Monday, December 31, 2007

2008: the Open Source year

Open Source Living is a great site for open source software. Open Source - especially operating systems like Ubuntu - provide a real alternative to the endless PC/Mac debate. Sod Microsoft's Office - go with Open Office!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

2008: Year of the Spud!

The UN has designated 2008 The Year of The Potato. Spud's my middle name, so I'm pleased, but am also looking for Years of my other favourite foods. Namely The Year of The Onion, the Year of the Banana, or even the Year of the Toastie.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Google Earth & Dominica

Melville Hall Airport, copyright Google Earth
Google Earth's imagery of Dominica has (finally) been updated. It used to be that the north & east of the island was poor.

Now, though there still are a few clouds over Diablotin (so what's new?!), the resolution elsewhere is awesome!

UPDATE: I upgraded to v4.2 and it would always freeze just after starting. I downgraded - same problem. The only solution was to snooze my anti-virus application. So it's worth mentioning you don't have to upgrade to see the better resolution images of Dominica.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Will buying Google keywords boost my organic listing?

From the Delphis e-marketing blog:

Will buying Google keywords boost my organic listing?

Simple answer: no, Google doesn't give your 'organic' (natural) listings a nudge just because you're spending money with them.

The better answer though is that if you're spending money on Adwords, it should be a prerequisite that you look long and hard at your site content... read more...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

On Gutsy Gibbons, Feisty Fawns and duelling pythons: Ubuntu for beginners

Gibberish? No, versions of the Ubuntu operating system I'm getting to grips with, as part of my quest for the ultimate backup/fileserver solution. And I am taken with the Gusty Gibbon (= version 7 of Ubuntu).

The wonderful thing is that you can run an evaluation version on your PC right from the install CD. The graphical interface is awesome and the online documentation is great too:

A couple of pointers for others who may follow in my footsteps:

1) If you want PHP and MySQL, go with the Ubuntu server version of the install - it's all bundled, as opposed to installing the desktop version and then having to install the above components separately. Downside is that you then have to install GNOME, which is the graphical interface. But it's pwetty!

2) Software install is done by command line or via the Package Manager.

3) Filesharing with Windows PCs on your LAN is done via SAMBA

Thursday, December 13, 2007

On sunsets & solstices

sunset 13-12
Originally uploaded by Steve_Mc
Though we're approaching the shortest day, I've had a suspicion for a while something wasn't right with our tropical solstice. For I'd noticed that the sunset here is actually at its earliest in mid-November, then it starts to set later!

So I finally did some research that confirmed my theory. Our sunsets do get later from mid-November. Not that our shortest day is in November, it's just that through a quirk of latitude or longitude or something, our day is sort of shifted - so our sunrises are also later until the shortest day - December 21st.

Everything clear now?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Happy Christmas Mum AND Dad!

It's happened again - I'm looking for a Crimbo card for my parents, but all I see are cards for Mums, and cards for Dads. But not one card for both!

UPDATE: so I just went online and created one from one of my sunset photos on Flickr. 3 quid. problem solved.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Things wot I might have invented: #17: Bar-code reading microwave

I have this brainwave: I'd rather like to have a microwave that I could wave a packet of food's bar code at, and it would set itself.

But it's already been done! See here.... That it's 'Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock.' speaks to how useful it was.

Mind you, the idea of a microwave needing a network card is somewhat disconcerting...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dominica: "it's a place best avoided"

sunset 30-11
Originally uploaded by Steve_Mc
So says an article about Dominica, Barbados and the US soccer team.

And as I read his article about a place he's never visited, having seen this gorgeous sunset, having been surrounded by rainforest-clad mountains, having come through my small but friendly community I thought: 'yes, perhaps you ought to stay away, there's clearly nothing here for you!'

"Breaking news"

I thought I'd see what the local news channel had to say about yesterday's quake. I'd stopped watching - I know there's not a lot of local news at times, but the level of professionalism leaves me frustrated.

And I wasn't disappointed. The quake led the news of course, lots of hyperbole but no facts, apart from the magnitude. Nothing about any reports of damage or injuries, so I have to assume there was none. Perhaps the quake came after the point in the day it can be put in detail on the evening news, not that 3pm is 'late'. Besides, isn't that the point of covering 'breaking news'?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

USGS report on quake

From the USGS website:

Tectonic Summary

The Martinique earthquake 29 November 2007 occurred in the inclined seismic zone that dips to the west beneath the Lesser Antilles islands arc. In the region of Martinique, the South America plate moves to the west-northwest with respect to the Caribbean plate with a velocity of about 2 cm/yr. This relative motion is accommodated largely by the South America plate thrusting beneath the Caribbean plate. The earthquake occurred within the subducted South America plate, in response to stresses generated by plate's slow distortion, rather on the thrust fault that constitutes the interface the between the Caribbean and South America plates...

Earthquakes, such as this one, that have focal-depths between 70 and 300 km are commonly termed "intermediate-depth" earthquakes...[and]... typically cause less damage on the ground surface above their foci than is the case with similar magnitude shallow-focus earthquakes, but large intermediate-depth earthquakes... may be felt at great distance from their epicenters

So, now we know!

7.3 earthquake

We were just rocked by a substantial earthquake - magnitude 7.3, centered not far west of Martinique. Now that's what I call scary - about 2 minutes of sustained shaking. Cars rocked, motorbike shook, water tank shook and slopped water... and Puss fled.

HUGE Tremor

3:00pm - rocked by huge 2 minute tremor. That was scary! More soon.

Dominica vs USA?

Dominica are set to play Barbados in the qualifying round of the football World Cup 2010 to be held in South Africa. And if they beat them, they'd play the US.

I've always said the small size of our qualifying groups mean we will often come up against big guys - last time it was Mexico. I'll not go into the size of the defeat we suffered then, but just playing these big countries is a great experience.. and great exposure! And maybe out new stadium can host one of the games?

What was a not-so-great experience was the CONCACAF website - go here to read why!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Little Tremor

10:19am - a 4.8 'quake' shook us. A little thing really, centered east of Martinique.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Now that's what I call November!

rainforest raindrops
Originally uploaded by Steve_Mc
November is officially here. Dominica's wettest month has arrived. It began by feeling more like May/June - dry and clear skies. But now it's cold, wet and breezy. Brrrrr!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Nigerian scam refined

Who isn't aware of the Nigerian e-mail scam these days? My junk mail filter lists a half-dozen other African countries which flag an email as a possible scam.

I am though noticing a shift away from the crass 'I am Chief Whathisname of Nigeria with an inheritance of $120 million I want to share with YOU'... Locally we now see enquiries for accommodation (including a need for dozens of cell phones). I also know of someone here selling their car who was contacted from Nigeria. Most scams are easy to spot.

Also beware of false award ceremonies and cultural events! Always Google to verify such. I'd like to think we're savvy to all variants of the Nigerian scam, but I'm not so sure.

Friday, November 23, 2007

sunset Dominica

sunset Dominica
Originally uploaded by Steve_Mc
I'm in the swing of it now, taking my camera out with me when I do my afternoon cycle ride. I'll time the start so I know I'll get to a little clearing that has the view of the palm tree at just the right time. I think it's worth it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

flying over the Pitons

flying over the Pitons
Originally uploaded by Steve_Mc
Took my first ever helicopter ride the other day - a 30-minute trip around St. Lucia. Excellent way to see the island! The Pitons are a focal point, around which the flight 'orbits' then goes over to the east coast.
I was also impressed with how forested and unspoiled the south east and east side of the island is.

I think the pilot should have just piped 'Ride of the Valkyries' through the headphones rather than his commentary.

One really needs to be right next to the window to get the best pics (I wasn't!). Just have to do it again!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Boxing in Paradise

Showtime boxing in Paradise
Originally uploaded by Steve_Mc
Boxing with a West Indian flavour. It felt more like a cricket game. Well, it was held in St. Lucia's national cricket stadium.

Supporters of the Guyanese boxer in the stands drumming and flag waving constantly... several showers forcing the ringside crowd to flee to the drinks tent... and the crowd shouting 'Salop!' every time a punch connected.

And the highlight? Maybe when accumulated rain on the tarp above the ring was blown down and drenched the VIPs & boxers' wives....!

"Welcome to the Caribbean, love".

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I mentioned how I was in our gorgeous Botanical Gardens the other day. I took time off from watching the cricket to see the parrots. There are a few kept for breeding purposes, as the big sign says, and it urges people to be quiet.

Indeed, there was a reverential hush - they are magnificent birds. But I couldn't help feeling for them. Poor things had to put up with the noise of 4 days of Creole in the Park then 3 nights of Creole Music Festival. And fireworks. And this year a wicked thunderstorm. I hope they put a big blanket over their cage like me Gran would!

Work Permit info

I'm so often asked questions about working in Dominica, and the definitive (and official) page on that topic is on the InvestDominica website at

Sunday, November 11, 2007

watching cricket

watching cricket
Originally uploaded by Steve_Mc
There's something special about cricket in the Botanical Gardens. When I lived in Bath Estate, I'd go watch a game to get away from the heat (and noise).

It is a superb setting - gorgeous backdrop, plenty of shade, enthusiastic crowd. Today I could have spent hours there - I wished I'd taken a picnic and a cold beer.

I suppose bigger games will be played in the new stadium, but I'm sure games will still be held in the Gardens.

Postcript: good to see lots of cruise ship visitors watching the cricket today - must have been English!

Saturday, November 10, 2007


We see subtle changes around this time of year. We spend less time watching the weather reports (though Hurricane Lenny in 99 was a reminder you can get a powerful storm in November).

It should also starts to get a little colder, by D/a standards. Not as 'cold' as December/January, but we ought to be feeling a difference. Not that we are, but it's something to look forward to. That and the peak of our wet season. Also missing right now - it's almost as dry as June with clear blue skies to match.

And the sun sets almost an hour earlier now: 5:30 rather than the 6:30 at the height of summer. But in barely a month it's winter solstice and the nights will start to get longer.

Something else I've not seen - or rather heard - yet: the 'cannon'. Usually kids fire off bamboo cannon whose segments are filled with kerosene and heated, giving off loud bangs. Traditionally these start right after Independence and go through to Christmas, but I've not heard one yet in the village.

Musically, Jing Ping stops abruptly once Independence is done, and soon will be heard Christmas songs, the best of which are the Reggae versions of carols.

Listening to: David Bowie - Changes
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Right Response

When greeted by a couple of guys with the cry 'Selassie', do try to remember the correct response is 'Jah' to which we all say together 'Rastafari'...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

2006 Cultural gala

national costume
Originally uploaded by Steve_Mc
The Cultural Gala is my fave part of Independence. It's a fun, colourful, relaxed, full-of-talent afternoon and the last couple of years has been set amidst the beautiful backdrop of the Botanical Gardens.

This year. it was held in the new sports stadium. Now as much as I love the stadium, it's no place for the Gala. Besides being treated like cattle just to get in, the stage is miles away and absolutely no wandering around is allowed. Half the fun of the Gala is the unique mix of the 'lime' and the culture.

So I'm starting a campaign: Move the Gala back to the Gardens! And that's why I post a photo from last year's Gala.

The Next Big Project

I thought I'd document the process you have to go through when coming up with the next killer website. Of course I can't detail everything about it just now...

This personal project was born as many are, from a eureka moment while out cycling. But the seed was planted by my Mum quite some time ago.

But as I gave it some thought, I saw the possibilities. And so I got Serious.

First question - is the concept being done at the moment? A search for the keywords behind the concept is positive - no, it's not being done.

Step 2: find the domain name. All obvious ones are taken. 2a is think of less-obvious (like, or are not obvious names for what the sites do).

Setback 1: Step 2 found a site quite similar to my concept. So Step 3 is: examine that site to see if my idea can still run without being a rip-off. And yes it can (the site I found is just for the US).

So it's back to Step 2, and as such I need to go cycling for more inspiration ;)

Follow this project on our corporate blog!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Our stadium

New stadium
Originally uploaded by Steve_Mc
The new sports stadium was opened last night. I stood on the Morne and looked on from a distance at the start of the ceremony. With the wind blowing inland, I could hear it as if I was there.

The best part was the playing of the national anthem. Anthems are made for playing to crowds in national stadiums. It wasn't quite 'God Save The Queen' at Wembley - polite clapping at the end rather than 100,000 roars - but it's a good tune and stirring words. Words are important in anthems - Spain, please note!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Was I too harsh...?

Steve McCabe: hi
senior_advocate_nig5555: I am Chief Santos Ajala [ SENIOR ADVOCATE OF NIGERIA ]
Steve McCabe: lol
Steve McCabe: i bet you are
senior_advocate_nig5555: HOW R U ?
Steve McCabe: happy that you've made random contact
senior_advocate_nig5555: WHAT ?
Steve McCabe: i'm happy. you're giving me millions of dollars, right?
senior_advocate_nig5555: PLS WHAT R U TALKING ABOUT ?
Steve McCabe: doing business with you
Steve McCabe: can we?
Steve McCabe: please?
Steve McCabe: i have an inheritance i need to share

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Lilapsophobia - it has rather a nice ring to it. Lil-apso-phobia. Or Li-laps-o...

It's what many of us develop between June-November every year. One sign is an almost compulsive viewing of satellite images of the Atlantic & Caribbean (I've got a Widget that cycles through half-a-dozen different ones - IR, Visible, Atlantic Analysis - every 60 seconds).

It also involves compulsive hoarding: squirreling away gallons of water, batteries & candles. I also maintain a rigid spare trash bags policy.

Sufferers speak in tongues: ranting about latitude, shear, millibars, waves, categories... and often incant people's names (David, Andrew, Dean...).

And they are always the first to speak about their Depressions.

And if there wasn't a worrisome 'cyclonic circulation center near 19n36w to 13n42w to
8n47w' out there that I need to investigate throughly, I'd tell you more about this phobia!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pointe Michel School cultural group

A couple of years on, and I again chance upon a cultural group at Scott's Head and get a couple of great photos!

Dominica's independence celebration (Oct-Nov) is one of my fave times of year, especially when the planets align and you get national costume at a national park! More photos here

Friday, October 05, 2007

Stop wasting time...

(taken from wired magazine)

The Procrastinator's Clock

The Procrastinator's Clock (for Windows/Mac/web) is guaranteed to be up to 15 minutes fast. However, it also speeds up and slows down in an unpredictable manner so you can’t be sure how fast it really is. Furthermore, the clock is guaranteed to not be slow, assuming your computer clock is sync’d with NTP; many computers running Windows and Mac OS X with persistent Internet connections already are. So what will motivate you to be on time if you use this clock? FEAR, UNCERTAINTY and DOUBT! Use of this clock shows that, although your friends have created a separate timetable just to accommodate your legacy of tardiness, you really care about being on time. By assuming that the clock might actually be telling the correct time, you'll hopefully assume that that afternoon meeting is sooner than you thought and get back to work. Hopefully.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


I noticed a flyer for a kiddie's party/event - possibly part of Police Week - where one highlight was children's fingerprinting. Elsewhere in the world, it would probably create a civil liberties outrage. Here, it may signal that this innovative new technology is being adapted in Dominica. The last time I looked at official crime-related statistics, there were zero crimes solved using fingerprint evidence.... But maybe it was just a typo for 'fingerpainting'!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Wimax down the line?

C&W's near-monopoly on Internet may not be forever here. Digicel - at least in Jamaica - are partnering with Wimax to bring wireless broadband.... more soon

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ad-free surfing

As a web developer, I know the value of advertising for web sites... but surfing without the ads is just delightful. I'm using the Firefox extension AdBlock Plus (it's free, of course) and being able to read an article without having to maneuver around the adverts is wonderful.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lies, damn lies, and Wikipedia

I often turn to Wikipedia when starting research because, well, because it comes up high in a Google search so often.

But if the Wikipedia entry on Dominica is anything to go by, it needs to be taken with something of a grain of salt (note that I began with 'starting research').

Interestingly, the most wildly inaccurate section was Demographics. Perhaps because it was based on a non-existent 2003 census. And this section couldn't be edited.

I did get a laugh though at the Language section, because it stated the cocoy dialect was based on Creole and London Cockney. Laugh? I nearly ran up the apples and pairs to the old trouble an strife.

Do what, leave it out, knock it on the 'ead, mate.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Shame on the Marriott

A quick 'shame on you' to the Marriott chain of hotels who charge $11 for a day's worth Internet access while charging up to $225 a night for a room. I don't mind an 'EasyJet' low-cost, pay for add-ons approach, but to charge that for a room -get this - also charge for a support call when the service is down - is shameful.

I shoulda stayed at Antigua airport - choice of 4 FREE wireless networks!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Kittitian volcano hike

Mt Liamuiga is St Kitts tallest mountain at 3,792ft, and a 'potentially active' stratovolcano with a very well defined crater that contains a lake which varies in size according to the season.

I went with Royston of, who picked me up from the hotel and did a couple of side trips to viewpoints of the island en route.

The hike starts from the north of the island, so it's about an hour's drive from Basseterre. We drove up a track to about 1,000 ft, and started the hike from there.

It's a well defined track that just goes up for 75 mins - quite steep but no real clambering. If I was to compare with a Dominica hike, it's like Morne Anglais (without the part when you go down-hill before the part where you go uphill to the summit).

The vegetation is almost identical to Dominica's rainforest, a little less lush. We heard but didn't see some of St Kitts' famous monkeys.

At the top, there's a rock formation called The Devil's Tooth. Clamber partway up and there are some great views north towards the island Saba.

It is possible to climb down into the crater, or up to the pointy peak. We sat on the rim of the crater (at 2,861ft), ate the subways that Royton had kindly provided, took a breather, then descended - it took just an hour going down.

Al in all, a good half-day work-out on a beautiful Kittitian mountain!

See also

Monday, September 10, 2007

"A burst of convection"

The National Hurricane Centre called it just 'a burst of convection' but that 'blob' on the satellite images gave us a night of torrential rain and a tremendous, violent thunderstorm that's still going on....

Monday, September 03, 2007

Felix goes from 1 -5 in record time

Just reading how Hurricane Felix has set a record for the fastest intensification of a storm.

"Hurricane Felix put on an incredibly ferocious burst of intensification last night, winding up into a small but potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane. Felix now holds the record for shortest time for an Atlantic storm to intensify to Category 5 strength. Felix required just 51 hours to reach Category 5 strength after it started as a tropical depression. That is a truly remarkable intensification rate, considering most tropical cyclones take 3-5 days to organize into a Category 1 hurricane. The tracking coordinates for Felix show that it has spent more of its life at Category 5 strength than any other classification."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

How it happened

Just for posterity, here's how Hurricane Dean came and went.

Sunday 12th August: Tropical Depression 4 forms at 12N and 31W and though it's way out in the Atlantic, it is forecast to slowly strengthen and head in our direction. I do my first panic buying.

Monday 13th - Wednesday 15th: TD4 becomes Tropical Storm Dean. Given it's westerly speed (a quick 20MPH) I work out it'll pass over us Friday morning. The forecast path has it a little south of us, but it will be a hurricane by the time it reaches us.

Thursday 16th: We're now in a Hurricane Warning and people are sent home from work from the afternoon onwards. It's announced the power will be cut at midnight, and water will go from around 10pm. Otherwise, it's a normal morning in town.

Friday 17th: By 6am the winds & rain wake me. I debate staying in bed, but decide to give the house a once-over. I am freaked out to look out of the front window and see the big nutmeg trees all toppled over. I decide its time to get serious so I dress fully including raincoat, and make sure my essentials bag (camera, change of clothes, passport etc) is very close at hand.

I turn my small radio on to listen to local radio; the Roseau river is flooding, but specific facts are otherwise hard to come by.

Noted the huge drop in pressure whenever I dared open the front door to venture out.

Amazingly, the land lines are all working, but the cell service is 'Emergency Only'. I wonder how that will help.

6pm: It finally stops raining enough to think about venturing out to see what's going on in the neighbourhood. Branches down all over the road. Meet guys with chainsaws going to clear trees. See a high-tension power line down across the road a little up the hill; it could be some time before we get electricity back. Word is there are landslides below the village.

Saturday 18th: Grey, overcast, but generally dry. I take my first drive out of the village. Pass some small landslides that have been cleared. The breadfruit trees along the road are decimated. Stunned to see evidence of how high the Roseau river had been. The 7-11 shows bare sports on the shelves where the Crix and muesli had been. Town otherwise calm, electricity has been restored at least in the Roseau area.

In the garden, most of the fruits - avocados, grapefruit - have been blown off the trees.

Tuesday: Water comes back on. A proper shower, even if cold, is a treat!

Wednesday evening: the power is back! Astounded to turn on the TV and find Marpin bright & clear! I celebrate with a cold can of Guinness.

Final stats:
Sadly, two people died on Friday
Max winds in Roseau: 78MPH
My rain gauge overfilled, so it was 120mm+
Damage: $EC90 million.

Many thanks for all the support!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Returning to normal

yellow warbler
Originally uploaded by Steve_Mc
A week after Dean, I see the first Broad-winged Hawk since the storm. The smallest of birds - the hummingbirds, the Yellow Warbler - and the larger ones - heron, flycatcher, ani - were all back in evidence soon after the storm had passed. But the magnificent Hawk took it's time.

Actually, it was seeing a postman on Monday this week that I knew we were back to normal here ;)

Hurricane Tips

A week after Dean. The season is not yet at its peak. My limited internet access this last week has always started by looking at the Atlantic satellite image every day.

A friend has some good tips for handling a storm here.

I'd add:

1) If you've got a generator, make sure it's working
2) Unplug and bag all your computer equipment/electricals, and put somewhere safe - ideally off the floor but under a desk/table
3) Save & store all the water you can, esp. drinking water.
4) make sure the generator is working
5) charge all your rechargeable batteries, inc. your cell phone. The electricity is always shut off just before the storm, and you can count on it not coming back for a couple of days. Even as of today there are still areas without.

We were lucky to have had a full five days warning of Dean's arrival.

Storm chaser loves Dominica!

I feel honoured that a professional hurricane chaser came to Dominica... and loved it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dean +5

3pm - cell service restored.

7pm - electricity finally came back on.

10pm - a can of cold Draught Guinness was had.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Unsung Heros of Dean

A big two thumbs up (fuck it, how about 4 thumbs up!) to some of the unsung heroes of Hurricane Dean's passage through Dominica - all the guys with chain saws who got out there the same day to start the process of clearing up. I was walking through the village on Saturday evening and met one guy with a bunch of kids following him down the road, like a scene from the Pied Piper of Hamlyn.

Dean +4

Ah the bliss - water was turned back on yesterday. Still no power though.

After extensive analysis, here's my list of Top Fruit Trees That'll Weather A Hurricane:
Mango - sturdy as hell
Grapefruit - just loses all it's fruit
Avaocado - ditto

Top Fruit Trees That Fall Over
Breadfruit - it's the gangly basketball player on stilts of the lot, top heavy too!
Nutmeg - sadly, a featherweight
And if banana was a tree, it would be number one. Fortunately, in 12 weeks or so, they'll be back.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dean aftermath, continued...

3 days after Dean hit, still no water or electricity, though I was heartened to look across the valley to Eggleston last night and see street lights on.

Basically, it's like the island has been pruned. All the old trees, dead leaves etc. have been stripped. This does have the benefit of opening up more views where before there was no vista.

Town's back to normal - business as usual today.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hurricane Dean aftermath in Dominica

Hurricane Dean aftermath
Originally uploaded by Steve McCabe
A quick post because power is still off. Hurricane Dean really took a good whack at us; I took a quick trip into Roseau earlier today and was astonished by what I saw; lots of big trees felled (and lots of people walking around with breadfruit under their arms!), and the evidence that the Roseau river was a raging torrent. At last though the sun is out. All we need now is electricity...!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Out in the village

I spent the afternoon preparing in the house, but on my daily bike ride through the village you could see people were taking Hurricane Dean seriously, boarding up windows.

Up at the top of the hill, the gusts of wind hinted at what is to come.

The water will be cut at 10pm, and the electricity will be cut around midnight.

2pm status on Dean

The 2pm advisory has Hurricane Dean strengthening further, but staying on a westerly track, towards Martinique.

I expect the water to be turned off early evening, then the power late evening, so I'm filling up buckets, and bagging all my computer equipment. Weather's fine, slightly gusty winds but generally sunny.

Hurricane Dean due tonight

Dean will be passing over us around 6am on Friday. We'll start to feel the winds from midnight tonight.

Hurricane Dean

The system I seem to have been watching for ages is now Hurricane Dean. It's got a better shape this morning. Couple of things in our favour - it's forecast to pass somewhat south of us - right over Martinique. Also, more of the system is to the south of us, and it's moving fast - over 20 MPH - so it'll be past us soon! The pressure though has dropped to 987 mb, so it's strengthening rapidly. It's due to pass over us. We'll start to see it within 24 hours.

Best site for info:

The usual preparations are being made. Store lots of water, buy lots of canned food. 'Crix & Kubuli' or even 'Beer and Oysters' in some cases.

As Michael Caine said, 'You, you and you stay calm, the rest of you panic'.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Where are the McCabes

Found this today; the distribution of McCabes in the mainland UK. See, I said we're from Scotland!

No surprise that there's also a concentration in the north-west, but there's also a few in Cornwall. And 2 more I know in Devon ;)

More at

Listening to: Sting - If You Love Somebody Set Them Free
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Look out for the tail

Like a wounded crocodile (well not really), it's the tail end of a tropical weather system that you often have to look out for. AL99, barely a wave as it crosses us and heads into the Caribbean, has brought thunder, dark dark skies and occasional heavy showers. When the main part passed over yesterday, it was mostly blue skies and showers...

Now playing: Augustus Pablo - King Tubby Meets The Rockers
via FoxyTunes

Monday, July 30, 2007

The UK's been moved!

Our intrepid correspondent has this amazing breaking news...

"In a bold move to counter recent bad weather hitting the UK, the Government there has decided to move the country to the Caribbean.

Officials wouldn't say if the move was permanent, but did say it was pretty hard to fit the entire population of the UK into islands only 616 sq. Km..

An official was quoted as saying that climate change had forced the move on them, and that they would be rotating the location of the UK through various UK territories world-wide. He also said that rising sea-levels in the Caribbean might eventually force a move to somewhere higher like Nepal."

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's The Price You Pay...

From now on, when an ex-pat bleats on about not being able to get some little thing in Dominica, I'm invoking the ITPYPFLIP clause.

"It's The Price You Pay For Living In Paradise".

That's the whole point about Dominica. No big shopping malls. No 24-7 stores. If you come to D/a with a consuming mindset you're doomed. In fact one of the challenges of living here is working round things. alternatives. making do with something else. Or doing without, even.

Even having a power cut is a chance to pause, take a breather, chill. God know how these ex-pats will manage when then next tropical storm passes over.

Dominica is not the place for instant gratification. Unless it's stunning natural beauty you're after.

Listening to: UB40 - One In Ten
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Why The Simpsons flopped in the Middle East

“So there were other problems,” says Hosny. “This guy Homer drinks beer all the time, but this is a sin to the Arabs. So I told them that he will drink she’er — which is a [non-alcoholic] malt drink, and close to beer in sound, so good for dubbing. But they refused this. They said we must make it ‘juice.’” And so on. Through a steady process of cross-cultural attrition — no bacon sandwiches, no Moe’s Tavern, church becomes masjid (mosque) — The Simpsons was whittled down to a shadow of itself. As for Smithers’s feelings for Mr. Burns? “I naturally tried to underemphasize that,” says Hosny."...

..."Four days after the end of Ramadan 2005, 34 episodes into its 52-episode run, Al Shamshoon was pulled from MBC 1. It is a lesson in cross-cultural adaptation, and a warning of how delicate a powerful piece of television art like The Simpsons actually is. But regardless of how specifically North American it may be, The Simpsons does have fans (like the blogger Noor) in cultures often very different from our own. Those Muslim fans may not drink beer (although many do), but they don’t begrudge Homer his six-pack of Duff. As the man himself would put it: “Mmmm. Sacrilicious.”"

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Anybody got a spare Pangolin?

In Dominica you have to be constantly on the lookout for termites. They'll sneak in overnight, and if you don't notice their 'runs' you'll soon be in trouble. I've even seen them eat an entire mattress, apart from the springs.

So I'm thinking of getting a Pangolin, or indeed any anteater will do, Scaly, spiny or otherwise.

I could even rent it out. 'Aardvarks r Us' (which would be the first entry in the phonebook for sure). 1-800-Pangolin... 'An eco-friendly solution to infestation'.

Well, it beats using Baygon or Bop!

More on the anteater species...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

PirateMaster cancelled

Well it was crap, but it was also fun to see Dominica, some of it very familiar, some refreshingly not. But CBS have cancelled. Sorry, 'made the last episodes available exclusively online'.

So can I reveal who won now?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Two Cannibals

My Dad told me a joke yesterday:

Two cannibals meet up in town.
"Hey, how are things? Not seen you for a while. You're looking well."
"Thanks! I've been away on holiday."
"Yeah?" Noticing the other cannibal's arm is missing, "But what happened to your arm?"
"It was self-catering."

(It's the way he tells them).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sea level to rise

"Sea levels may rise by 9 inches this century, scientists warn"

So even though Scott's Head - Soufriere get a new sea wall, you'll not be able to get there because Pointe Michele will be under water!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Weather... or not

It's not even a low or depression, but the big weather system just gone over dumped a lot of rain and left mist and clouds this evening like you'd get in Manchester.

When checking weather, I generally start with the Intellicast Atlantic Analysis for an overview. Then I'll zoom in to one of the NOAA satellites - their Storm Floaters are awesome, since they follow a active storm.

And for long-range, potential-development areas I like - they're a lot better than their name suggests!

I would mention the regional (based in Martinique/Guadeloupe) Doppler but it's not been working for weeks. Bloody French for you.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bees study

Honey bees are disappearing here too, so I was interested to read the following:

"Jul 13: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Gale Buchanan announced that USDA researchers have finalized an action plan for dealing with colony collapse disorder (CCD) of honey bees. The CCD is characterized by the sudden and mysterious die-off of honey bee colonies [See WIMS 4/4/07]. Buchanan said, "There were enough honey bees to provide pollination for U.S. agriculture this year, but beekeepers could face a serious problem next year and beyond. This action plan provides a coordinated framework to ensure that all of the research that needs to be done is covered in order to get to the bottom of the CCD problem."

Read more: or the official release here:

Divefest sunset

Divefest sunset
Originally uploaded by Pirate 605
End of another Divefest with the Carib Canoe race. It sums up Dominica perfectly - seemingly chaotic, runs very late, lots of loud music & BBQ chicken, beautiful setting,

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Did you know...?

Dominica's top 3 tourist attractions (in terms of Site Passes sold to visitors) are:

Trafalgar Falls (63,000 visitors yearly), Emerald Pool (54k). Indian River (14k)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pirate Master at Scott's Head

This week's episode of Pirate Master was set at Scott's Head, and it was amazing how every view of the Head didn't show the cell tower!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Chillin' out

Chillin' out
Originally uploaded by Pirate 605
Who's leading the way in the chillin' stakes? The cat or the Cousin?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Sunday cycle

I go cycling up through the village most days, but the Sunday morning ride is special. It's like quickly running through the dial on a radio, you get a little taste of what's going on.

The cacophony of the Christian church, the sombre worship at the Catholic church...the well dressed children running late to either of the churches.. A snatch of Country & Western music from someone's home... The Clash playing at another house (that'd be mine). And the highlight: a delicious smell of someone frying plaintains for breakfast...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Done the Boiling Lake?

For those champions who have done the Boiling Lake hike, we've had a guestbook and simple photo gallery for several years. I've just dumped the old gallery in favour of a Flickr group (what took me so long I hear you ask!).

So if you've got a photo of your trip to the Lake, add it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Another view of the Boeri Lake

Picture of a very low Boeri Lake:
Boeri Lake

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chelsea, or Manchester Utd?

Why was Jack Malone on 'Without a Trace' wearing a Chelsea t-shirt???

For the same reason Man Utd featured on The Simpsons tonight, perhaps...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Manchester Mexican...

...Rickey Hatton does it again, with an awesome round 4 win over Castillo.

BTW did you see Wayne Rooney in Hatton's entourage?!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Red rocks

red rocks
Originally uploaded by Pirate 605
These were the location for the clue and treasure in Episode 4 of Pirate Master. They are located near Pointe Baptiste in the north of the island.

Pirate Master

PM had a little fire to it last night (rather than just being good because of Dominica being the location). The area around Red Rocks in the north of Dominica was the setting for the episode; the trails were the ones near Pointe Baptiste.

Red Rocks by the way are the exposed red soil & rock formations.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Longest Day

The Longest Day. Summer Solstice. Bloody windy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

2007 Hurricane Season

Today I heard the first thunder of the year, a sure sign we're in the hurricane season. We've got a small tropical wave passing over us but it just gave us overcast skies. I do however have my eye on a big storm just coming off the coast of Africa!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Many hands make light work?

I saw this posting today on a vaguely Dominica-related blog from a Nigerian about a new collaborative website, and I just had to quote it:

"We hope that you will be interested enough to wank to participate because this endeavour will require many hands doing many things."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Pirate Master & the Layou River

Last night's Pirate Master featured the Layou River (Dominica's longest). The small waterfall where the treasure was found is just off the side road that went down to what was the rope bridge over the river - sadly, washed away by the great flood of 1997.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Boeri Lake

Boeri Lake
Originally uploaded by Pirate 605
We're at the end of our 'dry season'.. and you can tell. The Boeri Lake was like Blackpool beach when the tide's out... you had to walk a long way to get to the water.

Friday, June 08, 2007

View from Cabrits

View from Cabrits
Originally uploaded by Pirate 605
Fort Shirley is part of the Cabrits National Park. This is where last night's episode of Pirate Master was set.

Shark-infested waters?

Maybe it was OK that last night's Pirate Master didn't emphasise that the location was Dominica. If you believed them, we've shark-infested waters and snake-filled pits. I wish! Though we do have boa constrictors and small harmless snakes, none are poisonous. And the sharks are way way out at sea.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Just watching Pirate Master, episode 1, again. Things to note:

- I heard about the guy who set-up the locks, and they were an ingenious 3-part 1-key lock

- There are no crocodiles in Dominica

- The 'croc' heads seen were actually alligators.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Indian River
Originally uploaded by Pirate 605
The Indian River, Dominica, location for the first episode of the new CBS show 'Pirate Master'

Well, very eagerly anticipated here in Dominica, and of course our island was the real winner. Great shots of the island.

But I don't think John deserved to go. Didn't he actually find the treasure in the river? Shit happens I suppose. I did like how he was set adrift on an authentic local 'pwi-pwi' - a makeshift raft kids use locally for fishing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Soufriere view, Dominica

Soufriere view, Dominica
Originally uploaded by Pirate 605
A fave view-point of mine, and the Bay was extensively used in the new Pirate Master adventure reality TV series

Monday, May 28, 2007

This month is Pirates month for Dominica. Last week saw the release of Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End. I'm not sure there are many scenes set in Dominica - watching just the trailer for PotC 2 was like a 2 minute tour of the island - but Pirates 3 may have the scenes on the Black Pearl that I was in! Certainly, the trailer has an awesome shot from a helicopter as it flies over cliffs and swoops down on the Black Pearl... and that was from second day of filming I was involved in.

Then Thursday this week it's the CBS show Pirate Master. Check for some great photos of Dominica.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Great quotes (all about John Prescott's speaking style):

Yesterday in Brighton, John Prescott went 12 rounds with the English language and left it slumped and bleeding over the ropes. Matthew Parris, The Times.

"Prescott left the road, overturned, demolished a wall, hit several trees and came to rest upturned in the smoking wreckage of his ministerial reputation. Matthew Parris, The Times.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Today's the end of the special visa requirements for our part of the Caribbean. What a farce (bit like the ending of the Cricket World Cup itself!). The CWC will be remembered for a murder and an ending at a stadium refurbished for millions of dollars... but with no floodlights.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

I knew I wasn't imagining it. At the end of the Arsenal-Chelsea game today, which finisahed 1-1 and thus gave Manchester United the Premiership title, Jose 'The Special One' Mourinho walks onto the pitch, shadowed by the TV camera. And told him to 'F##k off'.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Freshwater Lake, Dominica

Freshwater Lake, Dominica
Originally uploaded by Pirate 605.
A stunningly beautiful day at the Freshwater Lake. Photo taken from the circular trail that starts at the western end of the lake. It takes about an hour and is quite steep but on a day like that, the views are fabulous.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I liked the sign on the door to the Departures lounge at Melville Hall airport....


A warning for the addicted?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ghost town...

Despite the Carnival Destiny being in town (BTW, did you know you can pick up the ship's wi-fi across the Bayfront? Handy if you're in need of a hotspot!) Roseau was so very quiet. Why? Cricket World Cup match vs. Pakistan! We won too!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It's not often I feel compelled to review a website, but I've just been to The Times Online Travel site at

And boy, what a mess. 'E-mail this story' links that opened an e-mail with neither Subject or link to the story, Destination sections that were 'unavailable'... 3 out of 10, The Times

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Carnival parade, Monday

Carnival parade, Monday
Originally uploaded by Pirate 605.
For a while I was reluctant to even get the camera out - it all seemd so much like past carnivals. But it's hard not to maintain one's grumpiness for long...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Searching Blogger

is nearly impossible from within your own blog. In fact, you have to exit to

Identifying this spider...

Spider: Argiope
Originally uploaded by Pirate 605.
.... would be easier if I hadn't swamped Google images with photos of me, Spider and our motorbikes! Try searching for +Dominica +spider and you'll see what I mean

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Morne Trois Pitons
Originally uploaded by Pirate 605.
View north across the valley to Morne Trois Pitons. Another shot taken on my late afternoon cycling trips.