Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Roulette Photos

Here are a couple of photos of the Roulettes from Sunday. Having learnt from all the airshows I've been to I've realised that it isn't worthwhile taking photos of small aircraft in flight. If you do, the result is a photo of a dot or number of dots against the backdrop of the sky. So these shots on the ground will have to do.

These PC9's are one seriously cool piece of kit.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Today I went to the beach.

The T-shirt is right, life's a beach. Today after doing a few errands in the city I decided to go for a train ride somewhere. Being a nice day the beach sounded like a good idea. So I made my way to Flinders Street and got the first train to Brighton Beach.

This is the train I went on. Brighton Beach was originally the end of the line, but it was later extended to Sandringham another two stations on (I don't think there are any more stations after that though :-p ).

After getting off the train I crossed the road with the aid of an insane number of traffic lights (lets just say there's an intersection and they make you go the long way to get across) and arrived at the beach. Off with the shoes and down to the water, it's like a scene from Baywatch, except for the lack of the Hoff and Pamela Anderson. The tall things that look like buildings on the other side of the bay aren't buildings at all, they are actually the oil refineries at Altona.

Don't let the sunshine fool you, the water is freezing. The sand on this beach is really coarse with lots of little bits of shell. It's sort of like brown sugar, which would make the sand at somewhere like Bondi Beach in Sydney white sugar.

Time to dry the feet, brush off all the sand and put the shoes back on. This view is looking towards Sandringham. All the white things just bellow the horizon are the yachts at the Sandringham Yacht club.

This is the tunnel that used to link the beach to the railway station, it would have made it much easier for me to cross the very busy Beach Rd. There is an information sign next to it the tells of it's significance and that in days gone by it used to have a tramway to haul coal from the jetty that once protruded into the bay at this point to the station to fuel the trains. Apparently it is the only relic of the privately owned Hobsons Bay Railway Company.

This is a photo of an old photo on the sign next to the tunnel, it shows the general layout of the area some time in the middle of the 20th century. You will also notice the tram in the photo. Brighton Beach was once the terminus of the Victorian Railways operated street railway (aka tramway) that ran from St Kilda station to this point. The train at the platform is either a sliding door tait train or a swingdoor train, both more commonly known as red rattlers, it's a bit hard to tell.

The main station building of Brighton Beach is wedged between the original platform and the platforms built for the extension to Sandringham, forming a sort of "Y" shapped platform. (To get a better idea of the layout take a look here )

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sunday Drive

On Sunday I got to go for a drive. We went down to the force museum at the Point Cook RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) base for an aerobatic display put on by the Roulettes. The Roulettes are the RAAF's aerobatic display team who were in Melbourne for the previous days AFL grand final.

After attempting to drive through the security checkpoint without stopping (well it looked like the guard let the car in front through without stopping!) we managed to get security clearance and drive on to the base. The museum obviously does not normally expect this many visitors at the one time, so we had to park quite a way up a side street opposite the sergeants mess.

By the time we got to the viewing area the display had already begun, with one of the team members not flying in the display taking the small crowd through the pre-flight preparation. The most exciting part of this was the engine start up of the six Pilatus PC-9 aircraft. One by one the engines began to whine as the turboprop engines spooled up. The real noise began as each of the props reached operating speed a few seconds later. Then one by one the aircraft began to taxi to the adjacent runway and take off.

While the aircraft flew away and got into formation our commentator was taking questions from the crowd, most of which seemed to be related to ejector seats. After a few minutes the six aircraft burst from behind the crowd and the show was on. Our commentator took us through each of the manouveres and we even got to hear the radio comms between team members which were being fed into the PA system. As impresive as it was it seemed much the same, having seen them perform earlier this year at the Airshow at Avalon.

When the display was over the team made one final pass over the airfield before heading back to their home base at East Sale. Soon after this the commentator said his farewell and jumped into his own aircraft and flew off behind the rest of the team.

After his departure normal operations of the airfield resumed and we got to see a microlight and an ultralight aircraft land. Some ammusing banter heard on the radio which was still being piped into the PA system was thus:

microlight: "Sorry about the delay, we had a stronger than expected headwind"
unidentified party: "Don't those things have a built in headwind?"
microlight: "please repeat, we're having radio trouble?"
unidentified party "disregard"

Well I thought it was funny...

We then spent some time looking through the museum before leaving. It's been a number of years since I last visited the museum and it was good to see some new exhibits, but it seems this is at the expense of the Mirage fighter aircraft which used to be on display.

On the way home we took a look at the nearby Point Cook costal park which is quite nice with better facilities than I expected. The beach is not very wide, but you expect that on the western side of Port Phillip. As it is a marine national park there are many signs advising not to take any fish or shelfish, it must have some good diving.

Instead of taking the Western Ring Road home I went via the West Gate Bridge and the city for the nice view. All in all it was a good day out. I might even post a couple of photos in the next few days.

Saturday Gunzelling

On Saturday there was a meet of some of the members of railpage at Middle Footscray that I decided I would go to. It started at about 11:00am but I didn't arrive until after 12:00pm and didn't leave until about 6:00pm. Don't know where the afternoon went really, it wasn't that exciting or action packed. It was a small group of people all except two of whom I've never met before. The location was a vacant area of land adjacent to the rail line about 100 metres on the down side (thats towards Spencer Street) of Middle Footscray. We saw a number of Frieght trains in between the fairly constant stream of sparks (thats electric commuter trains) and V/line trains on the adjacent pass (passenger train) lines. I only took a few photos and I'm not one for writting down numbers of trains so I won't go into too much detail.

On the way home I bought some doughnuts from the doughnut van at Footscray station. These are highly recomended after an afternooon standing out in the cold watching trains.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Metlink - enjoy the ride.

Currently all the train station, tram and bus signs in Melbourne are being upgraded to these new fangled colour coded signs, Blue for trains, Green for trams and Orange for busses. They look good (for now at least!)and I guess the colour coding helps people. The Tram and bus signs also go so far as to list near by tram, bus and train connections, train stations have signs of near by connecting services as well. Just yesterday I noticed the first Metlink style sign of any underground station (that I know of anyway) at Parliament station.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


The other night I was woken from a deep sleep by an intermittent buzzing sound acompanied by a tapping sound. At frist I thought it was some sort of electrical problem. I turned the light on only to find a beetle doing circuits of the room trying to get out. I lost sight of it so I went to the toilet. When I came back to my room I found the beetle had landed on my bedside table, so I grabbed the container I use to eject Huntsman spiders and captured it for release in the morning. Somehow after this I managed to knock over a nearly full glass of water and so spent the next five minutes cleaning up the mess.

By now I was wide awake so spent the next 3 hours listening to the radio before falling asleep at about 7:30. I didn't wake up until 11:30. As payback I didn't release the beetle until latter that night.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

4000 Digital Photos!

It came as a surprise when reviewing some photos that I'd taken yesterday that I had just topped 4000 photos. So without further-a-do here is photo no. 4000:

Actually it is the 4000th image stored on this particular memory card. What happened was that when I bought the camera I didn't buy a memory card and so battled with the 16mb of built in memory for a few months. Therefore in reality I've actually taken more photos with the camera, but hey a milestone's a milestone. Get this though, at the time I paid $90 for a 128 mb Multimedia Card, I could have got an SD card of the same capacity for only $10 more, but I was tight arse (still am...). These days you'd be hard pressed to find the same cards for more than half that, if at all.

My camera is a dodgy little Kodak "EasyShare" CX4230. It's 2 Megapixel, with a crappy plastic 3x optical zoom lens. It goes a bit fuzzy towards the longer focal lengths but produces good images at wide angle (not always desirable). It also tends to freak out in less than perfect lighting conditions. I do however like to push it a bit, I've even taken a number of night photos using an improvised tripod (ie rolled up jumper or my backpack), an incresed EV of no more than a stop and the self timer to prevent any shake from pressing the shutter. Another thing I like to do is take glint shots looking generally towards the sun around sunset. This may be a point and shoot camera but I've been happy with some (definitely not all) of the results using the above techniques.

I picked it up in mid 2003 at $250, cheaper than normal as at the time the model was being phased out. For the same price I could have got a 3 Megapixel model without the optical zoom, I'm glad I didn't though. It's a though little bugger too, I've dropped it quite a few times and even kicked it like a football once, but it's still going strong. It does however have a few dead pixels, there are a couple of prominent red ones that show up when you take photos in very dark situations, nothing to really worry about though. All I can say is that it has served me well for the last two and a bit years.

The Art of Modern Dentistry

Yes that's right I went to the dentist on Thursday. While confident there was nothing wrong with my teeth, the fact that this was my first visit in two years had me worried. After a bit of a prod and a scrape with that little hook thing, the Dr proclaimed "finding decay in there is like finding a needle in a hay stack". I was glad because I really do try to look after my teeth, particularly because I had braces for two years as teenager at great expense to the Australian tax payer. So it was just a quick polish up with that tooth polisher thing that sounds like a drill but is actually a tooth polisher. All the fun of the drill but without the pain (drugs are for wusses!). And to top it off I got a free tooth brush, at least I don't think it was on my bill.

I think my dentist is really cool. On ya Dr. X*. He's jewish, just as a real dentist should be.

* - Not his real name, I don't think I should give his real name.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Not much...

That pretty much sums up what I've been doing lately. I should be working on my major project, but I've being really having a good go at putting it off. I don't think I'm going to finish on time, if I finish it at all. The report is due at the end of October and I am supposed to make an oral presentation to other students, members of the faculty and industry at the begining of that month. I should get in contact with my supervisor, but I really have nothing to show him. Basically I'm screwed.

The problem is that I just lack organisational skills and any motivation. Also I've never really had to work on anyhting like this completely by myself, I just feel overwhelemed. My topic is shit, I have no idea how I ever thought I'd get a sizeable report (say 40,000 words) out of it. All I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time. I just need to get off my arse and do it.

I wish I had have taken some time off either last year or this year. I think I needed the break as I've been doing this course (Batchelor of applied science in Geomatics) for 4 years now. Before that I did 2 years at TAFE, an Advanced Diploma of Spatial Information. From there I articulated into the third year of the degree (it's a 4 year degree), so I should have graduated at the end of 2003, but due to various circumstances it's now 2005 and I still haven't finished.

All I need to do is finish the major project and uni for me is over...

Should I also mention that I need a job?