Bring Back The Ferries!

Last weekend, a new bridge was constructed across the Tasman Highway near the Cenotaph in Hobart. This construction meant the highway was closed all weekend, making it much harder for Eastern Shore residents to travel into the city (they could, it just took much longer).

The Salamanca Markets were kind enough to sponsor a free ferry across the harbour from Bellerive to Brooke St Pier on the Hobart Waterfront (here’s their page giving details of the ferry service).

We’re pretty excited because WE’RE ON A BOAT!

Given my enthusiasm for public transport, and given I was attending an event in the city in the afternoon, I thought we should check it out.

I also wanted to make sure that any person ‘investigating’ demand for a ferry service would know that it would be used. I need not have worried on that last point. I got chatting to a few people and apparently, there were hundreds of people lined up to cross into the city by 10 am in the morning. So great was demand that for a part of the day they put on two ferries rather than one!

Look at how happy these people are!

I’m well aware that a sunny, calm Saturday afternoon probably results in greater demand than a cold winter morning. To that I say: ferries (at least this one) have a bar – with coffee in the morning and a beer at night, it beats the bus!

All I know is, Hobart has proven that we’re keen for it.

Why Thomas The Tank Engine Is Okay

I was recently linked to a story in the NZ Herald entitled “Why Thomas The Tank Engine Is Not Okay“. There were so many factual errors in the article, as well as a general lack of understanding that the fact that Thomas the Tank Engine is a commentary on British Railways’ policies in the 1940s and 1950s, that I could not let it stand.

Trains are sent to the scrapyard if they’re not useful. And we all know what that means – it means they’re executed.
[…]
There are no unions in Sodor, that’s for sure.

First of all, the human equivalent would be firing them (“making them redundant” in the capitalist jargon), not executing them. Secondly, unions don’t exist to prevent useless employees from being fired (except when unions have too much power), they are to prevent good employees from being taken advantage of.

The women trains are actually girl carriages.

Daisy (mentioned in the article) isn’t a carriage, she’s a diesel multiple unit (DMU). There’s a very important difference. In Britain in the 1950’s, DMUs were the future. Daisy is leading the way.

In addition, from a very quick look through the Wikipedia article, there are at least five female locomotives: Molly, Rosie, Belle, Mavis, and Flora. It’s definitely not a 50/50 mix gender-wise, and all of the original “Steam Team” are male, but it’s not zero. It’s just a basic lack of fact checking. Note that I’m not saying there shouldn’t be more female characters – I think there should be – but the article is just plain incorrect.

Either they have no personality (Daisy)…

This was the entire point of Daisy’s character. The Rev. Awdry (I believe) wanted to show diesel railcars as being unimaginative and dull compared to steam engines. This was a direct commentary on British Railways’ campaign to phase out steam engines on British main line railways in favour of diesel and electric propulsion. Steam then, as now, was seen as romantic and full of character compared to diesel. The character ‘Diesel’, the first diesel engine seen in the books, was rude and brash and nobody liked him – again, steam was better than diesel.

Every single character has a flaw in their personality. It’s part of the anthropomorphosis of the trains into people. Henry got bricked into a tunnel because he was too vain. James is rude and arrogant. They are all flawed, just like us.

wnlzm

Traction Engines are AWESOME!

A few weekends ago (on the 19th of July, to be precise) an anniversary celebration of the first traction engine in Tasmania was held. As part of this, five traction engines drove from the Bellerive Oval to the Tasmanian Transport Museum. On the way, they passed by Montagu Bay Primary School, where they stopped to take on fuel and water. I was lucky enough to be there, and to have a camera with me.

Enjoy (I certainly did)!

The Start of a Long ToDo List

BMW E36 318iS
The new (old) BMW after it’s first wash and wax.

Recently I’ve made a heap of changes in my life, one of which has been the car I own and drive. I’ve sold the 2007 Subaru Impreza I bought eighteen months ago with my ex-girlfriend, and bought a 1997 BMW 318iS (an Avus Blue E36 sedan with M44 engine, for the BMW aficionado). This achieved three purposes.

Firstly, I was able to save a bit of money by buying a car a decade older, which I used to pay off some debts. One lesson I’ve learned working for myself is that debt is something to be avoided at all costs, as it crushes the feeling of freedom you would otherwise have.

I also got a more interesting car to drive. Despite having less power (103kW compared to 110kW) and less torque, the BMW is a much better car to drive. Due to the flat cylinder alignment in the Subaru’s engine, it doesn’t produce much of that power lower in the rev ranges, where it is most useful. The BMW’s engine produces more power when you actually need it.

Finally, I have a new hobby. Because the car is a decade older, it has a lot of defects that need repairing. It needs a new roof lining, several body panels need repainting, bits of trim need replacing and the audio system needs an upgrade (I’ve developed an Onslowian response of hitting the head unit to make it pick up channels clearly).

Longer term, I’m also toying with the idea of building a carputer. Given the power and features I want to pack into such a device I’m leaving this until I’m flush with cash. My dream feature list includes such absurdities as shortwave and citizen band radio, GPS navigation, GSM back-to-base alarm system, and management and monitoring of the engine via OBD-II (and BMW’s proprietary extensions to said system). It’s a project that will never be finished, so I’ve decided it’s safer not to start.

Trains in Tasmania

Recently my parents converted an old VHS tape of train videos to DVD. The video tape was an old tape from my parent’s neighbour who spent quite a lot of time making videos of trains. Since the Internet never loses anything, I thought I’d take advantage of the NSA’s backup capabilities to make sure this three-hour gem isn’t lost forever.

The majority of the tape features M and H class steam locomotives, as well as X and Y class diesel-electric locomotives.

As well as uploading to Youtube, I’ve also created a far bigger than necessary torrent of it: here. If there are ever no seeders, poke me via email or IM and I’ll make sure to start seeding it again.