Sunday, August 11, 2013

Photoblog: The Raptor Foundation

Finally I have managed to scrape together enough internets to get some photos uploaded and now I can write a post about my visit to Cambridgeshire's Raptor Foundation a couple of weeks ago.

Please don't expect me to remember ornithological details and names beyond "owl". Feel free to comment with interesting info about the birds you see if you know more than I do, though.
Raptors are birds of prey* including owls, eagles, hawks, harriers, buzzards, kites and vultures, and the Raptor Foundation provides medical care and rehabilitation or sanctuary for injured raptors as well as conducting research into conservation and related environmental matters.

Who you lookin' at?
The Foundation is open to the public (it costs £5 per adult to get in), and the birds can be seen at fairly close-quarters, tethered to stakes or secured in their enclosures. There are 2 to 3 flying displays throughout the day hosted by a team demonstrators who have a clearly identifiable passion for the creatures they work with.
Neil doing what Neil does.

They also have other events throughout the year, some of which happen at set times such as the twilight displays (I'd love to go to one of those) and others that can be booked in advance.

Being much more of a proactive photographer than I am, my good buddy Neil booked him, me and a bunch of folks he talks to on a photography website onto a photographic day. This costs more than a standard visit to the Foundation** and includes not only time to wander around the bird enclosures and watch the displays, but also some up-close-and-personal time with a selection of raptors in some nice, photogenic settings***. During the standard displays we were encouraged to position ourselves in non-standard positions, such as under the flightpaths of the birds, in order to get the most out of the experience as photographers.

At one point I completely failed to get an awesome shot as I was vaguely concerned that the enormous owl coming straight at me was about to carry me off into the trees where it could eat bits of me at leisure.

I think this goes some way towards showing just how up-close-and-personal we could get with these majestic creatures.
Whilst the birds themselves were fascinating, as usual I tried to push myself in a direction inspired by another friend's photography**** and include some candid shots of people doing people things.

Here are some of the shots I'm most proud of from the day. As usual, the only post-processing is cropping and a little bit of colour and brightness correction (largely done automatically by Picasa):

This kind of looks like a studio background, but it isn't, honest!


Watching, waiting.

Watching me like a... well, like an owl.

This guy was a poser and a half.


I love this shot, but can't quite articulate why.

It proved tricky getting good in-flight shots - I had similar problems to the ones at Waddington (though not quite so comical)

Some of the up-close shots of the raptors getting their rewards were... disgusting.

Lift off!

We all had a chance to act as perch for these beautiful owls.

This is not a raptor.

Neither are these, though they remind me of someone...

Framed by foliage

As usual there are more shots over on my Flickr account. Please have a look and let me know which shots are your favourites, and why! It'll help me to become a better photographer.

* Not, as I'd hoped, particularly cunning and vicious pack-hunting dinosaurs.
** I can't remember how much as Neil very kindly paid for me as a birthday present!
*** Trees.
**** Carlos, of Oblique Exposure.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Waddington Air Show 2013

It's that time of year again - that time when my old uni buddy Neil and I high-tail it to RAF Waddington for their annual air show to geek-out with 'planes and 'tography.

Surely these guys need no introduction?
For a number of reasons I haven't really played with my D60 since October. Consequently, Sunday's visit to RAF Waddington was the first opportunity I've had to put my new lens through its paces. The lack of practise is one thing I'm blaming the quality* of these photos on. Another is the general shoddiness of the air quality: the hottest day of the year produced significant heat haze on top of an already hazy sky.

A ghostly Battle of Britain memorial flight.
Another issue that seriously affected the quality of my shots was luck. Or, rather, my habitual lack of it. As may be seen in these four snaps...
Hide & Seek & Destroy!
Look out for the- !
This isn't just sky: look carefully...

Although amongst the accidentals, I was quite pleased when I noticed my traitorous shutter-button finger had managed to catch the one below:

Now try to get this one on purpose.
I almost forgot another complaint: the runway and airspace within which the aerial displays happen at Waddington lies unfortunately between the public areas and the sun which, on a day as painfully bright as Sunday, makes for a stack of photos that are little more than silhouettes. Unfortunately there weren't many that I could pass off as being artsy.

This one would have been great had the sun occupied a more thoughtful location.
Thankfully Lanc-y and the boys looped round for another pass, and managed to get the sun on their good side.
Here are a handful of miscellaneous shots that I'm fairly happy with:

Bend over, let me see ya shake a tail feather.
It's a chinook, but you can pretend it's part of some steampunk-y spaceship if you wish. I am.
I'm always struck by how pleased this plane looks to see me.
Penultimately, here are a couple of nutters:

Rather then than me.
And to finish with, a photo that's just dying for a caption competition:

Seriously, when I finally get around to writing Tom's Illustrated Compendium of Things You Probably Shouldn't Do, this is going on the cover.
You can see the other photos I deemed worthy of uploading on my Flickr photostream.

* Or lack thereof.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Resisting the urge to talk
about nibbling Amy.
It was my birthday a mere eight months ago, but I haven't seen Emma since before then, so I got my present(s) when we met up yesterday to go and see Iron Man 3*****.

One of my presents was a box of cupcakes with a Whoish theme, but it's not those that I want to talk about here (even though they look awesome and taste delicious).

Another one of my presents was a set of limited edition 3D cinema glasses in the style of Anakin Skywalker's podracing goggles, presented in a TARDIS pencil case. Whilst simultaneously cool, surreal, and multu-fandom, I haven't posted in order to talk about those, either.

Here's what I have posted for:

Hello, sweetie.
I've seen various versions of River Song's time-diary****, first encountered (by us) in Tennant-Era Who two-parter Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead, available for purchase. Some are mass-produced clean-paged notebooks on the inside (I bought one as a Christmas present for someone who really didn't deserve it); some are one-off fan-made affairs available through sites such as Etsy.

This particular one is a bespoke offering made by Emma in conjunction with somebody really quite famous indeed. I carefully slid the "Warning; Spoilers" label off (it's sealed with a wax stamp on the reverse*) and opened the book, expecting to see blank notebook pages, but instead saw this:

That's space stuff, that is.

Yes. Information about space. Not the scrawlings of a time traveller, but properly published space info. Or spacefo, if you prefer. Freeing the book of its custom dust jacket, I saw this and, if I was capable of doing such a thing, I would have squeed:

This, as anybody who has precisely the same set of interests as me** will know is a beautifully pocket-sized book published in 1962 for the discerning and budding astronomer by one Patrick Moore***. I knew this just by looking at the cover because - and this is weird for a book that was released twenty years before I was born - I already have one. Or, rather, my dad has one and it lives on one of the bookshelves in my house because I... liberated it. It's one of those books that you expect to find notes written in. My dad's copy has the cryptic "Library No. 1" and a circled "2" in the front, with a "1" and "May 21st 1966" written at the back. My new River Song-ed copy has "Care of K. Lewis" handwritten on the contents page.

Even without the very cool custom dust jacket, it is a very good little book, and scores over older, more pedestrian works in two important respects: First, it is slightly cheaper; and second, it has the words "THE OBSERVER'S BOOK OF ASTRONOMY" inscribed in large, friendly letters on its cover.

* The stamp itself is from the Harry Potter franchise - Emma has no qualms about mixing universes. If we all end in a big, swirly paradox, you know who to blame.
** At present, the total count is five, with two currently incarcerated for the protection of themselves and others, one recently escaped, and a toy badger.
*** If you don't know who Patrick Moore is, then... how did you get here? I mean, how did you arrive at this page? I'm not casting aspersions on your ability to accurately click links, but... I bet you watch Eastenders, don't you?
**** Whilst checking this post for glaring errors it occurs to me that all diaries are time-diaries, really.
***** And this bit sounds a bit like a primary school child's "what I did on my holidays" work on the first day back in the classroom.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Coffee? A Social Experiment

Eagle- eyed readers will probably have failed to notice a new link in the bar under the header of this page: Coffee?

Allow me to explain.

I want to meet new people. The way that most people do this, so I'm told, is by going to places where people are and saying hello to them. I struggle with this immensely, in the same way that a toddler may struggle with proving PoincarĂ©'s conjecture. I can turn up to places where there are people and stay there for any length of time without talking to anyone. This, I have been told, makes me look unsociable (in some cases), aloof (in others) and "oh, were you there too?" (in most).

Playing my part in a funny-face slam. With a 4 year old friend.
The truth is that I try to talk to people. I try very hard. Unfortunately, when I try to talk to people in social situations most of my mind appears to occupy itself with imagining gerbils tumbling over one another. The harder I try to talk to people, the more gerbils there are. The rest of my mind goes all... well, if you're a Red Dwarf fan, you'll know what I'm talking about if I reference Lister's Paranoia. Why would they want to talk to you?

Just to clarify: this isn't about girls, or dating, it's just about people. There has to be someone out there I can talk to*, and that's what this is about.

If you find yourself here, at this blog, liking something that you read, and thinking "hey, this is a frood I could really have coffee with**," then click the link, fill in the form and let me know. Of course, 'coffee' is an umbrella term that I have chosen to stand in for any kind of activity which involves two or more people getting together and finding out more about each other than they previously knew. So actually drinking coffee would be a good example, but I'm also open to a nice beer, pizza, walking around nice places, visiting museums, using trigonometry to discover the heights of national monuments, learning to ride a unicycle, visiting bookshops, or... anything at all, really. In fact, if it gives me something to write about on this blog, all the better. If you just want to chat online, then you're welcome to get in touch any way you see fit. A good place to start would be here.

After a face-painting activity.
With aforementioned 4 year old friend.
I don't care where you are: if you're nearby (by which I mean anywhere around Milton Keynes or Kettering)  then great, that's easy. But if you're further afield (by which I mean Portsmouth, Edinborough***, the Himalayas or the ISS) then don't let that put you off because I might find myself there at some point (my job has me travelling around the country a bit, or you might just convince me to come and visit for a day) and there's no reason why we can't talk online anyway.

I don't care who you are. As I've said, this is not a dating profile, so you can be male or female, tall or short, black, white, purple or green, and into all sorts of stuff. If you're into the same things as me, then great. If you're interested in different stuff, then awesome: I like new stuff.

Lastly, I'm all for paradoxes, so if you're reading this thinking "there's no way he'd want to talk to me," then you're most likely someone I'd want to talk to. I don't expect a flood of responses from this, but if I meet just one more person I click with then it's all been worth it, hasn't it?

* I need to clarify, in the spirit of not offending anyone who doesn't deserve it, that I do know a handful of people I can talk to, and are great fun and fantastically interesting in incredibly diverse ways. I've been thinking of running a series of posts about each one and why you should browse their stuff. But there's always room for one more, right?
** If you want to know more about me and what I'm into, check out the labels in the sidebar of this blog, have a click around this page, or find me on twitter or G+.
*** Chrome's spell checker is desperate for me to change 'Edinborough' to 'Gainsborough', rather than 'Edinburgh' as, of course, it should be. I have nothing against Gainsborough, but a better handle on where Edinburgh is.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chipper Skiffer Chiffer Sculpture (Or: Alan Turing's Likeness)

In Bletchley Park's museum stands (or sits, rather pensively hunched over an Enigma machine) this slate sculpture of mathematician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist, Alan Turing. Lots is written about Alan Turing, his life, achievements and his apalling treatment at the hands of the British judiciary system, and I'm not here to repeat all of that.
Taken by me.
I'm here to relate a startling but ultimately meaningless coincidence that I picked up during a conversation with one of BP's resident bombe team. It goes like this:

The Swedish word for "slate" is "skiffer". Go here and click the relevant button to hear how that's pronounced.

There's another Swedish word that's pretty similar when written down, but, when spoken, almost indistinguishable to my unpracticed ears*: "chiffer".

And what does that mean, boys and girls?
"Cipher". Go here and press the appropriate button to hear them both spoken in quick succession, then come back and agree with me.
* I think the difference is mainly in the intonation and/or emphasis than the actual sounds used, although I'm fairly sure I'm feeling a slightly harsher sound at the beinning of "skiffer" compared with the beginning of "chiffer".

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My First Particle Accelerator

No, this isn't a sneak-peak at this year's Christmas must-have on the toy shelves*: I'm talking about my first visit to a particle accelerator.

My new job role** has seen me doing some interesting things that I simply didn't get the opportunity to even think about as a teacher. This evening I headed over to Diamond Light Source in Didcot, Oxfordshire, as they were hosting a STEM ambassador networking event. It was an excellent opportunity to meet professionals and educators in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and I feel I've made some connections that could grow into mutually useful relationships. But that's not the point of this post...

Diamond Light Source is the UK's only synchrotron science facility. In short they Do Science by way of accelerating electrons to relativistic speeds, using the resultant beams of light (at wavelengths from infrared to X-ray) to conduct various academic and industrial research projects. If you're not sure what that all means, it's a big silver doughnut visible from the A34:

View Larger Map

At the end of the networking event we were given the opportunity to be taken on a tour of the facility. After hesitating for approximately no fractions of a second I tore myself away from the possibility of spending my evening doing nothing at all and leapt with childish glee (in my mind, at least) after our tour guide, the knowledgeable and engaging Laura Holland.

Standing on top of the Diamond Synchrotron, the yellow line on the floor traces the path that electrons follow below,
kept on the right track by powerful electromagnets
The tour was great: I've never visited a particle accelerator before, so it was all I could do to stop myself running around like a small child in a sweet shop. Even though you can't see the actual particle acceleratory stuff, there's a lot to be said for standing in a building that's humming with the promise of science happening all around you. The tour takes in the synchrotron itself, plus examples of the kind of things that are down below doing the business, including electromagnet setups, which I forgot to take photos of because my brain was geeksploding. There are whistlestops at computer banks, spare sections of particle track, and machines that run tests on the results of experiments, all interspersed with facts, figures and comments on the general running of the establishment.

If you're at all enticed by the thought of the things I'm saying, go.

This is a nitrogen outlet. Or a spaceship exhaust: you choose.
Laura is also Diamond Light Source's Public Engagement Manager, which means she's the one to chat to if you want to visit, or if you want her to visit you (she does Outreach stuff too). Her details are on the Education part of their site. If you're a school and you're interested in visiting, there's a page for Post-16 Open Days, and Open Days for the public are detailed right here. I may have to sign up so I can take my proper camera along!

* Though, thinking about it, wouldn't that be cool...?
** I'll write a post about my new job at some point.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Phantoms are Amongst Us

There are creatures that walk the Earth remaining largely unseen; shadows, heat-haze, corner-of-the-eye stuff. I know this because I am one of them.

I went to a training event as a part of my new job, last week. I arrived at the venue a little late due to planning to be fifteen minutes early and not counting on it taking twenty-five to find a place to park. I entered the room we were to be in for the day shortly after proceedings had begun and, sure enough, during the second presentation of the day, that fearful phrase I am going to ask you to get into pairs was uttered. Being, as I am, me, I'd already clocked that there were an odd number of people present and sure enough within the next thirty seconds I was standing in the middle of the room trying not to look slightly lost as everyone had, naturally, paired off in the opposite direction from me. Throughout the day we were asked to get into various groups, each of a size by which the total group was not equally divisible, and each time I found myself being the extra one, tagging on to the group which seemed most happy giving in to their pity.

It is only recently that I have come to realise that I am not actually alone in whatever nameless social affliction this is. It's simply the case that, unlike Jedi, vampires and immortals, we don't have an innate ability to sense each other; we're just as invisible to one another as we are to Normals. Even as a fairly successful teacher for six years, I never attained that hallowed, respected and ultimately undefinable attribute Presence.

I know people at the other end of the spectrum who, within minutes of walking into a pub, are chatting with others at the bar as if they've known them all their lives. I can walk through the middle of a party populated with people I have known all my life and manifest my presence as nothing more than a chill about the collar.

I am told, on occasion, that the solution is simple: you just talk to people. As if it's the same as putting an apostrophe in the correct place, finding the sum of the squares on the other two sides, or reading a number expressed in standard index form*. I have a 'networking event' scheduled in a few weeks' time: I'm terrified. I can fully imagine being the only person present who doesn't manage to so much as discuss the weather with anyone.

It's not just offline, either. I use twitter, and I like to help out when people post questions: it's often a good way of finding out something new if I don't already know the answer, and nice to find a use for knowledge that I do already possess. But if I post a question it's rare if I get any kind of response at all.

Before I get the inevitable flood of one or two comments from both people who will read this, I'll state that yes, I do know it's something I'm doing wrong. I have some vague ideas about what, but nothing all that concrete, and I have no idea how to put any of them right. People will offer shining insights into how to fix the problem, always along the lines of "you've just got to talk to people!", but this is, to me, a lot like telling me that the solution to really wanting to wear two hats at the same time is "you've just got to grow another head!" I don't know how to do that, and there's very little in the way of helpful advice floating about.

Anyway, if you find yourself reading this and thinking "that's me! That's me!" Then I hope you're reassured to some extent by the fact that you're not alone.

And say hi, if you know how.

* See what I'm getting at here? These three things are simple, but only if you already know how to do them.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Seven Things That Get Right Up My Nose

I've been tagged. This doesn't happen very often, and even when it does I'm usually inclined to ignore it: I don't like continuing memes very much. But Heidi was so very nice* when she tagged me in her post I can't possibly ignore her, so this is what I'll do: I'll change the plan a bit. The meme is this "seven things about me" thing that's doing the rounds. I'm going to post seven things that piss me off instead***. That's kind of about me, right?

These are in no particular order, and this is by no means an exhaustive list...

1. Other drivers
I've done a lot of driving recently. I did fourteen hours of it alone between the day before Christmas Eve and the day after Boxing Day. This one is on the forefront of my mind. There are so many things that other drivers do that just get my middle finger flexing, and my vocabulary reducing down to words of four letters. Not indicating properly flies first into my mind: that includes not indicating at all when you're using a junction or turning off a roundabout, but it also includes indicating and then not going the way you've indicated. I also hate it when drivers do their utmost to get their car into your boot while you're overtaking someone, then when you pull back in they take an age to get past you and then slow down after pulling in front of you. No! Why?!

2. Apostrophe abuse
And other spelling, grammer and punctuation misdemeanours, while we're at it. It make's me drool with anger when I see poor apostrophe's being abused relentlessly and remorselessly, and when folks could of thought a little bit about what their saying but havent thought about how your supposed to understand what the hell there talking about. It doesn't take a lot of effort to work out how to get this stuff right, especially not if you're typing it on the bloody internet and Google is just a click away.

3. Guilt-trip status updates
You've seen them: "97% of my contacts won't repost this." 97%? Yeah? Can I see your original study? Is the raw data you've collected in order to quantify that statement available in the public domain? Maybe, if your contacts are all such heartless bastards you should think more carefully about who you let into your little circle of perfection. Or maybe you could get up off your arse and actually do something about the cause that your pointless little post is whining about. Do you know what effect your two-clicks have had on that particular cause? None whatsoever. Wake up and realise that you've shared it just because someone else shared it and you fell for the guilt-trip. Stop wasting my time.

4. "I don't get it."
This little statement is, without fail and entirely without exception, simply a short way of saying "I can't be bothered to think about this and I want you to do it for me." I've had this one thrown at me not only as a mathematics teacher but also in my role as technical support for my family and friends, and it always makes me turn green and rip my trousers (on the inside, at least). If I'm honest, the thing that annoys me with this one is not the phrase itself, but what it represents: absolute indifference towards the problem at hand. Y'know, if you really care that little about what you're trying to achieve that you're happy to deal with it by sucking your thumb and hoping that someone else fixes it for you, then feel free to fail. Do without your printer. Don't pass your GCSE. Deal with not being able to get your holiday snaps from your digital camera onto your computer.

5. Logical fallacies in arguments
Logical fallacies are glaring flaws in a piece of reasoning; leaps of idiocy in somebody's assurances that they're right and you're wrong. An absolutely brilliant site for finding out about the different types of logical fallacy available for use by your common or garden numpty (or figuring out which ones you use and making sure you don't do it again) is . It's worth getting a handle on these because not only do numpties use them to try to convince you of stupid things when you're at the pub with them, they're also rife in the media. The worst thing is that so many people fall for them. These are some of my favourites:

  • Circular arguments: These are arguments that require themselves to be true in order to prove themselves to be true.
  • False correlation: Assuming that just because one thing happened after another thing, that means the first thing caused the second thing. This happens a lot when people take medicine and then they get better: they assume that the medicine made them better, which is not necessarily the case. A slightly more obvious example is the idea that a lot of people who have yellow teeth go on to die of lung cancer. This means that yellow teeth causes lung cancer, right?
  • Appealing to authority: This is when somebody says something must be true because someone clever said so. I know certain people who are absolutely convinced by something's authenticity by virtue of it appearing in the Daily Mail. I once knew a guy who had all sorts of nutjob conspiracy theories about global warming (and other things) and his way of 'proving' them was to send me a link to a YouTube video**.

6. People sharing ridiculous things without doing the most basic of fact-checks
You've seen these too: "such-and-such is happening today, and it only happens once every fourteen million years!" But thirty seconds of basic thinking reveals it to have happened only last Thursday. And the Tuesday before that. That one about typing your bank card's PIN in backwards alerting the cops to your plight if you're standing there with a knife against your throat. Tosh. Easily discovered tosh at that. Those ones that come up every couple of months about this meteor shower or that one being really really rare, when the predictable ones are all annual events. That photo from space of all the fireworks over Europe at midnight on New Year's Eve? Except switching your brain on for five seconds allows you to think "hang on, the whole of Europe doesn't hit midnight at the same time..." For crying out loud, I prefer all the pictures of cats.

7. Shopping centres on Saturdays
If you want to be reminded of the feats of ignorance and mindlessness that can be exhibited by civilised societies, go to any British shopping centre on a Saturday between the hours of 10am and 4pm. If you can locate an entrance through the haze of fag smoke that camouflages the entire exterior and get inside in the first place, you'll be battered by folks looking in every direction except the one in which they are walking. You'll suffer people pushing you out of the way and walking in front of you only to stop suddenly for no particular reason. Other people will attempt to kneecap you with their trolleys, walking sticks or shopping bags, and then tut at you for daring to get in the way of their unpredictable whirling. Approximately none of them will be following any kind of sensible course between shops; the routes when watched from afar remind me more of grains of pollen in the Brownian motion demonstrations of my schooldays than of any particular attempt at intelligent navigation. If you're stupid enough to actually attempt to buy anything you'll no doubt get stuck in front of the giant man with dubious personal hygiene and a natural tendency to stand far too close to people, and behind the lady who's trying to pay with luncheon vouchers, postage stamps or string. Those who are close enough to sanity to actually try paying with coinage will almost certainly attempt to do so so with foreign coinage. They will definitely not think to get out their purses and wallets until they've been told the price of their purchases, and they certainly won't have the correct change ready and waiting to be handed over. Most won't even remember which pocket they put their wallet in that morning, and will spend an inordinate amount of time patting themselves down in search of it. The only positive of the whole experience is that after the sweat and the grime and the huge lungfuls of second-hand cigarette smoke, the air of the dingiest city backstreet smells sweet and fresh and clear.

* I'm an astronomer, yeah, but apparently I'm also witty and have cool hair (it seems). I'm just hoping she doesn't notice the evident mistake she's made and correct it.
** I love this video, not least because it has been sent to me in all seriousness on more than one occasion.
*** Oh yeah, I'm not going to 'tag' anyone either because it's just too damned mainstream. If you feel inspired to vent about seven things that jolly well get you riled like a rotter, please let me know about it because I love the smell of vitriol in the morning.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello, Goodbye.

2012 was, for a number of people I know, an anus* horribilis.

It's been a year, as they all are, of endings, beginnings, and rather more middles than I'm entirely comfortable with. Friendships have begun, ended, reignited, and redefined themselves, just as they always do. There have been births, illnesses and deaths, just as there always are, and work has had its ups, downs, and back-to-fronts, just as it always does. Somehow, though, this year has arranged itself into a form that, to say the least, I'll be glad to see the back of.

So goodbye, 2012, and good riddance.

Not a single aspect of my life has been left unchanged from one end of 2012 to the other. Some for the better, some for the worse, and some... are too new to understand the impact yet.

Hello, 2013. How can you be of service?

I'm not going to make any resolutions because I just don't keep to them. There are some things I want to achieve, though. Things like happiness at work, some kind of social life and the usual ongoing intellectual progression. I want to find time to read, time to write, time to shoot and time to stare at the sky. I want to spend time with friends, and figure out which friends are the ones who want to spend time with me.

I'd really, really like for a few people I know to be given a break, and have a much better 2013 than the 2012 they've been dished out, and I really hope that everyone reading this has a great and mostly positive 365 day adventure lined up ahead of them!

How about you? What do you want from 2013?

* No, that's not a typo, or even an honest mistake. It's been a real arsehole of a year.