Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I'm away from home again. It seems I have become somewhat of a firefighter. I go wherever a problem flares up and try to beat back the flames. I'm in Ohio right now. It took almost as long to get here by plane as it does to drive (security headaches caused quite a delay) but since I'm traveling alone, everyone at work encouraged me to fly. Apparently everone's concerned about me falling asleep at the wheel right now.
This could call for some late nights, or it could be a really easy fix that only takes a day or two. Of course the chances of this being easy are just about as good as my chances of winning the lottery (and I don't buy lottery tickets!!)
Wish me luck!
Monday, January 30, 2006
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Apparently there are plenty of places that have a problem with overzealous government spending. Malaysia is now launching an official search for. . . guess who:
Moving right along...
Harry Potter here we come! A Russian scientist is now laying claim to a method of optically consealing static objects. It's not the first time people have tried to do this, but all of the other guys who worked on projects like this just seemed to fade away.
Money troubles may take on a new meaning soon. Apparently Kazakhstan has some particularly unusual problems.
Radioactive Dollars!On the bright side, you couldn't easily misplace your wallet if it was glowing.
More news if I find anything interesting.
Friday, January 27, 2006
The only weird thing is how, by crossing the international dateline, I've seen the day of January 27th dawn twice. I've also seen the sunset on the 26th twice, only I saw it the second time after the first sunrise of the 27th. Anyone care to figure that one out?
I'll get back to posting after I've recovered.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
- Dr AR Dykes
So before I leave I should say a few words about the wonderful place I've been staying, on and off, for the last two weeks.
I believe I've mentioned before that Ballarat, like many old Australian cities, is an old mining town. What I haven't emphasized is that it still has many older buildings. In fact, until the last 25 or so years the climate was considered too uncomfortable for most people, so there was never a big move to develop the area. Now it's a fairly popular spot and the old buildings are thought to add a bit of charm to the place.
For many years after gold was discovered in the area (mid 1800s) the lure of easy riches drew people to the area. This influx created quite a demand for lodging, so the town is still dotted with old hotels. Some of which are still active, and some of which have been converted to other purposes.
And how did people get to Ballarat? Early settlers came on foot, but by the 1860s, anyone with money took the train to the Ballarat station (you know a train nut like me would get to this eventually.)
What's even more fascinating to me (you non-train nuts can stop reading here if you like) is that the signal tower, old semaphor signals, and gates, are intact. The gates are still operational and, in fact, were automated LESS than 10 years ago!
I'm not absolutely certain, but I believe the black markers nailed to the semaphores indicate that they are no longer to be obeyed, as they currently have electric signals on this stretch of track. It was a nice touch of them not to remove the old tower.
That's all for now folks, with any luck I'll be back in the states soon. See you soon!
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Since it was the weekend and there was no need to rush to work, our host was nice enough to take us out for a little drive before we went to the hotel. Last time I was in Australia, there wasn't much of a chance to see the area immediately around Melbourne so this was an interesting trip.
One of the big reasons Melbourne exists is that it's in the middle of a very large, well protected bay. So big, in fact, that you can't see the open ocean from Melbourne (you can't even see the end of the two peninsulas that form the boundaries of the bay.) So to get a better look at things (and for the sake of burning a little time over the weekend) we drove down the Morninton peninsula.
It's a nice little area, dominated by retirees and vacation homes with plenty of beach-houses and shanties for the beachgoers. Out near the end of the Peninsula there's a ferry that can take you across the bay to the Bellaraine peninsular.
On the other side of the bay we stopped for a quick meal then drove over to the Bellaraine peninsular Railway station. This railway is run by a group of enthusiasts who restore and operate old steam locomotives and other railway equipment.
The locomotives were very European in appearance, which can be said about many things in Australia thanks to it's British colonial days. This 0-4-2 makes a great example. The portal windows, buffers, and odd wheel arrangement would fit perfectly in an old British railyard, whereas in America it would have been labeled a 'critter' (small, unusual piece of rail equipment) rather than a locomotive.
This locomotive looks much less European than the other one. Aside from the buffer plates on the front, it could easily pass for an American docksider. Of course it's pulling larger coaches than you would normally see behind an 0-6-0, but that's probably because the larger locomotives on the BPR would cost much more to operate on a regular basis.
From there it was on To Ballarat, but that's a post for another day.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Friday, January 20, 2006
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Monday, January 16, 2006
It wasn't much but it was the only thing I could do for 90 minutes without having to put my luggage into storage and navigate through a strange city.
Although I'm usually not one for citiscapes, there were a few particularly impressive buildings along the bus route. Of course they were almost a bit daunting because you are quite closed in wherever you go. It seems the city has built up so quickly, or at least so thoroughly, that new construction projects are just squeezed anywhere there is air. Things like this elevated highway, which is run over a canal, a large street, and a business district are so cramped that there's hardly any room for street lamps.
There are apparently a few traces of old Tokyo, but you have to look hard for them. This is the Kaminarimon, or "Thunder Gate" to the Sensoji (Asakusa Temple) which was said to have been completed in 645.
There is supposedly an attempt to have parks and "green space" in the city, but the only park I saw was more mineral than vegetable. I'm sure it would have been a different story if I had visited the palace gardens (that's on my list for next time.)
There is a very nice, large train station (with a hotel) in Tokyo, which I got to experience first hand because I had to ride one of the shinkansen trains to get to where I was doing business.
This was actually one of the slowest classes of shinkansen, yet traveled up to 150 mph. Even at relatively high speed is was incredibly smooth, in fact a couple of times I didn't even realize the train had started moving it was so gentle.
That's all for now, I'll try to send out some updates on the Australian portions of this trip later (there's not been much time for sight-seeing here.)
Saturday, January 14, 2006
I already have some pictures to share, but that had better wait for when I settle in and get time (and internet access) to put together some good posts.
Enjoy that weather back in the northern hemisphere folks!
Thursday, January 12, 2006
They're still laughing about this at IBM. Apparently the computer giant decided to have some parts manufactured in Japan as a trial project. In the specifications, they set out that they will accept three defective parts per 10,000 .
When the delivery came in there was an accompanying letter. " We, Japanese people , had a hard time understanding North American business practices . But the three defective parts per 10,000 have been separately manufactured and have been included in the consignment. Hope this pleases you . "
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Monday, January 09, 2006
Missing someone gets easier everyday because even though you are one day further from the last time you saw them, you are one day closer to the next time you will."
I'm off on another trip now. I've got a few posts to be published later, but otherwise I'm only posting when I have extra time (and internet access.)
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Thursday, January 05, 2006
This one isn't good for much, but it is good for a laugh.
I really can't explain how or why some of these products came about, but I can't blame the inventors for trying.
The "face slimmer"
Aside from the fact that this has pretty much no chance of achieving it's intended purpose, it might be useful in one respect; it would be pretty good as a prop in a horror movie.
The "nap helmet"
I understand the purpose for this one, but I'd like to know, what keeps the user from collapsing the moment one falls asleep?
The "noodle cooler"
For people who are too impatient to wait for their noodles to cool. If your noodles are really too hot to eat, I doubt a fan will cool them on the way to your mouth. I would imagine that the inventor was making some kind of personal cooling device, but couldn't get the fan to do any more than hang from the subject's arm. Just a guess.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Don't worry about that fly on the wall, the bumblebee may be the insect to really worry about.
Plumbing may be more hazardous than you think. This year some folks at roto-rooter discovered an unexploded shell from the Civil War. Luckily this isn't an every day occurrence, but apparently old munitions are still uncovered occasionally in the southern states.
Here's one less worry for me. Though I'm sorry for the bowler, I now feel much better about my low bowing scores. In fact, I might roll a few more gutterballs just to be safe. Well, maybe not, I might die of embarrassment.