Views on Floating Homes

Hi again 😀 I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post but I’m rather busy with my degree atm. Hopefully I will get back into blogging again – especially when I get my new laptop and don’t have to wait half an hour for the thing to wake up and load.

Anyway, currently I’m studying an Environmental module as part of my degree and for this next assessment I have to choose my own extension project, related to the issue of flooding. I have chosen to assess opinions on floating homes. I hope you will read the information below and answer the related poll.

Floating homes such as canal boats have been used both in the UK and other countries for many years. However, over recent years a new type of floating home has been developed and has proved popular in countries such as Holland and Canada. The term ‘floating’ is ambiguous as unlike house boats these homes rest on land and only rise on the water during floods. This prevents damage to homes, businesses and livelihoods. The first floating home in Britain was given planning permission in 2012; it rests on the River Thames in Buckinghamshire and rises at the same level as the water around it.

The technology used in Canada differs from the Dutch method; it is the Dutch technology of ‘smart levee’ that the UK is currently interested in. It works by putting sensors in flood embankments which constantly monitor the condition of the levee and sends a warning when it weakens.

Floating Homes Another, way of escaping flood damage has been utilised for many centuries in places such as Indonesia and Thailand where houses are built on stilts so that water merely passes underneath leaving homes high and dry. This is a much simpler way of avoiding flood damage but one would have to guess the possible height flood water would reach and this could alter over the years, especially with the issue of climate change.

stilt house
Further information is available at these sites:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20502736

http://www.ecofloatinghomes.com/floating_homes.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2240293/Could-amphibious-homes-prove-solution-floods-Floating-houses-range-ideas-touted-combat-increasingly-frequent-inundations.html

Thank you for reading this far and I hope you will help me by participating in the attached poll. Multiple selection is available and please leave any other comments if you wish. 

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A Metaphorical Message in a Bottle

For the full challenge click here.

I was strongly reminded of this film whilst writing this (if you haven’t seen it you should) 🙂

It may surprise some to learn that the modern internet based email system was only invented in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson (a bit of trivia for you). Today it is mainly taken for granted, with people surgically attached to their blackberry or I-phone, constantly checking their various email accounts. Even on weekends you cannot escape the world of work as your fingers are itching to log onto messenger despite knowing you might not like what’s there. Customer/client complaints; the boss sending the usual high-handed demanding directions; pushy family member you’d rather avoid; Amazon with their new deals; a reminder that your eye test is overdue because you keep postponing or cancelling appointments etc. To make matters worse, some emails can no longer be ignored as the sender is informed once the recipient has seen it.

Email has forced us into social beings. No longer can we hide away from the world for a few days, wireless internet ensures you are shadowed by your accounts. Of course, you may choose not to use email, but then it seems you don’t exist. Lots of people will invite friends or family out via email, rather than ringing everyone up individually. Quickly type the place, the time and instructions to reply asap, press send and done. It’s the work of a moment.

No, email has become essential to many in the western world, letters are obsolete, phone calls are arduous and prolonged, whereas emails are quick, simple and cheap. No contest, right?

With the age of email, social media and technology no one sends letters anymore. Remember the time when you anticipated letters and got excited whenever one arrived addressed to you? Now all you get through the post are bills and junk mail, advertising or asking for money.

I’m in their somewhere, in the last ‘0’ of the 2010 I think. 🙂

When I was on staff at Peak 2010 my friends and I shared a campsite with some guides/rangers from Hong Kong and although we exchanged email addresses and added each other on Facebook, exchanging one or two letters or postcards a year is more rewarding. Sometimes the old-fashioned methods of communication are the best. The crisp, neatly folded paper tucked into an envelope with your address handwritten on the back. The thrill and as your eyes are immediately drawn to the bottom to see who would send such a precious, caring gift, then the gentle thrum of happiness as you compose a reply in your very best handwriting and finally the satisfaction as the letter drops into the post-box ready to begin it’s journey.

Today I was thinking wouldn’t it be nice if there were more opportunities to create connections like this. Blogging may create connections between nations but there’s nothing better than the sheer joy of receiving an international message in a metaphorical bottle courtesy of the royal mail.

For some great message-in-a-bottle stories check out: http://blogs.static.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/36541.html (where my picture came from)

So here’s a challenge for you, this week send someone a proper letter – on fancy paper and everything. You never know, you may just get one back. Or, if you happen to be by the sea why not actually send a message in a literal bottle? 😀

Weekly Writing Challenge: Life as a Laptop

I’d never really heard of, and certainly not thought about Active Voice vs. Passive Voice before, I may have altered sentences before to change the emphasis but never consciously though ‘this should be active’. I suppose some of my older readers will be grumbling ‘what do they teach them in schools nowadays!’ I have to say, I agree. I did English at A level and this distinction was never mentioned, maybe a creative writing element should be added to the course?

Anyway, this weeks challenge was to ‘listen to the voices in you head’. To see the full challenge click here. I would appreciate your opinions as this diverges from my usual writing style, thank you.

Life as a Laptop

I have sat here, on the floor under the sofa, quiet and comfortable all day. It has been peaceful, no disturbances or interruptions from careless two-legged beings. Occasionally one of these inhabitants of the room where I lay folds themselves into a chair and stares dreary-eyed at a fellow screen. I know at some point my services will be called upon and I will be required to reach out into the cloud and drag relevant images and words to my screen.

Sure enough, I am picked up and placed on a denim-clad lap, my cable starts gently vibrating as sparks of electricity forces me out of a thoughtful slumber. Uncaring fingers prod soundly on my keys before my prized ‘Enter’ button is slammed ungraciously. I can feel the tics and twinges of my circuitry being unwound and the laps’ owner sighs and settles back anticipating a couple of hours of stress-free internet browsing.

For some reason, I find this to be irritating. Grumpily I decide not today mate!

I allow the home screen to load, complete with a photo of the four-legged fluffy thing which sniffs and bats at my wires once in a while. I then cunningly lull the stubby, ungrateful fingers into a false sense of security as the Google home page pops up. A few minutes of browsing pointless you-tube videos, I feel a sense of glee and anticipation as the page stutters and declares: “Windows is not responding”.

Ha-ha got you! What you gonna do now punk? Damn those videos.

A swear word is uttered from up above and as the page freezes I am turned off.

And on again.

I sigh, so predictable. A couple more of these instances and I will be allowed to recover back in my place on the floor. Maybe I’ll read a book, Austen or Brontë perhaps. My English needs rejuvenating after being forced to view bad gangster scenes by the inferior object whose lap I warm.

Euthanasia – murder or a human right?

Recently a stroke victim, has challenged the euthanasia law in front of three High Court judges. Mr. Nicklinson, 58, previously worked all over the world as an engineer and enjoyed sports such as skydiving and rugby. However, after a serious stroke in 2005 he became paralysed from the neck down, only able to blink his eyes. Mr. Nicklinson claims it is human right to decide whether he should die and so states that any doctor who assists his suicide should not be prosecuted.

As quoted in the ‘i’ (sister newspaper to the independent)Mr. Nicklinson says “I feel I am denied my most basic human right; I object to society telling me that I must live until I die of natural causes and I will do all I can to restore those rights.”

This case has huge moral implications as ultimately it questions the law as to what constitutes as murder, and the outcome could affect many others who suffer from painful terminal illnesses or are paralysed. However, the BBC 2 reporter stated it would be likely the case would be dismissed. Could this be because assissted suicide comes too close to murder and change could cause huge problem in the future?

Many agree with Mr. Nicklinson that he should be able to make his own choices and since he is physically unable to act independently a doctor should be allowed to help him achieve his wishes. Also, what about his wife and family and friends; is it harder on them to watch one they love suffer or to deal with his choice in his own death? Others ask what sort of life does Mr. Nicklinson currently have? Does he even have a life anymore?

Some people say that new technologies allow those who are paralysed to communicate and live with everyone else. Mr. Nicklinson has been using a form of gaze-detection, computer software which detects eye movements so that he is able to pick out letters and the comupter device then forms the sentences. This technology means Mr. Nicklinson has been able to communicate with the outside world via twitter, where he has gained 8000 followers. Furthermore, similar gaze-control technology can enable the paralysed to play video games – an activity considered a waste of time by many, but for one guy, the one thing he could share with his son.

So, can it be said Mr. Nicklinson has no life? He certainly does not have the same quality of life as before his stroke, but can adjustments be made through technology to build a different life? Dr Donegan’s video –

– explains similar technology. One subject, Marco, says via gaze-control software “without this equipment, it would be as if I didn’t exist”. (Quoted in the ‘i’).

Or, should Mr. Nicklinson be granted his human right to decide his own fate? (even at the hands of others)?

Personally, I think technology can seriously aid the paralysed to interact with their families and friends. But if this is not the right choice for Mr. Nicklinson; I feel it is his decision and his decision alone. After all, who are we to judge a man who suffers from circumstances we cannot even begin to imagine?