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Friday, 18 November 2005
la lune

the moon

I have a 300 mm zoom lens.  It is bottom-of-the-range. However my digital camera has a focal length multiplier of 1.6 which means that my zoom lens is effectively 480 mm.  That notwithstanding, to get the clarity in the photo above I had to use a tripod and a cable release shutter to avoid shake. It was zero degrees last night and I discovered that it is not easy to do all of the above with gloves. As a result I nearly gave myself frostbite getting a number of shots of the moon, and Mars. Here’s a sample shot of the moon, which is waning gibbous.

Posted by bigblue on 18/11/2005 at 11:01 PM
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Thursday, 17 November 2005
matin de velours

smisby sunrise

Here’s the same view as on Monday but a bit earlier, before sunrise.  Today the Guardian Newsblog announced the arrival of the beaujolais nouveau at midnight last night.  From my memories (particularly when I was working in Paris) the wine is very fresh .... fresher even than Stormhoek.  In 2000 I kept back a bottle and decide to have it at a later stage. It was only a couple of weeks but it didn’t seem to taste as nice as it did on the night of release.
Edit: There are now some photographs tagged beaujolais nouveau over at flickr.

Posted by bigblue on 17/11/2005 at 10:32 PM
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Tuesday, 15 November 2005


From the Torygraph comes one

more reason to eat sauerkraut:

Sauerkraut, the dish adored in Germany but much maligned in Britain, could prove to be a secret weapon against the threat of bird flu, experts revealed yesterday.

Scientists believe that the traditional recipe, which is made from chopped cabbage that is fermented for at least a month, contains a bacteria that may combat the potentially fatal disease.

Their findings follow a study in which kimchi - a spicy cabbage dish popular in South Korea and similar to sauerkraut - was fed to 13 chickens infected with bird flu. Just one week later, 11 of the birds showed signs of recovery from the virus.

The article also mentions that sales of sauerkraut have soared in the USA as a result of the research.  The BBC covered the kimchi story without managing to mention sauerkraut.  Before you rush out and order kimchi over the internet, it is worth mentioning that kimchi was recently the subject of a food scare so the skeptics amoung us may be forgiving for wondering if the whole bird-flu remedy thing wasn’t dreamed up by the kimchi producers of South Korea.  Viral marketing perhaps?

Posted by bigblue on 15/11/2005 at 09:45 PM
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Monday, 14 November 2005
First frost


This is the first frost of this winter, as seen from my bedroom window this morning.

I didn’t manage to post last night as I had a difficult and long drive back to Ashby. On route I managed to catch an interesting program which reveals (contrary to popular experience?) that some Seffricans have a sense of humour (part 1):

Can jokes bring down a government? Was laughter in under apartheid just the sound of the fiddle being scraped as the country burned? In all the years that I’ve been travelling to South Africa and seeing comedy there I’ve watched comics negotiating a minefield with what would make people laugh. I’ve laughed at comics on the edge of a dilema, not of taste and good politics as in the UK, but on the edge of life, safety and humanity.

I have enjoyed reading bluemeanie’s Rememberance Week postings this past week, with her photographs from her school trip to Ypres in Belgium.

Posted by bigblue on 14/11/2005 at 09:03 PM
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Saturday, 12 November 2005
War memorial

Richmond cenotaph

This is a photograph I took last weekend in Richmond-upon-Thames of the war memorial alongside the Thames River. I was going to post this picture yesterday but preferred the poppies.  As Blairwatch said yesterday:

This is a day for sober reflection and honouring the millions who have died in battle and those who have had their lives shattered by conflict.

War has been sanitised by television and we have all been brutalised by it. We’ve got used to seeing shattered homes in Iraq, to seeing grieving mothers raging at the skies.

War is barbaric and often reduces people to their most base level and their living conditions to ashes. Twice in the last century, Europe was laid waste and parts have never quite recovered.

War should be the choice of last resort.

Further to my link two days ago to the exposé of the Sun newspaper’s campaign for a 90 day detention law in this country, it turns out that they have been opportunistically using the face of terror victims, who do not support them.  Surely, in the Sun’s terms, this makes the editor a traitor?

Another victim of the bombings, Rachel from North London is also against draconian terror legislation, although she makes it clear that she speaks for herself:

As everyone reading this knows by now, I was on the bombed train at Kings Cross, in the first carriage. So yes, I am not surprised that terrorists seek to do what they can to attack my democratic society, to threaten my liberties, to spread fear, to seek to divide us.

I do not expect my democratically-elected government to do the same. I cannot, and do not speak for all the victims, and nor can, and nor should Tony Blair and Charles Clarke.

But I know one thing: to defeat terrorism and hate-filled individuals we need to draw strength from each other, to co-operate and talk with each other, whether white or black, Muslim or Christian, Sikh, Hindu, Jew or atheist. Just like we did went the lights went out and the tunnel filled with smoke and we heard the screams of the dying; we drew together, we held hands, we prayed and we did not panic.

I do not see why this ill-thought out macho posturing, which can only destabilise and divide us, by robbing men and women of the ancient and fundemental right of habeas corpus, and making sections of the community afraid, is going to defeat terror…

Posted by bigblue on 12/11/2005 at 08:13 AM
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Friday, 11 November 2005
Remembrance Day


Today we remember those who died in war.

Elaine’s remembrance day poetry page recalls the first two minute silence in London on 11 November 1919:

The first stroke of eleven produced a magical effect.

The tram cars glided into stillness, motors ceased to cough and fume, and stopped dead, and the mighty-limbed dray horses hunched back upon their loads and stopped also, seeming to do it of their own volition.

Someone took off his hat, and with a nervous hesitancy the rest of the men bowed their heads also. Here and there an old soldier could be detected slipping unconsciously into the posture of ‘attention’. An elderly woman, not far away, wiped her eyes, and the man beside her looked white and stern. Everyone stood very still ... The hush deepened. It had spread over the whole city and become so pronounced as to impress one with a sense of audibility. It was a silence which was almost pain ... And the spirit of memory brooded over it all.

- From the Manchester Guardian, 12th November 1919.

A poem called For the Fallen is often read at Remembrance Day ceremonies. The fourth stanza says:

They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We shall remember them

- By Laurence Binyan (1869 - 1943)

Posted by bigblue on 11/11/2005 at 11:11 AM
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Thursday, 10 November 2005
Let the sun shine

blue sky and clouds

This is photo I took at midday yesterday. It is impossible to see blue skies either before or after work, as the sun is currently rising at 7:20 and setting at 16:20.  The scene is a local building site, which has a layer of water from the recent heavy rains. When I entered the field to take the photograph a flock of seagulls alighted from the water and flew off. I always find it remarkable that these


birds can be found in such numbers in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, because despite the popular wartime song this is probably the farthest point from the sea of anywhere in England.

There is a brief and somewhat favourable report of Ashby-de-la-Zouch at the Wikipedia (I promise I had no hand in this) and a less-favourable but far more entertaining report at The King of Wales (I had no hand in this either).  Another funny site giving information about Ashby is It’s better tinned than fresh.

A well-known fact about Ashby (apparently - bluemeanie pointed this out to me recently) is that it is the home town of Adrian Mole

Posted by bigblue on 10/11/2005 at 10:38 PM
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Wednesday, 09 November 2005
Estate agents are not always truthful

truly impressive

The wording on the for sale sign above caught my attention today. Below the standard estate agent poster another strip has been tacked on containing the following words, in red type:

A truly impressive development of apartments, new builds and conversions

In a sense these words imply that the adjective impressive is not always honestly used.

Tomorrow I am considering another ground breaking headline: Birds fly.  I should also add that I have had some dealings in the past with the company responsible for this poster and I am not trying to imply that they are untruthful. I have no knowledge of that.

Talking of people who are not known for their honesty, our Prime Minister lost a vote in Parliament today as 49 of his own MPs rebelled against his attempt to introduce draconian anti-terror legislation.  He argued that the country was behind him, and the Sun Newspaper was his main cheerleader. Yesterday the Sun trumpeted

TORIES out to wreck Tony Blair’s crackdown on terrorists were in turmoil last night - as The Sun’s army of readers rallied behind the PM. A whopping 100,000 of you phoned our hotline to DEMAND 90 days’ detention for terror suspects. Thousands more of you went online - blitzing MPs with emails to SHAME them into backing Mr Blair in tonight’s crunch Commons vote. As you made your voices heard in near-record numbers, senior Tories began to buckle - and Labour rebels started drifting back to the Government side. We urge you to keep the pressure up by phoning the number above. The sensational show of Sun reader power instantly turned the tide in favour of Mr Blair.

Bloggerheads unpacked this cobblers in the following interesting article 97% of Sun readers do not support Blair’s 90-day detention plan.

Edit: Oops, I forgot that my dear friend is an estate agent and that it is not a good idea to generalise. Apologies to Brends!

Posted by bigblue on 09/11/2005 at 11:56 PM
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