The Queen goes Swan Upping–what the heck is Swan Upping?

Swan Upping‘ this week.  Great, wtf is swan upping? swan-upping-banner Apparently about 800 years ago the Monarchy declared ownership of all untagged Mute Swans on the Thames.  Every year these Swan counters go up and down the river claim what is rightfully the property of her Majesty.  Of course they no longer take them for dinner or funny hats, it’s more of a census that is used for environmental purposes. This year the Queen will be joining the count, along with several school children.   This is actually the first time she’s watched the census.  Guess she was too busy. Anyway, for those in England here is where you can see the count. Monday, 20 July 2009 Eton Bridge to Cookham Tuesday, 21 July 2009 Cookham to Marlow Lock Wednesday, 22 July 2009 Marlow Bridge to Sonning Bridge Thursday, 23 July 2009 Sonning-on-Thames to Moulsford Friday, 24 July 2009 Moulsford to Abingdon Bridge]]>

How to build a radio while in a Japanese POW camp

Fascinating interview here about how some British POW’s cobbled together a radio receiver while in the middle of the jungle from random spare parts they had lying about the prison.  

    The resistors were another problem. We found out that we could use the impurities in some of the tree wood and the bark, particularly cinnamon bark which was available by getting through the wire only about 2 feet and we could normally pinch that while the Japanese sentry was moving around.       We used a piece of string with the material rubbed on it from the burning of the cinnamon bark with some impurities in it (we didn’t have a chemical analysis); we weren’t very fussed because most grid-leak resistors were about a megohm or thereabouts and we had no means or any way we could measure a megohm, so it was largely a trial and  error thing to see if it would work. We made a number of these bits of string and tied them round different things to dry  them out to get the thing going. Eventually about an inch, three quarters of an inch to an inch, was about the right order of things to get about a megohm resistance. They were the two main things.
  I wonder if POWs today would have the same skill set. Heck many folks don’t even learn morse code anymore.]]>