to Your Lizard (Douglas Adams Mini Convention)

Hello again;
just got back from a weekend in Cornwall where I attended the ConTent II mini convention (the name is derived from the fact that we were camping rather than using the usual type of venue).
The significance of the area to fandom is that many of the outdoor scenes of the 1981 Hitch hikers guide to the Galaxy TV series were filmed at locations in the area. (This convention was a follow up to a similar one held in 2002, which i entirely failed to attend, despite the best laid plans of mice.)
The H2G2 related locations were:

-this is the world's oldest satellite communications station, & still the worlds largest with around 60 dishes. It's mentioned in passing in H2G2 as one of the places which failed to detect the approaching Vogon fleet.
The oldest dish there "Arthur" is still in use, supposedly named after Arthur C. Clarke who invented the geostationary communications satellite, although subsequent dishes have all been named after characters from Arthurian legend (the largest dish is called Merlin for example), so possibly that was the real intention all along since Arthurian legend has a special significance in Cornwall.
(It is fortuitous that we visited this year, as Goonhilly is now being closed down & the facilities being moved elsewhere. Britain has 3 large ground stations, or "teleports" as they are known, which are being rationalised down to 2. Although Goonhilly has the best location from a geographical & geological point of view, it seems that ease of commuting was the priority consideration in this process. However Arthur is a listed building & Goonhilly will be maintained as a museum site after this year... but visiting the place just won't be the same when it's no longer a working ground station.)

-scenes on the planet Magrathea were filmed in Wheal Martyn clay pit near St Austell (this may also have been a location chosen for some other BBC SF programmes). The spoil from clay extraction is heaped into huge conical piles, & one particularly distinctive spoil tip was the mountain on which the Starship Heart of Gold landed, & the area at it's base was the location for the shots with Arthur, Marvin, & Slartibartfast.
It is still a working clay pit, although naturally there was no work going on when we visited. This means that the surrounding landscape has changed over the decades since the filming, however the mountain itself is much the same shape as it was decades ago. Those who were present at the visit in 2002 tell me that when they last saw Magrathea it was still stark & bare just as it looked in the TV series, but since then it has become covered in greenery.
The Clay pit is in fact huge, & there are several other mountainous spoil tips dominating the horizon, still looking much as Magrathea itself must have done, there are huge terraces cut into the hillside, & wierd lakes of green water, & dotted everywhere are the rusting remains of mysterious disused machinery, so the place still looks like an alien world.

Gateway to Hyperspace
-through which Arthur passed in Slartibartfasts air car. It is a road tunnel on the private road leading from the clay pit to the local port.

The Sawles Arms
-doesn't apear in H2G2 but is the pub nearest to the entrance to the clay pit, & it was to here that the cast & crew would retire when they needed a break, as did we. It has barely changed since the early 1980s.

Dr Who exhibition center, Land's End
-of general fan interest but not directly to do with H2G2, although Douglas Adams was script editor for Dr Who during the definitive Tom Baker period, & he also wrote some of the scripts himself. The exhibition concentrates on the modern Dr Who TV series. Why is this at Land's End?

The beach
-here, next to St Austell, Douglas Adams was filmed walking naked into the sea. It was also here that Marvin frolicked with a beach ball & a bikini clad maid as "Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun to Be With".

Monkey Sanctuary
-the "this never happens!" scene was filmed in Looe Monkey Sanctuary. Unfortunately this is closed at the weekends.

We also took the trouble to visit some other non-fan locations: on Sunday was able to indulge my long standing facination with the Matter of Britain by visiting the Arthur stone at Camelford & Tintagel castle itself.

I have to remark on the weather: while we were enjoying, & tanning, ourselves in the Cornwall sun we heard rumours of some sort of biblical catastrophe befalling the rest of Britain. In particular that the M5, the main route in & out of Cornwall, had been flooded & was blocked with abandoned vehicles. Well all i can say is that the emergency services must have done a good job as there was no sign of either heading back to Leeds on Sunday night. In fact we had excellent weather all weekend, apart from one rain shower on Saturday, which coincided with us being in the above mentioned pub.

Wed, Jun. 20th, 2007, 03:02 pm

Your results:
You are Magneto
Dr. Doom
Mr. Freeze
The Joker
Dark Phoenix
Lex Luthor
Poison Ivy
Green Goblin
You fear the persecution of those that are different or underprivileged so much that you are willing to fight and hurt others for your cause.

Click here to take the Super Villain Personality Test

Sat, May. 26th, 2007, 12:03 pm
One Thousand Years

Had a very interesting conversation with Black_Wraith last night, during which, among other things, we decided to revive the band (never much more than a concept to date) at whatever juncture it is that she returns to the shores of Albion: she on bass & my good self on guitar. There are a couple of problems, not least of which is that we are both, shall we say, out of practice... there's also the question of artistic difference, she's into Black Metal while I listen to a lot of "electronic hippyshite"- never the less we should have it in us to create something not entirely ghastly. Anyway when we've got something down i'll post about it.

Mon, May. 21st, 2007, 04:36 pm

Got back yesterday to discover that I'd missed a particularly good Wendyhouse on Saturday.
& I don't want to hear any of this "but Aaaash you were in Paris": the grass IS greener on the other side.
That's a physical law.

Actually we spent the break entirely in Paris, on the basis that the weather wasn't good enough to risk going to Normandy. We did go to the opera, saw a few art exhibitions, some open air theater & had a rather fine meal out; managed to avoid the "Never Again" feeling from the last visit to that city (though "never" did turn out to be only a couple of years in this case.)
Also, during the long mornings waiting for people to get up, wrote out some new creative writing ideas.

Had a particularly fine view of Leeds as the plane came into land, including the field where, less than an hour later, joined the usual crowd for weapon training.

Thu, May. 17th, 2007, 07:21 am
Paris opera

Ah, Paris in the spring time...
Some of you may be aware that I've been planning to resume my opera going ways for some months now. However I'd not anticipated that this would turn out to be in Paris, nor with this particular company.
We also intend to spend some time staying in Normandy (a part of France I haven't seen since school days) & avoid the usual Parisian tourist traps (though the Louvre is always good).
Anyway, back next week... have a plane to catch ;-)

Mon, May. 14th, 2007, 01:14 pm
Caveat- a Caterpillar's Tale

Or, the Revenge of the Invertebrate.

About 10 days ago I spied a caterpillar munching on the succulent leaves of my little beauties, & thinking little more of it, lifted it off & let it drop over the side where it could complete its life cycle on a more harmless diet of lawn.
For the last week or so I've been aware of an insistent irritation & occasional stinging pain in the left thumb. Finally deciding it was time to do something about it, had a good prod around this morning & discovered a near microscopic spine wedged between two ridges of my thumb-print. Some careful tweezer work finally withdrew it, & the pain instantly vanished too.

I suppose the lesson here is not to underestimate even the most apparently insignificant entity, you never know what it might be capable of.

Sun, May. 13th, 2007, 01:11 am

Do you deserve a seat in Valhalla? (15 Questions)

I hail you, welcome onboard -we've been waiting for you.You answered our questions predominantly correct, and you rightfully gained a seat in Valhalla, among your ancestors!
Take this quiz!

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Thu, May. 10th, 2007, 05:58 pm
This is just silly but..

Which Watership Down Character are You?

You are BigWig! Nice hair!
Take this quiz!

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i guess that's what happens if you read other peoples LJs & act like a sheep. Or a rabbit in this case. Watership down was my first favourite book... not sure how I end up being Bigwig though... would have thought Hazel or even Fiver more likely.
Thinking of which, I still have those strap on rabbit ears- anyone up for Bunnies & Burrows?

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