Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fighting Passports

I was thinking about passports from various countries yesterday and I noticed a funny thing. Some countries have "fighting" or "warrior" emblems on passports, others not so much. I wonder if there is any correlation between the symbols of the country and how its citizens see themselves, or how would they react if their country was attacked.

Some "fighting passports":

U.S.A:
An eagle with a shield and a pack of arrows in one leg - sends a message doesn't it?

Russia:
An eagle with two heads and a mace in one leg - does it say: do not mess with me? I think it does.

Less aggressive, but still showing muscle:

Poland:

An eagle with massive talons, not little "hands".
Germany:
Still an eagle, but smaller - Germany is a pacifist country now.

Not aggressive at all:

Italy:
Leaves, gear, and a star - look like a communist emblem. Not scary in itself.

France:

A rolling pin and a little axe - kitchen tools. :-)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Mackay

Mackay is about 1000km north of Gold Coast. Jetstar flies there, so off we went.

South Mackay in the distance and left, North and West Mackay in the front.

The city is currently experiencing economic downturn, but being there I get a feeling that this is not the first time it happened.
One million dollar apartments - never built.

Extra wide streets - hardly used.

Somebody lives here.
But there is opulence too:
The harbour

Horse racing on the beach
There are also beautiful old buildings, sometimes obscured by too wide streets with omnipresent cars, or by the much needed revitalisation works:

Erected 1890

Town Hall 1912

Art Deco Hotel Mackay, 1940
"There was a construction boom in the early 20th Century due to a series of unrelated events which combined to transform the appearance of the city. These included: • the fires in 1915 and 1916 which destroyed many shops in Victoria Street • the devastating cyclone in 1918 which destroyed 80 per cent of the buildings in the city • a policy of the council at the time to replace all timber commercial premises with masonry structures for safety reasons • a population explosion that made Mackay the second fastest growing city in Queensland for more than a decade • the economy of the city was made buoyant by steady sugar prices and co-operatively owned sugar mills which led to money being retained within the community. " 
Source: Art Deco in Mackay

Erected 1887

Another beautiful Art Deco building

Bank, erected 1922

Currently AusWide Bank, 1942

City Court

The River St mural is a new initiative to show history of the city and the region through art:

From aborigines and the city founder Captain John Mackay

Through the early history


Many nationalities settled in Mackay

DzieƄ dobry

Self-portrait


 Other interesting places in Mackay:

Rest rooms park - closed on Sunday

"Unreal" plant in the restroom park
The beach in South Mackay during low tide

Same beach

The reason why the beach is devoid of people?

















Thursday, June 4, 2015

Dave Thomas - Huge Memory

A few weeks ago I went to a YOW! Night event in Brisbane to listen to a talk by Dave Thomas. The talk was about a coming revolution in programming caused by computers with huge amounts of persistent memory.

Simply, the idea is to put chips that make our SSD drives into the system bus to give programs direct access to hundreds of gigabytes or terabytes of non-volatile memory. The SSD in DIMM hardware is already here. The software needs to catch up.

Why is this revolutionary? Because it will allow writing simpler, faster programs. With single thread, transactional use of massive amounts of persistent memory there will be no need for server farms for most applications. Replication will still be needed, in case the super-machine crashes, but other than that programs will be lean, simple, and fast.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

G'Day Mate!

About a week ago we got a call from Gold Coast city council, asking if one of us would like to say a few words (1-2 minutes) at the citizenship ceremony. Such an opportunity to embarrass my kids could not be missed - I took it. 

Here is my speech, delivered today at Gold Coast Arts Centre to an audience of a few hundred people:

Ahem, I've been practising this for months... All right, let's see how I go.... Good day? G'Day! :-)

This is a strange moment in our lives: to become a citizen of another country. We had different experiences leading to this day. We had different reasons to migrate. Some of us, maybe most of us, came here, primarily because their partners or parents wanted to come here. Some of us will eventually go back... :-( As Ned Kelly allegedly said just before being hanged - "such is life".

I am one of those husbands/parents who dragged his family here. I was born in Poland. I was quite happy there as a child, but when I became an adult I realised that it was a rather cold and often gloomy place. In Poland heating is usually on for 9 out of 12 months. In autumn and winter the sun is often hidden behind clouds for weeks. The average number of sunshine hours in Warsaw in December is 25. 25 hours for 31 days. That's about 48 minutes per day. If you spend most of your day in the office, you are lucky to see the sun at all in December. Is it any wonder, that I started dreaming about Australia? :-)

But, it did not happen right away. We tried our luck elsewhere first. We moved to Ireland. That was a few years before Poland joined the European Union and thousands of Poles invaded the Emerald Isle. Sorry Ireland. :-) Ireland is a beautiful country, but it is quite cold. We went back to Poland after one year.

A few years later we moved to Florida. It was our second home away from home. Florida's nickname is sunshine state, just like Queensland's. We lived there comfortably for 6 years. But money is not everything. In pursuit of happiness we left the land of the free.

As the saying goes: third time lucky. So here we are today, in the lucky country - Australia, taking on responsibilities of citizenship.

Thank you.


With Tom Tate - Mayor of Gold Coast

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Perth, Australia

Until last weekend Perth was the only major Australian city that I have not visited. This error has now been fixed. 

Perth is a modern, clean, well designed city. Thanks to fast suburban trains, parks, beaches, walking/biking paths, it is probably much more liveable than Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. 

Perth has monuments of their best public servants and of business people.

John Septimus Roe - layed out Perth and Fremantle.

Old and new, both looking good.

Public art.

A piece of medieval England in the centre of Perth.

Transperth trains - fast, clean, and frequent.

Aviation Heritage Museum in Bull Creek.


Australian claim to the invention of a flight recorder.

Catalina - the flying boat.

Australian Army, Vietnam War era helicopter.

Resting place of 23 Australian F-111 planes - a landfill near Brisbane. Why? Because they were used for spare parts to keep the rest flying AND there was asbestos in their bodies. 

Transperth either has a lot of money to replace scratched train windows constantly or their public awareness/shaming campaign is working.
Transperth's campaign against graffidiots.

More shaming.

Appeal to the good in us.

If you see it, or hear it, tell us about it.

See something, say something.

Mandurah, south of Perth, ANZAC day.

Indian Ocean in Mandurah.

Back in Perth.

A monument to immigrants.

Two black swans in the centre of Perth.

Perth's CBD.

Perth's CBD - Government House.

Old and new.

Footsteps in time.

Footsteps in time - the monument.

This is not Disney, this is in Perth's CBD.

Perth CBD - a green cafe.

Fremantle.

A common situation in Australia: narrow track with an extra rail for standard gauge trains, or vice versa. This shows that lack of standardisation costs more in the long run.

The bow of the HMAS Ovens in Fremantle, this boat can be toured, it is part of the WA Maritime Museum.

The bow section with 6 torpedo bays.
A specimen of a Megamouth shark beached in Mandurah south of Perth.

The Oberon class submarines had 7 periscopes for different purposes.

Fremantle was home to American, British and Dutch submarines during WWII.

Submarines with their base ship.

Australia had submarines already in WWI !

Tsingtao - a German colony in China.

American ships in Fremantle - part of the aircraft carrier group.

Fremantle - building restoration - taking off the layer of stucco to expose the original stone and brick wall.

Fremantle feels like that small city in Back to the Future in 1955.

Including the clock tower near the city square.

Another Disney moment in Fremantle.

Fremantle - this is real.

A perfect city beach in Fremantle.
There was also an Australian Army museum in Fremantle, but I did not get lucky this time - you can enter only at two specified times and I missed the last entry by 20 minutes. If you are going to visit, check the tour times first.