Christmas Skeleton

For Christmas this year, Rachel gave me a human skeleton–no, not bones, but a cardboard model that could be assembled into a skeleton. Over the course of our week in Hawes, we slowly transformed the eight large sheets of card (along with dozens of split-pins, and some odd-shaped pieces of wire and plastic) into a life-size skeleton hanging from the ceiling.

The start: eight large sheets of cardboard...
The start: eight large sheets of cardboard…
End of day 2: Legs, a pelvis, and a spine!
End of day 2: Legs, a pelvis, and a spine!

There’s not much else to say: We reckon it took about 20 hours of work in total (between me, Rachel, Catherine and Tony); it’s not easy, with many of the parts twisting in complex ways to match the shape of bones, and despite the claim on the box that no scissors or glue were required we ended up cutting it in six places to make it work (and I’m pretty sure all six were required). I would, however, recommend it to anyone! The process was challenging and fun, and the end result is really cool–it can rotate its head, bend at the jaw, knees, ankles, elbows and wrists, as well as flex its back! Lots of pictures below…

Working on the ribcage.
Working on the ribcage.
Forewarned is forearmed but there's nothing humerus about the situation!
Forewarned is forearmed but there’s nothing humerus about the situation!
Attaching the final arm to the shoulder.
Attaching the final arm to the shoulder.
The skeleton shows off its dance moves!
The skeleton shows off its dance moves!


I saw this today and was so gob-smacked by it I thought I’d share it here…

Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created this “beautiful” and undeniably scary time-lapse map of the nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project’s Trinity test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea’s two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade.

What can we do? Where can we go?

“Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you’ve finished, read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun.

The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy, and talent so that no one will be at war, in sickness, and lonely again. In other words grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do to something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you!”

Northland College (NZ) principal John Tapene quotes Judge Phillip B. Gilliam (Colorado, December 1959)



Feeding The Coldest Journey

As you will probably know, an expedition to cross Antarctica in winter is planning to set off soon, led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Its aim is to raise money for the charity Seeing is Believing, which tackles preventable blindness.

I am not nuts enough to want to spend six months in the pitch dark at perhaps minus 80 degrees, so what is my connection? Well, a very slight one actually. Here is a hint:

So much chocolate!!!!!!!!!

Last week I spent a day with Jo, who is organising all the food for six men, including her partner Brian, for six months. It has been provided by sponsors and is stored at their home. There is food everywhere: in the outhouse, on the stairs…

…on the stairs….

… on the landing…

…on the landing….

… in the bedrooms, in the dining room, in the garage…

… a double garage FULL OF CHOCOLATE 🙂 🙂 🙂

Many hundredweight of food of all types has had to be unpacked (the amount of packaging to be disposed of is hardly credible), sorted, and repacked into bags for each day. For example, one of my jobs was to label and sort the majority of 7 puddings x 6 people x 52 weeks. That’s a lot of pudding.

Although we are all (that is to say, most readers of/contributors to this blog) used to expedition food, I do not think any of us would relish such a long period with a diet based on dehydrated goods. In an attempt to make the meals as palatable as possible Jo had to come up with a number of recipes that would be reasonably varied and tasty but also easy to prepare and cook with limited facilities in Antarctic conditions. The benefit of this is that whilst helping out one gets to test the menus. (Rice pudding scored very highly on quality.)

As you can see, Brian is looking forward to his nutrition 🙂