Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Cheer at Scrooge Castle

Come to our house fo Christmas Cheer

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Frontyard Christmas Campfire.

The age of digital photography comes of age. A picture of two other photographers reviewing their latest.....
Who documents the documentors?
The Gods smiled upon our Carol singing gathering, providing
a truly stille nacht - Not a breath of wind,
truly 'acoustic' music accompanied by a foot-powered harmonium.
And a smokeless fire of ashwood. Much song and conversation and very little digital camera use....

Monday, December 18, 2006

Everything in Season

All natural ingredients
All natural ingredients

Season's Greetings!Season's Greetings!

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all . . .

and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make Scotland great, (not to imply that Scotland is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only country in Great Britain), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Finally Got Images to Work!

Panorama of Urr Valley from North Glen
Panorama from North Glen, overlooking the double bend of the Urr Water
One of my friends tucks into free peanuts
Red Squirrel at North Glen
Panorama from Hog house Hill Looking towards Screel Hill and Bengairn.
Panorama from Hog house Hill Looking towards Screel Hill and Bengairn. North Glen so small as to be invisible beyond the river
Click for full size

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Two Beardies

Old man in the woods with a rude pot
This posting is simply a method of getting images onto blogger so that one of them can be used for profile. The editing of this supposedly 'beta' version is atrocious! Perhaps it will improve, but who knows.....
Osama bin Laden from a newspaper

Friday, December 08, 2006

Windows On Your World

Office and desk at 5PM December 5th 2006

This is my contribution to the BBC Radio 4 PM Programme "Windows On Your World" mass observation exercise. 4000 pictures taken at 17:00 GMT December 5th, 2006.

What are you seeing right now?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

946 Words in Your Ear

Globalisation seems to be an attempt to override the traditional wisdom that the most important determinants of property value are location, location, and location. With profligate use of fossil fuels, goods and people can be moved anywhere. Living a long time in one place is a privilege granted to far too few of us these days. When one's work is also largely 'at home,' the deeper relationship to place is intensified. That this is nowadays such an uncommon boon is a mark of our times - mobility seems more highly prized than stability. I am 34 years in place.
North Glen, Overlooking the double bends of the Urr Water
Click image for full size view

The front door overlooks a tidal valley with a settlement of six thousand folk a few miles upriver and a disused ford and fishing port (now yachts & dinghies) a mile downstream (both thankfully on the other side of the river!) Half a mile downhill (but upriver) is Palnackie, which owes its existence to good anchorage and functioned as the principal port for the catchment. From the hills out back, the landscape is coastal peninsula and bay grading through arable, pasturage, and forested hills which rise steeply above treeline to 1250 feet.

It would be difficult not to become deeply attached to such a place. Sadly, many of our young are unable to remain. The dominant economic assumptions and the imperative of mobility draw them off and we maintain our low but stable population largely by importing silvertips who can afford to live here without paid work.

The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright is over one-third forest (if the term is used loosely enough to include conifer plantations) and over the years, I have developed a deep interest in the trees which are the nearest and most numerous of my neighbours above the scale of birds and mice. For so long-lived a clan, however, the tree folk have few really old members hereabouts. Yet, timber harvesting is expected to double in the next fifteen years, the optimum lifespan of a Sitka Spruce being reckoned at forty five years.

There is considerable discussion and debate on the strategies appropriate for forested land, whether more land should be forested, and appropriate objectives for such afforestation. From the trees which currently cover one sixth of Scotland, only one Scot in five hundred is employed. Best estimates are that fewer than one in fifty jobs locally is provided by the trees who occupy one third of the land. There would seem a strong argument that any public money in the sector should be targeted towards developing forests with more direct benefits to people, particularly those who live (or wish to live) in close proximity to forests.

"Thus, at the heart of the Strategy there must be a strategic direction: - to ensure that forestry in Scotland makes a positive contribution to the environment. ...This must recognise the need to ensure that Scotland's trees, woods and forests are located and managed for long term sustainability and biodiversity in order to make the maximum contribution to the environment consistent with agreed economic objectives." (1)

But it is apparent that the Forestry Commission, who manage the public estate, and their private sector colleagues are constrained by such "agreed economic objectives" which require maximum mechanisation and upgrading public roads to carry the heaviest lorries and machinery. "If vehicles are overloaded this process [road damage and deterioration] is accelerated. Studies over many years have shown that the damage caused is proportional to the fourth power of the weight. [emphasis added]" (2) Thus, putting twenty tonne load limits on rural roads would remove almost 94% of the damage . It would also involve twice as many jobs for lorry drivers and increase the cost of timber haulage, as opposed to externalising the social and economic cost of roads onto local authorities (communities). This is utterly rejected by the industry as harmful to competitiveness.

"Rather than presenting quick answers, as technocratic culture tends to do, we need to reflect on whether or not we are asking the right questions...[or whether] ...people ‘participate’ in a project without having to decide on the critical issues related to that project."
-- Pablo Leal (3)

It would seem that everything is up for discussion in consultation with the notable exception of "agreed economic objectives" which are obviously agreed elsewhere. That the perceived need to become competitive in the global market militates the minimisation of employment and maximisation of fossil-powered mechanisation with attendant emissions only emphasises the folly of continuing to build a global culture based on moving things and people around by burning carbon. Such thinking is not restricted to forestry or agriculture, but is visible everywhere in our heavy addiction to mobility. Transport is the sole sector expected to increase emissions of greenhouse gasses in the coming decade(s). This seems so accepted that it passes without notice in government papers. (4,5)

In short, in consultations concerned with rural development, land reform, land-use, including forestry, and probably many another, a common thread emerges, embodying the persistent fallacy that the economy contains the ecology. Sustainable development, the mantra repeatedly invoked, must in every case be subservient to "agreed economic objectives." Clearly the right questions are not yet being asked of the right folk.