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Wednesday, 12 January 2005
I’m-well-within-my-rights

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I hereby confer the I’m-well-within-my-rights award to this truck driver who overtook a heavy duty truck that was busy overtaking another heavy duty truck, thereby blocking all three lanes of the south-bound M1 for a considerable period of time. This occured on Monday 10 January 2005 at 12.55 pm on a busy uphill stretch of the M1 motorway. As you can see this was no mean feat as his truck was laden with some kind of sheeting. He was travelling at 60 miles-per-hour on a motorway where the maximum legal speed is 70 miles-per-hour (for cars, motorcycles, buses, coaches and goods vehicles not exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight).

Posted by bigblue on 12/01/2005 at 11:23 PM
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Tuesday, 11 January 2005
A goal it is then

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This is the what happened next photo of the one I posted yesterday. The striker tapped the ball past the goalie and into the net.  However I don’t think the goalie can be faulted for his complete lack of effort, because they were only warming up (and were a few minutes away from starting a proper match).

The players noticed me taking photos (most of which were not of them) but seemed quite happy about my attentions. Pinkie, on the other hand, told me that I was an embarassment and sat in the car (100 metres away) with her hoodie over her head so that nobody could recognise her.

I should have mentioned that this is a difficult phase that I am going through but that I am sure to improve in the coming years. As Mark Twain observed

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But, when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.

From here, where there are many other good ones.

Posted by bigblue on 11/01/2005 at 11:54 PM
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Monday, 10 January 2005
A goal, or saved?

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Yesterday I went to Spenkers for lunch, and there were quite a few familiar faces there. I also took this photo on Master Park of some footballers warming up before a match. It looks in the photo as if play could go either way: it could result in a goal, or the goalie could save it. In reality the goalie wasn’t making much effort and the other player is seen here tapping the ball past him into the back of the net.

Posted by bigblue on 10/01/2005 at 07:20 PM
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Sunday, 09 January 2005
Sesay practice

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This is a photograph I took yesterday of Pinkie’s practice session with Sesay, led by the conductor Leonie Anderson.  Sesay is the South East Surrey Area Youth Orchestra, which is run by Surrey Youth Music and Performing Arts, which falls under (the award-winning) body known as Surrey County Arts.

I was reviewing my website’s stat’s over the past few days and noted with interest that “Sesaw” and “Leonie Anderson” are some of the regular search terms that bring visitors to these pages. I guess one might be looking for music lessons, in which case you could try this page.  Otherwise, if you are looking for general information you could do worse than look at the Surrey County Arts pages.

Posted by bigblue on 09/01/2005 at 07:48 PM
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Saturday, 08 January 2005
The bright lights of Brixton

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I was driving down from London tonight, and it was the usual stop-start all the way down to Croyden followed by a clear run into the Southern Counties (dodging a car crash at Purley Cross). Just after Brixton I noticed these street-lights (above) and, as the traffic had stopped, took the photo.  Shortly afterwards the car in front stopped again, although the road ahead was clear. I noticed he seemed to be shrugging his shoulders.  Quite a queue formed behind us.  After a few moments he got out his car and asked me why I was taking photos of him and his car. I told him that I am a photographer, and I wasn’t taking photos of him or his car, but he repeated that this is what he saw me doing (presumably through his rear view mirror, and not appreciating that I have a zoom lens on the camera).  He told me that it is illegal to take photographs of people in this way. I don’t believe that this is the case (see here) but didn’t want to argue with him because it has no relevance to what I was doing.

He was sceptical of my story but I told him to come and check out this site, and email me if he has any further issues. As I said, I think he is wrong about the legal issue he raised, but that is neither here nor there. I don’t see how one can have an objection to someone else taking a photo of lights in public. 

The photo actually didn’t turn out as intended, and is bad, but I am posting it anyway. In the coming days I will post a not-so-bad photo showing the kind of things I am trying to do photographing lights at night.

Posted by bigblue on 08/01/2005 at 11:15 PM
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Friday, 07 January 2005
The Smisby Arms

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Yesterday evening four of us from work went out for supper at “my local”, the Smisby Arms.  So I walked there, which added a nice touch.  We probably proved the fact that you don’t have to drink a lot to talk a load of rubbish.  It was good to break the routine, even if I should have stayed at home and done my laundry and unpacking.  The food was good and in generous proportions, although none of the desserts appealed to my sensibilities.

This ‘back-at-work’ thing this week has been tiring. Fortunately it has been a short week, and we didn’t stay out late tonight.

I found an interesting site this week: Derelict London (courtesy of Yahoo’s Top 10 Websites of 2004).  Derelict London even includes some photos of graffiti by the Bristol-based artist Banksy.  And there’s a Guardian interview with him here.

Posted by bigblue on 07/01/2005 at 11:19 AM
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Thursday, 06 January 2005
And the early Easter award goes to ...

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The above photo shows about 5 metres of shelves devoted to Easter chocolate products.  It’s not a bad start - the photo was taken last night.

They still have a sale on the piles of unshifted Christmas cards on the opposite shelf and there are signs everywhere advertising the “January Sale”.  One can only commend them for the sheer commercial genius of bringing out the Easter eggs and bunnies just when the chocoholics are starting to feel withdrawal symptoms from the Christmas glut.  For their spirit of brazen commercialism, and money-making lust, the award for the earliest Easter products I have seen on display this year goes to my local 24-hour superstore.  I’ll donate them a Gregorian calendar so they don’t confuse their Januaries with their March’s in future.

Now, you know how animals in different countries speak different languages, for example frogs in England say ribbit and frogs in France say kwaaak?  Well, it’s not just animals: it’s birds, insects, humans and even cuckoo clocks and vehicles too. There’s a whole site called bzzzpeek which covers this subject very well. 

I personally think that child at the site is saying Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz - pique!  (Ouch).

Posted by bigblue on 06/01/2005 at 08:27 AM
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Wednesday, 05 January 2005
Tsunami in Banda Aceh

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Banda Aceh Northern Shore, 23 June 2004
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Banda Aceh Northern Shore, 28 December 2004

The photos above were taken from the set of before-and-after images of the recent Asian Tsunami at Digital Globe.

The Guardian Special Report on the Tsunami has a useful sidebar of links.

Yesterday I received an email (dated 30 December 2004) with interesting information and links about the situation in Banda Aceh in Indonesia, and a call for assistance with actions and donations. I am enclosing it in its entirety although some of the figures are a bit dated. I have also cleaned up some of the links.

Aceh Emergency - Urgent Appeal
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign

The people of Aceh are suffering the gravest catastrophe in their history in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, which struck on 26 December 2004.

The devastation and humanitarian crisis are unprecedented. The official death toll is currently 52,000. The final figure could be as high as 100,000. Tens of thousands are homeless and facing the prospect of killer diseases.

The disaster has been compounded by chaotic mismanagement by the Indonesian authorities and the legacy of decades of violent conflict. A war has been raging in the territory since the 1970s between the Indonesian military and the separatist Free Aceh Movement, GAM.

The Indonesian government’s response to the crisis has been slow, lacked coherence and demonstrated a reluctance, for political reasons associated with the conflict, to involve the international community. Currently just two helicopters have been deployed to assist with the immense relief and rehabilitation operation.

The government has severely restricted access to Aceh by international humanitarian organisations since the imposition of martial law in May 2003. Even now it is sending out mixed messages about the lifting of restrictions. Desperately-needed aid is being held up in Medan, North Sumatra.

Intimidation and violence against local NGOs by the security forces have incapacitated civil society and severely curtailed their ability to respond to the crisis.

It is essential that local and foreign organisations are allowed to operate freely in Aceh for an unlimited length of time. The role of the military must be restricted to humanitarian and reconstruction tasks. There must be no return to the oppressive military conditions which have caused so much suffering to the Acehnese and exacerbated the current crisis.

Rigorous steps must also be taken to ensure that corruption, which is an acknowledged problem in Aceh, is not allowed to dissipate the aid effort.

The needs of the Acehnese are now acute. Please do all you can to help them cope with this terrible tragedy.

TAPOL works with a number of grassroots humanitarian and human rights organisations in Aceh and is launching this appeal so that funds can be used by them to optimum effect where it is most needed by local people.

Suggested Action

Make a donation, however small, by one of the methods below:

Ask your government, through your member of parliament (preferably by phone with a follow-up letter or email), to press the Indonesian government:

·    To lift all restrictions on access to Aceh by international humanitarian organisations, aid workers and journalists;

·    To seek as much assistance as is necessary from the international community and allow aid to be delivered directly by international organisations;

·    To limit the military’s role to humanitarian and reconstruction tasks and permanently halt all other military activities in the province.

Details of UK MPs or telephone the House of Commons switchboard on 020 7219 3000

Payment Methods

·    Send a cheque payable to “TAPOL - Aceh Appeal” to TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK.

·    Make a deposit in the following bank account: “Tapol - Aceh Appeal”; Account no. 5157529; The Co-operative Bank; Sort code 08-92-99

·    Make an online donation


For more information, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or phone + 44 208 771 2904 or + 44 794 756 7449.

Thank you.

30 December 2004

*********************************************
Paul Barber
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign,
25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ
Tel/Fax: 01420 80153
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Internet: TAPOL
Defending victims of oppression in Indonesia, 1973-2004

Posted by bigblue on 05/01/2005 at 11:20 AM
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