Off the Beaten Track: 1

My blog is called Angies Allsorts for a reason, because my interests tend to naturally gravitate toward lots of subject areas, the more obscure the better. I have a hospital radio show with the same name, as I like to try and play a blend of music that would satisfy most peoples’ tastes. It’s rather like the saying from Forrest Gump “just like a box of chocolates, a little something for everyone”. My “Off the Beaten Track” theme will dip into subject areas that have caught my attention recently, but may not have made a huge impact on the mainstream news. This week I look at science imagery, engineering, sport (diving, football, figure skating) and name games.

Congo Engineering Helps Control Traffic Congestion

Kinshasa, the capital of The Democratic Republic of Congo, suffers like many other cities from overly congested road networks. However, thanks to the innovation of Congolese engineer Therese Izay things are set to improve. Izay has developed two traffic robots which tower over the busiest intersections of the capital. Immune to bribery; which the local human traffic police have been accused of; the robots are able to report traffic violations back to a central computer system. The robot has red lights situated within its huge body and green lights on its arms which can extend. Turning to face each junction in turn the robot can ensure both pedestrians and drivers can traverse safely. Therese Izay runs a women’s technology cooperative to promote women’s engineering and hopes that her innovative idea may be taken up by other African nations and beyond. It is both a brilliant and yet simple idea, to a perplexing problem suffered throughout the world. This story (seen on Aljazeera) made me smile and think “just genius”.

Scientific Photo Exhibition

Listening to Radio 5 I was very happy to hear that this year’s Wellcome Image Awards will be exhibited in four major science museums in Glasgow, Belfast, Manchester and Cardiff. Eighteen fantastic images depicting a world normally unseen by the human eye can now be viewed thanks to the innovation of scientific imaging techniques. The images are also displayed in the window of the Wellcome Trust Headquarters in London, and I went to see them specially and was not disappointed.

Technology Helps Shoppers

Clifton Village Stores near Ashbourne in Derbyshire is a convenience shop with a difference, it’s a vending machine situated in the car park of the Cock Inn pub. The only grocery shop in Clifton closed over twelve years ago and until now villagers had to travel to the nearest town for everyday essentials. With little or no bus service in the area, unless you had access to a car, residents had a long walk, or had to do without. Now villagers can buy everyday essentials; (stocked with around 80 varieties of goods); in the same way as you would buy a coffee at a vending machine. Everything from toilet rolls, dog food, teabags, beans, eggs, bacon etc can be sourced from the machine. Just pop your money in, tap in the requisite food code and your item will be dispensed using a “soft edged” technology retrieval system, to ensure even the most delicate of items remain in pristine condition. The machine can email suppliers when stock items get low, thus ensuring a reliable and fresh stock supply is always available. I literally just caught the tail end of this story on a BBC Midlands broadcast and thought what an innovative and useful concept it was.

Sport

Whilst in a coffee shop on St Patrick’s Day, I picked up a newspaper sport section to glance through. It was mainly filled with football matters (about 75%) with the Liverpool 3-0 win over Man Utd, and the Tottenham/Arsenal derby the big features. Then rugby followed as the weekend had seen the conclusion to the six nations tournament, and the new F1 racing season had a write up along with the T20 cricket news. Any other sports were relegated to the last page, and had little more than a paragraph at best each. Though not surprised by this I was a little disappointed, for although I love my football, I get rather fed up with the same thing being forensically examined wherever I look. Other things do happen in the sporting world, and other sports do exist, though we only seem to see them on mainstream TV during the Olympics/Commonwealth Games. So what’s happened recently which I feel should get a bit of acknowledgement.

Diving: Matty Lee and Daniel Goodfellow at the tender ages of 16 and 17 respectively won their first senior medal in competition, securing a Bronze in the 10m synchronised diving event in Beijing. A second FINA Diving World Series Bronze medal was secured in Dubai and the guys got the most points in the contest (80.64) with an inward 3 ½ somersault dive. Tom Daley also won a solo Bronze in Beijing but came 4th in Dubai narrowly missing another medal.

Football: Robin Van Persie suffered a sprained knee after the European game at Old Trafford where he scored a hat-trick against Olympiakos. He looks to be out of action for 4-6 weeks, and the injury made the news on radio, TV and the papers. His recovery will undoubtedly be helped by his clubs access to the best medical facilities and experts in the game worldwide. However, I read this week about a young man who suffered a horrific injury playing football, who will probably recover with the help of the best that the British NHS facilities can provide. Playing in the Calor League Southern Premier Division Chippenham’s midfielder Rob Dean took to the pitch on Tuesday 18th March to play against Hungerford. With about half an hour on the clock Rob endured a terrible tackle, which resulted in him suffering a fully dislocated right knee and a twisted tibia. It looks like he will require total reconstructive surgery, and just reading about his injuries made me feel a bit queasy. Rob Dean required paramedic attention for around 45 minutes on the pitch before being taken to hospital, and the referee rightly abandoned the game.

Figure Skating: The World Championships begin in Japan on March 26th, and I had to trawl through the internet for web page articles, to find out what was going on. Several big names with Olympic medals will NOT be in Japan including: Ice Dance couple Davis & White (US) and Virtue & Moir (Can), Men’s Patrick Chan (Can) and Women’s Kim Yuna (South Korea) and Adelina Sotnikova (Russia), Pairs Volosozhar & Trankov (Russia). Some exclusions have been by personal choice as Chan and the American/Canadian couples decided not to compete, whilst Kim Yuna retired after her last routine in Sochi. But unusually the Russian medal winners have only been named as substitutes for their country, and so will only compete at the World Championships if an injury occurs to the first choices in their discipline. In the Men’s discipline one of Canadian participants Nam Nguyen has just been crowned World Junior Men’s Champion, although he is unlikely to pose a major threat to the hot favourite Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan). For the Women’s event the Italian Carolina Kostner Olympic Bronze medallist is probably the highest ranking, but it will be interesting to see what European Champion Julia Lipnitskaia (Russia) and US skater Gracie Gold can do. With so many of the dominant “big-names” being missing there could well be some interesting results, even perhaps involving the British Ice Dance couple Coomes & Buckland, who won Bronze in the Europeans. During the Olympics the judging found fault with their compulsory dance routine and they were heavily penalised, both in the team and individual events. Yet it was the same routine that helped win them a Bronze in the Europeans! So who knows what might happen, but I shall be keeping up with the Figure Skating World Championship news on the web.

Name Game

Race horses a lot of the time can have some peculiar names, but occasionally you can see the inspiration behind them, and so it was when I came across FiftyShadesOfHay.

In the Torino v Livorno match over the weekend a hat trick was scored by Ciro Immobile to secure a 3-1 win for Torino. This made Immobile the top scorer in Serie A on Saturday and so clearly there is nothing wrong with his mobility in front of goal!!

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