Saturday, 23 May 2009

Classic Car to Reach the Arctic Circle

When asking someone where they will be spending their summer holidays, you probably would not expect the Arctic Circle to be their answer. Right?

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But for one couple, that’s exactly where they will be heading – and to make it an even more incredible journey, they will be making their way there in a 50-year-old Morris Minor known as ‘Wedgie’.

(Photo c/o Alison McCallum, Eastwood Extra)

But the convertible's adventurous owners, John and Sheena Steel, have no qualms about making the trip.

John and Sheena who both celebrate their 70th birthdays this year, will embark on the three-week trip through Denmark, Sweden and Norway in memory of a friend who died in March last year.

"I've always wanted to visit Norway and the trip, which is a special one for us, is in aid of Strathcarron Hospice where a close family friend was cared for" said Sheena.

The trip is the latest in a tradition for the couple who have enjoyed holidays in the 1960s convertible:-

2004 to Austria included Belgium, France, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and Italy. Total distance 3,400 miles.

2005 to Spain and Portugal included the Pilgrims Route (Comino) from Pamplona to Santiago-de-Compostela. Also Lisbon and Northern Spain including the Picos Mountains. Total distance 4,553 miles.

2006 to Croatia included Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Total distance 4,000 miles.

But this latest outing differs from past adventures with caution thrown to the wind, the top rolled down on Wedgie and the intrepid travellers driving off with nothing more than ferry crossings confirmed.

John said: "These aren't holidays, they're adventures. The car was bought as a second car in 1971 and it never really went anywhere. The car has only done 85,000 (miles), which is nothing for how old it is.”

"We just choose a country, book the ferry, pack the car and head off. It saves all sorts of hanging around in airports."

For this and future adventures, McDawg can exclusively reveal that Wedgie is now equipped with a robust on-board Sat Nav system which IMHO makes Wedgie the first Morris Minor that I am aware of to have such technology added to it’s dashboard.

"I've always wanted to visit Norway and the trip, which is a special one for us, is in aid of Strathcarron Hospice where a close family friend was cared for."

But first, the cream-coloured Wedgie must undergo (and pass) its latest MoT – and it did.

John explained: "This isn't a vintage car, it's used like our other car — a Peugeot 307."

Wedgie's only once let them down on their travels, in Bosnia, and even then plodded on to Germany before having to be towed to the ferry at Zeebrugge.

Other travellers' tales with Wedgie include the time John and Sheena were mistakenly ushered into a vintage car show as participants in Slovenia but ended up helping another Morris owner find spare parts.

Impressively Sheena says: "We went right over The Alps in it, up the Grossglockner Pass among glaciers at two and a half kilometres above sea level.

"There were cars steaming up and breaking down at the roadside — we just zipped up no problem. Bikers at the top couldn't believe we made it."

Sheena added: "We've no reason to worry; it's proven capable in the past. It's so comfortable and people always stop to admire it."

The well-travelled pair then decided they would use this opportunity to give back to Strathcarron Hospice in Denny, which had taken care of their close friend in his final days.

Sheena said: “Our friend died in the hospice a year ago in March so we thought it would be nice to give them something back.”

John added: A lot of money goes to cancer research but people who get cancer still need help. The hospice is all funded by donations and help from the public and they really looked after our friend.”

The couple have been embarking on some fundraising activities before they set on their Arctic adventure.

To support the fundraising and make a donation go to or call +44 1324 826222


Above story adapted/given a 2.0 semantic make-over from here.


Declaration - John is my Father and Sheena is my Step-Mother



Some text messages starting to arrive from Wedgie:-

16th July 2009, 20:36 "Hi made it to Sweden in four days travelling further north tomorrow great fun more later"

17th July 2009, 12:46 "One or two downpours in between sunny spells"

17 July 2009, 15:33
"We are fine travelling thro Sweden milage so far one thousand four hundred and twenty five more later"

18 July 2009, 18:47 "We are camping at the moment at a place called Stromsund, half way up Sweden (see map). Weather great and scenery more in a few days".

21 July 2009, 08:08 "Crossed Acrtic Circle on ninth day so chuffed - milage so far two thousand and fifty. Onwards North, Lofoton Islands"

21 July 2009, 08:41
"Forgot, we were photod by Norwegian press at Arctic Circle, lots of questions in papers tomorrow"

22 July 2009, 15:25 "Hi, did you get our two texts re crossing the Arctic Circle and the press coverage we got while there. We are in the local press today. Go into website see pics of us"

27th July 2009, 12:44 "Hi, yesterday at Bodo airbase. Had a privileged tour, saw one of four Starfighters, amazing. Now travelling down west coast, doing great. Milage now over three thousand miles".

31st July, 2009, 13:13 "We have just left Trondheim and r travelling south via w coast. Milage so far three thousand eight hundred. Wedgie doing great!"

3rd August, 2009, 13:35 "We are now heading towards the Swedish border in cabin south of Oslo. Horrendous rain last night. Got soaked in the tent and John got bitten by a tick. We sail back to England next monday 10th. Back around the 13th".

9th August, 2009, 19:23 "We are on the last lap. Had 3 days in Denmark. Staying at our last campsite tonight near Esbjerg where we sail from tomorrow. Been in 28 campsites longing for some home comforts. Milage so far 5358 miles".

Friday, 8 May 2009

Wine Flu

Can one imagine my contesting bewilderment when this UK Government Leaflet came through my letterbox earlier today......

A) I don't drink much wine
B) I/We do however have a communal cellar
C) Thanks for the advice anyway, UK Gov - I/we are well prepared for an outbreak of wine flu.

I can haz this.....

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Open Source Science - Podcast

The following is (with a light mash-up) from the award winning A World of Possibilities website.

Open Source Science

(image source)

The outbreak of potential pandemics has driven home the urgent need for more rapid responses to public health threats. In order to respond more effectively, we need to create a more open system for the exchange of vital health information. Medical and scientific research pioneers are laying the foundation for a global health commons to accelerate the pace and effectiveness of crucial discoveries.

Marty Tenenbaum, Chairman and Chief Scientist, CollabRx

Joint Interview with Gavin Yamey, Senior Editor PLoS Medicine, Public Library of Science

and Peter Jerram, Chief Executive Officer, Public Library of Science

(Click on a guest's name to listen to their full unedited interview.)

Host: Mark Sommer
Senior Producer: Gregg McVicar
Associate Producers: Naihma Deady, Matt Fidler
Production Engineer: Michael Schwartz
Remote Engineers: Scott Cutty, Craig Sherod
Music in this program: Open - "Afterglow" - Aaron Parks - Blue Note; "A United Earth I" - Alan Stivell and Youssou N'Dour - Putumayo World Music; "Weird Science" - Oingo Boingo - MCA; "Them Bones" - Eddie Kirk - Rhino Atlantic; "She Blinded Me With Science" - Thomas Dolby - Capitol.

This program was funded by listeners like you.

Duration: 55:00 minutes

Take Action: For more information on this topic and to learn more about how to get involved click here.

Click to Listen

RT @BoraZ

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Auto tune the news: Making the news sing

One week ago, YouTube went offline for a minute or so.

Moments later, it re-appeared and thanks to the short intermission, this nugget was flagged up on Twitter by Dave Munger to celebrate normal service being resumed.

McDawg loves creative remixes and the use of vocoder in particular on this one is rather impressive, IMO.

For more background info., check this TIME piece.

Pull-quote:- "Of course, Auto-Tune doesn't work on everyone. Hillary Clinton still sounds like a robot".

RM: This was a pretty remarkable week on the gay marriage front
First of all, to have a state like Iowa
MG: Whatchoo tryna say about Iowa
RM: Not the east coast state
MG: East coast
RM: Not the left coast state
MG: Left coast
RM: In a decision written by a republican appointee
MG: shawty, now you sounding so fine
Give me your number, we can bump and grind
Talkin about politics all night
Leavin the club in the mornin light
If we get carred away
We might get gay-married today
KC: We just heard from some of our viewers who strongly support legalizing marijuana
MG: Shawty, 5 of those calls was from me
KC: Do you think we should legalize pot alone or all drugs, including heroine, cocaine, and meth?
MG: My brain says no, but my body says yes!
AG: I’m an angry gorilla. I heard you needed me (ooh ooh ah ah)
SH: Now that Captain Phillips has been successfully rescued
The president has decided to step in front of the spotlight
AG: Ooh, I’m angry! You can’t see it, but my forehead’s veiny
SH: And even take some credit for the rescue
AG: Well, don’t you worry, baby boo
You’ll always have an angry gorilla to be angry with you
That’s what I do. Just ask Donkey Kong. He’s in my crew
KC: At the North Pole, new satellite photos show arctic ice is melting so fast
AG: Oh snap, how fast?
KC: Many scientists now believe it will be gone within 30 years
AG: Surely you jest! I’m under cardiac arrest, shawty
KC: Some researchers think it could disappear in just six
AG: Shit!
KC: Without it there could be a snowball effect
AG: Oh
KC: With temperatures rising even faster
If we all don’t take bold action and take it fast
AG: Yeah,
Both: We will find ourselves on very thin ice
MG: Tell em, Hillary, pirates on very thin ice
HC: These pirates are criminals
They are armed gangs on the sea
MG: That means the ocean
HC: The United States does not make concessions
Or ransom payments to pirates

MG: Hello, shawty, we can meet up at the mall
Browse around at the bookstore
Mentally ball until we fall