It’s been over 4 years after President Bush stood aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln under a huge “Mission Accomplished” banner a declared victory in the Iraq war. Since that declaration 3659 American troops have been killed along with a far higher number of Iraqi people, and the country has descended into civil war.
I’m not much of a gardener and the little I do lacks any kind of the planning and science my Dad applies to gardening, I’m more of a ‘stick it in the ground and see what happens’ kind of guy. I’ve had a lot of success with that method too, from caster plants to canna’s, it seems that anything I stick in a pot seems to grow.
The truth is I find gardening a little tedious because I like to see results quickly. With that in mind I planted a few sunflower seeds earlier this year and was quickly rewarded with fast growing plants. Not being much of a gardener I had no idea when these sunflowers would actually flower though. But in the last few weeks they’ve produced bright yellow flowers that tower over my garden.
It’s the second time I’ve tried to grow a number of sunflowers. Some years ago I planted about 170 and had about 100 grow. They got to about 3-4 feet tall as I jetted off to the States for summer. On my return I expected to see my garden alive with the bright yellow flowers or at least very close to that state. However when I arrived home the sunflowers were gone and all evidence of the existence was gone. After a little investigating I learned that my gardener had pulled them all up thinking they were “weeds.” I was not impressed.
I’m not sure what the record height for sunflowers is, and while I am pretty sure mine are no where near record breaking height I am still impressed as to just how tall they’ve become. The tallest one tops out at 11ft (3.35m)!
My local paper ran a competition recently for readers to send in pictures of themselves by their sunflowers. If the average age of those who entered the competition wasn’t about six I might have been tempted to enter. For now I’m just content to post a few pictures here and hear how you’ve all grown sunflowers when you were kids but now you’ve grown up you don’t do that anymore! Maybe next year I’ll borrow a child so I can enter the local sunflower competition, although do you think that would that be considered cheating?
I’ve been digitizing a load of old home video recently and came across some footage I had shot back in 1999 in New York City. In it there are various clips I shot while at the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
Unfortunately most of what I filmed back then was useless due to the fact that I seemed incapable of holding the camera still and clearly had a fascination with excessive zooming in and out. This meant that watching long portions of pretty much any video I shot back then would most likely leave me feeling dizzy and generally off color. However, due to the fact they’re no longer there, I wanted to try and salvage a little of my footage from the World Trade Center, especially since standing at the top of one of those world famous towers had been a goal of mine ever since I was a kid.
Below is the footage that I salvaged (and yes the final clip is stock video). Coupled with just one picture of me on the roof taken by a stranger (on account of the fact my friend Anne wouldn’t come up there with me because she was scared of heights), it’s the only evidence that I have that proves I did in eventually get to stand on the roof of one of those evocative towers. It’s not much I know, but it’s enough for me.
Okay, this is a morbid question, but if you were a death row prisoner what would you request as your last meal?
I only ask this because I just found a strangely interesting blog called ‘Dead man eating‘ that chronicles the last meal orders of American death row prisoners. Here you can learn, for example, that Darrel Grayson who was executed in Alabama on July 26th, had a final meal request of an egg and cheese omelette and fresh sliced tomatoes.
Maybe the last meal choice of a condemned person gives you a tiny snapshot into who that person was. Frank Welch, who was executed on August 21st in Oklahoma, requested a large super supreme pizza and a two-liter bottle of Coke.
On July 11th, Elijah Page became South Dakota’s first execution in 60 years. Page was convicted of a quite horrific murder. According to ‘Dead man eating‘ Page had a final meal request of steak with A-1 sauce, jalapeno poppers with cream sauce, onion rings, and a salad with cherry tomatoes, ham chunks, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and blue cheese and ranch dressing. He wanted lemon iced tea and coffee to drink and ice cream for dessert. Curiously enough though, for a man who had plenty to say when he was asked what he wanted for his final meal, he had nothing to say when he was asked if he had any last words. “No.” He answered. Asked if he understood the question Page responded, “Yes, no last words.”
I’m so glad I’m not a high schooler anymore because tomorrow is the first day back at school for many kids across the UK. The long summer holiday is over and a new school year begins. I hated the first day of school, and I hated every single day thereafter! School never engaged me and I served my time in education like a bank robber serves time in jail.
I’m sure there have been many leaps and bounds made in education since I was in high school. But back then I loathed the fact that I was measured by nothing more than my ability to score well in academic tests that ignored so much of who I was and who I believed I could be. I rebelled against a system that seemed crippled and unable to recognize or place any worth in the creative subjects I excelled in and enjoyed.
In the video below Sir Ken Robinson asserts that the traditional education systems of the world educate people out of their creativity. In his talk he makes a compelling and entertaining case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it. With ample anecdotes and witty asides, Robinson points out the many ways our schools fail to recognize, much less cultivate, the creative talents of many.
“[Children] are not frightened being wrong. Now, I don’t mean to say that being wrong is same as being creative, but what we do know is: if you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original… and by the time they get to be adults, most of the kids have lost that capacity.” Says Robinson.
No matter if you loved or loathed school, I seriously recommend taking 18 minutes out of your day to watch this talk given by Sir Ken Robinson TED in 2006.