5 August 2012

Good morning to you all. I hope everything is fine and dandy with you! We’ve had a mixed week weather-wise so I may have to hold off on last week’s pronouncement that we were about to enjoy uninterrupted glorious sunshine for the next seventeen months. Smatterings of sunshine, lots of cloud and grey skies, a fair number of showers interspersed with the occasional deluge of Biblical proportions. In other words, a typical English summer.

We had a grand time last weekend. On Saturday we traipsed across to Hitchin in Hertfordshire for a picnic to celebrate Penny’s niece Naomi’s (Jeremy’s eldest) 30th birthday along with her daughter Lily’s first. Nick and Lucy and Annabelle joined us along with Pen’s folks and a very pleasant afternoon it was too. There were something like twenty-four one and under year-olds all of whom had a splendid time.

Indrani at the wheelThen, on Sunday, we made our way down to the salubrious surroundings of Henley-on-Thames to join in the celebration of our very dear friend Indrani’s 80th birthday. We’ve mentioned her in the past, but Indrani was Penny’s very first Head of Department at Penny’s first teaching job at Cooper School in Bicester. Pen took over the teaching timetable of one of the Deputy Headteachers who was off on secondment. This involved teaching in about a dozen different curriculum areas attempting to educate the more difficult and recalcitrant elements of the student body. Indrani, as Head of English, provided a sanctuary amidst all the chaos of dealing with the worst students on one’s first teaching appointment.

It was a lovely day (mainly dry although we did get rained upon once or twice) and the gathering was held at Indrani’s elder son Jamie’s house right on the river in Henley. We’ve been there once before for New Year’s Eve in 2008 and it’s a glorious setting immediately adjacent to the finishing line of the Henley Regatta.

There were hundreds of friends and relations from all over the globe – a niece had come from Chicago and another from South Africa – and everyone had a magnificent time. As part of the festivities, Jamie had arranged for a cruise up and down the river aboard the magnificent steamship Alaska which was great fun.

The Alaska

We (well really mainly I) have been enjoying the Olympic coverage on the BBC. I don’t know what sort of coverage you get elsewhere but here you can watch any event anywhere in any of the Olympic venues. Most of it is on the various television stations that the BBC provide and some of it is streamed online but it does present one with a dilemma – should I watch the water polo, handball or the synchronised diving? On Wednesday evening I watched some of the Men’s Gymnastics (the baseball game which was on offer was the Brewers v the Astros, not a match likely to generate much enthusiasm from anyone other than the players’ mothers). My goodness! Those gymnasts are unbelievable. Never mind the running, jumping and tumbling that they do – hanging in a crucifix posture from the rings is simply brutal.

At least we don’t have to make time for some of the more unusual Olympic activities which are now, unfortunately, no longer with us. For example, did you know that the 1896 Olympics featured Rope Climbing as an event? Or, that the 1900 Games featured live pigeon shooting (Belgium’s Leon de Lunden won gold after killing 21 of the 300 birds that were released during the event.)? I particularly miss the Long Jump for Horses and the Pistol Duelling. There are a few other unusual events which featured in the past you can see here if you are especially intrigued.

I ran across an interesting article on the BBC site – find your Olympic body match. The site allows you to enter your vital statistics and see which Olympian you are most similar to. I gather that they don’t have every single Olympian entered in the database but those included do range from the tallest (Zhaoxu Zhang at 2.19m or 7 ft 2 inches and 110 kg / 242 pounds in weight) to Asuka Teramoto, a gymnast from Japan who stands 1.36m or 4 ft 6 inches and weighs 30 kg or 66 pounds! Me? I am apparently most similar to Ivan Dodig, a Croatian tennis player, Thomas Farnik, an Austrian shooter, Eduardo Schwank, an Argentine tennis player, Daniel Hunter, a volleyball player from GB and Brian Kirkman, a BMX cyclist from Australia. Although I am the same height, I am just a little bit lighter than Gemma Spofforth, a member of the British swimming team and fortunately, although I’m just a couple of centimetres shorter than Ricardo Blas, Jr., a competitor in the 100 kg+ Judo competition, I am a full 135 kg lighter. I guess I must be in pretty good condition if my body matches those guys – perhaps I should have tried out for the cycling team after all. See which Olympian you are most similar to here.

I also ran across an interesting article detailing what happens in an Internet minute.

An Internet Minute

So, for example, in one minute:

  • 204 million emails are sent
  • 20 million photos are viewed on Flickr
  • 6 million views of Facebook occur
  • 2 million-plus search queries are initiated on Google
  • 1.3 million videos are viewed on YouTube
  • 277,000 people login to Facebook
  • 100,000 Tweets are sent
  • $83,000 in sales are racked up at Amazon
  • 61,141 hours of music are streamed from Pandora
  • 47,000 apps are downloaded
  • 3,000 photos are uploaded to Flickr
  • 1,300 people start using a mobile device
  • 320-plus Twitter accounts are added
  • 135 botnet infections occur
  • 100-plus LinkedIn accounts are added
  • 30 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube
  • 20 people are victims of identity theft
  • 6 new Wikipedia articles are published

Are you kidding me?

Love to you all,

Greg