Friday, December 31, 2004

An Act of Optimism


Tina and Mel
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
I eventually escaped from a cold rainy UK and flew from Heathrow to sunny San Diego, California instead of travelling back directly to Seattle. The purpose of this diversion was to attend the wedding of my old friend Mel Muzio.

I met Mel in 1992 when I was looking for someone to restore my E type Jag (THAT will be the topic of another post). After auditioning quite a few workshops I came across Mel in San Marcos. We immediately hit it off and I recognized him as a kindred spirit and fellow petrol head. Most of all it was apprent that he was totally honest and clearly knew his stuff.

Over the next few years we became firm friends. In the late 1990s the spectre of marital difficulties appeared and Mel underwent a painful and acrimonious divorce: a process that lasted more than three years. But every cloud has a silver lining. Sometime into his separation Mel met Tina, a delightful lady who, like himself originally hailed from England. I watched the romance blossom and wasn't in the least bit surprised when Mel announced, after his divorce was eventually finalized, that he and Tina were going to get remarried.

So on a lovely December Saturday afternnon that he and Tina tied the knot. The service was held at the poolside of their mountain top retreat by a female minister who reminded me of "The Vicar of Dibley" (I don't know why as she bore no physical resemblance to Dawn French -maybe it was her mannerisms?!). Mel and Tina were both very emotional and I have to say appear very well suited. Both said to me privately "this is it!" (meaning for life) and I have no doubts they will succeed. In any case I wish them the best of luck for the future. Mel's son Chris, who was best man, summed things up succinctly (if not exactly diplomatically) in his speech when he announced "She's a lot better than the last one...!" I formally second this motion.

After the wedding I dragged my suitcase full of dirty clothes back to Seattle where it was raining. I was charged $25 for excess baggage (the Tesco Chrismas Pudding I acquired in England tipped the balance) and I'd devloped a cold. Back to reality with a vengeance!

Peace!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tsunami


Tsunami Map
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
The magnitude and horror of the SE Asia earthquake and tsunami defies belief. With a projected 100,000 fatalaties this is three times more than the infamous Krakatoa eruption of 1883. This is definitely the greatest natural disaster of my lifetime. I feel quite numb about it and wish I could do something about it other than send some money to a relief agency. When I retire I shall consider joining Medecins Sans Frontieres or similar organization.

I have "borrowed' the map from Reuters: the original source is UNOSAT. It illustrates those countries most affected by the Tsunami. It also illustrates approximate land coverage under 30 meters elevation as a zone of potential Tsunami damage. A full size version is available here.

Peace!

Enough is Enough!


John and Jack 1977
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
I think I've written quite enough about my DSc so this will be my final major posting on the topic. Actually all I want to do is thank everyone who helped me throughout the course of my career. So I've simply lifted the "Acknowledgements" section from the front of the thesis and posted it below. Oh and I've added a photo of Jack Harris and myself taken at a conference in Aberdeen, circa September, 1977. Jack looks young and I look younger -not to mention that "deer caught in the headlights" look. Incidentally, I think those wide ties are back in fashion again...!
-----------
Acknowledgements

This volume of published material represents work carried out over a period spanning nearly three decades. Its compilation has been something of a reflective process and I feel I should pay tribute to some of the individuals who greatly influenced my scientific development and played key roles in my career. Thus I thank and acknowledge the following:

Professor David Lloyd, University of Wales, Cardiff, for helping me take my first steps in research and suggesting that I should embark on PhD studies.

Dr Jack Harris, University of Plymouth, for mentoring me through my postgraduate studies, instilling me with self-belief in my work and providing me with an early insight into the machinations of the scientific establishment.

Professor Ivan Roitt, University College London School of Medicine, for demonstrating sheer passion for science as well as teaching me the value of tenacity.

Professor David Isenberg, University College London School of Medicine, for educating me in many medical matters as well as helping to show me the value of teamwork in research; also for providing unfailing moral and career support over the years.

Professor Jay Levy, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, for training me to think about the "big biological picture" and educating me about retrovirology.

Dr Nabil Hanna, IDEC Pharmaceuticals, San Diego, for demonstrating very clearly, that the simple approach to product discovery is the best.

Professor Pierre Youinou, Centre Hospitalier RĂ©gional et Universitaire, Brest, Dr Syamal Raychaudhuri, InBios International, Seattle and Professor George Attard, University of Southampton, for excellent, productive and highly enjoyable collaborations over the years.

All under- and post-graduate students who trusted me to supervise them. Not only did they contribute to my career through their diligence and productivity but they provided me with a constant source of scientific and technical education. Particular mention must be made of Dan Mayes, Chris Swanson, Jacques Homsy, Marcia Wharton, Isabelle Gaston, Tony Ng, Elizabeth Ross, Nadeem Sheikh, Palsingam "Nathan" Rajananthanan, Uzma Hasan and Caterina Hatzifoti. My apologies go to any I may have forgotten.

Finally, I cannot complete this section without mentioning my father, the late A. W. Morrow. He was a virologist by training and worked extensively on Foot and Mouth disease vaccines. Not only did he teach me patience and thoroughness but throughout my formative years provided me with a constant stream of information about microbiological topics. Despite making a great effort in my teenage years to resist following the same paternal pathway, the combination of nature and nurture proved too difficult to oppose. Indeed it was more than a little eerie to discover quite recently that at the end of his career my father was working in the exact same field as I am now (i.e. saponin-like antigen delivery systems). Overall he provided a wonderful example of how inspiration can be achieved through quiet and compassionate leadership: a model I can only hope to emulate.

I am indebted to Sally Warrington and Barbara Droker for helping to compile this volume.

-------------

Peace!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Pomp and Circumstance


Hard to believe that it's been almost two weeks since my big day -doesn't time go quickly when you are having fun (or at least busy).

December 15th was a cold foggy morning in Plymouth. The commute from Jack's house was difficult and the traffic in Plymouth was appalling. After a bit of hooligan driving and storming through a University traffic barrier (than goodness for the VIP parking permit we had for the day) we arrived just in time to get the bus to the Plymouth Pavilions where the award was being held. Plymouth has changed a lot, and mostly for the better, in the 30 years since my student days. But the Pavilions, which were probably a welcome addition to the town in the late 70s, can best be described as "naff". A leisure centre complete with ice rink and an auditorium for rock concerts: not really the best place for a dignified ceremony. Oh well...

Having collected my academic finery (and it really was nice: I now completely understand why Ede & Ravenscroft charge £800 for a DSc gown, hood and cap) I dressed up and was descended upon by numerous smiling individuals who had been delegated to ensure my well being, take my photograph or wanted an interview for the local press. I was also asked to process with the senior staff of UoP and receive my award from the stage. After much clapping (well done Plymouth, you turn out A LOT of great graduates these days) it was my turn. Being the most senior awardee I was presented to the Vice Chancellor dead last. I stood while an embarrassing list of "achievements" was read out. The certificate was presented by the VC, Roland Levinsky and also Jack which was a nice touch.

After the ceremony we decamped to the University where a pretty good lunch was laid on for the VC and other dignitaries. One of the honorary degrees was to Derek O'Neill of surf boards and apparel fame. A nice unassuming bloke considering he must be worth a Zillion dollars. Plymouth runs a well-subscribed degree in "Surf Science" and hence the connection [pseudo-political comment: I totally fail to understand how such degrees remain viable when we are closing down chemistry and physics departments right, left and centre].

All in all it was a fantastic day and I felt honoured, appreciated and respected. Definitely my 15 minutes of fame! I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Jack Harris and all my other mentors for helping me get this far -in fact I think I'll write a full posting to them on another occasion.

Peace!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Jack the Lad

With Jack Harris (L)
I really should say a little about my PhD mentor, Jack Harris. Jack (on left in photo) is really the reason why I'm back in Plymouth. If it hadn't been for his encouragement and direction 30 years ago I may not have climbed to my current dizzy heights of academic achievement! Herr..humm! Seriously though, Jack was a wonderful supervisor. He always steered me in the right direction without ever resorting to micromanagement. He also gave me confidence in my own abilities. I've attempted to emulate his management/teaching style in my own supervision of graduate students although this hasn't always been successful. Many students have wanted a more direct relationship which in my view only leads to PhD graduates who are just technicians and completely lack the ability to think independently.

Anyway my point is that Jack is a superb scientist, immunologist and teacher and has nurtured several generations of postgraduate students of which I was the first PhD. He is also a complete intellectual in that he is extremely knowledgable regarding literature, music, politics, history and social science. Thus I hold in in the highest regard and am very grateful to him for his formative influence.

Now Jack will, hopefully, forgive me for saying this but he used to be a bit of a wild man in his youth. Now in middle age a certain mellowness has set in. Before I left his house for my journey back to Heathrow, he gave me a bag of sandwiches he had made himself as well as a packet of crisps (potato chips) and an apple. An unbelievably sweet gesture; -I was so touched. A truly great man.

Peace!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas!


Christmas with Crotchet
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
Christmas Day has come and gone for another year. It was spent at home in the pleasant company of good friends. I spent the day cooking and eating as well as opening a few presents. The weather was typical Seattle -unrelenting rain. I lit a fire in the grate and a lot of candles. The rather hastily erected Christmas tree looked nice and the cats seemed excited. They were given a can of tuna and some catnip as Christmas treats. Dinner was leak and potato soup, lamb (that turkey really gets on my nerves) with roasted parsnips, artichokes with crabmeat followed by proper English Christmas Pudding (yea, Tesco). The table was set off with crackers from Pier 1. In the process of consuming all of this a great deal of sherry, wine and brandy was imbibed albeit at a very measured and civilized pace: I felt extremely mellow all day.

Today, Boxing Day, I spent lazing around, tidying up and doing a bit of admin. Tomorrow is work again. Ughh! There really is too much to do. Plus I've got to start mapping the rally. I must work on my efficiency (I've been saying this my entire working life). Oh well, I'll just have to get my finger out. On my next post I'll continue with the rest on my saga in the UK's West Country.

So for now I'll sign off by wishing all my readers, family and friends a very Merry Christmas.

Peace!

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Friends


Friends
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
It's Christmas Eve (actually the early hours of Christmas Day). I'm sure Santa is somwhere around. I'm baking, making soup, wrapping presents and otherwise getting ready for tomorrow (today). But my brain is in many ways still in the UK thinking of the evnts of last week...

So having arrived in Gunnislake, I was afforded very gracious hospitality by my PhD mentor, Jack Harris and his wife, Dawn. After several cups of tea and chatting about old times we headed on out for a pub, "The Volunteer Rifleman" where I was reunited with several old friends. Ann Pulsford and her partner for-as-long-as-I-can-remember, Pete Glynn, were there. Ann is now the editor of the Journal of the Marine Biological Association, having packed up her electron microscopy work some time ago. She was on excellent form and spent most of the evening baiting Jack. Pete is another recent retiree from the University of Plymouth. He looked very well. He is/was and excellent cell biologist and in my graduate student days gave me a lot of advice on techniques and procedures, particularly electrophoresis and gel filtration. Pete has a sense of humour that is dry as a stick and he had me chuckling all evening, particularly with his Greek Chorus style ripostes to Ann and Jack. Also present was Annette Wrathmell (another UoP retiree) and her husband, Tony.

The evening was wonderful and I enjoyed great food food, scintillating conversation, a lot of excellent Rioja and most of all the company of good old friends. Times like this are precious and must be savoured and remembered.

Peace!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

...and Tavistock too


Dartmoor
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
From Totnes my next stop was Plymouth although I was due to stay with my PhD mentor, Jack Harris, in the little village of Gunnislake, East Cornwall, near the delightful market town of Tavistock.

I left Totnes about noon on a gorgeous mid-December morning. I'd decided to cross over Dartmoor rather than the more obvious direct route through Plymouth. This was definitely the correct decision as the views over the moors were breathtaking and I stopped several times to take photographs. Devon and Cornwall have always held a special romance for me, probably through reading "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and various Daphne Du Maurier books when I was young. But there is also something about beautiful fishing villages. rolling countryside and also (don't ask me to explain this) feats of Victorian engineering such as bridges built by the legendary Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Needless to say I savoured the views of Dartmoor and delighted as the landscape changed from gently rounded hills and dales to the bleak, flat expanse that surrounds the infamous prison.

Tavistock sits on the western edge of the moor. By the time I reached it I was feeling quite peckish and stopped at the Bedford Hotel where I lunched on cod and chips (not to mention the mushy peas -a quintiessentially English side dish which is exactly as it sounds) and a pint of "Jail Ale". Delicious! I really don't understand the bad reputation at the UK food has in the US. Granted Brit Grub is comfort victuals but there's nothing wrong with that on a chilly winter's day.

Having scoffed my lunch I made the short journey to Gunnislake where I was met by Jack who piloted me through the village. My thoughts on the reunion with my former supervisor will be the subject of another post. Until the next episode...

Peace!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

...and to Totnes

My travels in the UK's west country continue.

After leaving the pleasant warmth of my brother's abode I loaded up all my luggage (seemingly getting heavier with every stop) into the rental Ford Fusion estate car and set off for Totnes, Devon.

This time I was going to stay with my room mate from undergraduate days, John Roberts. John and I met in a chemistry class at Cardiff University in October of 1970 and have remained firm friends ever since. John is a biology teacher at the King Edward VII grammar school in Totnes. He has been there for 20+ years and has taught two generations of students. Around town he is something of a celebrity and is also know for his acting, golfing and fishing activities. Three years ago John created a biology prize for the final year students. He wanted to name it after an eminent scientist but the only biologist he knew was me! Hence every year the "Morrow Prize" for biology is awarded to the student with the best grades in the subject. I make a modest cash donation.

Anyway I arrived safely and the following day gave a lecture to the A level students on developements and career opportunities in biomedicine. This seemed to be received fairly well and I spotted only I student sound asleep on his backpack. Unfortunately the Morrow Prize recipient, an apparently very bright young man, has sloped off to Sri Lanka so he'll have to receive his cheque from the postman!

Totnes is the UK's centre for alternative culture and comments about it are even made in the Houses of Parliament. After my lecture I wandered around the town. If you want to know about crystals, after-life healing, levitation, making youghurt from Yaks' milk or knitting goat-hair sweaters, this is the place! I'm actually a sucker for this kind of thing and find it very entertaining. That evening John and I went out to a trendy bistro and dined on nice English comfort food (fish pie, yum!) drank a couple of bottles of wine and reminisced about mild misbehaviour. We could have easily been back in 1972 in the Student Union. Happy Days.

Peace!

Onward to Tewkesbury


George and Janet
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
I visited Janine and family for precisely two hours. Enough time to consume 1 1/2 bottles of beer ('tis the season for sobriety checks so I was being careful) and a handful of those dried banana crunchy things. The I set of for Tewkesbury to descend on my brother's family.

Twenty years ago George and his wife Janet embarked on an ambitious breeding programme that yielded five very impressive offspring (see blog "Morrow Triumphs": 28th August 2004). I hadn't seen the tribe since my departure for Seattle in October 2001 and was looking forward to observing their development. The eldest son Richard had just returned from his first quarter at the London School of Economics. His grades are in the top 6% of his class and he is on the football (soccer) team. He is obviously having fun and has developed a very dry, drole wit. Apparently his take on life and humour is very similar to my own. I'm pleased to see that he has become politically quite aware in a left-leaning way. Hannah, now 16, is very striking at 5' 10" (whatever happened to the slightly dumpy shy girl I knew three years ago?). She is also excelling academically and has a clear plan to go to medical school in 2006. The other three boys, James, Matt and Chris are all over achieving, especially in sport. I have a feeling that James may make it as a professional football player although he seems to be equally interested in management. Matt and Chris are junior county tennis champions. I'm watching all of them develop with great interest and delight.

Anyway it was fitting to be in Tewkesbury at Christmas. The town was featured in Dickens' Pickwick Papers and has a historic and festive feel. And as it happened Janet's brother and sister-in-law (+ two small children) were also there. In total 13 mouths to feed. Janet is unflappable and never breaks a sweat. Quite amazing. We ate, drank and were merry. A lovely evening.

The next day after a hearty, high cholesterol breakfast (good job, George) the children disappeared to play football, tennis, work, etc. and George went foraging for a Christmas tree. I plotted my route to Totnes, my next port of call, said my goodbyes and left about mid-afternoon contemplating the rosy glow of familial bonding.

The story continues...

Peace!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A Hero


Janine
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
Having paid my respects to my parents I set off on my trip to Plymouth to receive my academic accolade. However a four day odessy lay ahead. I had people to visit and places to go beforehand.

My first port of call was Wanborough, near Swindon in Wiltshire. I was dropping in on a friend from my undergraduate days, Janine. Now I hadn't seen Janine since 1973 and I was a bit nervous. We have been corresponding for about 2 years, thanks to the Friends Reunited website. After some initially cautious exchanges Janine and I have maintained a lively dialogue. She did however let slip a a few health related clues and finally disclosed that she was a cancer survivor. But the manner of her suvival is worth noting. After a primary tumour was detected and dealt with over a decade ago she was more or less ok until systemic secondaries were spotted in numerous organs and skeletal sites in the last couple of years. Rather than put her affairs in order and accept her fate, Janine elected to take her medicine (literally) and embarked on a degree in fine art at Oxford Brookes university. This summer she graduated with upper second class honours (magna cum laude to US readers). I remember that it took every bit of my energy to graduate with a 2.1 when I was 22 and healthy. But Janine did it while on chemo, enduring a broken femur and pelvis (ouch! -side effects of the chemo), running a household and maintaining her sense of humour! Impressive or what? Move over Lance Armstrong! Oh and I nearly forgot to mention that her most recent scans have revealed her to be virtually tumour free. As far as I'm concerned this is heroism of the highest order and Janine is a role model for dignity and a fantastic example of positive attitude. I can almost forgive her for not only abandoning me as her date in favour of John (current husband) at a Curved Air concert in 1973 but also relating the story to her daughters in my presence!

Peace!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Paying Respects


Pirbright Churchyard
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
Technically I'm now back in the USA. However given my hectic schedule while in Europe as well as the dearth of free wireless hotspots I'm a little behind on my postings. There are a couple of topics related to the UK I want to add to the site so bear with me while I catch up.

The first thing I must mention is a trip to "visit" my now sadly long gone parents in Pirbright churchyard. Pirbright is a delightful village in Surrey. It's close to where I grew up and I always love visiting the place. It has two pubs, a corner shop, a post office and an elementary school or more or less aligned around a large green which is home to a duck pond and a cricket pitch. I always love visiting the place. The churchyard is especially evocative. Not only are my parents buried there but the graveyard is also the resting place of Henry Morton Stanley, the explorer who uttered the immortal and extraordinarily understated words "Dr Livingstone, I presume..." on discovering the latter in darkest Africa after many months of searching. Dr Stanley's grave is marked by a very impressive piece of rock which I understand was hewn from a site in Matebeland (I think). In any case I always enjoy my pilgrimages to Pirbright -the ambience of the church and its grounds is poignant and quite lovely. Hard to believe that Mum has been there for nearly 13 years and Dad for 27. I always feel I'm communing with them when I visit and I find the experience uplifting. Not at all depressing as some of my friends seem to think.

After my trip to Pirbright I continued my journey to the West Country and Plymouth: keep checking this site to follow the story.

Peace!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Mapping the Monte


Maping of Night Loop
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
If you haven't guessed by now, today's posting is going to again talk about my planning for the 2005 Monte Carlo Historique rally. This event is now looming large and preparations are in full swing so I've spent the last two days in Monaco with Bill Richards mapping the the infamout Col d' Turini night loop. On Tuesday evening I marked up the Michelin map and yesterday we drove the route. Twice! As I suspected one of the most difficult tasks is getting out of Monte Carlo at high speed. Getting lost in town is very easy to do and quite humiliating. Anyway I think we got the hang of it and we'll do another run through tomorrow (at least the exit from the town.) Bill now understands what so called "regularity" driving is all about namely keeping to an exact average speed. Now he sees how difficult it is, especially through the mountains, and precisely what his job will entail, I suspect he's going to oversee the rest of PRX 720B's preparation with a much more critical eye.

Anyway the route is quite interesting. The first regularity stage to Sospel is relatively short (15Km) and straighforward on fairly nice roads, mostly flat or downhill. The second is longer, around 25Km, and goes over the Turini. This is a mess of hairpins, dangerous curves and rock walls and quite a lot of detritius from small landslides (in our second run we hit a small rock and punctured a tyre -I hope Europcar don't charge us for this). Fortunately, from a navigation point of view it's quite straightforward. The third stage is much longer (40Km) and goes over some truly horrid small roads. This last section will be our greatest challenge on the event as we will be exhausted by this time and it seems to go on for ever. I'm please we had the opportunity to do this practice as to tackle it at night for the first time is daunting to say the least, especially if the weather is bad and the boy racer element of the rally participants swarming around.

Interestingly there were quite a few people out practicing the route. A Porsche 911 went past our Ford Fiesta at improbable speed as did a Renault Alpine. The latter was smoking a bit and we later found him pulled over at the side of the road with the hood/bonnet up. Something was broken and Bill and I suspected he'd blown a piston ring. I'm hoping that our attention to detail on engine preparations will help avoid this kind of catastrophe.

Later today we head back to England. Tomorrow I'll have another full day working on the car and then I'll need to switich gears (apologies for the automotive metaphor) and start thinking about academic stuff again as I head towards University of Plymouth at the weekend.

Peace!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Back in Blighty


Union Jack
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
I've now been back in the UK for five days to do rally preparations and receive my DSc from the University of Plymouth. I've had rather mixed emotions since I've been here.

My first day I spent seeing professional colleagues regarding collaborations. This was really productive and before long I'm going to be writing more about my work rather than rallys and other fun hobbies.

At the weekend I was hosted by the delightful Nicky West and Rob Stacey. These are rally pals. We had a great time together: we each obtained a full set of maps for the MCH rally and then managed to squeeze in a visit to one of my favourite old haunts "La Lanterna" in Mill St.

On Sunday I traipsed off to Bill Richards' place in deepest Kent. The journey was somewhat tortuous but eventually I arrived intact.

My view of Britain is oddly detached. I don't feel a great sentimentality for the place. This is the longest time (2 1/2 years) I've been away and I was curious to see how I'd react. Well it all seems dirty, crowded and aggressive. Not to mention outrageously expensive (this not being helped by the scandalously weak dollar). Larger Loutism is all too alive and well and I witnessed unrestrained littering, public drunkeness and swearing in the three days I was in and around London. In addition everone bloody smokes with absolutely no regard to whether they are exhaling in your face. I thought Tony Blair was going to do something about this revolting practice. There is simply no excuse for allowing public smoking to continue. Shame on the British Government for their inaction. I certainly don't feel I ever want to live in London again. "Been there, done that" is the phrase that springs to mind as the best way to sum things up.

Peace!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Lord giveth, The Lord taketh away...


Mini shell
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
Last week I was jubilant about receiving a tax refund for $4600. Today I had a bill for the bodywork repairs on my Mini Cooper for virtaully the same amount. The original quotation was for £700. I knew there was some rust in the sills but didn't think the repairs would be so expensive. As it turned out the problem was serious. They had been fitted with overpanels to hide the rotten mess underneath. The bodyshop found filler packed around cardboard and bits of metal plate that had been tacked in place. It takes skill do botch a repair that badly! I've got a million things to do before my trip back to the UK on Thursday and I have a feeling sleep is going to be a luxury item between now and then.

Peace!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Mad Dog Rallying


MDR Logo
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
Dear gentle (and rather occasional) readers. I hope I won't bore the pants off you for the next couple of months but I'm going to be harping on about the strange world of classic car rallying quite a bit. By now you know that I'm gearing up for the Monte Carlo Historique in January 2005. I've spent a day writing emails to various vendors and individuals regarding the car prepartion. This is going pretty well but I'm concerned about a pencilled in photoshoot for MiniWorld on December 10th. We may not make it. The Mini is back at BRR but Lee McNair has pulled out the subframe again (I'm not sure why) and we still have to drop the motor back in and fit period accessories in the interior. The coming week will be critical. Watch this space.

Peace!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Hold that Tiger (part 2)


Oliver Tiger Mk3
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
Now that the euphoria that bubbled up from learning that I'd been accepted for the MC rally has subsided a little I thought I'd complete the story about my teenage hobby, namely flying and building model airplanes. See Hold that Tiger (part 1).

The engine of choice back in the 60s was known as an Oliver "Tiger". It was a 2.5cc, two stroke, diesel motor that was designed by the legendary John Oliver (JO) who lived (and still does) in Dorset, England. The Tiger was an absolutely brilliant design. Very powerful and rugged with a timeless appearance somehow reminiscent of other British classics such as an XK series Jaguar or a Supermarine Spitfire. The Mk 3 version of this motor was the best and it was the mill of choice for combat flying and team race. They are now quite rare (many had a very hard life) and sell for outrageous prices on eBay.

Back in the summer I was offered a Mk 3 Tiger for a mere $80. I bought it sight unseen and without hesitation. The motor I eventually picked up was in very sad condition. Not only was it quite clapped out and missing the correct needle valve assembly but the fins had been squared off (a team race practice, I think) and at some point it had suffered a very hard air-to-air collision with another engine: the crakncase thread was clearly and deeply imprinted on the cylinder head. I pondered for awhile as to how to restore the Tiger to its former glory and came to the conclusion that this would be better done in the land of its birth. So I emailed Clive Sharp and asked him for advice. To my utter amazement, after discussing various engine tuners, Clive offered to ask John Oliver in person if he would do the refurbishment. I wasn't aware that the great JO was still around in earthly form let alone fiddling with stinky diesel engines. Well it turns out that John, who is now in his 80s, is not only alive and well but is still as meticulous as ever and accomplishing feats of engineering genius.

I duly sent my rather sad lump of metal off to the UK (rather insensitively in a box which had once contained a modern Chinese/Australian Oliver copy known as a CS). That was back in August. Then yesterday, out of the blue, I had a message from Clive to say that the motor was finished and he enclosed the picture posted here. Not only has JO rebored it but he has fitted a lighter piston, bushed the conrod, fitted a new cylinder head, needle valve assembly and prop nut (which is anodised black). The prop driver is still the original and a bit battered and the crankcase has an epoxy repair on it. But this patination lends some character. The motor had already been tuned and with JO's touches, I'm convinced it will go like stink when it's run in. When I get it back I'll put in a Dominator and use it for fun flying: it's too valuable to expose to the rigors of open diesel combat. Overall I feel very proud to own one of these classic diesels and indeed honoured that the great JO himself has personally refurbished and tuned it for me. Thank you, John.

Peace!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

We're in! Hooray!


Monte Carlo rally
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
The waiting is over. The nervous nocturnal pacings can stop (at least for awhile). Today I got the news that the Automobile Club d'Monaco has accepted Bill Richards and me for the 8th Monte Carlo Historique Rally. This is great news but I'm more than a little intimidated by the amount of work that we have to do. There is an awful lot of stuff to organize and this weekend I'll need to write a million emails. Oh well, at least I have a mission. Watch this site for frequent updates.

Peace!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Hold that Tiger (part 1)

John with Warlord

Well still no word from the Automobile Club d' Monaco on whether Bill Richards and I've been accepted for the Monte Carlo Historique rally. I thought there would be an announcement on their website and even got up in the middle of the night (don't forget Monaco is 9 hours ahead of Seattle) but to no avail. I failed to reach Bill by phone but did call Nicky West who also campaigns a Mini Cooper with her husband, Rob Stacey. Nicky hadn't heard anything either and she had Rob had been checking their computer all day too. Let's hope I get some news soon: not only is the suspense killing me but the lack of information is making it very difficult to plan my trip next week.

One delightful piece of news though. I had an email from my friend Clive Sharp in England. As teenagers growing up in Woking, UK, Clive and I used to fly model airplanes together. Specifically something called control line combat in which two fast acrobatic planes fly together in the same circle and the objective is to cut off a streamer towed by your opponent. It's amazingly good fun although the carnage is high and the life expectancy of a combat model is not long. I packed up model flying when I was about 16 to concentrate on school studies (actually I immediately discovered motorcycles but that's a story for another time) and never gave it another thought until recently.

About 18 months ago I was idly surfing and came across a combat website. There is a local group of mostly middle aged nitwits who still indulge in this so-called hobby. Most of these guys have been flying since they were teenagers and use the same engines (diesels as it happens) and model designs from the 60s and 70s: they term this silliness "Vintage Diesel Combat". I made the mistake of emailing one of these combat pilots and almost immediately received a very persuasive phone call inviting me to try my hand at flying. Despite my protestations to the effect that I hadn't held a control line handle in 37 years, I made the journey out to the local flying field and to my immense surprise could remember quite easily how to fly these models. Just like riding a bike I suppose. I was absolutely hooked -quite possibly something to do with the smell of ether and amyl nitrate in the fuel. Actually I'm fairly convinced that I spent a good deal of my teenage years out of my head on solvents: the fuel components along with solvent-based glue and "dope" (it's not called that for nothing, you know) for finishing the wing fabric are very powerful chemicals. So I purchased an engine and a couple of good planes and started practicing. On my third session out I came third in a contest and on my fifth time out I won another competition outright beating some noted pilots in the process. I felt ridiculously pleased with myself -this was by any standards a good result after a 37 year layoff and nearly 40 years since I was Woking and District Model Aero Club junior champion.

Anyway I've digressed a bit and just realised that I don't have time to write anymore tonight so on my next post I'll explain about my email from Clive Sharp and "The Tiger"...

Peace!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Waiting with baited breath...

I can't stand the suspense. I'm hopping up and down on one foot waiting for the Automobile Club d'Monaco to publish the list of entrants for the 2005 Monte Carlo Historique rally. They said announcemnts will be made on November 26. It's currently 11.25pm in Seattle on Thursday 25th November and hence 9.25am on Friday 26th in Monaco. I've been checking the ACM's website every 10 minutes. Come on guys (and gals) the suspense is killing me...


Peace!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Blogging the night away

Wow, there really are some fantastic blogs out there. I'm discovering a whole new world. Apart from the Queen of Sky mentioned in my previous posting there are some truly amazing political sites with highly intelligent and well-reasoned rhetoric (of the left wing type). I would thus like to recommend the following which in my view are truly outstanding:
Conceptual Guerilla's Strategy and Tactics
Baghdad Burning
Mykeru.com

These are well worth a visit -be prepared to spend at least 10 minutes on each. They are highly addictive. You have been warned.

Peace!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Queen of Sky


QoS_2
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
I've been following the blog of Ellen Simonetti (aka "Queen of Sky"). This diary is compelling for several reasons:
1) Although the commentary isn't particularly heavyweight, it is witty and engaging and concerns Ms Simonetti's alter ego, Queen of Sky, who is a flight attendant for Anonymous Airlines.
2) Ms Simonetti made the "mistake" of being photographed, in her flight attendant's uniform, in mildly risque poses, and consequently was fired by her real life employers, Delta Airlines.
3) The QoS site, has had a phenomenal number of hits over the last couple of weeks. While the majority of comments have been supportive, QoS has also attracted a large number of creepy, bigoted, misogynistic and right wing morons who have posted an extraordinary amount of nasty hate mail. Some of this is due to the fact that Ms Simonetti is open in her support for the Democratic party.

Overall, I feel Ms Simonetti is worthy of support. Although her photos may have been a little ill-advised, she most certainly shouldn't have lost her job, health care benefits etc. and is the victim of the worst kind of corporate bullying. But more than that she is an example of how big business can stiffle semi-private spleen venting from the blogging community. Please check out her site and leave an intelligent, supportive note.

Peace!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Them again (unfortunately)...!

Yesterday a nice man by the name of Simon emailed with yet another tale of woe about Henley Classic Minis and its proprietor Alan Tozer. Since posting a warning on the Mini Cooper register bulletin board a couple of months ago I've had quite a few concerned individuals conatact me. I sincerely hope that that I've helped one or two of them avoid being fleeced or perhaps injured in the frequently dangerous cars this man sells. I'm absolutely determined to play my part in the downfall of this organisation. I've said this before and I'll say it again, Alan Tozer is a habitual criminal. He has been sued time and time again and yet somehow remains in business. Please wake up Oxford Trading Standards and close him down! Oh and in case anyone thinks I'm broadcasting libelous comments, please write to me and I'll sned you a sheaf of evidence concerning the practices of HCM.

Peace!

Hypertext Links: Issues with Macs

I got the hang of picture hosting a few weeks ago -well at a basic level at least (one photo per post). Today I figured out hypertext links. The problem was more complicated than I thought although the solution was easy. For some reason I could see only the spellchecker and the image upload buttons on the editing toolbar. I use a Mac and the Apple Safarai browser. When I tried IE Explorer I couldn't see the toolbar at all (another Microsoft winner!). I tried adding code in HTML but to no avail. Eventually I did what all grown men try to avoid: email the HelpDesk at Blogger. I received an immediate acknowledgement and a full reply 24 hours later. It seems that the current version of Safari has a few compatibility issues with the Blogger editor but subsequent versions will support so-called rich HTML editing. The browser of choice is Firefox from Mozilla which is available as a free download for either PCs or Macs. I duly configured Firefox on my iBook and "Hey, Presto" I can now do hypertxt links and get up to all sorts of mischief including a bit of Google Bombing. Firefox appears to be a brilliant product and the Mozilla site is well worth a visit (no, I'm not getting paid for this endorsement.)

I should also mention that the IT Department of the orgnaization in which I am employed is recommending that we all switch to Firefox as it doesn't have the security issues associated with IE Explorer.

Peace!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Martial Arts


Aikido
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
On one of my earlier postings I said I'd write about my training in iaido. For the uninitiated, iaido is a Japanese martial art based focused on sword drawing. However before I get to this I should say a few words about my relationship with the martial arts in general. As an undergraduate in the fair city of Cardiff, Wales, I was enticed into practicing judo and karate by my landlord, Colin Jenkins (where are you now Colin?). After a couple of years fairly avid training I gained a green belt in judo and a brown belt in shotokan karate. However I found both of these disciplines lacking an indefinable 'something". Somehow they were too physical and centered around competition. More martial sports than arts.

Then at some point I attended an aikido demonstration and immediately thought that this was for me although I was certainly terrified of the gymnastic nature of the breakfalls. Aikido, although complex, seemed more evolved technically and philosophically than either judo or karate. Furthermore I was intrigued by the sword-derived movements as well as the use of bokken (wooden practice swords).

Sadly it was another 10 years before I began aikido practice in earnest. I started with Morita Sensei in 1985 when working in San Francisco. Morita taught Yoshinkai style aikido which is a quite rigid but standardised hard style. In 1987 I moved to San Diego and was fortunate to be able to train with Chiba Sensei for nearly five years. I also studied iaido for the last two years I was with Chiba. I found the iaido fascinating and it improved by aikido no end.

I then moved back to the UK and practice took a backseat. There are some excellent aikido practioners in England including some of Chiba Sensei's former students -notably Dee Chen at the London Shinmeikan. But getting through London in the rush hour was always a deterrent and my martial arts practice lapsed.

Now, nearly a decade later I have found a great dojo in here in Seattle that teaches iaido, or more correctly battojutsu, which is a more practical form of swordsmanship and as well as the traditional kata involves cutting rolled straw targets. Aikido is also taught although this is not the main focus of the organisation. The dojo is known as Ishi Yama Ryu (Stone Mountain School) and it has one of the most beautiful practice halls I have ever seen. I'm hoping that I will have a long association and happy association with Ishi Yama and its chief instructor Russell McCartney Sensei is highly likeable, technically accomplished and appears a very sincere person. So all going well my training is set fair for the forseeable future and after years stuck at 1st kyu (brown belt) rank I'm hoping to obtain at least the elusive shodan (black belt) before too long.

So now I've introduced the topic, I'll make regular posts in future...

Peace!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Kilauea


Kilauea
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
Have been meaning to add this photo for some time. On my jaunt to the Big Island of Hawaii two weeks ago I took a helicopter ride over Kilauea. This is an active volcano and quite awesome in every sense of the word. The red glow from the molten rock is amazing. The larva flows have changed the shape of the coastline over the last two decades not to mention having destroyed several hundred homes. Beautiful as Hawaii is it seems a stressful place to live. The populace appears to be dodging typhoons, tsunamis (tidal waves) or larva engulfment for a good portion of their time. Anyway for more information on volcanos click here.



Peace!

Heads of the Lakes


olivia_1
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
This morning I got up an unreasonable and anti-social hour and drove across a rainy Seattle to watch my my daughter, Olivia, compete in a regatta. The "Heads of the Lakes" appears to be quite big deal in the rowing season and concludes the autumn program. Approximately 400 crews compete against the clock in sequential starts. Olivia rows for the the University of Washington "Huskies" who have a formidable international reputation. Indeed O seems to be rowing at national level these days having picked up gold and bronze medals at the US Rowing nationals earlier in the summer. Well the Husky women prevailed with both the varsity (O's boat) and the junior varsity teams winning their classes. The varsity crew beat several noted teams en route to their first place including Stanford, UCLA, University of British Columbia and long standing rivals, Washington State. Now that's it for racing until March and Olivia will be getting her nose into the books and concentrating on getting her degree in psychology. Needless to say I'm a proud dad.

Peace!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Do ye ken John Peel...?


John Peel
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
Today is John Peel's funeral which will be held in St. Edmunsbury Cathedral, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. There is so little unsaid about this great man that it is hard for me to find appropriate words. His passing two weeks ago was a tremendous shock. I had listened to John for nearly 40 years: initially as a teenager in the UK and more recently, as a resident of Seattle, I would stream in his late night music programme or "Home Truths". I think I had come to think of him as immortal. Or at least an institution like other BBC broadcasts such as the shipping forecast and the football results on a Saturday afternoon. Extraordinaily steady and comforting.

I saw him just once: at the National Jazz & Blues Festival, Sunbury, in the summer of 1968. Yet somehow I felt I knew him as a friend. This was his gift and many of the tributes that poured into the BBC said the same thing. Something to do with the way he could project genuine sincerity, humour, insightfulness and compassion. My record (well OK, now I've replaced most of my vinyl with CDs) collection and indeed my general musical tastes have been very much influenced by Peelie and now I will always think of him when I play Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull et al. He is quite irreplaceable.

John, you left us too early and I don't know who I will listen to now. Apart from your music you were an absolute gentleman and humanitarian. I lament your departure from earthly form however you certainly left your mark on society and you will not be forgotten. My condolences go to your family.

Peace!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Aloha!


Kona beach
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
Talk about lunacy. Having spent three days in DC at the end of October I then flew back to Seattle, stopped for just about enough time to feed the cats and then scurried off to the airport again to catch a flight to Hawaii. The purpose of this jaunt was to attends a friend's brother's birthday party. Tough work I suppose, especially as I wasn't paying for either the ticket or accommodation. Anyway I ended up on the Kona coast of the Big Island (actually Hawaii) -see picture. A very pleasant place and the trip was well worth it despite the confused state of my biorythms. In fact I could have happily spent more than four days there but it was fun nevertheless. One particularly intersting aspect of the trip was a helicoper flight over Kilahuea, an active volcano, however that will be the subject of another entry.

Peace!

Friday, November 05, 2004

The night they drove old D.C. down II


studysection
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
I have to say that picture posting makes this whole blog thing much more compelling and possibly interesting for readers too.

This is really a "P.S." to my posting of 10/29/04 which reported on my trip to Washington DC for NIH study section duty. So here's a pic, taken with my cell phone, of the committee (in a 10 minute recess). Chairman Ron Kennedy (center/white shirt) kept proceedings timely.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Rally preparations


goingforit2
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
I seem to have finally got the hang of this picture hosting business (Flickr.com is recommended) and I apologize for the apparent overindulgence but pictures can truly be worth a thousand words.

I am waiting with baited breath to hear whether the Automobile Club d'Monaco has accepted my entry for the 2005 Monte Carlo Historique rally. Roll on Nov 25. In the meantime I'm spending a fortune on car preparations. I've fixed a lot of minor bodywork problems which have amounted to a virtual respray of the car. Still all the rust, which was not as minor as I had thought, is now gone and the car is structurally stronger as well as looking very pretty. I've acquired a lot of period BMC ex-works parts and the interior is looking very good. I still need an intercom, a full set (6) of Dunlop 93J tyres (I'm trusting that Bill Richards has managed to negotiate a deep discount as well as a race suit and open face helmet. When I go to England next month I'll get the suit and helmet. I'll also do some fine detail work in preparation for the car's photoshoot with MiniWorld which is pencilled in for December 10th.

I'm also hoping to visit Stamford's (best map shop in the world) in Covent Garden, London, where I'll pick up a set of large scale maps that will cover all the rally's regularity stages. Then all going well Bill and I will make a quick trip to Monaco for a recce of the infamous night loop section over the Col d'Turini. I'm a bit worried about these plans as Mercury will be in retrograde for that period (the fourth bloody time this year). For those of you remotely interested in this nonsense, Mercury is the ruler of my sun sign, Virgo. In this three week phase confusion abounds. It's usually nothing life threatening; just chaotic, irksome stuff. I hate it and it's really not the best planetary aspect for travel or planning a rally.

Peace!

John

Depressed


timemag2
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
I think I'm going to sit down in a darkened room with a bottle of Prozac for the next four years...

Friday, October 29, 2004

The night they drove old D.C. down...

Well here I am in the Nation's capital, ostensibly reviewing biomedical grants for NIH. I'm still on Seattle time and can't sleep (although I'll probably make up for this by napping with my eyes open in the meeting later today). Anyway I've started to fiddle with the blog. Have decided to sort out this web photo hosting business. Have managed to get a "signature' pic on my profile although still not sure how to insert photos in the postings as they'll just show up as a URL link (I think). So I'm going to fiddle a bit. Bear with me...

Last night was fun. Went to a crabhouse with some old cronies. The restaurant was basic. Newspaper on the tables and crab carcasses everywhere. The boiled crustaceans were served in heaps. "Silverware" comprised a wooden mallet and a paring knife. Paper napkins were provided by the ton. The crabs were delicious, shrimps even better. I needed to be hosed down afterwards though and heaven knows what my cholesterol intake was.

I'm hoping to get out of town early this afternoon. Otherwise it's a late flight and I won't arrive back in the Emerald City until midnight. Not too awful in the scheme of things but tomorrow I go to Hawaii (I know, I know, life is tough) for a birthday bash. This involves leaving the house at 6.30am. So I'll barely have time to feed the cats, take a shower and repack before heading off tto the airport.

Oh well, time to prepare for another day's slog so I'll sign off by attempting to post another photo of yesterday's session...
http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2004-10/869419/10-28-04_1729.jpg

Peace!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Rot n' Roll

I feel the need to comment on several things today...

1) Have just been informed by bodyshop that my Mini has severe rust under the horrid oversills. The fellow in the shop is fabricating a new floor. I hope he does a good job. This is going to cost more money but better to be safe than sorry. And cosmetically it will look good. Or at least I hope so as MiniWorld is pencilled in for a photoshoot on December 10.

2) I still spit blood thinking about the never ending atrocities carried out by Henley Classic Minis. I've been contacted by (unfortunately) another victim who, having been sold a criminally bodged car, is now plotting his revenge. I will send him a package of evidence as soon as I get time. I checked to see if the UK small claims court has a statute of limitations. It's 6 years. So I still have a year and a bit to file if I can summon up the emotional energy...

3) Was terribly upset to hear of the passing of John Peel. I've been listening to him for nearly 40 years and he moulded my musical tastes more than anyone else -witness record collection containing recordings from Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Jethro Tull (well their first album at least). I've also practiced aikido with Loudon Waingright III who was one of JP's regulars (sorry Loudon, I never bought any of your records). I saw him I think just once, at the National Jazz and Blues Festival, Sunbury, c1968. Ok, I know this dates me a bit but I was very young at the time. As a homage, I've cited one of John's "interests", namely: "starring out of the window" as one of my own. A lovely man who will be sorely missed. RIP.

4) Today I'm off to Washington DC to review grants for the National Institutes of Health. I'm a bit behind as usual and will have to work like crazy on the plane to catch up. No movie watching for me. I arrive back late on Friday night and then I'm off to Hawaii on Saturday for a birthday party. What a crazy life I lead. By some good fortune I'm not paying for this junket.

I will report on iaido, the election and my job search in my next postings.

Peace!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Henley Classic Minis: Caveat Emptor

Today I'm having a rant. Hopefully it will help some poor sod being parted from their hard-earned readies and might even prevent them being injured or killed. As is evident from this column, one of my hobbies is classic rallying. I campaign a 1965 Morris Mini Cooper. So here's the story...

Five years ago I purchased the vehicle from Henley Classic Minis, Henley-on-Thames, UK, with the intention of competing in the 2000 Monte Carlo Challenge rally. I should really say I bought the car in 1998 as restoration project. The owner of this business, one Alan Tozer, claimed to be an expert at restoring Minis and that he knew all about rally preparations. I must say he was very engaging and convincing at the time. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I eventually picked the car up on January 4, 2000, four days prior to the rally. In the process of driving the car home I realised that its restoration was far from perfect or complete. Subsequent inspection by another garage well versed in Minis revealed that the car was in extremely dangerous condition. They then proceeded to work on it virtually around the clock for almost three days to get the little beast into reasonable shape for the rally. In the end we made it to the South of France although had numerous breakdowns on the way. We also encountered three other individuals who had purchased cars from Henley Classic Minis who had similarly sorry stories.

After the rally I took the car to Bill Richards Racing, Ashford, Kent for an engineering report. Bill subsequently gave me a litany of egregious bodges that defied belief. Needless to say the engine was destroyed and needed completely rebuilding. Actually the whole car needed rebuilding, rewiring and repainting which I did at some considerable cost. Interstingly at BRR I encoutered another of Alan Tozer's victims. A Morris Cooper that had competed on the 1999 Monte Carlo challenge and owned by Geoff O'Nion. Geoff's story was virtually identical to my own. He subsequently sued Tozer in the small claims court for approximately £4500. Judgement was found in his favout but recovering the money was a different story. To this day I understand he only got back a couple of hundred quid. The outcome of Geoff's case caused me to reconsider legal action, especially as I was moving to the USA at the time and didn't want to deal with a lot of emotional and time consuming hassle. The car was sold and I traded up to a Cooper S, although I did transfer the Cooper's number plate as it was similar to those used on the BMC Works cars. I used it to compete on the 2002 Monte Carlo Historique rally and then I departed for a job in America.

Fast forward three and a half years. Since my departure to the US, the Cooper S has been living in a cosy lockup somewhere in the south of England. I'm planning to do one more rally in it (see previous blog entry) and in the course of preparing it for the event I've started to read the Mini press, bulletin boards etc. Now it seems there is no end to the number of people who are still being stitched up by Alan Tozer and his rotten company. The man is a habitual criminal and has no conscience about misrepresenting cars or selling them in appalling and dangerous condition. And he appears to be getting worse. The latest atrocity that has come to my attention is that he has threatened to send heavies after an individual who withheld payment on a bodged repair. These stories have me spitting venom. In 2000, it did occur to me that Tozer was simply a sad, technical incompetent who cut corners to make a fast buck. Now it's very evident that he's a cynical petty criminal. I have thus decided to do everything I can to publicise his disgraceful practices. Hopefully I may put him out of business although I'd prefer to see him in prison. Thus if you have a story please let me know. I won't publish your name but for now I want to collect a dossier. Watch this space for updates. In the meantime here's some reading matter:


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Doctor of Science (and a bit more on rallying)

This is a plain and simple brag. Yesterday I was notified by the University of Plymouth (Plymouth, UK) that I have been awarded the degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) for my contributions to science. A great accolade but in fact it wasn't something for nothing and represents 30 years of research described in about 110 papers and books. Anyway I'm delighted and will go to Plymouth for the graduation ceremony on December 15. This has certainly been a good month for the Morrow clan.

While in Europe, I'll also take the opportunity to do a recce for the Monte Carlo Historique rally in which I hope to compete in January 2005. The night section loop over the infamous Col d'Turini is notoriously difficult, especially if the weather is foul (it usually is) and the crew are exhausted. Thus Bill Richards and I will drive part of the route in a rental car and try to determine where at least the worst traps lie. Whether this will be enough to narrow the gap with local drivers who know the route intimately remains to be seen....

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Linking and Google Bombing

This post is just a brief experiment. I've been wondering just how people accomplish "Google Bombing" and then it struck me that this can be accomplished by creating multiple links in their blogs. So here's one about my rally exploits on the Bill Richards Racing website. I'll say more about BRR in future postings but for the purpose of seeing how this posting handles the link, this will suffice for now.

Family Triumphs

At the risk of bragging, this has been a good month for the Morrow family. First of all my daughter, Olivia, won Gold and Bronze medals at the US Rowing championships in Indianapolis. Then following a visit to Cambridge, UK, she decided to go there for postgraduate work after she graduates from the University of Washington in 2006; overall she is very fired up on the academic front.

However the last week has seen my brother's family shine. He lives in the UK and has five offspring. First of all the eldest son, Richard, secured his place at the London School of Economics following good A level results (A levels are something like a combination of high school graduation and SATs). He's going to study human geography. I've no idea what this is but suspect it's economics by another name. The LSE is one of the world's best business schools so we are all delighted.

Yesterday the second oldest, Hannah (16), got her GCSE results: 8 A* and 2 A. She's going to do Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Psychology at A level and is committed to go to medical school and is already plotting her applications.

The Morrow Gang with Daughter & Heir, Olivia 

The younger children have also been doing very well. Today Christopher won the under 8s AND under 9s classes at the Gloucester County tennis championships. Matthew was runner up in the finals of the (under 11s?). James has been recruited to play football (soccer) for Gloucester Town juniors. I'm very proud of everybody and am savouring the moment.

Hannah

Peace!

P.S. Note to diehard readers (ha!), these pictures have been added retrospectively, now that I've figured out the photo hosting trick.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Classic rallying

Alright I know I'm a bit slow but I've figured out that I'll have to post a photo from a PC so I'll do it on a friend's machine when I get a moment.

Today is the last Friday in August. I think that in Seattle at least the dog days of summer have passed. This year has flown by although september promises to be very exciting -more on this later.

I'll put political commentary on hold for awhile. Today I'm trying to keep one of my hobbies, namely classic rallying, on track. I campaign a 1965 Morris Mini Cooper S. The car lives in England. I'm planning to compete in the Monte Carlo Historique rally in January 2005. Although this is not my first time on this event, I'm always astonished at the preparation that is necessary. Currently I'm concerned that two valuable Lucas spotlights that were sent off for restoration have gone missing. This will involve some detective work with UPS. If I can decorate this site with all kinds of photos I'll post pictures of the car. The MC Historique is the biggest and most prestigious event of all the classic car rallys held worldwide and I'll post a running commentary on our preparations and possibly a log from the event itself (assuming I can find wireless internet access in remote regions of France). However that's all a long way off....

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Posting photos

OK, I'm getting the hang of site creation but I knew it was going to be trickier than I thought. Especially with Mercury in retrograde. I've just tried to add a photograph but immediately ran into problems. It seems Blogger uses an ancillary program known as "Hello" to host photos. I've just tried to download it but it only comes in PC format. So my first political comment is to ask why Windows still seems to rule the world (just joking, I know the answer; please don't deluge me with the pros and cons of differnt operating systems etc). So can anyone advise me on how to get around this problem when using a Mac?

Here we go..

I'm a little anxious about this blog thing. I don't know where it's going to lead but I thought I'd have a go. So I'm going to start with just an introductory sentence or two as I build the site. So I'm going to post this comment and see how it looks. Watch this space...