Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Walkabouts - 02

My sister has me sleeping on the veranda. The other veranda. she has the back, I am on the front one. It is quite a clever setup, this adds two rooms to the house. The floors are tiled with a nice brown ceramic tile the same one that is in the living room and the kitchen and the two kids bedrooms and the bathroom.. in fact everywhere. it is quite a change from the last time we were here and the floors were just concrete.

There's running water now too, she's had a bore done. The water is very good, it is good to drink straight from the tap. There's plenty of water around at the moment, it seems. It doesn't rain here very often though, this time of year. The first week we were here when we stayed in Cairns just 350 km from here it rained so much there every night that it was difficult to sleep through the noise, but here it was just a bit clouded, with nothing falling out except a few drops.

The sun started shining last Friday the day we left Cairns and it hasn't stopped since. The nights are cold and both of us sleeping on the veranda have thick duvets and hot water bottles but the ones on the house are quite comfy. In Holland the days are 30C and the nights are too stuffy to sleep. Here the sun is quite strong and you can be outside wearing shorts and a skimpy top, but the air is cold and in Cooktown it is windy as always so keep your pullover handy.

Talking about the wind, someone told us that there are plans of building a wind farm up here which is considered good news. It would bring some industry this way and energy prices are the talk of the town here like everywhere else. One of my sisters friends is an organic farmer who originally comes from Scotland. he has lost his Scottish accent completely, at least I can not detect it with my untrained ear, but he has kept the stubborn temperament and the fighting spirit. He is a little man, his face full of lines, white hair sticking out in every direction and a pair of very keen small round eyes beaming at his listeners all in their turn as he is holding most of the conversation.

He has a lot of ideas on sustainable energy projects he would like to build or has partly built and discarded at some point, and gets my curiosity, this is something I would like to get into. It is difficult to get a fix on something concrete to start with though. My sister has got a solar hot water system now, it works perfectly. It must produce water of 50C or hotter, since it is too hot to use without mixing cold water in. He has plans of buying or building a system to dry his fruits, using solar, but in the wet season when the need for it will be greatest, the weather will be cloudy most of the time and the humidity will make it very difficult. Humidity is also a factor which makes solar electric systems dodgy to operate in the wet.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Walkabouts - 01

Note the zero-one... big plans...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Coco's drive nr.6

We've been in Cairns for a day now and all we have seen is a little strip beside the highway and a deserted railroad where we went for a walk. I know, we should have gone the other way and into the mountains, but I am too much a child of the city and I need a cable to charge my ipod - which I stil haven't found though. I have a solar cel charger which should do it because it has all the right connectors and it does do the trick for my cell phones but my ipod mysteriously stays powerless. In my optimism I didn't bring the cable with which to hook it up to the computer so now I am hoping to find a place where I can buy a loose cable. I know, it is that optimism again. It does help if you know you are probably not going to find the thing that you want, you tend to enjoy the road more. There wasn't very much to enjoy on this road however. I caught lots of clingy thorny seed pods with my trouserskirtpantflaps and didn't see a single snake. We were offered three rides and declined two.

We stay in a unit too close to the highway, but the car buzz is easily blocked out. The air is fresh and there is bird twitter all around. Now that I am writing this I suddenly hear the cars closer than ever. This park is new, it is very clean and we have free internet for two hours a day. But the signal is weak and tends to suddenly not be there when you would really like it to be.

We met with a friend. He is currently moving house and has two places to his disposal this coming week. He offered that we can stay in one of his units for a few days before we move on to Cooktown. We played Mah Jong till late last night - Mah Jong is that kind of game - and he promised to meet us again today together with his teenage son.

I rented a car. That is when I discovered that I had forgotten to pack my drivers license.

Fortunately the lady behind the counter has a son who lives in Cooktown and who probably met my sister one way or the other, I am not really sure if this has anything to do with it at all, but she gave us the car with a big smile and a "I'm not worried about that at all". It may have helped that A. brought his drivers license. I can always have it faxed if push comes to shove. The last time we were here we drove from Sydney to Cooktown and back in three different rentals because two broke down on us and not once talked to a policeman or show anyone besides the rental shop person our licenses.

At least this rental is not likely to break down, it is spitting new. It is a 4WD but we have it for the price of a regular car. I really liked that lady!

No pictures yet, in this clean but boring park the most exotic image I managed to capture is a coconut. The weather is kind of grey off and on, the local people seem to enjoy the break from the heat very much, but it is difficult to make really nice looking pictures under the cloud.

Maybe later today.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

packing for Australia

This is just what goes in the carry on bag. In the check in luggage we'll be bringing some plain natural wooden toys, porn, hairspray, glazed pottery, pepperspray - better put that in the carry-on too - morning after pills, anti roach spray.. diamonds.. and an extra bag of apples.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tumbleweed houses

Libertine posted about a little blond lady living in a cute little wooden house only 84 sq ft, and I just fell in love with the little house. It must be so easy to clean! Apart from being environmentally friendly and all that, which is of course supposed to be the real point to the story.

I think I could do that.

Then someone said that it doesn't look like it has a bathroom.

I couldn't do without a bathroom. I need my daily shower.

Frantically, I went and searched the internet.

"Does Dee Williams have a bathroom" I asked Google.

And guess what: Yes. They. Do. Take a look at this cutie here:

I could do that. I'm sure.

Friday, July 11, 2008

How unsafe are topless tower cranes?

Yesterday July 10 a tower crane collapsed in Rotterdam on top of the building it was working. The operator was killed. The crane was a topless tower crane. It broke off just under the operator cabin. It was the same type of crane as the two New York accidents earlier this year, March 30 and May 15. In one case a collar broke as the crane was being jacked, in the other case the lifting arm broke off, in the same place it had broken an been welded before. Here is an analysis from a similar tower crane accident in San Francisco. Here is one (two) in London, mentioning another in Battersea reporting the arm of the crane including the cabin coming off the tower.

I can't help but wonder: How safe are topless tower cranes? Even though I read they are supposed to be safer than other types of cranes including the tower cranes with top, I did a little search on the internet and it seems that when the other cranes collapse in most cases there is an obvious human error in play, like very large load combined with a large lifting radius. In many cases "human error" is an understatement and the operators amply qualify to be nominated for a Dodo award. I'm not even mentioning the accidents when a crane is lifting something out of the water. (That happened to us once, we didn't realize that the vacuum force of the water pulling on the bottom surface of the object was multiplying the weight with a factor... big mistake, the crane went in and we needed a second crane to lift the first one out. See, that's why I am not mentioning..) On the other hand tower cranes seem to want to collapse when the operator has a cramp in his little finger, still the cause is always reported as human error.

The workers on the Rotterdam site report that this could not have been the drivers fault. Before the crane broke the operator succeeded to bring the load back closer towards the crane tower thus saving the lives of others who were working in the vicinity underneath. This was not a reckless crane operation on a site with insufficient supervision. No blame can be put on the workers, the fault will have to be sought higher up this time. A good man died, let's take this problem serious. How unsafe are topless tower cranes and can they be made safer?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Defence of the tree sitters

On this blog I read about the fact that a bunch of Californian (ex-) students have spent the last 9 months living in trees on the terrain of the University of California in order to prevent the university cutting down 44 old oak and redwood trees to build a sports facility.

In most news articles they are depicted as a degenerate group of half monkeys who enjoyed regularly spraying excrements on passers by. I don't think that is doing them justice. I think it is pretty goddamn brave what these young people have been doing and it takes stamina.

In a country where the Republican senator McCain lost the 2000 nomination for presidential candidate because Bush's people tactically spread the rumor right before the elections that McCains adopted daughter was his illegal child born from a mistress, I am not going to believe every word that I read in the media.

Here's to the tree sitters!

A lot of naked bodies, but no pee...
I wonder if this was all they could find. Maybe this explains...
More "Berkeley Campus human waste".
This can't be it, that is not so bad at all.

More dumpster diving, there is a
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Nelson Mandela was on the US terrorist list

There is hope!

This week news got out about a secret treaty between the US and Europe which would enable the uS to access private information of European citizens and vice versa. Europe would be able to act upon crimial behaviour committed by US citizens, but what outraged many Europeans, is that the US, once this lopsided treaty will be signed - which is not yet the case - would moreover have the right to undertake legal action against European citizens for non-criminal activities.

European citizens flagged as terrorists would have no access to their own secret security service files and there is much fear that individuals wrongfully labelled as terrorists would never be able to clear their name.

But as the case of Nelson Mandela shows - there is still hope. The US government is not as bad as it seems. All you need to do is spend 27 years in prison with good behaviour, be a model president for five years after that and bingo, on your 90th birthday you will be home free.

I wonder if they have Tsvangirai on that list too.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008