Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Moment of Fame

Today at work I was listening to a certain Government radio station when the topic of scroggin came up.  The presenter was arguing with another guy about the difference between scroggin and trail-mix.  I chipped in my two cents worth via SMS, with the following insight:

"trail-mix is the poor man's scroggin"

I know this sounds pretty banal, but the presenter seemed quite fond of my comment, and thanked me personally as he read it out over the air on national radio.  He called me a few minutes later (off air), to get my address so he could send me a complimentary copy of the station's monthly music magazine.

I felt quite chuffed, as this is the closest I've been to the spotlight since having a letter published in Time Magazine (the South Pacific edition) 8 years ago, explaining the virtues of the Swedish and Danish soccer teams in the 2002 World Cup.

Simple things excite me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trains on the motorway

I love trains.  I live next to the station and I smile when I hear any train horns blowing.  There's something about seeing 1000 people and 400 tonnes of steel gliding down the rails that warms my heart.  Although in this case, the trains don't glide; they rumble and shake and moan.  Pretty much all of the railways in Sydney were built more than 100 years ago, and they have barely been upgraded since.  So your average train ride is a pretty bumpy affair, and staying on your feet without clinging onto something is about as easy as riding a mechanical bull after a couple of cold ones.

Anyway, as this city grows, it's fairly widely accepted that we need more trains.  The problem is that most of the potential rail corridors have been sold off by the Government over the years.  That's where my idea comes in.  We have plenty of wide roads, and a couple of motorways in places where trains don't currently operate.  If we simply lay track on the existing roads, we have a ready-made rail network.  Allow me to illustrate.

Existing M2 motorway

New train-friendly motorway with the help of Photoshop

Of course it means some of the cars get shafted when the motorway gets narrowed.  But after all, the average occupancy rate is 1.4 people per car.  An 8-car train can carry more than 1000 people.

The main problem I have is fitting the stations on the road too, so people can actually get on and off.  The other challenge is getting the trains to climb the steep sections of the road.  Our trains are only rated to climb slopes up to 3%, and a motorway could be twice as steep.  In an ideal world, we could use these little beauties which have no problems with hills, but I don't see that happening.

I suppose I'll just have to keep dreaming.

Edit: I forgot to acknowledge this site where I found the actual train in the images above.  If you like trains, this site will make you happy:

Also, I stumbled across a brilliant discussion where people were suggesting improvements to metropolitan train and subway networks around the world here.  The proposed CityRail suburban network is pretty awesome.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Axis of Evil

I live in a hilly part of town, and there are three television transmission towers located nearby, making use of the high ground.

These towers have a pretty significant impact on the skyline, and after I moved here I started to see them everywhere I looked.  They are arranged in a triangle and I had a feeling that there was a sweet spot, equidistant from all the towers where strange things could happen (I don't mind the occasional conspiracy theory).  I was sure my apartment was right in the middle of this Axis of Evil.

So I looked at the satellite imagery of this area and found that although it's close, I'm not actually in the middle of the towers.  But I do ride my bike through the very centre of the axis every day on my way to work.  I'll keep an eye out for any strange activity