Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Strumigenys sibnya Bolton 2000. Worker. Holotype, California Academy of Sciences. Collected by B. Malkin 1949, Macambrara, São Tomé.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Nothing sophisticated about cigarette lighters here ... no expensive Ronsons or classic Zippos just cheap disposable plastic lighters that tend to go bust before fuel runs out. Manufactured, like our soap, toothpaste etc, in the far east. Not sophisticated? Are you sure?

First in our selection is the bog standard disposable lighter. The strike mechanism goes kaput or the flint flies ballistically across the room before the fuel runs out ... leaving just one option - dispose of it.

Second in our selection is the bog standard lighter but with a tiny LCD light. A lighter with a light. The light components take up approximately a third of the lighter leaving a
reduced fuel capacity so the lighter function always ends before the light - my children bug me all the time for my "used" lighter. This LCD is really useful when there is a power cut and you don't have matches and a candle on hand (ok - so where the fuck did I leave the lighter?). So it is somewhat recyclable. The model in our photo seems to be aware that among its many functions, one is prejudicial to "Health". Who would buy a lighter if they didn't smoke?

So here's a bigger version. The light mechanism is completely separate from the lighter and is, as our photos show, completely detachable from the lighter. This is cool - you can throw away the lighter part when it is exhausted and keep the light. The light is more powerful than our first type. Its only disadvanatge seems to be it breaks up into its component parts when you drop it.

Our fourth lighter should not be called a cigarette lighter. The lighter comes in a series - I have three, I'm not sure if there are more or not. They don't have the immensely practical LCDs of the former two but boast fine displays of the leaf of a cannabis plant. So, rather, they are not "cigarette lighters" but rather "joint or spliff lighters".

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Giv - with Rose Oil

This is definitely one for the girls ...

"Rose oil gives a luxurious and smooth skin feeling. With feminine perfume for a romantic personality".

Although I've been using this gloriously pink addition to Giv's range of beauty products, my body hair has not diminished and Morais has not remarked on any feminine traits developing.

I have also just noticed that it is "International" (top right) ... indeed, if it makes its way from Indonesia to our tiny country of São Tomé e Príncipe!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Aphorisms XIII

"I've never done good things, I've never done bad things, I never did anything out of the blue".

David Bowie

Urban Exploration.

"a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities ... just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape."

Joseph Hart "A New Way of Walking" Utne Reader 2004

Living in a country of volcanic origin and without natural caves, I had to satisfy my trogolodyte urges (I was once a caver) via the web. I finally came across what trogolodytes, rock climbers and the simply curious do when they are limited by geographical circumstances
to urban environments. They explore their environment. Amongst the urban explorer community there is a preoccupation with buildering (climbing buildings freehand) and tunnels (river, drainage, sewage, transport, catacombs etc etc). I abseiled down a mobile telephone antenna tower, took on the tallest building in São Tomé (the apartment block on whose grondfloor was the central bank ... almost got arrested ... various bridges etc).

However, Peter Karzil took me further. As well as the "traditional" aspects of urban exploration mentioned above, through hi
s website Urban Adventure in Rotterdam (still there) now replaced by his blog of the same name. From the latter I learned the term "pyschogeography" which I promptly looked up on Wikipedia. Psychogeography was first defined in the 1950s by Chtcheglov and Debord and was principally interested in urban environments.

Although Hart's definition above limits itself to urban environments, Debord's definition of psychogeography is broader - how the geographical environment effects individuals. The writings and photos of Peter Karzil well illustrate this - human and urban influences on the rural environment and how nature adapts to and is even used in the urban environment.

The film The Tunnel took me to Silent UK's recent exploration of the UK Post Office's London underground railway system that had remained inaccessible to urban explorers for decades and decades ... since it existed!

Last week boingboing posted on Becky Stern's "visit" to the derelict Packard automobile factory in Detroit ... notable information "there were no fences or signs to warn people away" and "...included the first use of reinforced concrete for industrial construction in Detroit. When opened in 1903, it was considered the most modern automobile manufacturing facility in the world ...". Becky's flickr set is here.

These influences, combined with long term broken down motorised transport means I walk more and am renewing my interest in urban exploration (hence the post Urban Landscapes below)

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Pile of Papers

Urban Landscapes

This and the following shots are of a wonderful abandoned building in the centre of São Tomé. It belonged to the Portuguese father of a regional businessman (and friend of Morais). The groundfloor, even in my time, was a shop.

Nothing really breathtaking about this next photo but note how the horizontal beams forming an integral part of the building's superstructure, are rock!

These wonderful lamps are found hanging from buildings (and occasionally on top of a lamppost) all around the centre of the city.

This crazy window is halfway up the stairs to my office.

Yes, the Chinese still make paraffin tilly lamps!

An abandoned electricity sub-station with appropriate warnings.

The climate and nature's microorganisms make art.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Art Gallery

Here's some artwork Jaime and Kezia left on my computer - I have just discovered it. I think it's kind of cool.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

MPs put the boot in ... again

Now the UK Parliament's Public Accounts Committee produces The National Programme for IT in the NHS: an update on the delivery of detailed care records systems.

This follows on from last week's report by the Public Administration Select Committee A Recipe for Rip-Offs - Time for a new approach which we reported on here.

The latest report (again only in html) recommends that the detailed care record database system is scrapped according to the BBC piece.

Ironic that on the one hand eveyone is condemning Tory-Lib proposals for NHS reform and on the other the NHS IT initiative, in its many aspects, is coming under such flack.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kezia's First Rorshach

A bird, an orchid ...? Morais thought a bird or an aeroplane. But the two blue blodges at the top reminded him of people genuflecting. What does it remind you of? All suggestions both beautiful and profane are welcome!

Certainly more colourful than Rorshach's mask in The Watchmen which was constantly changing ...

"The fluids remained in constant motion, being affected by heat and pressure, however the black and white colors never combined to form gray. The patterns formed by the fluids also maintained a constant symmetrical pattern down the midline of whatever shape the fabric had been formed into."

One of my favourite novels.


And check out Rorschmap here and here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Jaime's 12th

Jaime was 12 years old on Saturday.

Nanda forgot to bring 12 birthday candles ... so he had to make do with one whopper!