Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

December 2006

GeneralSunday, December 31st, 2006, (7:21 pm)

I’m about to leave for a New Years party in Eugenie, Oregon. But before I go I wanted to make a post casting a retrospective look back at some of the pictures I’ve posted in 2006.

Just into Wales across the border from England is this scene. The ‘castle’ on Lake Vyrnwy is one of my favorite Welsh landmarks. (If this place were home)

My friend Will, and I, went to Scotland in February Our long weekend ended up being one of the most costly ‘adventures’ I ever had! What with gas costs (he has a 3.2 Litre V6 Audi TT that eats fuel at between $8 – $12 a gallon don’t forget!) and the B&B’s we stayed in the trip made a severe dent in our wallets. But it was worth it, if only for the laughs (Under a Gaelic sky)

It snowed in March! First time I’ve seen snow in these parts for years! (White up your street)

March : The sun sets over the rocks of a wave breaker at New Brighton Beach near where I live. (Where dreams take wing)

In April I headed out to the States again, this time southbound to Mississippi and a town called Waveland. Nine months earlier the town had been devastated by hurricane Katrina and I was out there to do what little I could to help with the clean-up. It turned out to be a sobering experience, a shocking lesson in the complete power of nature. (A town called Waveland)

In May Will and I again ventured to Scotland. This time we rented an RV which was wicked cool! We drove it like an Ambulance to the very tip of Scotland and right across the top of Scotland down the west coast and back to England just in time to return it. On the way to picking up the RV though, within about 5 minutes after leaving my apartment Will got picked up by a cop as he joined the highway speeding. It cost him a ticket. Not the best start, but all adventures have bumps in the road. Heck we even reversed the RV into a pole somewhere near a nuclear power station too. All in all it was a really good laugh, despite the weather being pretty bloody awful the whole time! (What a start)

June : Obviously I didn’t take the pictures above, but the post about them is worth a re-read. It’s about the people who bring the bodies of American servicemen and women home from Iraq. The American media still isn’t allowed to show those scenes on TV under the reason that the families need privacy. However one might imagine the unpopular Iraq war might be a whole lot more unpopular if the American public kept seeing images of soldiers families crying as their loved ones are brought home in coffins draped in the stars and stripes. (I will be home)

Also in June the world became embroiled once again in World Cup fever. England disappeared under a sea of flags. I noticed that it seemed the poorer a person was, the more flags they seemed to decorate their house or car with. Football fever even managed to creep into some parts of America where those funny people already have a game with the same name where they actually carry and throw the ball? Strange but true! (England Flags)

July: Tiger Woods came to my part of the world in the midst of a heat wave which most English people complained about, but I was loving. I didn’t get a whole lot of work done in July. Instead I spent many a day going to the beach or places to enjoy the sun. The roof on my car was down all the time, it was great! (Lovin’ life on the golf coast)

The summer heat went to some peoples heads. I ended up chasing down the owner of this car who was seriously drunk and driving the vehicle despite the fact that it only had three wheels! After chasing her for a while I removed her from the car and waited for the Police to arrive. (Never a dull moment)

Still in July Will, Andy, and myself all ventured down to London for the Motor Show. Lots of gleaming metal. A festival of our collective addiction to oil! (Beauty and the beast)

August : After a month of beautiful clear skies and high temperatures Britain was subjected to the wettest August in years. I think it rained every single day. I took this picture at the bottom of my garden. (Diamonds in the rough)

I had no idea that not far from where I live there is a nature reserve!.Going there was like discovering a secret garden! (Undiscovered country)

In September I was in the States again. Oregon, California, Texas, and Colorado. It was a mammoth trip! (September)

It’s always great to head down to Texas and see all my friends and “blog buddies” from Xangaland! (Xangbanged)

I sometimes think that people miss some of my captions on the pictures I use here. The caption above is one of my favorites. (Texas Part II)

The summer came crashing to an abrupt end with the sudden and unexpected death of my brothers wife, Kate. In the midst of that tragedy the worth of family was demonstrated to me. (For Kate)

In November I had to buckle down and get on with a huge amount of work that needed to be done. In the States the Republicans got what was coming to them in the mid-terms, and back home in England everyone celebrated Guy Fawkes night on the 5th with Fireworks and bonfires as they do every year.

Christmas seemed to come around so quickly. I think that may well be a sign of the fact I am getting older as I heard time seems to move faster the older you get! At the bar I work in we had a bit of a Christmas party with some guy randomly arriving dressed as Santa. It was a fun night! (That was a good night)

On my way to Oregon for Christmas and the New Year I ended up getting stuck in Chicago for one night. It was a night that I would turn into one of those nights you never forget. (The 94th Story)

And that folks, was 2006. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year and here’s to 2007. May it be a great year!!

GeneralFriday, December 29th, 2006, (7:00 pm)

US President Bush finds himself voted as ‘Hero of the year’ by a recent Associated Press-AOL News, however the beleaguered President was also voted Villain of the year in the very same poll!

The poll of just over 1000 people across the United States illustrate just how polarized the country is in their opinion of the President. In a landslide ‘victory’ to be villain of the year the President managed to whoop the collective butts of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and the President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

However, in the same poll President Bush was voted Hero of the year too ahead of the soldiers in Iraq, Oprah Winfrey, Senator Barack Obama, and much revered Lord of all creation himself, Jesus Christ!

Oprah Winfrey was voted best celebrity roll model while the worst celebrity role model accolade went to Miss Trailer Park America, Britney Spears. Spears topped the poll ahead of Paris Hilton, Mel Gibson, and the placenta eating Tom Cruise (I’m still cringing at that thought!).

To celebrate President Geedub’s victories I decided to post what I consider to be his picture of the year. The shot was snapped in July when the President hands back a crying baby that was handed to him from the crowd as he arrived for an outdoor dinner with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Trinwillershagen, Germany. It’s a classic picture that captures a moment we probably can all relate too.

GeneralFriday, December 29th, 2006, (2:33 pm)

Ladies, are you feeling stressed or anxious about something. If so hold you’ll be pleased to learn that a study now proves that holding your husbands hand will help relieve your stress and anxiety. For those ladies among you who aren’t married… well, you’re stuffed!

Okay, so maybe the unmarried ladies aren’t completely stuffed, but in a recent study led by neuroscientist Dr. James Coan from the University of Virginia it has been concluded that happily married women show signs of immediate relief from stress and anxiety when they hold their husband’s hand.

“We’ve known for decade that being in a good, committed relationship makes wounds heal faster, makes you sick less often and even live longer. But the main point of this study is that no one had been able to quantify the mental benefits of a close relationship in terms of improved health.” Said Dr Coan.

The limited study involved 16 couples from the Madison, Wisc area who were in marriages judged to be ‘strong.’ Coan and colleagues wired the women up to a functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scanner then proceeded to electrocute them in the name of science and human progress.

The women were shown a red X indicating a 20% chance that they would receive a mild electric shock or a blue O, indicating that they would not be shocked. During the test they held their husband’s hand, the hand of an anonymous male, or no hand. The scanner then recorded each woman’s responses under the various conditions.

“Holding any hand at all calms regions of the brain that are responsible for the body’s physical stress response,” reported Coan. “But only the spousal hand affected regions of the brain that are responsible for worrying… This is the region which is thought to be associated with your experience of pain.”

Quite why anyone would bother doing a study like this is anyone’s guess. It seems entirely logical to me that people would feel less stressed when they have the reassurance of the touch from someone they love. But in our society which seems to be moving us away from actual human interaction at an alarming rate maybe such a study was warranted.

“Interaction between members of a species can have a momentous impact on emotion, and emotion can have a profound impact on bodily functioning,” Said a psychoanalyst at New York University Medical Center and a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, Dr. Charles Goodstein.

Back in February another scientific study revealed that people suffering from stress should have more sex. That study revealed that people who weren’t ‘getting it’ were more up tight than those who enjoyed a good roll in the hay, so to speak.

The effect on the men doing the hand-holding was not studied, but there are plans to extend the study next year to include the partners as well as less happy couples, and gay and lesbian couples too. In short Coan would like to electrocute people from all kinds of relationships.

You can read about the study entitled “Lending a Hand: Social Regulation of the Neural Response to Threat” in the December 2006 issue of the Journal Psychological Science.

Lending a Hand: Social Regulation of the Neural Response to Threat
Stressed? Try holding your husbands hand
Hold hubby’s hand to de-stress
Happy Marriage Calms Nerves
Spouses Have A Hand in Quelling Anxiety
Stay calm people

Photography and TravelTuesday, December 26th, 2006, (12:46 am)

The last real ‘white Christmas’ I had was back in New Hampshire in 2000. It was a year when a noreaster storm (I’d never heard of such a thing before) swept through the region and covered everywhere in record amounts of snow. When I close my eyes and picture a white Christmas, that’s the Christmas I see. Although I didn’t have a white Christmas this year in Portland, Oregon, I still got to play in the snow at Mount Hood.

You can see Mt Hood from downtown Portland and on clear days when it looks its most majestic I never fail to be impressed by this shimmering white mountain that is actually a volcano, albeit one that hasn’t shown much activity since the early eighteen hundreds.

I’ve since discovered a British connection to Mount Hood in that the mountain was named after the man who discovered it, British Admiral, Samuel Hood. Of course to think that Samuel Hood was the first person to discover this imposing landmark is, of course, absurd. Such landmarks are nonexistent in England and so as ‘everyday’ as it’s presence might be to the people of Portland, it’s still a sight that leaves me awestruck.

Before my arrival in Oregon the area was battered by bad weather and huge amounts of snow on the mountains. So a planned trip to Mount Hood didn’t disappoint my desire to see snow this Christmas time.

I stayed in a small log cabin belonging to a family who planned to pack 17 people in there on Christmas day for their traditional Christmas dinner. Built in 1928, the two bedroom cabin in the small community of Zigzag, was the brief home for the old time movie-star Jimmy Stewart who stayed there one summer during the making of the movie “Bend In The River” with Rock Hudson and Julie Adams.

I’ve added owning a log cabin in Oregon to the list of things I’d love to have one day should I somehow happen upon a personal fortune. Though I doubt the Ferrari I’ll also own by then will be to happy about the roads in the area. Landing my private helicopter might also prove somewhat difficult, but a log cabin in Oregon has been put on the list anyhow!

Below are just a few of the pictures I took while in the Mount Hood area. Most were taken at the unimaginatively named small town of ‘Government Camp.’ Apparently in the late eighteen hundreds there was an attempt to change the name of ‘Government Camp’ to ‘Pompeii’ after the US Government objected to the establishment of a post office called ‘Government camp.’ The name ‘Pompeii’ didn’t stick though, maybe in part because another placed called Pompeii built in the shadow of a volcano (Mt. Vesuvius, Italy) didn’t fair so well when that volcano erupted in AD 79.

The log cabin in Zigzag, Oregon
Mount Hood history

GeneralSunday, December 24th, 2006, (2:34 pm)

PoliticalThursday, December 21st, 2006, (10:56 am)

Recently I read on a blog post that British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has said something that seem utterly foolish, even for him. After a little research I’ve found that the quote is indeed falsely attributed to the troubled PM.

The author of the post was, I think, just re-printing an email that I’ve since learned has been doing the rounds recently. Emails like these are not uncommon, in August I was sent one entitled ‘Scary’ that was made up of incorrect and hateful material about Muslims in the UK.

In the email about Blair it’s claimed he was asked by one of his Parliament members why he believes in America so much, to which he allegedly responded;

“A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in… And how many want out. Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you:
1. Jesus Christ
2. The American G. I.
One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.”

As I read the quote I found myself thinking that it was highly unlikely that Blair would have said such an outrageously stupid thing. His popularity in the UK would best be described as being in the toilet, and if he had said anything even mildly similar to this quote recently, he would effectively be politically flushing that toilet.

For the British Prime Minister to suggest that only the American soldier has been willing to put their life on the line in the execution of their duty would be wholey insulting, not just to the many British soldiers that have lost their lives in the line of duty, but also to the soldiers of any country you care to name. It would hardly be something a man of Tony Blairs’ international experience would ever say.

A little research online reveals that Blair didn’t say the quote the email attributes to him. But given his support of President Bush’s ‘war on terror’ and war in Iraq, it’s not entirely surprising that making people believe he did say such a thing isn’t exactly a hard sell. However, unlike President Bush, Prime Minister Blair has an impressive handle on the English language and therefore it’s a stretch to believe he would muddle together such an ugly statement made up of saccharin American flag waving garbage.

As with all believable tales there is at least a tiny element of truth to the email. On January 7th in a speech at the Foreign Office conference, Prime Minster Blair spoke in far more eloquent terms about the UK’s position as an ally to the United States. He said;

First, we should remain the closest ally of the US, and as allies influence them to continue broadening their agenda. We are the ally of the US not because they are powerful, but because we share their values. I am not surprised by anti-Americanism; but it is a foolish indulgence. For all their faults and all nations have them, the US are a force for good; they have liberal and democratic traditions of which any nation can be proud. I sometimes think it is a good rule of thumb to ask of a country: are people trying to get into it or out of it? It’s not a bad guide to what sort of country it is.

However, for all his eloquence on the subject of being an ally to the United States, a recent report by a leading UK think tank stated that despite the military, political and financial sacrifices Tony Blair had shown an “inability to influence the Bush administration in any significant way.” It went on to state that the invasion of Iraq and the post-war “debacle” have damaged the UK’s global influence.

The Chatham House report speculated that the reason Blair had failed to influence Bush was down to two explanations: “either the accumulated political capital was not spent wisely or the capital was never as great as was supposed.”

Tony Blair will be stepping down as Britain’s Prime Minister next in 2007 after ten years in that office.

Tony Blair’s 2003 speech at the Foreign Office conference
Blair failed to influence Bush
The Chatham House report
Blair stands by US relationship
British Prime Minister’s website
Blair quote email is false –

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