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Thursday, 13 July 2006

Chalk on the North Downs
Bluemeanie came back from her Business in the Community event today (with various socially and environmentally sensitive goodies). She took this photo earlier this year, of some chalk I picked up in a field in Oxted. (Wikipedia: North Downs).  I Hockneyised the photograph.

The traffic on the M25 this evening was as it should be: light and swift flowing. Hence no pictures of traffic jams today.

Posted by bigblue on 13/07/2006 at 11:10 PM
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Wednesday, 12 July 2006
Hazardous materials on the M25

uranium hexafluoride

Traffic on the M25 has been bad these recent evenings. Part of the problem is the roadworks around Junction 10 (anti-clockwise) which will continue for a couple of months. So I have been spotting cars, trains, trucks and other automobiles. I first noticed that this truck has a sign on the rear that warns that the truck carries radioactive materials. The truck looks empty in this photograph, but there was some kind of barrel strapped on the back (near to the drivers cab). With a bit of googling I found a number of documents pertaining to the transport of radioactive materials (by road or rail) which suggest that the plate of numbers on the back (78 and 2978) are codes to indicate the nature of the radioactive cargo. If I am correct, these codes indicate that the truck is carrying non-fissile uranium hexafluoride. I am not sure exactly what this is, but according to wikipedia, uranium hexafluoride is used in Isotope separation, most commonly in the nuclear energy (or weapons) industry. There are clear regulations governing the transport of this product on our transportations networks as it is considered a hazardous material.

On the plus side, if there is one, the information about this product states that

Its corrosivity presents a greater hazard than its radioactivity and its packaging is designed to reflect this.

And I was wondering only this morning why a stretch of the M25 motorway had to be closed for over 12 hours due to spillage of a substance from the truck that was transporting it. This was mentioned in the traffic report this morning (or was it yesterday morning?).  I am not suggesting this was due to uranium hexafloride, as I recall that in 2004 a diesel tanker managed to shut down the M25.

My Googling also turned up (in this forum discussion thread) a comment by a truck driver in November 2004:

I am a lorry driver with an adr licence and I carry hazardous goods everyday.
some chemicals that I carry, such as catalysts are extremely flammable and in some cases explosive. You can spot these vehicles on the road because they have to have orange plates on the front and the back of the vehicle to inform emergency services that we have a dangerous load. We must also carry details of our load in the form of trem cards which the emergency services use to determine how to treat the load in the event of an accident. We are governed by strict codes which tell us where we can park up and also where, what and how we store and secure our loads . We also have very strict procedures that we must follow in the event of a spillage,fire or an accident. Due to the nature of our loads most sensible adr drivers take more care on the road ie leaving larger stopping distances, observing speed limits and driving with extra caution. I know there was a problem with a leaking petrol tanker on the m25 recently this may have been the cause of your hold up. As you can imagine it would only need a spark from a high tension lead from a car to ignite petrol vapour fumes and this would require both lanes to be shut whilst the emergency services deal with the problem. All nature of dangerous goods are carried on our roads even explosives. So when you see a lorry with orange plates on the back and front, its a good idea to treat them with caution.

Posted by bigblue on 12/07/2006 at 08:28 PM
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Tuesday, 11 July 2006
Genuine Beer

Genuine Beer

This is what I call the genuine beer entry for the 2006 Oxted Pram race, although one of the parties seems to be a carton of milk.  This reminds me of the story of the enterprising French farmer who invented milk beer.

Posted by bigblue on 11/07/2006 at 11:23 PM
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Monday, 10 July 2006
Football crazy

Oxted Pram Race
This is not a reference to Zizou who was just plain crazy, but to the football crazy entry to the Oxted Pram Race.  I have captured some stills of them from my video of the race (part 1, part 2).

What is there left to say about this World Cup? It was the most exciting one we have seen for about four years, but was very enjoyable. Next up: South Africa: 2010.

Click on the photograph above for the original size version.

Posted by bigblue on 10/07/2006 at 10:44 PM
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Sunday, 09 July 2006
Sesay Concert

SESAY concert
Yesterday evening Bluemeanie and I went to a Sesay concert (in which Pinkie performed) at the Reigate Park Church. As I have mentioned before Sesay is conducted by Leonie Anderson.

In the first half they played the Overture to the Opera, The Magic Flute by Mozart, written

when he was under pressure from debt, increasingly unwell, and undervalued in Vienna, though the lighthearted nature of so much of the music gives little of this away.

This was followed by the Concerto for 2 horns by Rosetti, with soloists Anthony Halstead and Phillip Thompson.  After the interval the wind section played Der Vogelfanger bin ich ja from the Magic Flute by Mozart, arranged by Heidenreich (1792).  The programme notes for this item read:

The final years of the Enlightenment are played out to the sound of the classical wind octet. In these years, the wind ensemble is everywhere seen and heard, as the following, from the Vienna Theatre Almanach (1794) attests: “During the summer months, if the weather is fine, one comes almost daily across serenades performed in the streets ... these consist of trios, quartets, mostly from operas ... played by wind instruments”.
From the Vauxhll Pleasure Gardens in London, to the most remote Bohemian princely seat, the wind ensemble is ubiquitous. Whether comprised of amateurs, military musicians or professional, whether for 6 or 8 players, this combination of instruments becomes central in broadcasting the newest and most popular opera tunes of the day. Its escape from mere servitude to the aristocracy and intelligentia, hints at the power of the bourgeoisie and the end of the Regime Ancien, but in 1794, this social shift is not apparent - not at least in Vienna. The Wind Octet flits easily between street music, courtly entertainment, and in the hands of Mozart and a very few others, art music. It becomes the voice of the late Enlightenment and the odd conguence of Ancien Regime conservatism and new-fangled social concience that is Enlightened Depotism.

Interesting, but I note the betrayal of Anglocentrism in the phrase “remote Bohemian princely seat”. Bohemia was next door to the centre of European music and culture of that period - Vienna and Prague!

The programme ended with Haydn’s ‘Clock’ Symphony (101).  The après concert for the orchestra members was held in Pizza Express, Reigate. This was the last Sesay concert of the academic year.  Bluemeanie and I went to nearby Si Restaurant, to make it easier to pick up Pinkie afterwards.

Posted by bigblue on 09/07/2006 at 04:39 PM
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Saturday, 08 July 2006
The Oxted Pram Race

Oxted Pram Race

After Lynn asked yesterday about whether I had a photo of her participating in the Oxted Pram Race, I loaded the full video I took, so you can see here:
Oxted Pram Race - Part 1 and Oxted Pram Race - Part 2.

I didn’t notice any obvious football supporters in the footage (a pastiche of short sun-kissed clips, of poor quality).  Perhaps the above crew? They look patriotic enough to be football fans, but somehow I think now. What’s with the sofa? Did they not read the instructions? (Click on the photo collage above to enbiggen).

Posted by bigblue on 08/07/2006 at 04:10 PM
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Friday, 07 July 2006
Speed Cameras

speed camera on M25

Yesterday afternoon after work I spent 2 hours in the perpetual bouchon that is the M25 motorway. For five minutes I was stationary at the place where I snapped the above photograph. It is taken looking across at the roadsign spanning the clockwise carriageway near Junction 10 for Guildford. This is a rear view of the roadsigns showing four speed cameras - one over each lane. Often these cameras have caught my eye when driving in the opposite direction, because if a car in the lane below one of them is speeding, the camera flashes. Until today I didn’t get a good look at them.  I think this is a new kind of speed camera, as it is not listed on the web guide to speed cameras.

Today is the first anniversary of the London Tube bombings. At work aa 2-minute silence at noon has been organised. I will willingly participate, although I hope it doesn’t become an annual event - I sort of feel that there are so many tragedies and atrocities like this, so I don’t agree with elevating one above the rest. I will also be catching up on bombing victim Rachel of North London and her campaign for a full and independent inquiry into the bombing. It’s strange to think about it now, but at the time of the bombings last year (or shortly thereafter) I was on the Metro in Paris.

Posted by bigblue on 07/07/2006 at 07:39 AM
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Thursday, 06 July 2006
Sesaw picnic concert


This evening bluemeanie and I went to a Sesaw “picnic concert” at Reigate College. Pinkie was performing.  Bluemeanie made our supper: pitta, fallafel, and various fillings with a creme sauce. She even made the pitta herself and it was excellent: wholemeal and better quality than a supermarket or bakery even.  Sesaw is raising money for the forthcoming tour of Brittany. Shortly after they get back (in one month’s time) Howard, the conductor in black above, is getting married. The people in the foreground, with their backs to us, are spectators at the concert. We sat at tables, arranged in the sports hall (as there was another function in the main building of the college).

Posted by bigblue on 06/07/2006 at 11:01 PM
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