1 Down, 1 on Tow, 1 Soaring

November 19, 2017

Glider Tracks - 19 Nov 2017

Haven’t been this excited about relearning to soar since I booked the class. When I left the sport hand held GPS trackers made such maps possible. The price:fun ratio was too high so I never used one. Now in Australia all aircraft fly with transmitters and can be tracked on the web. Maybe I’ll be tempted to email or post (tweet? what’s that?) the registration numbers before an afternoon flight, so those who like watching paint dry can follow along.

Back when I was flying a hang glider and learning more about GPS, I found a site where people posted 2D tracks of their hikes, bike rides, boat trips, etc., like the one above. Such ground tracks were done with the only decent freeware program. A fellow hang glider pilot was also a rocket scientist at JPL. Using MATLAB (very expensive software) he posted 3D perspective views of his flight tracks on the club’s website. With his permission, I posted 2 on the GPS users site. “HOW CAN WE DO THIS?!” they asked.

The next day the creator of the freeware program posted a new version that did it. Only took changing a value from Zero to 1. Originally, he hadn’t implemented it because of the additional processing power needed. He changed it because he was a former hang glider pilot.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

So how was the flight on an A380?

April 8, 2017

It looks a lot bigger in real life. There wasn’t a ramp from the gate to the plane, there was a ramp to a 3 way intersection (First, Business, Economy), then stairs, then another ramp then OMG. It’s bigger on the inside than I expected. Four across seating allowed for ‘seats’ (pods would be a better name) with this between the seat part of the pod and and the aisle:

J-20170327_204229-800

For the first time there was more – far more – storage space at the ‘seat’ than I could use. One of these holds the full length sleeping pad and pillow, the other is for, uh, duty free purchases?

20170327-01663-800

I put that pad and pillow to good use, getting 5.5 hours uninterrupted sleep on the way to Sydney.

Return flight was scheduled for 7:30 pm. We left at 9 pm. Is flying Business Class worth it? Good question. Maybe if I could barely afford it I’d have a good answer. I do know time passed quickly and comfortably in the Emirates lounge. But the best part, after walking about 5 kilometers on the warmest day yet, was my first stop in the lounge:

J-20170327_170021-800

In 2015 I flew biz class for the first time, on a flight to Vienna. It was a 60th birthday present to myself and an experiment to see if it would reduce jet lag and travel fatigue. It did. Flew biz class again last year to Amsterdam to verify my findings (HA! I don’t even believe that justification). Thought about a quote I’d read decades earlier: ‘A luxury once sampled becomes a necessity.’ Wasn’t concerned because I’d long since learned that when I did splurge it was balanced by my pervasive living beneath my means.

After my third trip with long biz class flights I’ve realized it’s probably time to switch to another quote. Last year I read about the discovery of a walled off section of a NYC subway line. It contained the deteriorating remains of one of the best known and most opulent private subway cars from the era when the system accommodated them. The author found a quote by the owner from the period she was using the car. When asked if a private car was an acquired taste, she replied, ‘No. One takes to it immediately.’

 

 


O Lucky Man!

March 19, 2017

So far, it had a been a fun day in Melbourne. I went to Luna Park, an amusement park that opened in 1912, for a photo shoot. As expected, on the way there and back I followed distractions, which had me heading back to the hotel later than expected. Not a problem.

Then I kept eating up time. When changing trams, I got on the correct route going the wrong way. Realized that after one stop but waiting for the right tram took a while. While waiting I saw a big banner advertising a stage play touring company now in Melbourne. Googled for tickets, but, as expected, they’re sold out until late April. While my face was buried in the phone, I missed the next tram.

Once on the correct tram I soon saw something worth photographing and hopped off. After 15 minutes, checking Google maps showed 2 options back to the hotel: tram or train. Had yet to take a train in Oz, so I took the longer way home.

Walking from station to hotel I passed a theater. The one hosting the sold out play. An open door had a small sign saying box office open. The stated hours open had started 5 minutes earlier. Walked on, then, in a moment of non-pessimism, turned back and went in.

There was one ticket left for a matinee the next day. She asked my price range. I asked first see the seating chart. Wow. Decided to buy before hearing the price. Why? Sometimes SLADS (Spending Like A Drunken Sailor) seems like the best thing to do.

The view from my seat:

J-20170319_124631-800

Front row in the first balcony.  The show was excellent:

20170319-00758-1280

If I remember correctly, this is the third live musical I’ve seen. First was A Chorus Line by the UC Irvine Drama Department in the early ’80s. Second was Reefer Madness in a 99 seat theater in LA in 1998 or 9.


Off to Oz

March 12, 2017

I’m on my way to Australia for about 2 weeks. Daily updates will be on my post-one-photo-a-day project at 365Project.org. One album will be my favorite images , the other will be a record of and comments about the day, site or photo .

Photography isn’t the only reason I travel, but it is one of the major ones. Necessity may teach me to pack lighter, but here is my travel kit for now.

j-20170309_115651-850

Bottom Row, left to right: Tripod, assorted ties for attaching tripod to pack.

Row 2: Olympus 12mm f2 (multiply focal length by 2 for 35mm equivalence), Panasonic 20mm f1.7, Panasonic 14-45mm f3.5-5.6, Olympus EM10 MkII with Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8, Flash.

Row 3: Two lens hoods (which I should have reverse mounted on the lenses for this photo), SD card reader with cable, White balance cards I’ve been playing with, 2 types of lens cleaners in baggie.

Row 4: Two empty filter cases because replacing a filter in the field without an empty case requires either 3 hands or setting a filter down , stack of ND and CPL filters, Filter step-up rings because the lenses take 3 different sized filters and the CPL won’t fit any without a step-up ring. 2 batteries in baggies with charger and power cable, spare SD card.

The ‘What If something goes wrong…’ row : Replacement or second camera – Olympus E-PL1 with Olympus 14-42EZ f3.5-5.6, 4 spare lens caps, spare rear lens cap attached to spare body cap, External hard drive with 2 128gb USB drives, Filter wrenches.

Top Row: Case for E-PL1 in baggage which also serves as a belt pouch for spare lens(es) in places that don’t allow backpacks, Padded insert designed for photo gear, which goes in the adjacent carry-on backpack

Not shown: Ultrabook computer, any evidence of photographic talent.


Australia In March

December 13, 2016

About a month ago I had the idea of spending a week relearning how to fly a sailplane. Why? For the fun of one last fling in the air. For travel with a purpose. For something to spend on with my Social Security checks, which start in January.

Australia and it’s impending summer were the obvious choice. Near Melbourne is a gliderport that’s next to a small town serviced by bus and train. However, its weeklong learn to soar programs were booked well into the months that are way too hot for me. Maybe next year.

But I wanted to get outta town, outta Thailand and outta SE Asia for a couple weeks before my TBD spring trip. The answer kept coming up New South Wales and Victoria in March, the beginning of their Autumn. So I now have a round trip ticket to Sydney for 14 nights. No plan yet except Sydney – somethings – Melbourne – somethings – fly from Melbourne to Sydney.

Maybe the weather will cooperate, allowing a day of sailplane lessons.