Thursday, 31 May 2012

About the United States Electoral College

During the United States presidential election of 2000, my mother told me that the president was not chosen directly by the people, but rather via the Electoral College. Back then I took her comment literally and thought that there was a college somewhere in the United States where a group of students chose the president. I later learnt that this was not the case.

So what is the Electoral College? Back in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention (a gathering formed to address the challenges of governing the United States and to overcome the difficulties the Articles of Confederation was having in keeping the states united), it was agreed that Congress would choose the president, and a certain amount of electors would be allocated to each state depending on its population size. Delegates from smaller states favored this method, as they were concerned about the populations of bigger states dominating the presidential elections. During that period only some states held direct votes to determine which candidate their presidential electors would give their votes to, unlike today where all states have a popular vote.

There are 538 electoral votes, and a candidate needs 270 to win the election; the 538 figure comes from adding up all members of the House of Representatives (435), the senators (100), and the three electoral votes granted to Washington D.C. after it was allowed to vote in the presidential elections under the 23rd Amendment. It is not necessary to win a majority of the states or even win the largest share of the popular vote to be victorious in a presidential election.

While the people of each state vote to decide who their state's electoral votes will go to, 26 states do not have any laws to prevent "faithless electors". A faithless elector is an elector who votes for a candidate that the people of their state did not vote for. As an example, Texas does not have any laws punishing faithless electors; in 2008, there was nothing legally stopping the the electors of Texas from supporting then-Senator and subsequently President Barack Obama despite the state voting for Senator John McCain. Fortunately, in the absence of laws the vast majority of the presidential electors respect the vote of their state and votes in accordance with the people.

Under the 2010 Census, theoretically a candidate could win the 11 largest states by population while simultaneously losing the smaller 39. The electoral votes of California (55), Texas (38), New York (29), Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), Illinois (20), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), Michigan (16), North Carolina (15), and New Jersey (14) would carry a candidate to 270 and thus narrowly win the election. However, under the current political demographics of the United States this is unlikely: for example, Vermont is worth three electoral votes, and is a highly liberal state; California and New York are also liberal states, and therefore all three vote the same way.

There are arguments for and against the Electoral College. The main reason I have observed for its preservation is that it ensures the smaller states and rural areas have a voice in the presidential elections: if the the elections were decided on the popular vote only, it has been said that the candidates would campaign hard for votes in the big states and cities at the expense of the smaller places. Regarding arguments against, critics of the Electoral College have stated that under the current political demographics it ensures that roughly 10 "swing states" decide the elections while the remaining 40 are mostly safe states for both major parties. In addition, it has been said that if the governors, senators and House representatives are all decided by a direct vote then the president should be as well.

At the present time all attempts to abolish the Electoral College have been unsuccessful. The last major attempt to fail was during 1969-1971 under Richard Nixon, when a constitutional amendment to have the president directly elected by the people was approved by the House; but in the Senate it was filibustered, put aside by the Senate Majority Leader, and ultimately expired when the Congress of that time came to the end of its term. Currently, a new movement to end the Electoral College and change to a system where the president is directly elected is being worked on by the states themselves, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). Eight states and D.C. have ratified the agreement, totalling 132 electoral votes among them; should more states ratify and the amount of electoral votes of the states in the agreement surpasses 270, then the NPVIC would come into effect and the next presidential election would be decided by the popular vote rather than the Electoral College. However, it is likely that congressional approval would be sought before the NPVIC overrides the Electoral College.

I hope this post gives useful insight into the Electoral College of the United States; I can say that I certainly learnt some more about the system while doing my research for this piece. Finally, I would like to thank my brother for his help in clarifying a few points for me.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

An orange poppy

This is an absolutely beautiful picture of an orange poppy, taken a few days ago by my brother. I love the colours in this image, including both the poppy and its surroundings; my brother has recently been experimenting with some different settings on his camera, and this is among the results of his tests:

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Pretty yellow flower

This flower is in our back garden. Currently, I do not know what plant it is from, but it is pretty and this is a good image (from the main camera):

Monday, 28 May 2012

More sky pictures

Some more blue and cloudy sky pictures from Sunday's walk. All images were taken with my phone:

I will have some more non-image posts up again soon. I have been busy recently, and have had time to only post pictures!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The non-existent slope

Another image from me today; this was meant to be a picture of the sky (there have been some great blue skies with clouds recently), but some of the landscape was in the sight of the camera on my phone, and as I was holding my phone at an angle, the land appears to be on a heavy slope:

I love how the power pylon is on the right of the picture appears to be heavily slanted. As the day was incredibly bright I could not see the display on my phone very well, so I merely pointed the camera in the direction of the clouds and pressed the button to take the picture.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Resting orange cat

The orange cat we frequently see around here was recently taking a break in a place that was not safe for it to rest at for too long! Even so, I took a nice picture of it slumped where it was comfortable for a quarter of an hour:

Have no worries, the orange cat moved! It became interested in a bird that decided to enter its territory (the bird got away, too).

Friday, 25 May 2012

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Blog anniversary

It was one year ago when, with the encouragement of my friend and fellow blogger Kimberly, I started my blog and made my first-ever post.

Back when I began I did not really expect to write anything more than a post a week, but with this being post 371 I have managed to create slightly over one per day! When it comes to my readership I have attained close to 5,000 views, with at least one view from over 75 different countries; in addition, I currently have seven official followers plus several other people who read the blog but are not bloggers themselves.

It has been a pleasant experience writing my blog over the past year, and I hope you have had as much fun reading as I have had writing. I also hope all of you who follow Air Nice-to-Livelands on a regular basis will continue to do so, and that I will pick up more readers before the second anniversary! Thank you!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A walk and a pond

A pond in my town has featured in two posts of mine. In the most recent post about the pond, I stated in the comments section that I hoped to get a picture of it in the spring with my main camera. Well, I took a walk yesterday and did exactly that:

Yes, it is covered in a significant amount of algae. Still, I wanted to get a photograph of the pond at this time of the year and now I have have done so (actually, I took four pictures of it).

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Short Stories: The Missing Coat

During an afternoon, I prepared myself for a short trip out: I cleaned my teeth, changed my shirt, and ensured the shoes I would be wearing were my decent pair. I was almost ready when I went to reach for my coat; however, it was not in its usual place on the floor, so I looked in my wardrobe for it there instead. The coat was not put away in there, so I looked on top. Alas, it was not up there either! Where had my coat gone?

This was not just any was my favourite! I frantically began searching for it, but then I heard voices from downstairs demanding that I hurry up, as everyone else was ready to go and they did not want to be late. When the voices became angry I grabbed another coat of mine at that turned out be be too short for me but was still better than not having a coat at all...then headed down before the complaints became excessive.

On the way to our destination my coat was the only concern I had in my thoughts. What had I done with it? Had it been put away in an effort to tidy the house? Had I forgotten it someplace, never to retrieve it? Had someone else taken it? Had it been accidentally put in the washer and shrunk so much it could not be seen anymore? I did not pay any attention to the places we drove past on our journey, being too preoccupied with the disappearance of my best coat.

Even during the time spent at our destination I was too distracted thinking about my coat to appreciate the event we were attending. I merely hid myself until it was time for us to leave, distressed to point where I did not want to be seen by anyone else or have to talk to them. It was a relief to be back in the car and returning home.

Upon arriving back at out house I rushed upstairs and turned my room upside down in a newly-energised search for my beloved coat. I emptied my wardrobe and cabinets of all their contents and even moved my bed in case the coat had somehow been trapped beneath or behind it. As before, the coat was nowhere to be found, and I came to the conclusion that it was lost forever.

I sat down on the floor and faced the door. The afternoon had been a real downer, and now the evening was going the same way. Not only was my favourite coat missing, but my room was now a mess! Granted, it was all my own fault; if I had just been more careful...wait. What is that behind the door... coat! It had been in my room all along! I had hung it up on the doorknob on the inside of my room, but I had not noticed the coat earlier since the door had been open wide all day and I never thought to look behind the door until I just saw part of the coat peeking out.

My worrying over the past few hours had been unnecessary, but I felt relieved when I reached for my coat and put it on. Next time I shall be more observant, and better at remembering where I leave my belongings.


This post was inspired by our recent trip to Cambridgeshire: before we left, I could not find the coat I usually wear when going out, and it was missing until it was found this morning in our garage. Most of the events in the above piece did not occur in real-life, and the parts that did were exaggerated for the sake of storytelling: in reality, while I was slightly annoyed that I could not find my coat, I was certainly not fussing over it the entire time we were out! In fact, I barely thought about it at all! If I ever did lose the coat for certain, I would be disappointed but I would not break down over it.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Cambridge picture or two (again)

Here are four pictures that I took yesterday during our trip to Cambridgeshire. I was indoors for most of the time out, as I was meeting up with some people; however, I did manage to get a few photographs while in the car. While I was at my event, Dad, Mum, and my brother all went to Littleport to see how much the place has changed since we moved from the town last July. All of these images were taken with my phone:

One of Cambridge's numerous spires, and this particular one belongs to the Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church. There was a bit of a traffic jam in this part of Cambridge as we left the city, but it meant the car was still enough for me to get a couple of good pictures of the building (despite the side mirror present in the picture, I was completely inside the car and my window was closed).

The same church, just from a different angle. I am pleased with how this image turned out.

A picture of a random park area during another time when our car was paused from the traffic. Unlike the region where aforementioned church is, I am not sure what the road the park is located on is called or where in Cambridge it is.

This was on the way back to Northamptonshire. It is blurry, as it was taken while our car was in motion at high speeds (well, 60-70mph). However, I like the contrast of the blurred, green plants in the foreground with the yellow of the flora in the field behind them.

As you can see, I did not take many pictures of the afternoon trip, but I hope the ones I did post were pleasing.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Cambridge picture or two

We went to Cambridgeshire for a couple of hours this afternoon. Tomorrow I will post a couple of pictures I took while we were in Cambridge itself, as well as give a little insight into why we were there.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Booker and Christie

I was fortunate to come across a parody video by Governor Chris Christie and Mayor Corey Booker, both of New Jersey and Booker of the state's city of Newark. Both politicians make fun of themselves in the piece:

I believe the video can be appreciated regardless of what political persuasion you are or what your opinions of either Booker or Christie happen to be. I think it is a good thing that the two of them can laugh at themselves, and their performance does seem natural to me rather than forced or uncomfortable.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Stuffed bird house

That active bird house from earlier this month? We are not exactly sure what has happened to it: we have not seen any birds in or near it for the past week, and what is even more bizarre is that the birds appear to have stuffed the house with items normally used for building a nest:

We doubt that there is a nest inside, otherwise we would have observed more activity around the house. In fact, we are not sure if any birds can get into the structure anymore (or at least Blue Tit-sized birds anyway, as they were the ones using it before).

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Dennis Kucinich

Another politician I have respect for in the United States, Dennis Kucinich (Rep. D-OH), is now certain to leave the government when the 112th Congress expires: he announced yesterday that he will not be contesting an open House seat in Washington. In March, he competed with Marcy Kaptur for the Democratic nomination in Ohio's 9th congressional district, but he was unsuccessful.

I agree with him not seeking a seat in Washington, but I do have mixed emotions about his decision. On one hand, I was highly disappointed to see that his district was affected when Ohio lost two of its House seats and electoral votes as a result of the 2010 census. I have long admired Kucinich's strong anti-war views, his support for healthcare for every American, and his willingness to criticize people from both major parties: I think he is needed in Congress and that those aforementioned qualities need to be emphasized more.

At the same time, Washington is far away from Ohio, and Kucinich does not have any ties to the state; here in the United Kingdom, I do not support the practice of "parachuting" somebody into a seat far away from their residence, and so I would be a hypocrite to endorse it elsewhere. In addition, there was no guarantee that Kucinich would have won the primary anyway, and it would have been awful if his career in Congress had ended on him losing two primaries in two different states within the same year. Finally, if he had gone to Washington, he would likely have had an aura of "abandoning Ohio" surrounding him.

I loathe to lose a strong anti-war voice in the House, but again, I do believe that Kucinich made the correct decision by not attempting to run for a House seat in Washington. Over the past forty years, he has been involved in Ohio politics in some form or another: it is the state he comes from, and I am sure there is still more he can do for it.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Female blackbird and chick

I was very lucky to take these two pictures of a female blackbird and one of her chicks during their feeding time:

The mother is on the right (yes, she is a blackbird; female blackbirds are brown with yellowish spots), while the chick is on the left and appears to have a slug in its mouth. It was not sure what to do with its prey, so the mother fed the slug to the chick herself; in the following image the mother can be seen taking the slug:

It was a wonderful scene to watch. There was a second chick bouncing about, and it too was being fed, although I do not have any pictures of it receiving its meal. All three birds hopped into the bushes once they were finished in the grass.

All images were taken with my main camera, and were shot through a window.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

"Pretty Baby" - Vanessa Carlton

For no reason other than I felt like hearing her again, I decided to listen to a few Vanessa Carlton tracks earlier today. It was months...possibly even years, since I last heard her music and her voice until a few hours ago.

When I started frequently listening to the radio at the end of 2004, Carlton was among the artists I heard first. The two songs of hers that were the most often played were "A Thousand Miles", her debut and signature song; and "Pretty Baby" (released in 2002 and 2003, respectively), from her album Be Not Nobody. While I was new to radio back then, those two tracks stood out from a lot of the music I was hearing at that time because of her soft voice and her piano playing.

Here is a link to "Pretty Baby"; although "A Thousand Miles" is her most successful song, I chose to link to "Pretty Baby" instead because of its lesser-known status:

Since her debut, Carlton has released three more albums, Harmonium, Heroes & Thieves, and Rabbits on the Run. I was disappointed to learn that Harmonium and Horses & Thieves were commercial flops in comparison to Be Not Nobody, and that even Rabbits on the Run has not reached anywhere near the level of success that her beginning release did in the early 2000s. Her first album peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200 while the most recent only peaked at #62. It is a shame because she is talented and makes lovely, pleasant music.

To be fair, I have not exactly helped, either. While I like what I have heard so far of Carlton's music, currently I do not own any of her albums, not even Be Not Nobody. The most likely reason for that is because I heard her a lot less when Beat 93 was dissolved and I moved over to KIFS (107.5 Kiss FM); as a result, she was put to the side by artists with greater airplay. Now, after writing this post and hearing her a little earlier today I think I shall listen to her some more and bump her up my list of music I want to buy in the future.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Knowing your politicians

I was listening to the radio last night when the presenter re-played a clip from earlier on in the day. The clip contained somebody answering questions for a competition: the first question was about Katy Perry, which the person got right, but the second was "Who is the Prime Minister?". The contestant was stumped at the question, as it seemed they were not sure which prime minister the presenter was referring to, and when they realised that the question was about the British Prime Minister they were still unable to answer.

As hilarious as this seemed to be at first, I soon stopped laughing because it is actually disturbing that there are people out there who do not know who the leader of their country it (and I doubt that this person was trolling the questioner). At a minimum, I think people should know who the head of government/state and their local representatives are.

In the United Kingdom, there are at least three politicians everyone should be familiar with: the Prime Minister, their local Member of Parliament, and the Leader of the Opposition. In the United States, everyone should know who the president, their district's House Member, and the governor of their state all are. Obviously I think that people need to be able to name a greater number of politicians and their positions than the three I specified for each country, but they are sufficient as a minimum amount. The Queen (not a politician, but she is head of state), local councillors and federal/state senators would be next on my list.

To explain why I chose these positions, I think it is ridiculous to not know, at the very least, who the prime minister/president is: all the media surrounding their initial election win notwithstanding, they are in the news every day, and even if they were not, it takes about ten seconds to research them. It is important to know who your local MP/House Member is, as they represent your district in the government; in the UK, people should be familiar with the Leader of the Opposition, as they could become Prime Minister in the next general election; and in the US the governor is the highest ranking official in each state's government.

If that person did not know who the prime minister was before, hopefully they should do now. It is astounding that they managed to make it this long without knowing what his name is.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Gala pork pie

This is a gala pork pie:

The above pie was what we ate for dinner last night. A gala pork pie is the same as a Melton Mowbray pork pie except that it has eggs in the middle, as shown in the image, and there are some differences in the style of the pastries. Egg or not, pork pies are delicious!

Saturday, 12 May 2012


I recently discovered an interesting-sounding word: slumgullion. There are various definitions of a "slumgullion", but most often a slumgullion is a watery meat and vegetable stew. A slumgullion is not normally a high-quality meal, but also not necessarily an unhealthful one, either.

Ofter meanings include it being a term to describe a weak coffee or tea; a muddy, red-coloured substance found in the sluices of mines; and can be synonymous with the word "offal". It can also be used to describe any sort of slime, or in a derogatory manner against any sort of watery meal.

Even without the alternate terms, something called a "slumgullion" does not sound as though it would be an appetising meal!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Reductions in drought

It is good to learn that nineteen areas in England have moved out of drought status from all the rain the country has been having recently. This does not mean that the hosepipe bans have been lifted, rather, it just means that certain regions are no longer in any immediate danger of water shortages. In addition, if the entire summer is hot and dry that could push those areas back into drought status.

This April is now the wettest on record, and some areas, especially the north east and the south west of England, currently even have flood warnings from an excess of rain. Although nineteen flood warnings have been lifted, there are places still at risk.

Northamptonshire is not among the regions now out of drought status, even though we have had significant amounts of rain. I am not aware of any flood alerts around here, either.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Ashlee Simpson's aeroplane

On a first glance at this post's header it probably looks as though the topic would be about Ashlee Simpson's personal aircraft. That, however, is not what I am writing about, and I do not know if Simpson even has her own plane!

Instead, it is about her song "La La". In Simpson's singing I have always heard her use the pronunciation "aeroplane" over "airplane". At first I thought I was mishearing her so I listened more closely, but even with closer attention to the song I continued to hear "aeroplane". I also checked to ensure that she was not putting any emphasis after "air" by saying "air-uh-plane", and I found it still sounded exactly like "air-o-plane". Finally, I checked several lyrics websites and her exact words are as follows:

"You can meet me on an aeroplane
Or in the back of the bus"

I find this interesting because "aeroplane" is the British spelling and pronunciation of  "airplane", which is used in the United States, and Simpson is American. With the exception of someone educating others about differences in spelling and pronunciation, I have never heard any other American besides Simpson say "aeroplane". Evidently Simpson had her reasons for using the British variant (one that comes to mind for me is that it does sound clunkier to sing "airplane" instead, but then if I had heard the song that way to begin with it is what I would have become used to and would not have given it a second thought), but as curious as I am to know exactly what they were I doubt we will learn them; after all, the song was written several years ago, and it is only a minor thing to worry about. Regardless, it is one of those minor facts that I find fascinating.

Listen around the 0:48 - 0:53 marks of "La La" here. Even now I checked a few more times just to ensure she still said "aeroplane", and seven years after I first heard the song I continue to hear that pronunciation.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

More cherry blossom

I took some more pictures of our cherry blossom and wanted to post another here:

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Local election error

I stated in my first post about the recent local elections in the United Kingdom that Northamptonshire did not have any seats up this year, and as such I was unable to vote. It turns out I was in error about elections in this county, as the Daventry district had its entire council up for election in 2012.

This being said, I do not live in the Daventry district, so I still could not have voted and neither could the other parts of Northamptonshire outside Daventry.

Monday, 7 May 2012

The stargate

On our route from Northamptonshire to Coventry we take the M6, a motorway on the west side of England, for a part of the way there. A few months ago while travelling on this route, Dad noticed a "stargate" from the Stargate SG-1 series in a nearby field close to Coventry. I recently managed to photograph the stargate:

There is even a replica "dial-home device" from the show, too. The whole place looks as though it is staging area for dogs to play or perform, but it is difficult to tell from a distance. Whatever the purpose is, I think it is both fascinating to see a "real-life" stargate and creative that someone took the time to construct is a type of object that is highly unusual to see anywhere!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Second Coventry trip

I went to Coventry again today, for the same reasons as the last time. I did not take as many pictures on this occasion, but I did get a one of a random spire in the city (I do not know what the building is called, I just wanted to take a picture of it). I will have another post about the trip tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

On the results of the 2012 local elections (again)

All the results from Thursday's elections are through, and there is little change from yesterday's post. As expected, Boris Johnson won against Ken Livingstone in London, albeit more narrowly than had been predicted (51.5% to 48.5% when factoring in all the first and second-place preference votes), Jenny Jones from the Green Party managed to pull off a third-place finish ahead of Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat candidate in the London race; Labour won a slightly higher amount of council seats, and Leeds joined eight other cities in opposing a directly-elected mayor system.

That is the last post on British elections for now; the next major set of votes will be the 2013 locals, although a couple of parliamentary constituencies could have by-elections if there are any MP departures from now until then.

Friday, 4 May 2012

On the results of the 2012 local elections

Most of the results from yesterday's elections are through, and I would say they are close to what I was expecting. On current estimates, the Labour Party has won over 770 council seats and taken control of at least 30 councils, the Conservatives are down almost 400 seats, the Liberal Democrats losses have surpassed 300, Doncaster has decided to keep its directly-elected mayor system, and Boris Johnson is on course to win re-election as the Mayor of London.

The most surprising results to me have been the cities holding referendums on having their own directly-elected mayors: results in nine of the ten have come through, and so far only Bristol has voted in favour of a mayor, with the votes still being counted in Leeds. I had presumed that people in the larger cities would be interested in having their own versions of the London mayoral system, but it seems I was wrong. Sheffield appears to have cast the strongest "no" voice, with over 60% of the people taking part in the referendum rejecting a mayor. By contrast, Doncaster kept its mayor with 62% of people saying "yes".

Some other results include the United Kingdom Independence Party's best showing to date in a local election without a concurrent European Parliament vote, with them averaging 12%-14% wherever they fielded candidates, although they only gained six new councillors at the expense of losing five. The Green Party has currently had a net increase of 11 councillors and in the London mayoral election their candidate, Jenny Jones, is hoping for a third-place finish . The Respect Party won five councillors in Bradford and even defeated the Labour council leader there. Finally, the British National Party failed to both gain new councillors and to keep its existing ones.

I do not expect the data in this post to be significantly out of date once all the results are through, but I will be sure to write an updated post with any new information.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Local elections, 2012

Voting is well underway here in the United Kingdom for the 2012 local elections. Over 6,000 council seats are up nationwide, several cities are holding referendums to decide if their inhabitants want to start directly electing mayors, the city of Doncaster is voting whether or not to abolish their own directly-elected mayor system, and three mayors are up for election.

The race that has been in the news most frequently has been the London mayoral election, where the incumbent, Boris Johnson (Conservative Party), is up for re-election. His main opponent is Ken Livingstone (Labour), with lesser challengers from the Liberal Democrats, Greens, United Kingdom Independence Party, British National Party, and an independent. Polls seem to be showing Johnson winning, with Livingstone coming in second, and the other candidates having some significant percentages but nowhere near anything close to actually winning the mayoralty of London.

While Johnson looks as though he will win in London, the Conservatives themselves are expecting heavy losses in the council elections. They are the largest party in Parliament, and with them receiving rising public dissatisfaction from issues such as a potential fuel strike, hostile reaction to the recent budget, and the current issue of MP Jeremy Hunt's involvement with News Corporation's former bid to take over BSkyB, they are polling several percentage points behind Labour. Labour are expected to win significantly in the councils; the Liberal Democrats lost several hundred seats in the 2011 local elections, and since they are currently polling at 8% (behind 16% for "others") that could happen this time around. The smaller parties hope to increase their amount of seats, or at the very least maintain what they already have. (Polling source.)

This is the second major election that has taken place since I have been back in the United Kingdom (the previous being the 2011 locals/AV referendum). I do not yet have the experience to predict the way an election will go in this country (for example, I was surprised in 2010 when Labour lost in Parliament but were the only party in that election to gain councillors), but I think the final results will be similar to what the polls have been saying.

As for Northamptonshire, none of the seats in this county are up for this election; the next elections here are in 2013. While I am not able to vote in this year's elections, I will still be keenly observing their results, which will be released tomorrow.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The birds in the house

There are two bird houses in our back garden. One is the U.S. Mail house we found buried in the bushes, and the other is a a plain wooden house. At the latter during this afternoon, three Blue Tits were showing a keen interest in it: one appeared to be already in the house and making a home while the other two were either fighting with each other or both trying to move in with the Blue Tit inside.

The Blue Tit in the above image is one of the two fighting/attempting to move in after it had just scared the other off. Even though I took this from inside our house, I was still lucky to get it because the birds were moving rapidly, and they rarely took the time to pause in the position this Blue Tit is in.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

One World Trade Center

It may not be complete yet, but the One World Trade Center in New York City has surpassed the height of the Empire State Building and is well on its way to overtaking the Willis Tower (originally Sears Tower) in Chicago through pinnacle height and thus, on to becoming the tallest building in the United States. At completion, the One World Trade Center will be 1776 feet in height, a nod to the year of American independence.

Obviously I know the tragic circumstances for why this building has come into existence, but even so I find the One World Trade Center to be an impressive structure. I am a fan of this "glass-like" skyscrapers and think that the skyline of New York City will be improved when this one has been fully constructed.

With completion estimated to be in the summer or fall of 2013, It is good that the tower is coming close to the end of its construction. I look forward to seeing real pictures of a completed One World Trade Center instead of computer generated renderings of it, but more importantly, it will be great to see the skyline of the city restored.