Why is it called OrnaVerum?
What's it for?
It began as a sort of vanity project, to publicise some really good research (that's my ego unleashing itself) done during my postgraduate (1967 / 1971) and postdoctoral (1972 / 1976) career in Theoretical Chemistry – please see About / Education, Academic / Manuscripts1, 2 and Academic / Programs1, 2.
Why put this academic stuff on the internet?
Because it was never submitted in final form for publication in any of the appropriate journals relating to Physical Chemistry or Chemical Physics – please see Academic / Publications1, 2.
Is there anything else more interesting?
Yes, there are some nice photographs – please see About / Personal. And a Family unit is now [Aug 2012] materialising (see Charivaria below) – there's a lot of quite surprising stuff lurking in the archives of both my own and my wife's backgrounds – particularly hers, I must admit! And in each generation of every family an effort should be made to continue the narrative for the benefit of all who follow on.
That research was all a long time ago – is it still relevant?
That I can't readily answer, as I left the world of research for ever in 1976. It was highly regarded at the time by people whose opinion I respected and valued – please see About / Education.
A lot of it may well have been rediscovered, and published elsewhere. I would still like, however, to lay claim to priority – the El Dorado of scientific research.
Whilst preparing content for my Web Wizard (please see About / Web Wizard) to work his magic on, I have indeed become aware of subsequent publications – please see Academic / Manuscripts / Further Links.
It is also worth remembering that the dazzling advances in computer processing power and memory capacity, plus the advent of parallel processing and optimising compilers, have rendered some of the 1970's preoccupations with programming efficiency and economy rather delightfully archaic. It was only shortly before my departure in 1976 that the working memory of the Rutherford Laboratory IBM 370/195 was upgraded to (nearly) one megabyte (sic).
The theory is too intricate to bother with, but the programs sound useful – are they available?
That's not easy to say yet. It is just possible that the source-code has survived on IBM 370 magnetic tape backup. But even if I succeed in locating it, the tape may no longer be readable – it may have physically degraded, and anyway the hardware required to read it may no longer be available. It's ironic that Sumerian clay tablets from thousands of years ago are still perfectly legible, but computer storage media from a few decades back are not.
As an example, consider this brief extract from a recent (28 Apr 2012) issue of a well-known magazine, and widely echoed throughout the global media:
"In 1086 William the Conqueror completed a comprehensive survey of England and Wales. 'The Domesday Book', as it came to be called, contained details of all 13,418 places and 112 boroughs – and is still available for public inspection at The National Archives in London. Not so the original version of a new survey that was commissioned for the 900th anniversary of 'The Domesday Book'. It was recorded on special 12-inch laser discs. Their format is now obsolete."
Have you done anything else worthwhile?
Professionally speaking, no. My employment from 1976 until early retirement in 2009 was in the ephemeral world of IT, where any footprints in the sands of time are regularly washed away by the tides of technological change.
So it's downhill from here to the grave, is it?
In a manner of speaking, yes. But the empowering capabilities of the internet suggest that I may very well surprise myself!
[And indeed since that tentative prophecy (ca Jul 2011), the Family has played Achilles to the Academic tortoise though there is much to add to the latter unit in retrospect, with the advantage of 40+ years' hindsight.]
I had thought of calling this section Miscellania, but somehow that sounds slightly dismissive. But Charivaria exactly expresses the sort of content intended – named for the Charivaria page of the magazine Punch (aka The London Charivari) a generation or two back, in which news items of the day would be commented upon in a light-hearted way.
(18 Jun 2012) Very detailed analysis of website usage are available from the Google Analytics facility, and they make very encouraging reading as regards OrnaVerum. In brief, between the link-up with Google Analytics on 29 Jan 2012 and today, the headline figures are that:
- Over 150 unique visitors have visited the site.
- Over 5 pages have been viewed per visit on average.
- Over 6 minutes have been spent on-site per visit on average.
- Over 57% of all visits have been return visits.
And I'm always happy to receive Like (or even Don't Like) messages via the Contact option.
(4 Jul 2012) A cumulative monthly record of visitor statistics is now accessible at About/Website, and the month-on-month growth of the new unique visitors figure is rather impressive – long may it continue!
(12 Sep 2012) The visitor figures for August are now on view and record the steady growth in OrnaVerum's global profile – a total of 219 unique visitors in our first seven months of statistics, from countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the USA.
(5 Feb 2013) The visitor figures for January are now on view and record a satisfying acceleration in OrnaVerum's viewings – the highest-ever monthly figure (76) for new visitors – and a year-on-year total of 500 unique visitors overall from 1 Feb last year to 1 Feb this year. Eboracus and I are going to put the kettle on and make a pot of tea to celebrate.
(16 Jan 2014) There's been a serious malfunction in the Google Analytics facility whereby a headcount of Unique Visitors to Ornaverum has been maintained since Feb 2012. We're unable to produce our usual monthly analysis for Dec 2013, or indeed for Jan 2014. Although statistics resumed yesterday, uniqueness can only be reckoned relative to that new basedate (as all access to historical data has been lost), and it seems highly likely we'll have to start an entirely new spreadsheet …
(18 Jun 2012) It's all too evident that the Publications/Postdoc and Programs units of the website are seriously incomplete at the moment. Some of this is beyond my direct control, but some is simply due to unintended delay in acquiring a suitable Fortran compilation capability. I hope to do the deal for a copy of the Intel Visual Fortran Composer / Compiler in the next week or two and get to work on the program source codes that I have already been able to recreate.
(3 Jul 2012) I am now three days into a 30-day trial of this product, as supplied by Polyhedron Software, and have navigated the intricacies of the compilation and linkage procedures – much the same as the late lamented Compaq product, but with an unexpected twist which needed the Intel Visual Fortran Forum to resolve: within six minutes of posting the problem, back came the correct answer. Very impressive.
(10 Aug 2012) I have now evaluated and purchased the Intel Visual Fortran compiler and am already progressing the migration of ANGLIA, my postgraduate opus, and am looking forward to properly completing the Programs/Postgrad unit of the website. Meanwhile my critical take on the life-cycles of programming languages, plus some more immediately useful stuff for prospective Intel VF converts, are summarised in the new Programs/Fortran unit.
(18 Jun 2012) Tucked away in attics, spare rooms, garages and (in some cases) cellars, of brothers, sisters and cousins on both sides of my immediate family are photographs, portraits, letters, family trees, anecdotal memoirs etc, that would be of great interest to the rest of us, and to enthusiastic amateur genealogists bearing the same surnames as us – Waddell, Findlay, Erskine, Kaulback, Townend, Howard, James, et al – scattered around the globe.
Once the dust settles on the academic side of OrnaVerum, I would like to put the best of all such material in my own possession into electronic format in a new Family unit of the website. And of course I would be glad to upload similar material of family interest contributed by all and sundry.
(6 Aug 2012) The first content in this new unit is now going live, as a follow-on from the links relating to our contact with the Dalai Lama described below. The preparation of such content is time-consuming of course, but over the next few months it should grow steadily.
(29 May 2013) Gavin Main Waddell, our foremost historian of the Scottish Waddells, has advised me that his definitive A History Of The Waddells Of Scotland has been finalised and that publication can be expected in the near future. This will undoubtedly prove to be a major work of inspired and rewarding scholarship.
(1 Jul 2013) Following fifteen months of transatlantic consultation, planning, editorial and design genius, our daughter Andrea's legacy of deeply personal, iridescent and erudite poetry, Sounds of the Soul: Adventures in Time, has now been published. Click here for a preview.
(5 Jul 2013) Gavin has just notified me that A History Of The Waddells Of Scotland has now been published in a strictly limited edition, in both hardback and softback form. This will undoubtedly become the standard resource for generations to come, and if you would like to receive your copy now, please contact him by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is currently available at a cost of £50 (50 GBP) per copy, plus postage & packing.
(2 Sep 2013) We have just got back from Victoria BC, that jewel of Canada's Pacific coast, where together with our Normandy cousins we attended our Aunt Jane's memorial service at the Church of Our Lord. A truly wonderful occasion, indeed a kind of chrono-synclastic infundibulum where a unification of different timescales and narratives of Jane's life finally clicked into place. There was opportunity also to attend the Sunday morning meeting at the (Quaker) Friends' Meeting House1, 2, 3, 4, by marvellous coincidence on the day of its centenary. Ever on the look-out for amusing ironies, as we re-explored the city itself I spotted a couple1, 2 of fresh examples.
Stopping-off in mighty mainland Vancouver on the way home gave us the chance to spring a surprise on Simon Kaulback and his business partner Ron Oliver at their highly-acclaimed new restaurant Mamie Taylor's1, 2, 3, 4
A really tremendous place to spend the evening, or just to drop in after a tough day at the office – all the boxes are effortlessly ticked. A triumph.
(23 May 2014) I have just received a personal copy of Dissent & Union, an absorbingly-written and beautifully-produced 54-page booklet about the history and present-day ministry of the Erskine Church in Belford, a small Northumbrian village close to the border with Scotland.
Founded in 1776 as the Protestant Dissenting Meeting House, aligned with the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland, it later turned towards the Presbyterian Church of England and is today a part of the United Reformed Church, named after Ebenezer Erskine, the renowned Presbyterian Secessionist, of whom you may also read elsewhere on this website.
This is a really fascinating story, excellently illustrated, and copies can be obtained for £6 (or £10 outside the UK) each, including postage and packing, by contacting the Church Secretary, Erskine United Reformed Church, 3 Nursery Lane, Belford NE70 7NW.
(1 Sep 2014) Aug 2014 is not only the opening centenary of the Great War, but also the 50th anniversary of my first visit to the town of Bantry, jewel of southwest Cork, at which time I was introduced to my future parents-in-law Ron and Audrey Kaulback. It is sadly also the 20th anniversary of Audrey's death at the relatively early age of 78. Characteristically, she had been dancing the Charleston at a party just the evening before. A most endearingly eccentric woman, and quite the best mother-in-law one could possibly have been blessed with. She is buried in the Abbey graveyard (overlooking Bantry harbour), where we paid an affectionate visit just a few days ago.
(28 Oct 2015) Many Scottish people (such as the Waddells) are now thought to be of Flemish origin, and a project has been initiated by the Institute of Scottish Historical Research at the University of St Andrews to investigate the extent and consequences of this.
(7 Jan 2016) As recently notified by www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.
At the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (1 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JD) the career of John, Earl of Mar, is explored 300 years after he led the Jacobite Rising in 1715. Afterwards Mar went into exile and resumed his pursuit of architectural design. The free exhibition features two beautiful drawings of his designs for country houses, as well as zoomable images of others, all held as part of the Mar and Kellie papers at National Records of Scotland (NRS). Rise & Fall: The Earl of Mar and the 1715 Jacobite Rising is on until 27 March 2016, so make haste!
(9 May 2016) Sally, our joyous and exuberant snowy-white Parson Russell with bat-like Corgi ears, and a tail that never stopped wagging, captivating all who saw her, had become much frailer recently – being a veteran of some 15 to 18 summers – and today she had to be helped gently across that Bourne from which no Hollingsworth returns. She had been an integral part of our family life for over a decade and we shall be desolate without her. She has taken two tasty chewing strips with her – one for herself and one to tease her great friend Rixon, with whom she's now reunited.
People often like to say soothingly on these sad occasions that Fido or Tiddles have gone to the Great Kennel, or Comfy Cat-Basket, in The Sky. Why can't they qualify for the same reward as humans? Remarks by several recent Popes as to whether dogs can go to heaven have been frostily contested by the theological mafia, but we're with Will Rogers who said 'If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.'
Ein Welt, Ein Gott, Ein Himmel.
A Truly Memorable Occasion
(20 Jun 2012) During the 1930's my late father-in-law Ronald Kaulback made two lengthy explorations of Tibet, mapping the terrain for the Royal Geographical Society and collecting specimens of flora and fauna for the Natural History Museum. His books Tibetan Trek (1936), recently awarded an enthusiastic five-star review on the Amazon website, and Salween (1938) respectively tell of his first trip, with Frank Kingdon-Ward, and his second trip, with John Hanbury-Tracy who also published an account, called Black River of Tibet (1938).
As a result of these links with Tibet, my wife and I recently received invitations from the Dean of Westminster Abbey, out of the blue, to attend an audience (together with a small number of other individuals and families, each with some similar historical Tibetan connection) with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Jerusalem Chamber, part of the Dean's residence adjacent to the Abbey itself. It was suggested that we each bring a documentary or photographic memento of the ancestor in question, together with a white scarf, a traditional offering on such occasions, to present to the Dalai Lama.
The first picture below shows my wife with His Holiness, who is closely scrutinising a portrait photograph of her father in his explorational prime. Our host the Dean of Westminster is to be seen just to the rear:
And in the next picture the Dalai Lama displays Ronald Kaulback's photograph for all to admire, as he continues an engrossing conversation:
In the third picture he is enjoying a special rapport with Kingdon-Ward's daughter and grand-daughter, while I watch intently from the other side:
And lastly another iconic picture of His Holiness, surely the most widely and justifiably admired and revered person in the world today, at the focal point of our little group:
To enlarge any of the pictures above, simply left-click on it.
For a fascinating history of the Jerusalem chamber itself, see the following link: www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/jerusalem-chamber
The following additional material can safely be skipped if you're pressed for time, but it's a must-see for all enthusiasts and devotees of the remarkable Frank Kingdon-Ward and Ronald Kaulback. Their biographical details are accessible through the links Wikipedia Kingdon-Ward and Wikipedia Ronald Kaulback respectively.
The artist Reginald Cleaver produced an imaginative and colourful visualisation of Kaulback's encounter with not just one but five sets of huge footprints made by Mountain Men (aka Yetis).
Kaulback described this episode in chapter nine of Salween, but reported that many of the Tibetans themselves were sceptical of the Yeti theory. However, this perennially fascinating topic is revisited journalistically in great detail here.
Curiously enough, this article doesn't mention Kaulback himself – but ironically it acclaims the first westerner to see such tracks as being one Lt Col Laurence Austine Waddell in the Victorian era, which more or less brings this digression back full circle!
Finally, back to the Dalai Lama himself. His eight-day tour of Britain to promote reconciliation of great-power politics with the spiritual heritage – and ongoing commitment to traditional religious observance – of his beloved Tibet, was counterpointed by the usual relentless hostility of Tibet's imperialist neighbour, as described in the Times report on page 17 of their 21 June 2012 edition. Sad to say, a number of political figures and organisations North of the Border succumbed to these pressures and declined to meet His Holiness. It would be nice to think that Tibet's ancient way of life will still be a living reality when the empires of Greece, Rome, Britain, and other would-be hegemonists past and present, are mere footnotes in the history books.
(26 May 2013) The family visit to commemorate Andrea's birthday was a
little early this year, as school term-time now has to be observed, but the occasion was blessed with warm sunny weather. We were even able to enjoy a picnic in the shade by the lake at the bottom of the meadow, alongside which the little local train to Brighton rattles past at regular intervals, much to the delight of the grandchildren.
As a natural burial ground, Clayton Wood will remain as such in perpetuity, and can never be redeveloped. Well, it's nice to think that future local authorities will respect that status.
And generations of walkers, hikers and Sunday afternoon strollers will continue to enjoy the magnificent view, not least of Jack and Jill, the Clayton windmills on the
skyline, and to ask one another which is which – my theory was that Jack (slightly downhill) had 'fell down and broke his crown' and that Jill was about to 'come tumbling after', but needless to say it's the other way round.
(15 Oct 2013) The Maintenance and Development team paid another of their regular visits, and this was of course a particularly significant anniversary too. Not much maintenance required this time, as everything has settled into place. Sally played her usual managerial role, bustling up self-importantly when all the hard work was already complete.
It looks like they're all done, now sit up and stretch the back
Mum hard at work popping in the Spring bulbs on Andrea's grave (nicely mown)
"Come on, Mum, surely you've finished, let's go down to the lake"
Mum revelling in the great clusters of rowan-berries on Andrea's tree
Sally feeling slightly intimidated by the myriads of fish in the lake
Mum saying she knows I'm colour-blind, but surely I can see these!
Sally – who was rescued by Andrea from a life of wretched ill-treatment – and Dad gaze thoughtfully at one another across Andrea's mortal coordinates
(25 Nov 2013) Today is United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, as brought to worldwide attention by the front page of Google (nb the UN link is very slow to activate).
And on a more personal level, my wife Sonia attended the annual Transgender Remembrance Day in Brighton yesterday, as she now recounts:
There were at least 70 of us there, including local MPs, the Deputy Mayor of Brighton, and representatives from many organisations, including the police who are always so supportive. It was a very moving occasion. There were contributions from many of those present, and also letters were read out from others abroad, detailing the difficulties (and fears) of their lives. At one point we all participated in affixing to a wall the names (where known) and details of the several hundreds of transgender people who had been murdered all over the world during the past year. (These were the known deaths; many others, of course, would not have been reported.) It was harrowing to see the age range of the victims, starting at age 13, and the many dreadful ways in which they had been tortured and killed. [And just for being courageously true to themselves. I have always felt that if, for instance, a baby is born with a defect such as a club foot, then surgery is the obvious option to put matters right; similarly, if that baby is born in the wrong gender body, then surgical intervention should be the option in that case also.]
Andrea's name was mentioned several times during the afternoon by the speakers, not to mention the fact that the event started with a reading of one of her poems, love in the night, and ended with another, being me. (Her name also featured twice1, 2 in the local Brighton paper, The Argus, that weekend.)
This event is a much-needed affirmation of the importance of permitting – and encouraging – people to be their true selves. And I was uplifted by the realisation that Andrea is still remembered and admired by the whole community.
(Click here for
Creatures Great And Small
(1 Jun 2013) At the mass rally in London on Saturday 1 June.
Already a legend
And who's your friend?
convened to express widespread public indignation at the preposterous idea of culling wild badgers, whose only crime is to have become infected with bovine tuberculosis by farm animals whose owners are seemingly too supine or ignorant to have taken steps years ago to initiate straightforward prophylactic measures (such as continental§ authorities have carried out successfully to prevent the advance of rabies), the Chatelaine of T---h---t Towers was there to hold high the banner of the QCA (Quaker Concern for Animals) organisation, of which she has been a tirelessly active supporter and committee member for many years.
§: Not just Europe – the USA and Canada too:
Click here for an expression of my own dissatisfaction with the culling lobby.
(10 Jul 2013) Global Bliss
On the upbeat, you might be amused by this clever display of
animated animal antics, all busily Makin' Bacon.
(6 Feb 2014) I've been dismayed and saddened by a report (Times, Thu 30 Jan 2014, p34) that the axolotl has become extinct in its Mexican native habitats as a result of pollution etc.
In my ragged-a**ed, balaclava'd, knobbly-kneed, wellie-booted boyhood I was fascinated by pondlife, and would avidly collect tadpoles, efts, ferocious dragonfly larvae and Gaudiesquely-clad caddis-worms. An axolotl would have been beyond my wildest dreams, especially in the Manchester area, but it is enshrined in my email id, as I feel a special affinity with its oddness, ugliness, immaturity and amphibious tendencies.
(1 Nov 2014) Whilst our son was visiting us the other day, he enquired "So, Mum, what'll you be doing next weekend?", to which she replied "Well, actually, Dad doesn't know about that yet".
"She'll be taking all her clothes off in Parliament Square", I improvised merrily. "No", she said, "Trafalgar Square!". And so, at 12 noon on the Saturday, she did exactly that, down to the last stitch.
It was 1 November, World Vegan Day, celebrated annually since 1994, though the (UK) Vegan Society was established way back in 1944. The Trafalgar Square event had been organised by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), renowned for their eye-catching publicity campaigns (sometimes regarded as a trifle OTT). This one involved over a hundred naked (or semi-naked) people of both sexes sprawled (on a large groundsheet) outside the National Gallery and liberally doused in (fake) blood, to symbolise the many millions of animals slaughtered around the world every day for food, clothing, or medical experiments.
My wife Sonia is in the far right-hand corner of the picture in a small group who were to give filmed interviews afterwards. And to view a brief extract from what she had to say, click here ... BBC Radio Berkshire have also broadcast two interviews with her (one by telephone and one live on-air) to express her feelings about the occasion and the cause it represents.