Sunday 31 December 2017

Christmas Reading (2)

A Spectacular Sheffield Skid
Here is the junction between Gleadless Road and Leighton Road in safe and pleasant conditions.
Now look at a car descending the snowy hill. It is skidding sideways across the road (upper right).
At strikes an obstacle, almost certainly this one (bottom left):-
The car flips on its side ...
... turns right over and lands upright.
The chequered vehicle contained a paramedic and the somersaulting driver sustained a few cuts and bruises but nothing serious.
It was a Radio Sheffield staff member who observed the event!

Well Hidden Chariots
Yet again, fbb shows his deep ignorance of the world wide web! On Friday he wrote about a new minibus service in the USA called Chariot.
fbb bewailed the fact that whenever he tried to dins out more information, the web took him back to San Francisco. He had ignored a little blue arrow.
This did lead to info on the New York operation ...
... and Austin San Antonio.
The maps for Columbus and Seattle showed no coloured lines.

Thanks to a correspondent who pointed out that full details of he proposed London operation are shown (here) on the London Service Permit Bulletin No 390.

Wolmar Writes about War 
Christian Wolmar, as well as being a failed candidate for London Mayor, is a prolific and excellent author on matters concerning the Railways.
Mrs fbb obtained this (cover priced at £20) volume for £5 in Seaton's second hand bookshop.
Amazon's prices were varied, running from £377.96 ...
... to a more modest £1.84 ...
... plus postage!

It is no reflection on Mr Wolmar's writing skills, but the book is rather old-fashioned in its production style. It has a collection of maps all together at the front. Here is, arguably, the first ever military railway built to relive the siege of Sevastopol in 1855.
Also separate from the text are photographic "plates"; again Balaklava port is a typical example.
A more modern (maybe more expensive!) style would have these helpful aids to understanding printed as part of the text. But it makes the book hard work for someone like fbb whose world geographical knowledge is not of the best.

Balaklava illustrates the premise of the book. Wolmar claims, quite rightly, that the "invention" and development of railways changed the way that wars were waged. These changes continued until the present day - but the book ends with the Korean War which began in 1950.
Despite the extra effort needed to refer to plates and maps, the content is a fascinating tour-de-force from Mr Wolmar. The effort is well worth it!

He even refers to one of the UK's more bizarre pieces of ferroequinological militaria.
This was the armoured train which ran on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway during the 2nd World War.

It is doubtful whether the Luftwaffe would have quailed in fear as its planes sought out London targets, but as a PR exercise it was really powerful.

That is typical of the book - full of big warlike things and the little delights combined with biographical anecdotes to personalise the often horrific events.

A good post festive read!

Engines of War
Christian Wolmar
Atlantic Books
Widely available second hand
    Post-Advent CALENDAR - 31     
Stable/Cattle Shed/Cave, Smelly Shepherds, Temple Oddities, Zoroastrian Star Gazers plus a cruel King and a desperate escape to Egypt. Two years (ish) of excitement then ...


We do rather overplay Christmas, an event so relatively unimportant in the Gospel of Christ that only two of the four writers mention it. The main show begins with this man ...
... Jesus' cousin (in human terms), whom we know today as John The Baptist. He was a hairy weirdo from the desert who brought a revolutionary message to the people of his day.

So John appeared in the desert, baptising and preaching. “Turn away from your sins and be baptised,” he told the people, “and God will forgive your sins.” Many people from the province of Judea and the city of Jerusalem went out to hear John. They confessed their sins, and he baptised them in the Jordan River.

John wore clothes made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. He announced to the people, “The man who will come after me is much greater than I am. I am not good enough even to bend down and untie his sandals. I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”

Over the subsequent three years, Christmas would, at last, begin to make sense.

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made Heaven and earth from nought
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

** Just one incident from Jesus' childhood is recorded by Luke (Chapter 2 verses 41 to 52).
 Next Mega Logology blog : Monday 1st January  2018  

Saturday 30 December 2017

Christmas Reading (1)

Located in Lyme

Lyme Regis : Thursday 28th December : 1230
Thursday last a "Happy Family Outing" (HFA) was organised whereby No 1 Son, wife and two sprogs hove off to Lyme Regis, followed by fbb and Mrs in the Seaton limo. The plan was that some members of the family would, wet suited, plunge into the foaming briny whilst the elderly sat and watched.

Only younger grandson plunged - briefly, very briefly!

But first to a caff for luncheon.
Bacon baps (scrumptious), pasties (yummy), a real kipper (gorgeous) and a concoction involving scrambled egg, goats cheese and avocado satisfied the appetites of all present.

Surely a contradiction in terms?

And so to the beach. But to reach the working parts of this fossil-encrusted resort, it was necessary to pass a bookshop.
It is an important principle of fbb's shopping visits to never pass an open bookshop (q v Prince Philip and a Bathroom!). Only one volume of transport interest caught your bloggers eye.
"Then and Now" picture books are two a penny and only of passing interest to fbb; who likes something more meaty. Mike Oakley's volume was a notch above the usual. It had a map ...
... consisting of two A4 pages ahowing every station that ever there was in Dorset. (click on the maps to enlarge)
But, once the county boundary is reached, there is nothing. So we have Lyme Regis but no Axminster ...
... and Sherborne but no Yeovil.
Maybe this bit of excellent cartography would have been a tad more helpful had some of the cross-boundary detail been added?

Then there is a chronological summary of lines opening and closing, starting in 1847 ...
... and ending with developments on the Swanage Railway.
The extension to Wareham came too late for the 2016 publication date.

Each station has a potted history including some very obscure sites. Sandsfoot Castle Halt ...
... was new to fbb.
The little known halt to the east of Dorchester ...
... was short-lived and obscure.
Airship Station Halt is one of the few stops not to have its own "then and now" photograph for reasons explained in the text. It would have been part of Warmwell Airfield.
The railway runs across the top of the aerial view above.

The "then and now" pictures are a pure delight and provide a spur to further exploration. 

The luxurious appurtenances of Sandsfoot Castle Halt are (no, were) a joy to behold ...
... and there is still a tiny bit of it left.
Go find!
Enjoy the Castle!

Dorset Stations Then and Now
Mike Oakley
The Dovecote Press

and worth every penny!

Logology - Yesterday's Answers

1. Dutch State Railways
2. Southern Vectis (Isle of Wight)
3. Super Bus at Stevenage
4. United Counties just pre National Bus standardisation
5. Guy Motors radiator totem

A mega logology quiz is planned for Monday. Yippee!!
    Post-Advent CALENDAR - 30     
Whether three or more, the "wise men" story is all about the gifts. Matthew wrote his gospel for the Jewish community, seeking to explain in some detail how Jesus was the expected Messiah. He did this by repeatedly linking events in the life of Christ to old testament prophecies.

The Magi were important because their journey was based on a selection of those prophecies, notably ones about Bethlehem and descendancy in the line of  King David.
Each of the three gifts was seen as a part fulfilment of the whole "package" of Messiahship which began with the Nativity.

God's Messiah would be an eternal King "reigning" in heaven. O.K., a tricky concept, but think of the image of regal magnificence, perfection of purpose and shining glory. Nothing tainted could ever be allowed in heaven, hence ...

A crystaline substance obtained from the sap of a tree; it had a pleasant but strong smell. It was symbolic of the Priesthood. In many religions and types of Christian Church, a priest is seen as the go-between to help people "find God". Jesus replaced the conventional Jewish priesthood and he became "the new living way" to God.

To embalm the dead. There is a spooky logic about the core message of Christianity. God must exclude all that falls short of his standards from His perfect heaven. Sin is punished by "eternal" death. But Jesus death on the cross was a substitutionary death, through which we can claim "eternal" life.

Hence Myrrh.

Whatever modern readers may think, this was the not-very-well-hidden message of the Magi.

No wonder Mary "pondered these things!
 Next Christmas Reading blog : Sunday 31st December 

Friday 29 December 2017

Logology And Other Stuff (5)

Logology - a P.S.
fbb came across a pictures of two Sealink ships. The front vessel carries the "normal" British Rail "zot" whilst the biggie at the rear has the "right hand drive" version. Eventually the standard version became standard for vessels as well as the railway business.

Logology - Another 5





Identify these logos/brands from transport operators. Answers tomorrow.

Chariots For Hire?
It's all a bit confusing. The trail begins in the January 2018 edition of buses. There is a picture of a Ford minibus cloaked, dismally, in contravision.
The headline is self-explanatory, but the Buses article goes on to say, "It operates in US cities including San Francisco, Austin and New York." Apparently Ford bought out the "start-up" company for $63 million for which they got nothing except an idea.

fbb has lots of ideas but sees little chance of selling them for 63p, let alone $63 million!!

This is what Chariot says of itself.

Building sustainable mass transit.

At Chariot, we're focused on creating the world's first self-sustainable mass-transit system that relieves congestion while offering a comfortable, personalised commuting experience.

The core of our mission is universal access to better transportation. We envision cities where every - commuter takes Chariot to work and home - regardless of income or location =which is why we prioritise affordability and flexibility as we expand. When the world runs on smarter routes, lower costs, and better ride experiences, we'll collectively take cars off the road and transform our twice-daily frustration into a part of your day you actually look forward to.

There is a picture on the Chariot Twit site showing people enjoying it!(?)
There is also a video of a line of Chariots, queueing ...
... and several stills of a whole fleet "at work" ...
... with fleet number 627 at the front. The London start-up picture above shows fleet number 594.

But finding details of what services operate is not so easy. There is a pictures (well posed) in New York ...
... and this was written back in Summer 2017.

Chariot plans to have 60 vehicles on the road by this fall in NYC, and it’s currently operating over 200 in SF, and around 50 in Austin. The company still employs less than 100 non-driver staff, which is impressive given the size of its operation, but expect that to shift up as its New York presence grows.

During an hour or so of diligent on-line searching, fbb kept being taken back to just one Chariot site, that for SF (San Francisco). Search for New York Chariot, for example and the SF pages are all that appear.

It implies that passenger "vote" for the routes they want to use ...
... and the company will then turn up and run a service.
Only one of the sample six routes on the SF web site had more than a handful of "supporters" ...
... although the map shows plenty of routes in operation.
Communication is by way, inevitably, of a Mobile Phone App.
fbb tried to download it, but it seemed to need an SF phone number so, no go.

Prices are quoted as below for multiple journey "passes" ...
... and monthly "seasons".
fbb has no idea how that compares with, say, Uber.

The main point of the Buses article, however, was to reveal that dynamic boss-man Ali Vahabzadeh ...
... has applied to start in London from 29th January 2018. His list of routes, all will entertaining names, is here below.
There is, currently, no other information available.

If any blog readers have pictures of operation in US cities, fbb would love to publish them.

Logology - Yesterday's Answers
1. Germany Post Bus/Post Office
2. Basel City Transport (tram)
3. Calmac Ferries (Caledonian Macbrayne)
4. Eastern National bus (pre Badgerline?)
5. Brand for services in Bedford operated by ex-London Routemasters
    Post-Advent CALENDAR - 29     
It is Matthew's Gospel that records the arrival of the Magi; from which we learn that they came some time after the Nativity ...

When Herod realised that the visitors from the East had tricked him, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood who were two years old and younger - this was done in accordance with what he had learned from the visitors about the time when the star had appeared.

... up to two years later. By which time Joe, Mary and Jesus were living in a rented house.

They went into the house, and when they saw the child with his mother Mary, they knelt down and worshipped him.

Not only that, but there is no mention of the numbers three.

Soon afterwards, some men who studied the stars came from the East to Jerusalem.
You must assume that the three gifts might make the ancient story-enhancers plump for three.

Poet T S Eliot assumes camels and winter (both wrong) but his description of the Magis' journey seems to ring true.

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

But it wasn't folly and they were able deliver their gifts.
... and wear their silly hats - NOT!!
 Next models and real blog : Saturday 30th December