It seems like only yesterday since I last posted a blog, but it has been some weeks.
Category Archives: Thoughts
Oil spill: Obama to ‘make BP pay’, chunking down
Further research to my article “Oil spill: Obama to make BP Pay” I asked to look at all the facts before coming to a conclusion.
Oil spill: Obama to ‘make BP pay’
I was awoken in the middle of the night here in Gaziantep, Southern Turkey, and listened to the speech made by the American President Barak Obama from the Oval Office about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, where he said he will “make BP pay”.
Norbiton Railway Bridge Replacement – Like a Ballet
It has been four days since the temporary closing of Norbiton Railway Bridge, so that it could be replaced after being used since 1869. This 2.9 million Pound (£) replacement was organised like a ballet, with orange clad workers buzzing around the project like bees around a honey pot, each having a particular job to do, each having a piece of the jigsaw to put into place to complete the whole.
The whole project was planned with precision, like a battle.
I was shown the gantt chart, the plan of how the replacement was to take place, and each task had its place on the chart, and the time the task was to start, and the time it was to finish.
At the start of the project on the first day they were one and a half hours behind, but working twenty-four hours, by the second day they were an hour and a half ahead of the schedule.
One can understand the schedule has to be precise, because if the next part of the rebuild requires premixed concrete, and the deliver lorry arrived on time but the workers were ahead of schedule, there would be a lot of standing around. Then if they re-ordered to concrete to arrive early, perhaps the lorry could not get through to the delivery spot as another lorry could be parked there, delivering some other component.
The new railway bridge open for business at
Those that know London Waterloo Station may ask, why not increase the capacity of the terminus by using the now empty EuroStar platforms, as EuroStar, the continental rail link, has move to London Paddington Railway Station? The answer I am told is that the current South West Trains (SWT) carriages will not fit into the platforms, as EuroStar is a narrower train to the standard British train. Why the planners, knowing that there was only a short life span of EuroStar Waterloo, not facilitate at the beginning the idea of being able to widen the gap after EuroStar move stations, simply by adding a bolt-on extension, making it platform wider for EuroStar, then unbolt the extension for SWT’s.
Fascinating work, that I hope all of the work will last another one hundred and fifty years.
But, will we still have trains then?
Oh Poo Poo the Pigeons lost their Home
The railway bridge at Norbiton railway station has been in place since its’ opening in 1869, taking the railway over the road which cars and pedestrians use to get from Kingston upon Thames to Norbiton station and Kingston Hospital, a walk I, as many others, would make often.
The bridge structure, the girders, the nooks and crannies, were home to many nesting pigeons.
Every morning we ran the gauntlet of the pigeons as they returned to their nests from their early morning feast, their breakfast.
Why is it that a bird cannot seem to poo, poop, pass solids, whilst in flight? They only seem about to do their toilet once landed. I know, I have watched them. They land, turn their back to their nest, lift their tail, and poo.
Now some people may argue that birds do not have brains strong enough to reason, to make conscious decisions, to be calculating.
I think that the pigeons whilst flying home to their nest, spy a human walking, especially me, a human that is going to walk under their perch, their landing spot, then they pick their target and wait.
They wait until the human is in bombing ranch. They calculate, wind speed, wind direction, velocity, the walking speed of their target human, and at the correct moment, it is “bombs away“.
The pigeons must do, else why have I like many others, have been pooped upon, white runny poo.
The road and footpath under Norbiton railway bridge was white over with pigeon droppings. The authorities placed netting under the bridge to stop the pigeons getting into the nooks and crannies, but still they were able to get in, as I suspect they had undercover agents in the form of “pigeon lovers“, who slashed the netting and left food for them, just so they could poop on other humans.
Wire mesh was installed to stop the pigeons nesting and landing on areas above the footpaths, but not over the road. Was that to appease the “pigeon lovers” I wonder?
But now the old bridge has gone, and the poor pigeons have nowhere to go, no home, no nest, and they sit on a near-by roof of a house, I think wondering what has happened, homeless, waiting to take up residence in the new bridge, ready to poop again.
I just hope that the builders and engineers installing the new bridge have eliminated any nooks and crannies that the pigeons can use, and I can walk under the bridge without having to watch for flying poo.
Pigeons waiting for their new nesting home on the new Norbiton railway bridge
You know, I think I may have got it wrong, I have been pooped on by a flying seagull. Oh Poo Poo
Norbiton Railway Bridge Replacement
Travel from my home in Norbiton, part of Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, here in the UK into London has been severely disrupted, in fact the trains will not be running over the four day Easter holiday.
They are replacing the railway bridge.
The old Norbiton Station Bridge.
As the benefits of having a railway station were soon recognised by the flourishing suburb of Surbiton, Kingstonions pressed for their own station near to their own town center, and in 1863 after acts of Parliament, a branch line was created from Twickenham to Kingston, which initially was to have stopped north of Kingston at Hampton Wick on the north bank, on the opposite side of the River Thames.
Shortly after 1869, the line was extended through Norbiton, the next town to join the main line from London Waterloo to at New Malden.
The low bridge at Norbiton, built at the above time, has been hit a few times by high sided vehicles, and having wooded rail sleepers, would if I am told by a senior track engineer, have a speed restriction of 20 mew, placed upon trains using it. It had to be replaced.
Due to the restrictions imposed by the water supply company, the bridge could not be lifted in one piece, and using a gas cutting tool, the central section was taken away, leaving the two outer supports to be lifted by a giant 500 ton crane.
The whole operation should take four days, and the teams of workers, work like a ballet dance, as the old bridge is removed, masonry taken away so that new concrete sections can be installed.
Lastly, the new sectional bridge will be built, hopefully ready for the commuters to catch the early morning rush-hour train on Tuesday.
The only sufferers so far on this twenty-four hour operation are the pigeons who nested in the old bridge. (click to read)
New concrete supports waiting on trailers, and the old Norbiton Station bridge ready to be removed
The old Norbiton Station bridge just begining the lift, and the 500 ton crane ready for the lift
The 500 ton crane lifts the old Norbiton bridge on a flatbed lorry
More on trains, the SWT Class 455 train at Norbiton Station
Math or Maths
There are times when my brain wants to explode, wanting to shout out “that’s the wrong word“, when my body justs goes into spasms when a wrong word is spoken.
One word that I am continually hearing in the last few days is “MATH“, and it is getting me mad.
The word “Math” is a shortened version of the word “mathematics“.
In the web site Wikipedia there is an explanation of the word “mathematics” as being :-
“…the study of quantity, structure, space, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns, formulate new conjectures,
and establish truth by rigorous deduction from appropriately chosen axioms and definitions.“
which leaves me confused, as “maths” left me confused at school.
But that is not what I am writing about. My confusion about how mathematics (notice the “s”) work has been solved, has gone away, because over time, although I am not a mathematician, I now understand how numbers work, how to apply a mathematical formula (one) to work out a problem, how statistics are relevant to me, to calculate how much change I should have after paying a restaurant bill, or to calculate the value of the British Pound to the Turkish Lira, the Euro, or the Malaysian Ringit, and I learned this ability by applying “Maths” to real situations to problems I encountered as I work and travel through life.
What I am writing about is the use of the abbreviation of “mathematics“.
“Mathematics” has an “S” on the end of the word, which in the English language infers that it is plural, more than one.
If you had “an orange” in your hand you would have one orange in your hand, if you had “oranges” in your hand you would have more than one orange in your hand.
So when the word “Mathematics” is abbreviated, why drop the “S“, making the abbreviation “Math“? It should be “Maths“.
If a student is going to class, are they studying one calculation or many calculations? Are they studying “Mathematic” or “Mathematics“?
Yes I am British, and I speak British English, we say “Maths“, and it is the Americans that say “Math” which is American English.
I am on a mission, that when ever I travel abroad and give training, I have to teach my translators real English, British English, the pronunciation, the correct sounds.
Sorry my American readers, but the different pronunciations and usages of words to me is like having a slice of dried bread or a piece of chocolate cake.
Where does the Poo Poo go?
We are constantly reminded of how ill prepared we humans are to disasters. We instantly see on our televisions images of not only the consequences of earthquakes, mud slides, flooding, tsunamis and war, but images before disasters occur and as they actually happen and unfold.
We witness the suffering now through the whole process, the unfolding of the disaster, from the comfort of our own homes.
We, the fortunate, sitting in comfort, rise to the occasion, and raise lots of money, gather together essential items to house, water and feed those in need.
Organisations are there to provide support, sending volunteers, firemen, nurses, doctors, military to give ground support.
As a member of Rotary Club, where members volunteer their time, talents, professional skills and energy to improving the lives of people in their local communities and others around the world, having the opportunity to give something back, to give hope to those less fortunate and to make lives worthwhile and fulfilled, we also contribute by being part of the ShelterBox scheme.
ShelterBox supplies an extended family of up to 10 people with a tent and lifesaving equipment to use while they are displaced and homeless all in one box.
It was at a recent raid or visit to another Rotary Club, Surbiton, that we were given a talk following a superb meal about the plight of survivors after disasters.
We as organisations, as individuals, are very good at sending to the areas affected, shelter, food, drinks, but what is often forgotten is that what goes in, has to come out.
In other words we have to pee pee and poo poo, we have to go to the toilet, and that is often forgotten, as i have seen on the reports on my TV screen.
How often it was asked, do you think about what happens to your waste after you flush the toilet?
It has to be taken away, often underground in pipes that we do not see, to a sewage plant or machinery that is hidden away, that safely treats the waste in a safe way.
Because our waste is out of sight, it is out of mind, and so it was suggested when we deal with disasters.
But, what happens in the disaster areas?
Their infrastructure is often wiped out, perhaps there is no power or electricity to power the sewage works, but more likely, the survivors move away from their devastated towns and cities, seeking shelter in the wide open where there is no sanitation, no toilets, as seen in Haiti Earthquake or Dafur.
Where do they go to the toilet?
How does the sewage get treated?
Does the sewage enter into the eco system, the water supply?
How long is it before diseases, including cholera, typhoid and dysentery, takes over the population, leading to many deaths.
With this in mind, our two speakers have taken the idea of ShelterBox and are developing a unique sanatory system which can be deployed quickly, and they are saying could serve about 100 people. Packed in a box, the system would be shipped to an area, where it would be unpacked, giving a tent for four people with toilet facilities, and a treatment plant which is small, easy to set-up, and results in an output of treated sewage, free from disease.
Still in the design stage, what a wonderful gift this will be to those who find themselves in need.
For more information, please contact the Surbiton Rotary Club.
The Transport we use, I’m becoming a Grumpy Old Man
The world is in a big debate as to global warming, are we the human race effecting the warming of our world, the only place we can exist?
Yes we have a space station where less than ten people live for just a few weeks. Yes we have been to the Moon many years ago, but sorry, we are stuck on this round thing floating in space for many, many years to come, there is not room on the space station to house the billions of people if our world fails due to global warming tomorrow.
So we are told that we have to reduce our carbon emissions, use less coal, use less electricity, use the car less to reduce petrol consumption.
The lifestyle of the human race has changed rapidly over the last hundred years, and one of the changes has been how the human roams or move about in the environment.
Before the existence of motorised transportation, people only traveled within a few miles or kilometers of their home, for the average person, to travel more than say ten miles, (16 kilometers), would take a day with meals stops, rest, etc. Now, with cars, we will go and buy a packet of crisps (chips for my American readers), and be back home in half an hour and think nothing of it.
We used to shop, buy our food at the corner shop which was within walking distance, now we go to the large out of town supermarket, maybe ten miles from where we live, and even if we had a day to walk there, we cannot because the supermarket is on a motorway, an autobahn, which does not permit pedestrians, and the shopping would be too heavy to carry back. We need our own transport.
Our jobs, the factories, the offices are located often far from where we live, in central city centers or business parks, we need transport to get to them.
Our entertainment, restaurants, theaters, cinemas are located long distances from where we live.
In the UK as in many countries in the world, we are being told to use the car less, to use public transport, to walk, and this way we use less polluting fuel, and we get healthier.
Being that I drove less than 400 miles last year in my own car, and have done for some years, I have not taxed, licensed, my car to be on the road, so I am car less, I have no transport of my own I can legally use.
So I walk, I use public transport. It is cheaper than paying out for petrol, having to pay to park the car when I get to my destination, and as I am entitled to free public transport in London, it is very much cheaper than driving.
I have a supermarket immediately opposite to where I live, so my daily needs are easy to acquire. The major town center is 15 minutes walk away, so good for my health, and I work from home. I do not need a car.
Yes, until I have to travel beyond my normal living existence.
My quest to research and look at the Blackburn Buccaneer jet fighter aircraft, took me to visiting the RAF Hendon Museum. That is easy, a quick train journey into London’s Waterloo Railway station, about half an hour, a ten minute transfer to then catch a tube train (metro, underground) to Colindale Underground station about another half an hour, (actually it is on the surface not underground), and a 15 minute walk to the museum. Let us say about one and a half hour journey, a journey by car which would perhaps take half and hour by car door to door.
I was asked to give my services to allow local school pupils to experience what it is like to have job interviews. To get to the school by car would take about ten minutes maximum, but by public transport, I had to take two buses, waiting for over 15 minutes for each one, plus the bus rides took nearly one hour.
Last night I went to a meeting which would take about 20 minutes to drive too, and an exceptional meeting it was, making many new acquaintances, but my journey back took one and a half hours, catching three trains, walking through dark country lanes to a deserted train station, where there was only one train per hour, to change to another train with a 15 minute wait, to change to another train with another 15 minute wait, and then a ten minute walk from my home railway station to home.
Then there was my trip to the wonderful Fleet Air Arm Museum of the British Royal Navy at RNAS Yeovilton. This journey meant that I took a train into London to catch another train back the way I had just come from, for on a two hour journey to Yeovilton Junction railway station. I relaxed and read, watched the changing countryside, having no stresses of driving a car.
On reaching Yeovilton Junction railway station I asked how I could reach the Fleet Air Arm Museum, and was told there was just one bus a day, but that left the station at 10:30 am, goes to the museum site, I expect through the villages, and leaves the museum to return to the station at 1:30 pm.
Um. That is useful as it was mid day when I arrived, and I did want to see more than the front door of the museum before I took the bus back again.
The only other options were walking, well it was ten miles away I was told, so I could do it if I walked fast only to see the “Closed for the Day” sign being put up, or I could take a taxi.
I took a taxi. Nice and quick, but £22 each way.
I am trying to do my little bit for the environment, replacing my light bulbs with low energy bulbs, (see Energy Saving Lights, becoming environmentaly friendly ), switching off electrical equipment when not in use, not having the heating on as much as required or set at a lower temperature, using public transport, but I am paying the price of convenience, of my time, of being at the mercy of a train driver, a bus driver or a taxi driver.
Have they turn-up for work that day?
Is there going to be the train, bus or taxi?
Have they taken an extra five minute break meaning that I miss my next connection?
Are there going to be engineering works, closing the rail network?
What are the timetable changes for evening and night time travel, they could be every hour instead of every 15 minutes because there is little demand in the evenings?
We have to start somewhere to stop global climate change. The infrastructure has to be set-up, the extra modes of public transport put in place so that people have a way of moving about no matter what time of the day or year it is, and the organisers of events also have to do think about people doing their little bit to save the planet by using public transport.
I will keep my state, for my NLP’ers, Mustafa, Fred or Antonio, to tell that little voice in my head to shut up and stop complaining, and to relax and enjoy downtime sometimes sitting on a slow bus or train, and stop being a grumpy old man.
My interest in the RAF and flying
It was in the late 1970’s that I worked for NCR, a computer manufacturer, and I was tasked to design, write the software to customers requirements, install, train the customers staff, and maintain the installation thereafter.
The area I covered from my base offices in the UK, Nottingham and Leicester, covered a vast area, from North and South Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, down to the south of Liecestershire, from caravan manufacturers to a door-to-door cosmetic selling organization, and often I found myself driving hundreds of miles to visit my customers.
Often my journeys, especially through Lincolnshire, would take me past RAF airfields, and since a small boy I had a fascination of aircraft, mighty birds in the sky.
At RAF Coningsby, the B1192 road I took to my customer in Wragby, passed the end of the runway, and there was a convenient lay-bye, where I could stop and watch the fast jets, Phantoms, take off, looking directly up into their jet exhaust and afterburners. (click to see map).
At RAF Waddington on the A607 road from Grantham to the City of Lincoln, the massive Vulcan bombers of the RAF “V” Force, stood ready to launch at minutes notice on their dispersal pads near the end of the runways, ready to retaliate against Soviet Block targets with nuclear weapons should NATO be attacked. (click to see map).
At RAF Wyton on the A141 near Warboys, English Electric Cambera’s, RAF reconnaissance planes flew low over the road as they came into land. (click to see map).
At RAF Wittering, the V/STOL Harrier Jump Jets, would fly over the A1 road. (click to see map).
At RAF Alcanbury, further south on the A1 road, USAF U-2 spy planes, with their albatross length wings glided in to a now closed airfield. (click to see map).
So many more airfields I would pass, fascinated by the power and beauty of the aircraft.
My love for knowledge of aircraft has stayed with me all these years, and reading, researching books, visiting museums on aircraft, gives me great joy and happiness, although my interest does not or has not become an obsession. As I discover more in my research, I need to fill in the blanks, find out more about information presented to me.
It is now I appreciate the art of reading, PhotoReading, allowing me to absorb so much information quickly, and when reading normally after PhotoReading the book to get specific information, getting so much more enjoyment.
Reading fictional books like Biggles, a pilot flying mid world war planes, solving problems and having boyhood fascination capturing adventures.
Living in Kingston upon Thames, the home of the Hawker Hurricane, led me to read about the history of the iconic aircraft, and visiting museums, the Imperial War museum at RAF Duxford, the old airfield and race track at Brooklands, the Royal Naval Fleet Air Arm Museum, RAF Uxbridge and the RAF Museum in Hendon.
As I read, one piece of information has led me to another, to another, to the book Phoenix Squadron by Rowland White, which I wrote about in my blog a few days ago. Then my cousin Glynis, read my blog and suggested that I read Rowland White’s other book, Vulcan 607, as her husband Dave had been involved with them, and my mind went back to those early days as I passed RAF Waddington, with those big jets, the Vulcan’s, just waiting to reach for the skies.
I had to buy the book.