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MASKED. A Coronavirus Journey...
6 months ago
I My Viet Nam visa was going to expire in early April, 2020. Then near the end of January rumors of a dangerous virus began to circulate on the media and in conversations and the authority had started advising peope to wear face masks. Before this I had thought of visiting the northwestern region of the country. I had the itinerary mapped out. From Da Nang I would first stop in Vinh, then Ha Noi, and after that came Dien Bien Phu, Lai Chau, and Lao Cai. The trip would take two weeks. At this time, the Covid situation in the country was still relatively calm. So one morning of in the middle of March I packed my bag and said to my brother I was going north. By now the masks had become a familiar sight on people's faces. The smiles disappeared. The day before I had bought a train ticket for Vinh. I went to the Da Nang station at around 9 o'clock and sat and waited. The train was scheduled to arrive at 9:57, stopped for 15 minutes, then continued northward. This was the train station of my wandering youth, those years when I was a teenager, lost, confused, depressed, angry, and suicidal. Back then, this place was a scene of extreme misery, the years after the end of the American war. People took to the railroad to buy and sell, trying to make a living, practically living hand to mouth. All essentials of daily life were rationed by the state and everyone was hungry. Along with hundreds of people, I slept on the floor of the station, waiting for the train, day or night, and when it came, pandemonium! Everyone fought one another to get on the train, trampling on each other, stepping on each other, screaming and yelling. I was caught in the frenzy, but I was unfazed, because I was 18 years old, damn it. At that age, I was unstoppable. One evening I witnessed a grown man violating a small girl inside the public toilet at the station. It was dark. I only saw two shadowy figures engaging in the act but I could tell it was an old guy and a very young girl who wasn't even a teenager. It shocked me because the sight was strange to me, but I don't remember if I had any emotional reactions. Thinking back, the girl must have been hungry and lost, perhaps an orphan, and was brutally taken advantage of. The station was different now: clean, spacious, and well-organized. Gone were the crowds and the misery. Then at exactly 9:35 the train arrived and they made an announcement, inviting passengers to board. Leisurely, I handed my ticket to the girl at the gate and she scanned it at the turnstile and I walked onto the platform. From the outside, the train looked like a junkyard piece, all dusty and rusty, but inside it was different. The seats were soft and comfortable and their backs could be adjusted for sitting up straight or reclining. And the car was air-conditioned. At 9:57 the train shook gently then slowly moved out of the station. From my seat I looked out the window at the houses, the trees, the fences, the dogs, the chickens, the children, the motorbikes, all mangled and thrown together like an unfinished Picasso painting, and I further thought I am looking at the sight of poverty. Economically, the country is still stuck in the "developing" phase and everything looked old, un-manicured and disorganized. An hour after the train left the Da Nang station, I got up and walked to one end of the car and looked at the scenery. On the horizon were the mountains and rice fields. Suddenly I felt fine, almost a relief, that I was on the road, that my body was moving and not stuck in a room. What was this I was experiencing? Wanderlust. I had no responsibilities, so nothing and nobody could stop me from going anywhere I wanted. Well, actually somebody somewhere could stop me from going somewhere for some reason—the medical authority, for instance, and the fashionable reason now was you might be a Covid suspect that must be stopped and quarantined. The train was slow climbing the slopes of the Hai Van mountains, then it passed Lang Co, then stopped in Hue for 15 minutes then went on. I sat in the dinning car and I saw wooden benches, dirty floor, everything was untidy, old and rough, and it reminded you that were in a poor, "developing" country. But what was I comparing it to? What was my point of reference? I thought I knew. I had lived in a "developed" capitalist country for most of my adult life, and my eyes were accustomed to things organized, polished, sanitized—all well and good, albeit it was "air-conditioned nightmare," to borrow an American author's phrase. Do I want this country to look like Japan or Singapore? At least as far as affluence is concerned, my answer would be a cautious yes. A little after 8 o'clock in the evening, the train pulled into the Vinh station. Using Google maps, I had located the position of the hotel and decided that I could walk there, about one kilometer from the station. I got off the train. The taxi drivers offered me rides but I shook my head. Outside the station, I turned left into a dark street and the farther I walked the more desolated the street became. Then I found the hotel, Thanh Dat 2. I walked through the entrance and saw two Caucasian males standing and smoking. I walked into the lobby. There was no one at the reception and the place looked like an abandoned garage. And the light was low. I knocked on the counter and out of a deep hallway a man and a woman appeared and slowly approached me. I told them I had reserved a room. The woman, who was wearing a bandaged pair of thick glasses, walked behind the counter and looked at a piece of paper and nodded her head. "Thien Ho?" she said. "Ho Thien," I corrected her. She asked for my ID and I handed her my passport. "I will make a copy and give it back to you," she said. "No, you keep it," I said. I wanted them to keep the passport for me because I didn't want to walk around with it. It is bulky and uncomfortable in the pockets, and what if I lost it? She hesitated at my suggestion but then changed the subject. "Pay now," she said. "I will pay when I check out and get my passport back." "Hmm ... I would rather have you pay me now." "Why? Have you got people who stayed and run" "No, but please pay now. You are staying for two nights, right?" She spoke very softly and I said to myself it's no use arguing with her so I paid. Two nights. She took the money and handed me the key to the room—and the passport. "No, you keep it for me," I said. And she casually tossed it into the drawer under the counter. I hoped she didn't lose it or give it to the wrong person. I took the elevator up to my room. Inside, there wasn't a minibar and there was no telephone to call downstairs. So I came back down to the lobby and said to the woman I wanted some water. She pointed to the soda cabinet at the corner and I walked there and yanked the door but it was locked. "It's locked," I said. The man who was with her came out from behind the counter and opened the door of the cabinet and I removed two bottles of water. I wondered why they locked the soda cabinet. "Twenty thousands," the woman said. "Put it on my bill," I said. "Pay now," she said. Apparently, theft had happened at this hotel. I paid for the water then took the elevator back to the room. Someone, perhaps emotionally disturbed, was yelling downstairs outside the window with a voice that sounded like a goat whose throat was being cut. I double checked to make sure the door was locked then went to bed. In the morning I went down to the lobby and asked the woman for my passport back. I had thought about this last night before falling asleep and decided that these people could not safeguard my passport given the way they conducted business: casual, inattentive, and disorganized. Bad things might happen and I felt that I had to be on the safe side. So I said to the woman I wanted it back. And she gave it to me—happily. Then I walked to the train station to buy a ticket for Ha Noi for the next day. I entered the ticket office and read the schedule and the girl at the counter from 30 feet away said loudly when I was still having my back to her, "Where do you want to go?" I turned around, walked to the counter and said I wanted a ticket for Ha Noi for tomorrow morning. She asked for my ID and I showed her my passport and she sold me a ticket. Then I walked out and at the gate I saw a group of motorbike drivers and one of them made a hand signal to me and I nodded and walked toward him. I said I wanted to go Uncle Ho's village where he was born and it would be a roundtrip. How much, I said. One hundred thousand, he said. And I said ok and we rode away. I sat behind the driver and observed the scenery on both sides of the road. Houses and rice fields. A monotonous landscape under a cloudy sky. Vinh is in the middle of the country in Nghe An province. The driver took me first to the village of Uncle Ho's mother and I found that this place was also a tourist trap. But I was the only one there when we arrived. The houses were well-preserved. Viet Nam was a traditional agricultural society where most people lived off the land, and these were the traditional houses, with thatched roofs, mud walls and earthen floors. And they were so low I had to bend my back forward to enter. The flower gardens were well manicured. There were signs and descriptions of various objects and their histories. I made a quick walk-around then returned to where the driver was waiting and we continued to the next site which was the village where the Uncle was born. A guard at the memorial complex stopped me and asked me to wear a mask. I didn't have a mask. So the driver and I went around to look for one and found it in a pharmacy. I put the rag on my face and walked in. So this was the place where modern Vietnamese history started. It was near noon when I left the village and on the way back to town the driver lost his way. He had to make a detour and the trip ended up 15 kilometers longer. But I didn't mind, because the mishap allowed me to see more of the area. And not only losing his way, the driver was also stopped by traffic cops for making an "illegal" right turn and he had to shove 350,000 dongs down the cops' throats to avoid a 3,000,000 dongs summons and suspension of his driver's license. I told the driver I would compensate him at the end of the trip, or rather, reimburse him for his bad luck. We rode on to a Buddhist temple on the edge of town. Then I paid him the agreed-upon fare plus the money he bribed the cops with. And he was all right. Indeed, driving a motorbike for a living is insecure work and one's economic situation is very precarious. I walked into the temple, hung out for an hour, then walked to the center of town for some sightseeing then returned to the hotel in the late afternoon. The highlight of the day was the trip to Uncle Ho's birthplace and that incident with the traffic cops. I was going to Ha Noi tomorrow. II In the morning, ticket already bought, I walked to the Vinh train station, one kilometer from the hotel. I sat in the courtyard of the station and waited. Then I heard announcement telling people to go and wait on the platform for the arriving train. I walked through the waiting room, onto the platform and looked around me. This station absolutely needed a major facelift because it was a disaster: broken floor, old and mossy walls, peeling paint, holes and gaps everywhere. The sky seemed to get darker. I had not seen a sunny day since before I left Da Nang. Then the train came and I boarded, looking for my seat. "Air conditioned soft seat," as written on the ticket. It was what it said: soft seat in an air-conditioned car. I situated myself and the train rolled. Northward. After 30 minutes, I walked to the area between the cars and stood by a window and looked at the landscape rushing by. Endless rice fields and mountains in the distance. The train was scheduled to arrive in Ha Noi in the afternoon at around 3 o'clock. Now what to do but sit back and enjoy the scenery. It was beautiful but monotonous. Ranges of mountains on one side of the track and rice fields on the other. And the farther north it went, the less green the scenery became and the landscape slowly turned brown and dusty. When the train was going through a small town I saw a man on a motorbike slip because of the wet surface and lose control of his bike and the bike was crushed by a speeding truck. The man was thrown off the bike and barely escaped the big wheels of the truck. It was a very very close brush with death and he was a very very lucky man. Well, I guessed his time hadn't come yet. Traffic in this country is a dangerous adventure for everyone who participates in it and that was why I had given up driving a motorbike. I don't want to be part of the traffic insanity of this country. Then the closer the train got to Ha Noi, the more chaotic the scenery became on both sides of the track. More people, more houses densely packed together and things look grimier and grimier. The train pulled into the Ha Noi station, the last stop, almost exactly on schedule. I walked to the Vietnam Airlines office building about a kilometer away and told the masked woman I wanted a ticket to Dien Bien Phu for the day after tomorrow, and she sold me the ticket. Then I walked out, heading toward the ancient quarter of the city where I had booked a hotel. After checking in I locked myself in the room. I was familiar with this town because I had been here before so I didn't feel the need to go out. I just wanted to stay in the room for some peace and quiet. Then as if against my will, I thought about going to Hai Phong—a coastal city 100 kilometers east of Ha Noi—for a day trip tomorrow. I had never been to Hai Phong before and this was my chance. As it got dark, I took the elevator down and walked out to look for food. I walked west one block then east one block then north one block then south one block and found a convenience store. I walked in and lifted two packs of instant noodles off the shelves. At the counter the girl spoke English to me and I wondered why. I had been in the country for almost six months and my face remained Mongoloid and was burned by the sun but some people still mistook me for a foreigner. Was it the way I talked? My altered accent, my uncommitted attitude and unbalanced conduct, or was it the lost and vacant look in my eyes? I paid for the noodles and walked back to the hotel. I had my food. That night was a very peaceful night and I didn't remember if I had dreamed of anything in my sleep. Perhaps not. In the morning I went to the bus terminal and took a bus to Hai Phong. There were 5 or 6 people on the bus and all had to fill out a form giving their names, addresses, phone numbers, ages, and destinations. This was something new and it could only be blamed on the virus. The ride was smooth. Another overcast day. In Hai Phong I walked around for about 2 hours. It was a quiet medium-sized city with narrow tree-lined streets and many old and decrepit colonial buildings. The city had a cozy, homely feel and a laidback atmosphere. I ended my visit early and went back to Ha Noi even before four o'clock in the afternoon. Another quiet night in Ha Noi. Tomorrow I would be in Dien Bien Phu. III The next morning I went to the airport for the flight to Dien Bien Phu. The road to the airport had been vastly improved since the last time I was there which was about 15 years ago. It was a three-lane highway and the airport itself was larger, cleaner, and better organized. I had two hours to kill so I sat down and ate and smoked. And I wore a mask. Just to look alike. I looked at the sky. Still the same dark cloudy sky of the last few days. Persistent overcast. And wet, not because of rain, for there was no rain, but because of the moisture in the air. Then the check-in counter opened and I lined up with 15 other people. That was all: only 15 people for the entire flight. Behind me a man carrying a briefcase moved up so close that I told him to keep his distance and he stepped back, reluctantly. He might have no concept of "personal space" but then, such might just be a culture thing. Thi man later would ride a van reserved exclusively for "business class" passengers and he was the only one on that van while everyone else was herded into a public bus for the ride from the waiting room to the airplane on the tarmac. Then the plane took off. All I saw outside the window was a dense gray color. It was going to be a fateful flight. In less than an hour, the plane landed in Dien Bien Phu and everyone walked to the terminal. The plane parked very close to the waiting room so no transport from the tarmac was needed. When I was waiting for my bag I saw a man and a woman being questioned by the police. The man's face was as red as a cooked lobster. Did he have a fever and therefore was stopped? After retrieving my bag I walked into the parking lot. A taxi approached and I took it into town, a short ride away. I knew what I was going to do in this town: visiting the battlefield. Yes, the famous battle of Dien Bien Phu which decisively ended French colonialism in Indochina. But I was already on the battlefield because the whole town had been built on top of it. Still, there were a few specific places I wanted to visit. I walked into the hotel lobby: empty and dark, and I saw a woman behind the desk. I said I had a reservation and she looked at the computer then gave me a key. I took the elevator to the 4th floor and opened the door and entered the room. It was clean and spacious and had a large bed and a window looking down to the street below. The place seemed brand new, or perhaps newly renovated. I was going to stay in this hotel for two nights. I took a shower then lay down then near 4 o'clock I walked out. I walked to the bus station, four blocks away, and asked the woman for bus information to Lai Chau, my next stop. I like to be prepared. I don't want to deal with anything at the last minute. "I want a ticket for Lai Chau the day after tomorrow," I said to the woman: "Come 30 minutes before departure on the day you want and buy your ticket then." Fair enough. I asked her for the timetable then walked out of the station. I strolled to the center of town and saw a giant memorial dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the battle. It was built on top of a very steep hill. I inched my way up the staircase and stopped every 30 steps to catch my breaths. Hills and I don't agree. Eventually I made it to the top and I looked around me. Right in the middle of the memorial complex was a large statue of a soldier with an AK47. And surrounding the hill was a flat terrain and I saw clusters of roofs in the distance. Fierce fighting had taken place at this hill which had been named by the French commander after one of his mistresses. Was it Beatrice? The sun was setting and darkness was approaching. A bunch of young women ran past me laughing. Then I descended. Tomorrow I was going to visit a couple of places, all related to the battle. It was another peaceful night even though someone was making sporadic noise on the other side of the bathroom wall. In the morning I looked at Google map and and found that the places I wanted to go were all within walking distances. The farthest was only 4 kilometers from the hotel. So I would walk and I was going to walk very slowly. First I was going to walk to the De Castries bunker. De Castries was the commander of the French force defending the base. And of course he and his mercenaries had their ass whipped bloody good by the Viet Minh during the 2-month siege. On the way to the bunker, I walked by a wet market. Wooden and bamboo stalls lined up along a dusty road and woman vendors squatting on the ground and selling meats and vegetables and fish and all kinds of provisions. Near the end of the market was a narrow bridge. The description said this bridge was on one of the routes over which French troops marched and transported their hardwares to the battlefield. On this end of the span, which was all rusty metal and rotten wood, there was a sign that said "Historical Site. No Market." But right where the sign was, a large number of people did just that: squatting with their baskets of goods, buying and selling, it was an extension of the wet market --- nostalgia for history could not override economic concerns. I took my time walking over the bridge to the other side. It was a short walk and right at the other end I saw an exhibit that consisted of a WWII tank and a few pieces of artillery. The display was in the middle of a flower garden. I walked in and looked at the tank, a rusty olive pile of mangled steel. Then I circled site and looked at the big guns, same thing: rusty metal. And I read the description that said basically ... "On the morning of such and such a date, the people's armed forces destroyed these instruments of war ". Then I looked at Google maps and found that the De Castries bunker was less than 100 meters away, somewhere behind those bushes. I walked in the direction the map showed me and arrived at the bunker and the woman sitting at the booth looked at me with inquiring eyes and I understood that she wanted me to buy a ticket. I was the only visitor. So this was where the loser De Castries sat, underground and under layers of sandbags, with bottles and bottles of wine, dreamed of Paris and the girlfriends he had left behind who might be having other affairs while he was trapped in this hell hole on the other side of the earth, fighting for the dying glory of the French empire, scared shitless under the relentless bombardment of Viet Minh artillery day after day after day after day. I walked around the bunker, an array of blocks of mossy concrete, a reconstruction of what had been there, then down into the ground where De Castries had his desk and chairs and maps and radios and other things. Then I walked farther out from the bunker and suddenly I saw a strange flower tree. It was a trunk of the tree sprouted with branches on which grew a kind of white and pink flowers. Delicate and beautiful. I had never seen this flower before. Later I discovered that this flower tree was native to this region and it was called Hoa Ban and every year people held a festival celebrating this flower. In the afternoon I walked to the museum of the Dien Bien Phu Victory. The woman at the ticket booth had just waken up from her midday nap and she sold me a ticket in a very slow and sleepy motion. It was warm and humid. I entered the building and again I was the only visitor. Like every museum in the country dedicated to history and victories this one was also a collection of black and white pictures and war-related objects like weapons and uniforms. One object that caught my attention was a bathtub that was supposed to have belonged to De Castries and had been found in his bunker. A bathtub in the middle of a battlefield? I wanted to laugh. The pampered bourgeoisie general really had a sense of humor. But then, a bathtub right in the middle of a battlefield was a sure way to secure defeat. Monsieur De Castries must also have had hot water boiled for him every time he took a bath and also servants to scrub his back when he wasn't busy defending the base. After an hour in the museum, I walked out. Then I saw a sign that said " A1 Historical Site". This was another hill that was part of the Dien Bien Phu base. I entered, paid the fee, then explored. Same layout as the De Castries bunker but there were also trenches. When I was standing on the top of the hill and surveying the scene, an old man approached and asked where I came from. Then he said he was a veteran and had fought in the battle. Hearing what he had said I immediately thought he was kidding me. The battle took place 66 years ago for god's sake. So I asked him how old he was and he said he was 85. Did he look 85? I looked hard at his wrinkled face but still I could not tell. He did look old though, even very old. And he said, pointing to a grave a short distance away: "Go offer incence to the fallen comrades, over there." I said yes and walked away. Maybe he was really a veteran of the battle. Then I descended the hill and left the compound. It was late afternoon. There wasn't any place else to go so I went back to the hotel. They left my room key on the counter and there was no one around. I picked up the key and went up to the room. Tomorrow I was going to Lai Chau, the next stop on my northwest itinerary. It would be a 240-kilometer ride through a rough terrain, according to the map. That night while I was semi-conscious and about to fall asleep I heard knocks. I opened the door and in came two cops and a woman who dressed like a nurse. They all wore face masks. One cop had my passport in his hand and asked me where I came from and how I arrived in Dien Bien Phu. I told him I had flown in from Ha Noi. Then the nurse pointed a temperature gun at my forehead and said "normal". And they walked out. I wondered what was going on. Then a thought hit me: I am in a communist country and this was perhaps a routine security check. And not only that, there was also the virus and the fear and that explained the temperature check. That night I slept peacefully. IV I got up early the next morning and walked down to the lobby. The guy was still sleeping on the couch. I knocked on the counter and he woke up and gave me back my passport and I walked to the bus station. It was already daylight. I wanted to leave early because it was going to be a long ride, 240 km, and it would take at least 5 hours. At the station I approached the ticket counter and said to the woman I wanted to go to Lai Chau and I gave her the money and she gave me a ticket. Out in the lot I found the bus and showed the driver my ticket and the first thing he said was "Where's your mask?" I put my mask on. Then he said I was at the right bus and it would depart in 30 minutes. "You got time for breakfast," he said. Another dark and cloudy day. It was the kind of day that makes you feel the whole weight of the earth was coming down on you. Perhaps I should forget there was a thing called the sun. At 7:30 I climbed into the bus. It was actually a big van, not a full-sized bus. A man got in after me, then a woman, then two young girls. Then the van rolled out of the station. It stopped here and there to pick up not passengers but boxes and boxes of all kinds of merchandise. Then it started to climb the mountains and the landscape shifted from flat terrain to rugged slopes and mountain peaks. The driver passed down a piece of paper on which the few passengers filled out their names and addresses and phone numbers and their destinations. This was part of the war on the virus: the authorities wanted to know your movements. The van climbed higher and higher in the mountains and slowly the spectacular scenery revealed itself. The van traversed the mountains pass, a long and winding and seemingly endless stretch of road. One one side of the road was rock walls and on the other was cliffs and valleys and a river. The view was breathtaking, I had never been inside this type of landscape before. I leaned back and relaxed. It was a feast for the eyes that lasted for almost 200 km — until the van arrived in Lai Chau. It was one in the afternoon and as I walked out of the Lai Chau bus station, a man motioned to me to wear my mask. This small city looked like an American frontier town back in the days of the wild wild west: dusty, hot, silent, drowsy, and here and there one or two stray dogs with their tongues hanging out roamed the empty streets. Perhaps I had watched too many spaghetti westerns. I was hungry, and not far from the bus station, I found a restaurant. A man appeared and I said to him I wanted rice and chicken. I was the only customer. The man brought the food and I ate. I felt a little light-headed. Maybe because of the long ride from Dien Bien Phu. So now I was in Lai Chau, another place on earth. I had planned to be here and now I was. According to the research I had done there wasn't much to see in this town, no historical sites, no tourist attractions, nothing special to lure visitors. So what I would do was check into a hotel, then walk around a little bit, then in the late afternoon go back to the hotel to chill out and prepare for the trip to Lao Cai the following morning. When I finished the meal and left the restaurant the man promptly closed its door. Looked like I was the last customer of the day even though it was only 2 o'clock in the afternoon. The hotel I had in mind was only a short walk from the restaurant, according to the map. A female dog bared her teeth at me and growled in a threatening manner and followed me. I stopped and felt very tense. She might attack. I stood very still, holding my breath. The dog stopped also and stared at me with the same vicious look. Then I took a very slow and quiet step, then another step, then another step, fixing my eyes on the animal. She kept looking at me with her wild eyes, then slowly turned and trotted away. That was close. Had I made a sudden move, the dog might have snapped and attacked. Then I found the hotel and walked in. All quiet ... and the light was low. I approached the front desk and saw a woman, in fact, a girl, because she looked like a teenager. I said I wanted a room and she asked for my ID and I showed her my passport. She scrutinized it for a few seconds then asked me if I had another ID. I said no. Then she gave me the key and I took the elevator up to the fourth floor and found the room. It had two large windows, one looked out to a building that I later found out was the town's traffic police headquarters; and the other window, even larger, looked out to the province general hospital. The room was nice, clean, and there was even a tea kettle which made me smile. I took a shower then lay down and I heard knocks on the door and it was the girl from the front desk. "Do you have another ID?" she asked with a confused look in her eyes. "No, my passport is the only thing you need, I assure you, don't worry," I said. She walked away, apparently unconvinced. I wondered ... perhaps she had never seen a foreign passport before? It was late afternoon. As I was slowly drifting into unconsciousness the phone rang and I looked at it and saw a number I didn't recognize. So I ignored it and closed my eyes again. And I lay there, listening to the sporadic and faint noises of the motorbikes down on the streets. Then the phone rang again. That same strange number. Can you just leave me alone? I closed my eyes, ignored the phone, but minutes later it rang again. What is this? Some emergency? I picked up the phone. "Mr Thien?" a male voice on the other end said. "Yes," I said. "Were you on the flight from Ha Noi to Dien Bien Phu on the 15th of March?" "Who are you?" "We're the Dien Bien Phu police. Please answer the question." "Yes, I was. Why?" "There was a suspected Covid-19 case on that flight and you might have been exposed. Where are you?" "I'm in Lai Chau." "Lai Chau? Where were you the last two days?" "I was in Dien Bien Phu." "Where did you stay in Dien Bien Phu?" I told the man the name of the hotel I had been at. "There's nothing to worry about. We will call you again. What we are doing right now is only precaution," the man said and hung up. I sat down, wondering what was going on but obviously it had to do with the damn virus. Ten minutes later, the phone rang again. "Mr Thien?" this time it was a female voice. "Yes," I said. "This is Lai Chau police. Where are you staying?" I told the woman the name of the hotel. "There's nothing to worry about but you were on a flight from Ha Noi to Dien Bien Phu with a suspected Covid case who had been on a flight from Singapore with a confirmed case," the woman said. "What's going to happen now?" I asked. "We'll call you again," the woman said and hung up. I stood up, paced the room and told myself get ready to be quarantined. I was prepared—mentally, at least. It didn't matter to me one way or another. I made some tea and as I sip the hot liquid I felt that whatever plan I had for my travels would have to be really put on hold now. Because of the virus. And that was fine with me. Why this sudden surrender and acceptance? Because I knew resistance was futile. And besides, if they quarantined me, they would be doing what they believed to be right and they had the authority to impose their will on me. Thirty minutes later, the phone rang again. This time it was from the province CDC and the conversation was the same. Then silence for the rest of the afternoon. At dusk, I came out to buy dinner then back to the hotel and it felt as if I was going to have a very peaceful night—had those people forgotten about me? So I sat and ate and suddenly I heard knocks on the door. It was that girl from reception again. "What's up?" I said. "Can you go downstairs please," she said. "For what?" She didn't answer my questions but repeated her request. "I am eating," I said. "Can you go downstairs after you finish your meal?" "OK." I closed the door and resumed eating. Hadn't the slightest idea what the girl wanted. Done with dinner, I lay in bed for a few minutes then got up and took the elevator down to the lobby. It was now completely dark. I saw six people sitting and standing around a couch and when they saw me one of them asked me to sit. Three women in civilian clothes and three uniformed cops whose faces were all masked. After everyone had seated, one of the women said she was from the health department and began asking me questions. One started taking notes. The three cops kept their social distance and their mouths shut. They wanted to know my whereabouts for the last three days and who I had come into contact with. Now, it was clear that the virus was the reason for this meeting. I answered all of their questions and sometimes I even found myself volunteering information. They took it all down. It was a friendly interrogation and when it ended the woman from the health department, who seemed to be in charge, told me to prepare to go into quarantine at an army camp not too far from here. I was designated an F2 who had been exposed to an F1 who in turn had been exposed to an F0 who was positive for the virus. That F0 was now being treated in a hospital in Ha Noi. The F1, who had been on the flight to Dien Bien Phu with me three days prior, was already quarantined, and now they found me and it was my turn. I went to my room to gather my things, then took the elevator back down to the lobby. I stopped at the reception to pay for the hours I had spent at the hotel, four in all, and I got my passport back then returned to the couch where those people were. The woman from the health department was talking on the phone, then she hung up and said headquarters had agreed that I could be isolated at the hotel because I was already here. The owner of the hotel, who was also at the meeting, loudly protested but she was put on the phone with the authority and was put back in her place and had no more objections. They told me to go back to my room and stay in for the next 14 days. The next morning I called downstairs and asked the girl to bring me breakfast. This girl was designated my only contact with the outside world for the duration of the quarantine. I had three books, a phone, an internet connection and I knew I was going to be all right. Near noon, a woman came and brought me a bunch of face masks and introduced herself as Hanh, a nurse from a local clinic. I couldn't see her face because of the mask she was wearing but through her voice I recognized her as one of the three women who had been at the meeting the night before in the hotel lobby. She asked me to sign an agreement that required me to abide by all the rules of the quarantine. I read the agreement and signed. Yes, I agreed to everything. A cop who had come with her and looked like he still needed his mama to wipe his nose for him stood outside and observed us through the open door. Then Hanh said "Whatever you need, just let me know." And she gave me her phone number. I told her I needed a notebook. Then she and the baby cop went away. I closed the door and looked out the window. Over there was the headquarters of the traffic police. And over there on the other side was the general hospital. Far away was the mountains and down there on the streets were people and dogs. These were the only sights I would see for the next 14 days. In the late afternoon, Hanh came back by herself and gave me a notebook and some fruits. "I didn't ask for the fruits," I said. "They're for you." "Thanks" "I'll bring you dinner," she said. "You don't have to. I'll ask the girl downstairs to buy it for me." But she insisted and I said fine, bring me dinner. Before leaving, she gave me a thermometer and told me to check my temperature twice a day and call her if I felt unwell or had any "symptoms". "Like what?" I said. "Like fever, cough, shortness of breaths," she said. "Hmm ..." In the evening she brought dinner and I asked her to sit down and we talked. Already, I was impressed by her caring demeanor and kindness. She said she lived not too far from here, married and had two children. Her clinic wasn't far from where she lived so every day she went home to cook lunch for her husband and children. "You have children?" she said. "No." "But you and your wife still love and care for each other," she said. "Yes." "That's the way it should be," she said. We talked about other things but I didn't remember much. Then she stood up and quickly stepped toward the door, whispering "We talk too much." And she left. For the days ahead she came every day to bring me food and things I needed. And I started to feel something for her but I also felt apprehensive about my daily contacts with her: was her husband asking questions about the dinner she brought me every evening? I never saw her face because it was always hidden behind a mask. All I saw was her two eyes and now I thought that they were not the doors into her soul. I needed to see all of her face. After the conversation of the first night, I didn't ask her to sit and talk with me anymore, and she always rushed out of the room after placing the food on the table. But in the late evening, we would get on the messenger and chat. And before too long I started asking myself, what's going on? Are we getting involved in something? I was thrilled but at the same time I felt anxious, even fearful. What's going on between us? It was the food that she brought me every day and the late night chats that sometimes bordered on intimacy. One evening she called and said she might be late. At 6 o'clock, I started to pace the room. That was the time she normally showed up with the food. 6:15, quiet. Then 6:30, still no knocks on the door. Then suddenly the rain came down, ferociously, and with it, strong wind, and my anxiety went up a notch. Then it felt cold. And I was hungry. At 6:45, I heard knocks and I opened the door and it was her. I wanted to hug her. She stepped into the room, placed the food on the table, and said "I hope you like the fish" and she walked out and I followed her to see her off. It was dark in the hallway. "Are you cold?" I said. "No." "Be careful out there." It was still raining and the wind still howled. I felt bad. I wonder why she did all this. She didn't have to bring me dinner every day. I could always ask the girl downstairs to buy it for me. Was it the kindness of her heart or was she only doing her duty as someone who was responsible for me during my quarantine? I didn't know. But the question kept bothering me and made me feel somewhat unease. However, despite all the apprehension, I had never declined any kind gestures from her. One day she brought me a new sweatshirt, the other day a pack of vitamin C, something every day. And I felt that I owned her a debt of gratitude. Every morning I got up at around 6 o'clock, did some exercise, then took a shower, had tea, and at 7:30 the girl from reception brought me breakfast. Then I read. Then I stood at the windows and looked at the mountains and at the tattered people and the stray dogs below on the streets. And I waited for Hanh. I looked forward to the evening when she would be here, give me food then walked away, and always behind a mask. One day two women in hazmat suits from the Lai Chau CDC came and took my blood and saliva samples. In the evening I told Hanh about this and she said if the result came back negative they might let me go sooner than the required 14 days. On the morning of the eighth day of the quarantine Hanh sent me a message saying that the result was negative and they were considering letting me go. "We'll let you know when there's a decision and it may be as early as today," she said. Was I happy? I couldn't answer myself. Perhaps the prisoner had become comfortable with his imprisonment and he felt indifferent at the prospect of freedom? Near noon the girl from reception brought me lunch but I didn't tell her I was about to be free and she would no longer need to do this. At around one in the afternoon two women from the same clinic where Hanh worked came and gave me my release paper. "Am I free now?" I said. "Yes, you are," one of them said. Then they congratulated me and left. Like a robot, I walked into the bathroom and took a shower then came downstairs and on my way out I stopped by the front desk and said to the girl: "I am leaving tomorrow. Prepare my bill, please." She looked at me with vacant eyes. I knew what I was going to do. There was an ATM up the street three blocks away. I needed cash to pay the hotel bill. A dog sniffed at my legs when I was at an intersection waiting for the light to change. After seven days of confinement it did feel strange to come out in the open and breathe the open air, and I was a little disoriented. My steps were slow and hesitant. The town was almost devoid of people and there was barely any traffic even though it was only two in the afternoon. After getting the cash, I walked back and before I reached the hotel my phone rang. It was Hanh and she said she would bring dinner tonight and we would go out. I stopped by the bus station and asked about buses for Ha Noi and the woman said because of the virus there was only one bus going in that direction and it would be at 2:30 pm every day. "How about buses for Lao Cai?" I asked, knowing that from Lao Cai, 200 km away in the same mountainous region of the northwest, I could find transportation for Ha Noi. "There are more," she said. So early tomorrow morning I would just walk to the terminal and if there was a bus for Lao Cai I would just hop on and go. I wanted to leave Lai Chau as quickly as I could. I went back to the hotel, stopped by the front desk and paid my bill, then went up to the room and waited for Hanh. At 7:30 in the evening she came, carrying dinner. She wore a jumpsuit. A slim woman. "Go ahead and eat. I'll come back in 30 minutes," she said. I sat down and ate. It was that wild jungle vegetables again, stir fried with garlics. Last meal in Lai Chau. In the late afternoon I had gathered all my belongings, and my backpack was ready. I finished the food and sat and waited for her. A little after 8 o'clock I heard knocks on the door and it was her. She wasn't wearing a mask and now I could see all of her face. She sat on the chair and I sat on the edge of the bed and we talked. I had the music on to fill the gaps of silence during the conversation. I don't remember what we were talking about, nothing of consequence, I guess. Small talk. Talks about nothing. But what's important was she was in the room with me, just the two of us, and tonight she took her time. She was here to be with me on my last night in this forgotten corner of the world. "Do you want to go out?" she said. "No." I didn't want the outside world to distract us. I wanted to be alone with her in this private space, closed off from a world going mad with fear. Thirty minutes, then forty minutes. Suddenly I realized that someone somewhere might be wondering where she was. Let her go, I thought, and I said "Isn't it time for you to go". And she stood up, took a small step toward the door. "Let me see your hand," I said. She showed me her hands, palms up. Ahhh ... those slender fingers. I looked at them and touched them with the tips of my fingers. We were almost brushing against each other and I felt the desire to wrap myself around her and hug her, even place a kiss on her lips. But of course I didn't do that. She is a married woman whose husband might be lurking somewhere in the background, watching her, threatening and menacing. She walked out into the dark hallway and I closed the door. V The next morning I went to the bus station and boarded a bus for Lao Cai. It was a three-hour ride through another spectacular mountainscape. Peaks and deep valleys and clouds and fogs and rain. Fifteen minutes out of Lai Chau I missed Hanh already and wanted to say so to her but didn't know if I should when my feeling for her was still vague. But then, why not say it when missing her right at that moment was your true feeling and you wanted it out of you chest? Life is short and what if the bus you were riding in suddenly lunged over the cliff? I took out the phone and sent her a message, "I left my heart in Lai Chau". And I felt much better. Arriving in Lao Cai, on the border with China, I went straight to the train station but the woman said train services between Lao Cai and Ha Noi had been suspended indefinitely because of the virus. In the morning, before coming to the bus station in Lai Chau, I had thought I might stay in Lao Cai for an evening, but now the rain and the dark sky changed my mind. I didn't want to do anything or go anywhere anymore except getting back to Da Nang. The woman at the train station said I could take a bus from a station not too far from here. So I went there and luckily one was about to depart for Ha Noi. I boarded the bus and it was almost empty. Arriving in Ha Noi in the late afternoon I went straight to the train station and bought a ticket for Da Nang. The train would depart at 7 0'clock. I made it back to Da Nang the following morning and just in time: two days later they locked down the whole country. * * * Hometown: NYC, United States Thien Ho, a resident of New York City, traveled frequently between the US and Vietnam back when international travel was still taken for granted. His last trip to Vietnam was in early 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic appeared and immobilized the world. He recently made it out of Vietnam—and wonders if travel has become an extinct human activity. Hoa Ban Flower Tree at Dien Bien PhuThien Ho Monument for the Dien Bien Phu BattleThien Ho De Castries bathtub found after the battleThien Ho A view of Lai ChauThien Ho Destinations: VietnamDien Bien PhuHaiphong......
ICYMI: Everything you need to know about Microsoft’s new Surface devices...
1 week ago
It has been a busy couple of weeks at Engadget and we have many reviews to recap. Nathan Ingraham reviewed the newest base iPad as well as the Microsoft Surface Go 3, the latter of which he says lacks the processing power to be more than a secondary machine. Devindra Hardawar reviewed Windows 11, which he called both refined and frustrating, and the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, which he enjoyed but found it to be underpowered for the price. Also, Dana Wollman checked out the Surface Pro 8 two-in-one, which solved some problems but created others with its new, higher price tag.Microsoft's Surface Pro 8 still lacks an included keyboardDana Wollman/EngadgetDana Wollman was pleased to see that the Surface Pro 8 addressed some of our complaints about the previous version. It has a redesigned, larger display with skinnier bezels, improved resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate, along with 11th-gen Core i5 and i7 processors and a slightly higher-res rear camera. But the detachable keyboard is still sold separately for $180, and the two-in-one starts off more expensive at $1,100. It’s also 15 percent heavier at 1.96 pounds without the keyboard. Dana says that’s lighter than her MacBook Pro, but that doesn’t make it an ideal mobile device.The built-in kickstand seems to indicate the machine is best used when docked, not held. Dana said the kickstand is premium, albeit a bit awkward to pull out due to the narrow divots. She was underwhelmed by the images from the 10-megapixel rear camera, though it can record in 4K, and she was more impressed by the webcam that proved to be capable even in mixed lighting. The 120Hz refresh rate is a major improvement and she says you won’t want to revert back to 60Hz even if it helps save a bit of battery life. She also appreciated the Slim Pen 2, which has a haptic motor that made it fun to use. However, she admits that the higher price point makes the Surface Pro 8 even more of a niche item.The Surface Go 3 still isn’t powerful enoughDana Wollman/EngadgetNathan Ingraham likes many of the features of the Surface Go 3: it’s well-built, has a lovely and responsive touchscreen, a strong kickstand and is extremely light and portable. However, like the Surface Pro 8, it doesn’t come with a keyboard and you’ll definitely need one as Windows 11 still doesn’t offer up a stellar tablet experience. The bigger issue for him was the underpowered specs and average battery life. The model he reviewed came with a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.That makes for a mostly capable machine for basic tasks, but Nathan experienced occasional music stutters and had to reload tabs during his workday. He noticed lag while working in Adobe Lightroom, and had issues during video calls while jumping into other programs. During his normal work routine, the battery lasted five hours, which detracts from the device’s portability. However, he liked the 10.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 touchscreen and the 3:2 aspect ratio as well as the infinitely adjustable kickstand. While Nathan says he can see the Surface Go 3 working as a secondary machine for travel, it’s hard to recommend as a daily driver because of its performance and battery life issues.The Surface Laptop Studio could use more coresDevindra Hardawar/EngadgetOne of the first Windows 11 PCs, the Surface Laptop Studio has a 14.4-inch screen with a speedy 120Hz refresh rate and weighs around four pounds. Devindra Hardawar says while it’s clearly not trying to be an ultraportable, it is ultra-adjustable thanks to the display that tilts it into various angles. The display itself entranced him with its flexible hinge, fantastic Dolby Vision support and refresh rate, though it is surrounded by chunkier bezels. He said the speakers are surprisingly powerful thanks to the two subwoofers on the sides and the tweeters blasting through the keyboard.While Devindra found the Laptop Studio to be a solid performer for everyday computing tasks — and fast enough to play Overwatch at 90 and 100fps — it has only a quad-core chip, and that makes it hard to recommend when so many similar machines feature more powerful six- or eight-core CPUs. He was also annoyed by the anemic port situation: two USB-C ports, which support ThunderBolt 4, and a proprietary Surface Connect slot, but there’s no longer an SD card slot, which would have been an opportunity to outdo the competition. At least Microsoft included the excellent keyboard from the Book 3 and the new Surface Slim Pen 2. While Devindra genuinely liked using the Surface Laptop Studio, he said he still wanted more power overall.Windows 11 is polished and secure — but frustratingMicrosoftDevindra Hardawar doesn’t think that Microsoft is trying to fix much with Windows 11. Although the new operating system is more of a coat of paint over Windows 10, he doesn’t feel that’s a problem. Devindra says the more he uses the OS, the easier it is to see how far the small design tweaks have taken the software. The taskbar now has centered icons, the Start menu has a redesigned look with pinned apps, windows have rounded corners and the icons, Explorer and Settings apps look sharp making for a more refined feel overall.The system requirements are a bit more rigid: compatible Intel, AMD or Qualcomm processor, 4GB RAM, at least 64GB storage and you’ll have to enable Secure Boot and Trust Platform Module 2.0 which make it harder for spyware and malware to attack. This means there are some additional complications if you’ve got older hardware or if you’ve built your own PC. Windows 11 will also be the only way to use Microsoft’s DirectStorage technology, which Devindra says should dramatically speed up load times when it’s available. He says that the combination of a refreshed look, additional security and faster performance is a step forward — just not a momentous one.The 2021 iPad is an incremental updateNathan Ingraham/EngadgetThe 2021 refreshed iPad isn’t for early adopters like Nathan Ingraham. The updated tablet now includes a 12-megapixel front camera with Center Stage support, double the base amount of storage, the new A13 Bionic chip and iPad OS 15. However, the hardware is largely unchanged from the previous two versions. It has basically the same size and weight and still includes a 10.2-inch, 2,160 x 1,620 touchscreen, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a Lightning port for charging.That means that this is an iPad meant for those who want a tablet that’s fast, lightweight, easy to carry around and (relatively) cheap. For most standard iPad users — those who use a tablet primarily for things like playing games or browsing the web — the new chipset will provide more than enough power. Nathan didn’t notice any slowdowns while multitasking with several open apps, though he did notice that some apps needed to refresh more frequently during those periods. Also, while the screen was serviceable for watching videos and playing games, it can’t compare to the screens on the other iPads in the lineup. But for $330, as Nathan says, who cares? If your iPad is more than a few years old, you'll find some significant improvements in this one.The Fitbit Charge 5 has a slick full-color displayValentina Palladino/EngadgetThough the first thing you’ll notice about the new Fitbit Charge 5 is the 1.04-inch color AMOLED touchscreen. Valentina Palladino says that the changes made to the wearable — rounded edges and a 10-percent thinner body — made it more comfortable to wear as well. The fitness band also now has some more advanced features like ECG measurements and EDA monitoring for stress levels. The ECG measuring is coming soon and Valentina said that the EDA monitoring wasn’t intuitive and left her frustrated. She had better luck with the built-in GPS, which immediately picked up her location and accurately mapped her running route.Valentina also liked the alarm and timer apps, which she found helpful throughout the day. However, she was disappointed that Fitbit removed some of the music-focused features, which meant she had to pull out her phone to skip a track or control playback. She was also a bit irked to see that some of the Charge 5’s more advanced metrics, like select sleep and exercise data, were part of Fitbit’s subscription service that costs $10 per month. But she did applaud the battery life and the inclusion of Fitbit Pay with NFC. She says if what you’re looking for is a low-profile wearable with a focus on fitness and a multi-day battery life, then the Charge 5 will fit the bill.The updated Sonos Beam has immersive Dolby Atmos soundDevindra Hardawar/EngadgetDevindra Hardawar says there was plenty to like about the first-gen Sonos Beam. When it comes to the Beam Gen 2, he says the addition of Dolby Atmos means the device can deliver a wider, more immersive soundscape. With largely the same hardware — a center tweeter, four mid-woofers and three passive radiators — this soundbar relies on more processing power to simulate the Dolby Atmos experience. Devindra says it worked surprisingly well during his testing, but wasn’t a replacement for having actual speakers dedicated to blasting height channels.He liked that the Beam Gen 2 was still surprisingly compact at 25.6 inches wide and weighing six pounds, and that it has the same Ethernet, HDMI and power ports on the rear. And he appreciated how easy the set up was via Sonos’s app. In testing, the new Beam excelled during action movies: while watching Baby Driver, Devindra said it was a richer experience and even the dialog sounded clearer, too. However, music playback wasn’t as dramatically different and Dolby Atmos support for Amazon Music will come later this year. Sonos also makes it easy to synchronize audio throughout your home and the Alexa integration works well. Devindra says it’s a solid sub-$500 soundbar to take your movie-watching up a notch.The Uno Synth Pro can produce glorious soundsTerrence O'Brien/EngadgetWith three oscillators, two envelopes, two LFOs, two filters, an analog overdrive and twelve digital effects, the Uno Synth Pro offers plenty of options for sound design. Terrence O’Brien tested the smaller $400 Desktop model, which features a set of touch keys and an all-plastic body (the synth also comes in a standard $650 Pro model with a 37-key Fatar keybed and a partially metal chassis). He said that the overall construction feels solid enough, the buttons are decent, the knobs offer good resistance and the screen, while small, provides all the information you need.However, the gray, black and red color scheme made it difficult to quickly spot the controls, especially in darker environments. He also didn’t like the four top knobs that change all the parameters. But Terrence said his biggest issue was with the touch keys and strips — they felt unresponsive and would occasionally fail to detect touches, which was worse in three-voice paraphone mode. The pitch and mod strips behaved similarly. But his frustrations were largely forgotten once the synth started making noise: Terrence said the oscillators have body and grit and the saw wave just rips. Overall, he was impressed enough with the wealth of sound design tools and the quality of the oscillators and filters to call himself a convert.Owlet’s Smart Sock Plus can keep monitoring older kidsOwletAfter using both the second- and third-generation Smart Socks on my twins, I’d grown accustomed to being able to check in on their stats anytime from my phone. When they aged out of their socks, it was an uncomfortable transition — for me. Owlet says I’m not alone: 72 percent of the users they polled indicated they’d like to keep using the device to measure their children’s heart rate and pulse ox levels. In response the company updated its algorithm and made the Smart Sock Plus, which can accommodate children up to five years old or 55 pounds.Aside from the larger sock and better algorithm, the Smart Sock Plus is much the same as the standard, third-gen device. In testing, the Plus seemed to fit better but I had to employ work-arounds to keep my kids from taking them off. I also noticed fewer alerts about a misaligned sock, which was a welcome update. At $359 the Smart Sock Plus is pretty pricey for new users, but the $69 expansion pack available for existing customers is likely to do well as it extends the life time of the sock considerably.The Nintendo Switch OLED edition is nice, but not necessaryKris Naudus/EngadgetKris Naudus is plain: the new Nintendo Switch OLED, while lovely, isn’t a must-have. Though the refreshed handheld system features a brighter, 7-inch OLED screen, a new stand ideal for tabletop mode, an Ethernet port and a new coating which feels good in hand, not much has changed under the hood. The CPU and GPU remain the same, ensuring the future game titles will be compatible with existing Switch and Switch Light devices, and the infamous Joy-Cons haven’t been redesigned (though hopefully the drift issues have been solved).Kris was impressed by the new stand, which is a Surface-style panel that stretches the length of the entire unit and can be left in any angle you prefer. However, because the USB-C port is still on the bottom which means it can’t be charged while set in tabletop mode. She also liked the slimmer bezels and coating on the frame and said the new buttons look sleeker and feel better. It’s the same height and width as the original Switch, too, so it will fit with all existing accessories. And though the battery is the same, it appears to be more power-efficient thanks to the new OLED screen. Despite that, Kris says unless you’ve given up your original or really need the OLED screen, you’ll be fine sticking with your current system.The Carol smart exercise bike is for big pocketbooksDaniel CooperDaniel Cooper would tell you that he enjoyed his time with the pricey Carol smart exercise bike, a machine intended to be used in short workouts of eight minutes and 40 seconds. Using the methods employed by Reduced Exertion, High Intensity Interval Training (REHIIT), the bike features exercise videos that you can follow via the 10.1-inch color touchscreen if you subscribe to the company’s service. Because the screen is a Lenovo tablet, you can run third-party apps through it like Peloton’s so you could take classes from there, to. Daniel says the Carol app is clean and colorful: the UI flashes when you hit a high intensity phase and power output visualizations were particularly great.The bike itself looks like any at-home exercise bike with a large, real-slung flywheel and a drive unit to house the system to electronically control the resistance. The short handles contain heart rate-monitoring electrodes and the height of the handlebars and seat height and distance are all adjustable. After spending time with it, Daniel admits he feels like his fitness and mood both improved, but the $2,400 price tag is especially hard to swallow.......
Riz Ahmed Short ‘The Long Goodbye’ Qualifies for Oscars at HollyShorts Film Festival...
2 weeks ago
Three short films have qualified for the Academy Awards in the shorts categories by winning top prizes at the 17th annual HollyShorts Film Festival, which handed out its awards at Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood on Friday night. The winners in HollyShorts’ three Oscar-qualifying categories are “The Long Goodbye,” directed by Aneil Karia and starring Riz Ahmed, which won the Grand Prix as the festival’s best film; “Little Bear,” directed by Nicolas Birkenstock, which won in the Best Live Action category; and “I Am a Pebble,” which was named the festival’s best animated film. An additional three dozen awards were handed out at the end of the festival, which took place from Sept. 23-30 at the TCL Chinese Theaters, Japan House LA and other locations in Hollywood. The ceremony was hosted by Digital LA founder and CEO Kevin Winston and actress and author Lizza Monet Morales. The online version of the festival is currently available on the HollyShorts digital platform, Bitpix TV. Oscar qualifying winners: Grand Prix Best Short: “The Long Goodbye” directed by Aneil KariaPrizes: $15,000 camera package from Panavision, sales deal from Eroin Films and management meeting with Alta Global Media. Best Live Action: “Little Bear” directed by Nicolas BirkenstockPrizes: Management meeting with Alta Global Media Best Animation: “I Am a Pebble” from Berteraut Mélanie, Bresson Yasmine, Coulombier Léo, Grondin Nicolas, le Chapelain Maxime, Massé LouisePrizes: Management meeting with Alta Global Media Other winners: Best Action: “Maximus” directed by Richard Prendergast Best Cinematography: Lasse Ulvedal Tolboll for “Under the Heavens”Prize: Color correction from Color Space Finishing Best Comedy: “The Deep End” directed by Sean PettisPrize: Trip to Augusta, GA from Film Augusta Best Commercial: “Widen The Screen” directed by Kevin Wilson Jr. Best Composer: Brian Hall & Jonah Ramey for “The Night I Left America”Prize: Meeting with Defiant Talent Best Director: Jayil Pak for “Georgia”Prize: Management meeting with Alta Global Media Best Documentary: “Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma” directed by Topaz Jones & Rubberband Best Drama: “I Would Never” directed by Kiran DeolPrize: Trip to Augusta, GA from Film Augusta Best Editing: David Marks for “Electromagnetic” Best Horror: “Lilias Adie” directed by Elize du ToitPrize: Distribution by ALTER Best International: “Fabiu” directed by Stefan Langthaler Best LGBTQIA+: “Bracha” directed by Mickey Triest & Aaron Geva Best Midnight Madness: “M*therf—er” directed by Adam Long & Adam Peterson Best Music Video: “Tell Me A Story” directed by Sasha Solodukhina Best Podcast: “Carcerem” by Shane Salk Best Producer: Henry Tumwesigye for “The Night I Left America” Best SciFi: “Jack and Jo Don’t Want To Die” directed by Kantú LentzPrize: Distribution by DUST, meeting with Circle of Confusion Best Screenplay: “Dummy” written by Andrew KaberlinePrizes: Seattle Film Summit & 88th Street/HollyShorts grant of $25,000 and Final Draft software. Finished film will screen at HollyShorts 2022. Best Student Film: “Team Meryland” directed by Gabriel Gaurano Best Thriller: “Reklaw” directed by Polaris BanksPrize: Meeting with Circle of Confusion Best TV Series: “Cronos” directed by Michael Middelkoop Best TV Screenplay: “Half-Assed” written by Tracie LaymonPrize: 88th Street option and Final Draft software. Best VFX: “Untitled Earth Sim 64” directed by Jonathan Wilhelmsson Best Web Series: “Best Before” directed by Laura Bergeron & Maxime Robin Hawk Films Screenplay Award: “Glaciers” written by Frank Berry & Matthew BatesPrizes: $20,000 production package from Hawk Films UK and Final Draft software. Finished film screens at HollyShorts 2022. HollyShorts Honorable Mention: “Koreatown Ghost Story” directed by Minsun Park & Teddy Tenenbaum HollyShorts 3rd Place Screenplay: “David” written by Jacob Mittlestadt-RaabPrize: Final Draft software Latinx Award: “Nuevo Rico” directed by Kristian Mercado Figueroa SAG Indie Award: “Some Still Search” directed by Nesaru Tchaas Shot on Film Award: “The Archivists” directed by Igor DrljačaPrize: $1,000 for Kodak free film stock Shot on Film Honorable Mention: “Beity” directed by Isabelle MecattafPrize: $500 for Kodak free film stock Shot on Film Award – Super 8MM: “Strong Son” directed by Ian BawaPrize: $1,000 for Kodak free film stock Social Impact Award: “Under The Heavens” directed by Gustavo MilanPrize: $10,000 camera rental package from The Camera Division Special Jury Mention: “Staff Pick” by Mitchell deQuilettes Women in Film Award: “Dọlápọ̀ Is Fine” directed by Ethosheia Hylton Women in Film Screenplay Award: “Sara” written by Jessica L. HinksonPrizes: $1,000 from HollyShorts, BECiNE camera gear rental, and Final Draft software. Finished film screens at HollyShorts 2022.......
All Ultrasound Gels and Lotions Manufactured by Eco-Med Pharmaceutical, Inc. Recalled Due to Risk of Bacteria Contamination...
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
1 month ago
All Ultrasound Gels and Lotions Manufactured by Eco-Med Pharmaceutical, Inc. Recalled Due to Risk of Bacteria Contamination Anonymous (not verified) Fri, 09/10/2021 - 10:03 Detailed Description Do not use ultrasound gels and lotions manufactured by Eco-Med, as these products are at risk for bacterial contamination. Center Center for Devices and Radiological Health The recall described in this notice is the same one that was announced in the Letter to Health Care Providers on August 18, 2021. The FDA has identified this as a Class I recall, the most serious type of recall. Use of these devices may cause serious injuries or death. Recalled Product Product Names: ultrasound gel products and lotions manufactured by Eco-Med are marketed by a number of distributors, under different product names, which include but are not limited to the following: Product Name Distributors Action de Gala FuSion Conductive Gel Aesthetics Systems (United States) Athena Liaison Ultrasound Gel Mac Medical Supply Co Inc. (United States) Conductor Transmission Gel Chattanooga Medical Supply (United States) Conductor Australia DJO Australia (Australia) DJO Conductor DJO Global (United States) EcoGel 100 Amtec Sales, Inc. (dba Print Media) (United States) Eco-Med Pharmaceutical (Canada) Cardinal Health (Canada) Fujifilm Sonosite, Inc. (United States) Maranda Lauzon Inc (Canada) Medline Canada (Canada) NDC Inc. (United States) STAT Healthcare Corporation (Canada) The Stevens Company Limited (Canada) EcoGel 200 Accelerated Care Plus (United States) Active Crystal Inc (Canada) Agencia Matamoros (Honduras) Amesys S.A. (Honduras) Amtec Sales, Inc. (dba Print Media) (United States) Anamed Corp. (United States) Best Medical Supply (United States) BP Medical (Dominican Republic) Cardinal Health (Canada) Cardinal Health, Inc. (United States) Choice Medical Systems, Inc. (United States) Christie Innomed Inc. (Canada) Clinomed, Inc. (United States) CMCC Supply Centre and Bookstore (Canada) Dada Dada & CIA (El Salvador) Dectro International (Canada) Dental & Medical Distributor (United States) DHG Specialties (United States) Dimesan USA (United States) Dolphin Med-Equipment & Supply (United States) Droredime (Honduras) Dunbar Medical (Canada) Dynamic Medical Supplies, Inc. (United States) Eastern Medical Supply Ltd (Canada) Eco-Med Pharmaceutical (Canada) Equimedic S.A. de C.V. (El Salvador) Eshus Merin, Inc (United States) Euro Essential Ltd. (Canada) Fernanada’s Beauty Products (Canada) Gadelius Medical (Japan) Global Medical Solution (NZ) LTD (New Zealand) Good-link Electronics Ltd. (Hong Kong) Grobartig Solution, LLC. (United States) Health & Global Enterprises (United States) Healthy You (United States) Henry Schein Arcona (Canada) Innovaciones Medicas (Guatemala) Intrasound Products, LLC (United States) Inversiones C.A. (Honduras) Luizapata Corp. (United States) Lumenis Ltd (Israel) Maranda Lauzon Inc (Canada) Medical Depot, S.A. (Panama) Medical Services, LLC. (United States) Medical Specialists Co., Inc. (United States) Medis Part Ltd. (Thailand) Medline Canada (Canada) Medplus Supply S.A. (Panama) MJM Distributing (Canada) Multiservicios Electromedicos, S.A. (Costa Rica) NDC Inc. (United States) North Coast Medical (United States) Nova Skin, Inc. (United States) Ortho Canada (Canada) Owens & Minor Distribution, Inc. (United States) Paramedicos del El Salvador (El Salvador) PTmart, Inc. (United States) Quantum Products, Inc. (United States) RAF, S.A. DE C.V. (El Salvador) Reserma, SA (Panama) So medico SDN BHD (Malaysia) Spavaro Inc. (Canada) STAT Healthcare Corporation (Canada) The Stevens Company Limited (Canada) Trimedic Supply Network Ltd. (Canada) Vitality Depot (Canada) Westside Surgical Corporation (United States) EcoGel 300 Eco-Med Pharmaceutical (Canada) MJM Distributing (Canada) Vitality Depot (Canada) EcoLotion Amtec Sales, Inc. (dba Print Media) (United States) Clinomed, Inc. (United States) Eco-Med Pharmaceutical (Canada) Eshus Merin, Inc (United States) Grobartig Solution, LLC. (United States) Healthy You (United States) Medical Services, LLC. (United States) Medical Specialists Co., Inc. (United States) NDC Inc. (United States) North Coast Medical (United States) PTmart, Inc. (United States) Quantum Products, Inc. (United States) The Stevens Company Limited (Canada) Vitality Depot (Canada) Intelect DJO Global (United States) Liquasonic Athena Medical Products Inc. (United States) Cardinal Health Inc. (United States) Concordance Healthcare Solutions (United States) Henry Shein Inc. (United States) Mckesson Medical Surgical Inc. (United States) Medline Industries, Inc. (United States) MAC Brand EcoGel Mac Medical Supply Co Inc. (United States) Medelco Medelco Inc. (Canada) MediChoice Ultrasound Gel Mac Medical Supply Co Inc. (United States) North Coast Medical (United States) Owens & Minor (United States) Medline Ultrasound Gel Medline Industries Inc. (United States) Myossage DJO Global (United States) North Coast Medical (United States) Norco Ultrasound Gel North Coast Ultrasound Gel North Coast Medical (United States) Omnisound Ultrasound Gel Accelerated Care Plus (United States) Pro Advantage Ultrasound Gel NDC Inc. (United States) Red Medical Ultrasound Gel Red Medical Supplies Ltd. (Canada) Scrip Crème All Purpose Lotion Scrip Hessco (United States) Scrip Ultrasound Gel Scrip Hessco (United States) Smart (EcoGel 200 Ultrasound Gel) Smart Technology and Product Co., Ltd (Thailand) Ultra-Myossage DJO Global (United States) Product Codes: MUI, ITX, GYB Manufacturing Years: 2018 until Present Distribution Years: 2018 until Present Date Initiated by Manufacturer: August 4, 2021 Eco-Med has shut down all operations and is no longer manufacturing or distributing any products. Device Use Eco-Med ultrasound gels and lotions are used during an ultrasound test to create images of organs and structures inside the body. Ultrasound gel is a clear, water-based gel that is applied to the skin on the area to be examined. The gel helps with the transmission of sound waves. Reason for Recall All ultrasound gels and lotions manufactured by Eco-Med are being recalled due to risk of bacterial contamination with Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc). The FDA independently confirmed that distributed product tested positive for bacterial contamination. The use of affected ultrasound gels and lotions contaminated with Bcc may lead to serious infections, including bloodstream infections, which may result in sepsis or death. As of Aug. 31, 2021, there have been at least 66 infections, including 60 bloodstream infections associated with these affected products, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Who May be Affected Health care providers who use ultrasound gels and lotions manufactured by Eco-Med Pharmaceutical, Inc., and distributed by multiple entities under various product names. Patients who require care using ultrasound gels or lotions manufactured by Eco-Med Pharmaceutical, Inc., and distributed by multiple entities under various product names. What to Do On Aug. 4, 2021, Eco-Med Pharmaceutical, Inc. sent a recall classification notice for certain lots of EcoGel, MediChoice, and Mac Medical ultrasound gel. However, the FDA has determined that all ultrasound gels and lotions manufactured by Eco-Med are at risk for bacterial contamination. The FDA recommends health care providers and facilities: Immediately stop using and discard all ultrasound gel and lotion products manufactured by Eco-Med. Do not purchase ultrasound gels or lotions manufactured by Eco-Med. Consult Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and professional society guidelines regarding use of ultrasound gel and appropriate ultrasound cleaning procedures (see Additional Resources). Contact the distributor that supplied these products to you if you have questions about the disposal of the products. Report any adverse reactions or quality problems experienced with the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program. Contact Information Customers in the U.S. with questions about this recall should contact the distributor who supplied the affected products. Eco-Med has shut down all operations and is no longer manufacturing or distributing any products. Full List of Affected Devices Please see Medical Device Recall Database Entry below. Additional Resources: Medical Device Recall Database Entry Stop Using All Eco-Med Ultrasound Gels and Lotions Due to Risk of Bacterial Contamination – Letter to Health Care Providers Eco-Med Pharmaceutical, Inc. Recall Letter Eco-Med Pharmaceutical, Inc. Recall Web Page Related FDA recall classification notice How do I report a problem? Health care professionals and consumers may report adverse reactions or quality problems they experienced using these devices to MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program using an online form, regular mail, or FAX. Short Title Eco-Med Recalls Ultrasound Gels and Lotions for Bacteria Contamination Source Organization FDA Short Description Do not use ultrasound gels and lotions manufactured by Eco-Med, as these products are at risk for bacterial contamination. Content Owner Center for Devices and Radiological Health Publish Date Fri, 09/10/2021 - 15:32 Review Date Sat, 09/10/2022 - 00:00 Last Reviewed Date Fri, 09/10/2021 - 00:00 Site Structure Medical Device Recalls Next Review Date 1 Year Navigational Page Off Bulk Approved Off Display Short Description Off First Publish Date Fri, 09/10/2021 - 15:32 Generic Boolean Off Regulated Product* Medical Devices Language English Show Related Information Hide Number of Related Information to Display 3 Add Subscription Box Off......
The Stone Eater, the Outlaw Scrapper, and the future of Afghanistan's MMA fighters...
2 months ago
Summary List PlacementKabul – MMA fighter Zaki Rasooli is running late. He has a training session in 30 minutes and the gym is all the way on the other side of Kabul, Afghanistan's traffic-clogged capital. He pulls his car behind a Police Ranger, hoping he can outmaneuver the traffic jams and street vendors, the blast-proof barrier walls and police checkpoints. Once a day, an improvised explosive device might detonate in Kabul, so that's another reason to keep moving. As he speeds through the streets, he passes by at least three billboards of Ahmad Wali Hotak, another MMA star known as "The Warrior," who clutches a can of Predator energy drink as he aims a punch at the camera. Rasooli isn't just trying to avoid the congestion. The hulking 176-pound MMA fighter hopes to pass through town without being recognized. With three major wins, one loss and one draw since 2018, the 24-year-old is one of the best-known MMA fighters in Afghanistan. Since he first started winning matches as his alter ego, Zaki the Outlaw Scrapper, he has been receiving threatening phone calls. He assumes the threats are just bravado from fans who are loyal to the men he beat, but Rasooli isn't taking any chances. Targeted assassinations have become worryingly common in Kabul, claiming the lives of famous journalists, rights workers, academics, and religious leaders. Meanwhile, the Taliban has been retaking large swaths of the country, including three of the its biggest cities – Kandahar, Herat, and Lashkar Gah. The Taliban is expected to make a push for Kabul any day now. Finally – and, somehow, just on time – Rasooli parks his car and enters a nondescript building tucked amid a row of kabab restaurants, shisha bars, and cafes. He jogs down a handful of deep-set stairs to the basement. The gym down below is pretty basic. A few fans and simple light fixtures protrude out from the walls. A punching bag, a giant truck tire, some ropes, and various weights are scattered across the small space. In recent years, better gyms catering to Kabul's emerging moneyed class have popped up elsewhere in the city – modern, $100-a-month facilities, with personalized monitors and iPads. But for serious athletes, it's the training, not the amenities and gadgets, that really matter. The anonymity this place offers is an added bonus. Everything from volleyball games to Cricket grounds, Buzkashi matches and even a wrestling gym have come under attack in Kabul and other provinces. As the fights grow flashier and the arenas get bigger, there's a fear that MMA could be next. Rasooli's coach, Mohammad Yusuf Mohmand, has already started with another young athlete, an up-and-coming MMA hopeful who is pounding a sledgehammer against the tire, grunting noisily with each swing. Mohmand, a legendary fighter who is not quite in his old fighting shape, is taunting the man as a coach does, yelling that he is making more noise than he is landing blows. Rasooli disappears behind a piece of hanging fabric to change out of his jeans and into short white shorts and a black tank top. It's attire he wouldn't dare to wear outside. He then gets to work at the punching bag. It's his second training session of the day. "When you enter that octagon, you show your body, your talent to the people," he says of what pushes him to train so hard. "They go hand-in-hand." A sport at a crossroads As the Taliban moves toward Kabul, the future of MMA – and leisure pursuits of all kinds – are in peril. During the Taliban's rule, which extended for five years before the attack of Sept. 11, 2001, the armed group allowed some sports, but with heavy regulations on attire and with breaks for prayer. The short-shorts and bare chests and tattoos sported by several of MMA fighters would be against all Taliban decency standards. There is also the question of whether there will be enough calm in the cities to conduct matches at all, or whether foreign fighters would feel comfortable coming to Afghanistan for bouts. Likewise, if the Taliban takes over and Afghanistan turns into another pariah state, that would further complicate Afghan athlete's to secure visas to train and fight abroad. There's also the matter of television, which was forbidden during the Taliban rule. It remains to be seen if MMA fights would be broadcast, or if there would be TV stations left to air them. Politics notwithstanding, Mixed Martial Arts has an intensely loyal fan base in Afghanistan. Local MMA stars like "The Warrior" and Baz Mohammad Mubariz ("The Afghan Eagle") appear on billboards and commercials across the country. In Kabul alone, there are 120 gyms that cater to MMA hopefuls, according to Qais Nawabi, a local sports journalist. At least 50 MMA matches are broadcast on Afghan TV a year. While fears about COVID-19 have thinned the crowds at the actual matches, cheering fans waving the Afghan flag can be found packed into restaurants and cafes on fight nights. Most fights pit Afghans against one another, but combatants are also known to travel from nearby countries like Kazakhstan, Iran, Tajikistan, and Pakistan. The top Afghan fighters are increasingly looking for bigger opportunities. For the top six fighters, the prospect of traveling to Russia or even Las Vegas carries with it the chance for wealth and global stardom. The route to fame and fortune is a difficult one under any circumstances. In Afghanistan, it's especially so. Here, fighters stand to earn only a couple hundred dollars per fight. The lack of sponsors in a country with a struggling economy hasn't helped the fighters either. There are only so many companies – local energy drink brands, mostly – willing to invest in athletes and celebrities. Fighters who want to compete internationally have to finance their own trips abroad, which can cost upwards of $5,000. They wanted to show that they too could become world-class champions, even without the financial spoils. That the Afghan people are still capable of greatness. That they, too, can be heroes. The challenges don't end with money. Afghan fighters continuously struggle to obtain visas to fight and train abroad. At times failure to obtain foreign visas has cost them matches they spent months training for. There is no governing authority for MMA fighters in Afghanistan. In the United States, the Anti-Doping Authority ensures that fighters don't cheat by taking performance enhancing drugs and state athletic commissions enforce the combat engagement rules. But in Afghanistan, steroid use is common with many athletes considering it the norm, and, without regulation, there is always the suspicion of fighters using anabolic steroids. Wahid Nazhand, currently the number three Pro Men's welterweight in South Asia, goes by the nickname "Sang Khor" – "The Stone Eater" – among his legion of fans. He recalls one of his first MMA matches in 2015 as an example of the kinds of struggles MMA fighters have had to face in Afghanistan. "I entered the octagon in this dingy, dark room and there was literally sewage dripping onto the octagon from a sewer pipe above us. Imagine facing your opponent while trying to forget the stench that had permeated everything." Despite all these obstacles, more fighters are coming up and more Afghans – men, especially – are becoming fans. The Stone Eater vs. The Outlaw Scrapper The specific fight that really ignited the popularity of MMA in Afghanistan came in 2020, when Rasooli ("The Outlaw Scrapper") faced Nazhand ("The Stone Eater) at the Snow Leopard Fighting Championship (SLFC), Afghanistan's premier MMA event, to determine the undisputed welterweight champion. The build-up for the fight saw Rasooli and Nazhand engaged in heated verbal exchanges on live TV, something that was quite new for sports in Afghanistan. On fight night last December, hundreds of men, young and old, gathered in the arena just as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to dominate global headlines. Many more watched from their TVs at home, while hundreds of others ignored coronavirus warnings to watch the much-anticipated bout at several of the city's restaurants and cafes. It was five rounds of violence, as both men were drenched in blood and sweat. The fight started off in a surprising way as Nazhand, a kickboxing standout, took Rasooli to the ground, controlling him for the majority of the round. The second and third rounds were much of the same. In the fourth, Rasooli managed to rock Nazhand with vicious elbows. Nazhand's blood spilled all over the canvas, but he gained his composure and finished the round on top. The fifth round was a back and forth as Rasooli grew desperate, giving Nazhand an opening for a Kimura and a triangle choke from the top. Sensing victory, in the final second of the round, Nazhand smiled at the camera, assuring the crowd that he remained on top. In the end, the crowd was thoroughly entertained. They had just witnessed a UFC-calibre fight in their own country. By night's end, MMA had a newly rabid fan base in Afghanistan. "With each blow, we let the people of Afghanistan know that there are guys like us who can dominate the world of MMA," Rasooli said, looking back on that night. 'You know he's Talib, right?' When Rasooli isn't training he's often posting updates to his 50,000 followers on Instagram, where his gruff but affable personality shines through. There's a video of Rasooli playfully directing a baby to throw repeated jabs at his chiseled jaw that looks gigantic next to the baby's tiny fist, and clips of him letting out exasperated sighs as he struggles to bring down an opponent in a game of Tekken. The mixture of success, fame and affability recently landed him a gig as the brand ambassador for the city's new high-end sports lounge, the Buffalo Kings. "I was drawn to Zaki not just because he's a good fighter, which he clearly is, but also because he just has a great personality and comes off as someone who is very positive," the owner of the sports lounge, Said Bashir Jalili, says of Rasooli's appeal. Rasooli is now accustomed to being surrounded by fans when he steps out in Kabul. But two years ago he had an experience that confirmed for him how far MMA's reach had extended. He was tending to his family's land in their native Maidan Wardak, a province known for its apples but also for insecurity and Taliban presence. On that afternoon, a bearded man in a black turban approached him. "I know you. I've seen you on TV," the man said in Pashto to an astonished Rasooli. "Aren't you that fighter? I was so happy when you won your last match, we all cheered. Everyone here supports you." The two men chatted for a while longer, as Rasooli's father looked on. "You know he's a Talib, right?" his father said later. Rasooli was certainly aware of what the five years of oppressive Taliban rule had meant, even if he was too young to remember it himself. Men were required to grow beards, and anyone could be lashed for not being in the mosque during prayer times. Football players were forbidden from wearing shorts on the field. All forms of entertainment, including TV, were banned. So, to hear that a Talib not only recognized him, but called himself a fan, was surreal. 'One of the greats' Rasooli and Nazhand both grew up in Kabul, and both men consider themselves self-made. Early on, Rasooli worked at a mechanic, where he taught himself English from the cartoons on TV. Nazhand was once a bookseller, earning 50 Afghanis (63 cents) a day. For more than a decade, they pushed their bodies to the limits and witnessed the anguish of their families as they dealt with injury after injury. They had little to show in terms of wealth, but both men were undeterred. They wanted to show that they too could become world-class champions, even without the financial spoils. That the Afghan people are still capable of greatness. That they, too, can be heroes. "My family gave me chance after chance and in the end, we gained the respect of our communities," Rasooli says. "We have to continue so we can bring Afghanistan back to the world stage." They may be from different ethnicities and geographic locations, but both men proudly display the Afghan flag. And both men possess what's vital for MMA stardom: Charm, fighting skill and showmanship. So, for all the uncertainty about their futures, and Afghanistan's future, they keep going. In contrast to Rasooli, Nazhand is all bravado and intensity. Even when he runs on a treadmill, it must be barefoot and at the maximum speed as he lets out grunts and groans. His Instagram, where he has just under 100,000 followers, is filled with photos of him pulling himself up from cliff sides and walking shirtless in Kabul's frigid winter air. When he's posing for pictures with excited fans, fellow MMA fighters, or an Afghan dignitary, the most he can muster is a coy half-smile. When he does speak, Nazhand is known to go off-script. He has no interest in niceties. He goes straight for the kill, even with his words. "I didn't let my opponent leave unharmed. I broke his face and his head," Nazhand said to a female TV anchor when describing his first-ever match-up. Occasionally, though, Nazhand lets that guard down, like when he talks about the wide-eyed ambition of his younger days. He still remembers nights where he would sit down at the base of some of the billboards dotted around Kabul, looking up at the faces of young fighters he sparred with, and dreaming of seeing his own face up there. "I was determined to become one of the greats," he says. While his fights have been widely advertised, he has yet to land a major sponsorship deal. Fighting for peace Fame, though, has been complicated to manage, as Afghanistan still struggles with a fast-paced return to modernity and the very real threat of all-out civil war. Nazhand plays a Facebook voice message from a female fan that has incited him to leave the new high-end sports lounge and find her. She said she was being harassed by a young man while in the hospital with her family. "I get so many messages. I can't possibly answer them all. When I heard her message, I knew I had to do something for her," he says. He rushed off to find her. When he finally arrived at the location, she was nowhere to be found. Still, he went, because he felt he should help a woman in need. It's an open question whether MMA star-power, and the worship of MMA combatants, is really the best thing for a country still facing an active war. Nazhand balks at such criticism. He says he and other fighters are simply doing what other athletes have done after years of training and dedication. "It's not just Afghanistan. Dagestan is not in a much better state, but they have a national champion," he says referring to Khabib Nurmagomedov. "This has nothing to do with insecurity and wanton violence. We are two professional fighters who practice and train. In the end we hug and embrace. This is as much about two people coming together in a common pursuit and leaving their tensions in the octagon." Karim Zidan, a journalist who has covered MMA for more than a decade, says MMA is less about violence than outsiders believe. "People forget that MMA is about discipline. They shake hands before the match. When the bell rings and the round ends, they go to their respective corners. When the match comes to an end, they shake hands once again," Zidan says. As Rasooli and Nazhand see it, they are each fighting for peace. Read more of Insider's coverage from Afghanistan Afghanistan is being overrun by crystal meth The interpreters left for dead in Afghanistan Meet Afghanistan's fearless Gen Z influencers I sat through Chuck Lorre's Afghan War sitcom in Kabul so you don't have to Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why some Coca-Cola bottles have a yellow cap......
Unearthed 8mm shorts showcase the extraordinary talent of film-maker Bill Douglas...
4 months ago
Inspired by Hitchcock and admired by Truffaut, the great Scottish director has been largely forgotten – but 20 dazzling unseen miniatures could reignite interest in his masterly workIn his lifetime, film-maker Bill Douglas was acclaimed by cinema legends including François Truffaut and Luchino Visconti. After his death in 1991, the novelist Andrew O’Hagan called him “the best Scottish director ever”. Yet these days Douglas’s films are rarely, if ever, seen in cinemas or on television. Douglas produced a small body of work – just four films in nearly 20 years, plus a film-school short called Come Dancing – but what films they are. Through the 1970s, Douglas wrote and directed three black-and-white masterpieces – My Childhood, My Ain Folk and My Way Home, collectively known as the Trilogy – followed by Comrades, released in 1986, which tells the story of early trade unionists the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Continue reading.........
Gerry Beddoes of Jaguar...
4 months ago
I was privileged to be in a position to facilitate the reunion of Gerry Beddoes, one of Jaguar’s prime architects of Jaguar’s legendary quad-cam V12 engine with former ex-Jaguar colleagues Peter Wilson, Frank Philpott and Jim Eastick. For many years after Gerry’s retirement, he “fell off the radar” as far as contact with his former colleagues was concerned and it was such a pleasure to be able to reunite these gentlemen once again.Building The Legend, Jaguar, XJ13, Neville Swales, E-Type, Classic Car, Jaguar XJ13, Jaguar Heritage, Jaguar Classic, C-Type, D-Type, XKSS © Neville Swales – Gerry Beddoes (left) meets Jim Eastick for the first time in many years © Neville Swales – Left to right – Gerry Beddoes, Frank Philpott & Jim Eastick share a few memories © Neville Swales - We met at the home of Peter Wilson who treated us to a delightful afternoon tea Memories of Jaguar Gerry recalled … “Like many before me and myriads after I was overwhelmed by the XK l20 when I saw it aged seventeen at the 1948 Motor Show (and still have my precious brochure). My admiration for the car and its engine were reinforced by a visit to the Swallow Road factory to see the cars being built as they wound their way through the wooden buildings of the old munitions plant. I was then in the early days of my Engineering Degree course and, to that point. had not decided where I should use my newly acquired skills. Following those visits I had no doubt and set about my studies with greater vigour. The next decision was how to persuade Jaguar to take me on. In this I was helped by a friend of my then girlfriends family, Peter Duncan, who was producer of the popular BBC Saturday evening radio programme. In Town Tonight. He was the proud owner of a Mk.5 and knew Bill Lyons and Bill Heynes, having interviewed them on his show. He was kind enough to contact them in late I950 to mention me as an enthusiastic but unskilled potential employee. Original XK120 at Earls Court, London Early the following year I. received an invitation from Bill Heynes to attend an interview with him in his office at Swallow Road and. on a cold morning in late March, my girlfriend (who by then was my ﬁancee) and l made our way by bus from our homes in Worcestershire to Coventry. Leaving her to pace up and down Burnaby Road in the cold I found my way to the Design Office and had a pleasant hour with Bill Heynes going over my ambitions and his requirements. I left with an offer of employment in the Experimental Department, assisting Jack Emerson in Engine Test, subject to my spending a weekend there to see whether he and I could hit it off together and also subject to mypassing my Finals that summer. Six weeks later I made my way back to Coventry to meet Jack Emerson. Claude Baily and my future colleagues in the wooden shed that was the Engine Experimental Office. WM Heynes, Jaguar’s Chief Enginer from 1935, was Gerry’s boss. Here he presents Gerry with an award at the Rifle Club Dinner in 1954. To Bill’s left are Bill Young (drawing office) and Ted Barber (production control) – © Gerry Beddoes By then the 1951 Le Mans engines were in full development and the two test beds on which all engine tests were made for production and race development were in use seven days a week. My face seemed to ﬁt and a start date of early August was agreed although this anticipated my examination results by several weeks. The Department I joined consisted of four – including me — Jack Emerson as Chief Development Engineer, me to record test results, calculate performance and draw graphs. Fred Kettle as Tester and Jim Eastick as his assistant. Jim was about the same age as me and had joined Jaguar as an lmprover, a kind of apprentice. Also sharing our ofﬁce was Wally Rheese who kept records for all Experimental Department activities. Engines were built next to the test shed by Jack Lea and Frank Rainbow in a corner of the general Experimental Shop. Phil Weaver was in charge of the vehicle section with Harry Case as Foreman, soon to be replaced by Bill Cassidy on his retirement. Ron (Soapy) Sutton had left shortly before my arrival to be replaced by Norman Dewis the following year. The test house itself was an asbestos panelled shed set between two of the parallel wooden buildings of the ﬁrst world war shell ﬁlling plant and had two Heenan and Froude DPX 4 water brakes. Engines were cooled by passing the cooling water into a tank at the front of each test bench, the temperature of which was controlled by a tap water feed with the excess spilling over into the drains. All engines were then without oil scavenge pumps so oil cooling was by means of water sprays from a ‘U’ shaped pipe around each sump. Fuel was gravity fed from car fuel tanks high up on the wall which were ﬁlled from jerry cans carried up a step ladder. The exhaust system was also taken from a car and emerged from the rear wall through a hole knocked in the asbestos sheeting. All in all a Health and Safety nightmare! Over the next months we tested everything from the l95l TT ‘C’ Type engines to 2 litre four and six cylinder XK engines, a militarized 3.4 for assessment by the Fighting Vehicle Research and Development Establishment at Chobham and an alcohol fuelled racing engine. This latter engine gave us some excitement on two occasions — tirstly when running it at close to 7,000 RPM. faster than attempted before. the rurbber bonded crankshaft damper failed when the rubber melted due to the energy absorbed from crankshaft vibration. The inertia ring dropped to the floor. ran across the concrete floor and stood against the wall. jumping up and down showering us with sparks. As there was no remote reading of engine parameters we were all standing beside the engine. without ear defenders. so failures like that made us jump pretty smartly. Later on the Company Fire Service had to be called out when sparks from the exhaust set alight packing cases left piled outside by the Service Department engine rebuild shop next door. I also accompanied Jack Emerson and Malcolm Sayer on C Type test days at MIRA and had the great excitement of a lap or two as passenger with Peter Walker. Transport to Mira on those occasions was one of the two Mk 6 cars. which were Mk 5 cars ﬁtted with the 3.4 XK engine. One of Jaguar’s Engine Test Beds – © Gerry Beddoes There were many visitors to our little ofﬁce and I would sit enthralled listening to Jack Emerson exchanging memories with Harry Weslake, Ginger Woods of SU Carburetors (both, like Jack Emerson, ex motor cycle racers)and others. I also remember Laurie Hathaway (nicknamed Baron Oswestry by Fred Kettle) for his very colourful choice of swear words spoken with an impeccable English accent. Graduate Apprenticeship Shortly after joining Jaguar I had become a Graduate Member of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which had (and still has) a very active Automobile Division Section in Coventry. In order to qualify for full Membership later on it was necessary for me to spend a two year Graduate Apprenticeship going through all areas of the company from manufacturing to staff areas. I was helped in drawing up a timetable by Mr. Green, the Apprentice Supervisor but Bill Heynes was. at ﬁrst, reluctant to have me leave the Engine Test Department However, he was a leading member of the Automobile Division and so could not refuse. So. in early 1952 I put on green overalls and found my way to Browns Lane. Manufacturing was in the middle of transferring to the new location although Design Engineering was still at Foleshill. Lorries would carry a machine, its operator and work in progress so that it could be dropped into position, connected up and restart production with a minimum of delay. My ﬁrst assignment was in the grinding section. making selector rods for the gearbox but shortly after I was given the opportunity to move to a new production line being installed to make the crankshaft for the Meteor engine used in the Centurion Tank. Jaguar had begun overhauling Meteor engines (a non supercharged development of the famous Rolls Royce Merlin aero engine) and testing them in cells adjacent to the Morris Engines Plant at Courthouse Green and, perhaps as a condition of permission to take over the ex shadow factory in Browns Lane. were to set up to manufacture complete new engines. Claude Baily, whom Gerry worked with on numerous projects including the XJ13 quad-cam engine Transfer lines were installed for cylinder blocks and heads and a separate linked line for cranks. I worked on the last of these with a near namesake, Jack Bedder as Setter. and took two crank forgings from one end to the other. setting up machines as we went. In contrast to the block and head lines which had new German Huller machines, our line was made up mainly from machines taken out of MOD storage so needed much renovation. One machine I remember had Russian nameplates on the controls, presumably intended for or even returned following support for Russian manufacture of Merlins during the war. Other machines were clearly American in origin after production there by (I think) Packard. Our two forgings made their way towards the end of the line and were almost finished when a stop was put to the whole project, the machines were stopped and later removed. During my time in the machine shops the two foremen. Ted Gough and particularly Bill Ward, gave me much help. I moved on to the XK engine assembly line in September I952 and then to the vehicle assembly line. I even spent a couple of weeks on the line producing the C Type cars and remember a mockup of a single seat racing car being made nearby. Having toured most of the production areas I then moved into Bill Norbury“s area, the Service Department. About three weeks later l was surprised to receive a summons to Claude Bailey’s office in the Engine Design Office. Smoothing down my dirty green overalls I made my way there to be told that the company had been given a contract to design and develope a 9.25 litre V8 engine for military use but he was having trouble with balance calculations for the crankshaft — would I take it on. With all the conﬁdence of my 21 years I said “of course” and moved into the design office next day. Jaguar 1952 Christmas Party (left to right) Stan Paskin, Roy Kettle, Frank Denmee, Gerry Beddoes & Jack King- © Gerry Beddoes The Ministry V8 Engine I joined two others who were preparing schematic drawings and beginning detailing- Bill Hayward, who was Section Leader. and Alec Forbes- and began work. In the following months I completed the crank design and went on to calculate all other aspects of the engine such as bearing loads, camshaft drive gears, connecting rod sections and valve gear and also to make some of the detail drawings. In those days we had no computers so every component weight, combustion pressure. inertia force andicrankshaft mass had to be calculated by slide rule or log tables. something I did for every ﬁfteen degrees of crank angle. For its time the engine was very advanced with four valves per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts in each cylinder head driven by gears, an enclosed ignition system to permit immersion and drives for an alternator. hydraulic pump and power take off. The original version had a carburetor but later engines ran with fuel injection. Power output was targeted at 375 HP at 3750 RPM but both of these ﬁgures were exceeded as development progressed. Components for around seven engines were machined and testing carried out on the Courthouse Green test beds as well as at Chobham. My calculation reports were addressed to Claude Baily and copied to Bill Heynes and to FVRDE Chobham. Regular meetings were held with the Chobham engineers, Mr. Tafft and Mr. Semmonds. As my efforts with my slide rule became accepted I began to be asked to complete other design tasks for engine and chassis components. Gerry Beddoes – © Gerry Beddoes In early August 1952, just before the midsummer holidays Bill Heynes approached a few of us in the drawing office and asked whether anyone could stay at work to draw up a modified rear suspension for the C Type car. I volunteered as my wife and I had no committed plans for the break. As originally designed it had two blade type lower links connected to the transverse torsion bar and a single triangular upper link which was offset to the right hand side of the differential and inclined downwards towards the front of the car. Under hard acceleration this was under tension due to torque reaction from the axle and opposed the engine torque applied by the propeller shaft. Wheel loadings were kept the same and wheel spin minimized. This was effective in its objective as I had witnessed in acceleration tests at MIRA but provided poor lateral location when cornering giving uncertain handling. My task was to design, detail and see fitted twin upper links for braking and acceleration loads and a Panhard rod for lateral location. This was completed and the cars for the 1952 Goodwood 9 Hour Race were run in that condition, the car driven by Tony Rolt going on to win. Rear suspension for the later Light Alloy car and D Types followed the same design except for a triangular ‘A’ bracket to give better lateral location. Light Alloy car and D Type While design work for the Ministry engine was going on I became involved with a project for a successor to the C Type, known within the drawing office as ‘The Light Alloy Car’. I was to calculate stresses and determine sizes for suspension components and torsion bars. This brought me in close contact with Malcolm Sayer who was preparing layout drawings and who, like me, lived in Kenilworth. lt fell to me to prepare weight estimates so that cornering and braking loads could be determined and l followed on by completing detail drawings for many of the suspension components. During construction I got to know Phil Weaver and all the Racing Shop mechanics well. The layout was very similar to the later D Type and, like the ﬁrst D Types. was constructed from a 4% magnesium/aluminium alloy. This needed shielded arc welding and l remember the specialist from BOC training some of the Experimental ﬁtters in its use. Norman Dewis drove the car for road development. most of which was carried out away from public gaze at Gaydon airfield, then non operational but later to become a V Bomber base and later still a Rover and now Land Rover Engineering center. During one of his tests Norman had a front wheel hub seize up at high speed, which must have been memorable to say the least. The car was brought back apparently undamaged and l was very interested to see whether my wishbone designs had survived. They had but the mounting bracket for the rear bearing of the offside upper suspension arm had a crack about half an inch long. There was much discussion over the relative merits of various remedies such as running a bead of weld along the crack but in the end all that was done was to drill a small hole at the end of the crack and for testing to carry on. I think the high speed runs at Jabekke and road tests at the Rheims track in 195 3/ l 954 must have been made in this condition. Brave Norman! Another of my tasks in l953 was to make preliminary studies for a V12 engine, based on two 2.4 cylinder heads. The crankshaft stiffness was a concern but it was felt that with a short stroke design giving good overlap of main bearing and crankpin journals a satisfactory engine could be built. l went on to make a quarter size drawing of the engine and gearbox for use in styling sketches for a large saloon car. I still have a copy of this drawing. Gerry Beddoes played a part in Jaguar winning of the 1953 Le Mans through his work on the C-Types. Following my work on the Light Alloy car (later given the number XKC 054) l worked with Malcolm on the D Type, making weight estimates and carrying out stress calculations for the suspension members. One feature that gave me some thought was the attachment of the front torsion bar to the lower wishbone where, instead of a bulky attachment in line with the rubber bearing the torsion bar was splined directly in an extension of the wishbone. This meant that as the wishbone moved the end of the highly stressed torsion bar was displaced, adding bending to torsional stresses.I concluded that the clearance around the splined end of the bar would permit a degree of movement and no excessive stress would result. This was born out in vehicle use and later on in the E Type which had basically the same front suspension.. The “Light Alloy” car of 1953. Gerry worked closely with Malcolm Sayer on this car. Another project which occupied me was a 4-valve cylinder head design by Harry Weslake. This was unconventional in that instead of inlet and exhaust valves down opposite sides of the head inlet and exhaust alternated down each side, with each pair of inlets diagonally opposite in each chamber. Weslake had made layout drawings only and it fell to me to complete detail drawings for a prototype. This necessitated several visits to his establishment in Rye. always an entertaining day. He was a larger than life character and full of stories. His office window looked onto the sand dunes so he kept a loaded 12 bore shotgun standing in the comer to take pot shots at rabbits if they came too close. His practical knowledge of airflow in engines was enormous and, although we tried very hard, we could never equal the power he achieved from cylinder heads he had fettled. The 4-valve head design had one weakness in that the close spacing of valves imposed by the long stroke XK cylinder spacing meant that rocker arms instead of tappets had to be interposed between camshaft and valve instead of tappets. The geometry for these was not ideal and the prototype head suffered badly from scufﬁng of the cam face. Several attempts were made to overcome this, including a deposit of Stellite and alternative lubricants but only bench tests were made. These indicated that, although low speed performance was good, the extremely rapid air swirl at high speed was not beneficial. The very first D-Type (XKC401) on the ramp in the Experimental Department (note no fin yet) Another interesting exercise, prompted by the performance of the Mercedes racing cars. was a look at desmodromic valve gear. I drew a trial system of rockers operated by a single camshaft and a single valve rig was made. but the necessary cylinder head and cam drive changes were so great that little or no running was done. Mk l 2.4 Drawing Office Staff – left to right – (unknown), Mac McKenzie, Gerry Beddoes, Laurie Hewitt, Frank Denmee & Jack King – © Gerry Beddoes My services with a slide rule were again involved in what later became known as the Mk l 2.4 litre. As ﬁrst conceived this was to have an updated version of the 4 cylinder 2 litre engine, this time with a ﬁve bearing crankshaft. Early weight estimates were on this basis but, although not in time to stop a batch of ﬁfty cylinder blocks, engine tests showed that even with ﬁve bearings the four cylinder engine was not as smooth as required and with 2 litres capacity could not produce enough power. Stan Paskin was the designer for the front suspension and I worked with him to determine wishbone loads and sizes. The front suspension assemblies were to be supplied ready built up by Alford and Alder who also supplied Standard Triumph. Their Managing Director. whose name was Turner and their Chief Engineer, John Lind were very proud of their involvement with the Triumph Herald which had just been released and were keen to carry over some of its design features to the new Jaguar. The ﬁrst Mk l prototype was therefore built with screwed bushes for the suspension bearings and a geometry which placed the front roll center below ground level. This gave two problems ~ ﬁrstly excessive friction and second excessive roll. My job was to design the road springs to give the desired riding height but the friction meant that it was possible to push clown the front of the car. slowly release and get one ground clearance, then raise the car. release and get another 1% inches greater! This was soon corrected by the adoption of rubber bushes for the wishbone bearings. The second resulted in poor handling that no amount of development could cure. Memo from Gerry to Claude Baily discussing what would form the basis of Jaguar’s first V12 and one which would power the XJ13 Le Mans Prototype After a few weeks it became clear that changes were urgently required and, one Friday afternoon Stan Paskin and I were given the task of revising the design. Such was the speed with which change was possible that by the time we went home, much later that evening, a new geometry was determined. dimensions for a new vertical link decided and someone dispatched to obtain pieces of EN 16 steel from which they could be machined. Harry Hawkins and Bill Cassidy-“s machinists worked through the weekend. as did Stan and l._ so that by midday Monday Bill Heynes could drive the modiﬁed car. By Tuesday morning the new design had been released and drawings issued. l do not think that today’s rapid prototype systems could have done any better. The rear suspension also went through some development changes. The initial design had cantilever leaf springs that not only acted as lower radius arms but also provided lateral location for the axle. The rubber mounts at the front and center of the spring allowed so much lateral movement that. together with the front end problems, handling was uncertain at very least. The solution was addition of a Panhard rod but space limitations meant that it had to be very short and to the offside of the differential so that geometry was not ideal and loads on the mountings were high.The ﬁnal change was to the design of the upper wishbone. All the prototypes had a fabricated wishbone duplicating a pressing that wrapped around the upper ball joint and was curved to miss the telescopic shock absorber. As built up by welding sections of angles and plate these had given no problems and drawings had been released for production tooling. However, when the ﬁrst ‘off tools’ components were put on pave road test the decrease in metal thickness and generous radii resulting from pressing allowed the wishbone to fold in the middle. Something close to panic ensued as l00 sets of front suspension crossmember assemblies were being built for the ﬁrst production vehicles. These were committed for the initial release and could not be delayed so, as a temporary ‘ﬁx’ all wishbone sections were doubled by the addition ofa stiffener made from a second wishbone pressing with the ends cut off, spot welded in piggyback fashion. The ﬁrst cars left the factory with this temporary ﬁx but were soon modiﬁed by the substitution of a new wishbone assembly that Stan and I drew up. © Gerry Beddoes Shortly after the ﬁrst prototype 2.4 car was put on the road life at Jaguar was enlivened by the arrival of Bill Nicholson. He was an ebullient Irishman who had left BSA motorcycles after several years as leader of their successful trials and scramble team. Soon after his arrival he was ticked off by Sir William for driving the only 2.4 prototype up and down Browns Lane in clear view from the offices at speeds well over any legal limit. He survived that time and was more careful where he drove like that again. As a road development engineer he was given the job of debugging the application of power steering to the Mk 9 and 2.4 litre cars. I was to look after the Design Office aspects such as mounting of the pump, reservoir and piping, together with liason with Burman Gears who made the steering boxes. I got to know Bill well over the next few months and liked his irreverent approach to everything. even if it made life a little difficult at times. One day we were returning from a visit to Burmans and I commented. as he rounded the traffic island at Meriden with his usual gusto, that the local citizens would have been well woken up by the squeal of the tyres which prompted him to do a further three or four laps of the island at ever increasing speed and smoke level. A ride with him in his immaculate MG was an experience never to be forgotten! ln the mid l950s the power race in America was in full swing and Bill Heynes was keen to assess any means to raise the power and torque of the XK in all its variants. One project I was involved in was turbocharging. At that time it was being introduced for diesel engines and we worked with Holset for a while to match one of their smaller units to a 3.4 engine.I had several visits to their Huddersﬁeld factory where their Managing Director, P.J.F.Croset, was a keen Jaguar owner. Some test bed work was carried out but, in the absence of suitable fuel systems and waste gate valves to limit maximum boost pressure, no roadworthy system emerged. For trips such as those to Holset or to Weslake at Rye I drove one of the two 2.4 l prototypes retained in Experimental. RVC 591 and 592.They were both a great contrast to my own car, a well prewar Morris Ten. Gerry still has his drawing he made when a V12 engine was first being proposed by Jaguar. This quad-cam layout was later adopted for the XJ13 Le Mans project Since for all this time I was still involved with the Ministry Engine project my call up for National Service was deferred. ln this I had a sympathetic supporter at the local ofﬁce of the Ministry of Labour and National Service who just happened to be Bert Hadley, a driver of the prewar Austin 750 racing car and several times a driver for Jaguar. Each year I would visit him, talk about Jaguar for a while. complete forms stating my reasons for deferment and go back to work for another year. At that time young men were liable for call up until the age of 26 years but when I reached my 25″‘ birthday Mr. Hadley stated that he could only grant me deferment for periods of three months at a time, and would not be allowed to grant three such periods. Accordingly I accepted the inevitable and, in spite of being by then married. buying a house and with a son, allowed myself to be called up to Army service with REME in October 1955. National Service Because of my motor industry experience I soon passed a trade test as a Motor Mechanic and used this to attempt to be posted to Chobham. where the Jaguar V8 engine was under development but this was not possible as the had no positions open to National Service recruits. I was therefore sent, after basic training, on a Leading Artisan Sergeants course at Bordon in Hampshire. This gave me training on all of the Army’s vehicles from tanks to bulldozers over 32 weeks and was great fun. However, two weeks from the end I passed a Selection Board and began another training course as an Officer Cadet at Mons Barracks in Aldershot. During my training there and later at Bordon I was constantly reminded by those who knew of my Jaguar connections that I was following Sir William’s son who had been commissioned in REME some months before. There were tales of his exploits such as driving his XKl20 around the hallowed area of the parade ground. chased by irate drill Sergeants.The last eight weeks before passing out were back at Bordon where my previous training stood me in good stead. One enjoyable week was motorcycle training under Jeff Smith, Bill Nicholson’s successor as the leading rider for the BSA scrambling team who had been called up shortly before and, not surprisingly, made a motorcycle instructor. Aﬁer passing out I had only nine months left to serve so the Army did not consider it worthwhile to send ‘me overseas and posted me to a Command Workshops in Bridgend. Our task there was to service vehicles from local units and to refurbish a large number of Bedford trucks from a nearby vehicle depot. I put my Jaguar experience to use by installing a test bed to run engines after rebuild. Eventually in October l957 I leﬂ Bridgend and rejoined Jaguar./em> Return to Jaguar Back in the drawing office I resumed my former task of “slide rule pusher’ and my first task was design of a crankshaft for the 3 litre racing engine. Experience with the 3.4 crank had shown that the maximum speed was limited by torsional vibration. The natural frequency for that crank of around 21.000 cycles per second meant that torsional stresses became excessive at engine speeds over 6.500 RPM. near the peak of the third order vibration. Racing cranks had already been stiffened by a larger front end diameter and enlarged rear crank web but this had not given a signiﬁcant increase in safe speed. The 3 litre crank, with its shorter stroke and greater overlap of journals was naturally stiffer and gave no trouble in use. That was not the case with all components of the engine however. The connecting rods in early test engines were made from Titanium to reduce bearing loads and were carefully polished and crack detected. But this did not prevent a couple of spectacular failures on the test bed which nearly cut the aluminium cylinder blocks in two. Close examination of the broken parts showed that there were fine forging cracks present but these had been hidden by the very polishing operation intended to reveal them because of the way titanium alloys ﬂow under surface stress and fuse together to make a continuous skin. Later engines reverted to steel rod forgings. Another problem arose with the valve gear where both camshafts and tappets were failing, often leading to the ruin of a whole engine. I made an analysis of the cam and valve train system and concluded that the failures arose because of the design of cam profile used. Jaguar had always had cam profiles based on what was known as the three arc design where both ﬂanks and the nose of the cam were of constant radius. This made lift calculation easy (albeit long-winded with ten ﬁgure log tables as I well knew) and also contributed to good breathing by virtue of a fat lift curve resulting from instantaneous changes in acceleration. As the contact point moved up the ﬂank of the cam on valve opening the acceleration is high and almost constant over between ll and 12 degrees of camshaft rotation but when contact moves on to the nose this changes instantaneously to a lower deceleration so that the valve arrives at full lift where it is instantaneously at rest. On closing the valve and tappet are accelerated towards the valve seat until the contact point moves off the nose and the ﬂank now suddenly begins to decelerate them to close the valve at low velocity. These suddenly imposed acceleration changes and the resulting load (amounting to a theoretical half a ton at the design speed of 8,000 RPM) created shock loads on camshaft and tappet leading to failure after less than an hour at high speed. Following some study of available literature I devised a cam proﬁle that had its point of highest acceleration at only half of the tappet face radius and had a smooth transition from acceleration to deceleration. I was also able to alter the shape of the acceleration curve to permit use of a high rate valve spring with a high natural frequency which was much less prone to surge. On a test rig my design survived 24 hours at the equivalent of 8,000 RPM engine speed without failure but. on a straight substitution for the standard cam. did not give the same power due to the slightly ‘softer’ proﬁle. As the 3 litre racing programme came to an end shortly after, my ideas on cam design went no further. Mk 10 ( Zenith ) Project This did not mean that I had nothing else to do as. one moming I saw two of the Body Ofﬁce draughtsmen carry a full size plywood proﬁle of a large car into their area and trace around it onto their wall mounted board. This was the start of the Zenith project later to be the Mk 10 saloon and I was to design the front suspension and crossmember. It was immediately clear that the whole proﬁle needed to be raised as ground clearance under the engine and rear seat headroom were inadequate. I was not involved in the discussions with Sir William but I understand that they were not easy! However. he relented a little and the bonnet line was raised enough to ﬁt in the XK engine if a new sump was designed. However this left much less space below for the suspension crossmember, at least as a pressed steel fabrication like the 2.4 car. We were therefore forced to adopt a forged I beam from the start which lead to some difficulty in attaching the spring turrets and suspension arms. Many layouts were made and Bill Heynes was a constant visitor to my drawing board. At that time he was interested in rubber suspension springs and I paid several visit to Dunlop with sketches for discussion. I see from my note book that I calculated transverse leaf springs and torsion bars as alternatives but after many sketches and much doodling a fairly conventional coil spring layout was reached, detailed and put into production. lasting for many years as the 420G and becoming the basis for the Daimler Limousine. With only a small team in the drawing ofﬁce we worked long hours — overtime each evening and also weekends. The fruit of the Zenith project – Mk10 in all its voluptuous glory One Sunday morning I took my young son. then about four years old, with me and gave him a few pieces of scrap paper to doodle on. To my consternation in walked Sir William and I expected to be ticked off. Instead he immediately came over to us and proceeded to spend twenty minutes teaching him to draw patterns with a pair of compasses. He left me saying that he was pleased to see such a young recruit getting his hand in! In addition to these major projects I was still making design calculations for all sorts of components ranging from gudgeon pins to XK I50 rear springs to gear pairs for the gearbox. For the last of these I followed the guidance of Dr.H.E.Merrit, formerly the gear specialist for David Brown Gears and designer of the transmission system for the Centurion tank. As a consultant he was in demand for many industries and was a great help to me. Bill Heynes was never slow in calling on expert outside advice if needed and also recruited people who took his fancy. In the Body Drawing Ofﬁce there was one of the Van den Plas family from Belgium who worked as a stylist for a few years – very short sighted with thick spectacles but able to make beautiful drawings, even if he could not see both ends at the same time! I had as my assistant a Polish Engineer. Tadeusz Sokolowski, a graduate from Warsaw University in I938 who had spent all of the war years in ﬁrst Russian and then German prison camps who wrote to Heynes setting out his story. Several young engineers were also put under my wing for a while to gain experience, among them being Graham Robson, later to become a successful writer and motoring journalist. Associated Engineering Group Research By 1961, nearly four years after returning from National Service I was becoming restless. Although I enjoyed my job (who would not!) l was a little frustrated in that nearly all of my work in design calculations relied on estimated or even guessed input loads. Jaguar had no means to measure dynamic loads although the means to do so were becoming available. When I saw a job advertisement in the local paper for qualiﬁed engineers to join a new research center not far away I was tempted to apply. Accordingly, in the autumn of that year I joined the Associated Engineering Group Research Centre at Cawston, near Rugby as their motor industry engineer, much to the annoyance of Bill Heynes. The Centre had been established after a Government Report had been published showing the proportion of turnover allocated by companies to R & D in major countries around the world. Britain came near the bottom of the table and the AE Group decided. if R & D was what was needed to improve their prospects then they would have some. Accordingly, Cawston was set up and around I00 staff taken on with backgrounds in many ﬁelds such as mechanical engineering, electronics, metallurgy, physics and control engineering. Laboratories and workshops were lavishly equipped and I helped to install test beds with costly dynamometers. The only thing the AE Board did not provide was any directive on what we should do, this being left to the staff to make proposals. After a few relatively minor projects I joined one of my colleagues in designing and developing an electronic fuel injection system. We had all the means required on site with an Electronics Laboratory headed by Mike Westbrook, later to be head of the Ford Dunton Electronics Laboratory and his deputy, Dick Skipworth. The starting point for our work was a paper by Bendix in USA who had announced a system in the mid l950’s that relied on gas ﬁlled valves. It did not prove reliable in service and was dropped. Later on, Bosch had announced their D Jetronic system. for which claims of power, consumption and emission improvements had been made. With that background, Board approval was obtained and we set about designing and making our own system from scratch. The colleague who had initiated the project was Ken Wallace, an inventive and persuasive individual. His persuasive powers were demonstrated when after some rig testing and single cylinder work we wanted to equip a road vehicle to assess driveability. His proposal was to buy an already fuel injected car so that a straight comparison could be made with a car on sale to the public — his choice, which was accepted by the AE Board, being no less than a Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing.We found a fairly low mileage second hand car at a London dealer and brought it to Cawston. The ﬁrst job was to record base line perfomiance ﬁgures on the test bed that took several weeks. Then the Bosch mechanical injection system was removed, the inlet manifold modiﬁed and our own system ﬁtted. Calibration and tailoring our system to the engine took a further few months and then came the exiting task of assessing road driveability. Ken an.d I used to use the car for normal transport overnight, leaving it outside our homes so that cold starting could be assessed. at least in UK conditions. Once the 300 SL was on the road we bought a more typical family car ~ a l.6 litre Ford Classic that became our main development workhorse. With a better inlet manifold but no other engine modiﬁcations this became a real ﬂyer while showing much improved tractability. “Gerry’s” Mercedes 300SL Gullwing. By 1964 we had gone through several design levels for all the individual components and had accumulated many hours of rig tests. Ken Wallace had left AE in circumstances I had better not describe and I was now the Chief Engineer for the project, ably assisted by Brian Croft. later to be Chief Engineer at SU Carburetors. We had installed an environmental test chamber for corrosion and other tests and had begun to equip a third car — this time a 3.8 Mk 2 Jaguar. Outside suppliers for some assemblies had given costs for volume and rough time scales for production and an AE Company chosen for assembly — Brico Engineering in Coventry. It was now time to reveal our work to our potential customers I therefore wrote to the Engineering Directors and Chief Engineers of all the UK car manufacturers inviting them to each spend a day at Cawston looking at our work and driving the Ford Classic. About fourth on the list. alter Ford, Aston Martin and Vauxhall came Jaguar and I played host to Bill Heynes and Wally Hassan. I think they were impressed but when I accompanied them in driving around the local roads I was surprised to be asked by Mr. Heynes whether I was happy at AE as he had a proposal to make to me. It so happened that I had some concerns over the future management of the project which had been put in the hands of the Brico board who, whilst very experienced in piston and ring manufacture and were developing great expertise in sintered metal. had no knowledge of electronics and electromechanical components. There were also growing concerns over the strength of our patents. particularly as Bosch had ﬁled several patents with very broad claims which seemed to cover almost any means of fuelling an engine. I explained this and Mr. Heynes said he had a project that might interest me — acting as liason engineer between Jaguar and the designer of a transmission system in which Jaguar had an interest. I accepted his offer and once again resumed my familiar journey to Browns Lane each moming. I was given an office next to Claude Baily, sharing his secretary. and was put on the Executive payroll, enabling me to buy a new Jaguar each year at ex factory price. a perk I much enjoyed! This beneﬁt continued for three years and I had successively a 3.8 MkII, a 3.4 S Type and a 340 until the merger with Leyland when the contrast with their executives driving Austin Maxis and us at Jaguar became too much to bear and we all had to join the company car hire scheme. Badalini Transmissions Ltd The following account is based on my understanding of events and my sketchy knowledge of the background to them. The transmission concerned was an inﬁnitely variable hydrostatic system, designed by an Italian Giovanni Badalini who had a development workshops in Rome and a drawing office managed by his brother in Milan. Jaguar interest in his work was stimulated by Digby (Digger) Cotes-Preedy, then Sales Manager for Cam Gears. a manufacturer of steering gears for car, truck and tractor use. Digger was a pilot in the Battle of Britain, ﬂying Blenheim ﬁghter/bombers and ﬂew all through the war, ending by flying ground attack in a Typhoon. After demobilization he joined Dunlop Aviation as their test pilot for aircraft brakes and flew most of the British post war civilian aircraft. When that career ended he joined Cam Gears. One of his customers was International Harvester in Doncaster and, during a visit there, Digger was told by Joe Ziscal the American Chief Engineer that he was disappointed by his US head ofﬁce which had prevented him from continuing development of a prototype tractor fitted with a Badalini transmission. He had commissioned this from his own budget, had it manufactured in Italy and given it exhaustive tests in England. Ziscal believed the system had some promise and wondered whether Cam Gears might be interested in taking on the rights. Their Managing director Mr. Douglas Leese agreed and took an option on promotion of Badalini’s patents. He and Digger approached all potential customers. naturally including Jaguar. After some assessment of the Badalini”s prototypes by Bill Heynes and Dr. Tait, the very experienced engineer who joined ®Jaguar when Daimler was purchased, an order for two Jaguar sized units was signed in October 1962. D’Attilia and Franco of Badalini Transmissions work on a first prototype ®Jaguar gearbox in Badalini’s Rome workshop – © Gerry Beddoes Two other companies which showed interest were Ford and Massey Ferguson and. in January the following year, Ford too placed an order through Cam Gears for two transmissions to suit their Cortina car. In March I963 Cam Gears and Jaguar set up a jointly owned British company, both having a 48% share with the Italian company Cambi Idraulici Badalini having the remainder. As part of this deal, Badalini granted the UK company rights to develop and manufacture transmissions for car. truck, tractor and industrial use throughout Europe and North America for their own and other company’s use. It was also agreed that Badalini Transmissions would set up a design and development facility to support Badalini’s own rather meagre workshop in Rome. Badalini too had a remarkable history. having been called up in the Italian Air Force as a pilot at the beginning of the 1939 war. He won Italy’s Gold Cross for low-level daylight bombing of Malta but was shot down on a later mission, crashing into the Mediterranean with a badly injured back. After a day in his rubber dinghy he was picked up by a British rescue boat and taken to hospital in North Africa. By the time he left hospital with his back in a steel brace Italy had capitulated. with many of their forces opting to join the Allies. Badalini volunteered to join a Royal Air Force Wing being established with all Italian crews but. not unsurprisingly. was required to demonstrate his loyalty to a new cause before being let loose with an aircraft full of bombs. Badalini was therefore dropped by parachute in Northem Italy on a mission to aid the partisans and, on completion. made his way south to the front line and walked across by night to claim his RAF wings. He then won a bar to his Gold Cross bombing the Germans. During the l950’s he built up his transmission business and had licensed the German company Flender to manufacture industrial drives in Germany and Italy. MV Augusta had made a motorcycle transmission to his designs that had been used for street circuit racing which had come to the notice of Honda. They made their own version to be used in a de luxe scooter, using published infomiation, but had run into serious problems when committed to production. They were apparently compelled to contact Badalini and he went to Japan, overcame the problems and the scooter went into production under the model name Juno. In all this he had the backing of an Italian industrialist, Count Vaselli. who appointed one of his legal staff, Dr. Angelo Lauria to guide him commercially. It was Angelo who met me when I ﬁrst went to Rome to meet Badalini. In his small workshop in the outskirts of the city he had several dusty examples of earlier applications of his ideas including two MV Augustas, a Fiat car and the ex International Harvester tractor. There were also two Ford Cortinas, equipped under contract from Ford Basildon and in full use for development. Ford had, like International, looked at many options for inﬁnitely variable transmissions and decided that Badalini’s ideas warranted investigation. Several companies had investigated hydrostatic transmissions and many papers had been written about them. Industrial variable ratio drives were in production to a number of designs. The simplest had an engine driven hydraulic pump supplying oil to a motor in a circuit. speed being controlled by varying the capacity of either pump or motor. This meant that in “top gear’. the most common condition for a motorcar transmission, oil ﬂow was at a maximum. which lead to poor efficiency. Badalini had overcome this, using swash plate pumps and motors. by mounting the pump swash plate on the motor casing. This meant that engine torque was always transmitted mechanically to the output shaft, the hydraulics providing the speed reduction for ‘lower gears’ and additional torque. In ‘top’ gear the motor capacity was reduced to zero so that the hydraulic circuit was stalled and all the transmission internals rotated together. By putting the pump inside the motor the motor capacity was nearly treble that of the pump so that. for the same swash plate angle. the output torque was nearly four times the input in ‘bottom’ gear. (See Appendix for details). One consequence of the large diameter motor swash plate was the high rubbing speed for the thrust bearing and this proved to be the most intractable problem in the following years. The Ford prototypes had a ball bearing motor swash plate but this was noisy and I was advised by bearing specialists later that ball or roller bearings would not be quiet or durable enough. In early I962 the Ford cars were shipped back to Coventry but soon Digger and I drove them back to the old Ford Engineering Block at Rainham. Our contact there was Alf Haigh, then Chief Engineer, Transmissions. and a young engineer Peter Beattie. Ford continued work on their prototypes for a few months and we had one back in Browns Lane for a while but as they were by then to a superceded design they suspended further work. I suspect that. following Jaguar involvement, they did not wish to be beholden in any way to a rival motor manufacturer. Honda Juno Scooter Prior to my rejoining Jaguar a Honda Juno scooter had been shipped over from Japan and had been tested and examined by Ford and this was now brought up to Coventry. I rode this home several times and even saw Sir William, clad in a riding mac and tweed cap ride off one evening back to Wappenbury! He enjoyed his retum to two wheels, as the Juno was great fun. Control was by a normal throttle twist grip for the right hand and a similar left hand twist grip that controlled the ratio. An impressive getaway could be achieved by winding the left grip away for the lowest ratio and the right grip towards for full power. The ‘clutch.’ function was automatic, controlled by rising oil pressure as the priming pump speed increased. As the engine revs rose to the maximum of 8.000 the left grip could be slowly rolled back to maintain acceleration. LI p to around 40 MPH it would beat most cars but the 375cc ﬂat twin engine, although rewing to 7600 RPM, did not give it motorway performance. Early visitors to Badalini’s workshop in Rome were engineers from Massey Ferguson. They had been approached by Digger following the withdrawal of International Harvester and were keen to follow up the successful trials at Doncaster. They drove the tractor around the area and left us with a long list of engines and performance requirements covering agricultural and industrial applications. Badalini produced outline drawings and, on my return to Coventry. I began to reﬁne them in discussion with Mr. Bisset and Mr. Yapp of Massey. Coincident with this Badalini had produced drawings for a revised car transmission. this time of a size to suit the 4.21 Jaguar engine. and he was soon authorized to begin manufacture. Badalini had no test bench capable of running a Jaguar sized unit so I had a Mk l0 shipped out via our Rome Distributors, joining it myself on arrival. As many features of the transmission and control system were new the unit was in and out of the car many times, sometimes twice in one day. Badalini had two ﬁtters working in Rome, d’Attilia and Franco. They were sculptors in metal and made most of the components on one lathe and a pillar drill. Badalini – tractor demonstration – © Gerry Beddoes Badalini and l drove the Mk l0 around the suburbs of Rome, sometimes leaving a trail of oil behind us. slowly improving the performance and control and putting together a list of design changes to remedy problems. In due course Badalini combined these into a new design for which detail drawings and manufacture would take place in Coventry. I therefore engaged a draughtsman, Ray Kitchen, who had previously worked in a contract drawing office and had wide experience. Ray picked up Badalini’s ideas quickly and was soon producing a steady flow of detail drawings. As the list grew I cleared them with Badalini and set about organizing manufacture. Some parts were made ‘in house” but most were sub-contracted to local companies including Harry Ferguson Research and Henry Meadows, then part of the Jaguar Group. I also had assistance from outside companies for anodizing and other special finishes. When ﬁnished parts began to arrive l needed someone to put them together and an area in which to work so was allocated Stan Hanks, a ﬁtter in the Experimental Department and one of the ten engine test cells which had space for an assembly bench and the capacity for testing the unit before installation in a car. The Mk X car was no longer needed in Rome and was shipped back to Browns Lane for this purpose. In parallel with all this the Massey Ferguson design had been agreed with their Management and we were given the order for preparation of detail drawings. Ray Kitchen set about the task of making these and I met regularly with Mr. Yapp and Mr. Bisset to tackle minor problems of installation and performance. At intervals major reviews of the project were held, either in Coventry or in Milan, to agree details of the range of variants necessary to cover a range of tractors for agricultural and industrial use. These were usually chaired by Dr. Bottrill. Massey Chief Engineer and attended by Badalini. By 1967 the number of variants had resulted in such complexity that cost estimates by Massey and GKN, their chosen sub contract manufacturer. and the project was close to ending. Badalini, who had always protested at the growing list of variants, proposed a simpler design based on the car design and initial schemes were prepared at Jaguar. Following acceptance of these by Massey plans were made to begin detail drawings with a target oflate 1968 for prototypes. At Browns Lane we were busy developing the completed Mk X transmission and slowly overcoming control and mechanical problems. The most intractable of these were the motor swash plate and noise, but progress was being made. Schematic drawings were prepared for a constant speed drive for engine accessories such as air conditioning. alternator and power steering pump. This would reduce the power absorbed by these at high speeds and permit the use of simpler and cheaper accessories. Mid 1968 brought bad news for us. following the absorption of Jaguar into British Leyland. Bill Heynes and I attended a meeting at Leyland to explain our programme and its current status to their engineers, lead by Dr. Fogg. overall BL Engineering Director. The reception given to us was not promising and there was no enthusiasm for investment in manufacturing a transmission exclusively for Jaguar, let alone one for Massey who competed with BL’s own tractor sales. I returned to Coventry full of gloom and gave the sad tidings to Digger. He set about exploring other possible collaborators and we even took interested engineers for trial drives in the Mk X, sneaking out quietly for a final ‘test run‘. One memorable meeting resulted from these attempts to interest other Companies when Digger contacted BRD, the manufacturer of transmission shaﬁs. One of their Board Members was J.J.Parkes. Chairmen of Alvis in Coventry and with his help a meeting was arranged in Milan, unknown (or ignored) by Bill Heynes at the time although he would probably have supported it. A dinner that evening was dominated by pilots and ex pilots as the attendees were Mr. Maxwell, BRD MD and an ex bomber pilot. J J Parkes. a private pilot although then in his 70s, Count Vaselli, associated with the Italian Schneider Trophy Team in the early l930s, Digger. Badalini and myself. T o add even more interest we were joined by Mr Parkes’ son Michael who flew himself down from Le Mans where he had won the 24 hour race the previous weekend for Ferrari for whom he was their Chief Development Engineer. I hardly said a word all evening and just sat there spellbound at the tales of war and peacetime exploits. All of this came to nothing, and in August 1968 the whole project was wound up. The transmissions were scrapped, the car returned to the Experimental ﬂeet and the test bed reclaimed for engine development. Digger stayed on for a while but left at the end of the year, Stan Hanks. the ﬁtter moved into the Experimental Shop and Ray Kitchen. the draughtsman into the Engine Drawing Office. It was altogether a very sad time and I was sorry to lose contact with Badalini and Angelo Lauria who had by then become close friends. Back to Jaguar Engineering For me however, the closing of one door opened another for, at that precise time. October I968 Claude Baily retired and Harry Mundy moved into his position as Chief Designer and Executive Director, Power Units. I was appointed Chief Development Engineer. Power Units, working alongside Ron Burr. Chief Designer and Trevor Crisp. Chief Emissions Control Engineer. My deputy was George Buck with Frank Rainbow as Engine Build Foreman and Jim Eastick as Test Foreman. Development engineers were Frank Philpott, Ian Bush , David Scholes and Bob Alsopp with Ray Townsend looking after transmissions. For the next eight years I enjoyed their support in continuing development of the XK engine in various forms and completing development of the V12. Projects I covered included the Slant 6, a 6.41 V12 and liaison with MVEE. the Ministry of Defense Establishment at Chobham, on development of the 4.2 XK for use in the Scorpion tank. The Slant 6 was literally a V12 with one bank cut off and tun ﬁrst with a standard two valve head then later with a 4 valve design. This was a bulky engine and grew into the 3.6l and 4.0l engines which went into production in the XJS and saloon cars. The 6.4 V12 was built by a 20% increase in the standard 70mm stroke, which in turn required an aluminium packing plate on top of each bank to match the taller liners. Performance was exhilarating to say the least, with only about 6 or 7% increase in power but close to 30% more torque which was over 400lbft from 1200 RPM to the top of the power curve. On the road it was hardly ever necessary to change gear as, even at over 100 MPH, the back wheels of the E Type we put it in would shudder with wheel spin. It was later installed in Harry Mundy’s XJ12 car. Soon after I took up my position we became interested in electronic fuel injection, particularly for the V12 as obtaining satisfactory performance from the carburetted version was not easy and because of my experience at AE Group Research I looked after initial installation and liaison with ﬁrstly Lucas and later Bosch. This was in fact the second time I had been involved with PI as. in the mid 19505 I had designed a gear drive from the XK camshaft for the Simmons injection system then promoted by SU. It was soon replaced by the Lucas system used successfully in racing. The better breathing obtained with a PI manifold gave much better performance and I recall seeing 150mph on the calibrated speedometer of an XJ 12. I had a lot of contact with Lucas, not only with their fuel injection department but also with the ignition department sorting out some of the problems with the Opus Ignition system ﬁtted to the V12. Temperature was a major concern as the control box was ﬁtted in the center of the Vee on the cover over the distributor drive shaft. On the E Type. which had a rather ineffective oil cooler, temperatures could exceed 150 C and early units failed due to components melting. Later on I did the ﬁrst installation of the L Jetronic system from Bosch in a V12. intended for the American market, as this was the ﬁrst system that could incorporate exhaust gas sensors essential for efficient use of catalysts. In about 1973 we got to hear of Michael May and his high compression combustion system and this seemed to offer us a chance of improving the V12 fuel consumption at a time when large, thirsty engines were considered antisocial. Harry Mundy met him and decided to investigate his claims. I went to Rolle, in Switzerland, where he had his workshop and spent a few days watching his experimental techniques to get the desired air movement and making a rough sketch of the combustion chamber shape needed. On my return this was drawn up and prototype cylinder heads cast. We could not quite achieve the very lean air/fuel ratio that May had forecast but nevertheless went ahead with what became the HE V12. During my years as Chief Development Engineer there were several problems which were difﬁcult to solve and which were very embarrassing. The ﬁrst of these was a spate of crankshaft bearing failures after modest mileages. Together with Vandervell engineers we looked at every factor involved and eventually traced the problem to the introduction of high speed grinders in the Radford machine shop. These had excellent control of size, roundness and surface roughness but, with a grinding speed of around 15.000 ft.per minute, produced a small degree of smearing at the surface which was not completely removed by subsequent lapping. This left tiny projections which lifted in running and created a file which quickly destroyed the bearing. Changes to the grinding and lapping procedures overcame the problem but not before a number of customer failures. A second problem was conﬁned to the 2.8 l engine where we saw an increasing number of burnt pistons occurring at low mileages and with gently driven cars. After interviewing several angry owners a pattern emerged. Most had driven their cars in city or urban areas and then, on motorway driving, noticed a loss of power followed by a holed piston and lots of smoke. One failure happened to a car delivered to a dealer in late November where it was kept in the showroom until the ﬁrst of January to get the later year registration. Whilst there it was moved occasionally for short distances to gain access to other vehicles. On the ﬁrst of January it covered only 50 miles when the piston failed. The oil and fuel companies gave us much help and we were eventually able to trace the problem to oil ash deposits laid down on the head of the exhaust valves during light running which then glowed when power was increased, igniting the charge in the cylinder well ahead of normal timing which rapidly raised temperature and pressure leading to piston failure. A permanent solution was for the oil companies to limit the ‘sulphated ash’ content of their lubricating oils so that critical deposits were not formed. We never uncovered the real reason why the 2.8 l was so sensitive to this whereas the similar 4.2 I was not. By 1976 ®Jaguar had become part of ‘Ihe Large Car Division’ of British Leyland and, following the Ryder Plan, was beginning to lose it’s identity. I was involved in discussions of a new Technical Centre that would handle all of the BL range with drafting and development facilities shared by all. Jaguar would have only a few dedicated engineers and they would have to compete for use of these facilities. In common with many others I was very depressed at this prospect so, when I was approached with a job offer as Product Engineering Director of TRW Valves I accepted. From being responsible for all components of one engine range I became involved in one component for many engines, ranging from lawnmowers through road vehicles to marine diesels, in UK and overseas. Jaguar became one of my customers and I contributed to all their engine programmes, encouraged the adoption of lighter valves which culminated with the 7mm stem diameter valves in the V8 and V6 engines. My involvement with Jaguar extended therefore from beginning to end of my working life, starting and ending with a V8 engine, and I retain many, many happy memories. I count myself as extremely fortunate that I was part of the Jaguar team during such an exciting period of the company’s growth and was given the opportunity to work on such a variety of projects,something today’s young engineers can seldom match.”......
World’s Fastest Shark Headed for Disaster...
The Shark Trust
4 months ago
Fishery Managers’ Failure Leaves Overfished Makos in Dire Need of EU & International Action Dubrovnik, Croatia. November 19, 2018. Fishing nations gathered for the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) have failed to address continued overfishing of mako sharks or strengthen the regional ban on shark finning. The fisheries body - after learning their 2017 measure had fallen far short of its goal of stopping North Atlantic mako overfishing - took no action to protect the population from collapse. Scientists have recommended a ban on North Atlantic mako retention to rebuild the population over two decades. ICCAT instead, in 2017, narrowed the conditions for landing makos, restrictions that so far appear to have had little effect. ICCAT spent less than 15 minutes out of the eight-day meeting this year reviewing the mako situation; only the U.S., Canada, and Japan took the floor. “ICCAT has refused to responsi.........
Ecosystem Restoration Around the World: Six Short Documentaries for World Environment Day...
4 months ago
Body World Environment Day 2021 is all about ecosystem restoration, and documentaries are a great way to express the range of what that can look like! From rainforests in India to the island of Wasini, here are six powerful shorts to watch in the classroom with your students. A reoccuring emotion throughout them all is the desire to conserve nature for future generations.A Dream of TreesFollow passionate wildlife biologists Divya Mudappa and TR Shankar Raman in this half-hour documentary as they restore degraded tropical rainforests in the Anamalai Hills of the Western Ghats, India.Boy-zshan Bi-denAs we see in many of these documentaries, ecosystem restoration frequently includes the restoration of rights and cultural ties to the land. This eight-minute documentary covers the welcoming of buffalo back to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming after an absence of over 130 years, through a partnership between the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the National Wildlife Federation.DiwataWhat does it take to protect a forest? In the Philippines, a lot of courage. Diwata tells a 7-minute story of a small group of women on the island of Palawan who are fighting against mining and logging companies for their rights, for their families, and for future generations.The Last Bears of ItalyThis six-minute short documentary featuring adorable Marsican brown bears in Italy might just become the talk of your school. Learn how human settlements have limited the natural habitat and migration routes of bears, and how Rewilding Europe is working to restore a landscape that allows for the peaceful coexistance of humans and wildlife in Europe.The Reef BuildersCement and the ocean. That doesn't quite sound like ecosystem restoration...or does it? As featured in this eight-minute short documentary, entreprenurial Sanura and Nazo are defying cultural norms to protect coral reefs off of the island of Wasini in Kenya. By building a nursury sanctuary out of concrete, Sanura and Nazo are ensuring that future generations can experience the same, or a better, Wasini.The Seed SaverEcosystem restoration can start small—and by that, we mean seeds! With beautiful shots and fun animations, this 10-minute episode from PBS will intrigue even the most disinterested student in Namu Farm Kristyn Leach's love of native seeds. Like by Elisa Rudolph | May 28, 2021 Affiliates Climate Change Education Connecting to Nature Conservation and Behavior Change E-STEM Education see all groups by Elisa Rudolph | May 28, 2021 Affiliates Climate Change Education Connecting to Nature Conservation and Behavior Change E-STEM Education 1 of 3 more groups › Blog Like 1 like 1 like Jason Beale Summary World Environment Day 2021 is all about ecosystem restoration, and documentaries are a great way to see the range of what that can look like! From rainforests in India to the island of Wasini, here are six powerful shorts to watch in the classroom with your students. Photo Contact on eePRO Elisa Rudolph Audience Educator EE Professional Higher Education K-12 Educator Nonformal Educator Parent Student Young Professional Topic Biodiversity Climate Climate Change Conservation Diversity Ecosystems Environmental Literacy Habitat Nature Sustainability Wildlife eePRO Group Connecting to Nature Conservation and Behavior Change K-12 EE Affiliates Climate Change Education E-STEM Education Early Childhood EE Equity and Inclusion Higher Education Sustainable Cities and Communities Young and Emerging Professionals Location Unknown Unknown Unknown......