claidheamhmor: (Fiday)
I've always had a soft spot for great ships. I think it started with my grandparents; they had a few books I read, over and over again. One was "The Vasa Venture", all about the discovering and raising of the wreck of the royal Swedish flagship Vasa which capsized and sank only 2km into its maiden voyage.

Another book (still in my bookcase) was "The Queen Elizabeth", published in 1947. It was all about the great ocean liner RMS Queen Elizabeth, voyages and wartime experience. The pictures and descriptions of the QE instilled in me a love of those grand ocean liners, and I'm fascinated by them My father was lucky enough to go to the UK on the QE in 1953, as a child, and he still has pictures of the fancy dress party he took part in at Christmas on the deck. I was very saddened when the Queen Elizabeth was destroyed in Hong Kong; it seemed so ignominious.

In the early 1980s, I won a scale model building competition (with a 1/72-scale Focke Wulf Fw-190D-12), and the prize was two models: the shuttle from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and a model of the SS United States.



I loved that ship - elegant, technologically advanced (the superstructure was aluminium), and amazingly fast. It won the Blue Riband in 1952 on her maiden voyage, both east and west, for fastest transatlantic crossing. The eastbound record was only broken in 1990 by the catamaran Hoverspeed Great Britain, and the westbound record still stands, over half a century later. The United States could even do 20 knots (almost 40kph) backward! To reduce the risk of fire (perhaps the designers saw the gutting of the beautiful SS Normandie in New York), the only wood in the ship was in the bilge keels, the kitchen's butcher's block, and in a fire-resistant piano. Friggin' amazing.

Another beautiful ship I liked was the RMS Queen Mary, still preserved at Long Beach, California, and it's nice to see the pictures of her and the (less elegant) RMS Queen Mary 2 meeting up.

Cut for image )

One bit of trivia about ship's horns that [livejournal.com profile] vivian_shaw would probably appreciate: modern horn regulations require ship's horns to be in the 70-200Hz range for large ships, and the larger they are, the lower the frequency, so the QM2 has a 70Hz horn. The original Queen Mary, however, still has a 55Hz horn, designed so as not to be too painful for human ears. I would like one of those in my car, that's for sure.

Autumn

Tuesday, 1 April 2008 22:15
claidheamhmor: (UnderworldEvolution)
Autumn is here. On the way home from work, it was dusk, there were many cars on the road, but everything seemed muted, and there was that little chill in the air - not cold, just cool. As I listened to "To One in Paradise", from Tales of Mystery and Imagination, it seemed a hush had dropped across the city, and all was quiet.

I love autumn.

Carlton

Wednesday, 30 January 2008 13:29
claidheamhmor: (Default)
I was in the Johannesburg city centre last week, and when I found parking (finally!) it was in a parking garage opposite the Carlton Centre and Hotel. So I took a picture: here it is, tallest skyscraper in South Africa, at 50 floors.



In the parking area, I went down the same elevator that had given me several years of elevator phobia when I was 6 or 7. I'd been there with my mom and siblings, the elevator had opened, I had enthusiastically dashed in before the others, and the doors had closed, and the elevator left with me on my own (and I was terrified and in tears). In the basement, a kindly security guard had taken me back up, floor by floor, until we found my mom. I was too terrified to go in elevators for several years after that though...

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