2 Apr 2014, 4:26pm
Suffolk:
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  • a little bit of Africa comes to Suffolk

    Noticed more dust in the air and it’s a git to get off the windscreen. Apparently a little bit of the Sahara is paying a visit, so the wipers are sanding the glass. The reports in the grauniad seems to be particularly dire, however – I walked four miles today, partly in search of the perfect black car to take this. Can’t say I felt particularly like this mother and child – it must be really bad in The Smoke!

    Leanne Stewart, from Eltham in south-east London, described feeling breathless after a routine half-mile walk to her son’s school this morning.

    “I’ve been doing the usual school run about half a mile from my house, which is usually quite an easy walk, but I’m still breathless now,” she said. “I could feel my chest getting tighter and tighter and my son, who’s eight, had to stop and have his inhaler.

    What I really wanted was a classic black Beemer with the dust on the bonnet but we clearly don’t have the wealth or the drug dealers in my part of town

    Saharan dust on a black car in Ipswich

    Exotic Saharan dust on a black car in Ipswich

    with London and East Anglia in the boresight of the winds bringing this sand

    incoming pollution aleart from DEFRA

    incoming pollution alert from DEFRA

    It’ll be interesting to stick a microscope slide outside tonight and try and catch some of this stuff and see if it looks like miniature sharp sand. It’s a shame that I didn’t try that when we had those lovely aircraft-free skies with the volcanish ash clouds from Eyjafjallajökull

    The Guardian has a bit more about where the dust comes from

    So just where does this pinky-red dust come from? Dr Steven Godby, a drylands expert at Nottingham Trent University, thinks he has the answer:

    The Sahara is the largest desert in the world and contains a number of significant dust source areas. Looking at satellite images captured last Thursday and Friday it seems the dust was generated from two source areas, one in central Algeria close to Tamanrasset and another in southern Morocco to the south of the Atlas Mountains.

    To generate dust storms large numbers of silt-sized particles are needed for the wind to pick up and transport and these two areas have been identified as dust ‘hot spots’ in the past.

    Google maps link

    All this talk of the winds from the south making the old ones feel lethargic brought this old Grace Slick tune from the cusp of the 1980s to mind 🙂

    Postscript 4 April – I got my Beemer in the end

    one dusty black BMW

    one dusty black BMW

    I left a microscope slide out in the garden for 24 hours to pick up some dust. The dust looks reasonably sharp and spiky through a microscope. It’s been a long time since I’ve driven a microscope, and the Ermine student microscope is probably not really up to the job 😉

    the odd sharp little bits

    odd sharp little bits of Africa

     

    dark field variant

    dark field variant

     

    20 Apr 2010, 8:00pm
    simple living:
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  • Somewhere it all went wrong. We was robbed – you and me and everyone else

    A last look at our unscarred friendly skies before flights resume

    The recent hoo-hah over the flight ban caused by Eyjafjallajökull makes me wonder. As a kid in the 1970s I remember being told that the future would be a relaxed one of more leisure time, a three or four day work week and the chance to pursue our visions and dreams. The grunt work of keeping the economy going would be done by robots doing our every whim. It all seemed possible then, that the advances in technology would serve us all.

    Somewhere along the way we all took a left when we should have taken a right. Why exactly is it that so many of us are working in crap jobs, in hock to the Man for our mortgages and dreams, and we live for two weeks abroad? Two weeks of escape, versus forty weeks of quiet desperation. Where did we sign on for that, how can we get off? In the past it was possible to raise a family with the income from one man’s wage. Now a typical family needs both adults working to service the mortgage. What happened to the promise of a shorter working week? The current two day weekend was only introduced in the 20th century, a change from the old Sunday off pattern for agricultural workers. Imagine the bleating from the ‘business community’ if we tried to take out another day.

    I feel for all the poor folk stiffed by Fate this last few days. But isn’t this all a wake-up call, is it really worth packing ourselves like sardines to be abused by so-called low cost airlines for 10 days of escapism which doesn’t always turn out all it’s cracked up to be? Travelling is rarely improved by haste.

    What I want is more time, to travel slowly and overland, not have to pack my experience of other worlds into two weeks mandated by the desires of some corporation. I want to taste the food and feel the plains of Europe slowly give way to the mountain ranges, to follow great rivers from the sea to the source. I want to do it over weeks, not hours, and do it well.

    Somewhere in the three decades since that dream of a longer weekend was sold me and now, something went wrong. We collectively bought into the false dream that Stuff would give our world meaning, and joined the wild merry-go-round of buying more and more of less and less.

    Somewhere in these friendly skies unscarred by the vapour trails there is a reminder that it doesn’t have to be this way. We’ve done without air travel for a few days. Nobody has died, and all the inconvenience has been because of the unexpected nature of the shutdown. Air travel is nice, but it isn’t essential.

    Maybe it’s time to charge it for the external costs it imposes on the rest of us. Tax fuel at the same rate as other transportation. Charge it for the loss of the quiet times and the uglification of our soundscape and our skies. Ban all night flights between 11pm and 6am, so that the Many can get some sleep at the expense of the Few that are in such a damned hurry. Air travel has gotten away with too much for too long, externalising its costs in terms of noise and nastiness. But most of all, perhaps we should ask ourselves why it is that we put up with this enervating haste, for so little return in terms of quality of life? Why are we rushing around so much, if it doesn’t seem to make us happier?

    17 Apr 2010, 8:44am
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  • It’s still lovely and quiet out there with no jet aeroplane noise

    Looks like  Eyjafjallajökull is still doing its stuff, though we are starting to hear military jets which presumably go at different heights?

    It’s not just me that is enjoying the peace from the incessant low-frequency rumble at the threshold of hearing, though I do feel for all the poor sods who are stranded through no fault of ther own. Particularly as it looks like the travel insurance companies are going to welch on their responsibilities, surely unforeseen circumstances are exactly the reason why people buy travel insurance? D’oh…

    The BBC have a graphic on why this is taking the UK out in particular.

    This is bringing up other interesting stuff, such as that air freight is 25% of all imports to the UK by value. Some of the things that are air freighted are shocking. Fresh fruit, okay, but clothes? What the hell is up with that, importing clothes by air, are we nuts or what?

    There is something deeply wrong about what is reported in this article

    There are fears that British supermarket shelves could soon be empty of green beans, mangetout and sugar snap peas, among the main vegetables sent from Kenya each day.

    We shouldn’t be airfreighting low value stuff like this. For all sorts of reasons, including

    Supermarkets’ ‘just in time’ delivery schedules mean that while there is some stock kept in reserve, it is only enough to last for two or three days.

    One day, we will come to bitterly regret the brittleness of our distribution systems…

    15 Apr 2010, 6:32pm
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  • Isn’t it quiet without aircraft noise today

    My, isn’t it lovely and quiet in the countryside without the infernal ever-present noise of jet engines.

    A cloud of volcanic ash is drifting over Europe from Iceland and has turned Britain into a no-fly zone. Can we have this every weekend, please?

    I’m sorry for everyone who is being incovenienced. That’s why I’d like no-fly to be scheduled for every weekend 😉

    That way nobody’s plans get changed at the last minute but we get our peace and quiet back.

    Each aircraft carries 500 passengers but the noise takes away a little bit from the quality of life of millions of people.

    Thank you Eyjafjallajökull

    As a public service here’s some aircraft noise if you feel in the need of a fix …

    [audio:http://simple-living-in-suffolk.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/1004_060227_16-00Aircraft_noise_Staines1.mp3|titles=Aircraft noise at LHR residential area]

    As an added bonus we ought to be getting some great sunsets, unscarred by vapour trails. Clouds weren’t right today for that here.

     
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