Do not follow this link

Give them no ground…who would entice thee!

Do not follow this link!

You have probably seen them many times. Your friend posts an interesting photograph, you comment on it and so it is passed on to your friends who may have similar interests. Alongside the photograph there is a link. Are you curious? The algorithms used by social media being like a chameleon metamorphose as frequently as you say ‘Like’, but they are exceptionally efficient. They identify things that attract your attention, and then post more and more of that sort of detritus on your board. They can also be their own downfall. On a number of visits here I have seen a friend’s comments on an interesting matter – perhaps more interesting to my friend than to me, but what does that matter? It may be a cute cat or dangly dog, a growling grizzly or worried walrus, a celestial satellite or manic moon, a reckless rendezvous or hilarious happening, whatever may catch their attention and may possibly catch yours, and there alongside the image is a teasing little link. You may not notice it at first, but when you do? Do you think there might be more like this behind it? It is easy to find out, is it not? After all your friend’s friend posted it?

A little way down your notice board, you see the same picture. That is the algorithm at work. You have in the past expressed some interest in this kind of image, perhaps you lingered on something like it for too long (you had a text from someone and stopped at that point to read it – that was the mistake. The pause is an expression of interest, just as in the great department stores which are rapidly disappearing, the shop-floor assistants were watching out for that little nod of the head which shows you might be persuaded to buy that which caused your head to nod or something like it, and they pounce, not as a lion on its prey but as a tender kitten saying: Wouldn’t you like me to stay with you for a while? as it purred serenely by your feet, so the algorithm is watching you, every move you make on the page, everything you watch and linger on….but let us get back to the point.

You see the same picture, but it has been posted not by your friend’s friend but by someone else, and there is a little link next to it. You scroll back up. The link is different. The original post came from a different person in both cases, and those different persons belong to non-intersecting groups of friends. What is going on? Will you not now follow the link?

If you are of the kind who will follow links, try this one, but even if you are not…who knows what wonders you might espy?

Click on the image…..if you dare!


Willkommen bei Cocos blog!

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  • fail to turn up for dinner
  • eat too much chocolate
  • feint in the manner of a Regency lady.

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A matter of wind

In the days of lockdown one of our pastors thought Philippians would be a good place to be. Lockdown proved to be longer than that, so where then do you go? To that great and exciting book of reflections, the book of the wind or breath, no, not the Acts of the Apostles but the preaching of the Preacher, Ecclesiastes. PeteT asked for a profile, but what does a profile matter now? Three years ago it did a little; ten years it was worth something; twenty, thirty years ago surely it was something which we polished up now and again. The Preacher reflected: it was all wind or heavy breathing.

The lockdown is an enforced reflection, not to mention an opportunity to go through forty or more years of papers among which a Poisson distribution dated 8·11·73 on ticker tape had been secreted. Coco has promised himself, no longer having access to a ticker tape reader, that he shall scan it and attempt to decode it, but that is probably not the only type of promise Coco shall break without consequences. In the following reflection a profile may perhaps be discerned, as you will or not.

It was today that Coco realised that for all that has changed since we left Imperial, we still do not have fusion reactors, but we are only five years away from the switching on of ITER but then only for a few milliseconds. It is the way they say, but we know a better Way.

  • Coco hated computers – paper, slide rules and hard graft was good enough.
  • Coco wanted to be a musician, but realised he was not good enough, so went to Imperial.
  • Coco wanted to be a scientist, but didn’t get a first, so became an accountant.
  • Coco’s boss, who could add up the ‘phone book in his head, told him to buy himself a calculator.
  • Coco wanted to work in a country town preparing accounts,

but the Lord kept us in London to serve in a local church.

Computers turned up in the office

Coco’s only change of job, still heading towards the country town, took him into tax and underused computers. Coco made the mistake of showing an interest in having them used for tax computations. He found himself training others to use them, then working in a group to improve all aspects of the use of IT in tax, then finally writing tax software itself. In all of this there were three transactions, which to the outsider would have looked like takeovers and Coco found himself successively working for both firms which he had rejected whilst at Imperial, and after the third one working back where he had started in a newsagent (Reuters) not then at least delivering newspapers but delivering tax software into private equity and law firms – at least that was the preferred part of the work. What did the Preacher say? I know that there is nothing better for people to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in their toil. This is the gift of God. I am grateful to him for this provision.

After what Coco saw as professional life Coco did a couple of other things, firstly working in a church association office. Having spent at least half of his professional life with the world’s most taxing spreadsheet, Coco had to get to grips with the world’s most difficult to use, and found that if you whip it like a slave hard enough it can do most of the things that his favourite spreadsheet did. Coco also spent nearly a year working with the business that was previously his chief competitor. How fascinating to go behind the scenes to discover what Coco had never known, who they were, how they did what they did and how well they did it.

There were other aspects of professional life which have afforded much joy. A Christian Union in the office which for a time examined such relevant matters as inflation (Haggai) and political ambition (Daniel) as well as using much more open challenges. There was a manager very early on who asked about ambitions – it was something you were supposed to do in professional life and you were expected to have them. He was somewhat taken back when Coco told him his only ambition was to be a man of God, and serve him wherever he took him. It was difficult to fit that neatly into his professional categories. Coco had to explain further however that though this was the overriding ambition, of course he desired to see himself progress at work, but not at the expense of the prime motive. There were the new students who came along, they worked for you for a time, then they moved on. There was a partner who told Coco to put his head down as he took shots over the wall. There were frustrated colleagues who were looking for a way out or other opportunities – have you ever given someone a really rotten interview? There were alumni from Imperial – mostly former overseas students – who crossed my path, what bright lights they were. It took many years to fully grasp how highly Imperial is held. One young man burst into my office one day with a ‘You’ll be pleased to hear this..’ followed quickly by a sheepish ‘Oh! … you won’t’. At which he walked away. Later Coco learned that his new boyfriend was from Imperial. Coco was glad both that he wanted to tell him, but also that he knew Coco could not rejoice with him.

There were also some rather difficult moments. As a consequence of an internal dispute at a client, Coco found myself, in blissful ignorance, arguing against the partner rather than supporting him. This was quite a gruelling introduction to the identification both of conflicts of interest, and who the client actually is. KYC was in its infancy, if not still pre-natal at the time. The telling off Coco received was severe, but Coco was not present when the partner had to attend the headmaster’s office. We continued to work together… Then later an angry call came from our Dutch firm. ‘You told us you had no time for anything new!’ They had quite by accident discovered the Easter Egg that Coco had built into the software [in his own time] and wrongly assumed that it was the writing of the solver which was the reason they could not have the new features that they wanted. The telling off was not for putting the Sudoku solver into the software but for allowing the case study data to be accessible. As you will know real life data is always required for testing any piece of software. Yes, it should have been removed. And Coco should have chosen a rather more obscure key-combination to activate it than he did. Later after unicode had been implemented, a new Egg was planted. To date Coco is only aware of one who has found the ancient Chinese poem. It is too late to receive a telling off for that. Sadly, both the solver and the poem are unlikely to find their way into the new generation software.

Other things have happened of course. Coco married a nurse who at one stage in her, much more illustrious than his, career was a lecturer at Imperial. She now holds at least two professorships and works internationally including with TokyoU. In her spare time she has managed to bring up two children with a little help or perhaps hindrance from her husband, establish at least two medical charities and visit the Palace. We have moved churches twice. The church is the Lord’s and his people are his sheep and they must follow the shepherd wherever he leads. We may not understand why we move on, we have our own reasons, but it is the Lord alone who really knows why, however grievous it may appear to us.

Had Coco succeeded in his first ambition? Coco does not know, all he can say is, as Paul said, I have not arrived…Forgetting what is behind and reaching out to the things that are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God. Whatever has been achieved will soon be forgotten, and this world also, but in its place shall stand a new world the like of which we have never dreamed. The challenge of today is the same as the challenge of graduation day: will I press on and honour him with it and in it?


When the chest is hurting

When a complaint is made

At the greatest risk, but Malvina Reynolds said it first, someone complained that ‘they’ think every [one of them] looks just the same. And I thought, absolutely right, so they do. And if you listen to this little ditty, even if you do not agree, and if you do not agree find a Latin translation* then, you cannot but be delighted by the music.

And four people from the country
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes*
And they came out all the same
And there are doctors and lawyers
And business executives
And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

*they shared a flat
Two had black hair
Two had fair
Two had beards
Two did not

Who said they all look just the same?
Rather, which one said the others all look just the same?

* Suggested improvements welcome
Capsularum es in monte.
Capsularum fiunt ex ticky-tacky.
Capsularum es in monte.
Capsularum eiusdem omnes.
Et est viridi et est rosea
Et est hyacintho unus fulvum.
Quae omnia fiunt ex ticky-tacky
Atque omnes idem.

Et qui habitabant in domibus,
Veneruntque ad collegium,
In qua posuit sunt in capsularum.
Et exiit eadem.
Sunt autem et legis doctores,
Et negotium executivæ.
Quae omnia fiunt ex ticky-tacky.
Atque omnes idem.
Et hi omnes in sphaera cursum.
Et bibere martinæ in aridam.
Et omnes pueri pulchri est.
Et omnes pueri ad scholam.
Et omnes filii ire aestiva castra
Et postea ad collegium,
In qua posuit sunt in capsularum,
Eadem omnes exeunt.

Et ad pueros ire in negotium
Uxorem et suscitet familias
In capsularum fiunt ex ticky-tacky.
Atque omnes idem.
Et est viridi et est rosea
Et est hyacintho unus fulvum.
Quae omnia fiunt ex ticky-tacky
Atque omnes idem.

Karl XVI

Remarkably, all Swedes look the same as well.

A minister


If you are a train enthusiast, this is not for you.


If you enjoy good dining and a quiet holiday read on….

On this trip we learned two new things:

  • Chocolate is cheaper than therapy, and does not require an appointment.
  • Chocolate is the answer, whatever the question.
  • Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso.

If you have ever thought about travel across Canada, then VIARail is the answer to your problem. Forget about Rocky Mountaineer, they throw you off the train when it gets dark. VIARail is the real rail experience. The train is everything. At almost three furlongs – two engines and 22 cars – it is only surpassed by the goods trains which share the sames lines on their journeys from Vancouver to Toronto – or, if you wish to leave the mountains till last, Toronto to Vancouver.

The stops are frequent, but not too long, so don’t stray too far from the train if you really must get off.

But who needs stops – the views are superb, whether it is of the north Ontario woodlands, the endless prairies, the Albertan forests or the mountains of British Columbia. The changing flora and fauna on the journey provide much interest for the traveller, but even the least interested in matters of the train will be absorbed by the magnificent variety of goods vehicles which form part of the great strings of goods trains – often well over a hundred cars. This traveller counted one hundred seven and fifty on one such string.

Whilst on board you will have a personal steward who is responsible for the well being of all travellers in his or her car. As for accomodation, you may have a private room, a suite, couchette or for the real enthusiast on a very tight budget join in the fun of economy. If you are in other than economy then you have the benefit of a private dining car – meet new people – or not as your preference may be. Three very hearty Canadian meals are provided each day, with the timing of sittings not unexpectedly dependent upon station stops! Train travellers will understand.

So in the words so beloved of the UK train industry – let the train take the strain!


Where do you go when not in London?

My favourite curry house is in Crane Court, but where do you go when you are not in the City of London? That was the question that faced us when we were in that town which has apparently not yet made peace with Russia¹. The answer came from a friendly church pastor in Wooler: The Magna Tandoori, Berwick. And so we went. “Hmmm”, I thought as we walked in, “this might have been a mistake. There are no white tablecloths on the tables….ah well! beggars can’t be choosers and no one else had had a recommendation. “

We had been welcomed well enough and shown to a table in a good position. But now not expecting the best I sat down with my friends. Next problem – no popadoms. I was used to these delicasies simply appearing on the table, but here we had to ask for them.

But that is when it all turned around. The lack of tablecloths was made up for by the extensive menu – all of the old favourites and where else will you find duck and venison on a curry menu. Well, that had to be tried, and together with king prawns and other dishes, a variety of different rices and peshwari naan we all feasted away rounding the meal off with a little desert – the lemon sorbet is recommended and complimentary coffees on the sofas.

It was only then that I noticed how quiet it had been. All too often a place without table cloths is far too loud, either because the hifi had had its day and the volume control is jammed at the top or through the lack of furnishings to absorb sound. The quietness was not disturbing, but really added to the atmosphere. I could almost think that there was some music playing, but if so it was just there in the background not being intrusive so we could enjoy talking together without having to shout or strain to listen.

Excellent evening all round!

One word of warning, take a couple of teenage lads with you to help out with the food. This is not skimpy nouvelle cuisine. The helpings are generous.

O! Angelina

Returning to chocolate, we must not forget the establishment just across le rue de Rivoli from le jardin des Tuileries. Leave by l’allée de Castiglione, turn right and it is a less than a few hundred yards down on the other side of the road. A booking is essential if you do not want a long wait, but a long wait is worth its weight in chocolate. There are other branches of this establishment, to which ingression is somewhat easier if you pick the right day.
But Angelina by the Tuileries must be the foremost chocolate house in Paris. If you have nothing else but time for the Louvre, well they have one inside, but skip lunch and visit Angelina.

There are other versions of the story, but why refute a good story with too many contrary facts.

¹We are not at war with Russia, but according to some sources since Berwick had changed hands several times, it was traditionally regarded as a special, separate entity, and some proclamations referred to “England, Scotland and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed”. One such was the declaration of the Crimean War against Russia in 1853, which Queen Victoria supposedly signed as “Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, Ireland, Berwick-upon-Tweed and all British Dominions”. When the Treaty of Paris (1856) was signed to conclude the war, “Berwick-upon-Tweed” was left out. This meant that, supposedly, one of Britain’s smallest towns was officially at war with one of the world’s largest powers – and the conflict extended by the lack of a peace treaty for over a century.²

Wenn außerhalb Paris?

If you know nothing of chocolate, this is not for you.


Wenn man in Frankreich aber außerhalb Paris sei….

Die Menschen, wer mein anderen Artikel „Reisen“ gelesen haben, kennen des Haus Angelina, die in die Straße von Rivoli ist. Aber, wenn man in Frankreich sei, sondern außerhalb Paris, wo kann man fahren um güte Schokolade zu finden? Fahren Sie nach Amboise!

Als wir in Amboise waren, besuchten wir die echte Platz.

Wir waren im königlichen Palast Amboise, wo ich ein Traum hatte. In meinem Traum sah ich die Königin Maria-Antoinette. Sie war an den Mauern dieses Schloß, und als sie herum ging, sie zufällig Bigot zu sehen war.

Darunter den hundertmeternhoch Mauern war die Gestalt des kleines Häuslein des Bigot, wer im Jahr 1913 ⃰ gegründet war.

Maria-Antoinette freute sich es zu bemerken. Und sie sprache in seiner Wonne: „O dass ich eine Kerlin wäre; ich wolle nicht hier bleiben müssen. Ich könne im Haus Bigot gehen.“ Und als sein Entzücken so gross wachset, in seinem Herz die Gedachten hemmungslos wild werden: „O dass ich Flügel hätte wie die Taube; ich würde von diesem Mauern fliegen, bis ich Schokolade fände! Und hin, hin aus diesen Palast, wolle ich mein Erfüllung in Bigot machen werden.“

Der Abschluß ist klar. Wenn man in Amboise sei, gehen Sie auf den Palast um das sehr geehrten, echten Haus an die Ecke zu finden. Bigot nennet sich ein Salon de Thé. Bigot ist nicht nur ein Haus, sondern ein Palast des königlichen Schokolade.

⃰ Marie-Antoinette war während des Französisch Revolution im Jahr 1793 hingerichtet.

Don’t eat chocolate!

!The Hub
It was curiously overheard the other day:
Don’t eat chocolate!
Get the lowdown on what our people think about chocolate
Join the Discussion · 5 comments
Why eat chocolate when there are so many alternatives
A few interesting and more healthy alternatives to chocolate

By Coco · France
Vegetables, especially green vegetables provide excellent nourishment, vitamins and micronutrients

By Xocolatl  · Mexico
Whilst potatoes have a very pretty flower, they contain significant amounts of starch so should be avoided unless a high calorie intake is required.

By Schokolade  · Deutschland
Fruits are considered to be an excellent food source containing many vitamins and importantly necessary sugars.

By θεοβραμα  · ΄Ελλας
We must however remember that, as with the potato, whilst the lemon tree very pretty and lemon flower is sweet the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat despite the obvious benefits that, as a fruit, it brings to the body.

首被   平原的管家 · 中华人民共和国
不要忘了榴莲 – 花色淡黄,果实大小如足球,果皮坚实,密生三角形刺,果肉是由假种皮的肉包组成,肉色淡黄,粘性多汁,酥软味甜,吃起来有冰淇淋的口感。 有一等臭果,若臭牛肉之臭,内有粟子大酥白肉十四五块,甚甜美好吃,中有子可炒吃,其味如栗。 
[Don’t forget the durian – colour yellow, as big as a football, thick prickly peel, rich flesh-coloured yellow, sticky, juicy, sweet like eating warm melted ice cream. It is a first-class smelly fruit, like the foul smell of beef. There are big white pieces of meaty flesh in each pod – five to fourteen – which is said very sweet and delicious, even the child may have it  fried. Its flavour is such as Li (untranslatable).]

Truffles as the currency of the new economy
By Chocolat · Français
It is well known that truffles provide absolutely have no nutritional value, nevertheless they command such a high premium both for the ability to absorb flavours in some varieties and in others provide sweet and pungent aromas and tastes of their own in a wide range of culinary dishes. Indeed the esteem which they command has led to the consideration that in the new economy gripping southern Europe, the varieties grown in Greece being especially favoured, they could become the currency of choice to replace the euro.

Chocoholicism and the Federation
By Choco · USoA
Enough! Everyone knows that addiction to chocolate is no bar to enjoying good food and life. Why I spend an inordinate amount of time, though probably far less than they do in actual preparation, thinking about the wonderful array of victuals one could produce using the items mentioned by, should I say by my colleagues, above but then I reconsider. Should I spend time doing that, or simply enjoy what helps you work, rest and play? The conclusion is obvious.

By PureChocolate · NR
Truffles may be being cited as the new global currency, but if there is one reason why one should not eat chocolate, and there is only one, it is that truffles are available. Of course these are not that variety of fungus found by pigs in the roots of trees, but those that have been carefully and lovingly prepared from the roasted, cured and fermented beans of the cacao plant. These beans are the very θεοβραμα as my Greek friend should know, which are full of the most nutritious (Cocoa solids contain alkaloids such as theobromine, phenethylamine and caffeine. These have physiological effects on the body and are linked to serotonin levels in the brain. Some research found that chocolate, eaten in moderation, can lower blood pressure and eaten in therapeutic doses will reduce stress and enhance pleasure) content that ever the world knew.

So, go on. Don’t eat chocolate – eat truffles.800px-Bowl_of_truffles.jpg    
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Norway’s secret

The northern passage

It is well known that an important ingredient in Norwegian culinary preparations is chocolate, but what are the origins of this practice?

We have to delve deeply into the oral traditions of the Lapp and Inuit peoples for the answer.

A typical traditional recipe (Finnbiff – Reinsdyrgryte – Reindeer Stew) prepared for the Norwegian palette may be as follows:

20oz reinsskav
5oz bacon sliced
3oz goat’s cheese
1 carrot, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 or 3 cacao beans roasted, cured and finely ground
sufficent red wine
1 gill milk
2 gill rømme
7oz mushrooms, sliced
5 juniper berries, lightly crushed
5 cowberries
1 bay leaf
1oz fine meal for thickening

It is often thought that chocolate was introduced into the diet of Europeans only after the discovery of the New World by Columbus in 1492. But if this is the case, how is it that we do not find the same culinary use of chocolate in the kitchens of southern Europeans, by whom we include anyone who lives south of the coastline of the nordic countries, excluding Denmark? In the deep south of Europe garlic takes the place of chocolate and as we move further north onions slowly replace garlic as a favoured flavouring in many recipes. Is it merely then a matter of geography, and what grows well in the different climes? Well, it is fairly obvious that it is not the case. The cacao plant from whose bean chocolate is derived is no more suitable for growing in the Nordic regions than it was in the Aztec empire, which also had to import it from their neighbours.

Looking into oral traditions we find however that long before the southern Europeans ever dreamed about opening up the northwest passage, there was a northern trade route much like the Silk road across Asia. The trade route was not always accessible, but when it was it provided a valuable resource in the northern regions and the route along which the beans of the cacao plant were able to travel.

The ancient Lapp peoples, just as other ancient nations, conducted trade for resources which they could not otherwise obtain, across sometimes difficult and dangerous terrains, though terrain is not an entirely accurate representation of the northern passage. One of their near neighbours are the Inuit people of what is now Canada. As soon as the northern passage became available they would be able to cross the ice and exchange valuable commodities for what they saw as a far more valuable commodity, the fruit of the cacao plant. In many ways this trade was similar to the spice trade, in particular of cloves, conducted between Europe and the East Indies.

The northern passage was formidable in its difficulty and the dangers it presented. The traders who used it could have been forgiven for giving up at any point to return back to their homes, but they were driven on by the lingering memories of the delicate and pungeant aromas of roasting and curing beans which filled the air during the dark winter months.

Arriving among the Inuit people trade would begin. The Inuit had prepared for this day by obtaining sacks of beans from their southern neighbours the Cree, who in turn had obtained the supplies from the Hopituh Shinumu (Hopi) and their neighbours just north of Mexico. The Lapps never met the Cree, except perhaps for the odd individual who had taken up residence among the Inuit, but that was a rare occurance. Such were the hardships of life among the Inuit, the Cree, who for the most part were nomadic, preferred to move south in the winter to follow the flocks and herds on which they depended, and few there were who would remain in the north for when the Lapp traders would arrive.

The Cree did not understand why anyone would be so keen to obtain the beans, which they considered to be quite disgusting. They had themselves sought to use the beans as food, but the methods of preparation used gave them the impression that they were not eating food but the ground in which the food grew! If ever, in their minds, a fruit deserved the name ground nut, then the fruit of the cacao plant did. If the beans were not good for food, of what use were they?

The Hopi had tried to explain to them that there was a people to the south, the Aztecs, who, so it was rumoured made a drink out of the bean, which was considered to be most desirable and indeed the chief drink among the rulers of that people. The Cree listened politely and bought the beans anyway. In the minds of the Cree, the story about the Aztecs, was probably nothing more than a marketing ploy to talk up the value of the beans. But the Inuit were prepared to pay well for good quality supplies of beans, so as spring came the Cree would travel north with their precious cargo of beans to exchange them for pelts, oils, and most prized of all the dried fish which provided an essential supplement to their diet.

The Inuit in turn would carefully store the beans over the summer whilst they awaited the arrival of the Lapps later that year when the northern passage once again became passable.

Histerical noteOver the years 1519 to 1525 the price of the cacao beans to the Hopi fell. News had begun to reach the Hopi of the arrival of ‘popoloca’ among the Carib people a few years earlier and there was much speculation as to whom these people were. They then heard that the popoloca had been the cause of some serious disruption in the Aztec empire which had reduced the demand for beans from those who had previously paid tribute to the Aztec rulers. The greater availabilty of beans therefore reduced the price. They sought to retain the old trading levels with the Cree, but the news could not be held back indefinitely and eventually the price fell. This was good news for the Lapps, but meant that profits from the trade fell for the American merchants, even though the quantity of beans traded increased. In 1585 the situation appeared to reverse. There was suddenly a shortage of suitable beans. The following year few beans could be obtained. The Lapps obtained their last major shipments from the crop which had originally been harvested in 1585 in the winter of 1586 and which they subsequently delivered home in the spring of 1587. Thereafter only very small quantities, and at a very high price, were available. Some years later news filtered across the European continent to the Lapps through the Norwegians that in Spain, and a few other parts of southern Europe, the nobility, princes and rulers were drinking a liquor called chocolatl, which was made from the ground, roasted and fermented beans of the cocoa plant found in the newly discovered meso-america. It was considered to be a most desirable drink and endowed with considerable medicinal properties. Extraordinary, they thought.


Chocolate ‘may help keep people slim’

This post has been obtained from an external source which does not permit its pages to be embedded here (at least Coco has not successfully found a way to do it), it has been necessary to take a suitably edited version of the original page to embed here. As a consequence updates made by the writer may not appear here. If you find anything that is different in a significant manner, please notify Coco using the comments section below. Thank you.