March 31, 2012

Horse 1312 - At your old school – 10 points (Total: 516)

This is the final day of the March Photo Scavenger Hunt. Normal service resumes tomorrow.

I suppose that high school and university are usually viewed with fondness because we spend so much time with a group of people but I look back on the whole experience with baited ambivalence.
High School is a place where people's characters are being formed and the results of the rules of the schoolyard are often quit brutal. I'd like to think that I survived pretty well much intact.

The biggest single thing that I learned n high school in particular is that people whose opinions I don't value, don't matter anyway. Whilst that sounds like terrible thing to say, the truth is that except on very rare occasions, I never see any of the people I went to school with at all.

There is a suggestion that people are capable of change but the only evidence I've ever seen of this is that as life exacts its toll of people, the only thing that really does change is that people's dreams die or are changed entirely.

This then is a photo of a subject for which I don't care very much.

March 30, 2012

Horse 1311 - An old photo in the same spot – 15 points (Total: 506)

I found a stack of photographs of the Sydney Harbour Bridge which I'd intended to use for this but decided that I'd already taken photos on the bridge, around the tunnels and elsewhere in the area, so I went local.
Toongabbie is the third settlement in the colony of New South Wales and its date of inception is 1792. Toongabbie Railway Station dates from 1880 which is odd since the railway line itself was built in 1855.
I think that the building in the old photo with the milk churns dates from 1880, though the station in its current form was built in 1947 and the line was electrified in 1955.

Toongabbie is the station I usually get on at in the morning to go to work though not where I get off at coming home.

Incidentally the photo in question comes from the the NSW Government's "AboutNSW" website.
I thought it cute and a little ironic that the sign on the old station hut should read:

As it is today. And as it was. So Yes.

March 29, 2012

Horse 1310 - Studio Shot – 25 points (Total: 491)

Technically a "studio" is the workroom or creation space of an artist. The term may also include a place where students learn from a master or teacher in the creation of art, be it in fine arts like painting, pottery, sculpting etc, or more recently in other media such as graphic design, CGI or animation.

What better place to find a studio, than in an art gallery and co-incidentally on Art Gallery Way.

The Mosman Art Gallery and Community Centre lives in what used to the the Mosman Methodist Church. When the church found the upkeep of the building became too expensive, Mosman council took over the premises, refurbished it and turned it into the space we see today.

Mosman is quite renowned for its history in the arts and the Mosman Art Prize is probably one of the five most prestigious in the country behind the Archibald, Sir John Sulman and Wynne Prizes. As an acquisitive art prize, it pays in excess of $100,000 a year to the winners of the prizes in various categories.

This space whilst empty at the moment has been used to teach painting, theatre and dance, and so I suppose that if you apply the definition of a studio to this space, it matches up almost exactly with the classical definition of the word.
How fitting then that I in the creation of photographs should use a studio, in pursuit of a "studio shot".

One of the most cliched photographic techniques is to take a photograph with a sepia filter. I suppose that because we associate sepia with old-wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey photographs, that the cliche is allowed to persist.

What this photo does show off are the vaults and the space where perhaps the organ once resided. I'm not exactly sure why the main window upstairs in boarded up but it possibly has something to do with renovation work.

I haven't really bothered with most of the effects on this camera before because I consider them mostly useless. The camera itself only has a short focal length which I suppose is reasonable for most happy-snap photography but it still doesn't have the same ability to play with things to anywhere near the degree of even the most basic SLR.
The effect that I used here is something called "solarise". I'd seen the effect previously in darkrooms but with modern digital photography, it can be done instantly.

This is a ludicrously simple effect that I think produces fun results. All this is, is a simple inversion of colours. Some areas such as under the table in that background corner appear to glow eerily; outside becomes dark as night. The roof beams look almost washed out.

If pressed to choose which one of these actually is the "studio shot" in question, it's probably the sepia one. The word "Studio" itself is taken via Italian from the Latin "studium" which means "to study"; since this is one photo in a study, inside a studio, I think it very much qualifies as a studio shot.

March 28, 2012

Horse 1309 - Your Landlord – 20 points (Total: 466)

This is my landlord Samar. I suppose that I am somewhat lucky in that I happen to live next door to my landlord. This does mean that if any serious problems came into existence, then I would have to wait very long to have them sorted out.
Samar is a plumber by trade and also happens to lay for the same football team as I do. As a football striker he has a habit of spraying shots to all parts hither and yon except the back of the net.

Horse 1308 - Big Yellow Taxi
SYDNEY taxis would be painted yellow so as to stand out for locals and visitors and pave the way for a national system of yellow cabs, under a proposal by the nation's leading transport and tourist body.
The proposal is one of many being advanced by The Daily Telegraph's cabinet of experts for the People Plan, a new forum for fresh ideas and firm action to deliver better transport and services to Sydney.
The taxi plan is the brainchild of former NSW transport supremo and now chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum John Lee, who has been appointed Transport Minister in our "cabinet".
- The Daily Telegraph (online), 27th Mar 2012

A little over two years ago to the day, I mentioned in Horse 1081 that with the demise of the Falcon Wagon that the most logical replacement would be the iconic London Taxi.
This morning I read that the Worldwide CEO of Ford, Allan Mulally, may have inadvertently confirmed that the Falcon itself is ticking out its last days of production.

As I see it, there are in fact three logical replacements for the Falcon wagon as a taxi:

1. The current model Mondeo Wagon is longer than the now defunct Falcon, a little narrower and can be had with a 2L Diesel for $45,527.
2. The Holden Commodore "Sportswagon" (don't ask me why it's a "Sports" wagon, I don't know either) with the 3L V6 will probably be more expensive to run but can be bought for $42,990
3. Option 3, I think is the best because they don't have to be converted for purpose and they look the nicest. Although at $48,898 (at this morning's conversion rates) they are the most expensive, if you could see a fleet of these on the roads, why wouldn't you?

I agree with the Daily Telegraph on this. Despite some rather disparaging comments on the website, they make an entirely fair point. Bright Yellow Taxis in places like New York City, throughout North America and even in Melbourne (how did Melbourne beat us to the punch on this one?!) are both obvious to find, which is important if you're in a hurry and serve as an icon of the city.
I think that loads and loads of Yellow London Taxis would be both a good advert for this city around the harbour and an aesthetic improvement.

More to the point if the Federal Government had given me $275 million instead of Holden weaseling it from them, I would had London Taxis built under licence here.

March 27, 2012

Horse 1307 - At a museum – 10 points (Total: 446)

- China Pot and Hong Kong Chest of drawers. c.1898 at the Australian Museum.

This is one thing that really bugs me about modern... stuff. If in the 21st Century we can make a keyboard sound like instruments that don't even exist and with modern printing methods we have the potential to make really nice stuff, then why don't we have nice things?

A lot of the furniture in my house is made from wood which has been stained and gives a really earthy and warm look to the place. Presumably with modern production methods it would be even easier to make a chest of drawers like the one in this picture but I've never seen one even remotely like it on sale.
I find it odd that to find a lot of furniture, small appliances etc. that look this nice you need to go to antiquey sort of shops and probably pay more than what you would have paid at the time new.

Modern buildings, motor cars, fridges, toasters, radio sets... whilst all of these things are entirely functional, they all look sleek and cold.
It was weird this morning because I saw in the Law Courts a chap who had an iPod2 in a cover that made it look like a battered and well-loved book. In other words, someone had made a thing look like a) something you want to use and b) like a thing worth keeping.

All of the above encompasses why good stuff eventually ends up in museums. Partly it's because we want to remember the past and how much nicer it looked and partly so we can be inspired to create new stuff in the future.
I just wonder how much stuff post 1990 is going to end up in museums of the future. We seem to remember TV Shows, the way applications and operating systems looked - things that were on things but not the things themselves.

March 26, 2012

Horse 1306 - Lightening – 18 points (Total: 436)

I had hoped to visit either the Camden Museum of Aviation or the Air Fleet Museum in Nowra but neither of those actually a P-38 Lightning or an English Electric Lightning (later BAC). In fact because the US Government seems to be dithering on an immensely huge scale, the RAAF hasn't yet taken delivery of the F-35 Lightning II.
This meant that the only place that I'd be likely to take a photograph of a Lightning would either be as an Opel badge or in a place like Hobbyco.

Having found a model of a P-38 Lightning by Revell, I then found this one elsewhere in the shop:

I also happened to find this painting of an English Electric Lightning in the shop.
Ok, not what I was after exactly.

Horse 1305 - The Queensland Election and The Death of Dialogue

Unlike the federal election in 2010, we are really very quite sure of what Queenslanders have said. Collectively they emphatically wanted the removal of the Bligh government and want the LNP and Campbell Newman installed until 2015.
This Queensland election in particular does highlight something for me which I think is slightly dangerous about Queensland's unicameral parliament.

Unlike every other state (the territories do not count), Queensland is unique in having a unicameral legislature. This means that once legislation passes the house, there is no review by another body and bills which escape the floor are almost always signed off by the Governor.

In the election just held, the LNP will hold 78 seats, Labor 7, the Australian Party 2 and Independents 2; there is also the chance that following the by-election which will be called as a result of Anna Bligh retiring from the seat of South Brisbane, that it could shift further to LNP 79 - Lab 6.
This means to suggest that for every one Labor seat, there will be at least eleven LNP seats and if the LNP wins South Brisbane, thirteen.
If you are in a situation of having at least 11 voices against you, what this means in effect is that no serious opposition to any bill can be mounted until at least 2015 and even if Labor tries to amend legislation or even dare to originate legislation, their voice will be completely cancelled.

This is of course fine if this is what the people of Queensland have asked for and the results of the election would suggest that is the case but I wonder what a result like this actually does for political dialogue in the state of Queensland.
In New South Wales, people would be hard pressed to name anyone in the Opposition apart from John Robertson, much less who the members of the shadow cabinet are. In Queensland though, Labor doesn't even have enough members to even claim official party status let alone properly fill out a shadow cabinet.

As far as dialogue goes in the world of print media, Queensland and Brisbane especially only really has one daily newspaper - The Courier-Mail. You would expect that for the next three years, it will be generally supportive of the Newman LNP Government as News Limited newspapers roughly are throughout Australia.

What this Queensland State has said is that until 2015, there will be no real political dialogue and probably no discourse either. Granted that that is the will of the people but I'm wondering if that really is what people want.

March 25, 2012

Horse 1304 - You in a different city from the one you were in on March 1st. – 25 points (Total: 418)

The problem with the definition of a "city" is that there isn't really one which fits at law. Traditionally a city in Common Law is one which was established by Royal Charter; the problem with this is that in Australia, no such settlement exists.

In NSW the definition of a "city" accoding to the Local Government Act is one of at least 10,000 people and has applied to be called a city. Thus the City of Blue Mountains is properly a city and since both Georgie Ford and Tim Hiatt have already taken photographs within it, then it is perfectly reasonable that I should too.

These photographs are taken in and around the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba, the City of Blue Mountain's seat of power.
Opened in 1882 as The Great Western Hotel, it was renamed the Carrington in 1886 and traded until 1985 when it was closed and fell derelict until 1991 when it was purchased and then restored and reopened in 1998.


"Whoa. You smell bad"

Inside the building shows itself off as an example of late-Victorian architecture with a cupola in Champagne Charlie's bar which I think equally rivals that of the Queen Victoria Building (also built in the 1880s).
Inside, the tones of the decor reflect something a little later; perhaps evoking the decadence of the 1920s. I wonder just what sort of wild parties would have been held in the ballrooms before the stock market crash in 1929.

I can very much imagine someone like Poirot, Miss Marple or Miss Fisher roaming the hallways; searching for clues which might lead to solving who the murderer was, before all meeting in the lounge and pointing fingers; in fact I'm very much surprised that no-one has decided to use the
Carrington Hotel as a setting for a murder mystery.

March 24, 2012

Horse 1303 - A photo with a good story behind it (tell story in description) – 30 points (Total: 393)

Today Toongabbie Baptist Church (the team I play for) played St Andrews C2 in the C Grade Church Cricket Grand Final.

This match swung back and forth like the tick of a pendulum. After 4 overs St Andrews had already amassed 42 runs and looked like giving us an absolute pasting but with some clever bowling and fielding which was still eager, this was held back to 4 wickets down for 112 runs.
112 runs after 28 overs works out to be precisely 4 an over and it was around this figure which the match swung around.

Adam Brown of St Andrews was able to gently knock the ball around the place in a batting performance which would have seemed rather boring to watch. Whilst he was slowly amassing runs, partners at the other end came and went and at the end of the alloted 56 overs (which would be the same as one regular week) Brownie found himself not out for 72 and St Andrews were all out for 208.

Our innings in reply was going to be centred around the 4 an over mark. Mark Bailey was given out caught behind off a ball which he didn't hit, but the umpire thinking that he'd walked succumbed to the pressure of the eleven layers on the bowling side and he was dismissed. This pretty well much set the tone for the innings.

Wickets fell roughly every five overs and by the break we were 98 for 4. At this point it was expected that the run rate would be accelerated but Mark Buckingham who was playing down a few grades so that he could play with his sons was bowled for 13, Stuart Jennings the captain was caught out on 7 and although Nick Buckingham kept the scoreboard ticking along with a sensible 60, by the time he was dismssed, there were 7 wickets down and 33 runs to get off of 30 balls.
Suffice to say that those three wickets fell incredibly cheaply and instead of making 208 in the dying overs, we were all out for 180 - and lost the grand final.

Now I suppose that you could argue that losing a grand final isn't a good story but there are several points to be made here. Does a story need a happy ending for it to be good? In any sporting contest there is always ultimately going to be a winner and a loser, so there will always be a victor. Secondly cricket itself doesn't play out like other sports - it ebbs and flows with sometimes various twists and turns and an evenly poised contest can often be quite fun to watch.

Looking back, personally for me, the point is that in probably 20 seasons of cricket I've played in, I've probably only ever been in maybe three finals. It was more or less expected that we'd lose against our opponents anyway (and they even went through the season undefeated) but at least this time around there was the whiff of possible victory in the air.

I'm kind of reminded of the sing by Skinner and Baddiel "Tout est Possible", the B-side to "Three Lions '98", which contained the lines:
"Waiting and wondering 'till they score then scream at the sky above,
so much bigger and better than grown up things like love"

Sport generally has a better story to tell than most movies and books. From a churches' competition which is often watched by no spectators at all to international sporting events upon which the whole world looks on, it has all the elements of plot, character, conflict and resolution and denouement which any good story has and certainly a lot of passion behind it.

We may have lost today but the story which was written on the pitch in leather and willow was a good one.

Addenda: We'll probably receive a runners-up cap for... being runners-up. That means to that that after probably 20 seasons of cricket I'll finally have something tangible to show for it.

March 23, 2012

Horse 1302 - More than 10 people you can name – 15 points (Total: 363)

On a still night our depleted squad of Wentworthville Uniting plus ring-ins from Lidcombe played a team from Greystanes. I think that the result was 1-1 but the match wasn't necessarily played with the same sort of desperation that a usual league match has.

For the purposes of naming 11 people (ie more than 10) we an see from left to right. Derek, Ainsley, Tito, Keiran, Sam, Brendan, Robert, Joseph, Toby, Steve and off in the distance in the claret, Jon (23 kit standing to the left of the line)

March 22, 2012

Horse 1302 - Underwater – 13 points (Total: 348)

How do I get an underwater photograph considering that I can't swim? This question has been with me for quite some time now and the above photograph is more about me getting to grips with the settings on the phone more than anything else.

I only have one camera on the phone. This means that to take this photograph I had to do it blind. Secondly the phone itself is not waterproof and this in itself posed a problem. Thirdly, the question about where I could take a photo underwater was also quite vexing.

After passing through Spit Junction (see Horse 1301) I decided to use one of the two fountains which are further down the hill.

The phone itself then had the timer set for 10 seconds, was placed into a tupperware container; sealed with Silastic, dropped into the water and then I had to wait for it to take the photograph. Basically I knew that if I was going to do this a number of times, that each time would be rather involved.
The first shot contained nothing but sky, the second shot took a photograph of the plastic nub thing when the container was injection moulded because the camera re-focused but the third shot is what we see above.

I know that it's not terribly interesting to look at but the photograph certainly fulfills the requirements. It isn't a photograph of something underwater, it is a photograph taken FROM underwater.

March 21, 2012

Horse 1301 - A photo series – 20 points (Total: 335)

I had originally intended to take the shots for this photo series on Monday to co-incide with the 80th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge but several things got in the way (namely the chance to get other photos), so today I've been running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge on the day of its opening had two railway tracks, six motor traffic lanes, two tram tracks and two footpaths. It is the tram network that I wish to take particular note of.
The absolute peak patronage of Sydney's Tram network was in 1945 with some 405 million journeys taken and was the largest network in the world in terms of miles of track.
Under the Premiership of Joseph Cahill (whose utter arrogance caused the "F7" to be named after him) the decision was taken to rip up and destroy what should have been one of the city's great legacies.

The replacement for the two tram lanes are two more lanes of motor traffic. One which is a Bus Lane and the other which exclusively serves "Joe's Ugly Road" as described in the Sydney Morning Herald on opening day, 24th March 1958.

Malcolm Turnbull, whose electorate of Wentworth should by rights still be served by what should still be an icon of Sydney, had this to say in the House of Representatives on Monday night:

Last year was 50 years from the day that the trams that ran out along Anzac Parade to the eastern suburbs—out to La Perouse, out past the showground, out past the cricket ground and the racecourse, and of course out where the University of New South Wales is now—were closed by a Labor government. For all the time that our new foreign minister was Premier of New South Wales, he did nothing to build new light rail in Sydney and, in particular, most mystifyingly, did nothing to reinstate the light rail out along Anzac Parade, where there is a reservation still in place—a light rail that would have terminated in his own electorate. He could have done something for sustainability, something for public transport and something for his own constituents, but he chose to neglect all of those people and objectives.
- Malcolm Turnbull, 19th Mar 2012

Admittedly Mr Turnbull is trying to score some political points here (that is after all how the game of politics is played) but his rebuke of the former Premier Bob Carr, I think is equally valid for all Premiers of every political colour since Cahill onwards.
In my opinion, Premiers Cahill, Heffron, Renshaw, Askin, Lewis, Willis, Wran, Unsworth, Greiner, Fahey, Carr, Iemma and Keneally were all asleep at the wheel and neglected "the decent and respectable people of New South Wales" as named by Francis de Groot at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The two Premiers who didn't make this list were Nathan Rees who had plans to build rail infrastructure and got to work to trying to remove corruption from his own party but was sacked because of it; and the current Premier Barry O'Farrell who still very much has the potential to make the list, and considering his stance before the state election, it's highly likely that he will make the list in the future and become another Premier who has failed NSW.
"She (the then Premier, Kristina Keneally) needs to scrap the metro that no one wants. It's simply incredible, even within her first day, the former planning minister doesn't seem to have a view as to whether this metro is to proceed or not. It raises real concerns about who's making the decisions."- Barry O'Farrell, 4th Dec 2009 (from ABC Local Radio - 702 ABC Sydney).

So then, given that this is supposed to be a photo series, I thought I'd investigate and take photos of the former glory that was Sydney's Tram Network:

This is not a photograph of Spit Junction. This is a photograph of the intersection which everyone mistakenly calls Spit Junction. The evidence that this particular intersection has another name is actually high above and almost completely forgotten:

The intersection of Military Road and Spit Road in Mosman, should properly be called Trafalgar Square. There are photographs which suggest that the building which houses Hype DC on the corner wasn't originally there and that the whole intersection was more of a horseshoe shape, like Chifley Square in the city.
Where then is Spit Junction?

It's actually here:

Spit Junction used to be named for the junction and partial terminus of the Tram lines. Spit Junction is even incorrectly named "Mosman Square" in modern literature. There is however a small clue to it's former use, via a brass plaque affixed to a wall:

From here the Trams went down Military Road and finally through a deep cutting, and I happened to find this cutting whilst looking for the geocache:

There was also a handy little information sign which confirmed that this cutting was by no means natural at all:

What I didn't find previously was this series of tension cables, from which the overhead electric power lines for the trams were suspended:

At Balmoral Beach there is a curiously over-designed bus shelter, which also happens to have a copy of the same plaque which was back at Spit Junction. This was the terminus of the line:

Travelling back on the bus to the city and we find this series of shelters at Neutral Bay:

There is also one rather glaringly obvious evidence of Sydney's trams which thousands of commuters see every day but don't really think about. Wynyard Station has platforms 3 and 4 on the upper decks and 5 and 6 below. Platforms 1 and 2 are conspicuous by their abscence.

On the other side of the billboards and and wall at Platform 3, Platforms 1 and 2 used to stand. The tracks which would have headed north at this point, ran across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in, you guessed it, lane 7 and 8.

The tunnels which would have connected the Bridge to Wynyard Station are also more or less intact. Those little alcoves in the wall are where maintenance staff would have sheltered when Trams were passing; exactly the same way that they do when Trains pass in the other tunnels. The next two photos give a truer representation as to how they would have looked before 1961:

That second photo in particular very much showcases the architecture of the tunnels. If you compare that with the end sections of Wynyard Station now and ignore the black roof, the likeness comes very much into view:

I only had one day to take these photographs and if I had taken the whole day instead of being at work, then I could have taken photographs right through the Eastern Suburbs and the Inner West of similar sorts of structures.

The Federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, was looking into making use of old tram infrastrucure and it seems pretty obvious to me that the best solution for transport would be to put all the trams back. It would mean closing "Joe's Ugly Road" but I don't that matters. One tram takes as many as 80 cars off of the road, and the need for the Cahill Expressway to even exist anymore would be totally negated because that connection already exists under the Harbour.

I think that the people of NSW have been taken for a ride for 50 years and that it's time to do something for sustainability, something for public transport and something for "the decent and respectable people of New South Wales".

March 20, 2012

Horse 1300 - Geocache – 20 points (Total: 315)

A geocache is a small "cache" which usually contains a logbook and some otherwise worthless trinkets which are then hidden and tagged with a GPS location for other people to find. Basically Geocaching is like a hi-tech version of a treasure hunt or hide-and-seek type game.

I looked for geocaches at Rocky Point at Mosman, St Batholomew's Cemetery in Prospect, Dunrossil Park in Carlingford; and Did Not Find (DNF) any of them. I thought I came tantalisingly close in the cemetery but the container turned out to be full of rubbish.

According to the Geocaching Website this particular geocache is "A deliberately easy cache to show off some local history."

The clue given to help you find GC121H8 at S33°49.689 E151°15.104 is Animals of Lawry Plunkett Reserve

Deliberately easy? I spent possibly four lunchtimes going mad trying to search the bush to find this thing.

Weather permitting, I'm going to finally get around to shooting a series of photos, and I'm definitely going back down there. I think that this is a fascinating and yet rather disappointing piece of history which this particular geocache is designed to show off.

March 19, 2012

Horse 1299 - With someone famous (cannot be a politician) – 30 points (Total: 295)

Joe Hildebrand is a columnist for News Limited whose work has appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Punch, mX, The Australian and he himself has appeared on both ABC News 24's The Drum and Q and A on ABC1.
Joe isn't a journalist in the true sense of the word, his work almost exclusively lives in the world of satire. I think it was Northrop Frye who said that "in satire, irony is militant" in his "Theory of Archtypes"; certainly under the banner of satire, Joe is able to cut closer than a lot of copy written elsewhere within the pages of the media.

Once you strip back the veneer of Joe's writing, you find something which is brutally honest. During the "leadership spill", he mentioned on The Drum that the reason why Julia Gillard was installed as PM in the first place was because she was popular and took the time to stop and mention rational reasoning as to why this was the case. In several episodes of Q and A e's attacked and defended both political parties for policies based on relative merit; that's not to say that you won't find that in the general media conversation but if you're not in a position of direct editorial push on a newspaper or TV/radio station you can actually place serous discussion under the veil of comedy.
I think that that's rare in a political media environment where it seems that the game itself is to score immediate points. Dare I suggest that by being less serious, he's able to write more seriously and competently than Andrew Bolt or David Wroe.

"Whence you place the prizm of satire before the world, society's colours show"
- Samuel Johnson

March 18, 2012

Horse 1298 - Up a tree – 10 points (Total: 265)

It always struck me as fundamentally stupid during any debate about climate change that whilst on one hand we often hear about polices designed to reduce carbon emissions, we never ever hear about about any policies designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere itself.
I think that that most governments are hideously short-sighted and can't see the carbon reductions or the trees.

Trees are possibly the cheapest and most obvious method of clearing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. They cost nothing to run, don't require any complicated technology to run and their by-products are useful things like oxygen, wood and food.
Suppose that instead of spending trillions of dollars on military hardware for just one calendar years, all the governments of the world go serious and spent that money on planting trees everywhere. Imagine what sort of actual carbon sequestering could be done with several trillions worth of new trees.

Over the past 4000 years, mankind has very much been responsible for royally trashing the world. The Bible for instance speaks of great stands of cedar in the Lebanon. In Shakespeare's time it was said that a squirrel could run from John O'Groats to Land's End from treetop to treetop; the mighty oaks which once stood on that sceptered isle now lay at the bottom of the ocean, having been made into ships and sunk.
Brazil teaches us that areas which used to be rainforest and after being cleared and being worked with agriculture, after a few decades fall fallow and turn into deserts with similar soil characteristics as the Sahara; in China they're noticing desertification of former arable land after only 30 years.

The only common factor here is mankind and our wanton destruction of trees. If we spent massive amounts of money and put back all the trees we butchered, could we restore the environment and climate? Maybe; I'd like to think we could.

March 17, 2012

Horse 1297 - 11:22am Saturday Morning – 12 points (Total: 255)

Saturdays are for getting things done that you can't get done during the week because you are at work. It is the bane of many office workers that shops and government services close at 6pm; consequently instead of waiting in queues during the week, that joy is reserved for the weekend.
The people behind the counters at the RTA (which is where this is) work like mad things possessed. R89, L25, B19, R90, R91... ding, ding, ding, ding, ding... and they do this with a largely ungrateful and rather cranky public.

I should have been playing cricket this Saturday morning but yet again the fickle finger of fate
has waved and the rain has dashed those plans. Sans cricket, sans mowing, sans sunshine.

March 16, 2012

Horse 1296 - With a stranger (must include name, age, and their favourite meal in description) – 20 points (Total: 243)

The great big, giant, super, fun list has "Buying a coffee for stranger" listed at only 10 points but if you then took the same photo "With a stranger" and included their "name, age, and their favourite meal in description" you got 20 for it. That seems to me to be a little inconsistent because you score less points for being kind to someone.

The weird thing about this photo was that I went around the corner to a coffee shop I had never been to and thought that I could be nice to a stranger if I'd bought them a coffee... nobody arrived. I looked back at the master list and found that all I needed to do to double the point score was to ask a few questions of the coffee shop's owner.

So then:

Name: Amy
Age: 34
Favourite Meal: Something she doesn't have to cook herself but especially likes Laksa or Thai Green Curry.

More generally, Amy was worried that Mosman Council's new re-zoning plans could mean that one large company in particular could just buy up all the property at Spit Junction; that means a loss of business.

March 15, 2012

Horse 1295 - Police – 10 points (Total: 223)

I think that it's pretty easy to suggest that the sort of cars that the Police use in various countries affects the way we view them. In the United States for a long time the almost de rigeur choice was the Ford Crown Victoria, a big wallowing car with terrible handling but which looks cool in car chases. In the UK the police are issued with dinky little cars like the Vauxhall Astra Diesel; it fits the image of PC Plod, funny hats and truncheons. In Germany the police are likely to be issued with a BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C Class (very classy and efficient).
In Australia, we give our police Commodores, Falcons and Camrys for the most part; average family hacks.

I think that that says that the police aren't really different from us normal people. Apart from the little zone of improved driving around a police car where everyone tries to do better because someone's watching they're the same as us... or maybe a little bit bogan.

PS: What is up with green? Why a green police car? I've even seen that icky purple that Holden have as well. Maybe the police really are just a little bit bogan.

March 14, 2012

Horse 1294 - At the beach – 10 points (Total: 213)

If you see this bridge for very little obvious reason, the only place this can be is Balmoral Beach. I work virtually on top of Spit Junction and so Balmoral Beach is only an 8 minute walk away but because it's such a steep walk down, it's about a 15 minute walk back up the hill again.
Technically there are in fact two beaches: Balmoral and Edwards. They are separated by Rocky Point; where this next photo is taken from looking back over the beach.

One of the categories in the big, giant, super, fun list is "A photo of a photo of a photo". The followng is not a photo of a photo of a photo but a photo of a painting of the beach by the beach.

This chap was highly engrossed in his work and had several paintings for sale (all for triple digit figure sums).

The next photo isn't something I was supposed to get but I think that it's still very sage advice.