Thursday, August 31, 2006

"A one legged man's ride back to life" is the tantalising headline on the cover of the new edition of Cycling Plus magazine.

Inside is a four page feature about my cycle ride across Death Valley last November.

The magazine's available now in all good newsagents -- or you can download the article as a PDF file here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"This Article Is Unavailable," the New York Times website tells British readers trying to access an article published in the US about the alleged London bomb plot.

The Times explains why here.

But of course in the wired world it only takes a few key strokes to cut, paste and publish -- and render geographical boundaries obsolete.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Reopening this posting, the New York Times reports that the US State Department is investigating whether Israel’s use of American-made cluster bombs in southern Lebanon violated secret agreements restricting when it can employ such weapons -- although the investigation is unlikely to lead to any serious repercussions against Israel.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pssssttt......wanna see exclusive pictures of Heather Mills McCartney's pussy?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I've added a selection of photos from my trial in Iceland of the new Proprio bionic prosthesis to my Flickr photostream.
My friends at MAG have launched an emergency appeal to tackle the unexploded ordnance left behind following the fighting in southern Lebanon.

MAG estimates that up to 10% of the bombs dropped failed to detonate and pose an immediate threat to life.

The early days following a ceasefire in any war zone are often the most crucial for clearance teams. Displaced families start returning home, but they're often unaware of the dangers they face or where the worst affected areas are.

Read more about MAG's work in Lebanon here.

Donate online here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Thanks to everyone who's e-mailed with partial translations of the Morgunbladid article -- and especially to Brynja Hrönn Jónsdóttir, whose full translation is here.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Back from Iceland, my muscles relaxed by a visit to the Blue Lagoon, without doubt one of my favourite places in the world.

I've added some photos from yesterday's half marathon to the Flickr photostream and I've uploaded the article from last week's Morgunbladid newspaper here -- although what it says is still a mystery.
The official results for the Reykjavik half marathon are in.

The official time is identical to my own timing -- 1:57:09.

That puts me 382nd out of 881 finishers.

I was 16th out of 31 British finishers.

And I was the first amputee to cross the finish line!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Am I chuffed or what?

The threatened rain stayed away and despite the challenging North Atlantic headwind I completed the Reykjavik Half Marathon in an unofficial time of 1:57:09.

As I was aiming for 2:10 or less, coming in well below 2 hours has exceeded all my expectations.

Perhaps it was the gods of the Icelandic sagas helping me along, or maybe just the support of the other runners and the crowd in what was definitely the most enjoyable race I've taken part in.

More photos to follow tomorrow. Now, it's time to get ready to enjoy the infamous Reykjavik nightlife.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I have seen the future -- and it's bionic.

Today here in Reykjavik I visited the headquarters of Ossur, the prosthetics company responsible for the Cheetah foot which I'll use to run the half marathon tomorrow.

But if you think the Cheetah's a clever piece of kit, wait till you see what's on the horizon.

Ossur's crack R&D team took me into the lab to try out the new Proprio Foot, which is just about to come to market.

It's an unbelievable piece of technology.

The problem with below-knee prostheses at the moment is that the angle of the "ankle" and "foot" is fixed. That's fine on flat ground, but on rolling terrain or stairs it means the rest of your body has to work extremely hard to compensate for the unchanging angle of the foot.

The Proprio, however, has a built in computer and what are called "accelerometers."

Put simply, the computer constantly analyses the foot as it moves through space. It's able to recognise when the user is walking on flat or sloped surfaces, or up and down stairs, and a built in motor adjusts the angle of the foot accordingly.

The result is that rather than fighting to compensate for the limitations of a traditional prosthesis, the Proprio responds to changing terrain and makes walking a whole lot more natural. Best of all, it does the thinking for you. It responds automatically and almost without you noticing.

Unfortunately, I had to give my trial model back, which I did with great reluctance. But you can be sure that when the Proprio does go on sale I'll be raiding the piggy bank and joining the queue.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Seeing as I'm taking part in a half marathon on Saturday, it's perhaps apt that I arrived in Iceland and immediately hit the ground running.

I went straight from the airport to the studios of Iceland's main TV channel, RUV1, to record an interview for the evening magazine programme, Kastljos.

Watch the segment here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A major security alert at Boston Logan Airport after a passenger was found carrying a tub of vaseline on board.

If the flight had been travelling to San Francisco no one would have batted an eyelid.
Any Icelandic speakers out there?

There's a big article and photo on page five of today's Morgunbladid, the main Icelandic daily newspaper, pegged to my participation in the Reykjavik Half Marathon this Saturday.

Needless to say, my Icelandic's a bit rusty.

If there's anyone out there with a surname ending in -son or -dottir I'd be very interested to know what the article says.

Much more about the Iceland trip in the days ahead...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Looks like I'll be reporting from Bridgend instead of Beirut in the future.

UPDATE: "I hope the BBC's many foreign correspondents do not take her remarks lying down. I hope they defend their integrity and the values which brought them into journalism in the first place. Many of them often risk their lives for these values.

"Mary Fitzpatrick, by contrast, sits safely and highly-paid in front of a desk in London risking very little indeed, except perhaps her reputation for good sense, and attacking the values of the institution that she is supposed to serve."
Even the Daily Mail is sticking up for us. Whatever next?

This email is going to all staff in BBC News

Dear colleague

Following the report in yesterday’s Observer, which was picked up by other papers today, I wanted to write to you to reassure you that, contrary to what is suggested in these reports, I hold the work of BBC News correspondents across the world in the highest possible regard.

I can appreciate, and very much regret, the concern that the article has caused and I wanted to set out the facts.

In a general interview about diversity on BBC Television there was a very brief reference to BBC News. In response to a question, I wanted to make a point - which is not new – that in a changing world we need to ensure that we reflect the changing nature of our audience. This may mean sometimes having a wider range of voices reporting from around the world. I believe this is happening in BBC News. What I emphatically do not believe is that this means that our present reporting team is not delivering this. Whilst I firmly believe that a deep understanding of the cultural background and issues surrounding a story is essential, I do not hold the view that this can only be delivered by, for example, a black reporter reporting from Africa. I do believe, however, we should, as we move forward, keep looking for that greater range of voices.

The reporting across BBC News outlets over the past few days amply demonstrates in my view the tremendous reporting strengths of BBC News. It is my job to say that in all areas of output we can always do a little better. I appreciate this is often a subtle point, and I very much regret was one missed in the slant the Observer chose to put on their story.

Do please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this in more detail.

With best wishes

Mary FitzPatrick
Editorial Executive, Diversity

UPDATE 3: Mary Fitzpatrick's salary is estimated at £90,000 a year.