What A Day That Was.

Hi,

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Greetings to you, from a northern place where an early blue sky and sunshine seems to be disintegrating into a much duller sort of day…but I don’t care, because yesterday was sublime.

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We went off for the day to a place called Howick, which is set on the Northumbrian coast.

The rocks there are shale layers, and contain fossils such as Brachiopods, Trilobites and corals.

There are also the remains of trees and roots which are raised up and seem to be snaking along over the layers  of rock.

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The beach is a very small one and not beautiful in the same way as Bamburgh is, with it’s fabulous sand dunes and breathtaking long beach, but it is wild and lovely in it’s own way on that particular stretch of the coast.

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We eventually climbed up onto some rocks and sat watching the tide enthusiastically come in, while having our packed lunch of ham and tomato sandwiches, with English mustard, accompanied by four hard boiled eggs.

There was also a very welcome flask of green tea with lemon juice added to it.

I did however pack two china mugs for us because I don’t like the taste of tea in the mugs from the top of a flask.

We ate everything but the eggshells!

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It is wonderful to sit in strong sunshine and watch the sea….timeless and satisfying.

I would like to live here in the UK, by the sea, for the rest of my life, something Hadrian‘s men probably did not want to do at all.

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After looking about for fossils for a while, I decided that there was nothing very good and we walked along the clifftops, passing a surprising number of couples and even a mens’ hiking group who were gossipping and laughing, and generally making more noise than a bunch of old ladies having a good old chin-wag.

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Then, regretfully, it was getting late and we had to make the journey back home again, even though the sun was still beaming down obligingly.

What can I say….it was total perfection!

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j,x.

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What A Treasure!

Hey,

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We are now at the midpoint of the week, but I am beginning to think that the promised period of Indian Summer may not be going to happen for us.

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Yesterday was mostly cloudy and not too warm.

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We did manage to have a longish walk but I started out with a coat on, and a cardigan, and did not need to remove them until I had worked up a goodly sweat, because we were trying to keep up a quick pace.

It is wonderful to see Big H being so much more energetic now, and looking so much more normal.

Even the daily medication and the injections have just become one more ritual, in the same way as cleaning teeth or having a shower  is.

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I think that we may go to the seaside today….and look for fossils.

Many years ago I can remember being on a clifftop with Big H and the boys.

I was using my fingers to push at the shale and suddenly pulled out a really big bluey coloured ammonite, very clean and heavy.

At the time I did not know much about fossils, and therefore did not really recognise how unusual that was, although it was a very impressive thing indeed.

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It was a day I particularly remember anyway, because it was at the same time that we were at war with Argentina because Mrs Thatcher, our Prime Minister at that time, was not prepared to have them taking the Falklands from the UK.

The newspaper and television reporting was full of minute by minute updates on the hostilities and everyone felt worried about it, as our soldiers had been sent out there to fight.

Most people had not even known that we had an outpost in such a far-away place, but everyone was feeling quite patriotic about it.

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Anyway, my boys were quite young and interested in soldierly stuff.

Just after I had dug out the ammonite, there was the terrifically loud thudding of wings, and a huge helicopter suddenly appeared over the cliff and felt close enough to touch.

The doors were open and you could see that it was full of men in camouflage uniforms.

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We felt quite threatened by it, the vibrations around us being so incredibly violent.

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The boys thought that it was the Argentinians coming.

I actually needed a moment to get over the shock of their sudden appearance myself!

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As for the huge fossil I found.

It spent the next several years lying on top of the soil in a huge terracotta plantpot that had a Cheese plant in it, such plants being so incredibly popular in those days.

I eventually got sick of dusting the leaves, and stopping the dog from wrecking it, so I gave it to a neighbour….along with the fossil.

I regret that now, and I am hoping that I can now have the fun of finding myself another beauty today.

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Here’s hoping.

J.

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Scandal. Sarah Ferguson. Duchess of York

Good Morning,

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Life is indeed a funny thing.

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We sometimes make bad choices about the things that we choose to do in our lives, and then we must choose how to deal with the aftermath of them.

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Most of us get to do these things in a quiet and everyday kind of way, but some of us are in the public eye and have to deal with life under that intense scrutiny and judgement.

People like Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, who has consequently put out a book about her colourful life.

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The Scandal Breaks,

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Sarah Ferguson’s Royal Nightmare.
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Subsequent interview in Australia.
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Interview in America.
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Interview on Oprah.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.
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Still, there is always tomorrow which is quite untouched as yet!
If there is some of it that you would like to spend reading the Duchess’s book ‘Finding Sarah’, then go for it….this is a link
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Rise And Shine.

Hey,

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What an amazing start to a new week.

We all awoke to hazy blue skies and sunshine, like a faded photo of a hot summer’s day.

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The forecast says that the temperature will be very high this week , the highest for about the last 25 years or so.

Now, won’t that be nice.

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Of course, not so wonderful for those of you who have to go to work as usual, but at least the going and coming is far more pleasant, and there are also the evenings.

I am hoping that for once the experts have got it right and there will be a few more days in the garden and a couple more days at the beach before we glumly submit to the long embrace of winter.

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I have already started wondering about Christmas presents, in the hope of avoiding the worry and the annoyance of leaving such things until the last minute, only to find out that stocks have run out and then the stress really kicks in with a vengeance.

Doing it now also allows me to have time to return things to the shop if I later decide that I got carried away and bought the wrong thing for someone.

It is a problem for me because I do not always remember that just because I think that something is wonderful does not mean that it will actually be right for the intended recipient.

I mean, I know it is the thought that counts , but it is nice to also find out you have also made the right choice to please a person that you care about.

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Anyway, I seem to have got miles off the track there because it is still just a sunny Monday in late September.

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There are a few things that must be done today but apart from that ….and cutting our dandelion infested lawn at some point this week….I am happy to say that the world is definitely my lobster.

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That reminds me of something.

At the weekend I popped into the garden and saw a pigeon sitting disconsolately on one of the lower branches of a tree, with it’s head sunk down into it’s body.

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I did not go too closely, because I did not want to frighten the poor creature and force it to try and fly away, so I just had a look at it.

One dull eye opened as it kept a watch, but no otherwise there was no movement at all.

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Big H and I thought that the best thing to do was to put some water and bread at the base of the tree and leave it in peace, as the garden is very quiet and safe.

I kept an eye on the bird and waited until Big H fetched the refreshments, which I carefully and slowly placed beside the tree.

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Hopefully the bird is OK now.

We shall go and look very soon.

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So, hoping that you have a cracking day yourself!

J,x.

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An Everyman’s Protest.

Hi,

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There is a Battle Royal underway, in a small village of about 150 houses, in North Yorkshire.

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The villagers of Irton had been fighting for five years to prevent what they consider to be the wanton and unnecessary felling of their beloved Beech tree, which is growing on a grass verge at the side of the road on Main street.

The tree even has a Preservation Order on it.

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This tree is a beautiful and healthy specimen of about 50+ feet and it is a respectable 100 years of age.

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The problem was reported to have begun in 2006 when a Mr and Mrs Hazelwood moved into a house on Main Street, next to the tree in question.

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They applied to have the tree felled because it was undermining their driveway and damaging their front wall and their drains.

In their opinion it was also causing a danger to passing traffic.

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At some point in this long saga, they were also said to have applied for planning permission to build four new houses on their site.

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Although the local Parish Council and the villagers wanted their tree to be left alone, and even drew up petitions to support this, along with the tree having been put under a Preservation Order, it was eventually a hopeless fight.

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This defeat was possible because the verge that the tree grows on came under the jurisdiction of the North Yorkshire County Council, who agreed with the couple who wanted the tree removed.

The whole process having been reported to have cost more than quarter of a million pounds.

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There was a terrific amount of distress in the village and everyone was upset to think of the imminent destruction of such an historic and well-loved tree.

The whole, fully detailed story up to this point, can be found in this link to a report in the Yorkshire Post.

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However, Mark Snow, 36, a self-employed carpenter, had suddenly had enough.

He was going to make a last stand to save the tree.

So, instead of going to work that day, he took a few bits and pieces, climbed up the tree and chained himself there, in protest at such a desecration….and he had no intention of coming down again ’til the tree could be saved.

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It was a master-stroke which has successfully delayed the process, because the Council had to decide what action to take to make sure that their hated order was carried out.

At the moment they are said to be arranging for an injunction to be served on the determined protestor…a man who will refuse to come down, whatever they try to do to force the issue.

And he is not alone.

The villagers support Mark, reportedly to the extent of him having a 24 a day hour group of people guarding the base of the tree, and winching up supplies and food to support him in his heroic vigil.

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I think that he is doing a wonderful thing to try and save something that almost no-one wants to see being destroyed, and to make a point that sometimes the ordinary man will be forced to action by the senseless decisions of council ‘jobsworths’ who need a good shake.

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What is the good of a Tree Preservation Order, and the distress of local people about something that truly matters to them, if such things can be allowed to happen.

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Good Luck to Mark Snow …. an ordinary man and a bit of a hero!!!!

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Spontaneous Human Combustion. Real Life Is Stranger Than Fiction.

Hello Folks,

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Well, today I have something very weird to write about, something most definitely meant to be added to my Mysteries And Wonderments section.

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Life can be so mysterious at times.

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In 2010, on December 22nd, it seems that a very strange and rare thing happened in a place called Ballybane in Galway, Ireland.

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A 76 year old gentleman called Michael Faherty was found burned to death in his sitting room near to the open fireplace which had a cheery fire burning in it.

But Mr Faherty’s body was almost burned away, although the only signs of this tragedy having taken place in the room was that there were scorch marks visible on the floor under the body and the ceiling above.

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When forensics experts looked at the scene, they reported that although a fire had been burning in the fireplace, it had not caused the intense fire that had killed the victim.

It is would seem that a fire which was intense enough burn a body in that way, would have spread into the house and not just scorched the ceiling and floor, given the fact that a human body is not the most combustible of things.

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In the end the Coroner had to decide that the only possible explanation for the death was ‘spontaneous human combustion’ and he acted accordingly.

This is thought to be the first time that such a verdict has been given in Ireland.

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However, although it is a strange thing, it is not the first time that this has been given as a cause of death.

There have been many such rare and strange instances reported to have taken place over the years, some of them relatively recent.

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In 1951 there was a case in Florida.

A lady in her sixties called Mrs Mary Reeser was found burned to a crisp in her armchair.

There was a burnt area on the floor which enclosed the unfortunate lady’s remains and those of the armchair she must have been sitting in when the fire began.

It was said that her skull had been subjected to such fierce heat that it had been shrunken down to the size of a grapefruit, which takes a phenomenal level of heat.

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Strangely enough her slipper was lying totally undamaged just outside of the scorched area, as was a pile of newspapers.

No-one who saw the scene in the room could provide the explanation although many tried..

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There were many others including a Dr. Irving Bentley in 1966 ( see picture ), Anna Martin in 1957, Mrs Stanley Lake in 1930, J.Temple Thurston in 1919 and Mrs Thomas Cochrane in 1904.

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The first account of SHC is thought to be that of a lady living in Paris in 1663, which was reported by a Thomas Bartholin.

In some reported cases only the body was said to have been burned while the clothes remained untouched, or where the cushions found cushioning the body were totally unscathed by the conflagration, or even cases where the burning takes place only on one half of the body.

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Many experts have tried to explain the phenomenon by citing various causes, such as the dead people having been drinking excessively or falling asleep while smoking, but of course that would only be a possibility where a victim smoked or drank in the first place, and would not explain the ferocity of the sudden fire or it being limited only a small area or even just to the person themselves.

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It is a mystery and a wonderment indeed.

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Oooohhhhhh.

J,

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These strange occurrences have happened all over the world and are similarly strange.

Spontaneous human combustion has also been used to great effect in fiction written by authors such as

 

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.

Hi to all of you musical folks.
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As you know, like all of you I have my favourite songs, and the The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ is one of them.

But which version is the best, as so many excellent singers have brought their own style to it over the past forty years or so.
And it is still current!

The Stereophonics are always incredibly individual and most excellent, and this is their take on the classic.
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George Michael.
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Roberta Flack.
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Celine Dion.
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Johnny Mathis.
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Peter Blakeley.
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Gordon Lightfoot.
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Johnny Cash.
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Foe me the winner is George Michael!…..or should it be The Stereophonics….or….Arghhhhh!
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Ahhhhhh, they are all so good.
J.
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So who do YOU think does it best?
Unfortunately it is definitely not me!

J.
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Clever Hobbitses.

Hi,

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As you were rushing to leave home today, have you ever given a thought to the reasons why many of us are always tiredly dashing off to work.

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Is it to pay the large mortgage upon one of the huge structures that we are encouraged to aspire to, with some houses now being created to give many thousands of square feet of stylish living space.

But, do we actually need it all….just think of all of that troublesome maintenance, the never-ending housework and the huge utility bills….and the stress of forever providing the required monies .

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Some people have had enough….and finally opted out.

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There is now a movement towards living more modestly, as part of the earth.

More like a Hobbit in fact!

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Like this Hobbit-type place in the Cotswolds.

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Tony Wrench built the Roundhouse in Scotland, and it was finally allowed to stay, after a long fight.

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I must admit that quaintness does appeal to me a lot, and grass roofs….and less housework!!!!!!

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Recently, an enterprising gentleman, called Simon Dale,  has completed an organic, self-designed and built, Hobbit-type home for his family, who were camped out nearby until the structure was finished to a point which would allow them to move inside.

He began by digging a hole into a hillside in Wales, using only simple tools and materials, water sourced from a local spring, plus belief in his own capabilities….and he was done in four months flat.

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And it only cost him £3,000.

Whoaaah!.

This is a link to a marvellous piece, with great pictures, which is Simon Dale’s website…..well worth looking at!

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And there are many others too!

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Hobbit House in North-West Montana.

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A different version.

The Tumbleweed Tiny House….a very green option! .

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A tiny Cobb house.

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Or do it the simple way!

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Of course, you could also be just be like Dan Price, the writer, and build yourself a home from an 8′ hole in the ground.

Here is the link to the YouTube video showing his home.

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So, do you wanna buy one yourself?

Follow this link.

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Have a good day in Middle Earth youself!

J,x.

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Naked Dance.

Good Morning,
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As you know, I like doing figurative art…and find the human body to be beautiful in many ways and applications.
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Especially in the art-forms of dance.
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Such as sculptures, as wonderfully depicted in ….
Degas’s Naked Ballerinas.
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I find this beautiful too….for me, hardly just Go-Go dancers.
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Dance Solo Of Sylvania Pen By Henrik Kaalund.
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And, as always, there is the other side of the coin.
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Compliments of Dale.
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It is that whole human experience!
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If you don’t want a problem day…. then get dressed first!
J.
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MABEL: I Robot.

Hello,

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Something a bit different from the usual today.

It is about robots….and no, I am not talking about our current crop of politicians.

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Researchers in development at the University of Michigan have created MABEL.

MABEL being a two legged robot which is now being put through it’s paces.

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It can run at 6.8mph, which is a very impressive record for a bi-pedal machine.

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The people who developed this robot are confident that it will lead to great things.

They foresee this as leading to wonderful applications which will benefit mankind.

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Perhaps as exoskeletons which will enable paralysed people to walk around.

Or, as leading to wonderful prosthetics.

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Perhaps this type of development will lead to them being used for rescue in disasters or fires  and their strength should be amazing.

You must want to see it in action, so here it is.

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MABEL runs free.

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MABEL’s first attempt at walking over rough ground.
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Of course, not all applications will be peaceful ones….so how about an army of Russian Combat Robots.
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Japan. Robots of the future, to aid an ageing population.

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Science never stops advancing does it!

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Have an inventive day yourself.
Jaksie,x.
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