Saturday, May 16, 2020

Wheel Slip

Why can't trains can't travel up steep hills? The engine at the front has just an area of millimetres of contact with the steel train line and may have a hundreds or thousands of tonnes of carriages or wagons to move. To move from stationary and get up to speed requires a very low and gentle application of power, whether it be an electric, diesel or steam train. It seems power application is harder to control with steam trains and they so easily go into wheel slip.

For this reason when an engine has to pull a really heavy load, such as Australian iron ore trains, multiple engines are used, up to six or maybe even more, and if that is not enough, maybe a couple at the end to push as well.

You can hear the engine suddenly speed up, as it suddenly blasts out a huge amount of smoke as its powered wheels lose traction.

While this clip worked fine when I first saw it, it has become weird for me with irrelevant voice overs added that change each time I watch it. Just to be on the safe side, here is a train slipping video I prepared someone prepared earlier. 

I've never had this problem before, but the YT video I have embedded won't work thanks perhaps to the new blogging interface. You can click this link: Hmm, not sure that this link will work either. So annoying.

I reverted to the old Blogger interface and all is well. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

The moon rises from a building

This is an astonishingly tall not quite complete building at the corner of Chapel Street and Toorak Road.

Not the last full moon, but the one before, the moon rose from the building. It was amazing to watch and it happened so quickly. It just burst forth.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Execrable Jones

Fortunately while my city of Melbourne does have radio broadcasters with very conservative views, we have not had the likes of the shock jock radio hosts that broadcast in Sydney. The worst, Alan Jones, has been likened to Rush Limbaugh in the US. Jones had announced his retirement and good riddance to a filthy grubby man who is ugly through and through on the inside.

Let's look at his worst. The most recent I can recall was about New Zealand Prime Minister who he said our PM should give her a few back handers and stuff a sock down her throat.

Shortly after another of our PM's father died, he said her father had died of shame because of his daughter's political actions. This is the same PM who about he said should be tied in a chaff bag and dumped out to sea.

Here he is with the controversial extreme right wing gay man Milo Giannopoulos. 

Are you getting the idea? I'll go on.

In 2018 he challenged the head of Sydney Opera House for opposing the projection of horse racing details onto the sails of the opera house and he is quoted as saying, "Who the hell do you think you are?" "You should be sacked!" I remember the interview and he monstered her like the the bully he is.

Four days before the beach suburb in Cronulla in Sydney race riots erupted, he suggested bikies should be in attendance to deal with the racial minority. He was found guilty of encouraging violence and brutality on the basis of ethnicity, and later also found guilty of inciting hatred and serious contempt.

Nice man, hey.

He has cost his radio station a lot of money in awarded damages and a loss of advertising revenue.

But what about the person himself? Caught in flagrante delicto with a man in a London public toilet and charged with 'Outraging public decency' and 'Committing an indecent act'. Well, many gay men could be in the same boat especially if enticed by an attractive young out of uniform policeman as used to happen, but we are not hypocritical about it.

He has shown support for some and a complete lack of empathy for others.

At Kings School in Parramatta where he was boarding house master, a love letter was found written by him to a student.

I am not able to verify this but Jones said Jewish US performer Annie Sprinkle was so bad, he wished her parents had been sent to the gas chambers.

What a right charmer and our airwaves are well rid of him.

Sorry for the heavy and ranty posts over the last few days. I will try for something lighter for my next post.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Arm yourself

I have made a comment on a US blogger's site about personal ownership of guns in the past and it ended in tears. I still read her blog but I don't comment and I am sure she doesn't read mine now.

Hels recently commented on her own blog that we Australians and British do not understand the Patriot Movement in the US, nor the need to own guns, and she is quite right. We do not.

Growing up on a farm I have some knowledge of guns, that is how to use them. But to use them on a human being is whole other kettle of fish. (ok, yes I did shoot a slug gun (air rifle) pellet at my brother, but he was being very annoying and deserved it. Sadly I missed).

I've fired a .22 and a .303 along with a very old gun from one of the world wars but I forget its name (Enfield? No, I remember now, a Martini). They were my father's guns and not registered as they have bee legally required to be here, nor securely locked away and my step mother had possession of them until a few years ago. I think she stored them in the ceiling space. She asked us, Father's children if any of us wanted them and we all said no and so she took them to the police station to be crushed, no questions asked.

Now, I am trying to put myself in the situation. If I am in house in the countryside and someone was clearly up to no good on my property, I could fire a warning shot and I expect they would take off. Actually, my father did that once on the farm when someone was stealing petrol from our large storage tank and it worked.

But, what if the intruder was in your home and confronting you with either a knife of a gun? While there is a possibility of sexual assault, the mostly likely reason is to steal something of yours. Can you shoot him, mostly likely a him? I could not. Maybe if I was being attacked, but then it would probably be too late.

So aside from warning shots, I really don't understand American gun culture.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Flu

ISO works in so many ways. Badly remembered figures but you will get the gist.

Influenza peak season in Australia is August and September, our late winter. Flu cases for Australia in January and February 2020 were 200 to 300 hundred thousand cases. Flu cases in Australia for the last two weeks of March 2020 to the first two weeks of April, 7,000, a more than dramatic decline.

Truly amazing figures and because of ISO.

Speaking of figures, some stats from larger western counties made simple for you. 

US          Pop 330 million. Covid infected 1.3 million.     Deaths 80 thousand.

UK         Pop 70 million.   Covid infected 212 thousand. Deaths 32 thousand.

Canada   Pop 38 million.   Covid infected 68 thousand.   Deaths 5 thousand.

Australia Pop 25 million.  Covid infected   7 thousand.   Deaths 100.

While New Zealand figures might be better, what did we do that worked to keep our infection rate and deaths relatively low? 

I am surprised by the Canadian infection rate. PM Trudeau should have closed the US border earlier (was it or is it closed?) and stopped people returning if they don't go into 14 day hotel quarantine as people do who arrive into our country. Is is perhaps a bit easier to do when you are an island country. I was astonished to learn that people are still flying into and out of the UK unhindered. If you can find a flight to Australia, and good luck with that, you will go into ISO hotel quarantine for 14 days before being set free.

Our own Prime Minister cannot take much credit as our State Premiers forced the Australian lockdown. However, our PM did close the borders to China quite early and to the world not too long after after pressure from the Federal Chief Health bureaucrat.

We quickly built emergency hospitals that have not seen a patient as we prepared for the worst. Sir Humphrey Appleby would be very pleased. We have a huge stockpile of unused respirators. While I am not entirely sure, our health care workers seem to have all the protection they need.

Most people here are not masked. Generally it is only older people who keep the 1.5 metre distance with much politeness if you are going to cross paths with a fellow older person. As you freeze on the spot, the person passing smiles and says thanks, and vice a versa. Younger people here seem very careless about distancing but queue distancing in shops is respected by all.

I've not read it but I believe the book about Australia called The Lucky Country is satirical. Many people take it as a statement of fact. Australia is not the lucky country for so many, nevertheless with Covid, perhaps we have just been lucky. 

What is it like to be on a ventilator when suffering severe Covid symptoms? This person who has recovered tells us. It sound horrendous. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

Monday Mural

A mural taken through a fence in a South Melbourne pub beer garden. I'm not sure I would like the creatures staring at me as I sipped a glass of soda water.

Sunday, May 10, 2020


While I am not walking fast, over the last three weeks I have been walking nearly daily as I found my step count dropped so much by us not getting out and about as we normally do. The more I walk, the more stamina I have the longer the walks are becoming. Herr Doctor will be pleased.

South Yarra is a nice and peaceful place to walk.

A Paddington Bear stares out at the street to amuse and entertain passersby.

Unloved and lonely tennis balls at Melbourne Grammar School courtesy you know what.

A very friendly pussycat. It is years since I have stroked a cat. He, and I am sure it was a he, purred as I rubbed his chin and as I ran my hand down his back, he appreciatively arched his back.

"Fido, come here now boy", the cry went out too late.

As pleasant as South Yarra is to walk, I also walked down the awful traffic sewer known as Queens Road. I haven't walked along there for years because it is just so horrible with five lanes of traffic constantly flowing past. I would have guessed this flatblock was built in the 1950s.

Not so, according to the blue plaque.

I expect these are seriously nice apartments inside. Nice enough on the outside.

There are many modern highrise apartment buildings in Queens Road. This one is incomplete.

Staggered to take advantage of the views over Albert Park but the balconies would not be pleasant places to sit with the noise of the traffic.

A great effort with geraniums, although flag flying always makes we wary.

A couple of times I have bought coffee near the corner of Domain Road and Park Street. The coffee is the standard good coffee from a nice place in a good area of $4. But when I paid with my card, the machine said $4.07. The next time $4.06. I queried it the second time and the accented European staff told me they asked their boss and he told them it was just the machine that did it. While the amount is nothing, it is odd. Is it a card use surcharge? We don't normally pay that when using a debit card, only at times when using a credit card.