Sunday, November 30, 2008

The First Place on Earth

Those of you who are really into space stuff, especially the Apollo missions, will know the name USS Hornet. The Hornet is the aircraft carrier which recovered Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins after the first moon landing.

This fine old ship has been saved from scrap, and is now a museum, right there in Alameda at Alameda Point.

Alameda Point used to be Alameda Naval Air Station, as featured in Star Trek - The Voyage Home; of course, Checkov spent all his time on a nuclear carrier, and never really got to walk around outside.

Anyway, these are some photos of the Hornet I took while practicing with my D80 last night. Enjoy...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pelicans (again)

Last time I posted about pelicans, it was to say how I find them an impressive bird in the air. I waffled on about them for a bit, but had no pictures.

This time I have pictures, but no words.

I was happily taking some photos around San Leandro Marina, when there was a loud splash right behind me, and only 30ft away. It was this cheeky chap. He drifted down the waters edge and enjoyed a fish breakfast before loping away.

I am still playing with my new camera, getting used to it. I'd been practicing with auto bracketing at home at night and had turned the camera on to ISO1600 emulation. I'd forgotten about this, and so shot these photos are at the same film type; consequently they are quite grainy. Shame as the pelican was close enough I should have got some good detail. Maybe some other day I'll get chance for a do over.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quantum of Solace

So what can I say about the new Bond film? I think it's a good advert for Ford.

The opening scene is a chase between Bond's Aston Martin and two Alfa Romeos. The chase is joined briefly by a Land Rover. Of course the skip truck was a Mercedes, but not everything is a Ford.

Once in Bolivia Bond is met by the leading lady driving a Ford Ka, something not seen in the US, but known elsewhere. This car makes the Fiesta look spacious. I was expecting plenty of action in this little car, but sadly no.

We meet the bad guy, and he tootles around in a caravan of Ford Edge SUVs. These are badged as Hydrogen powered, but I'm not sure if that is true. Ford seem to be working on a H2 PHEV Edge, so this could be subliminal advertising.

Various other scenes Bond is driving around in a Range Rover. Probably during filming Ford still held a stake in Land Rover (sold to Tata Motors in March 2008).

Another Ford shows up when Bond steals an old red SUV, yup a Ford Bronco.

So a Ford full movie, where the US government is painted as hopping into bed with the bad guys and stealing oil left and right. The US are briefly tarred with the same brush, but in a "everyone else is doing it, for national survival..." type of way.

Oh, and the only named airline again was Virgin, but no appearance from Branson this time.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


From My Amoeba Sized Bit of the Web

DW looked at this pic and said "Fish".

hint:- rough, women, motion.


By lavender I am referring to the background behind the dandelion. I don't know which came first, seeing this dandelion or getting the urge to rewatch "Cosmos" today.

Mid afternoon I walked into the kitchen, and was inspired to get a few more photos. I just liked the light through the mini-blinds as they struck the dishwasher.

Of course I then got restless and had to take the camera for a walk. It was about 3:30 when I got out, great clear sky and low autumn sun. Some great textures.

There were some great shadows too.

And some great red leaves too. Strange, they were green when reflecting light, but when the sun shone through it was red.

I think I'll try to touch up a few colours in Photoshop later.

"Aerial" by Kate Bush

No, this post isn't by Kate, but the album is.

It's been a long time since "The Red Shoes", and I gave up looking at the Kate Bush section in the CD store (yes I do still go into such places). As a consequence of this, and my choice to not listen to commercial radio, I missed Kates latest album (in 2005) completely until an on-line friend blogged about it.

Aerial is a double album, split in two parts "Sea of Honey" and "Sky of Honey". They are two separate, but linked works (to my ear). Unlike "The Hounds Of Love" and "The Ninth Wave" where I prefer one over the other, I cannot pick (nor should I have to) a preferred disk.

There are some good ideas on the album, I like PI musically, but I think having to listen to her sing the number each time will lose it's newness. Having said that I do still catch myself singing songs like "Numbers" by Kraftwerk.

I like the last couple of tracks on disk two. They have a nice flowing rhythm.

After reaching the age of 40 I finally get some Rolf Harris in my music collection, something that would more normally happen to a 7 year old. Rolf Harris is a professional Australian working in the British entertainment industry. He is famed as a cartoonist/artist, providing "the other side" an alternative to the BBC's Tony Hart in shows encouraging and tutoring kids in artistic methods. Rolf is also famed for being a folk musician, bringing the Wibble Board and Didgeridoo to Britain. Hmm, I wonder if he was the didgeridoo player on Kate's earlier album "The Dreaming"? The title track there also featured this distinctive instrument.

One of the most striking things about Aerial is that is has reasonable artwork on the CD cover. Remember when you had those gate and triple fold album sleeves pinned up on your bedroom wall, or the poster from inside the sleeve? Those days are gone, as are the multimedia CD's with a little quicktime presentation. Anyway, this card sleeved album is triple fold, with a 22 page book, with plenty of art in it. Including a good photo of Kate and some interesting bird images.

Okay, for the music overall. I kinda feel like I did when I got "Scarlet's Walk" by Tori Amos. Kate's voice has changed over the years, part of it is the style she chooses to sing in on several of the tracks. There are some definite signature sounds, and one track which strikes me as a cross between Pat Benitar and The Pretenders. No, I don't regret getting the album, it is for the most part very listenable. Sure there are a few "experimental" pieces. I'm not I can listen to "Mrs. Bartelozzi" many more times, and I have my doubts about Pi, though it has a great tune.

Die hard fans will already have this.

Didgeroos also appeared on "The Hounds of Love" in the tracks "The Big Sky" and "The Jig of Life", played by Paddy Bush, her brother.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dublin BART

I was just discussing THX 1138 on another forum, and realized I still haven't posted a blog about the "end of the line". Bit of a leap? BART actually featured in THX-1138 before it was open to the public, so it's not a huge leap.

Dublin BART station is a long way short of Victoria or Grand Central, heck I don't think it can even compare favourably to Manchester Oxford Road. However there are a lot of fun things in its architecture.
From Dublin B.A.R.T.

The basic design philosophy was to squeeze it in between the East and West bound carriageways of 580 as it punches it way out to the Central Valley. However, the surrounding approaches and covered walkways to the station are very self referential to pre-existing BART infrastructure, the walkway on the North side of the station is very reminiscent of the elevated track around San Leandro, but more particularly in Oakland alongside Martin Luther King Jr Way by Childrens Hospital.
From Dublin B.A.R.T.

The same sweeping curve is seen in the Southern approach as well.

To the North is a new parking structure, another two matching garages are astride the freeway in Dublin, one behind Stoneridge, the other by the new offramp from 680, these will service the new Dublin station which opens early next year.
From Dublin B.A.R.T.

There is something about these garages, in their mix of open and mesh covered "windows" and the sand and white construction that rends them not displeasing, though the Dublin garage does rise above the flats of the valley floor.

In the above image you can see the sort of cheeky fun they had designing the street furniture, note the downspout from the shelter looks like it is feeding into a dog legged torchier lamp.
From Dublin B.A.R.T.

I thought glass bricks were passe, but here they are incorporated into the arch. Behind, and framed by the arch, you can see the shiny metal roof, undulating over the platforms, the car is in lane 5 of Westbound 580.
From Dublin B.A.R.T.

So there we have it, until the system is extended out to Vasco, this remains the end of the line. Recent activity in the center divide of 580 suggested possible work on the hoped for track, but it is simply the addition of a much needed car pool lane. Who needs an electric train when we all have cars to burn gas...
From Dublin B.A.R.T.

Apache Wedding Blessing

Now you will feel no rain
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now each of you will feel no cold
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no loneliness for you
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons
But there is one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place to enter into the days of your togetherness
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

This is one that we had for our wedding. I like it, and I'm glad that it's pretty true for us. She is my best friend, and I'm glad to have her with me all these years.

The Wonders of I-5

There's a road that I've traveled about half of. It runs from Canada to Mexico through Los Angeles, Sacramento, Redding and a bunch of places I have not been to yet.

The bits of I-5 I have driven are from Sacramento heading North to the volcanic Mt. Shasta, and from Stockton, South to San Diego.

There is a lot of driving to do when getting from A to B on that road, my last trip was some 300, on the way to LA.

Despite a chunk of hot straight dry boring road across the San Joaquin Valley, there are a few interesting points. The most dramatic is the meandering path called The Grapevine, through the Tejon Pass mountain pass that crosses the youthful mountains. Near the top of the pass there is an area which is under perpetual repair, this is where the highway crosses the San Andreas Fault. The fault is continuously slipping, and so the road needs periodic repairs.

I've driven the road quite a few times, but this last trip was most interesting as my travel partner was from L.A. and had local knowledge, and could point out local landmarks, and tell me a little of how things have been changing over the last 30-40 years.

When all's said and done, I-5 is cheaper than flying, and you don't have to rent a car when you get there, but it does put a 7 hour dent into the first and last day of the journey, and I've never gotten home before midnight after being down South.

Will try to find some pictures later.