Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Monday, November 30, 2009

OLL LEWIS: Electrickery

One of the problems with living in a village is that utilities companies tend to ignore you as you are not as profitable as a town or city. The mobile telephone network is perhaps the most obvious example of this. If you have seen the film Hot Fuzz you might remember the bit where Simon Pegg’s character walks into the village and his mobile phone signal completely vanishes, never to return. You might think this would be an exaggeration for comic effect but it’s not; in many British towns and villages the mobile phone network is in the same state as it was in the late 80s. For technophobes and Luddites this would seem an ideal situation, but in Europe and America these days you are expected to own a mobile phone. If you sign up for Facebook or Google these days you have to verify your account with your mobile phone (presumably to check you’re not a spammer) and some computer peripherals like modems now require your mobile phone number to text you an activation code for the product (although why they can’t just write it down on the manual like they used to I don’t know), so nowadays a mobile phone and a half decent signal is as essential as a landline.

The worst example of underinvestment is from power companies, though; as far as I know Woolsery has no mains gas supply, and our electricity supply is shockingly unreliable. Despite having to be turned off during the day for about three days in a row to ‘upgrade’ the electricity system, a few months back (you may remember my blog posting back then of the trials of keeping tropical fish tanks warm all day) we continue to suffer from power-cuts.

In the last few days there have been three separate power-cuts. Thankfully none have occurred when we have been writing books or articles on PCs or all unsaved progress would have been lost (and when the power surged back into the wires there would have been a chance of damaging the computer), but there have been several problems caused by the power cuts: four lights in the aquariums have broken and the heating light for one of our turtles. Thankfully it would appear the filters and heaters are made of sterner stuff, but aquarium lights do not come cheap and with money being as tight as it is at the moment for the CFZ, replacing aquarium lights that can cost £15 a time in some shops is an expense we really could do without. This is especially annoying when it is the electricity companies’ fault they blew by operating a quite frankly shoddy and unreliable service to people in rural communities because they think that they can get away with cutting corners as there are fewer people around to complain in a village than in a city. However, we still have to pay the same for our supply as in cities so it is not fair that we should have a substandard supply and be forced to pay extra money to replace items broken because of them.

I spend every morning tending to the CFZ’s animal menagerie and I get very annoyed when things like this conspire to interfere with that and cause potential harm to the welfare of the animals. Whenever anything gets my goat I have been known to utter the words “Oooh, I shall be writing a strongly worded letter to my MP about this.” Of course, usually I say that after a siphon has gone haywire and drenched me with half a tank full of water with snapping turtle poo in it and I’m not entirely serious about writing to our local representative in parliament about that, but this time I think I will.

Not that it’ll do much good I suppose….


Tabitca said...

I live in a village ooop north and suffer from not just these problems with the electricity and the gas but also the water has been cut off without notice numerous times, which when you have pets is a real problem. The electricity people will only give you compensation if it has been off 36 hours, so low and behold just before the 36 hour limit is up, on come the lights. Write to your MP as it means someone gets in touch with them and they have to answer.If you do it often enough they try harder to get it back on. good luck. xx

Syd said...

It sounds like you guys need to either move house, or drag your selves into the 20th Century or maybe even join everyone else in the 21st Century.
Now don't tell anybody else, but I will let you into a little secret regarding power cuts and computers.

Since at least the latter part of the 20th Century, there have been some amazing gizmo's on the open market, called U.P.S. (no, not the parcel service) otherwise known as uninteruptable power supply units. They attach to your computer and if the mains dies, they continue to provide power for anything from a few minutes (giving time to safely close down anything your working on) to a few hours (so you can keep working) and also protect the equipment from the surge when power is restored. Prices start around £50 and go up to several hundred quid.