Recipe time: veggie sandwich

Lightly fry the following: Medium sized onion, sliced Clove of garlic crushed and chopped Stick of celery chopped Button mushrooms sliced Fry the onions and garlic for a minute Add the celery for two minutes Add the mushrooms with some ground black pepper, a pinch of salt and 6 or 7 splashes of Worcestershire sauce and keep cooking for another two minutes Meanwhile Toast two slices of your favourite bread and after they have cooled for two minutes spread hummus on both sides of each slice Pile half of your onion mix onto the first slice of bread. Put the second slice I top of that. Now pile the rest of the onion mix on top of the second slice Serve with a salad of your choice if you wish but I couldn't wait! I make my own hummus but shop bought is normally just as good. DW 11th September 2017


American Food

I worked with Mrs W over the last few days to write an introductory piee on American Food: here it is! The USA is the richest country in the world and it has the biggest, most expensive and often the best of everything. There are about 300 million people living in the USA and apart from Native American Indans, they have come from all parts of the world. As these people arrived from Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and elsewhere, they brought their ideas, cultures and cuisines with them. We know about Little Italy and Chinatown in New York, there is the Latin Quarter in New Orleans. All over the country, the food comes from here, there and everywhere. • Jerky • Dutch Baby Pancake • Jersey Breakfast • Shrimp and Grits • Hoppel Poppel • Scrapple • Tex Mex And a lot more A lot of these imported dishes are good quality, nutritious dishes that everyone can eat but there is downside to food from the USA: fast food. Since the 1940s the USA has been the leader in creating food and restaurants that cater to speed and greed. People who either cannot cook or who cannot be bothered to cook. Food portions that can be carried away in buckets, not just on plates. Beefburgers made to be the size of a man’s head. Deep fried food. Food with lots of fat and sugar and carbohydrates. Burgers, fried chicken and pizzas. At least two generations of Americans have been brought up on fast food and the result is that more than half of all Americans are not just overweight, not just fat but they are obese … very fat. No surprise when a single meal at MacDonald’s can contain 1,600 calories and many grammes of fat as well. As countries develop and get richer, the more its people get fatter: it’s time to stop and think. We admire the development in the USA but we do not need its fast food and its obesity. DW 26th August 2017


Leek and Potato Soup

Last night I made the best leek and potato soup I have ever made and the secret is the potato! Serves Two Ingredients small onion, sliced one medium sized leek, washed and sliced small potato, washed and chopped ... peeling is optional, I did not peel it half a vegetable stock cube or add real stock or water ... about 15 fluid ounces/400 millilitres dessertspoon of vegetable oil Method Heat the oil in a pan ...medium heat ... and add the onions ... sweat them for a minute Add the leek ... sweat them for a minute Add the potato and continue to sweat all of the veg for another two minutes Add the stock cube and stir it in Now add the liquid/stock Bring to the boil Simmer until the potatoes are soft ... maximum 10 minutes should be enough At this point, take the soup off the heat, pour it into a blender and blend it thoroughly If it is too thick for you, simply add more water or stock It is ready now. Add any adornments you like such as a sprig of parsley or coriander leaves ... as you wish The potato secret? Don't add too much otherwise it dominates the taste DW


The Cost of Light!

Flick a switch and the light comes on. Have you ever thought about the cost of light throughout history? I found a table of the cost of lighting per million lumen hours in the UK in British Pounds for the period 1301 to 2006. In 1301 The estimated cost of lighting for one million lumen hours was £33,042.9 whereas in 2006, the cost was ƒ2.89 per one million lumen hours. Oddly, the cost in 1301 had rocketed to £40,820.58. Take a look for yourself at this page from DER SPIEGEL/Statista, where you can read: "One hour of light (referred to as the quantity of light shed by a 100 watt bulb in one hour) cost 3,200 times as much in 1800 in England as it does today, amounting to 130 Euros back then (or a little more than 150 dollars). In 1900, it still cost 4 euros (close to 5 dollars). In the year 2000, we arrived at a cost of 4 euro cents (5 US cents)." The following chart shows how much work we have to do to be able to switch the lights on: one second now, 400 hours in 1750 BC! Infographic: The Cost of Light Through the Ages | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista Fascinating stuff! DW


Air Malawi: welcome back

I last flew on an Air Malawi aeroplane in the middle of 1993 as I finished a five year posting to the University of Malawi in Blantyre. They had bought two new planes shortly before I left the country but I flew on neither of them. I flew on the BAC111 and the turbo prop plane that used to frighten me to death as it bounced around the skies! Today I will fly from Lusaka in Zambia to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania via Lilongwe in Malawi on Malawian Airlines. I am looking forward to seeing how Malawi Airlines has changed things in the last 23 years and I can see from the web that they fly some smart planes now. My plane today will be the Dash 8 Q400, for both legs of the journey ... Dash 8 Q400 And here, a Boeing 737-700: Boeing 737-700 I have seen a Boeing 747 in Air Malawi livery but I don't see that plane on their web site now where they say they have just the two planes you see above. See you there and muli bwanji in advance! DW


Tether, End of

A month or so ago I started feeling grotty and very quickly realised I probably had a fever. I saw a doctor immediately and he treated me.

The next two days were as expected but day three, when I normally expect to start feeling better, was the worst. Lethargy, fever, generally grotty. The following days were better.

However,  things have not really improved and yesterday I lost some hearing in my left ear. Today I got some more medicines since the ear infection follows on from my bronchitis and sore throat.

It really has been a bad month and a bad start to the year.



Michaela Finnegan

This is the tale of Michaela Finnegan who grew whiskers on her chin ne gan. Who would ever have thought that I would be writing yet another doggy obituary? After all, Stewart died after a car accident and all other dogs are either dead or just too lazy to get into any bother ... that's you Pongo and Slutty! Well, I was wrong. Here is a photo of the tiny Thai Ridgeback that Siri found for us as a replacement for Pongo: Pongo the lonely. So lonely she sent him back to be bone idle with Slutty. After a couple of weeks I noticed that the Ridgeback has some rather nitty whiskers on its chin so I started singing ... There was an old man Called Michael Finnegan He grew whiskers On his chin-ne-gan The wind came up and blew them in again Poor old Michael Finnegan, Begin Again He was meant to be an outside dog but she tried her hardest to get into the house at every possible opportunity. I stopped it. It made no difference,i t still tried. I was determined. It got in from time to time as if I weren't there! Then we all left home for a while: I came away to work and Siri took a trip to Bangkok to meet me as I was passing through. Finnegan went to stay for a while at the Lazy P idle dogs home. Things didn't work out: after a few days they found Finnegan with blood coming out of its ears and generally being in a bad way. They think one of the neighbouring dogs snapped at Finnegan and cracked its skull: chances are, that mutt was stealing Slutty and Pongo's food and Finnegan decided to join in. SNAP! Slutty and Pongo are both cowards and stealing their food is a breeze. Finnegan was far too young to sense any danger from anything so that was the end of that. Three months old maybe and now in a downward spiral that would leave her dead fairly quickly. I had plans for that dog to be an outdoor and family dog. Abi played with Finnegan and Finnegan teased Abi by biting her feet with its needle like teeth. We played together, I threw it out of the house. We fed it. It slept outside. the poor thing never even had the chance to wear a tee shirt or scarf in the middle of a Thai Winter. Sorry you had to go Finnegan but thanks for the entertainment while you were here! DW


Low Fares? Define Low

I don't like AA ... that's an airline! They try to convince us that everyone can fly now because they are so cheap.

Well, because their competitors do not fly to KL on Sunday from Bangkok I had to choose them. Kerching! Low fare? Not at all! I could actually pay less with the other airlines AND have a meal AND not scratch around worrying about the weight of my luggage AND choose any seat that's available: from previous experience,  they will give me a window seat, the worst possible option for me.

Then, due to misinformation from another carrier I found I had to change my flying time. SORRY,  it's less than 48 hours to take off so you can't change that flight. So, horror of horrors, I had to buy a new ticket. Low fare? Free meal? Guaranteed baggage allowance? No, no, no. I consider this second ticket outrageously expensive and feel sad that I have had to break my vow of refusing to fly with this airline. Until recently, I had not flown with them for 2 or 3 years. I hope this is my last trip with them for a very long time.


Appalling Behaviour on a Newspaper Forum

I have discussed many topics on newspaper forums over the years: The Independent had one then closed it; I subscribed to The Times for a few years and that was a good experience; now I am with The Guardian, new starter. I have paid membership dues to the Guardian because I feel I should but they say many people use their services but don’t pay. No judgement there, that’s how the Guardian manages things. I engaged in my first full blown discussion on the Guardian site last week when I told the assembled horde that Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth visuals and other parts of his message were wrong or inappropriate. I said that and I believe that: my argument is that his graphs were far too nice to warrant critical review and many of his other ramblings have been challenged: I said that knowing it to be true: youtube contains many videos in which Gore is caught out. Immediately, I was attacked rather forcefully and I have to say that I did call Gore a liar. I defended myself and as the debate wore on, I was called all sorts of names and accused of all sorts of calumny. Then someone said I was a climate change denier. They made that up because I didn’t even infer that let alone say it. Well, that was it: John Samuel claimed to be a weather expert of some kind and he really stuck to that line and in spite of proving no such words came out, he called me a liar many times. Good for him. I even came here to this blog and reminded myself of what I had said about Gore when I had seen his film. I told Samuel that I had blogged about Gore in 2007 and again in 2010 … three references altogether. Since he was being so unfriendy, I suggested he search for my blog to prove for himself the truth of my assertions. He couldn’t find it! Smart as he claimed to be, in spite of clues as to a particular phrase to put into google, it was beyond him. He found an Excel blog and pretended that was the blog I meant. I said no, so he called me a liar again. I then mentioned having read and reviewed State of Fear by Michael Crichton which I said contained many interesting ideas. Samuel replied to tell me how bad the book was and that no one liked or respected it. Climate change denier that I am. You’re getting the picture now: John Samuel who does not know the difference between you’re and your, tells the world that they should not read a book because he does not like it. The reality is that Crichton might have got some of the science wrong but he questioned things and I think that was a very healthy thing to do. As Samuel tried only assassinate my character, others joined in and of course, several of them pointed out their master’s degrees, how they have been peer reviewers for academic journals and what do I know? All the while, these people have assumed that Samuel has identified the truth: he said the same thing so often that the others believed he must be telling the truth. I have seen this before and it is impossible to challenge because everything is subject to gainsay. Samuel was obviously frustrated that I wouldn’t just give him the link to my blog posts so I was branded a liar again but I felt he’s so smart he can ruddy well find it. Moreover, he would clearly have merely said something innappropriate about what I had said so I let it ride. I am sharing this post with him now and even he will then find that I really did make those posts about Gore all of those years ago and that I am not a liar! As that discussion wound down Samuel revealed another two traits: he labelled many people as liars if he didn’t like what they said; and he was obsessed with having the last word. I played the last word game and he played along exactly true to type. If John Samuel is really a scientist I just wonder if his work is ever peer reviewed as he cannot take criticism. He must be very difficult to work with when someone like me turns up and refuses to bow down to him. A very immature bully in my opinion. I decided to write this post since it is a controlled way of sifting out that man’s own lies and exaggerations and at the same time sharing with others just how he behaves in debate. Samuel and others are free to comment here and I will post everything that's not just outright offensive! I made mistakes in my discussions and admitted them: I am not too proud to do that but I will not allow some tiny minded little man to bully me or anyone else into kow towing to him. DW


Put the Bloody Phone Down or it Will Kill you

On our way to replace the driving licence I lost and as we were crossing the road a woman on a motorbike came round the corner and was driving right at me and Abi. The stupid woman was reading something on her phone as she rounded the corner and had not seen us.

I was ready to fend her off but she looked up, saw us and avoided us. I said to her, Watch where you're going and put your phone down!

How stupid and how dangerous that woman is.


The Charge of the Light Brigade

As I was travelling across country by bus today I thought about Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem The Charge of the Light Brigade. I went and found it, read it and then created a voice file of a professional actor reading it out loud. The professional actor is me! Unfortunately I can't upload the voice file here ... I will find a way. The Charge of the Light Brigade Half a league half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred: 'Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns' he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. 'Forward, the Light Brigade!' Was there a man dismay'd ? Not tho' the soldier knew Some one had blunder'd: Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do & die, Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them Volley'd and thunder'd; Storm'd at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell Rode the six hundred. Flash'd all their sabres bare, Flash'd as they turn'd in air Sabring the gunners there, Charging an army while All the world wonder'd: Plunged in the battery-smoke Right thro' the line they broke; Cossack and Russian Reel'd from the sabre-stroke, Shatter'd and sunder'd. Then they rode back, but not Not the six hundred. Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon behind them Volley'd and thunder'd; Storm'd at with shot and shell, While horse and hero fell, They that had fought so well Came thro' the jaws of Death, Back from the mouth of Hell, All that was left of them, Left of six hundred. When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wonder'd. Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred


This Week's Delegates

Here they are, the chosen few from my course in Ghana this week.

Good delegates, successful course: financial modelling.


Accra Ghana Spark Page

Just take a look at this very simple Spark Page I have just created.

<a class="asp-embed-link" href="https://spark.adobe.com/page/rdgNxpzgPBQ5R/"><img src="https://spark.adobe.com/page/rdgNxpzgPBQ5R/embed.jpg?buster=0" alt="Accra Ghana" style="width:100%" border="0" />Duncan's Accra Spark Page</a>

I hope you like it.



Boeing 787 ... 3 out of 10

I don't normally talk about aeroplanes and flying but sometimes ... You have probably heard of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and how marvellous it is. I have just flown on it for the umpteenth time and again I come away wracked! The seats are bone hard and the economy cabin is cramped: they cram us in. For anyone in the first row in any cabin in economy, they have put the TV remote at hip level within the seat AND it's non removable. That means you need to be a contortionist to use it and if you are even slightly on the large side you will not be able to see it let alone use it. I firmly believe that this aeroplane was designed and built by people who never fly in it or never fly economy in it. In my opinion, it's an insult although I know the airlines love it because it runs cheaply compared to other planes. Well, here you are Boeing: 3 out of 10. DW


In the Current Climate

As I was about to get to the passport control desk at DXB, a man in the queue behind me pointed out to one of the staff that there was an unattended bag in the middle of the floor. There was!

The staff member suggested that someone had probably left the bag there as he went round and round the queue system to save having to carry it.

The man responded with. I realise that but no one should leave their bag like that in the current climate.

The man was absolutely right but I loved his use of the phrase, in the current climate!