Last week I mentioned our planned Amtrak rail journey across the USA. I want to take my laptop to keep track of daily events, download photos and keep up to date on the internet. My Toshiba Satellite L500 Laptop has a Pentium Dual Core 2.20 Ghz CPU and a 240 Gb SSD memory and a 64 Bit processor with a 15” LCD screen and is fast enough for my needs. It weighs something like 3.5 Kg. It is simply too big and heavy to consider travelling on plane and train.
I do have a Toshiba Note Book, NB550D which has a 1 Ghz single core CPU, a 500 Gb memory, a 32 Bit processor and a 9” LCD screen.
It is very slow especially as many of the features have built in systems to look for updates and security and back up facilities.
They are always running in the background. Little pop ups occur constantly and annoyingly. I know they are using processing power which I can better use elsewhere. However it is small and only weighs 1.1 Kg. I can take it anywhere. Hmmm! The solution is to strip off all the programmes and running in the background stuff I do not need and it will be ideal and is much cheaper than buying a new something which weighs the same. I am running Windows 7 Starter. Because of the CPU size I cannot upgrade to Windows 10. But it is still usable. It is now a little faster and can be used on my trip. It does have wireless so I can access internet.
Tuesday 16th January
The weather is perfect, blue skies and temps around 30° but very strong winds blowing from the south. We went for a walk along the beach at the Broadwater
and Donnis had a swim in the lagoon.
This is a lovely safe family location and is always popular.
Wednesday 17th January.
Today is the first day of Role Specific vehicle training for the Commonwealth Games. It was a long day, mostly in the classroom. We started at 8am and finished a little after 5pm. The last 90 minutes of the day was spent in a vehicle getting used to it and driving to various venues to be used for the games and looking for our specific parking signs. We could not find any signs we were told to expect to see and as we were told by the facilitators at the end of the day, they have not yet been installed. Grrr! We were then told that was our last specific training day but we are encouraged to attend as many Open Days to try different cars and different routes as we can manage. I went to enrol for a number of Open Days only to be told they can only book one day at a time as they expect a heavy demand!!! To complicate matters, my depot at the Athletes Village will not be available until 22nd March two days after athletes etc start arriving! In the meantime I have to book into the far northern depot to learn routes etc for the central depot. Next week I start the first of “how many” Open Days to learn 44 maps and venues, 7 levels of service codes, vehicle Access & Parking Permits, Checkpoints, Screening Areas, Load Zones, Parking and Staging, Holding Bays along with Navigation via Samsung J3 phones and priority lanes on the M1 and other main roads.
Friday 19th January
I have been trying to ride to and along the waterfront at The Broadwater this week. Arriving usually before 6am it is a magical time of day but hordes of other walkers, riders and pram pushers also enjoy that time of day. No matter. It is simply quite enjoyable being there with the near perfect weather and just enjoying the day the weather and salt air.
Sometime overnight a large nice looking houseboat ran aground . I
t appears there may not have been damage to the houseboat but the pride of the skipper may have been injured.
Sunday 21st January
The houseboat was still aground at 6am this morning. I guess they are waiting for a higher than usual tide to refloat.
After lunch we went to Seaworld Beach for a walk. The day was hot but the lovely sea breeze on the shore was delightful. We also discovered the water temperature was 26°. That was warm enough even for me to run in and have a surf except the seas have been huge this week and combined with a northeasterly and falling tide the surf was more like a washing machine with a strong rip dragging to the north. The beach advice was, as usual, swim between the flags and because of the rip, keep your feet on the bottom. Water clarity was surprisingly clear after a week of big seas. Despite the less than favourable surf conditions I enjoyed trying to body surf a few waves.
Had one of our happy walks along the beach of The Broadwater from Labrador to Lands End. As usual there is always something to see amongst the hundreds of water craft plying or anchored there.
Something which really caught my eye was boat built /owned/ used by Commando Knights a family of tight knit pseudo idealists. I have written about the Commando Knights in previous posts on this blog. For example post 467 in December 2014 and again in 548 in April 2017. In both cases the small, almost fully enclosed floating fortress was supplemented by a larger floating fortress. Today, what we saw beached on Wave Break Island was a huge dormitory sized floating fortress. Have a look at this fortress which still appears to be in a state of building. It seems to be built a catamaran platform of some type. Apart from that the structure seems to make no sense at all.
Then again, the Commando Knights may know something the rest of us do not. Have a look at this You Tube video, professionally produced by the Tanton Family. These people are serious.
Brett Tanton who is the proclaimed General of a family of eight, seems to have some military training and is perhaps a member of the Queensland Police based on the Gold Coast.
Saturday 2nd December
Donnis and I have been researching travel plans for May 2018 after the Commonwealth Games are completed. The original plan was a cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines ship Norwegian Jewel for 20 days. The cruise would have commenced in Yokohama Japan, another 5 Japanese ports, then on to Petropavovsk, Kamchatka, Russia. From there it was a cruise across the Bering Sea to Anchorage, (Seward actually) Alaska, a further 6 Alaskan ports and finally finish in Seattle USA. We would spend a few days in Seattle then train to Vancouver, fly to Calgary for a few days then fly to the east coast and spend 10 days in Prince Edward Island exploring PEI and Newfoundland before driving across Canada to Calgary, Vancouver and fly home. Wow! We would have been busy for 6 weeks and the budget was being stretched tissue thin but if we do not enjoy ourselves now we may not have another opportunity. Having decided, we asked for a final quote and cabin assignment. The email reply was encouraging until we found the US /Australia exchange rate has declined in the last few weeks. Worse than that was the original prices quoted was a teaser. US taxes of almost US$1,000 were added to the quote. Add to that the $13 per person per day compulsory tipping, shore excursion costs, air fare to Japan and overnights while waiting to board the ship and the possibility of $500 or more to obtain a Russian Visa, the tissue paper split. It simply pushed the budget beyond our limits. It was a difficult decision to cancel the trip especially as this was a maiden voyage for this ship on this route and a first time port of call to Petropavovsk.
We are now looking a different plan but like all plans it requires some research which takes time.
Hmmm! A train journey from Seattle across the USA to Albany spread over three days sounds interesting.
Sunday 3rd December
The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games are drawing closer. Today I attended, along with 2,370 other excited people, the first Role Specific Training course for drivers.
Back in 2015 volunteers for the 2018 Commonwealth Games were called for. Along with another 55,000 or so other hopefuls, I applied. Gradually those numbers were whittled down to manageable thousands. Some 15,000 people wanted to be drivers. I attended the first selection interview process, which at the time had 4,500 people interviewed. All agreed to a Police and background check. All the approved volunteers, 5,000 of us, for all the various tasks, attended one of three sessions at the Gold Coast Convention Centre. I attended the second session on Sunday 12th November and now all the drivers will begin to attend role or location specific training between now and April when the games begin. Mostly the drivers look to be an able bodied group although I was surprised to see a number of people who were clearly grossly overweight, walked with difficulty or with a cane or in one case, in a wheelchair. I can only wonder how these people will cope driving dignitaries around the Gold Coast and Brisbane for up to 12 hours.
The event was very well produced, fast paced, interesting, lots of loud music. Enthusiasm bubbled and boiled out of the crowd.
Once again I am disappointed I did not bring my good camera. Once we start training and driving I should have plenty of spaces to carry all my things I need. Including the camera. Unfortunately either the mobile phone camera is not sufficient megapixels or I cannot hold the phone steady enough for decent photos.
Now let’s see 2,300 people leave the stadium in an orderly fashion. The coffee booth was closed. The tea and coffee and biscuits tables were cleared away. I waited behind, believing it was easier to read my Kindle and let the crowds sort themselves out. Below the stadium over 1,000 cars were all trying to squeeze out of one entrance only to be slowed by traffic lights which had not been co-ordinated to allow for peak traffic. Only 6 cars at a time were getting through the lights. This was the first sign of chaos I have seen in the organisational skills of the GOLDOC. (Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Organisation Committee). Somebody forgot traffic control and forgot to organise the traffic lights as if it was another big sports day. Eventually a second exit from the underground parking was opened but that traffic still had to merge with the cars coming out of the first exit! It took one and a half hours for me to get out of the car park. Good thing I stayed in my car, engine off and read my Kindle.
Now comes co-incidence and nostalgia time.
Earlier in the week I heard a radio interview on ABC’s Conversations with Richard Fidler. The interview was with Roy Williams, Co-author of a book about the Eternity Man, Arthur Stace. (1885 – 1967) Arthur wrote one word, ETERNITY, in a bold copperplate handwriting style on footpaths around inner suburbs of Sydney.
Mostly the word was written with chalk, sometimes in crayon. As a child and as a teenager, I recall seeing ETERNITY written on the footpath. My recollection is it was always written in yellow chalk or crayon. Until 1962 the identity of ETERNITY man was unknown.
Later in the day I was listening to some music by Australian Singer Songwriter, Russell Morris. A song from his album, Sharkmouth, a song I had not yet heard, suddenly caught my attention. I heard the words and it was about Mr Eternity. Sung in Russell Morris distinctive style it instantly grabbed my attention. This is a brilliant piece of local Sydney history put to music with attention getting lyrics. Russel Morris you have done it again. I am hooked.
This evening, we were driving home from Brisbane. What were we doing in Brisbane? That is another story. Anyway we were tuned to the ABC when The Spirit of Things presented by Dr Rachael Kohn began. The story opened with a song by Jim Low and within the first two lines I knew it was about Mr Eternity. A different song to Russel Morris but just as deeply moving and full of history. Rachael Kohn also interviewed Roy Williams.
In the interview they drove around parts of Sydney where Arthur Stace lived, worked, worshipped and wrote ETERNITY. They stopped at a house in Redfern where Arthur and his wife Pearl lived for about 12 years, The house is tiny in a tiny lane called Arthur Lane just off Moorehead St.
My Aunt Gwen lives in Moorehead St just a few houses away!!!
I also recall seeing a dedication to ETERNITY during the New Years Fireworks when 1999 became 2000. Sydney Harbour Bridge was lit by fireworks which spelled ETERNITY. Later in the year during the Sydney Olympic Games opening ceremony a mock- up of Sydney Harbour Bridge with one word, ETERNITY, emblazoned on it was paraded around the arena.
So, for over twenty five years, from 1930 to 1956, Sydney-siders woke each day to a city that had already been visited by a phantom of the night. A phantom, that was to become the most famous graffiti artist in Australia’s history. For there on the footpaths, on the train station platforms and on the many walkways that linked the city’s buildings was that one word Eternity, etched so beatifically with yellow crayon in the fine copperplate lettering style.
Where it came from, how it got there, what it meant and who was behind this phenomenon was a mystery to all. The mystery turned to fascination and eventually obsession. For decades leading newspapers and letters to the editor debated who or what was behind the mysterious appearance of the word Eternity each morning. It was an enigma, a one-word sermon that had Sydney columnists speculating often about the author. But in spite of the intense interest, the author remained a phantom for those 25 years.
Today, there are only three public places left in Sydney where you can still see Arthur’s Stace’s Eternity.
(1) You can still see a faded version inside the largest bell at the Old Sydney Post Office on Martin Place. Written in about 1963, the ‘i’ has almost vanished, but the word ‘Eternity’ can still be seen.
(2) It was memorialized by Architect Ridley Smith in the re-design of Sydney Square beside the Sydney Town Hall. When it was unveiled at the foot of the Wall of Water feature on the 13 July 1977, The Sydney Morning Herald published: “In letters almost 21cm (8in) high is the famous copperplate message Eternity. The one word sermon gleams in wrought aluminium. There’s no undue prominence. No garish presentation. Merely the simple Eternity on pebbles as Arthur Stace would have wanted it.” Interestingly Ridley Smith was the son of missionary parents serving with the China Inland Mission. His father named his son Ridley because of his great respect for evangelist John Ridley, the very preacher whose words turned Arthur Stace into Mr. Eternity
(3) At the foot of his grave in the Botany Cemetery is his trademark etching in marble of his own special version of Eternity.
This ‘birdlike little man with wispy white hair’, Stace has become known as ‘the Eternity Man’, and is enshrined as one of the characters of Sydney. Others have taken Arthur’s Eternity and given it new life.
Whoooee! Today I took a train trip from the Gold Coast to Brisbane. It was far cheaper than taking i30. No traffic, no parking fees, no fuel, no city traffic woes. I was able to sit back and read or use the WiFi provided by Queensland Rail.
On arrival I went to Anzac Square which lies across the street from Central Station
and stretches between Ann Street through to Adelaide Street.
The Doric Columns and most of the memorial walls and floor of the Memorial Shrine are made from a rock which looks like dressed sandstone. It isn’t. I believe it is made from a local rock known as Brisbane Tuff.
Brisbane Tuff is a type of rock, formed as a result of a volcanic eruption. As the name suggests, it is a type of tuff found around Brisbane. It is a form of welded ignimbrite and was quarried extensively in the early history of Brisbane at the Kangaroo Point Cliffs for use in construction of Brisbane’s earliest buildings.
Brisbane tuff comes in a variety of colours: pink, green, blue (grey) and purple. The different colours are due to the extent of oxidation of iron and manganese.
A Perpetual Flame burns in a bronze urn. Anzac Square was opened on Armistice Day 1930 and is included in the Queensland Heritage Register.
The square, the shrine, the pathways, the lawns, trees and shrubs are all specially chosen and tended as being of a place of solemn significance.
Tuesday 20th June
I attended a group hype session and a personal interview to be a volunteer driver for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The first thing which was obvious was the amount of planning and implementation so far. The games entire volunteer crew is planned to be 15,000 people. Almost 50,000 applications were received and this has been narrowed down to 25,000. Now comes the interview process to bring in the final 15,000. On the fleet drivers section they need a crew of 2,800 and are going through the process of bringing the 4,000 applicants down to that number. The games will have a fleet of 771 official cars which will move sports people, officials and dignitaries around on a 24/7 basis. In fact in the lead up to the commencement of the games will be a lead in period of one month when attending personnel will require transport. If I am chosen it will be a busy period during March and April year. There are about 8 different types of cars to be used from small 4 seaters to larger 6 seaters to 12 seaters and Toyota Coaster 30 seaters. I can drive all of those vehicles except the bus which requires a LR or MR type license. It was interesting to note that even in my group there were those who were nervous about driving anything bigger than a 4 seater and some were restricted to automatic cars only.
Wednesday 21st June
Game II State of Origin.
What can I say about tonight’s game?
Qld lost the first game three weeks ago at home in Brisbane to NSW.
Tonight was played in the NSW home arena against the pumped up unchanged side. Qld had 4 debut players and the return of 2 key players. One from injury, the other from simply not being selected for the first game. At half time NSW led 16-6 and the game looked all but over. The NSW side was dominant until a little into the second half. Then the game changed. It changed almost suddenly. Qld scored two converted tries, the second, two minutes from full time. They looked set to put on another try but the full time siren closed the game. Qld won 18-16 setting the stage for a final decider in Brisbane in three weeks. It should be a sellout.
The star player, Jonathon Thurston injured his already injured shoulder. Medical advice is he should never play again. That means his representative career for Queensland and Australia as well as for his home team is all over. All Rugby League fans will be sorry to see Jonathon leave the game but we all believe he will be back in some capacity either as a coach or a highly paid TV commentator.
Friday 23rd June
Today I went to the Runaway Bay Shopping Centre to collect my laptop which has had a new solid state hard drive installed plus a few tweaks.
The shopping centre backs on to a canal system. For those who do not know, the Gold Coast has a huge canal system of residential land. Every house on the canals has a water frontage many of them have landing jetties and pontoons.
All canals are part of a creek or river system which flows into The Broadwater, one of the premier waterways playgrounds in Australia, if THE premier waterway. The shopping centre knows that much of its custom comes from yachties who live on their boats in The Broadwater, local home owners on the canal, visitors on hire boats and houseboats, fishermen even jet ski riders. The shopping centre provides two jetties and associated pontoon berths so boaties can land, do their shopping and return to the boat.
The canal in this instance gives direct access to The Broadwater.