Monday, 30 April 2012

Z is for Zion


Zion can mean different things to different people. The three pictures above all represent Zion. In many ways the images are connected. They suggest the idea that Zion is place of strength, safety and beauty for all.

Iron like Lion in Zion.(stength) Bob Marley
Bob Marley is probably the most famous Rastafarian, a movement established in the 1930's with the aim of repatriating its members, to their ancestral  home lands of Ethiopia. A place known to them as Zion.

The City of Zion. (safety) The Matrix triology
The Matrix mixes religious ideas on too many levels to document in one blog, but just look at the name. "Matrix" appears 5 times in the Old Testament and means womb, fitting the films idea of humans being grown in artificial wombs. The humans in the film defend their city of Zion.

Zion National Park. (beauty) Utah
Never been to Zion National Park, but the pictures look amazing, certainly looks beautiful to me.

Having said all this, my thoughts are not so much about specific places, but more about a state of mind. It is possible to make where ever you are, a Zion like place. It is about how you behave and treat others. I suppose these thoughts are because of my underlying faith and association with a church that teaches such. I do think however, it is not hard for anyone to agree that the world would be a better place, if we all strived to be like the people described below.

"And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them."  (Moses 7.18)

Imagine if we all strived to be of one heart and one mind, if we all dwelt in righteousness and if we elevated the poor among us? I think we would be pretty close to creating a little bit of Zion on earth, a place of strength, safety and beauty??

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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Y is for YouTube

Thanks to Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, former employees of Paypal the world now has YouTube. launched in 2005 YouTube is now a household name and forms part of many a bloggers post.

During the 2012 April 2012 challenge I have used a fair few videos embeded from YouTube myself including some of my own and many from other people that have uploaded their creations to the site. To mark the post Y is for YouTube a couple of weeks ago I created a new video. Some of you may have noticed it at the top right column of my blog. I couldn't resist putting it up.

The video is a film I made of a Fire one evening last year. The text is overlaid using Windows live Movie Maker that comes free with windows 7 and the music is done using the YouTube audio swap function.

Y is for YouTube

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Friday, 27 April 2012

X is for ..

       Just say what you see !

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Thursday, 26 April 2012

W is for Wicked

Wicked... An excellent night out !

I'm through accepting limits
'Cuz someone says they're so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I'll never know!

One of my favourite songs!

But Remember popularity ends on year book day... Respect lasts forever (John Bytheway)

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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

V is for Vampire

Ever since William John Polidori penned "The Vampyre" in 1819, legends of the undead feeding on the life force of the living, generally by drinking their blood has captivated the western world. It is true, as Bella Swan found out, if you Google Vampire you find much older stories of the myth. But it would seem William Polidori took the legends and firmly created the genre we now have.

Bram Stokers Dracula certainly added a popular twist, with vampires being cloaked and sleeping in coffins for many stories and authors thereafter.

As a 21 year old, that has been 21 for 23 years, my experience with vampire movies has seen some changes. I guess my first experience was with "the Lost Boys" in 1987. These guys were too cool to wear cloaks and came across as the cool undead not the cold undead

By 1997 things had got a little more gritty and rough with "An Interview with a vampire" in which an all star cast showed vampires as a pretty debauched bunch.

Some where along the line we started to accept it was okay to be a vampire and still be a good guy. Amid the TV show that was "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" we find Angel and Spike who are more team Buffy than you would expect (1997) This was soon followed in 98 by Blade the son of a vampire who like Buffy, but not as hot, takes on the entire vampire world

Then of recent times Vampires have taken yet another twist, rather than being aides to a slayer they have become the real good guys, they can now go out from the shadows and sparkle in the sun. Cue the family Cullen.

So we see vampires are becoming softies, there is hope for world peace yet !

Which type of Vampire do you prefer ?

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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

U is for Unstoppable

If you have seen any of my previous A-Z posts you may realise I like trains, so when a film came out last year that was inspired by the real life events of a runaway train and it included one of Mrs RJRs favourite actors Denzel Washington. it promised to be a family winner.

For various reasons we didn't get to see it on the big screen so had to await its DVD release. Eagerly I brought it home and stuck it in the player with the surround sound on high. The kids kicked up a fuss " A film about a train ?" but as there was no better night life on offer, they settled down on the sofa in our dark living room and watched.

Mrs RJR would have watched Denzel in a room with no other cast for 90 minutes so her opinion is invalid. Strangely the kids were captivated and at points literally on the edge of their seat. At a one point, one even went to make drinks to ease the tension. Me, I though it was an excellent film, well made and well written. So if you have a free evening its a "recommend"


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Monday, 23 April 2012

T is for Taxman

If you are in gainful employment you like me, will have a relationship with ..."THE TAXMAN"

Given "HE" has such an influence in all our lives
T had to be for TAXMAN

Before you think I am going to get all political on you, I'm not. like most people I don't like paying tax but do like using the public services it provides. There is a balance to be had in their some where. Today's post however has no intentions of solving global financial problems. Instead here is the Beatles singing Taxman.

This song was written and released when top earners were paying a tax rate of 95% (combined tax and national insurance) hence the line "let me tell you how it will be, there's one for you nineteen for me"


Not a Beatles fan? Perhaps the following version by Rockwell is more to your liking?
This was released in 1984, the year I left school and started paying THE TAXMAN

Still not got one to your liking?
How about the next version "recorded" by President Obama?

Just so you know I don't follow American politics enough to be making this as a Political statement.
I just couldn't find such a good remix from a UK politician !

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Sunday, 22 April 2012

Brit Mums - Dads Group Blog Hop

BritMums Association of Dads
Last Sunday I started a Linky List for a blog Hop today.

The purpose was to give members of the Brit Mums - Dads Group a chance to find each others blog's and get to know a bit more about each other.

Hopefully this will not be the last activity to promote the group.

If you are here as part of the list, feel at home and have a nosey around. I am currently involved in the April A-Z challenge of 26 posts in April, each one inspired by a letter of the alphabet. So that will explain why a lot of my recent posts start with titles such as "S is for Simon's Cat"

If you are here for the A-Z challenge and happen to be a Dad, then sign up for the day, a mini hop will keep your hand in for tomorrows "T is for..."

% Questions for the Hop..

Why do you blog?
I blog for a couple of reasons. At first I blogged to empty my head and to straighten my thoughts, I then found that I enjoyed sharing my thoughts with others. I also enjoy the sense of community that blogging gives. I have connected with some great people through blogging.

If you could choose a performer to see in concert who would it be?
When I was a teenager I passed up the chance to see U2 at Manchester Apollo, a small venue which was probably all they could fill at the time. Several years ago they came to what is now the Etihad Stadium. My friend and I talked about going but at the time couldn't justify the price of the tickets. So on the night, we sat in the back of his pick up truck in Asda Walmart car park, next door to the stadium. We couldn't see the show but heard it all!! The two of us finally got to see them at Sheffield Don Valley when they did the 360 tour a couple of years later. It was amazing. If I could go to any concert tonight ... It would be U2 again.

How is your blog influenced by you being a Dad?
I am not a dedicated parenting blogger, however with three teenage children ages 18,16 and 13 everything I do in life is influenced by being a Dad. Blogging is no exception. Occasional posts talk about the kids, sometimes I write about family life, but even when the topic is nothing to do with being a parent, it is written as a parent.

What is your favourite film?
Avatar is probably my favourite at the moment, love the look the feel and the story

Who gets up for your kids in the night?
That would be me, When the kids were little I would go and get them if they needed feeding. Mrs RJR fed them and I took them back. When the boy had several years of night terrors, it was me that calmed him down and got him back to sleep. The strange thing is, now they are teenagers and sleep far more than us I struggle to get up in the night when I have to !!  The last time was when the 18yo arranged a couple of days in London with a couple of friends to see Le Mis.. I got the job of taking them to the train station for 3am !!! I was half day

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Saturday, 21 April 2012

S is for Simon's Cat

Simon's Cat, Animated by English artist Simon Tofield.

More information can be found on the Simon's Cat Website. There are a full series of videos available on YouTube by simply searching for "Simon's cat" or look on the films tab of his website.

Here are a couple of my favourites, they are only short and capture a cats antics very well.

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Friday, 20 April 2012

R is for Railways

A couple of days ago I posted M is for Models
At the risk of boring folks, today's letter is model railway related too. But just to try and keep you interested, today instead of pictures I have some videos I made.

First up is a video of a layout I built in my 8' x 6' garden shed. It is 1/72 scale

This video was the subject of a post in last years A-Z, entitled Y is for YouTube.When I posted 12 months ago it had gained 288 thousand views. The post explained some of my thoughts as to why the views were so high. As of today, it has had 590,141 views !

Next up, playing with video software I added rain...This model set up, replaced the one above in the shed

The first two videos feature mainly "out of the box" trains with detail modifications / painting and hand made scenery/buildings. The rest of the videos are of trains that I have made from scratch using sheets of plastic.

Much bigger scales can handle the snow in my garden

Of course its not always snowing.

When the kids got a trampoline, the out door line was modified as a section of it at the bottom end of the garden was in the way. In this next video you can see the line instead of looping round a rockery it now passes under the trampoline and up to the top of the garden.


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Thursday, 19 April 2012

Q is for QR Codes

They are appearing in more and more places, these little square graphics that look like a random maze for your pet ants.

QR codes are a way of sharing information quickly and easily,  I have seen them on posters, the back of buses and in magazines.

QR stands for Quick Response code and is a form of bar code. Originally used as a bar code that could hold more information than the traditional lines. They were developed to identify bins of components within the automotive manufacturing industry.
More recently QR codes have become a marketing tool, so you don't have to memorise a web URL you see on an advertisement.
With the aid of an application on your smartphone, you can scan the image below with your phone / iPad camera and it will instantly take you to my blog. How cool is that. I have seen QR codes as email footers and on websites. But I had a thought, why would you put a QR code on your website to allow people to get to your website ??

Perhaps you are showing someone my blog and they say "Hey, you will have to send me a link to that" No you don't ! Tell them to whip out their smartphone and use their QR reader app to get their own link.

Its a great marketing tool to move people from paper advertisements to an on-line site. Magazines also use them to provide additional web based information to supplement the printed text. But I am not sure they have much use for bloggers?

So have you got a QR reader on your phone and do you use it ?

QR code generated HERE
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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

P is for Pepe

P is for Pepe.

The family Hound.

Technically my Dads dog but we like to think he feels at home at our house as well.

By birth Pepe is a full blood long haired Chihuahua but by nature he is a cross between a hoover and dustbin. He eats everything and anything.

His favourite places include

  • The Boat club at Etherow Country Park
  • Sitting in my kitchen while we cook Sunday dinner each week. (Mrs RJR throws chicken bits to him)
  • Being in front of a camera
  • Coming to work with my Dad an I

So here he is, I will let him introduce himself !

I'm so pretty

What have you got??

I'm so Handsome

Go away !

Your invading my space Ruth !

Sunday afternoon with my pal Mrs RJR the source of all chicken

I can wait..... But only for so long !

Pepe that's me !

thanks to Ruth for taking most of these pictures..

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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

O is for Onomatopoeia


"the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk, or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent"

Its just one of those fun words to say..... "Onomatopoeia"

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Monday, 16 April 2012

N is for Nature and Nightscapes

Nature inspires awe,
Puts us into perspective,
Puts perspective into us


 Remember these are not animations but Timelapse photography by Tom Lowe

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Sunday, 15 April 2012

Brit Mums - Dad Group

Todays post is an invitation to a blog hop, it is aimed at Dads and in particular Dads who are members of Brit Mums.

Brit Mums is a network of 3500+ parents who blog, as the home page says...

"BritMums is the UK’s largest and most influential network of parent bloggers -- who write about everything from family life, to food, travel, health, politics, green issues and much more. Our mission is to encourage and support our members and the high quality, ethical blogging they do. We’ve been doing it since 2008 and we're passionate about it."

So why is this hop aimed at Dads... Well within Brit Mums is a small Group of Dads who are welcomed because we too are parent bloggers. Some blog purely from a parenting angle, some like myself are general bloggers who are parents and now and again, that influences what we write.

The purpose of this Hop is to allow Dads to get to know each other a  little better and also to create an easy access list of these Dads. Hopefully it will get Dads to interact with each others Blogs more, and in so doing promote the small but growing group.

Today the 15th of April the Linky List goes live, the plan is that on next Sunday the 22nd of April, all who have signed up will make a blog post with answers to the following 5 questions.

  1. Why do you blog?
  2. If you could choose a performer to see in concert who would it be?
  3. How is your blog influenced by you being a Dad?
  4. What is your favourite film?
  5. Who gets up for your kids in the night?

Simple questions, you can answer by pictures, text video. Whatever style your blog normally takes.

So here is the list, I would ask that you take the code where it says "Get the code here" and add the list to the bottom of your own answers on Sunday the 22nd of April. That will make it easier for everyone to hop from one answer to another. It would also be good if we can all use our chosen social media to spread the word about the Hop during this week. Lets Show the Mums that we can organise ourselves !

So to summarize, sign up now, use your blogs main address not a specific post, then write a post answering the questions on Sunday 22/5/12

BritMums Association of Dads

Saturday, 14 April 2012

M is for Models

M is for Models

From an early age I watched my Dad build Tamiya model kits, I remember an old fashioned Fire Engine, A Formula 1 Race car and an army jeep. Then at an age I can't remember we started building a first train set on a 6' by 4' board on my bedroom floor. That first train set, after time became a much bigger "proper" Model Railway in the spare bedroom of my parents house. Like many youth model making gets forgotten as more popular pastimes take over during high school.

But for many who have been "infected" by the model making bug, at a later point in life a relapse happens. Sometimes having children of your own reignites a desire to build, some are more honest and just take back up a model making hobby for themselves with no excuse.

I came back to model railways 5 or 6 years ago and over that time have tried various different scales and gauges and locations. Last year I had 6 months at the beginning of the year with no interest in model making and the trains in the garden shed laid dormant. In October following the loss of my mother I took up model making again, but for a change I began making Radio Controlled boats. The reason.. my Dad makes boats and it seemed a good way to spend time together. He is also an A-Z blogger HERE

So here are some of my better models and photographs.

In the picture above the class 37 loco is out of a box, but is on a scratch built viaduct inspired by Glenfinnan. This picture was taken up on Saddleworth moor to get the background and lighting

(Above) Everyone has 15 minutes of fame and I think Mossley Terrace was mine, it caught a following on several forums and has been to a few exhibitions now. The Rolling stock is Bachmann again with heavily detailed Metcalfe card kits for the terrace housing.

(Below) Mossley was also used by Model Rail magazine when the 153 was released

Next an earlier model, in fact the first "in shed" layout Springhead Junction.
 This layout has just been featured as a paid 3 page spread in a national Model Rail magazine. (Below)

Next up a dock scene from a layout I hoped to exhibit but never did (Below)

The over ridding theme is the better the light the better the picture so I prefer taking pictures outside now !

Having said I like daylight the picture above is a night shot, I liked the water puddles (varnish) spilt from the water tower. I also like the glint of light you can get off the rail tops as below..

Last up my latest model. I bought the fibreglass hull and Action Man from Ebay but everything else is home made mainly from A4 sheets of plastic.


It has been said 
 "a model is a toy that is either to expensive, or took to long to make, to allow a child to play with"
that is probably true.

So now you know my indulgence, in time and money.. What is your indulgence.

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