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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Environment

Tuesday April 12 2016

Being sick as in feeling sick, and occasionally being sick as in being sick.  As in expelling stuff I had previous eaten from my mouth.

Quota photo time:

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There is so much light crashing across London from west to east that evening the eastern clouds were lit up pink, like they were a sunset or something.  So I know what you are thinking.  It must have been one hell of a sunset to do that.  And you are not wrong:

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If I wasn’t sick I probably wouldn’t indulge in such a lurid sunset, which I photoed last Saturday evening on Tower Bridge.  But I am sick.  I can do what I like.

Actually, it’s already getting better.  But wish me well anyway.

Wednesday April 06 2016

I like trees without leaves for many reasons.  One is that you can put them in front of Big Things and still see the Big Things.

And another is that without leaves in the way, I get to enjoy the peculiar sculptural effects contrived in and on trees by the pruning process.

Consider this photo, which I took this February, looking across Vincent Square towards Parliament and the river:

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Ignore the wheel with the bobbles on it.  Forget the pointy tower on the left.  Consider those trees, and the strange shapes of their branches, caused by pruning.

A particular effect that such pruning causes is when a quite thick branch is lopped off, and the result is like a fist, holding lots more much thinner branches.

Here is another photo, taken down by the river in 2010, which shows that effect:

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Again, forget about the spiky footbridge in the middle of the picture and that crane behind it, which is obviously what I thought I was photoing at the time, with the trees as a mere frame.  Look at the trees, with their big thick branches, that suddenly stop (because of pruning) and then burst out in all directions with lots of much smaller branches.

The photo I’ve been able to track down in my archives that best illustrates this effect is of some trees at the junction between Rochester Row and Vauxhall Bridge Road:

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I seem to recall that Rochester Row has lots of trees thus truncated, which I also seem to recall photoing, several times.  But I was unable to find any such photos.

What this particular snap shows very well is how the tree, once pruned, sometimes sort of blows the end of itself up into a balloon, before the new branches finally manage to burst out, hence the fist effect.  I’m thinking especially of what happened on the right in the above picture.

The reason I went rootling through my archives for snaps of this sort was that when walking along beside the somewhat distant-from-London reaches of the New River, in the vicinity of Enfield, with GodDaughter One last Saturday, we encountered the most extreme example I have ever seen of a tree that has been pruned into a different shape to the one it would naturally have adopted.

Feast your eyes on this:

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Is that not one of the weirdest things you have ever seen?  It looks more like something for swimming in the sea than like a tree.

This snap was snapped at one of the entrances to Enfield Town Park, or Town Park as they call it in Enfield.  You can see the New River in the background.  Had we succeeded in sticking closer to the New River at that particular point in our wanderings, we would have missed this.

What was the pruner thinking, I wonder?  Did he think that he had ended this tree’s growth?  If so, shouldn’t he or someone have painted over the top, to stop it growing some more?  Or, was he actually going for this effect?  Was this some kind of experiment?  Who can say?  Whatever the explanation, I’m glad that this was done and that I got to photo, and to bring it to the attention of the world, this remarkable effect.

Tuesday April 05 2016

Today I made the mistake of going out to do something before I had shoved something up here.  So this is not a complicated posting.  It’s a rubbish lorry, which I photoed today, just before doing something, near the Angel tube station:

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Dirty Harry’s Waste Management, of Chingford, would seem to be the kind of enterprise that doesn’t have its own website.  It is merely mentioned on lots of other websites, of the sort that enable you to do research on enterprises that don’t have websites.

The art on the side of this rubbish collecting lorry reminds me of that on these Wicked Campers.

Saturday April 02 2016

Here is a sunny evening photo from a few days back, just after the clocks had moved forward.  The sun got the email, and was shining enthusiastically at an amazingly late hour.  But the tree is still in its winter, skeletal form.  Which I like:

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Today will be a day out with G(od)D(aughter) One, in weather that now looks like it was ordered via a website where you can decide, except that apparently there’ll be rain in the early evening instead of a sunny early evening like it was for the above photo.  “Showers”, they said last night on the telly.  That could mean anything from spectacular clouds to total dreariness.  We shall see.

Whatever.  Spring is definitely here.

This morning’s weather looks, from out of my kitchen window, like this:

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The building work opposite will probably never look as pretty again as it does now.  I feel rather the same about many new buildings, of the more serviceable and vernacular sort, as I do about trees, preferring such buildings also when they are still at the skeletal stage.

Sunday March 13 2016

The weather over the weekend has been excellent, but I have been stuck indoors watching the Six Nations, which England have just won, even though there’s a still another weekend to go, thanks to Scotland beating France today.

I nearly went out today, despite the rugby, which I could have watched the recording of instead of watching it live.  But this ...:

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... which is the London weather forecast for tomorrow, persuaded me to postpone going out until tomorrow, since the weather tomorrow is also going to be good.  Weather forecasts this near to the actual time they forecast are always accurate.

But, where to go.  I am fast running out of new places in London to visit.  I know that this is not true, but - rather bizarrely - that is how it now feels to me.  And in order to make a proper early start, I need a predetermined destination to get me going.  But, which destination?  Memo to self: before bed tonight, I need to have fixed on something enticing.

What I am already thinking about is to go south, on foot.  Across Vauxhall Bridge, maybe, but then, instead of going somewhere from Vauxhall Station, or walking along beside the river, I have in mind to go onwards, inland, in a south-westerly direction.  What is Kennington Park?  Can Big Things be seen from that?  Time to find out.  Then maybe wander in the general direction of the City, towards the Big Things.

Important.  The mobile phone needs to be powered up, because I will need to know where I am at all times.

Friday February 19 2016

So, I’m about half way through telling the massed ranks of BMdotcom readers about an excellent day out with G(od)D(aughter) One, which was many months ago, now.  My last posting about that was done at the end of last year.  And there you were thinking, what with this no longer being last year, the year in which the excellent day out happened, I was all done with that day.  Oh no.  There’s lots more to be said about it.  It feels to me like I’ve hardly started.

Today, since this is Friday, cat day, and more recently non-human creatures of any kind day, here are, not actual creatures, but some vans which I snapped that day, which illustrate some of the contrasting attitudes that we humans used to have and have now towards non-humans.

We eat non-human creatures:

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We use sculpted non-human creatures to carry us on roundabouts

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We also make use of real non-human creatures in circuses to entertain us, circuses and entertain us humans.  Or, we used to.  This kind of things has become rather old school and unfashionable, on account of it being considered cruel.

Now, that sort of entertainment has been almost entirely replaced by the pleasure we get from conserving and staring at non-human creatures:

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One of the places they supervise was my November shot in the retrospective photo-essay I did for Samizdata at the end of last year.

Sunday January 17 2016

My life, in this digital century, has contained quite a lot of wonderful expeditions which I never got around to mentioning here.  Take the trip that I and G(od)D(aughter) 1 made to Beckton Sewage Works, on September 21st 2013.  The only time I mentioned this here, it would seem, was in this posting, where I mentioned that I otherwise did not mention it.

So, to go some way towards correcting that, here is a picture of some birds that I took that day:

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You want to know why London contains so many birds?  Sewage processing, that’s why.  Birds love that.  The Beckton Sewage Works is one great big open air bird canteen.

And here is a picture of a sign that I took, which explains that a huge new sewage tunnel was in the process of being constructed, at the time of our visit:

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More about that here:

The 75-metre deep Beckton overflow shaft is the entry point for the Lee Tunnel, a £635million project just as ambitious as the more highly-publicised Crossrail. Over the past five years, engineers have built a 6km tunnel stretching from Beckton up to Abbey Mills pumping station in Stratford, east London. The Lee Tunnel will help prevent more than 16 million tons of sewage from overflowing into the River Lee each year by capturing it and taking it down to Beckton. The sewage treatment works itself is being upgraded and expanded by 60 per cent to enable it to deal with the increased volume.

And the Lee Tunnel is just the first phase of the even more ambitious Thames Tideway Tunnel, a 25km tunnel that will handle sewage from Acton in west London through to Abbey Mills in the east. The Thames Tideway Tunnel will deal with the 34 most polluting overflow points along the Thames. Work on the £4.2billion project, known popularly as the London super sewer, starts in earnest in 2017 with engineers pulling the chain, so to speak, in 2023.

And here is another photo I took that day, which I include in this posting because I like it:

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Behind that fence may, or may not, be activity associated with the digging of the big tunnel.  But, I think it was.

Friday December 25 2015

Happy Christmas, as and when you get around to reading this.

The weather this Christmas has been terrible.  Warm, yes, but relentlessly cloudy and rainy.  It seems like it’s been raining in London ever since I said here early last month that in London rain is quite rare.  Wednesday was a brief respite, which the weather forecasters duly noted beforehand, but yesterday and today it’s back to mostly cloudy and rainy.  So here is some Christmas photo-cheer from just before Christmas last year, when the weather was mostly what it should be around this time, suitably cold and frequently bright and sunny.

I mentioned earlier my intention to focus of a Friday on non-deline as well as feline members of the animal kingdom.  This fine beast was to be seen last Christmas outside the old Covent Garden Market, where they used to sell fruit and veg - all that having moved to this place - and where they now sell stuff.

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And here are two more photos, of the beast’s head, with a dose of that proper Christmas weather behind it, and of the sign at the beast’s feet, about how you mustn’t molest it in any way:

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BrianMicklethwaitDotCom would not be BrianMicklethwaitDotCom if I hadn’t photoed photoers and stuck some of the resulting photos up here, so here are some of the many other photoers who photoed this reindeer.  The first two have the reindeer on their screens:

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And my favourite one didn’t have anything on her screen that I could see, but did have reindeers on her excellent woolly top.

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Relevant website.  Like I said, stuff.

Wednesday December 23 2015

I love these modernist sand castles by Calvin Seibert, featured today at the blog of Mick Hartley (to whom thanks).  Hartley picks out five of them for his blog.  I pick out another for mine:

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Many more here, as Hartley adds, at Calvin Seibert’s My “Sand Castles” Flickr site.

Here, I think we can say with confidence, is another impact of digital photography.  Seibert doesn’t say in his short introductory spiel (click on “show more") how important digital photography is in preserving something of these castles before the incoming tide or human destructiveness or accident claims them.  But it obviously is.  Would he have developed this way of sculpting, if he had had no convenient way of recording it?

And my other thought is that the website where Hartley learned about these castles, which is called Amusing Planet and which I had not previously heard of, will be well worth making regular visits to.  It says in this post that Amusing Planet has now been in action for nearly eight years.  I must have been there before.  But, I didn’t pay any attention to the surroundings of whatever posting I was looking at.  I should have.

This morning, I met up for a late breakfast in Eltham with regular commenter here Alastair.  I took a ton of photos, because after we had breakfasted we checked out a great view of London just to the south, which Alastair had recently chanced upon and had told me about.  But before I even look at all the photos I took, here is a photo that Alastair showed me today, which he took on November 1st.  November 1st was very foggy, and this is the Walkie Talkie, smothered in fog:

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If you like the Walkie Talkie, as both Alastair and I do, then: Hurrah!  It’s the Walkie-Talkie!

If you hate the Walkie Talkie, and many do hate it, cheer up.  In this picture of the Walkie Talkie, you can hardly see the Walkie Talkie at all!

Sunday November 01 2015

It was something to do with the fact that it was unseasonably warm yesterday, which resulted in fog this morning in London, but only in patches.  And the Evening Standard, which now keeps virtually ticking over at the weekend, reported on the various London fog photos people have been taking.

This, taken by this guy, is my favourite:
:
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Cranes (and the Walkie-Talkie) in front of the fog.  Shard stabbing through the fog.

Tuesday September 15 2015

It’s been a very bad last few days here at BMdotcom.  First there was the domain name fiasco, and then last night and into this morning there was another interruption, caused by a power cut in a totally different part of London to me, which was in its turn caused by all that rain we had recently.  And then the interruption was prolonged by the mishandling of this power cut by my rather creeky and out-of-date version of Expression Engine.  The two events were unrelated.  I think there’s a Macbeth quote that deals with this kind of thing.  One of those plays about a king for whom things are starting to go badly wrong.  But rest assured that there is no sign that BMdotcom is about to be dethroned permanently.

So anyway, here is one of those photo-postings made quick and easy by my “I just like them!” directory.

I just like this, taken in 2007:

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And I just like this, taken a month ago:

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That second one was already edited and ready to post, with its new name, but I don’t believe I ever got around to actually displaying it.  If I did, well, take another look.

I do not promise more substantial stuff tomorrow, but I do hope for it.

Friday July 10 2015

I need to get out less, and this weather is not helping.  I spent last night shovelling pictures from SD cards onto Godot (my mainframe computer) who has now returned, all the while revelling in how fast everything is, again, like wading through a vacuum.  And now I have about a dozen catch-up type postings rattling around in my head, many of them involving recent photos, which I want to post all at once.  But the weather out is just too good to ignore.  Which means that by the end of today I will probably be even further behind.

But, I will now do one of these postings, which happens also to illustrate the excellence of the weather in London just now

Last night, on Westminster Bridge, I photoed a particularly excellent Bald Bloke Taking Photos.  These two snaps of the gentleman in question make a nice pair, I think:

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Excellent Bald Bloke Rift Valley on the back of his neck there.

Tuesday June 02 2015

Today I attended an event at the office of the ASI, at which Tim Worstall spoke about his latest book.

I took photos, but almost everything I took was terrible.  This one, much cropped and enhanced, was one of the least worst ones:

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That’s Sam Bowman in the middle there, with his back to the window, and on the right, Worstall, holding his glasses, waiting for Sam to finish his intro.  That almost everyone had their backs to the windows didn’t help me photo their faces.

The only half decent photo I took was when I got outside, and photoed people who were saying those prolonged goodbyes that happen at these kinds of events.

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Through the upstairs window you can see the party continuing.

The gist of Worstall’s talk was that the Green claim that the earth’s resources are about to run out is based on a failure to understand the meaning of the word “reserve”.  Reserves are not all the resources they even know about or know how to go looking for; they are the resources that they already have lined up to be extracted, given current market conditions and current technological ability.  The entire point of “reserves” is that they are already on the warehouse shelf, metaphorically speaking, and are indeed about to “run out”, aka be consumed.  That these “reserves” are about to be consumed does not mean that all the earth’s resources, known and unknown, easily obtainable at today’s prices and with today’s technology or difficult, are all about to vanish, any more than the fact that all the food now in warehouses will soon disappear and then immediately be replaced means that we are all about to starve.

I have long suspected-stroke-assumed something along these lines.  Good to hear it spelt out in detail.

Thursday April 02 2015

I recently decided to keep an eye open for newspaper front pages.  Yesterday, I snapped, among others, this one:

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It was the airplane nearly crashing, or seeming to, that got my attention.

I tried to chase up the story, and eventually found it, not in the Times, behind its paywall, but at the Manchester Evening News, and I found a slightly better version of the picture at the Daily Mirror, in a piece about the generally windy weather we’ve been having lately:

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The Manchester Evening News quoted a spokesman for Monarch, the airline whose plane was featured in this picture.  He had some interesting things to say about how the camera had, on this particular occasion, told somewhat of a lie:

A spokesman said: “Over the last few days the country has experienced extremely high crosswinds.

“The image depicts a completely normal landing given the weather conditions on the day.

“The image was taken at long range and therefore is deceptive.

“The foreground in this picture is higher than the touchdown zone on the runway - proven in this case by the lower wheel appearing to be in the ground, which was not the case.

“As seen in this image, it is common practice for pilots to perform a crosswind landing in these conditions.”

After I had had a closer look at this photo myself, I was going to say half of this myself.  The foreground is higher, and makes the plane look lower.  What I had not realised was that the plane was actually in the air.

I notice, however, that the subheading of the Manchester Evening News report quotes the bit about how this was a “completely normal landing”, above the photo that, as explained, makes it look anything but, thus deliberately suggesting Monarchical complacency.  But the spokesman didn’t just say it was normal.  He explained why it looked abnormal, without actually being abnormal.