Sunday, 18 October 2015

2015 Solar Cars

Today was the beginning of the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Awesome.
I really enjoy these solar car events.

The cars started this morning from Parliament House and drove through the city, out onto the highway, and headed for Adelaide. The first car was the Stella Lux from the Netherlands.
There are 46 cars from 25 different countries.

One car is so good it is already registered to be used as a normal car on normal roads in Europe.
Several of the cars are suitable for passengers.
This unusual car was from Cambridge.
What a huge development this is from the early days when school students worked on the cars and they were not much more than bicycles. This race was first held in 1987. The course is 3 000 km long. The cars are fragile and have to be transported long distances so a big support team is required. They are permitted 6 square metres of solar panels and must complete the course on solar and kinetic energy. One car has a system of batteries so it can store the solar energy and then use it to continue after dark.

Yesterday we went out to Hidden Valley Raceway to watch the teams tinker with their vehicles and to watch some of the time trials.
I took rather a lot of photos but will post just a few. There are many support people involved in this exercise as you can imagine. And lots of spectators like me.

Lots of taking apart and tinkering.
There is no way I would ever even consider sitting in a tiny cabin under the blazing sun all day and then camping by the vehicle overnight. What inspires these young engineers?

I am not good at posting photos so these might be strung out a bit.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Satellite images

Have you seen these images?
This is one Himawari-8 image.
You can see that the detail is much better than in the photo below.

There is a Japanese satellite, Himawari-8, which broadcasts real-time images of our planet. These can be used for weather forecasting, for determining sailing conditions, emergency services, and for agricultural purposes. There are doubtless other uses, but I do not really know what they are.
The images from Himawari-8 are much more detailed than those from the Bureau of Meteorology satellite MTSAT-2. There is also about fifty times more data  associated with these images than has previously been available. (Yes, I am a bit lost within all the science and technology here.)

Go to this site and have a look. It is worth trying all the little buttons and options. Have fun!

The photos here are from that website.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Miniature knitting

I have a friend with a dolls' house. Not a child's doll house, but a beautiful creation with handmade accessories. Wendy has made some of the furniture herself, including the sofa she upholstered with pieces of a kid glove. She has stitched carpets, clothing, curtains, and quilts in miniature. Beautiful, and a testament to her craft skills.

I saw this video and thought some of you may be as fascinated as I am by this world of creating things on a very small scale. Garments like these are in Wendy's doll house, on dolls and in the wardrobes.

This website is fascinating.
Althea Crome knits in miniature and has patterns for sale.
Here are some photos of her work (from her website).

One of these days, When I have time (!!!) I will investigate this more. I might even finish the tiny bag I started about ten years ago as a kit. Can I do it? Maybe. Wendy wears a magnifier on a headband so she can see her own work. Many things are possible.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

New family member

We are all delighted to welcome into the world little Matilda.
Here she is with her proud father, my nephew.
Matilda is the first grandchild for my younger sister.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Home and happy

We are home. Wonderful home. Happy home.

What's so good?

Yes, I cut the cake while it was still too warm
and that is why it looks a bit shabby.
The no-recipe cake still tastes delicious with a cuppa.
For a start I do not wear shoes at home unless I am going out. Like most locals we take our shoes off and on at the front door. Going out shoes are sandals of course. Shopping shoes are thongs. Gym shoes are sneakers, but actually I hardly ever remember to go to the gym. My feet are happy, happy, happy. Feel those cool tiles and soft carpet.

Happy cooking. Made a cake. Yes, I know if I eat cake I will not get any slimmer; but I still made one. Made a giant-sized casserole and stored the extra in the freezer. Happy, because we can have a home-cooked meal without any stress or shopping next week. That might go with the home-made bread that is hidden alongside the casseroles.

Happy studying. Oh, dear, very little study was done while we were away. Coulda, shoulda, but didn't. We were both really tired from all those emotions. Now I am relaxed I can make a determined effort with another assignment. Must keep that old brain functioning.

Happy looking at the busy ships on the harbour. Fishermen going out to try their luck. Big ships. Tugs. Sailing boats.

It looks quiet and relaxing, doesn't it?
Late afternoon light.
It is officially the Wet Season now. The night we arrived home the rain poured down. 82mm in our area in just a few hours. Lovely.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Fantastic Family

My husband with an aunt and two of his cousins.
Can you spot the family resemblance?
Talk about ups and downs!
From Sydney we went by train to Newcastle. It has been absolutely fantastic. Did you know that in New South Wales people in their sixties can catch three trains and two ferries all on the same $2.50 ticket? Yes, travel all day as far as you wish on the one ticket. Train, bus, and ferry were all covered as long as it was the public transport system.

My long-suffering, but nevertheless loved, husband has family in Newcastle and the surrounding district. We spent hours and hours with various cousins chatting, going out for meals, gossiping, catching up, and just relaxing.
They invited us to a birthday party. One cousin, John, turned 60 and his son Ryan turned 30.
John works on a freighter travelling from Karratha to Osaka. He is an energetic man’s man type. Blokey. Physically strong. Formal school did not appeal to him, but he has excelled in the real world. As a boy he was a Queen’s scout. He rode a motorbike from Newcastle to Perth once, just for a bit of fun. He enjoyed driving a LandRover from Perth to Darwin so much that he went to all the trouble of getting a driver's license too.
John and his mother Norah.
Norah is only 82 and is very lively.
Ryan, his son, is very similar, but academically strong as well. Ryan has just graduated with a management degree from Swinburne University.

It was decided to go to Buttai Barn for country-western themed party. That was a challenge we were all happy to accept. This place is out in the scrub and specializes in country style entertainment. Maybe there were 250 people there that night. What a terrific time we all had! You should have seen the costumes of the people there. Cowboy hats and sheriff badges, toy guns and drizabones. One girl even wore an inflatable horse costume.
At least six birthday party groups were there. And a Hens Night group too. A talented singer performed for hours giving us many old favorites. Dolly Parton would have been envious of her talent.There was a special arena with a mechanical bull-riding machine. John and Ryan each had a go at that. Food was plentiful and delicious. Something for everyone including the vegetarians and coeliacs. There was bush dancing and live music for other dancing too.

Cousins galore, and a future cousin too.
How many cousins did we see? At least one aunt, three cousins, four nephews, two nieces, two great nephews, and a few whose relationships go into the seconds, thirds, and removed categories. Just how you categorise the grandson of a cousin will take me a while to sort out. And be careful of second wives/husbands/partners too.

We hired a car and drove around the district as well. Aah, life in the sophisticated parts of Australia can be good indeed. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Complicated times and complicated feelings

I am away from home having escaped from Sydney this morning. Was in Sydney for complicated reasons.

I need to write and express my feelings. Maybe if you read it, you may find it helps you understand other people more clearly.

Michael with his sister Anne
Yesterday we visited my husband’s older sister in Lithgow hospital. This is the last time we will see her. Anne has cancer, mainly in the brain but also at other sites. Anne is just three years older than my husband and the other sister is eleven years younger again. As you can expect that visit was difficult.

Poor Anne was just feeling a little off-colour. Off to her GP she went and has never returned home again. It has been only six weeks and she is now bed-ridden, paralysed down one side and needs to be spoon fed. The positive side is that Anne has a constant stream of visitors from the Lithgow community where she and her husband have been active in many clubs and organisations for forty years.

Anne loves the great outdoors
and bushwalking in the Blue Mountains
Anne is also supported and surrounded by her loving family at this horrible time. One of her sons has flown home from Sweden where he left his wife, daughter and new-born son. This was hard to organise because of his residency status, visas, and employment. Another son has flown home from Germany, and his family will arrive in a few weeks. They have a house in Australia and their situation is easier. The oldest son, home from Kenya last year, has revealed personal fortitude and is holding the family together. Another son and a daughter are visiting as often as they can. Don, Anne’s husband, was the one with the long-term chronic health conditions so it has been a shock for him. He has found new strength.

It looks as if this is an affluent family with opportunities galore. No, not at all. Lithgow was a small coal mining town when Anne and Don met. Her parents strongly opposed the marriage, but the young couple were deeply in love. Five children followed and everyone went to Catholic schools. Anne eventually returned to teach in one of those schools after the children had left. The family grew most of their own vegetables in a massive backyard garden. No music lessons or anything fancy. Don worked as a pastry cook and eventually bought the business where he was employed. Not all the children went to university, but those who did paid their own way. Four of the five backpacked and worked in other countries. Two have never married. It is a family where everyone makes a big effort all the time. And everyone loves each other.

I was lucky enough to have accumulated some points and so we were able to fly business class from Darwin to Brisbane and then Brisbane to Sydney. That was comforting. No ambulance was needed for me this time.

The hotel we booked in Sydney, the Mercure near Central Station, was a nightmare. Yes, there were positives. The shower was fabulous. The sheets and towels were meticulously clean. The location was brilliant. We had booked for two people well in advance but it was non-refundable so we were stuck with it. The housekeeping staff did service the room while we were there and so I know that what we experienced is the recognised standard for this hotel. I like it when the phone works. Not at the Mercure! I like to have toiletries provided. At least there was soap and toilet tissue. I like it when the drains actually work and the water drains from the hand basin instead of just sitting there for an hour. I like it when the TV controls work too. I like to have a pillow for my head. The brochure about a pillow menu was completely false as no such service existed and I did not even have a pillow. The Mercure in the Sydney CBD thinks those things are unnecessary. But they were happy to take my money. Our stay was absolutely ghastly. The staff at Reception would not even serve me when I approached. Weird men in the foyer kept trying to steal my luggage even though I was holding it firmly. No-one tried to steal my husband’s luggage, so it was very unnerving. NEVER EVER book into that place. Sleeping in the gutter would be better!

Good to see family members who live far from us. Sad times. Horrible accommodation. Lovely flights. Wonderful meal at a nice restaurant last night. We went to a cafĂ© this morning for breakfast and the girl tried to charge us $60 for our food because she did not know the difference between 60 and 16. I expected the weather to be cold and packed accordingly. No, it’s not cold. There are pretty flowers. The public transport system here is wonderful. I realise I am in an emotional torrent. Up and down, tossing, bumping. To anyone who sees me there is no sign.

The next person who annoys you could be just like me right now. Or worse. Try to imagine why. It might help you to maintain your equilibrium. Someone needs to stay evenly balanced.