Sunday, July 25, 2010


Alert and sharp photographer in the right place at the right time gets spectacular sequence of an ejection and crash (linky). The second shot is just unreal, with the pilot separating from his seat with the parachute opening while his jet is a few feet of the ground. In the last shot the empty ejection seat is seen falling just outside the fireball.

This was a Canadian Forces CF-188 Hornet practicing for an air show on Friday in Calgary and there were no serious casualties apart from the jet.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I picked this up at a book fair earlier in the year. This book was published in 1978. It is more than 30 years out of date, introductory in nature, and frankly, has very little in it in my particular areas of interest that I don't already know, or haven't seen somewhere else.

I admit, I bought it only for the cover illustration:

As covers go, its a pretty good one. The caption says "An English Electric Lightning travelling at 1,300 mph". For a not so brief history of the aircraft, here is the wiki link. The Lightning served as an interceptor with the RAF from the early 60's to the late 80's and is one of my favourite aircraft. It has character in abundance, being completely spectacular in some areas, and almost fatally flawed in others. One of the spectacular bits was the performance; a Lightning was capable of reaching the cruising altitude of an airliner at 36'000 feet in less than 3 minutes from a standing start on the ground, and could then accelerate to Mach 2. Thats an impressive stat now; in the 1950's it was close to science fiction. The unofficial height record for the type is around 88,000 feet. For an aircraft that was initially designed close to sixty years ago it remains serious performance, even compared to more modern stuff.

Note for Wellingtonians: in addition to building awesome jets, English Electric also built, among other things, the older transmetro commuter trains (the ones that used to be painted red, date back to the 40's and 50's, and are still in use).

The caption is short on detail, but just looking at the picture I can tell it is an early or mid-production Lightning, an F.1, F.2, or F.3 because of the single fin on the belly bulge (the ultimate F.6 version had a bigger bulge with twin fins).

The picture was probably taken from another Lightning, since that would have been the only other aircraft the RAF had that was able to keep up. I'm not sure about the '1,300 mph' claim, not because it was impossible (it was capable of 1,500), but only because it would have been a lot easier to formate at a lower speed, then light the burners for the shot, plus with the Lightning's famously limited fuel capacity it would have given more opportunites for the photo (Lightnings never travelled at 1,300 mph for long).

Nevertheless, it is a cool pic, and I like it because it sums up the aircraft quite nicely, unconventional looks married to awesome power and performance, and reminiscent of a long gone era, and the sort of imagery I loved as a kid (and still do).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Seals

Because I haven't got anything else ready to post tonight, here are some more seals. These shots aren't from the weekend, these are from a couple of years ago (Sep 2008) when I took my bike out the colony. It was a nice sunny day, and the seals and scenery made interesting subjects (and were occasionally interested in me). I put some of these on facebook at the time, but never got around to putting them up here until now. All shot with a long lens to make sure I didn't invade their space in case you were wondering (freaked out seals aren't a good thing to be around. They can move really quickly on land when they want to, and have more than adequate teeth).

Another angle on some of the exposed faulting, and when-not-if source of the future 'big one'.
Near the colony there used to be a quarry. I like how the rock layers are all exposed like in a geology textbook.
And if my bike ever completely fails, you can be sure that after I strip all the useful parts off this is what I will do with it. Wedge it on a traffic island for all to see....
I have no idea what was going on with this. I was just driving past and it was there.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Melling Bridge at about 8:30 this morning. Frost on the railing, on the footpath and riverbank. Still crisp mornings like this are one of the few times I like winter.
Kinda cold for cycling though (I had two pairs of gloves on this morning, amongst other thermal layers), although not as cold as Monday and Tuesday were. They were actually icy.

And the novelty of crunching through frosty grass is even more fun on a bike.That said, there are times I am glad we are so close to sea level here and only have frosts and occasional icing to deal with. I probably wouldn't enjoy riding through proper ice and snow so much.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Not quite navy seals

More like Marines maybe. But smellier. Seals look cute and cuddly (but aren't), and smell bad (kinda like rubber mixed with fish). Fun to watch though. A former biology tutor of mine was completely dismissive of seals being charismatic, the cubs in particular. He said the cubs were all cute and cuddly until one decided your tent was a nice place to sleep (this was on an isolated subantarctic island) and 1: you found out how smelly they were, and 2: Mum seal came looking for her baby...

Fi, Kirsten, Charlotte and me exploited the fine weather on Sunday to take a late afternoon stroll to the fur seal colony at Sinclair Head on the south coast facing Cook Strait, passing Owhiro Bay and Red Rocks along the way.
Freed of her mountain buggy restraints, Charlotte displayed a tendency for finding her own path.
And had to be held back from trying to pat a seal
Some other happy snaps

One of Wellington's faults on display for all to see ( I think, but I can't find a detailed enough map to be sure):
There is probably a childrens book idea somewhere in this pic, alhough I'm not sure how you would work 'shag' into it (the one that isn't a seagull).

Its called 'Red Rocks' for a reason (either blood from Maui's fish hook, or iron oxide depending on how romantic you are).

Looking across the harbour entrance to Pencarrow at sunset.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Repping it up

Quietly loving that Charlotte is now big enough to start wearing this particular t-shirt, even if she doesn't quite fill it out yet.....
It's only taken the better part of two years:)

Just for those wondering what this is about, its a reference to where we live (linky). It has something of an unfair reputation, discussed by me a few years ago here.

Monday, July 05, 2010

How cool is this?

Got a spare $9,500US to spend?

How about a lifesize cast replica of a T.rex skull? (linky)

Or if you are looking for something a bit more subtle, for $5,750 you can get a half skull suitable for hanging on the wall of your lounge (linky) (spokesmodel not included).

If those are just a bit too cool, how about an arm or a leg?

If I had that sort of disposable dosh I'd think about it, just because I like the idea. "Oh yeah, I've got a Tyrannosaur skull in my lounge"....

$100,000 will get you a whole skeleton, although that probably won't fit in the lounge.

Budget wise though, I might just have to settle for a tooth. Albeit, a pretty big one. It would go nicely with the fossil Great Shark tooth I have already.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Secret to All Whites World Cup Success revealed

Listening to: Paradigm Shift - Rhian Sheehan (2001)

Spot the difference. All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen:
The Incredible Hulk
Paraguay just didn't make him angry enough.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Picked up a few books at the ex-public library sale a couple of weeks ago. More than other sales the take from this one gives an interesting snapshot of some of the things I am into (not all of them; I'd need a heap more books to go one for one there). Also noted I had borrowed at least three of these when they were active library books...
So clockwise from top left:
The Art of Deception in Warfare - Basically a history of camouflage. I'm interested in perception and how it can be tricked. There is some very clever stuff in that; The Nuclear Age - The Cold War was a vivid part of my childhood, and I am still interested and intrigued by certain aspects of it; Wings of Fury - Completely naff title, but good insight into how dogfighting tactics developed after Vietnam; Encyclopedia of Volcanoes - because you never know when that might come in handy. I like volcanoes; Tyrannosaurus Sue - the saga of the most complete T.rex fossil ever found, and the legal debacles to figure out who owned it. Also some good insights into the history of fossil collecting and field paleontology; The Big Splat - About how we got our moon, and all the various theories for its origin, from ancient to now.

A steal at $2 each!