March 2011 in the Life of Ben (Blog)
13th Blood Donation (25rd March 2011)
(Forgot to blog this at the time. Just adding an entry for history’s sake.)
Sunsets (25rd March 2011)
Fiona and I went to Regent’s Park after work on Tuesday and Thursday this week. We played a bit of frisbee, a bit of football (“3 And In” style) and walked around a bit. Was very pretty on Thursday; with bright pink clouds behind silhoetted trees. It later faded to a gorgeous, warm yellow… although the tempreture dropped sharply! Good times.
Curiosity (23rd March 2011)
There’s a lot of side projects and social engagements in my life these days. It’s a good feeling and all seems driven by my interests in intricacy and experience of emotion.
Skiing Holiday in Morzine, France (19th March 2011)
Got back from a horizon-broadening adventure to my humble flat about half an hour ago. Started cooking a big dinner which I picked up on way back from Tube. Had to restart broadband router but BBC Click will be downloaded in time to watch whilst eating. (More to follow.)
- Really bright day, felt like Summer!
- Tube from Fiona’s flat to Heathrow Terminal 3.
- Confusion over which gate we should go to.
- Attendant sent us to wrong gate. That attendant sent us to correct gate.
- Airports are really spacious.
- Checked in our luggage, went through security.
- Strolled on (or strode alongside) moving floors.
- Waited in the departure lounge.
- Had to answer the call of nature and caught the flight by a matter of minutes.
- We were sat together near the back of the plane.
- Plane makes a lot of noise as it takes off.
- Feels like a rollercoaster as it climbs and turns.
- Got up through the clouds and it smoothed out
- Staff were nice and just a little chatty. (That’s the right amount.)
- Arrived in Geneva, got luggage and found our driver.
- Took us in a people carrier along some really cool roads.
- A bit like Wales but rockier and scaled up.
- Arrived at chalet with amazing view over the valley.
- Doorstep Skis arrived and sorted everyone out. Laid-back but professional.
- Walked into town en masse at about 7:30pm.
- Went into the first major eatery we found.
- Huge menu, a bit pricey, huge portions, nice crispy pizza.
- Lots of conversation, some with the hilarious waiter.
- Fiona’s brother arrived, having skied for much of the day already.
- Returned to chalet with more chatting, room negotiation.
- Chilled in our room for a while then joined in with the socialising.
- One of the group owns a TVR Cerbera! Apparently it has a “blueprint engine” after a rebuild, so nobody quite knows the capacity. (Probably more than 4.5l as it’s the V8!)
- Hilarious incidents of accidental bossiness.
- Woke at 8am.
- Showered and dressed.
- 9am had breakfast.
- Planned our first foray into Morzine.
- Took the bus on Ligne U into town.
- Got our ski passes for Avoriaz.
- I’d pre-ordered a limited one as I had planned to learn on the smaller side of the valley.
- Staying with the group was the only option as I was a total novice, so I bought an extra pass.
- Took a cable car called the Super Morzine and then a chairlift.
- Lots of gates where you have to use your pass, which was fiddly.
- Started doing some blue runs!
- Technically this was 3 levels above what I had learnt at that time.
- Found a big area of nursery runs about halfway up the mountain.
- Used button lifts for the 1st time!
- Fell off the button lift on my 3rd time!
- Remembered how to do my snowplough turns.
- Had some sandwiches and went along some steep (for me) blue runs.
- Fell on a narrow, sharp and steeply cambered junction between two runs.
- (How could any newbie ski around that!)
- Headed down for lunch with the group.
The mountain has a plateau on which lots of high-rises have been built. Not skyscrapers but more than dozen storeys high. Some had octagonal corners or were octagonal prisms. All were cladded in dark wood and crammed full of hotel rooms. People were skiing from their front door onto the piste.
- Did a couple of short runs as a big group.
- More steep bits and flat bits with chairlifts in between.
- Got down the mountain in time, as it was 5:15pm.
- Went into town.
- Looked for the collection office with Fiona for my pre-ordered ski pass.
- Hard work clomping around in ski boots! Exhausting, in fact!
- Left Fiona with the skis and poles, as her feet were hurting a lot.
- I checked the office existed.
- It was closed but would be open from 8am.
- Met some more of the group and did a spot of shopping.
- Ran for bus back and just got on with an earlier part of our group.
- Relaxed once we got back to the chalet.
- Went to our room and relaxed, in the twighlight
- Drank some water as had gotten very hot while skiing and stomping around.
- Showered and then loafed in my PJs.
- Nominated a cooking party and they made a delicious stir fry with rice.
- Shared various funny stories before turning in for the night.
- Wrote myself a reminder to offer to set places that evening.
- Started a blue run with Fiona but it was closed.
- We were directed down another run…which was red!
- A professional-looking slalom course with professional-looking skiers were down one side.
- Slid, stepped and fell down until it levelled out.
- That evening, made some hot chocolate with milk at the chalet.
- Doorstep skis arrived and I got boots half a size smaller.
- Our housemates made Chilli Con Carne with jacket potatos and salad.
- I relished every mouthful!
- Chocolate cake with cream was the delicious desert.
- More hilarity with stories and slapstick misunderstandings.
- Turned in for bed.
- Lazy morning, as is the point of a holiday imho.
- Got bus after a long wait.
- Headed up the slope to where my lesson would be.
- Did 2 short 15 minute runs, as the instructor had shown.
- Lesson ran from 2pm until 4pm.
- Did some blue runs.
- Explored the lattice of blue runs around Nabor by myself.
- Skied down after getting final chairlifts up.
- Crossed paths with Andy, James and Jasmin.
- Skied down with Andy the rest of the way to Morzine.
- Fell a couple of times but it doesn’t hurt.
- Had a hot chocolate in a little wooden café opposite the ski slope.
- Vowed to drink van chaud next time!
- Took the bus back to chalet to get out of ski boots and leave equipment.
- Went for shopping with Fiona.
- Got back and helped stir the chilli con carne.
- Helped to ventilate the kitchen.
- Various side dishes were served.
- Again I went for a 2nd helping as before.
- Chillout music was playing from a mobile phone.
- Relaxed chatting on the long U-shaped sofa.
- Woke up and had a simple breakfast more promptly than earlier days.
- Got all the clothing and equipment on for skiing.
- There’s a lot of it.
- Got to top of lift by 10:30am.
- Did a simple blue run.
- A snowboarder in our group had switched to skis and was finding her feet.
- Explored the West area of Morzine.
- Took quite some map-reading to find a skiable route!
- Took a wrong turn but got back to where we wanted to be.
- I had a couple of tumbles but it’s actually quite funny.
- Not at all like falling from a mountain bike.
Some chairlifts were extremely aggressive when getting off! The wheel which rotates them to go back down the hill was right where you get off. So as you’re trying to ski away, the outer seat swings around at about π π times your speed to side-swipe the inner person.
- Promptly got a cheeseburger. (“Je vou drais un cheeseburger, sil voil plait?”)
- Left for lesson on time.
- Skied down the mountain during lesson.
- Slushy snow made it easy to stay under control.
- Did some parallel skiing!
- It started raining.
- Skied down towards the end of the lesson, the whole class.
- Lesson ended at 4:10pm.
- Did another run with Fiona and the converted snowboarder.
- Went to the wooden snack bar opposite the slope and had vin chaud this time.
- Had a bad bacon roll while I was there.
- Made up for it by sharing a lovely Amarretto Hot Chocolate with Fiona.
- Ran for the bus back to chalet.
- Driver got out and started smoking, so there was no need to have ran!
- Had more chilli con carne, this time in a lasagne.
- Had some music playing and shared some websites into the night.
- Lazy morning.
- Was raining quite hard outside.
- Tried to find web reports for open runs.
- 25 of 117 runs reported as being closed, many blue runs open.
- Had a small breakfast.
- Waited long time for bus.
- Got to Morzine bubble lift, did my boots up while inside.
- Had a cheeseburger in 30 minutes.
- Did a couple of short runs around Nabor.
- Waited for my lesson with the other skiers.
- Instructor arrived. (He’s called Glen, by the way.)
- Did the Belvediere chairlift and the Crocus run.
- Various other fast runs out to the West.
- One of the skiers fell from the lift and hurt her knee.
- Was very quiet about it, skied on.
- Achieved by smoothest parallel skiing yet, according to instructor!
- It felt rhythmic and balanced whilst doing it.
- Could imagine myself carving at the bottom of each turn, like a Super G skier with my hands low to the slope.
- Absorbed slush bumps towards the bottom of the run.
- Realised this is how skiing is supposed to feel, for a beginner anyway!
We all met up at the chalet then headed back to the restaurant we went to on the 1st night.
- The waiter was even funnier than before, the whole evening.
- I had the duck with ginger and honey.
- Various people took photos of the food and each other.
- As the wine flowed the chatter got funnier and the music louder.
- We were given a free bottle of wine and each got a shot of something very sweet!
- Walked into town, looking for a decent club.
- Most people stopped at a hip-hop bar, which wasn’t my scene.
- Fiona and I left for the chalet.
- Saw a club called L’Opera which opened at 12:30am.
- Would have been a 20 minute wait so we carried on walking.
- Early start.
- Stressed call from the host.
- Sorted out deposits, transfers and cleaning.
- Had a banana for breakfast as usual.
- Augmented this with toast and jam. Yum!
- Headed out around 11am.
- Took the bus to the Super Morzine lift, which goes to Avoriaz.
- Got a half day pass with Fiona.
- Skied the higher areas on the mountain.
- A lot of moguls and quite a few falls!
- Had a fairly good Mad Max Burger with fluffy French fries.
- Went to a summit in the East, which had tough blue runs but lots of gliding.
- Lots of ski lifts and some confusion over our route.
- Fiona did the red moguls her brother had done. Some were nearly as tall as she is!
- I did the blue run around it, which was also very mogulled and quite steep for me.
- Fell a couple of times and was getting really tired.
- Waited at the bottom of the run for quite a few minutes, thinking I might have missed Fiona.
- She arrived and I called over to her. He sat and recovered for quite a while together.
- Went to another summit, nearer the West.
- Were on an extremely long chairlift to get up and realised the time was getting late!
- My energy levels were really low, had to stop a few times to get my breath.
- My left binding was getting worn out, took a lot of effort to make it clip back on with each fall.
- Walked down a couple of bits, which is tiring but faster than falling.
- Managed to ski quite a lot of moguls, dealt with some steeper slopes and winding runs.
- Couldn’t believe it was a blue run, though!
- We reached the bottom, breathless, in a different town than we were staying.
- Waited at a coach park for a bus back to Morzine.
- Bus arrived about half an hour later, with the light fading fast.
- Was quite a mission but a great sense of adventure to have made it!
- Had a lazy morning.
- Re-fitted our fire alarm which had gone off while cooking on an earlier night.
- Did our final packing and waiting for our transfer transport to arrive.
- Headed back to airport as the same quartet that we had arrived in.
The whole of the next week I was walking with a great posture, a clear head and a constant sense that my horizons had been broadened. Everything had turned out well.
There were so many great moments, great people and great emotions that this blog entry took a month and a half to complete!
New Government, New War (11th March 2011)
EU leaders had an emergency meeting and will to go to war if the unfavoured North African and Middle-Eastern governments continue to resist the militant factions. It’s beyond any doubt: the EU will force regime change. That usually comes with a side of American support.
It will happen via an international war if the rebels don’t manage it themselves via the civil war. Either way, the big players are ready, waiting and willing to get what they want.
If we weren’t the tinderbox which started these civil wars, we’re certainly the fuel which keeps it burning. The endgame seems ever-more inevitable, now our politicians are clumsily trying to accelerate the victory.
A Word from Noam Chomsky (17th April 2011 )
Just today I noticed On Libya and the Unfolding Crises, which is an interview by Noam Chomsky from 30th March 2011.
There was no effort to institute a no-fly zone. The triumvirate at once interpreted the resolution as authorizing direct participation on the side of the rebels. A ceasefire was imposed by force on Qaddafi’s forces, but not on the rebels. On the contrary, they were given military support as they advanced to the West, soon securing the major sources of Libya's oil production, and poised to move on.
[…] In the case of Iraq, the goals were those that were finally conceded. In the case of Libya, it is likely that the goal is similar in at least one respect: the hope that a reliable client regime will reliably supported Western goals and provide Western investors with privileged access to Libya’s rich oil wealth - […]
[…] it anticipates that the intervention may leave Libya with "two states, a rebel-held oil-rich East and a poverty-stricken, Qadhafi-led West … Given that the oil wells have been secured, we may find ourselves facing a new Libyan oil emirate, sparsely inhabited, protected by the West and very similar to the Gulf's emirate states." Or the Western-backed rebellion might proceed all the way to eliminate the irritating dictator.
Obviously he’s said it all far better and with a great deal more credibility and detail than I was able to. The rest of this blog entry is as I wrote it at the time.
France recognised the rebels as being a government! This is like a work of fiction.
That didn’t happen when Iraqi citizens protested the Coalition’s outright invasion of their home territory. Didn’t happen when they got organised and brought in foreign help to get their nation back.
What’s the difference? My guess is that we set it in motion, using protesters as pawn. We’ll go in to collect our reward, under the guise of humanitarian aid and ‘Security’. That part will be eerily similar to the Iraq War.
Glimmer of Hope
The Independent’s website has the sort of article I should be seeing everywhere: America’s Secret Plan to Arm Libya’s Rebels. The headline is more sensational than the content but there are some intriguing insights.
“War: What is it good for?”
TV and radio have virtually been cheering on the rebels, from what I’ve seen.
Where are the anti-war protesters in all of this? War is a bad thing. The media has been telling their viewers war is good, encouraging, positive. They are supporting the protesters, even wishing them well.
Ministry of Truth
Has our population been conned by the blanket of Coalition propaganda? If so… well… one can only admire (and detest, in equal measure) how the intelligence services are actually living up to their name, this time around.