Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Rigging gone bad.

This is a photo of a radio/phone/TV/.....errr communications tower up on Mt Kembla lookout. I counted around 48 different aerials (2nd photo). I'm not sure if the tower holds up the rigging or the rigging holds up the tower!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Gertrude & Alice Bondi

I forgot to take my camera to my favourite Sydney cafe Gertrude and Alice yesterday so swiped a photo from Flickr. I enjoyed a good coffee and picked up a copy of Castaneda's "The Teachings of Don Juan".

It's one of those places where you can just lounge around and read and read and read in between sips of their marvellous coffee.

Servo sunnys

Servo: Aust (colloq.) A service station (Amer. Gas station) that sells a wide variety of good apart from petroleum (Amer. Gasoline)

Sunnys: Aust. (colloq.) Sunglasses.

Servo Sunnys: Aust (colloq.) A pair of sunglasses bought from a service station (Amer. Gas station), usually rather cheap and nasty but not such a heartbreaker if you lose them.

I once owned a pair of really nice counterfeit Armani sunglasses which I managed to keep for about four weeks before losing them. It was a bummer. Twenty five dollars was the most I'd ever paid for sunnys from guy-with-a spiv-british-accent-at-the-flea-market-dodgy-sunglass-selling-guy.

Sunglasses for me are like socks, there's a sunglass gnome (in cahoots with sock and pen gnome) who gets around swiping sunglasses and puts them in his secret sunglass stash. So to keep this gnome in ready supply and not break the bank, I have reverted to sourcing my sunglasses from the servo. In Australia they are sometimes known as servo sunnys. They're cheap, they work (I think) and they are easily replaced when lost.

(Actually on second though I'm not so sure about the quality standards of servo sunnys.......perhaps there are retina burning rays still getting though even though I'm unaware of it....who cares....I look cool and don't have to squint as much)

There was a story on the radio where a couple of guys had people ring in with servo sunny stories. The best I can remember, was the guy who loved his servo sunnies so much, he had his optometrist place prescription lenses in the $4 frames. Makes sense, they break just as well as your pair of $400 Jonathan Sceats carbon fibre items.

Anyway yesterday I went to the two-dollar-shop and got a couple of pairs for eight bucks. Everyone loves a bargain.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sydney Opera House

It's pretty hard to get a dud shot of the Opera House. An amazing piece of engineering and architecture.

From wikipedia

Although [Jørn] Utzon had spectacular plans for the interior of these halls, he was unable to realise this part of his design. In mid-1965 the state Liberal government of Robert Askin was elected and Utzon soon found himself in conflict with the new Minister of Works, Davis Hughes. Attempting to rein in the escalating cost of the project, Hughes began questioning Utzon's designs, schedules and cost estimates, and he eventually stopped the payments to Utzon, who was forced to resign as chief architect in February 1966. He secretely left the country days later, never to return.

In an article in Harvard Design Magazine in 2005 [1], professor Bent Flyvbjerg argues that Utzon fell victim to a politically lowballed construction budget, which eventually resulted in a cost overrun of 1,400 percent. The overrun and the scandal it created kept Utzon from building more masterpieces. This, according to Flyvbjerg, is the real cost of the Sydney Opera House.

The old tart really sparkles on Sydney Harbour. Here's a pic from under her petticoats. The concrete formwork and reinforcing is still amazing some 30 years later.

Strange relgious icons part two.

These are souvenirs from Lourdes I picked up in 2003.

  1. The official Lourdes water bottle which I filled with healing water and use to exorcise various demons and malevolent evil spirits from bottling machines at my place of employment in a beverage plant. It works!
  2. The official Lourdes cigarette lighter which has healing properties when I light up.
  3. The official Lourdes "floaty pen" where the blessed vigin floats down from the heavens to the Lourdes grotto.............just like the real thing!
  4. The official Lourdes snowscape/snowglobe.
  5. The glow in the dark blessed virgin, thrown in as a free gift for spending more than 20 Euros at a souvenir shop.



Technocrati has tags (which IMHO aren't that useful....make that f*&%$ing USELESS)

FLICKR has tags (which are half useful) but.......

MOFF has the best tag of all SPECTACLE which is the most useful tag of all.

It's a catch-all tag that applies to every one of his posts much as his tag OTHER or UNCATEGORISED did in the old days. Spectacle is Moff's tarting-up of OTHER which is to be commended and a useful lesson in the black arts of spinmeistering.

In any case,Blogger has upgraded to beta.blogger which includes tags.

So.......I'm following Moff's lead and lumping everything under smoking-memo. I obtained this tag from Random word of the day at Wordspy. Either that or I'll use the even more useful TAG.

I went through a few others: leaf-peeper, strollerobics, tipping-point and biopharming before settling for these useful catch alls.

Labels: ,

Why the Peace movement is in trouble......

Haven't these people heard of umbrellas and raincoats? Or find some sort of shelter in the park? backbone.

From this weeks Mountains Gazette....official organ of the Blue Mountains.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Katoomba Rock Formation

Taken from the Katoomba Scenic Skyway cable car at lunch time today........the sun and the colours were out in force!

And here's a photo of the photographer...... yours truly!

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I found this photo while rummaging through a box of photos and postcards at an antique store in Katoomba. I'm not sure who photographed it but I thought it was rather good. I've kept the sepia tone as the photo fades with time. Click the above to enlarge.

Sadly a lot of items like these are from deceased estates, so the original photographer may have left this mortal coil. But the photo taken somewhere on the South Coast of New South Wales is still around, freeze framing an instant of some fishing boats at night.

So, rather than staying in a dusty old box hidden away, unknown and forgotten.......our more than likely long-gone-photographer's effort is now available for everyone. Sort of a vision from beyond I 'spose.

I wonder in 100 years, if my old photos stashed away on a creaky old server somewhere..... will similarly one day be discovered and shared around for strangers to look at?

Jose Gonzalez

Jose Gonzalez..... He's rather good. Click the left link and it takes you to his myspace page with some of his lovely songs. The songs Lovestain and Heartbeats are standouts.

I've just downloaded his album Veneer, which is a beaut acoustic guitar album. Similar sounding to America and Art & Grafunkel but different (in a post modern way if you know what I mean). Jose is a child of the globe, he has Argentinian parents, raised in Sweden, sings in English and is now touring the USA.

Reviews on Amazon are postive 5 star rating with 23 reviews. His reviews on e-music are 5 stars with 100+ votes, so the numbers have it I suppose. JJJ have been playing him for about a year now, I finally got around to buying it, 11 months too late.

From his spinmeisters......

Born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden, of Argentinean parents, 25-year-old José González is a top-ten chart artist and revered troubadour figure in Sweden, where he is cherished equally by the musical cognoscenti, seriously besotted critics and hordes of regular Nordic punters. Using just his own dexterously finger-picked classical guitar and a captivating voice - part João Gilberto, part Nick Drake– José’s music is as economical as it is seductive; stark but effortlessly melodious songwriting whose confessional, gently provocative lyrics (all sung in perfect English) are, by turns, poignant, intriguing and life-affirming.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

For the conservative child who has everything!

Don't ask me who found this.....they just did. Don't you just love the cute little eyes, the oversize boots, the sungoggles, desert camouflage and the cute little high powered rifle (I don't know anything about guns so perhaps the readers may be able to fill in the blank on that one).

And to cap it off, he's in God's hands!

And from the Vatican dept we have Jesus playing football. Hey! Check out the kid in red, he's taking down Jesus! I'd say the kid in yellow will win this game of football.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday morning parrot pictures

I was photographing the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos this morning, who seemed to be feasting on Jacaranda seed pods softened by some recent persistant rain.

Suddenly, there was the sound of of a really sudden gust of gully wind approaching, with the possibility of it becoming a really nasty strong gust. I was wondering if they'd fly off or hold on for grim death, the shutter kept going. Here's a pic of it towards the end.

In perfect ballet precision like syncronicity, they all turned into the wind and held onto the closest stick with their beaks, cooly and calmly.

The gust went through, everything was calm and they set about devouring the seed pods as normal.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The times they are a changin'

Golby..... pens another winner.

Thirty years ago, were the same person to have told the average South African that a 15-floor banner on the side of the NasPers building would welcome the Russian president to Cape Town, they might have died of injuries sustained slipping on a bar of soap while showering during a stint of detention without trial.

And the average South African would have regarded them as nuts worthy of an end befitting weirdos contaminated by Marxist ideology. Whatever might have happened to the harbinger of such news, the 'average' South African would not have believed him or her anyway.

I'm a blogger and, therefore, not your average South African. I am also a Catholic, a professional and a hard man to boot. [bold mine:Johnno :-) ] Had anybody — and I mean anybody — told me that Nasionale Pers would one day host the state visits of Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Russian President Vladimir Putin, I would have smiled. Why? Because I understand these things.

Power to the people.

I travelled up to Tamworth on the weekend and saw several opportunities to take some photos around Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales. The city limits have the sign "Welcome to The Upper Hunter Valley. Bursting with energy" as there is lots of a) COAL and b) Power plants powered by coal and c) power lines.

Now one is a moral quandry here.......

Does one take photos and comment as part of Green agenda (look at all these filthy power plants spewing CO2 into the atmosphere adding to the Greenhouse effect and look at the impact of these coal mines on the environment)?

Or does one take a "wonder of modern engineering" aspect, man vs nature (and wins), taking into account the massive-ness of the whole operation with hundreds of interested companies, thousands of people and billions of dollars??....

Or perhaps looks at the economic benefit/detriment angle? (BTW Australia is in good shape economics wise as we export tons of coal overseas to power overseas generators that power the factories that sell us back goods....)

Or does one take the man-made forms in nature angle and look entirely at the aesthetics of the whole deal?

Or does one take this conspiratorial stance. How this plays into "the man's" hands in term of economics, control of the population and the non-possibility of alternative power sources, given the political and economic power of the companies in control?

I'm not sure, so I've posted a little from aspects of each train of thought.

Here I was, ducking around with a camera taking pictures of power plants and coal mines...... expecting agents-of-the-man to stop me..... as it seemed to be "suspicious behaviour". ....even from my own perspective.

I did a couple of U turns in a couple of places, found a great angle, hopped out of the car and took some snapshots in the middle of no-where. Got back in the car, found another spot, did a U-turn, backed it up, hopped out and took another couple of pics. I did this several times.

Creative behaviour can seem a little abnormal in this "normal world".

That is the "crackdown on freedoms" part of it, I suppose. Should I feel guilty and a little fearful of taking some photos of pretty cool scenes and sharing them?

Anyway, I hope people enjoy my observations as much as I did (or didn't) making them. There are quite a few posts (and lots of pictures) below taking the above themes.

Jeffrey Smart wannabee.......

Fellow Aussie Jeffrey Smart would be proud. I just require a lone, lost figure, a duck, some bouncing balls or similar in the foreground to complete the picture.

Power to the people 1

A modern signs of the times. As the local farmers are slowly bought out by large muti-national companies and their land used for coal mining, buildings such as this small church become redundant!

Either that or a declining number of people attending church.

However there were several abandoned farm houses near this photo so I'd take it as a sign of less local farmers attending church. Most of the people working at the mines live in nearby Muswellbrook and travel by car to work on bigger better roads.

Just over the hill in the background was a massive open cut mine.

Power to the people II

I drove over a rise and was confronted with what looked like a backdrop for a Hollywood science fiction movie, set on an out of space other-planet mining operation.......painted in those weird matte colours Hollywood set designers tend to favour.

It's actually a coal silo by the looks of things

Power to the people III

There's all sorts of side activities going on around the mines and power stations. This is a little truck with what looks like welding gear and a piece of electric componentry taken out of somewhere, complete with a metal frame and lifting slings.

There were a lot of these little trucks getting around with the red flags. The flags were a visual device to prevent trucks getting squashed by the big dump trucks. Some don't get away like this photo taken in the United States. You can see his little red flag with the cross on it, just under the dump trucks front wheel.....looks as if they don't work as intended all the time.

Here's a photo of one of theose HUGE dump truck tyres on the back of a semi trailer. One wonders how long it takes to change one of these tyres and where they are dumped when no longer useful?

Are they send back for re-treading or do they end up in land fill............ or do they hang them on Sequoia tress to make giant tyre swings for mutant giant children?

Power to the people IV

This photo looks "fuzzy" in reduced form but wonderful in the full version (so just click the above as usual).

A good exercise in symmetry! I'sd say it is a sub-station or transformer station of some sort.

That fence looking thing running left to right is actually part of a miles long conveyor transporting coal from one spot to another.

Power to the People V

A train load of coal. I'm unsure if it was heading fro the coal power plant or heading to the nearby port of Newcastle to load up a ship bound for either a)Japan or b)China...... to fire their power plants, make cheap goods and thus further throw the US trade deficit out of whack.

You see a train load of coal, I see a couple of more people on a US dole queue, the butterfly effect starts in Australia!

Also note the lack of graffitti on the train carriages, probably are used only for point to point stuff.

Power to the people VI

Cooling Tower at Musswellbrook coal power plant.

No it ain't nuclear, we don't have nuclear power plants in Australia....although certain politicians are looking at selling off clean Hydro electric plants and building nuclear ones. Apparenly the nuclear plants are cleaner (still trying to work out the logic behind that one) .

Of course nuclear plant support comes with a little help from the USA.

The US supports Australia going into the enrichment business. The US President, George Bush, has proposed a global nuclear energy partnership. The basic idea is that reliable and politically stable countries, such as Australia and Canada, would become suppliers of enriched uranium to other nations.

The rationale is that world security can be improved by making it unnecessary for new entrants into the nuclear power world to develop enrichment facilities. That would reduce the number of handling steps and facilities required to operate a power program, and would simplify the task of verifying compliance with treaties and protocols.

Sounds like an oligopoly to me.

Dangerous Solvent!!!!!!!

From Dr Karl.....
winner of an Ig-Nobel prize in 2002 for his comprehensive survey on belly buton lint.

Consider the chemical DiHydrogen MonOxide, usually called DHMO. It's found in many different cancers, but there's no proven causal link between its presence and the cancers in which it lurks - so far. The figures are astonishing - DHMO has been found in over 95% of all fatal cervical cancers, and in over 85% of all cancers collected from terminal cancer patients. Despite this, it is still used as an industrial solvent and coolant, as a fire retardant and suppressant, in the manufacture of biological and chemical weapons, in nuclear power plants - and surprisingly, by elite athletes in some endurance sports. However, the athletes later find that withdrawal from DHMO can be difficult, and sometimes, fatal. Medically, it is almost always involved in diseases that have sweating, vomiting and diarrhoea as their symptoms.

While it has many industrial uses, it is cheap enough to be casually dumped into the environment, where it has many unwanted side-effects. DHMO is a major contributor to acid rain, and is heavily involved in the Greenhouse Effect. In industry, it can short out electrical circuits, and can reduce the efficiency of your car's brakes. It is used to help distribute pesticides and herbicides - and long after the pesticides and herbicides may have have degraded away, the DHMO will remain, because it is so stable.

One reason that DHMO can be so dangerous is its chameleon-like ability to not only blend in with the background, but also to change its state. As a solid, it causes severe tissue burns, while in its hot gaseous state, it kills hundreds of people each year. Thousands more die each year by breathing in small quantities of liquid DHMO into their lungs.

In 1990, at the Santa Cruz campus of the University of California, Eric Lechner and Lars Norpchen publicised the dangers of DHMO - DiHydrogen MonOxide. Enough people had begun to use the internet by 1994 to give another person, Craig Jackson, an ideal forum (via his web page) to set up The Coalition to Ban DHMO. Slowly, awareness of this chemical spread more widely. In 1997, 14-year-old Nathan Zohner at the Eagle Rock Junior High School in Idaho surveyed 50 of his fellow students after telling them of the "dangers" of DHMO - and 43 of them signed a petition to immediately ban this chemical.

In March 2004, the small city of Aliso Viejo in Orange County in California put, onto the official agenda of the next meeting of the Council, a motion to ban Styrofoam containers because the toxic chemical, DHMO, was used to make them. This motion was put onto the agenda because an enthusiastic paralegal on the Aliso Viejo City payroll had read of DHMO's evil properties on the internet.

Luckily for the reputation of the City, the motion was withdrawn before it could be voted on.

Why luckily, you ask?

Well, DHMO, DiHydrogen MonOxide, also known as Hydric Acid, Hydronium Hydroxide, is usually called just plain water. First-year University Chemistry students have made laboured jokes about water's chemical properties for years.

By the way, theres a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Water at Oxford University here.

Love the disclaimer:

This information was last updated on March 30, 2005. We have tried to make it as accurate and useful as possible, but can take no responsibility for its use, misuse, or accuracy. We have not verified this information, and cannot guarantee that it is up-to-date.