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Thursday, 31 May 2007
Box Hill view


I took this photograph looking down over Dorking on my visit to Box Hill earlier this year.

The Hay Festival of books started this week, and New Consumer has a video report on how eco-friendly the books are:

This year, we’ve been deluged with books devoted to green living and climate change - Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers, Chris Goodall’s How to Live a Low Carbon Life and Mark Lynas’ Six Degrees mark just three of the most recent.

But do authors, the public and publishers care how green the actual books are? Does anyone have a clue about recycled and FSC-certified paper?

We headed to second-hand book nirvana Hay-on-Wye and the Hay Festival to find out.

New Consumer also have a report on how Carbon footprint labels could appear on all products.

It would mean we could see at a glance the amount of CO2 emissions produced during a product’s life cycle. A traffic light system may be used, like the current ones for food content, so green lights would be on the more environmentally friendly products.

Climate change minister, Ian Pearson, revealed the scheme, which would be the first in the world. The Carbon Trust and DEFRA will devise the new system - businesses, green experts and academics will help work out how to calculate the cycle, from manufacture to packaging, distribution and disposal.

It could be useful for the Soil Association in deciding what to do about long distance organic products - it could mean they could continue to certify organic products and utilise this scheme, taking away the need to devise its own way of measuring environmental impact.

It doesn’t take the issue of development and people’s livelihoods out of the equation. If climate change is going to be prioritised - or at least made the more visible priority - there needs to be ways of ensuring livelihoods won‘t be affected. Many producers will need support to reduce the environmental impact of their products.

It would be concerning if fairly traded products don’t make it into baskets if they’ve got a big red light on the packaging. After all climate change concerns stem from wanting to protect the planet for the benefit of its inhabitants - traffic light labels are a sound idea but if they over simplify the issue they’ll miss the point.

Posted by bigblue on 31/05/2007 at 11:28 PM
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Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Coca Cola

Coca Cola in supermarket

Coke doesn’t have a good environmental record, and Blog of Funk writes about the Coca-Cola wars:

One reason I never drink Coca-Cola, aside from the fact it’s tooth-rotting, stomach-dissolving carcinogenic muck, and the company has a history of vicious suppression of its workers, is that it takes 2.72 litres of water to make 1 litre of all-American fizzy brown kaka.

The straight-talking Deek Deekster of the Blog of Funk recently announced he was hanging up his er ... whatever it is that you hang up when you stop blogging.

Posted by bigblue on 30/05/2007 at 07:36 AM
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Tuesday, 29 May 2007
Sorry, I’m feeling unwell

Sorry, I'm feeling unwell

Remember the good old days when there was a problem with a ticket machine and all you’d see would be the Microsoft Blue Screen of Death? I went to see Pirates of the Carribean 3 with Brenda and David the other night, and the ticket machine misfunctioned when David put his card into it.  The woman working at the cinema couldn’t get the machine open so she could get to the Alt Ctrl Del keys so we had to queue at the desk to get the tickets issued the old way. Somehow we ended up with one extra ticket which meant I had an empty seat on my left, and so ended up playing elbow hockey only with my nephew on my right.

Oh, how was the film? Quite entertaining actually. Considering it’s all the bits and pieces that didn’t quite make it into parts 1 and 2, and there’s not much of a plot to these Pirate movies anyway…

Posted by bigblue on 29/05/2007 at 07:35 AM
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Monday, 28 May 2007
Rainy day


Typical bank holiday weekend weather. As they say, some days it’s just not worth chewing through the leather straps ...

On Saturday, when the weather was still good, I managed to crawl out and get a green cone.

Posted by bigblue on 28/05/2007 at 09:10 PM
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Sunday, 27 May 2007
Picking up litter

picking up litter

I’ve seen so much litter lying around lately, and now I’ve spotted a council worker picking it up. I assume he’s a council worker.  I even saw a sign on the A21 in Kent today announcing that there had recently been a clean-up and exhorting motorists not to litter.  The sign was clearly aimed at motorists: when was the last time you saw a cyclist, a walker or a hiker littering?

Actually there are seven major sources of litter: pedestrian, motorist, loading areas, improper household containment, improper commercial containment, construction and demolition sites, and uncovered trucks. However, according to the UK Commission for Integrated Transport:

one interesting difference between bad behaviour on the road and bad behaviour generally is that the population of people behaving badly on the road is much wider. Otherwise law-abiding people may, on occasion, drive very inconsiderately by doing such things as tail-gating, blowing their horns, making rude gestures or shouting, whereas they would not behave in such ways when walking down the street. People who would never drop litter in any other environment will drop litter from their cars. Research carried out for the DfT confirmed that people do not equate disrespect on the road with anti-social behaviour generally.

There are some facts and figures about litter at the Highways Agency website.

Posted by bigblue on 27/05/2007 at 11:47 PM
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Saturday, 26 May 2007
Pede trian walk ay?

Pede trian walk ay

Someone with the initials SW might have altered this sign (spotted next to the supermarket in Oxted).

As an Owl, or B-person,  I was interested in this article:

Scientists have long known that early and late risers have genetic differences. One study from the University of Surrey found that extreme larks [early risers] are more likely to have a long version of a gene called Period 3, while extreme owls [late risers] are more likely to have a shorter version, leading to physiological differences. Professor Angela Clow from the University of Westminster found that early risers had higher levels of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone, than the alarm-clock refuseniks.

“Personally I think this is better for you,” she says, citing a link between high cortisol levels and greater powers of concentration. “But because cortisol is a stress hormone, some scientists think early rising puts the body under greater stress.”

Avoid the stress!

Hat tip: Skuds’ Sister’s Brother.

Posted by bigblue on 26/05/2007 at 10:08 PM
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Friday, 25 May 2007
Fashion in Uxbridge (Part 2)

Fashion in Uxbridge

This photograph was taken on the same street in Uxbridge about 8 hours after the photograph I took yesterday.  The women and man in the photograph are wearing faux cowboy outfits, including toy guns and holsters. I assume they were on a hen night or going tg a theme party.  When I took this photo my colleagues and I were on our way home from a supper to celebrate with a colleague who is getting married tomorrow. There were about 9 men and 2 women in our party (include the bride-to-be). I wonder if we could refer to our gathering as a “hen night”.

Posted by bigblue on 25/05/2007 at 10:59 PM
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Thursday, 24 May 2007
Fashion in Uxbridge (Part 1)


Much as we love the sun, we all know how sunburn hurts.  More serious, sunburn and too much sun cause skin cancers, some of which can be fatal.  The risk of sunburn and skin cancers such as melanoma seems to be increasing, because air pollution is reducing the layer of atmospheric ozone which normally shields us from most of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.  Damage to the ozone layer is allowing the sun to cause more sunburn than sunshine used to cause.  People need to get bright light without increasing their risk of sunburn.

Fortunately, you can get plenty of light without sunburn.  The benefits of light for depression, the body clock, and sleep, seem to come through the eyes.  There is no need for any sun at all to fall on the skin, so from my point of view, long sleeves, long pants, and a hat are just fine for people who want to get their bright light outdoors.  Sun screen may help.  There is no evidence that light hitting the skin is antidepressant.

I have also explained that bright light in the early morning or just before sundown is often the best for the body clock.  From the moment the sun rises above the horizon (at least if it is a clear day), the light is bright enough to do you some good and keep you from wilting.  These morning and evening times are therefore particularly good times to get outdoors in daylight, possibly even more effective than mid-day for most people.  Unfortunately, the minute the sun goes below the horizon, the twilight grows too dim to be useful.  Oddly enough, the ultraviolet rays which cause sunburn are scattered more by the atmosphere and absorbed more by ozone than are the visible colors of light which make up sunlight.  As a consequence, the strong ultraviolet which causes sunburn is only present when the sun is almost overhead.  The greatest risk of sunburn is between 10 AM and 3 PM.  There is little risk of sunburn before 10 AM or after 3 PM.  For these reasons, I recommend that people try to get most their daylight exposures before 10 AM or after 3 PM, except in the winter, when the sun is low even at noon.  The risk of sunburn is less important, of course, for those using long sleeves and a hat or sun screen for protection.

Except in winter, if you would like to get your daylight exposure at mid-day, consider sitting in the shade.  Since it is light entering the eyes which is important for your mood, not what falls upon your skin, your eyes usually see plenty of sunshine even when you are sitting in the shade.  Also, in most sunny weather (except very dark rainforests), even shade is several thousand lux during daylight, and therefore the light is helpful.

[from: Brighten your life]

I reckon too much sunlight can affect your sense of fashion.

Posted by bigblue on 24/05/2007 at 10:26 PM
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