Sunday, 30 January 2011

Guess Who I Met Today ?

Guess who I met on the cut today ?

This Black Swan wanted me to feed it, but I didn't have anything with me.

Very tame and possibly an escapee from a private lake stock.

Cygnus atratus is a native of Australia.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Plunged Into Darkness and Dead Ships

Its been a strange week of sensory deprivation.

Whilst visiting a company late in the afternoon, I had occasion to visit the toilet.

It was a large company and therefore a large toilet - usually the type you see in films like Harry Potter (where Myrtle the ghost resides) or where you see the hero getting six shades of shite kicked out of him by the villain.

I was standing in an open cubicle, doing what men do standing up, when suddenly the lights went out. As it was already night time outside, it became completely black and I mean as dark as the darkest hole in the darkest corner of Hades.

There I stood, peeing in the dark. A very strange experience - you should try it.

Without being too graphic, I managed to stay on target by sound. When the pressure started dropping, I moved to the next phase by using the light of my iPod. Luckily, I have a torch application for just such as occasion.

Its rather surreal, peeing by iPod, I can tell you.

Anyway, I managed to clean my shoes (only joking) and navigated myself out of the urinal eclispe, to discover that the office cleaner had turned the lights off, thinking no-one was home.

There is a restaurant in Berlin called the Unsicht Bar, where you eat your food in complete darkness.
The staff are blind or visually impaired and its supposed to be a sensory rush.

To be honest, I've met people who cook so badly, they could get a job as the chef. At least you wouldn't see the burnt offering until you tasted it.

My second experience was on a ship.

I visited a ship in the UK to conduct a pre-installation survey.

When I got there, I discovered that there were only a couple of people on the ship, as the ship has no work and all the crew had been sent home earlier the same day.

If you ever saw the movie based on the Stephen King book, the Shining, you will have some idea of how I felt.

Ships are normally vibrant places, with engines vibrating, smells of cooking, sounds of habitation. Much like hotels.

A dead ship is a creepy place to be.

I moved around the ship, trying to find the things that I needed to eyeball and identify.

Normally a friendly crew member would assist me with local knowledge.

Not possible this trip, hombre.

Puzzled as to why I couldn't find one particular item that I needed to locate, I searched and searched.

It completely fazed me for thirty minutes.

Eventually, I noticed a mismatch between the level of the wheelhouse floor and the deck below.
A mezzanine level showed me a 4ft difference which I couldn't account for.

There was a hidden compartment !!!

I knew it was there, but couldn't find an entrance.

In the end, I found an entrance hatch in a completely different place. It was unmarked and I only discovered it through determination and bloody-mindedness.

I opened the hatch to find a huge space, which was clean and well lit. Unfortunately, it was only 4ft high and I turned into a hunched cave dweller.

On all fours, I crawled between beams and girder sections until I located what I needed.

I had gone from being suspended 100ft in the air, with the wind and gulls, having an excellent view of the harbour, to being a troglodyte in a white steel cave.

I breathed a sign of relief as I strided up the windy quayside back to my car.

Dead ships are for dead men - creepy indeed.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Under Pressure

Not a boat related post this time, but still gadget related.

We have a modest and quite economical 4X4 car which we use to ferry us and all our kit backwards and forwards to the boat.

Very useful its been too, especially in all the wintry weather that we've seen just recently.

The first mate is always fooled by the balloon-like tyres fitted to the car and she often asks me if I think this tyre or another looks a bit on the flat side.

So, I've fitted this device to the car.

Its a wireless tyre sensor.

The dust caps on the valves are replaced by little barrel shaped wireless transmitters which lock on to the tyre valve with a special key.

The four of them independently transmit coded messages to the receiver/display at the driving position and as you can see from the photographs, these are continuously displayed.

This is the pressure display in PSI.

This is the tyre temperature display in Degrees Centigrade.

The display has an inbuilt alarm which will detect high tyre temperature, high tyre pressure, low tyre pressure and quickly failing tyre pressures, for all four wheels.

A few years ago, I had a Renault which had this as standard. Beautiful car - could cruise on the motorway all day and when you got out, you still felt as fresh as a daisy.
It had one of these devices fitted as factory standard fit.

Anyway, one day, driving down the M3, it told me that one tyre was slowly losing air - slow puncture ?
As I was doing 70mph, I was able to slow down to a safer speed, pull off the motorway at the first opportunity and top up the air.

By monitoring the loss of pressure and regularly topping up, I got to Southampton, just a few minutes late. The wheel was changed and all was fine (there was a nail in the leaking one).

Had I not had this, I could have run flat at speed.

Always left a lasting impression did that gadget.

Anyway, lets see how it works out on this car.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Happy New Year To All

A very Happy New Year to all bloggers and blogwatchers - enjoy 2011.