Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Redundancy: Better Homes and Gardens, and Fairfax

If you don't know, Better Homes and Gardens is a lifestyle show featuring a number of "experts" on various home and garden matters. So you have cooks, crafty people, home handymen, gardeners, vets and the host, former swimmer, Joanna Griggs. On the surface it would appear that Joanna Griggs area of expertise is TV presentation, which she does an OK job at, even if she is a bit grating at times. In reality she is utterly superfluous to the function of the show. They justify her role by giving her one or two small crafty projects to show the viewers, but you can tell that it's not really her thing. The truth is that she could easily be replaced by the home and garden experts taking turns to introduce each others segments.

Then there is today's announcement that Fairfax is letting go of 500 employees to save costs. My immediate response was to ask just what exactly is it that all these people are doing that they can actually afford to get rid of them. 500 is a lot of people doing not much at all.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Noisy Neighbours

Living near an active military establishment has it's advantages and disadvantages. I am talking about the Simpson Barracks in Macleod/Watsonia which is less then a kilometre across a small valley from my house (If I look out my window I can see it now).

Probably one of the biggest advantages is the large area of bushland that has remained relatively intact. My primary school had a tree planting deal with the army nursery (yes the army grows plants too). The Army took us in the back of some trucks (like in the movies) a couple of times to plant seedling and the like. The Army also let our school grow seedlings in the nursery for planting in the school grounds. That was great fun, but these days I don't think you could get away with it.

The biggest disadvantage is the noise. You get used to the short and frequent bursts of gun fire when they occasionally have target practice. Right now they are firing something rather large, like a mortar or a canon. I'm expecting something through the window at any moment!

The Australian Army school of signals is based there, so I wouldn't imagine much shooting is on the agenda, just enough to be competent with a weapon if it comes to that sort of thing.

I seem to recall there is a shooting range that is shared between the Army and a gun club, perhaps an army gun club.

Most frequently though we hear the sound of music. Being home to the defence School of Music you tend to get lot of that. Concert bands, marching bands, buglers, bagpipes, drums you name it. Throughout the year they put on a number of free concerts. The twilight ones almost always end with fireworks in time to the 1812 overture.

Probably the most intense noise ever was the almost constant throb, drone and scream of Black Hawk and Huey helicopters (it depended how far away they were flying) during some sort of training exercise about 10 years ago. It was pretty exciting at first, but it went on for about a week. The Black Hawks came back during the commonwealth games in 2006, I think they were based at Essendon Airport instead of the barracks.

I should mention that the biggest disadvantage was that this was one of Australia/USA main communications bases for listening in on the Russians, so vaporisation in the face of all out nuclear war was a given, the graffiti near Camberwell Station left over from the 70's says so. Actually my mum used to tell me that too when I was little. A really comforting thing to tell your children... Thankfully they moved that capability to a better location in northern Western Australia somewhere.

Overall it is pretty peaceful, with short periods of extreme noise. There are no complaints here.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Mouse over to see the evolution of the 737 from Original to Next Generation

The first image is a 737-200, the later a 737-800. The most obvious external differences are increased length, a different tail fin, winglets and different engines. Less obvious changes to the newer model include a redesigned wing and complete electronic systems. In fact there is very little in common between the two, but for the general shape of the fuselage (which itself dates back to the 707 and 727).

The different shape of engines comes from the move to "high bypass" turbofans resulting in larger engines overall. In order to accommodate the larger engines and stop them dragging on the ground some components were shifted to allow for the distinctive flat bottom. The modern engines are much more efficient and quiet.

The Boeing 737-400 (above) belongs to the generation that sits between these two aircraft. The Generations are, "Original" for the 100 and 200 series, "Classic" for the 300,400 and 500 series, and "Next Generation" for the 600, 700 and 800 series.

Mouseover code from Terrys Playpen.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I couldn't decide which one to include so I included both. I like the comment in the second.

One of my aims in life is to visit this beach and get sandblasted, too bad if the landing is a bit short.

This is of course the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean. The airport is Princess Juliana International Airport. An interesting fact about St Martin is that the island is split in two. One side belongs to the French, they call it Saint-Martin. The other side belongs to the Netherlands, the side that has the airport, where it is called Sint Maarten. The Netherlands side is part of the Netherlands Antilles, while the French side makes up the larger part of the Collectivity of Saint Martin, which succeeded from the French Department of Guadeloupe in 2003.

If that's not interesting enough, the island has it's own bi-lingual anthem, O Sweet Saint Martin's Land, that is sung in both French and Dutch.

I don't think there is any chance that Airbus A380 aircraft will serve the island. As it is they runway is barely long enough for 747s and all aircraft need to perform a u turn at the end of the runway as there isn't enough room for a taxi way.

Edit: This video proves it is more exciting from the beach, plus shows the U Turn at the end of the runway.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Melbourne Shuffle

You Tube is full of videos showing people doing the the Melbourne Shuffle, this one shows you how to do it. I'm really uncoordinated, so I don't think I'd better try it.