The Pyramids. Before we look at the Pharaoh's pet project, a couple of questions for the pyramid experts.
The current entry to the great pyramid is through the robbers tunnel. This burrows along side but not close to the blocked entry passage until it is clear of the blocking stones and then rejoins the unblocked section of the original passage. How come these robbers knew how much of the original passage was blocked? Did they have plans?
The tiny but accurate rectangular shafts, which go from the internal chambers up through the solid stone blocks towards the various stars, are beautifully smooth and dead straight. The pyramid's internal stone blocks are cut more roughly and not fitted as accurately as the external ones. How could the builders get an accurate shaft, which was too small to climb into, cut through inaccurately laid stones?
OK enough of that, lets look at the overall logistics of building a pyramid.
There's something very odd about the Pyramids. Especially when you start to crunch the numbers. We are told that there are over 2,000,000 blocks of stone, typically weighing 2 tons. If we assume the Pharaoh would have the best medical staff available we could assume that he would live to 60 when most others were dying at 40. If this is so then we could assume that he would probably start thinking about his own death at about 40. This gives him 20 yrs to build his tomb, ie the pyramid.
So, using ball-park figures:-
2,000,000 blocks in 20 yrs. that's 100,000 a year.
If we assume, like the experts say, that slaves were not used, then it must have been the local population. Allowing the workers a day off a week for worship and family that's 330 days available in 1 yr. That's 300 blocks per day.
As Egypt doesn't get much twilight then there's about 10 hrs of good daylight. That's 30 blocks per hour or 1 every 2 minutes.
Most of the local population have to tend the fields for approx 8 mnths a year. The Nile floods the other 4 mnths.
So now we have only got say 20% working all year round and the other 80% only working 4 mths.
If we use slightly more accurate figures there are about 2,500,000 blocks in the biggest Cheops pyramid.
This means we need 160 blocks a day for 8 months of the year rising to 800 a day during the 4 mths of flooding. 800 blocks a day equals 1 every 45 secs. That rate is mind boggling.
Now looking at the number of people required and the speed they have to move:-
If each block weighs 2 tons it would take about 50 people to pull the sled up a sloping ramp. 2 tons are about 4,500 lbs, add another 500 lbs for the sled and friction, so 100 lbs per person. Remember they have to pull this load day after day after day, week in and week out. Dont get confused with a heavier load that they could pull for a short time only.
Assume they are laid out in 5 rows by 10 people. The angle of the outer ropes to the sled would be too great so its more likely they are 3 rows by 17 people.
The length of a rope to accomodate 17 people would be 17 x 3ft. That's 50ft, plus 10 ft between the sled and the first person. So 60 ft of rope plus 10 ft of sled, a total of 70 ft. Allow 15 ft between one group and the next and you have a total of 85 ft from the leading edge of one block to the next.
As they are coming at the rate of one every 45 seconds then the teams have to move the block 85 ft in 45 secs. That's about 1.25 miles per hour continuous average speed for 10 hrs a day. No stopping.
Now the difficult bit, cutting a block out of the cliff in the quarry and getting it all nice and rectangular with square edges. How long to do that? A day. Now some experts have suggested that the stones inside the pyramid, the ones you cant see, are much more roughly cut and dont have neat sides or edges. These may only take 2 hrs to cut out. Still using ball-park figures there are, on average, approx 10 rough stones blocks for every good one.
If so then, at any instant, you would have to have 80 good blocks and 150 rough blocks being cut simultaneously out of the quarry for a total of 800 every day, 6 days a week for 4 mths or a big storage area to store 220 blocks per day for 6 days per week for 8 mths and do either of these for 20 yrs. It's hard to believe that's possible.
Just how did they get those stone blocks up the pyramid?
Some experts believe that an enormous ramp was used. Some believe it was fitted with uniformly spaced oiled wooden pillars and the ropes from the sleds were looped round them so the men pulling the sleds would actually walk down the ramp to pull the sled up. I have three problems with these ideas:-
There would be more material in the ramp than in the pyramid. What happened to it?
The ropes would have to be twice as long or the ramp twice as wide. If the ropes were longer, there would have to be a greater distance between the groups, and hence the speed would have to be 2.5 miles per hour, not alowing for the time to move the ropes from one set of pillars to the next. If the ropes were not going to be lengthened, then the ramp would have to be twice as wide to let the columns of men, pulling the ropes, get past either side of the sled. This means twice as much material in the ramp, which would already have more than twice the total amount in the pyramid itself.
Wooden pillars and rope, greased or oiled, wouldn't take kindly to all the stone dust that would be flying around. They would wear out in no time. Not to mention the stone dust stuck to the moist rope ripping the peoples' hands to bits. If wooden pillars were going to be used, I believe they would be sheathed in polished beaten copper sheets and not greased.
What do you think about this?
If we assume the best people in those days were just as clever as we are today but just had less knowledge, I cant believe they would have had people pulling the blocks up the pyramid on sleds and wasting all that energy if there was an easier way. I believe there is an easier way and they already had all the technology to do it. All they would have needed were:-
Thick tree trunks
Polished sheet copper
A lot of happy teenagers
Some stone blocks with one side cut at 52 degrees instead of 90. This side also has a vertical slot cut in it.
Just to get the idea rolling, assume the pyramid is at the 20 ft level. That probably means it's got 4 or 5 layers of stone blocks already laid.
Assume in the centre of one side of the pyramid, a number of stone blocks with one side cut at 52 degrees are placed, one above the other, to make a steep ramp with a wide vertical groove or slot, up the side of the pyramid, looking rather like a thin vertical strip of the final outer casing with a wide slot in it.
Now build another on the opposite side of the pyramid so that they are exactly opposite each other.
Now line these grooves with flat planks of wood keyed into the stone in some way so as to prevent them moving.
Along the edge of the top layer of pyramid stones lay a thick tree trunk, which is sheathed in polished beaten copper sheet, horizontally, so that it straddles the top of our ramp and fix it in place. If not a tree trunk then special stone blocks, which look like half a pillar split down the centre, flat on one side and half round on the other and sheathed in copper.
Do the same on the other side of the pyramid.
Now build a wooden sled with a floor which is at 52 degres to its runners.
Sheath each of the runner's bottom and sides with polished beaten copper sheet.
Build another sled for the ramp on the other side of the pyramid.
Place one sled in its wood lined grooves and its floor should now be horizontal. Its 52 deg offset should match the 52 deg slope of the pyramid wall.
Fix an appropriate number of long ropes to the top of the runners and pull the ropes up and over the pyramid and down the other side, making sure the ropes run over the copper sheathed tree trunks at the top of each side of the pyramid. It shouldn't take too many ropes. The 1200 ton Manly ferry South Steyne only needed two to hold it against the wharf when the tide was flowing.
Have the people pull the empty sled up to the top of the side of the pyramid and chock it there with sliding stone or wood blocks.
Fit the other sled into position in its wood lined grooves on the other side of the pyramid and fix the other ends of the long ropes to the runners of that sled so that the ropes are stretched tight between the two sleds over the top of the pyramid. I assume there would be some procedure or mechanism for taking up the stretch in the ropes.
Load a stone block on to the sled which is at ground level
Place some smaller rectangular stones on each terrace to provide a temporary set of steps up the side of the pyramid.
Get about 100 teenagers that weigh approx 70-100 lbs each to climb up the pyramid and get on to the sled which is at the top of the pyramid.
Pull out the chock blocks and down go the teenagers having the ride of their life and simultaneously up goes the stone block with no waste of manpower.
Once the sled with the block gets to the top, its chocks are slid across. The teenagers, who are now at ground level, get off and climb the pyramid again. A new block is now loaded on to the sled that they rode down. They get on to the now empty sled at the top and down they go again. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
The speed of ascent could be controlled by a squeeze brake on the ropes, possibly another tree trunk on top of the copper sheathed ones.
As the pyramid gets higher the ropes will have to be shortened slightly every few layers. (At least they dont have to be lengthened. If the slope had been 60 deg the ropes would not have to change length at all. Didn't one of the earlier pyramids have its walls at 60 deg but it was too steep and the walls collapsed after it was finished?)
As the base of the pyramid is about 740 ft per side, a number of these see-sawing sled-lifts could be made increasing the throughput of blocks quite a bit. If you had 10 sled-lifts then the individual block rate per lift could be 1 every 7.5 minutes, a bit more practical.
To solve the problem of ropes going across the work area they could do one of three things.
Just decommission one sled-lift at a time and lift the ropes out of the way.
Pile the blocks two-high alongside the area under the ropes and slide the blocks down into position with the ropes pushed out of the way.
Build the outer blocks up first so that the copper sheathed logs are much higher than the level being worked on. Thus the ropes would be way over the workers' heads. Copper sheathed wooden tees could hold up the ropes when and if they went slack at any time.
I envisage continuous streams of happy teenagers climbing the various stairways, leaving the stronger men to manhandle the blocks along the ground and the top of the pyramid. I also see the sled-lifts going up and down continuously taking one or more blocks up every time they ascend.
I believe ramps were only used for the first few levels then they changed over to the sled-lifts.
As the pyramid gets higher it gets narrower, so you just remove the two outer sled-lifts and their slotted ramps and so on, until only the middle one is left. To do this nicely, there probably would be an uneven number of sled-lifts. ie 11. When you get to the capstone the ropes would go either side of the top. What generally helps all of this is that, as the pyramid gets higher, it needs less blocks for each level. However, as you reduce the number of sled-lifts, you have to either, increase the thru-put per sled-lift if you want to keep up the average rate, or, you have to increase the thru-put at the lower levels of the pyramid so you can afford to slowdown as the height increases. This choice is forced on you regardless of the method used to get the blocks up to the top of the pyramid. Taking this into account you could be looking at a rate of 1000 or more blocks a day at the lower levels. (1 every 30 secs!!!)
The beauty of the sled-lift system is that people are enjoying themselves instead of working and they dont have to be big and muscular and in perfect health. They could have a club foot, one leg shorter than the other or only one arm. As long as they have the energy to climb the pyramid they can be doing their bit for the Pharaoh.
Hit or Myth? Are the following just Myths or is there a hint of truth hidden in there somewhere?
Australians are the most balanced people in the world. We have a chip on both shoulders.
History is just a myth that everyone agrees on.
During WW2 German-made ball-bearings were used in British tanks.
An open bowl of sodium bicarbonate placed in a refrigerator will remove any strange smells therein.
During WW2 British-made EF50 radio valves were used in German military radios.
An open bowl of water, placed in a room with an electric radiator, will prevent the air from drying out.
More WW2 fighter pilots were lost by showing off and accidents than actually shot down, on both sides.
Before the P51 Mustang was barely off the drawing board, an Australian designed and built fighter with a 2500mile range was turned down by the Australian Government.
The Japanese Zero was based on an Australian plane rejected by the Australian government pre WW2.
Countries that have the Eagle as their emblem believe in world domination, Rome, Nazi Germany, .....?
After its population blew the fifth planet to pieces, remnants of said population travelled to Mars and Earth. The Mars group died out long ago. The Earth group are getting ready to repeat the exercise.
An open bucket of water, containing crushed onions, placed in a freshly painted room will remove the paint smell.
Global warming is caused by natural phenomona and not human activity.
White egg-shells placed on the top of Tomato stakes will keep away the moths.
The Earth has been infested with humans more than once.
Global warming is caused by human activity. The excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is due to the billions of fizzy drinks consumed every year.
It's amazing just how much coolness can be generated by a few hot words.
If you take a baby out on a windy day, it will get colic.
Doing more with less is actually impossible, but it sure sounds good.
The difference between the good ol' days and now is that we have a lot more technology.
To bring back the good old days, just remove the technology.
Bigger usually means worse.
It's who you know, not what you know, that counts.
The people who have the power to fix a problem usually dont see the need to.
Progress is just the destruction of all the good things our parent's generation left us.
It's people who say "It's not good enough" that cause progress to occur.
Nobody knows what they dont know until they know it.
People seem to enjoy doing things more if they think they are the only ones doing it.
New doesn't automatically mean better.
People who say that all men should act like brothers obviously dont have any.
A Communist is a person who thinks no one should own anything of value.
A Capitalist is a person who thinks no one else should own anything of value.
If you owe the bank a thousand and you cant pay it back, you have a problem.
If you owe the bank twenty million and you cant pay it back, the bank has a problem.
People become politicians for the good of the country.
It's the Opposition in parliament that stops a democracy becoming a government of bullies.
Light travels faster than sound. That's why politicians appear bright until you hear them speak.
A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
In democratic governments the kettles are always in power while the pots are only in opposition.
Politicians, like nappys, often need to be changed for the same reason.
The winner in an election is the political party that has the least votes against it.
Australia is a lucky country.
If a lie is repeated often enough everybody will begin to believe it.
A democratic country is one in which you can say what you like as long as you do what you're told.
In Australia, due to defamation and vilification laws, you can say what you like as long as no one hears you.
People who haven't fought for their freedom are the first ones to give it away.
One thing we can learn from our history is that present enemies may become future friends and more importantly present friends can become future enemies.
Be wary when your enemy congratulates you.
A democracy only works correctly when the voters are intelligent, well educated and well informed.
Maybe the above explains the lack of statesmen in Australian politics.
Societies where the government tells its citizens to spy on each other are among the worst in the world.
Societies where the people tell the government to go to blazes are among the best.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The NSW Govt changed to a 4 term school year so that the tourist industry would have the best time of the year to itself with no holidaying school children cluttering up the place.
There's no such thing as an honest politician, just ones who haven't been caught yet.
When politicians commit the heinous offence of lying to the Parliament, they are punished: when they lie to the voters, its called a non-core promise and we let them get away with it.
The voters get the politicians they deserve.
To help in deciding who to vote for, mentally dress the relevant politician in the black Nazi SS uniform. If the politician looks like they were born to wear it, think very hard before you decide.
By their recently passed legislation, Australian politicians act like a lot of old women.
The Government is pricing higher education out of the reach of the average person because their friends in big business cant find anyone to do the mundane jobs.
A Politician calls his answer to a problem, a solution, because he knows it will be watered down before implementation.
In days of old, the most used Australian catch-cry was "She'll be right mate." Nowadays it's "We used to but we dont any more."
Vacuum-tube technology was used to entertain and inform the masses.
Solid-state semiconductor technology is being used to control and enslave the masses.
The movie "Rain Man" started a chain of events that led to Qantas's safety record taking a nose-dive.
When interest rates fall, money is taken from the savers and given to the borrowers.
When interest rates rise, money is taken from the borrowers and given back to the savers.
Peace is just the period in which countries restock their armories.
Propaganda is the art of deceiving your friends rather than your enemies.
Diplomacy is saying "Nice doggie." while looking for a big rock.
War occurs next time the dog hears "Nice doggie."
Do-gooders end up doing more harm than good.
A bore is anyone who talks more than you do.
The Great Pyramid of Egypt was built in 20 years.
Eating carrots is good for your eyesight.
The more cockroaches in the kitchen, the better the restaurant.
Some families can trace their ancestors back over 200 yrs but dont know where their children were last night.
Spare the rod and spoil the child.
You can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time but not all the people all the time.
An ordinary person can make a difference, that is a truly lasting difference.
There's no more satisfying form of power than to do what you want without others being aware of it.
When people start attacking the messenger you know the message must be true.
Many a true word is spoken in jest.
If you can make people laugh in a serious discussion they wont take the discussion seriously.
Just because someone utters the words doesn't mean they really believe them.
Nice people finish last.
Ever notice how modern business managers all say that their staff are their most important resource, then try every possible way to minimise the number of these very same employees, sorry, human resources.
There's nothing like a rigid hierarchy to whet one's appetite for breaking the rules.
There was a time, if a few people broke the rules, they got punished. Now when a few people break the rules, we all get punished.
A conclusion is what you come to when you get tired of thinking.
The quickest way to find something you've lost is to buy a replacement.
Walking under a ladder is bad for your health.
Moth balls attract moths.
Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.
People who have a watch know the time. People who have two watches are never sure what the time is.
The person who changes the toilet roll gets to choose which way it goes on.
To relive your schooldays, get a piece of real leather, an apple and a freshly sharpened pencil, and smell them.
A person with money to burn has a good chance of finding a perfect match.
In marriage, people neither get what they want nor want what they get.
Some wives think if you give them an inch it makes them a ruler.
The reason women live longer than men is because paint is a great preservative.
A man is incomplete until he's married - then he's really finished.
As soon as most women have a drink or two, they start looking for a chaser.
When courting, a man spends so much on a girl that he ends up marrying her for his money.
A Priest always tells people they should be married knowing fullwell he'll never have to.
Wisdom often comes with marriage but by then it's too late.
The ideal marriage is one between a blind wife and a deaf husband.
Bigamy is having one spouse too many. Monogamy is somewhat similar.
A financial genius is any man who can make money faster than his wife can spend it.
The word most favoured by women is usually the last one.
Any man, who thinks he's more intelligent than his wife, is married to a smart woman.
Before marriage a man yearns for a woman. After marriage the "y", like the husband, is silent.
Nothing reminds a woman of all that needs to be done around the house like a husband who is taking it easy.
God created Adam, took one look and thought he could do better, so he created Eve.
God made men fools so that women wouldn't become old maids.
Women used to marry for better or worse. Now they marry for more or less.
Gentlemen prefer blondes because they think blondes are dumber than brunettes ; in reality they just act dumber.
Women have sex until they become mothers, then they have headaches.
Senior citizens have as much sex as newlyweds. Newlyweds have it as often as he can rise to the occasion. So do they.
A monologue is what you call a conversation between a husband and wife.
It's ok to pray in your sleep, but beware the man who says Grace in his sleep, when his wife's name is Violet.
One wife's view of retirement: Half the money and twice the husband.
Many older women say they dont like young women wearing backless frocks, but what they actually dont like is the perfect frockless backs.
The aim of any woman is to find a meal ticket for her children then bury him.
The aim of any man is to find a woman he can bury his head in.
The aim of any private enterprise is to separate you and your money.
The aim of any government is to stay in power.
Television programs are the result of asking the public what it wants.
To relive your last motel holiday, slip a slice of bread in the toaster, turn up the heat and smell the nostalgic aroma of burnt toast.
Egypt's tourist industy is in ruins.
Ever noticed that nobody has enough time to do a job properly the first time but there's always enough time to come back and do it again.
Nothing travels faster than light, except bad news.
The person you see in the mirror is seen by nobody else.
All things spoken by an Expert are just words coming out of a drip under pressure.
If you want to appear as a natural born leader in any situation, just keep your head when all those around you are losing theirs.
There's no sicker person than one who is actually sick on their "sickie".
No matter what happens, there's always somebody who knew it would.
The truth should never get in the way of a good story.
Ignorance should never get in the way when voicing your opinion.
Barking dogs rarely bite. It's the quiet ones you have to look out for.
People, who complain about a problem verbally, rarely do anything about it.
People, who say I'm gunna do this or that a lot, rarely do anything at all.
When the past is worse than the present the people in power make sure you hear all about it.
The most important thing wrong with the NSW Railways is that the Ruling Class doesn't travel on them.
When the past is better than the present they make sure you dont hear about it at all.
Pre-packaged biscuits have pretty pictures on opaque packaging so you cant see if they're broken.
You have to wonder what express means when you see a magazine rack in front of a supermarket express checkout. Maybe that's what ex-press really means.
The good things you bought in the past are not made anymore but the rubbish still is.
Cynics are disillusioned idealists who have had their eyes opened.
Optimists tell pessimists that there's no point worrying about things you can do nothing about. Pessimists say that's exactly why they do worry.
People who are happy just dont know what is really going on.
The human race has not yet gained the wisdom to not always do everything it has just learnt how to.
Throwaway plastic bags have become an intrinsic part of our garbage system by reducing flies, smells and disease from six day old rotting food scraps in our warm climate, and less trees cut down for newspaper to wrap rubbish.
It's not the actual truth that matters but rather what people will believe is the truth.
Various Newspaper Companies are getting behind the push to remove plastic bags. They think the public will have to buy more newspapers. (to wrap the rubbish in)
It's the media which controls public opinion , not the public.
What we can learn from history is that we never learn from the past.
A good workman never blames his tools. That's why you should always borrow someone else's.
When searching for something it is always in the last place you look.
Owning a pet makes old people live longer.
When searching for something it is always in the last place you can look.
To reduce a major portion of the world's pollution, clean up the film and television industry.
Roads would be safer if the curves were only outside the car, not next to the driver.
All the petrol saved, by having a large wind-tunnel-optimised sloping windscreen, is completely wasted running the necessary air-conditioner.
Cars with large sloping windscreens will increase the number of skin-cancers on the back of the drivers hands.
Pedestrian crossings and refuges are designed to protect the car-drivers, not the pedestrians.
When another driver breaks the rules there's never a cop in sight. When you do there's one right behind you.
Ever notice Cab drivers are different to the rest of us. They put their foot on the brake coming up to a green light.
It always rains just after you wash the car.
In a traffic jam it's always the other lane that moves faster.
The best way to make your old car run better is to learn the price of a new one.
Driving an automatic car with your right foot on the accelerator and your left foot on the brake is good as your stopping time will be half a second quicker.
Dont drink when you drive. You might hit a bump and spill it.
Driving an automatic car with your right foot on the accelerator and your left foot on the brake is bad as you will most likely drive with your foot resting lightly on the brake pedal continuously, thus overheating your brakes and overheated brakes make your stopping time much longer.
A simple way to reduce the number of road accidents would be to call major collisions, "accidents", and minor ones, "incidents".
The automobile pollution problem can be easily solved by having the exhaust pipe at the front of the car.
Road Rage is a bigger problem than the people who cause it.
Now that the general motorist population have paid for the roads, they will be conditioned to use public transport.
There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals. (Isn't this a description of Communism?)
If the Media was banned from using the words "could, may, might", newspapers would be much thinner, the TV news would last only five minutes and lottery ads would be impossible.
Knowledge is plentiful these days but the wisdom to use it properly is very scarce.
AIDS is a man-made disease designed to reduce the drain on civilised societies by uncivilised societies.
Year for year, the chain-saw has extinguished more life than the gun.
The Dam Busters.
The inventor of the bouncing bomb, Barnes Wallis, is at Whitehall, trying to get a Wellington bomber from the Air-ministry to test his bouncing bomb. He is being given a hard time by a bureaucrat.
The bureaucrat says, "What reason could I possibly give the Air-ministry to get them to loan you a Wellington bomber?"
Barnes Wallis replies, "Well, if you told them I designed it, would that help?"
Starman is driving the girl in her car and is approaching a truck crossing when suddenly the yellow light comes on; a truck is coming. Starman accelerates and races the truck to the crossing.
"The girl screams, "What are you doing. Stop, the light is yellow. I thought you knew how to drive?"
Starman replies, "I know the rules. I have studied your driving very carefully. Red light means stop. Green light means go and yellow light means go faster."
The TV documentary Conspiracies.
The interviewer asks an American CIA bureaucrat, does England and America spy on European countries.
The bureaucrat answers, "No, we dont spy on continental European countries in order to get their technology to give to American companies." Then says, "And anyway, to be blunt, there's not that much there worth stealing." How does he know that if he doesn't spy on them.
Tom Cruise tells Dustin Hoffman (Rain-Man) that they must make a long journey by plane. Rain-Man says no he'd rather go by train or car. Tom Cruise (Rain-Man's brother) says why not the plane, it's faster. Rain-Man says plane might crash. His brother says all air-lines crash at some time or other. Rain-man answers back "Qantas never crashed".
A diesel-train is barrelling along at high speed, unable to be stopped, as the driver has had a heart attack and the dead-mans-handle is jammed. On board the 2nd diesel are two escapees from a maximum security jail and the dead-train-driver's helper. She says one of the escapees is an animal. The escapee replies "No, worse. Human."
A British cruise liner has had a number of damage causing devices hidden on board. The government representative bureaucrat tells the ship owner not to pay any ransome. The owner says "But I have 1200 people on board". The bureaucrat says the owner should take in the big picture. The owner says "In a democracy I can do what I like". The bureaucrat replies "Yes that is true, hypothetically, but remember your company has had many goverment subsidies in the past".
Scotland yard has found the person responsible. It turns out that he used to work for the government defusing the devices in emergency situations. When asked why he planted these devices he said that, after a lifetime of putting his life on the line, he was retired on a pension barely more than a pittance. He said "It appears there is no money in defusing these devices and saving lives but there is a lot of money in building them and taking lives". He is then led away. The bureaucrat turns to the ship owner and says "And you want us to negotiate with people like that". The ship owner replies "You make people like that".
The Cruel Sea.
Morell, one of the sub-lieutenants, says "This is probably the worse convoy in the history of sea-warfare."
Lockhart, the First Lieutenant, says "Something to tell your grand-children."
Morell replies, "If you guarantee me grand-children I shall recover my spirits very quickly."
"How can he guarantee that you have grand-children?" asked Baker, the rather dull sub-lieutenant.
Morell answers, "If they're as stupid as you, I hope I dont have any."
The sheriff and his posse are chasing the trio when suddenly bullets start flying all round them. Rocks break, twigs snap and the sheriff pulls up. They see a lone rifleman on a distant hill. A young member of the posse, eager to keep going, says "Let's go, he aint hittin' anythin'."
The sheriff replys "You idiot, he's hit every thing he's aimed at."
Phillipe Gaston, by not lying for once, is trying to persuade Navar to delay going to kill the evil Bishop. He fails. Imperius the monk says " Thank you for trying, Phillipe, and for standing up for the truth. "
Phillipe replies, " I should have known better. Every happy moment in my life has come from lying. "
Norman Gunston, aka Garry McDonald, is interviewing Sally Struthers, who has just arrived in Australia. Norman is wearing his trademark, pieces of cigarette-paper, covering red dots on his face. After asking a series of his awkwardly funny questions, Sally is near to tears with laughter. She finally notices the bits of paper on Norman's face and askes what they are for. Norman explains that they cover shaving cuts on his face. She says "You should use an electric razor." Norman answers, " I do. " and that's the end of Sally Struthers. She is now paralytic with laughter and unable to continue the interview.
UFOs & ETs. The only thing I can say about this subject this side of the sane barrier is:-
We have only had Radio for about 100yrs. In this time we have changed our transmission systems many times and the changes are occuring faster and faster. In the time scale of planetary development this is less than a blink of an eye.
The chances that two civilisations would have the same system operating at the same time is infinitesimal.
The planets would be so far apart that even if we did pick up some signal it would represent what the other civilation was doing many years ago.
The other civilisation would be either more primitive than us or more advanced. If they were more advanced then I would have to agree with Stephen Hawking and say it would not be to our benefit to have contact with them. Ask the American Indians and the Australian Aborigines.
If they were ahead of us and actually came here by advanced transport and observed what we are like, 'shoot first and ask questions later', then I bet they would screw a bar over the 'cloak' switch on their saucer control panel so it couldn't be turned off.
Then just to make sure that nobody who accidently saw them would be believed, they would appear in many different guises to confound and confuse and produce the maximum amount of contradictions from the witnesses.
Sour Grapes. And whats wrong with sour grapes? I believe they can be quite natural.
In the TV station where I worked in the 60s there were vision switchers in each studio. As there was no electronic switching available at that time, they were based on mechanical relay switching. Being large and solidly made, the relays operated rather slowly and produced a rather large black flash on the picture as they changed from one camera to the next. In an effort to minimise this flash a rather clever idea was employed. The main cut row push button switches operated two rows of pre-selecting relays and there was a very high speed relay which changed over between the preselectors. This high speed relay was very expensive but cut the flash down to just a few lines long but it still appeared anywhere on the picture.
It operated thus:- If we start with the switcher on camera 1.
The cam1 push button would be latched down on the cut row. The cam1 relay on the preselector row "a" would be operated and the high speed relay would be sitting on the "a" row side. So camera 1 vision signal will pass through cam1 row "a" relay then the "a" side of the high speed relay and out to the transmitter.
Pressing cam2 button on the cut row would operate the cam2 relay on the preselector row "b" and the high speed relay would change over to side "b". Camera 2 vision would pass through cam2 relay on row "b" and through the "b" side of the high speed relay and out to the transmitter.
Pushing cam3 pushbutton on the cut row would operate the cam3 relay on row "a" and the high speed relay would change back to side "a". Camera 3 vision would pass through cam3 relay on row "a" and through the "a" side of the high speed relay and out to the transmitter.
Just around the time I became fully qualified, Field Effect Transistors were coming onto the local market. It didn't take long to find out how to make them work. They made brilliant electronic switches. I wondered whether we could make them work in place of the high speed relay in the studio vision switchers. Working with a young trainee engineer whom I got on well with, we figured out a circuit to switch a vision signal and built it up in a temporary fashion. Being electronic it could switch in the blanking time and produced no flash whatever in the picture, and we would be the only TV station with it.
Being the days of Black & White TV the main test signal of the period was the Pulse & Bar. It came in 2 flavors, 1T & 2T. The 1T signal had a bandwidth of 10 Mhz (Megacycles in those days) and the 2T had a bandwidth of 5 Mhz. The idea was you fed a good Pulse & Bar vision signal into a piece of equipment and monitored the output on an oscilloscope with a special graticule. As long as the wriggles on the output pulse & bar were less than the allowed limits as drawn on the graticule the equipment was pronounced fit and well. If it wasn't then the equipment was pulled out of service and fixed. All equipment within the station had to pass a 1T signal. The transmitter had to pass the 2T signal. The station equipment had to pass the tougher test signal as the vision passed through many pieces of equipment on its way from the camera to the transmitter and the errors were cumulative.
Unfortunately our FET switcher would only pass the 2T properly, the 1T was just outside the graticule limits. We thought that the kudos from being the only TV station with flashless vision switchers would outweigh the small 1T Pulse & Bar error so we invited the chief engineer to come and have a look. He said interesting but what's it like on P&B. We showed him and he said bad luck, it's outside the specs for station equipment. We said as you could only see the error on an oscilloscope and not on the picture what about being the only station with a flashless vision switcher. To our amazment he said the invisible error was more important than the black flash on the studio output every time a camera was selected and there could be easily 300 flashes in a 90 min programme. We said couldn't we just try it and we would fit a bypass switch in case anything untoward happened. The answer was again no.
We were flabergasted but knowing what engineers are like we had a backup plan. The camera matching operator, whose job was to get the cameras looking the same on the same shots by looking at a picture monitor and adjusting iris and vision gain while rapidly switching between cameras all the way through the program, would just love to get rid of the continuously annoying black flashes on his monitor and as this is just monitoring, no program signals actually flow through his switcher so our electronic switch cant wreck anything. We floated this idea to the chief engineer and his answer was no. And he didn't really give a good reason either. My trainee engineer friend saw which side his future was buttered on and beat a strategic retreat. I continued jousting at the windmill. I could wear the Pulse & Bar excuse for the main program vision switcher but the monitoring switcher was another matter. After bashing my head against the brick wall for another half hour I gave up but I have disliked engineers ever since, especially as crummy Hi-8 video is now put to air. I doubt it would pass a 5T Pulse & Bar test. I've come to the conclusion that some, if not all, engineers suffer from the "not invented here" disease. There's no point in naming this engineer as it appears they all change, anyway, after becoming chief engineer so it wouldn't really matter which chief engineer it was. It seems that they must maintain their status at all costs. My trainee engineer friend finished his training and left for greener pastures. I stayed for 30+yrs. Stupid wasn't I?
Twenty years later I tried again. Different proposition, different chief engineer, same outcome. The station was buying new colour cameras. A number of manufacturers showed interest and submitted their cameras for appraisal. As far as the 'techs' were concerned one camera stood out from the rest, better pictures and easy to fix, a technician's dream. It was expensive but you get what you pay for so we put this one at the top of our want list anyway. There was another camera, made in a different country, which only cost about 2/3 the price of the first one. This cheaper camera didnt produce as good a picture, but still just within specs, and was much harder to fix so we put this one almost at the bottom of our list.
Just to give an example. The expensive camera was delivered to the studios. The manufacturers technical people spent about 30mins setting it up, then left it with us for a few days to let us put it through its paces and give it any test we liked. In contrast, the cheaper camera was not left at the studios at anytime but stayed at the manufacturers reps offices and was only shown to us after the manufacturers technical staff spent a long time setting it up and then refused to let it out of their sight. Its optical sensitivity was one F Stop less than the dearer one and its noise figure was 6db worse. You get what you pay for.
It didnt take long for the 'grape vine' to let us know that the station was going to buy the cheap cameras. What a disaster, pictures only just good enough and hard to fix as well, we had to do something about this. I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. As colour cameras were generally insensitive, the studio sets had to be lit rather brightly, around 100ftcandles and that's a lot of light. This meant the studio had to have a lot of big lamps, mostly 2000watts, some 5000watts and even some 10000watts. These consume a lot of electricity and generate a lot of heat, which means a large airconditioning unit was necessary which also consumed a lot of electricity. I thought if we bought the expensive cameras and ran them with their lens half a Stop more open and turned up their gain 3db we could reduce the light requirement to 50ftcandles. This would save a mass of electricity and reduce the heat load on the airconditioning unit saving even more electricity and also extending the life of the unit as well. A win win situation I thought. It turned out that the savings in electricity alone would pay for the difference in cost, between the dear cameras and the cheap ones, in seven years. If we take into account the fact that 1000watt lamps last longer than 2000watt ones and the extra life of the airconditioning unit, the difference in payoff time would drop to 5yrs. That is, after we had the dear cameras for 5yrs they would actually start getting cheaper than the cheap ones. If you take the rising cost of electricity and the depreciation of camera value in to consideration, after 12yrs the cameras would have cost us nothing , zero dollars. Now you cant get cheaper than that. The rest of the 'techs' said what a good idea, lets put it to the chief engineer.
We put it all on paper with all the calculations and the actual cost of electricity to the station and sent it to the chief engineer. After a while he called a meeting. Three of our techs could attend and he would bring his entourage. To cut a long story short he said no, we would still buy the cheap cameras. He didn't believe the dear camera could possibly be that much more sensitive than the cheap one. He didn't believe that the studio staff would light the sets to the lower level and open up the lens as I had suggested. He believed we shoud be chastised for wasting everyones time. We were flabbergasted.
Subsequently we found out that the expensive camera had a new type of optics block which had been patented and wasted less light. On close inspection of the specs, the dear camera used the standard test chart which had a reflectance of 60% and was illuminated by a standard amount of light, 1000lux I think. The cheap camera used a special test card that had 90% reflectance and needed more light on it as well, 1500lux I think. The studio staff were upset, even though they wanted the cheap cameras for different reasons, that the chief engineer thought they were not competent enough to follow the lighting-practice standard layed down by the chief engineer.
After having bought the cheap cameras, we found out something else about them which actually made them more expensive in the long run. Some of the parts used were very small and were stressed so much that they have to be changed every 2to3yrs, otherwise strange faults start to show themselves. The dear camera used normal sized components and only required maintenance when it failed, not regular scheduled replacement of large numbers of miniature components.
And a final indignity, I found out that other studios, which bought the expensive cameras, are using my idea to save themselves money. And you wonder why I dont like engineers. Boy, those particular grapes sure tasted sour.
Australians are the most balanced people on earth. We have a chip on both shoulders.
Generally speaking, Australian women are........
Have you ever noticed that at the various times of her life a woman is like the continents of the world. From 13 to 18 she's like Africa, unexplored virgin territory. From 18 to 30 she's like Asia, hot and exotic. From 30 to 45 she's like America, fully explored and free with her resources. From 45 to 55 she's like Europe, exhausted but still with points of interest. Above 55 she's like Australia, everybody knows it's down there but nobody cares much.
Putdown lines and possible comebacks.
Once upon a time in the bad old days (well actually the good old days for us blokes) there used to be a beautiful put down line that one bloke would say to another when they were discussing how beautiful a girl passer-by was. "I wouldn't crawl over her to get to you." Now there's not a lot you can say to answer that but you could try " I wouldn't give you the chance."
Another was thrown at you while you were in a self-serve petrol station, standing at the petrol bowser filling your tank. "You know you have got to pay for it before you can leave." This is usually said quite loud so that other tank-fillers can hear it. You're supposed to be embarrassed. One possible comeback is "Why, have you tried?"
Remember that old answerless question "How long is a piece of string?" The answer is "A bit shorter than the length you need."
I had to go into hospital a while ago for an operation, my first as an adult. I was wondering whether I would have an out of body experience or similar. While lying waiting outside the theatre they put me out like a light, no backward counting or anything, just out to it like I was switched off. The next thing I knew was I could hear a deep voice saying "Mr Yates, Mr Yates", simultaneously I was surrounded by bright light. I thought, here we go. However I opened my eyes to find it was the nurses voice and I had been parked under a fluorescent light.
Back in the good old days, actually in the late 70s, we had a rash of practical jokes played on all and sundry where I worked. One person had a brick wall built in his locker. Another had his desk drawer nailed shut. Another had his locked toolbox filled with plastic snow. It just went on and on. All good clean fun but now, if you're planning anything like this, make sure the boss doesn't find out or some thin skinned individual may take offence and you'll probably be forced to jump through the hoop. In today's PC workplace there is no room for amusements like this. What a pity.
Still at work. We had some electrical meters for general use on the bench and, supposedly safe from destruction, they would not burn out regardless of what you did to them. They had an accelerometer attached to the indicating needle which if overloaded, would swing up very fast and trip a cutout, disconnecting the probes. One day I was showing one to a new employee and pontificating on how fool-proof they were. I switched it to measure resistance and put the probes into a 240 volt mains socket. In a perfect world the cutout would have tripped but in the real world the needle went ballistic and hit the end stop so hard it bent into an 'S' shape. There was a "Pooff!" from inside the case and the meter didn't work anymore. Was my face red. We had to send it away to be repaired and re-calibrated.
Two old retired blokes sitting on a park bench. One has a long face. "Why so glum?" asked his friend. "I'm depressed." answered the first. "How come?" asked his friend. "Well, I went to my old workplace the other day and my ex workmates said my website was eccentric and I was so boring to talk to that they would rather work."
The universal language.
The scene: It's 1pm friday at Paddy's Market. The public fruit and vegetable market at Sydney's main produce markets at Homebush.
My wife and I are wandering up and down the aisles between raucus fruit traders. I'm pulling a loaded-up two wheel shopping cart and walking a respectful one pace behind her. She says to stop a minute while she buys some fruit. I pull up and look at the parade of people passing in the opposite direction. There's probably at least ten different nationalities represented.
A small slim middle-aged Asian woman comes along with her middle-aged husband walking a respectful single pace behind her. She turns to him and rattles of something in a language I cant speak but I'm sure it went like this. "Stop a minute till I get some fruit." The husband pulled up just about opposite me and looked round. His eyes met mine momentarily and, even though our backgrounds were very different, the look that passed between us conveyed the common human condition of males turned into docile domesticated beasts of burden. I'll bet, down the ages, that same look passed between cavemen shouldering slabs of Mastodon as their cave-mates said "Wait here till I get some berries off this bush." The same look between Australian Aborigines carrying dead Kangaroos as their Lubras said "Wait here till I get some berries off this bush." The same look between American Indians as they shouldered chunks of Buffalo while their Squaws said "Wait here till I get some berries off this bush."
Sometimes there's no need for words, just a look will do.
Two blokes sitting on a park bench. One says to the other, "Did you know Australia was a convict colony?" "Still is", replied the other. "How do you mean?" queries the first. The second one replies, "When I was filling in the application form to emigrate here, one of the questions asked if I had committed a felony. I answered no, but luckily, they let me in anyway."
Did you hear about the Australian sector of the IRA's terrorist attack on Sydney? They decided to stop the traffic-light system working and cause a humungus traffic jam. They went to every set of traffic-lights and removed all the light-bulbs.
The Prime Minister of the day is tucked up securely in the captains bunk as the ship that is Australia plows on through the night. While he's asleep something happens to cause it to slowly lean over. A glass of water, standing on the bunkside table, slides across and spills on to his face, waking him. He gets on the blower, that early lung powered telephone, a speaking tube with a whistle in the end of it. A sign above it says Treasurer. Below that, there is a smaller sign that says "Remove whistle from end and blow hard". He does just that and wakes the Treasurer, who is snug in his bunk on the next deck down. "My glass of water just spilt on me. Find out why the ship of state is on such an uneven keel, will you, please". "OK, Tom, Dick, John, Bob, Peter, Paul or Harry (insert the appropriate name here). I'll get right on to it."
The Treasurer, who has a lot of speaking tubes alongside his bunk, selects one marked 'The Minister of Transport' and wakes him up. "The boss just rang. He was awoken by a list causing a glass of water to fall on him. Find out whats happening will you". "Ok" answers the Transport Minister. Not wanting to get out of bed, he thinks. I know I'll set up a committee to look into it. He wakes up 5 backbenchers, who'll do anything to guarantee their preselection next election and gives them their mission. "The boss wants you to find out why the ship of state is listing badly". The backbenchers are closer to the problem as their bunks are further down in the bowels of the ship. Why they hadn't noticed the list themselves is a bit of a mystery but even if they had, they wouldn't dare do anything without permission from above. Might interfere with their preselection. They got up and went down the few levels to the engine room where all the real work is done.
Calling out to the technicians who kept the ship in operation, they were surprized to see them all lined up along side the wall which was the hull, standing in water up to their calves. "Thank God you've arrived. We need some more hands over here" yelled the nearest one. The backbenchers waded across to the technicians, who had their hands on the hull with their fingers in a multitude of small loopholes in the ship of state, through which sea-water was pouring. There were more holes than the technicians had fingers. "We need a hand to block up some of the loopholes that are still left, and get the water pumped out" called out the wet techs. The backbenchers had a committee meeting (backbencher speak for huddle). The techs couldn't quite hear what was being said. They just caught a few words. "Mumble,mumble, more efficiency, mumble, mumble, re-organisation, mumble,mumble, multi-skilling." Coming out of the meeting the backbenchers came over to the nearest technician and lifting him up, placed him on a stool, removed his boots and sox so he could block up more holes with his toes. They did this for a number of others until all the holes were blocked. There were still a number of technicians standing in the cold water so the backbenchers had another meeting, then disappeared for a short while and returned with a number of modified bicycles; the wheels had been removed and replaced with chain driven pumps. Each of the remaining techs were lifted up and a bike placed under them. "Now that we've got your legs out of the cold water you should start pedalling to warm them up." The backbenchers were pleased with themselves. The water level was starting to drop and all the leaks had been stopped. They retired to their cabin to report back.
They contacted the Minister for Transport and said the problem had been solved for the time being but something will have to be done about it in the near future. The Transport Minister contacted the Treasurer and said the problem was transitiory but had now been solved. The Treasurer contacted the Prime Minister in the captains cabin and said the problem had been minor and was not worth worrying about. The Prime Minister, happy that his bunkside table was now as level as a playing field, said job well done and in only 60 minutes too, though it would be nice if next time it could be done even faster, there might be a bonus in it for you. The Treasurer woke up the Transport Minister, who thought it was all over and had gone back to sleep, and said the boss was happy but could we do it a bit faster next time. The Transport Minister contacted the backbenchers, who were not asleep but still patting each other on the back for collectively saving their preselections, and said the boss was satisfied with your effort but you didn't do it quickly enough. The backbenchers had a committee meeting and nominated on of their members to go down to the engine room and inform the technicians. He reaches the engine room and yells "The boss is not happy, pedal faster".
The technicians, who by now are getting tired, as they had just had their working hours per shift increased, were unable to keep pedalling at full speed and were slowing down. Some of the ones not on pedal duty had fallen asleep from hypothermia due to sitting still for too long with their fingers and toes blocking the loopholes. Their cold muscles were unable to prevent the sea leaking in through the loopholes. Water was once again flowing into the ship of state.
If you're waiting for the punch line to this story, there isn't one. The ship sinks but dont worry, the Prime Minister is the last one to get his feet wet. Maybe he should have promised the technicians the bonus instead; they wouldn't have known it was a noncore one, would they.
There's two people in the rest-room at their work. The hand drier has recently been changed from a tear-off paper roll to a continuous cloth towel roll. One bloke has just washed his hands and is cutting off a piece of towel with a pair of scissors. He says to the other, "It was a lot easier when you could just tear it off, but not only that, now you have to bring your own scissors as well!"
Remember the Keystone Kops, those mad silent comedies about a group of delightfully incompetent cops, here's a possible scene for a modern version.
"It appears that Sir Galahad has been transported from the past to the present day. He is in his full suit of armour, with his broad sword swinging at his side and is clanking his way down George St, Sydney at night. Several women scream, faint or do what women do in that situation and the police are called. They arrive and surround Sir Galahad and ask him to put down his sword. Having his helmet on he cant hear them properly and the new versus ye old English isn't helping either. His arms start waving around so the police, taking this as a threatning move, all fire their Tasers at Sir Galahad. Just imagine the scene. Sir Galahad is clanking down the middle of the street surrounded by half a dozen police with the Taser wires all hooked onto Sir Galahad's armour and chain-mail. Sparks are zapping and crackling all over him but he doesn't stop. The whole shebang is moving along the street like a parade. Wouldn't that look terrific in the dark. The shiny armour reflecting the shop-front lights while simultaneously being covered in flickering sparks from the Tasers. Subsequently the police sharp-shooters arrive and the police jettison the Taser wires and get out of the way. The sharp-shooters fire a number of rounds into Sir Galahad's chest plate and he still keeps right on moving. Then his helmet falls off and there's no head! Then the arms fall off. Now just the torso is clanking its way down George St. Everyone is non-plussed. The chest plate falls off just as the armour goes behind a truck. There's a crash as it falls over. Only a couple of people see a midget climb out of the waist section and disappear down nearby lane."
Remember the good old days when a feline was a cat; now its a queue in a bank.
Ever seen that TV program StarTrek in one of its many guises? Ever noticed that, when fighting the baddies, quite a few Terajoule Phasor Bursts from The Starship Enterprise, and even more from the baddies, often miss the target. Ever wondered what happens to them? They continue on through space until something gets in the way. One hit Siberia in 1908 at Tangusta.
Did you hear about the blue movie that was so far past blue that it had to be x-rayted.
Is this something we should be worrying about? Apparently, sometime in the next fifty million years, one of Mars' moons, Photos, is going to crash into Mars and change its orbit slightly. This will bring it nearer the Earth and so change the Earth's orbit. This will bring the Earth slightly nearer the Sun and make the current global-warming look like a storm in a teacup.
Bill & Ben were a couple of city slickers who acquired adjacent opal mining leases at Lightning Ridge. At the end of the first day, they emerged from their holes, covered in dirt from head to toe. "We're going to be filthy rich" shouted Bill. Wiping the dirt from his face, Ben answered, "Yeah; and we're halfway there already."
While attending Sunday School, young Jimmy was asked by the teacher, "What is the meaning of false doctrine?" Jimmy answered, "That's when the doctor gives you the wrong medicine."
Did you hear that the Egyptian tourist industry is in ruins.
The scene : the waiting area outside the employment office of a large cheesemaker. A young man comes in, momentarily speaks to the secretary, who directs him to sit down. Shortly after, an old gentleman comes in, speaks to the secretly and sits down. This scene is repeated a number of times until the waiting area has eight people waiting. Time passes and people become restless. More time passes and one by one they make their excuses to the secretary and leave until there is just two left, the old man and the young bloke. The young fellow says to the old fellow "Are you here for the job then?" "No" replies the other, "I'm the person who is doing the hiring. We want people who have patience so, Congratulations, you've got the job." "Oh" said the young bloke. "The secretary told me to sit here until the interviews were over. I'm the electrician, here to fix the faulty light switch in your office!."
Two old people needed a bit of help around the house so they advertised in the local paper for a handy-man. A fellow came to the door and said he was interested in the handy-man position. The old man had the following conversation with him.
"We need some woodwork repairs done, do you know anything about carpentry?"
" Nope, sorry, I'm no good at carpentry."
"Well, we need a bit of painting done, do you know anything about painting?"
" Nope, sorry, I'm no good at painting."
"Hmm, the garden needs a bit of attention, can you do gardening?"
" Nope, sorry, I'm no good at gardening."
"Hmm, if you're no good at carpentry, painting or gardening, why did you apply for the position of handy-man?"
" Well, I just live round the corner."
A farmer was working out in the muddy fields while his wife went shopping in the local town. Later that day his wife heard him coming in for lunch. Busying herself in the pantry, she called out, "Did you notice that new doormat I bought?" "Yes." he answered, "And dont worry, I didn't wipe my muddy boots on it."
Once upon a time there was a scruffy looking lad with a package, riding in a lift to the fifth floor of a large Sydney newspaper building. The lift stopped at the second floor and a well dressed elderly gentleman got in. He took one look at the scruffy lad standing beside him and launched into a speech about the rules and regulations concerning the dress code for his employees. "How much do you earn a week?" he asked the lad. "Five Pounds" was the answer. Reaching into his pocket, the old fellow pulled out a ten pound note and giving it to the lad said, "You're fired!" Un-phased by this strange behaviour the lad, who had been warned about this particular old gentleman, said "Could I just take this parcel up to the fifth floor first". Grudgingly the old man agreed. The lift arrived, the lad got out and the old man continued up into the higher reaches of the building. The lad walked across to the receptionist and said, "XYZ Couriers, just delivering this parcel to the editor."
Did you know that a lot of Western Sydney music is written in Penrith.
Sometime ago, on a fine Saturday night, myself and two mates were celebrating some transitory occasion or other when the demon drink got the better of us. We were staggering home late in the evening, and were passing an office building site when one of my mates said he needed to take a leak. The large gates on the site were chained together but the chain was just long enough to allow us to squeeze through. We were all watering a small patch of grass, when the mixture of alcohol and cold night air got the better of me and I passed out.
I woke up in a small room about 8ft wide and 15ft long with a small alcove at the far end. The walls were painted yellow and the rough industrial carpet on the floor was light green and covered in dirt. There were no doors in any of the walls. There were windows in the two long sides but I was unable to see anything through them. They were made of that fuzzy glass and were non-opening. I could see that the sun was shining and a blue haze at the top indicated there were no clouds. I had a hell of a headache and my hearing was very sensitive. I could hear a gentle wind whistling outside the room. The was nothing in the room save a couple of beat-up chairs and a small table on which sat a grubby cassette radio. I was just getting to my feet when suddenly two people, a boy of about 15 and a middle-aged man, both wearing hard-hats, came out of the alcove. The man worked over to a phone on the wall while the boy said " Gee, there are some long pipes in this building. How long are those risers , a 1000ft? " The man didn't answer the boy but mumbled something into the phone and then hung up. At the boys words an uneasy feeling started to coagulate in my aching head.
The boy disappeared into the alcove and the man saw me and said " What are you doing here?" I said I hadn't the faintest idea and where is here anyway. He looked hard at me and said " Can you stand heights?" I said anything above 50ft makes me dizzy. He gave me a strange look and then burst out laughing. "Where am I?" I cried. "About 1000ft up on the top of the highest office building in Sydney." he answered. My uneasy feeling became a full blown fear response and my knees turned to jelly. "Where am I?" I managed to stutter. "You're in a portable lunchroom on the top of the tallest building in Sydney?" the face under the hard-hat repeated.
A number of questions formed in my mind and I got them out with great trouble :-
"There are no doors. How did you get into the room?"
"Through a trapdoor in the floor of the alcove."
"How is this room connected to the roof?"
"Through a standard wedge?"
"What's a standard wedge?"
"It's a pipe construction which is bolted to the roof of the building and also to the floor of this room?"
"How come there are no doors?"
"As this room has to be usable anywhere, there would have to be a door in each wall, but in the precarious position on a roof, three would have to be locked to stop you accidently stepping out and off the edge of the roof. By having the entry in the floor people cant forget to lock the doors so that cant happen."
"But how do you get out from under this room?"
"Through the wedge. It holds this room about 8ft up and provides a completely caged section which can be coupled to a caged walkway making it safe."
I had run out of questions for the moment so my hard-hatted informant volunteered the next bit of information.
"You are going to have to leave this room as we have finished our work and I'm about to undo the wedge fixing bolts and get the crane to lower it to the ground." At this he wheeled round and exited via the alcove.
At this bit of information I could feel the sheer terror well up in side me. I gently shuffled over to the alcove and saw the open trapdoor in the floor. I looked down and saw the steel ladder and the sun shining on the pipework. The thought of a 1000ft drop being just on the other side of that pipework made my muscles freeze. I now know how sleepwalkers feel when they wake up standing on a ledge and cant move. I hear the sound of a large spanner being used to undo the fixing nuts and feel that, if I make any movement at all, the room will tip and fall over the edge. The room starts to spin and it takes me some time to get a grip on myself and it steadies again. I hear the crane hook connecting to the sling on the room ceiling. The hard-hat appears through the trapdoor and says "You've got to come down now!" "I cant." my trembling voice manages to squeeze out. "Well you'll have to ride in it all the way down then."
The hard-hat disappeared and the room jerked ever so slightly as the crane-cable began to take the strain. Suddenly I had control of my muscles again and yelled " Wait! Stop! I'm coming." I shot down the ladder as fast as I could and ended at the bottom in a heap. I heard some chuckling and looked through the pipe-walls. The wedge was surrounded by a number of people in hard-hats and they all burst out laughing, and my two mates were standing in front laughing the loudest. It was then that I finally noticed the room was on the ground and had been the whole time. The sods!
A while ago, out in the Australian bush, there lived a young farmer. His wife was expecting their first child at any moment. They were doing it tough and the truck had broken down but the tractor still worked. So did his trusty bicycle. They had got the phone on a few weeks before, just in time for the arrival of the baby. The farmer was working out in the yard, building a sandpit, when his wife called out that her water had just broke. All his carefully planned emergency routine went out the window and he panicked, jumped on his bicycle and raced to the town, about 5 miles distant, to summon the ambulance. In his panic he had clean forgot about the phone. His wife hadn't and calmly phoned the hospital. In double-quick time the ambulance was on its way with the instruction to look out for her stupid husband on his bike. In the meantime he was barrelling along at top speed, almost becoming airbourne as he topped each crest in the road. He was coming over one such crest just as the ambulance came over it from the opposite direction. Crash! The bike flew up in the air and the husband ended up lying on his back on the road covered in dust. Whisking him into the back of the ambulance, the driver continued on to the farm, picked up the very pregnant wife and delivered both to the hospital.
Three weeks later, when he was well enough to be released from the hospital, the farmer was given a lift home by his cousin who had been running the farm in his absence. An enquiry about the bike prompted the cousin to answer; No, he hadn't seen it. The farmer suggested they stop at the scene of the accident and he would have a quick look for it. He came back to the car carrying his battered but still serviceable bike and said, " I found it lodged up a gum tree and Boy!, I must have been travelling at the time of the accident, because when I found it, the wheels were still spinning! "
Two blokes sitting on a park bench discussing life. The first says, "While I was out last night, a burglar broke in to our house." "Did he get anything?" asked his mate. "Sure did", replied the first, "my wife thought it was me, coming home late."
To appease his nagging wife, Bill daily visited the local factories to unconvincingly request employment. Thus, when the foreman of a superphosphate factory unexpectedly accepted his offer, Bill bitterly cursed his initiative.
He was even more sorry when he saw the work the foreman expected him to do. Fifty yards seperated a heap of phosphate rock from the elevator, and the former had to be conveyed to the latter, via a very large wheel-barrow.
Bill slowly filled the barrow. Then he lifted the handles to wheel it off but soon dropped them. In Bill's opinion the load was far too heavy.
Some time later the foreman found Bill strolling about the factory yard, hands in pockets, and of course angrily demanded to know the reason.
"Well, I've filled the little cart," declared Bill, "and now I'm looking for stables to get a horse to pull it."
Once upon a time there was a south sea island lazing under the sun minding its own business. It only had a few humans wandering around, causing it as little harm as possible. Little did it know that a north sea island was breeding its future.
The north sea island had hundreds of small tribes living in isolated splender in thatch huts on muddy ground. Being small and isolated these groups grew larger using the old method of inbreeding with its unfortunate side-effect of lowering the intelligence of the general group. A higher and higher percentage of its population became unemployable and not known for its social conscience, the ruling class left them to fend for themselves. Unable to find suitable work, this army of simple people resorted to stealing to stay alive. They would pinch anything that wasn't nailed down. Favourite targets were bolts of cloth and loaves of bread. The shop keepers, who were unwillingly feeding this army of unemployables, complained to the ruling class who set up roving courts to bring the miscreants to justice.
Now that the bolt & loaf thieves were incarcerated, the Government had to feed them. It did this by stealing loaves of bread from, sorry, taxing the shopkeepers. It wasn't long before all the gaols were full. Old boats, which weren't seaworthy anymore, were moored in the rivers and bays and became floating prisons. And still the courts produced more criminals. The shopkeepers, whose loaves of bread were still disappearing down the throats of the "outlaws", this time via the government taxes, wanted something to be done to find a more permanent solution. It didn't take much intelligence to see that, if the current situation continued for much longer, the north sea island would go broke housing and feeding this unproductive horde. They had to be off-loaded somewhere else and soon.
Mariners were sent round the globe looking for other places to build gaols. One such mariner reported back that he had found a large island which would make the perfect gaol with no excess building costs. But who would want to move and live so far away? Who would run and supervise this gaol? The government didn't want to waste the highly trained police force, but, there was an element of the army which would improve the armed forces standing at home if they were transferred to this distant land. A social conscience was found among a few stalwarts and they were convinced it would be good for their careers if they volunteered. They did and were given complete control of that distant wall-less keep.
The courts redoubled their efforts and produced a continuous stream of offenders to send to the island gaol. Its sleep in the southeren sun was brought to a sudden halt. Its inhabitants viewed these arrivals with bemused interest which sooned turned to alarm at the ever increasing numbers pouring off the boats.
A few smart people, living on the north sea island, realised that the south sea island would be full of simple uneducated people who would be ripe for the picking and no local government to stop them. Large sums of money could be made if they played their cards right. The few applied to the north sea island government for permission to travel to and settle in the distant southern isle. The government, realising the more "normal" people settling out there the better, readily gave permission and the rights to vast tracts of land.
Time passed and eventually most of the wealth of the new country had been transferred from the simple population into the coffers of a few families.
Subsequently the simple people, bolstered by an influx of normal settlers, decided to setup their own government and remembering the inequitable sharing of the wealth of the north sea island, put rules in place to limit the wealth of any individual. Hopefully these rules would enable the country's wealth to be redistributed evenly throughout the population.
The families weren't too happy with this state of affairs and set about wresting control of the government from the simple people. A party was formed by like minds so that the masses of simple people didn't have to think anymore when voting. They just voted for the party and not the politician. Being simple people, they didn't see any danger in this. It didn't take long for the party to disenfranchise most of its member politicians and keep control of the government in just a few hands. These important hands were placed on the front bench in the new parliament house where they gradually, over a period of time, removed all the protective rules originally put in place by the people who set up the govt.
Slowly the families regained most of the wealth and the party politicians were hard pressed to defend this situation to their constituents. It slowly became clear to the simple people that their elected representatives were not representing them as well as they should.
Various investigations were carried out and a number of politicians were forced to resign. This state of affairs caused the simple people to vote the opposition party into power but things didn't seem to change very much. Over the next few years, the simple people, still thinking they had a properly functioning democracy, voted either party in with monotonous regularity but to no avail.
The families got even richer while the dole queues lengthened, regardless of the tricks used by the government to shorten the queues and misreport the numbers. Everyone knew somebody who had been retrenched and was looking for work but couldn't find any.
The people eventually realised that something was rotten in the south sea island and it wasn't the fish. They ultimately decided to .......
All we can do is wait. It wont happen overnight, but it will happen.
Bob was getting the cold shoulder from his girlfriend and didn't know why. It was her birthday and he told her he'd send one white rose for every year of her life. He went to the local florist and ordered 25 white roses to be delivered on the appropiate day. Unbeknown to Bob, when that day came round, business had been very slow and the florist had a number of white roses left over. Wanting to help the young bloke make a good impression on his girl, the florist made up the order to three-dozen but only charged for the 25 originally ordered, and sent them to the girl's address.
One day, in a pub out in the timber country, a young lumberjack was skiteing how good he was with an axe. He offered to pay any one $100 if they could beat him in a wood chopping contest. Now he was built like a tank, broad shoulders and arms with biceps like tree trunks. He got no takers. He upped the anti to $1000. The place was still quiet until a small voice from the back of the pub said "I'll take you on." The voice belonged to a much older man who was 50 if he was a day. Though he was small, he was lean, sinewy and tough as whipcord.
The pub closed for the duration and the entire mob of drinkers followed the two protaganists out to the lumberyard. Two piles of logs were soon stacked up a short distance apart and the contestants set up so that they couldn't see each other but the crowd could see both of them. The idea was to chop the wood up into small enough pieces to be able to be put on a household fire. They only had 30 mininutes to see who could produce the most firewood. They were each given a well used axe and the start bell rang. The next bell would be the sign to stop.
The young fellow, supremely confident in the power of his magnificent muscles, picked up the axe and plowed straight in. Soon his axe was just a bright shiny blur and chips were flying in all directions. So was money between the onlookers. Mean while the old fellow had sat down, pulled out an oilstone and was honing his axe to razor sharpness. More money changed hands. Satisfied that his axe was just right he started on his first log with measured deliberate strokes. The young bloke was already on to his third log. More money changed hands. By the time the old fellow was on his third log the young bloke was on his fifth but the rate of his strokes had slowed a bit. By the time he was on his eighth the old fellow was on his seventh. There was only 5 minutes to go when they both started their tenth logs. The mob were going wild and shouting encouragement to their favorites. The young bloke, his body covered in sweat, threw every thing he had into his strokes but his mighty muscles had nothing left to give after wasting their effort pushing a blunt axe through ten logs. When the stop bell rang the old fellow won easily with eleven logs turned into firewood and he wasn't even sweating. The moral is:-
In whatever you have to do, dont forget to take the time to sharpen your axe.
A young woman got off the train after commuting from the city to her home in the country and walked briskly past the Station Master collecting tickets, flashing him a smile and her weekly pass. She turned into the high street just as the sun was setting. Striding out, she walked as quickly as she could. If she could just reach her house, about a mile further, before the twilight was gone. She didn't like walking home in the dark. That extra cup of coffee with her workmates had forced her to miss her normal train was now exacting its price. It wasn't long before she noticed a short stout man walking some distance behind her. Convinced he was stalking her, she crossed the road, dodged down a side street, climbed a small hill and almost ran down the other side. Back on the high street, after her attempt to side-track the stalker, she was dismayed to see that he was still there, puffing along behind her. Fed up with this, she made straight for the local police station and, once safely inside, implored the officer on duty to go out into the street and confront her stalker. Eventually the officer could see that this woman was not going to let up until he did as she requested. She accompanied him outside and immediately saw the man sitting on a nearby bus-seat, trying to catch his breath. The police officer strode up to him and said "Sir, are you following this woman?" "Yes" was the reply. "I told you." gasped the women. "Sir, is there any reason why I shouldn't charge you with stalking?" the officer asked the short man who was desparately trying to regain his composure. "Why are you following this woman?" asked the officer. The short man said that he had got off the same train as the woman and had asked the Station Master if he knew the way to the Community Hall. The ticket collector said to follow that young woman just leaving the station as she lived opposite.
Two old blokes sitting on a park bench reminissing on the good-old-days with a yarn or two. "You know," said the first, "I once shot nine ducks with one bullet when I was a young bloke camped by the Snowy River. They were all lined-up on a power line. The bullet went clean through the first eight and lodged in the ninth."
"Just a lucky shot," replied his mate.
"Lucky shot!" exclaimed the first. "There was no luck about it. It was good shooting."
His mate, not wanting to be out-done, replied "Once I saw 172 ducks lined-up on a hollow log and I only had one high-powered bullet left. I figured, if I could split the log under them, their legs would drop down into the crack and it would close, holding them captive before they knew what hit them. I would then stroll up casually and despatch them one by one with a quick blow to the head."
"So, what happened?" asked the first.
"Well, I took aim and fired. The log split and their feet dropped into the crack as planned. The crack closed and they were trapped beautifully. However they began flapping their wings and took off, carring the log away with them and I couldn't keep up and so lost them."
The first bloke's face broke into a smile and said, "Greed will get you every time, you should've only tried for a 100.
A long time ago there was a family living in a pretty little valley. There was the mother, father and a strapping son who had been 21 years upon the earth. One day the son came home with a lady friend and anounced he was getting married and would move to the ladies home in the next valley. His parents weren't too shocked as they had been waiting for this day to arrive. Their son was a good catch and it was only a matter of time before he chased a girl until she finally caught him.
The day finally arrived and he moved out, promising to keep in touch. Now these were the days when you had to walk to your "rellies" if you wanted to tell them something. Like most kids, once he had moved away from home his parents hardly ever saw him. Most of the time, if they wanted any news of his family, they would have to walk to the next valley and find out for themselves.
As the years passed they weren't getting any younger and the next valley seemed to be getting further away every day. Lucky for them a passing peddler brought a four legged animal, called a horse, which could carry them both, so they bought it. Now their sons house was much closer and they saw him more often. Unfortunately keeping a horse was somewhat expensive and placed a drain on their meagre savings.
One day, just as the father was starting out to invite his son and family to a meal at the parents house, a neighbour trotted up on his horse and passed the time of day. It turned out that he was going past the sons house and if the father liked, he could give the son a message. The father quickly composed a short note and gave it to the neighbour to deliver, thanking him in the process. The note was duly delivered and the son brought his family over for the meal.
The father got to thinking and wondered if it would be better to give the horse to his son, who could better afford to keep it, and get the neighbour to deliver a message every time he wanted to contact his son. The neighbour, who made regular trips to and from the next valley, agreed to take the occasional note. Other families in the valley, who were in the same boat with their children living in the next valley, soon got to hear of this arrangement. It wasnt long before the neighbour was carrying notes for all and sundry and it was starting to interfere with his own affairs, so he told all the families, if they wanted him to keep delivering their notes, he would make special trips every couple of days but they would have to pay him a small amount for the service. They all agreed and the Postal Service was formed.
All went very well for a time but a number of personal emergencies eventually caused the people of the valley to want a more instant service. By this time electricity had been invented but had not yet arrived in the valley. A very clever person in a faraway place figured out how to pass a human voice down a pair of wires and the telephone was born. News of this invention came to the valley via the peddler and the people said what a good idea, we want it. They raised a mighty clamour until the distant politicians extended the telephone wires into the surrounding valleys.
The valley people thought that this was terrific. The father could talk to his son whenever he liked. So could everyone else. The sons phone kept ringing all day long and the son had no time to himself. This was happening to a lot of other folk as well, so a very clever person solved this problem with a little tape recorder connected to the phone so it could take messages and not disturb its owner. This let the son choose when he wanted to answer the phone and let him get on with his life.
More and more people bought these machines until no one answered their phones anymore. The father could never get on to his son when he wanted to. Now where can I get a horse?
Sometimes progress aint progress.
Once upon a time, a very long time ago, apes learnt to walk upright and began to act less like animals. They still had all the characteristics of animals, i.e. large canine teeth, no real speech and all covered in hair. This evolution did not always occur at the same rate and elsewhere one particular tribe had already lost their large canines and were much more gentle in their behaviour, even though they were still covered in hair and had no real speech. Unfortunately the more primitive apes were not averse to a bit of devious behaviour. On chance meetings with the gentle apes, the primitive ones would lure the gentle one back to their lairs for tea and the gentle one would be seen no more.
The gentle apes gradually woke up to this deception and changed their own behaviour to suit. Every time they met one another, they would bare their fangs to show they were of the small-fang tribe. Any ape, that would not respond by showing his fangs, was treated with suspicion and we've been doing this ever since. Though now we call it smiling.
An old lady was sitting in the vet's waiting room with her sick kitten. A young bloke came in with a rather large dog and sat next to the old lady. The dog was eyeing the kitten and the old lady was getting nervous. Suddenly the dog grabbed the kitten's head in its mouth. The old lady screamed and the young bloke shot some sharp words at the dog which caused it to let go. The young bloke whispered something into the dogs ear and it started to lick the kitten. "That's right love, teach them to live happily together." said the old woman. "Nah," said the young bloke, "I was just telling my dog that he should wash his food before he eats it!"
Sometimes there's more than one reason behind the events you see.
Two blokes sitting on a park bench discussing last nights TV. The first says, "Hey, did you see that ad last night where that old soccer player is standing in a large sports-ground talking about his team and erection problems?" "Yeah." Replied his mate. "So?" "Well", said the first, "I wonder if Australian builders have erection problems?" "Dont know about Aussie builders," replied his mate, "but I reckon Japanese politicians would."
Did you hear that the local bus company's business is picking up?
Once upon a time in a valley high up in a mountain range, there was a mining outfit. They had two mines. One was considered to be the main mine and so was surrounded by various huts containing all the trappings of the mining industry. One hut contained the explosives and was understandably some distance from the others. Another contained the explosive expert's workshop. The wall of this hut was covered in reels of fuses of various characterictics, speed etc. As it was the end of a busy month, some of the reels were empty. The rest only had short lengths of fuse, a few loops at the most.
At 3pm on the last friday of the month, the mine boss came into the hut and said that the other mine, which was some distance from the first, needed a fuse which would burn for an hour. The expert pointed to the wall and said couldn't it wait till monday when a new shipment of fuses would arrive. No, the boss said it was urgent and do the best you can. The expert looked at his meagre supply of fuses and pulling out pencil, paper and tape measure and he set to measuring, calculating and joining various lengths together until he had a combination that would burn for an hour. It contained four different lengths, each with a different speed characteristic. His watch indicated 3.30pm as entered the boss's office.
The boss thanked the expert and said we've just received another message. Could you make up another 1 hour fuse? The expert protested that now he was really getting down to the bottom of the barrel. The boss said that he had every confidence in the expert and sent him back to his workshop to work another miracle.
Back in his hut, the expert looked at his watch, 3.45pm. Only another 75min to go and he was off to the local town to spend the weekend recuperating after a very busy week. He perused his now very depleted store of fuses. Gathering his pencil, paper and tape measure together again, he spent the next hour trying this combination and that combination until he had a 1 hour fuse made up of no less than ten lengths of just about every different bit of fuse he had left. He gave this one to the boss and returned to his hut to tidy up. Only 15min to go to two glorious days of rest and relaxation.
He chucked all the papers, containing his scribblings, into the pot-bellied stove. He gathered up the odd few inches of fuse lying on the table and chucked that into the stove as well. He chucked all the other burnable rubbish into the stove followed by a match. The contents burst into fizzing flames, burnt furiously for a couple of minutes and in short time, only dying embers remained at the bottom of the stove. He was just giving the hut a last quick look round when the door opened and the boss came in. Oh! No! thought the expert, what does he want now. His watch showed 4.50pm.
The boss looked at the expert somewhat apologetically and said the other mine didn't need the two 1hr fuses now, what they were asking for was something that would burn for 45 min. The expert pointed to the now empty wall and said he could make no more fuses. The boss said there wasn't time for that anyway. The truck had already left with the first two fuses. Could the expert work out some way, of using the two fuses already made, to get a total burn time of 45min. The expert looked at the now cold stove containing the remnants of his calculations and then at his watch, 4.55pm. Just 5min to go.
At 5 o'clock on the dot he walked into the boss's office with the solution. The boss said thanks and avagudweegend.
A short while ago I had to go to the doctor for some test results. My blood ran cold when the doctor gave me the results. He said, "I've got good news for you." but I heard something different. If you change just one letter in his sentence, it changes the meaning dramatically.
What's worse than taking a bite of an apple and finding a worm in it? Answer.
Two friends, while exploring high up on the Greenland glacier-field, came across a section of cliff with strange crystaline quartz embedded in the cliff face. One, being an amateur rock collector, pulled out a small pick from his rucksack and began chipping away. Having removed most of the surrounding rock he gave the quartz a good heave ho. It came away in his hands but it also started a rockslide and part of the cliff collapsed exposing a small cave. Grabbing his flashlight he ventured in. The floor of the cave was solid ice and very slippery. His flashlight illuminated small sections of the ice at a time. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of pink under the ice. He slid over to get a closer view. There were two naked bodies, a man and a woman, laying side by side in the ice. After the shock wore off he suddenly had a flash of inspiration and slid out of the cave and called to his friend. "I've found Adam & Eve." "Oh right, pull the other leg." shot back his mate. "No it really is, come and look" implored the first. His unblieving friend slid into the cave, took one look and said "Wow, it is Adam & Eve."
A man lived on the 15th floor of a 20 storey building. Every morning he got in the lift (elevator) and rode it down to the ground floor and went to work. On returning from work in the afternoon he got in the lift and rode it to the 10th floor, got out and walked up the remaining 5 floors via the stairs. He did this every work day, however, if it was raining or his neighbour came home at the same time, he would ride the lift all the way to the 15th floor. Subsequently the old lift was removed and a new lift put in the building. Now the fact that it's raining is no longer of any help to him and he cant ride all the way to the 15th floor on a rainy day.
What's the full story? Answer.
A woman is driving to work. An ambulance whizzes past in the opposite direction. She just knows its for someone at her house. She turns round, goes home and, sure enough, it is stopped outside her house.
How does she know this? Answer.
There's a man lying dead in the middle of a wheat-field with an unopened package beside him. There are no tracks leading to or from the body.
Whats the story? Answer.
A man and his son are in a car accident. The father dies at the scene but the boy is rushed to the hospital. When he arrives the surgeon says "I cant operate on this child he is my son".
How can this be? Answer.
A man was found hanging from the ceiling of a room with a rope around his neck...dead. All the doors and windows to the room were locked from the inside. There was nothing else in the room except for a puddle of water and a chair standing neatly against the wall out of his reach.
What happened? Answer.
A nobleman came to a village and walked up to an old man who had a beautiful daughter. He wished to marry the beautiful girl so offered the the old man a handsome sum for her hand. The old man said no way as he new the nobleman was not a pleasant fellow. "I could just take her" said the young sire "but to show that I can be fair I will wager you a tidy sum for her." The villagers gathered round as this might prove to be interesting. "Here is an earthenware jar, inside are two marbles, one black and one white. If you pull out the black marble you get to keep your daughter and the money but if you pull out the white one I get the girl and you get nothing." The old man knew the nobleman was a cheat and that there would be no black marbles in the jar, only white ones. He pulled out a marble... it was white but he showed no one. It wasn't long before he had convinced the rest of the villiage that he was holding a black marble.
How did he do it? Answer.
Three men were captured by some very clever gangsters, who took them to a small room and made them sit facing each other on three stools that were placed in a triangle. No talking was allowed. The kidnappers came in with a number of hats and while standing behind each man in turn they placed a hat on his head. In all there were five hats, two black and three white. To gain freedom each man had to figure out what coloured hat was on his head. As there were no mirrors, each man could only see the hats on the other two and nobody saw what coloured hats were leftover. In this particular case the leftover hats were both black. A few minutes later one man stood up and exclaimed triumphantly "My hat is white!" He was released.
How did he work out that his hat was white?
That was the original difficult version of this puzzle. If you'd like to cut your teeth on a slightly simpler version first, try the next one.
In the simpler version of this puzzle there are only four hats, three white and one black. In this case the three men still have on the three white hats. After a period of time one man stood up and said I've got a white hat on and was released. How did he work it out?
A woman walked into a bar and asked the barman for a glass of water. The barman pulled out a gun and aimed it at her. She said "Thanks, I dont need the water now" and walked out.
How come? Answer.
A man is walking along a country road. He comes to a fork in the road. One way leads to the next town, the other just meanders here and there until it peters out in a desert 50 miles distant. Sitting at the fork playing with the roadsign which is supposed to show the way to the town, are twin brothers, one good the other evil. Unfortunately they are identical to look at and they chant this tune at him. "Ask us the way but you only get one go,
blow this one and you'll never never know;
only one of us is truthful and the other is a liar,
believe either one of us and your straits will be dire."
What question did he ask to find out the way to town? Answer.
A girl is wearing black. Black shoes, socks, trousers, coat, gloves and ski mask. All black. She is walking down a back street with all the street-lamps off. A black car is coming towards her with its lights off but somehow manages to stop in time.
How did the driver manage to see her in time? Answer.
A TV producer is casting the leading female singer for a New Years Eve spectacular. He auditions 10 of the worlds best female recording artists.
Which one of the 10 does he pick? Answer.
What does a man do standing up, a woman does sitting down and a dog does on three legs? Answer.
What do you call a man who always remembers his wife's birthday but forgets how old she is? Answer.
A middle-aged woman commissioned an artist to paint her portrait. He did a beautiful job and was quite proud when he presented it to her. She then told him to add rings on every finger, a diamond tiara in her hair, emerald earings and a ruby broach. He protested that it would spoil the simplicity of the painting. She said I'm paying you, so paint. He asked her why would she want to spoil such a lovely painting with all that extra finery. She told him she didn't have long to live and her husband was running around with a young blonde bimbo. "After I die I want her to go nuts trying to find my jewellery."
An old lady walked up to the railway ticket window, put down a 10 pound note and said "A single to Mudgee please." The ticket seller said, "Change at Lithgow." The old lady replied, "None of your tricks, young man, I'll have the change now."
Little Johnny was at the poultry show with his mother. "Let's stay until they let the birds out, Mum."
His mother replied, "They dont let them out, Johnny."
"Yes they do," said Johnny. "Last night I heard Dad tell Uncle Bill that they would wait after the show and pick up a couple of chicks.
Two old blokes sitting on a park bench discussing last night's TV. One says, "Hey, did you see the ad last night where you can buy a plasma TV for no money down and no interest for 40 months?" "Yeah." replied the other, "I wonder how long it will be before you can pay nothing till you die and then they take it out of your estate."
The teacher was having great difficulty explaning fractions to the class. "Let's suppose your father was the butcher and he only had 4 pounds of meat in the shop, and a customer wanted five. What would he do?"
The local butchers keen young son piped up and said, "he'd put his hand on the meat while he was weighing it."
Two young blokes leaning against the bar enjoying their drinks. One says, "Last night, I tried washing my hair with shampoo." The other smiles and replies, "Good thing you didn't try using the real stuff."
A father complaining about his son to the mother. "I tell you, he didn't get any of his silly ideas from me!" The mother replies, "I totaly agree, you've still got all of yours!"
There's an old couple who have been spending their holidays at the same old wooden guesthouse for over 20 years and every time they noticed that a blind person was staying there. They thought this was a bit strange so this time they decided to ask the man behind the counter how come? "Yes we always try to have a blind person on the premises. We provide them free room and board. Why? Our electricity supply is rather poor and we have a lot of blackouts and there's always the risk of a fire."
A while ago, when I drove to work, I used to hate wasting the 6 minutes or so that I spent stopped at red traffic lights. I noticed that other drivers spent that time reading reports or the morning paper. I decided to use that otherwise wasted time to have a shave with a small battery powered shaver. It just so happened that, as it was designed to be very portable, it fitted beautifully in my palm and was hard to see in my hand. On this particular morning while in the middle of a shave, a station wagon pulled up beside me at the red light and in the back seat, kneeling at the partly open side window opposite me (the 'staysafe in spite of yourself committee' had not yet forced everyone to wear seat belts), was a five or six year old boy. After watching me for about 30 secs he turned to his mother and said, "Gee, the man in that car has got an itchy face."
In the days before tea-bags, young Timmy begged his mother to let him make the afternoon tea when her friend called round for a visit. After a short while he came in with two cups of tea and a plate of biscuits. "You've already strained the tea" observed his mother. "Yes" said Timmy. "Did you find the tea-strainer alright?" asked his mother. "No, I couldn't, so I used the fly-swatter instead." His mother nearly fainted, so Timmy hastily added, "Dont worry mum, I used the old one."
A young lady was having trouble getting her rather dense boyfriend to start making love to her. Finally in desperatrion she asked "Would you like to see where I was operated on for Appendicitis?". "No-way!" he replied, "I hate hospitals."
Two women, who were great friends at school but hadn't seen each other since, bumped into each other while strolling round town with their husbands. After introductions all round they decided to have a coffee at a nearby sidewalk cafe. The two women sat at a table for two and had a good chin-wag while leaving the husbands to get on as best as they could at another.
After a while one woman, who could see both spouses at the other table, leaned over and said quietly, "Your husband has a bit of a roving eye." "He's had a good look at every young woman who has passed since we've been here." "Doesn't that worry you?"
The other woman replied, "No, I dont mind where he works up an appetite as long as he always eats at home."
A 60yr old man had a beautiful 23yr old wife. The phone rang and the old gentleman answering it said, "I'm sorry you'll have to ring the Weather Bureau for that information." "Who was that?" asked his young wife. "Dont know." replied the old fellow, "Some bloke wanting to know if the coast was clear."
Girl: "Sorry, I dont kiss on the first date."
Boy: "How about on the last one?"
Boy: "Why wont you marry me? Is there someone else?"
Girl: "There must be."
Bill and Ben were friends and as both loved farming they bought adjoining farms and always showed each other their lateset aquisitions.
Unfortunately, one day the cow that came with Bill's farm died and he had to buy another. Bill had heard from somewhere that the best milking cows came from Victoria. Bill found the appropriate Victorian country newspapers and soon found an ad for "Best Milking Cows". Hitching his trailer to the ute he set off on the 400 mile journey.
Arriving at the farm in question, Bill found the owner and mentioned the ad for milking cows. The owner showed him a yard full of excellent looking cows and Bill asked if he could he see the milk. The owner put one of the cows in a headstock and invited Bill to go ahead. Bill sat down and, grabbing a teat, expressed a squirt into the pale. As he did so the cow farted. Bill looked at the owner who just shrugged. Bill had another go and the cow farted again. Bill, a bit taken aback, asked "What's all this farting business?" "Never mind about that," replied the owner, "Look at the high quality of the milk. Look at all that cream". Bill had to admit it was the best milk he had ever seen but the farting was a put off. The owner said "Look I'll drop the price a bit because of the farting". Bill was happy with that. He paid the owner and put the cow in the trailer.
As soon as he got home Bill rang Ben and said "Come over and see what I bought".
Ben arrived shortly and was soon admiring the cow. "What's the milk like?" he asked. "Try it yourself." said Bill. Ben sat down and started milking. The cow farted. Ben looked at Bill and said "You got this cow from Victoria". Bill, looking surprised, asked "How on earth did you know that?" Ben replied, "My wife comes from Victoria" .......................................................................................................................................................................
And of course you knew that every Victorian knows their cows fart when being milked, didn't you?
While making love to his wife, Max started thinking how repetitive their lovemaking had become over the years, when suddenly, quite alarmed, he cried, "What happened? Did I hurt you?" "No," said his surprised wife, why do you ask?" "No reason, really," he replied with a sigh. "It was just that, for one moment there, I thought you moved."
Max's wife finally admitted that their love-life could do with some improvment and so convinced her husband that they should see a marriage counsellor. During the first session Max's wife snapped at her husband "That's not true- I do enjoy sex!" Then turning to the counsellor, she added, "But he wants it every month!"
The counsellor, after appraising the situation, suggested Max and his wife have individual sessions. Max's wife didn't believe she was the problem and stopped going after the first session. The counsellor suggested that Max keep coming as there was a solution to his problem. Would he like to try hypnotism? Max said he'd try anything once. After a couple of more sessions both Max and his wife noticed an improvment in their lovemaking. However, during their bedroom exertions, Max would run out of the room periodically. Unable to contain her curiosity any longer, Max's wife followed him on one occasion to the bathroom. There stood Max, staring at himself in the mirror, saying "She's not my wife. She's not my wife......"
Did you know that sex follows a circular course?
Newlyweds do it as often as he can get it up.
After 1 year it's as often as they cant think of anything else to do.
After 10 years it's as often as the children will let them.
After 20 years it's as often as she doesn't have a headache.
After 50 years it's back to as often as he can get it up.
Dietitian: Do you get any exercise?
Overweight patient: Yes I work out twice every day.
Dietitian: That's good. What do you do?
Patient: In the morning I get out of bed and walk all the way to the couch and in the evening I walk all the way back again.
"I say. Do you know the name of your local MP?"
"Well, do you know what the initials MP stand for?"
Did you hear about the people who emigrated from their country to Australia and raised the IQ level in both countries?
The movie "My Favourite Martian" suggests that any person chewing gum could be an alien from outer-space pretending to be one of us. Now that explains a lot.
Two drunks wandered into a zoo and just as they staggered past the lion's cage, the magnificent animal let out a terrific roar. "Come on, let's get out of here," said the first drunk. "You can go if you want to," replied his mate. "I'm gonna stay for the movie."
Two blokes sitting on a park bench. One says "For twenty long and wonderful years my wife and I were deliriously happy." "Then what happened?" asked his friend. With a sad look the first replied, "We met."
Two old ladies meet at a high society luncheon. One says "My ancestory goes all the way back to Alexander the Great." She looked at the other and asked, "And how far does your family go back?"
"I dont know." was the reply. "All of our records were lost in the Flood."
Ship's steward: "Shall I send you some dinner, sir?"
Seasick traveller: "No, just chuck it overboard and save me the trouble."
Did you know that some of our past Prime Ministers gave a considerable part of their salary back to the government? The govt. thought that this was such a good idea, now they've got us all doing it.
A man rose from his seat in a crowded bus so a lady, standing nearby, could sit down.
She was so surprised, she fainted.
When she revived and sat down, she said "Thanks" and he fainted.
Two women sitting at a street cafe discussing their husbands. One says, "I'm ashamed to admit it but I caught my husband making love." "Why let that bother you?" laughed the other. "I got mine the same way."
Wife overheard having an argument with her husband: "You be quiet. When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you."
Doctor: "Your husband must have absolute rest and quiet. Here are some sleeping pills.
Wife: "When should he take them?"
Doctor: "They're for you."
Teacher: "What's the formula for water?"
Teacher: "That's not the formula I gave you."
Student: "Yes it is. You said it was H to O."
Mother: "What's wrong darling?"
Newly married daughter: "It's Tom, Mother. He doesn't love me."
Mother: "Tell me about it, dear."
Daughter: "Before we were married, I'd heard that Tom loved the Turf, but I cant get him to touch the lawn-mower now."
Two old blokes sitting on a park bench discussing their wives. One says, "My wife is an angel."
"You're lucky", answers the other. "Mine's still alive."
A young man came to the Maintenance section for work experience. The shift-leader being busy for the moment, handed the young fellow a broom with a polite request to tidy up the floor a bit until someone could show him some proper work. "But I'm a graduate engineer!" protested the young man. "I'm so sorry, I didn't think," apologised the shift-leader, taking the broom, said "Look, this is how you do it."
The editor of a small country newspaper, raging over various questionable bills recently passed by our legislators, ran a scathing editorial with the headline "HALF OUR POLITICIANS ARE CROOKS". A number of prominent party members were outraged and brought pressure to bear on the editor to retract the statement. He finally gave in and printed an apology with the headline "HALF OUR POLITICIANS ARE NOT CROOKS".
Two blokes sitting on a park bench discussing last night's TV. One says, "Did you see that ad last night where the oil company said that 75% of your car's engine wear occurs in the first ten minutes of a trip?" "Yeah, but that doesn't apply to me." replies the second. "Why is that? asked the first. "I always leave 10 minutes late." came the answer.
A city bloke was visiting the Australian outback and he booked into an old hotel with an outside toilet. After he put his suitcase on the bed, the first thing he did was visit the toilet. The trouble was, he couldn't get near it for blowflies. So he went looking for the manager. "I just went to your toilet but couldn't get near it for blowflies." protested the guest. The manager looked at his watch and said, "It's only 11.30, mate. Could you hold on till 12 o'clock, the blowies will all be in the dining room by then."
A businessman rushed on to the station platform and just managed to catch the Brisbane to Rockhampton express. He settled into a seat just as the conductor came along, so he asked him, "What time do we get to Gladstone?" "Sorry, this train doesn't stop at Gladstone on Wednesdays." was the reply. But I've got to get off at Gladstone." remonstrated the passemger. "This train doesn't stop at Gladstone on Wednesdays." repeated the conductor. "But I've got an important business meeting at Gladstone." protested the irate traveler.
After much argument a compromise was reached. The conductor would ask the driver to slow down to 25 miles per hour as the train went through Gladstone station. Then he would hold the businessman out the door while he got his feet up the speed. When the conductor thought the flying feet matched the train speed he would lower the suited one down on to the platform.
So when the train reached Gladstone the plan was put into action and the businessman hit the platform running at full tilt. He had just ran the full length of the station as the last train carriage passed. Suddenly his collar was grasped by the strong arm of a shearer and heaved aboard through the window. "You were lucky, mate." said the shearer. "You almost missed it. The train doesn't stop at Gladstone on Wednesdays."
Two blokes standing at the bar in the local pub. One says to the other. " Do you see anything of Herb, now? "
The other replies, " No, him and I dont get on. In fact I dont like him at all. "
The first says, " I saw him the other day and he doesn't like you either. He said you weren't fit to sleep with pigs. But, dont worry, I stood up for you. I said you were! "
Two blokes are having a beer in a bar and one says to his bleary-eyed mate, "You look a bit rough round the edges, rough night?"
"Yeah." replied the other. "Didn't sleep too well and to top it off one of our two cats, who is always hungry, jumped on to my stomach in the middle of the night and wanted to be fed."
The first says, "I know exactly what you mean. Every night I go to bed with a puss on either side of me and one is perpetually hungry and the other never wants to be fed."
Back in the 60s, when steam-engines roamed the countryside, a young bloke bought his first car, a VW Beetle. He cleaned and polished it every weekend and kept it spick and span. As time passed the steam-engines gave way to diesels and the two lane highways became six lane expressways. The young bloke turned into an old man but he still drove his immaculate VDub and it had still never been over 55mph.
One day he decided to have a go on the expressway. He found the nearest on-ramp and tootled along at 60mph for a while to get used to it. Slowly he accelerated to the cars max speed, 78mph in the handbook. Not 75 or 80 but 78, so precise, those Germans. Eventually the speedo read 80mph and that was all he was going to get. The aerodynamic shape of the VDub meant that the steering was now as light as a feather and he had trouble keeping it on a straight course. He was just getting used to this exhilarating speed when suddenly the engine cut out and the car slowed to a standstill. He just managed to get into the breakdown lane in time. Wondering what he had done to his poor car, the old fellow got out and lifting the back bonnet, stared at the now very hot but lifeless motor. Maybe it was only overheated. He would wait and see.
Only a short while later a shiny black Porche pulled up. A Porche is the VDub's big brother. Dr Ferdinand Porche designed both. The Porche driver got out and said "What's up?". The old bloke said "Dunno, it just cut out". The Porche driver looked at the VDub motor with that look that people put on when they dont know what they're doing but pretend they do. "Cant see anything wrong. Tell you what. I've got a chain in the boot. I'll tow you to the nearest telephone-point and you can wait for the motor to cool down there. You'll be able to call a tow-truck if it wont start." "Right'o." said the old fellow. "The VDub is very hard to steer over 65mph so could you keep the speed below that, please." "OK", said the Porche driver. "Give me a bip on the horn if I go too fast."
They both got in their cars and away they went. They had only got a mile down the road when a white Mercedes Sports flashed past, doing around 80mph. The Porche driver said to himself, "Hey, you cant get away with that. No Mercedes is going to shut me down", and he floored it. He was slowly gaining on the Mercedes but he noticed his Porche wasn't accelerating as well as it used to. The Mercedes driver saw the Porche, accelerating and catching him up, in his mirror so he said to himself "No you dont." and he floored it. By this time the old bloke was getting a bit nervous as the VDub was starting to bounce all over the road. He started to blow his horn. The Porche driver was so fixed on the Mercedes that he didn't hear any horn.
It was about now that they all flashed past the phone-point. A police car was sitting in the phone-layby and the driver was having his lunch of sandwhiches and coffee from a Thermos. He saw the Mercedes and the Porche whiz by followed by the VDub, wandering all over the road, blowing its horn. The police driver couldn't do anything about them but he knew another police-car was up ahead so he contacted it on the radio. "Car 54, are you there?" "Yep." came back over the radio. " I've got some trade for you. A white Mercedes Sports doing about 110mph followed by a black Porche doing about 115mph and you wouldn't believe it but there's an old bloke in a VW Beetle trying to overtake them both."
Back in the early days before superchargers were well known, one young fellow fitted one to his car that could double its speed with the flick of a switch. One day he went out driving on a country highway which had a 50mph speed limit. Like most young blokes he liked to push the envelope so he was travelling at 65. It wasn't long before he noticed, in his rearview mirror, a motorbike cop waving for him to pull over. The young bloke flicked the switch and instantly was doing 130mph. He lost sight of the cop and some way down the road he decided to go back and see what had happened. He did a U turn and trundled sedately back to the area of the road where the incident occurred. He came across the cop moaning on the side of the road, his leather gear all torn, and the bike was in pieces spread from here to there and back again, a complete mess. The young bloke pulled up and said "Hey mate! What happened, can I help you?" The cop answered, "I was just pulling this car over for speeding when suddenly my bike stopped and I got off to find out why."
" I say, I say I say. What sort of car do you drive? "
" I drive an MG Roaster. "
" Dont you mean an MG Roadster? "
" No, I mean an MG Roaster. Every time I go for a drive on a sunny day, I get roasted. "
" I say, I saw an unusual sign on a car yard the other day. "
" What did it say? "
" It said "Trusted Cars". "
" What's so unusual about that? "
" Later in the night I drove past and the T wasn't working. "
" I say, I say, I say. My name's Tim but my workmates call me Twirly. "
" Why, are you constantly swinging the lead? "
" No, my watch is always an hour fast. "
" I say, I say, have you seen that movie "Lord of the Rings" yet? "
" No, I dont like documentaries. "
" What do you mean documentaries? "
" Isn't that "Lord of the Rings" a documentary about Juan Antonio Samaranch? "
" I say, I say, I say, why were hippies called flower-children? "
" OK, I'll bite. Why were hippies called flower-children? "
" 'Cos they liked to share the same pot. " Boom, Boom.
" I say, does your wife pick your suits? "
" No, just the pockets in them. "
" I say, every time my wife and I quarrel, she becomes historical. "
" Dont you mean hysterical? "
" No, I mean historical. She is always digging up my past. "
" I say, do you know what a yoga-pilates course is? "
" Isn't that where you learn to wash your hands in public? "
" I say, I say, I say. What's a crick? "
" Is it a small stream of water flowing through a Doris Day movie? "
" No. It's the sound a Japanese camera makes. "
" I say, I say, I say. Did you know the human race is getting stronger? "
"How do you know that? "
Well, thirty years ago it took two people to carry $10 worth of groceries, now a 5 yr old child can do it.
" I say, I say, I say. Do you know what a bunker is?
"OK, I'll bite. What's a bunker?"
"That's a place you build to feel safe in."
"I see. Now it's my turn. Do you know what a debunker is?"
That's a person who tells you it's not as safe as you thought it was."
" I say, I say. Have you seen that colour, wazgreen? "
" No. Is it popular? "
" I'll say. Every traffic light I've seen, seems to be using it. "
" I say. What do you call a person who gets drunk easily? "
" OK, I give up. What do you call a person who gets drunk easily? "
" Incontinent. " Think about it.
" I say. What one word best describes the average human being? "
" I'm sure you're going to tell me. Alright, what one word best describes the average human being? "
" Oxymoron. "
" I say. My love-life has improved immensely since my wife and I got twin beds. "
" How can that be? "
" Her's is in Canberra and mine's in Sydney. "
Two women sitting at a street cafe discussing their husbands. One says, "My husband is a do-it-yourself man." "That's nice." replies her friend. "No, it's not." said the first. "Every time I ask him to do something, he says, "Do it yourself.""
Two blokes sitting on a park bench discussing their wives. One says, " Last night my wife dreamed she was married to a millionaire. "
The other replies, " You're lucky. My wife thinks that all the time. "
Two blokes talking over lunch.
Bloke No1 " My 23 yr old daughter has just bought herself a toy car. "
Bloke No2 " She's a bit old for that, isn't she? What was it? "
Bloke No1 " An ota. "
Bloke No2 " Never heard of it. " Have you?
I saw an interesting sign in a motor acessories shop the other day. It read 'We stock hard to find items'. I have to agree. I found it very hard to find the item I was looking for.
The boss arrived late at the office one morning and was greeted with giggles from the receptionist. "What are you laughing at?" he asked. "There's a big black smudge on your face," she replied. "Oh that!" said the boss. "That's easy to explain. I just saw my wife off on a months holiday. I took her to the train station and kissed her goodbye." "But what about the black smudge?" queried the receptionist. "As soon as she got on board, I ran up and kissed the engine."
Once upon a time, and this story is almost unbelievable but never the less still true, I was waiting to record one of our magnificent Garratts, the mighty AD60, at a little hamlet, south of Newcastle, called Fassifern. It is situated at the bottom of a 1 in 40 grade and its reason for being was to provide men to work a large underground coalmine nearby.
I was on the top of a small cutting about halfway up the grade. I had about 15 minutes to kill and spent some of that time generally looking round at the trees, birds, houses and colliery. Fed up with looking at the macro, I decided to look at the micro for a change. You never know, there could be something interesting going on in that tiny world.
I squatted down and surveyed the ground which, on top of the cutting, was compacted sandy-clay with some sandstone pokeing through here and there. A short distance away, I saw a slight circular depression about 5 inches in diameter, 1 & 1/2 inches deep, with a small 1/4 inch hole in the center. It had convex sides and looked like one of those fancy curved loudspeaker cones. That is, if you were standing on the lip of the depression, you wouldn't be able to see the hole. Sitting in the hole, with just enough clearance, was a small spider, waiting for its lunch to stumble in.
The depression was as clean as a whistle with no small pebbles or grains of sand anywhere. I wondered how the spider managed this, seeing that the wind would blow sundry bits and pieces in all the time. I decided to find out.
I picked up a pebble about 1/8 inch in dia. and dropped it just inside the lip of the depression. It rolled down to the hole. The spider batted it back, up into the air and it landed about 4 inches away, well outside the depression. Unfortunately, it landed on top of a small black ant that was wandering by. It must have happened before, because the ant rolled the pebble straight over to the depression and pushed it over the side. It rolled down to the spider, who batted it back as before, but this time with less force and it landed near the rim and hit the ant again. This made the ant madder than it already was and it started rolling every pebble it could find, down into the depression. The spider was batting like Sir Donald Bradman and little pebbles were flying up all over the place, just like one of those automatic bowling machines. This went on for at least 30 seconds when, suddenly, I heard a distant train whistle. I couldn't leave these two antagonists battling it out so I picked up the ant on a twig and moved it well away from the depression.
After recording the passing Garratt, I checked up on the depression and found the spider sitting quietly waiting for lunch, as before, and the ant was nowhere to be seen. I guess the moral of this story is :-
Lookout for third parties who wander in, start a war between you and your neighbours, then leave.
It's very early morning, the sun has only just risen. I'm alongside the railway line of the South Maitland Railways, coal hauler for the South Maitland coal fields, just near Newcastle about 100 miles north of Sydney. I'm cooking breakfast, a can of baked beans in a pot of water, on a small portable gas stove. A 10 class steam-loco comes ambling along with a string of empties with steam oozing from everywhere in the cold morning air. The driver waves. I wave back indicating my can of beans in the bubbling pot and ask him if he needs any hot water. He gives me a droll look.
It's morning and the sun's been up a while. A 50 class steam-engine driver leans out of the loco cab to talk to a ganger, standing outside a shed which still has its light on. "Hey what's the light on for, are you used to night-work?"
My wife and I are chasing a 59 class just north of Gosford where the road runs alongside the railway line. The engine-driver sees me and puts both his hands out the window as if to say 'Look Ma, no hands necessary'. I get my wife to steer the car and I put both my hands out the car window as if to say 'Neither do I'. He laughs and blows a 'cock-a-doodle-do' on the whistle then pulls the regulator fully open and leaves us behind in a cloud of coaldust.
Once upon a time, and it doesn't seem that long ago now, I was poking around in a second hand bookshop, looking for old electronics books. Not being able to find any on the shop shelves, I looked round for the shop keeper. "Where do you keep all your old books?" I asked the little old lady behind the counter. "Through that arch and down the hall. It's the last door. It's on the right." she replied.
The arch she indicated was one of those lattice frameworks with a beaded curtain seperating the bookshop from the hall and all the rooms therein. I parted the curtain and walked down the hall to the last room. An old threadbare carpet muffling my footsteps. That's funny, the last room is on the left and I could swear that she said right. Oh well, I grasped the door handle and pushed. It didn't budge. It felt like it hadn't moved in a long time. Using more elbow grease, I gave it a good shove. It creaked open and a wave of musty air hit me.
It was dark so I ran my hand up and down the wall for the light switch. I finally felt a cold metal circular object with a small lever poking out of the centre. Pulling it down caused a dim light to spread round the room from a small bulb in what looked like a homemade paper-shade, complete with tassles, hanging from the high ceiling on a braided cable made of cotton covered rubber coated wire. The bulb itself, which was one of those little 15w pilot lights, was plugged into a metal socket which also supported the frame of the shade.
I turned to look at the switch. It was a very old metal tumbler switch mounted on a circular wooden block. These haven't been used for at least 50 years. I guess when the book shop was renovated this room was missed somehow.
The walls were completely covered in shelves. Each one groaning under the weight of many dusty old books. Scanning the titles I came across a thick volume called "Radio Today". Pulling it out of the shelf sent a cloud of dust into the air and up my nose. Opening the stiff red cover, faded now but must have been bright red when new, I found the publishing date, 1931. Thumbing through the pages showed all sorts of interesting circuits for radio sets and amplifiers, using electronic glass valves of course.
I took my selection back through the arch to the old woman to get a price. She took it from me and peered closely at the covers, inside and out. Looking up sharply she said "Did you get this book from the last room on the right?" I replied that indeed I did, not wanting to correct her poor memory, re her left versus her right. She looked at me again sharply then back at the book. Various looks of consternation and puzzlement crossed her face. Finally she said "That'll be five Pounds please". I said "Five Pounds! What's that in Dollars". She looked up a bit bewildered and suddenly her face became more business like and she replied "Sorry, that'll be ten Dollars". I got the impression she had been reliving the past but had finally returned to the present. She wrapped the book carefully in brown paper and tied it up with string. Parting with my 10 Dollars, I collected the brown paper parcel and wondered if her present was the same as mine.
Later that night I unwrapped the brown paper and spread the book on the table. Little puffs of dust eddied round with every movement of the pages. A swift once-over with the handheld vacuum cleaner made short work of the years of collected dust and grime and the old book began to look a bit more respectable. Unfortunately the title "Radio Today" had been pressed into the red cover in gold leaf but now most of the gold had gone and the title was only visible in relief.
I settled down to some solid reading, which wasn't going to be easy. The book had many pages printed faintly as if the printing machine was running out of ink.
After a few hours I came to marvel at just what those old timers had learnt about radio, seeing as they had very primitive test equipment and only an array of simple Triode, Tetrode and the then new Pentode valves to work with. I came across an interesting circuit for a Radio called a Spectrodyne. It used five of the then new fangled pentode valves numbered AC/S2/Pen. Three were used as RF amps, the fourth as an Anode bend detector and the fifth as an audio amp and headphone driver. The circuit designer must have made a bulk purchase.
There were a few unusual quirks with this design. There was only one main tuning condenser. It was connected, along with it's coil, between the grids of the first two valves. Their outputs were combined in the third valve forming what we would call today a differential amplifier. There was a secondary condenser in series with the aerial connector to correct for an unknown length aerial wire. The output amplifier was wired as a very unusual triode, in that the audio was fed to the screen grid as well as the control grid. The heaters, which were rather hefty at 4volt 1amp, were all connected in series and the string was connected to two high power rheostats in series. Both were mounted at the back of the cabinet but one was operated by a long shaft from the front of the cabinet. It seemed to be used as a rough volume control. The other was used as a preset range control so that when the volume control was at maximum the heaters were run at 4.5v each and when it was right down the heaters ran at 2v each.
It would appear that this wireless set was meant to run from a 32v lighting battery as used on a farm. The HT was generated by feeding the 32v into a suitable transformer via a buzzer. The whole works, that is, the buzzer, transformer and smoothing condensers and chokes, were mounted in a metal box, hopefully keeping the radio frequency hash to a minimum.
I decided this was the one I would like to reproduce but where was I going to get a bunch of valves that were already obsolete in 1939 ?
As it just so happened, sometimes you can be lucky, very lucky (and of course you then get the balancing burst of bad luck to even things up).
While attending a collectables fair I came across a plastic bin full of valves and other sundry electronic components. After a short haggling session I became the proud owner of an assortment of electronic leftovers from an deceased estate. Amongst the valves were, would you believe, 6 off AC/S2/Pen. That was the easy part. These valves need a very strange socket. It has 7 pins in a egg-shaped oval, not a circle like most valves. Hmmm! Who needs sockets anyway. I'll just hard wire straight to the pins and use electrolytic clamps to mount the valves.
After bashing a sheet of metal into the approximate shape of the chassis, all the components were assembled into some resemlance of the circuit in the book. Now came the big moment. Applying power from a motley assortment of second hand motorbike batteries adding up to 30v (close enough in my book), it was gratifying to note that smoke was conspicuously absent and there was a satisfying glow from the portly shaped valves. The glow varied with the volume control so at least the heater circuit was working.
Putting on the headphones, I adjusted the tuning condenser and the balance control until I heard a station. Rap music came belting out of the 'phones. Yuk! How can they call that music? I tuned round for a more sedate station. Ah! Dean Martin, now that's more like it. Good old radio station 2CH.
Adjusting all the various controls, that is, the tuning condenser, the aerial condenser, the balance control, the regeneration control, the RF attenuator control and the coarse volume control was quite a handful but the set produced a beautiful tone in the modern headphones. I'd cheated and was using low impedance 'phones with a small matching transformer. The original circuit showed high impedance metal-diaphragm 'phones.
Dean Martin came to an end and the next record was some modern offering by Neil Diamond so I went dial twiddling again. Somewhere round the middle of the dial I began to hear some really old music. It sounded a bit like music from the 1930s. One tune after another for at least an hour with no ads or announcements of any sort. Not even station breaks where the callsign of the station is announced. That's funny, I thought every station must announce its callsign at least every 10 minutes.
The old music came to an end and a Radio-Play began. Now Radio-Plays were very popular from the inception of radio right through to the late fifties when Television came to Australia and Radio-Plays didn't seem as good after that. I hadn't heard a Radio-Play since the 1960s.
A second Play followed the first then it was back to the music. This time a selection from the roaring Twenties. It was terrific hearing all the old stuff and I wanted to find out what station I was listening to so I fired up my latest whizbang receiver with the digital frequency read out. I scanned the dial from one end to the other but I couldn't get a whisper of the old music on the new receiver. I retuned the old spectrodyne receiver to the nearest station and found the matching station on the digital receiver. I then tuned the old receiver to the station on the other side and found that one on the digital receiver. Now that I at least had the correct range, I retuned the old set to the old music and slowly moved the digital one from one station to the other. There was still no old music to be heard on the digital receiver. This certainly was strange. I'd heard of SCA signals piggybacked on to FM stations but had never heard of it being done on an AM station and I'm sure the old set could not pick up and demodulate an SCA signal anyway.
I listened to these transmissions every day for a week. The same music and Radio-Plays were repeated in the same order every day. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to find out where these signals were coming from. As the Spectrodyne was battery powered, I decided to put it in the car and do a bit of tri-angulation to see if I could find the location of the transmitter. I'd have to build a loop aerial first, though.
With the Red Book on the backseat, in case a fault developed in the Spectrodyne due to the car's vibration, and the loop aerial suitably mounted on the roof-rack with a couple of ropes coming in the window to turn it, I sallied forth to do the other two bearings. I'd already done one from the house. It didn't take long to get the remaining two angles and plot them on a street map of the city. The three lines crossed in a rundown section which was earmarked for demolition.
I cruised slowly past each building looking for any tell-tale sign. I needn't have worried. I soon came across a small double storey building with a large steel lattice tower on top. This had to be it. Funny, I thought! There's no red light on the top of the tower. Isn't that one of the many regulations surrounding transmitter towers?
The old style music was still coming softly from the little speaker I had wired up to the headphone connection on the set running on the seat alongside of me.
I got out of the car and approached the only door the building seemed to have, a full length glass door with a wooden frame. Etched in the centre of the glass was a lightning symbol through a lattice mast. There was no door knob, just a key lock. I pushed on the door. It didn't budge. Locked! Above the door was a small fan-light window which was open. Alas it was a bit on the small side, however I jumped up and got both hands on to the sill. Wonder of wonders, my fingers felt a key sitting just at the back of the sill. Dropping to the pavement, I tried the key in the lock. It turned.
I gently opened the door and was faced by a flight of stairs covered by a faded burgandy carpet that had seen better days. Closing the door behind me, but keeping the key in my pocket just in case, I quietly tiptoed up the stairs to the background sounds of a palm court four-piece band playing "Whispering Grass" and a muffled whine from some sort of machinery. I had only gone a few steps when I realised that I knew what that muffled sound was. It was just like the whine a DC motor makes and it was coming from under the stairs. The commutator segments make the brushes give out a raspy high pitched whine which you dont get from AC motors. There was a small door leading to the space under the stairs. A quick look revealed a large electric motor driving a centrifugal water pump. Strange thing for a radio station. Then again, maybe not, as some transmitters were water cooled.
At the top of the stairs the hall continued on for a short way and ended in a stout wooden door. Thank God this one was slightly adjar. I gingerly pushed it open.
Stretched out before me was the whole first floor of the building, what there was of it. At one end were four racks of electronic equipment. Incredibly, for though this is the twenty first century, this equipment was all valve; heaters glowing merrily, symbolising a time long gone by. As if this wasn't interesting enough, in one corner was a large metal cabinet with a metal mesh cover, the transmitter. Behind the mesh was the biggest glass valve I've ever seen. It was a little bigger than one of those very large soft drink bottles. In the dimly lit room I could just make out that the plate was glowing dull red. This glow varied slowly with the volume of the music. To my way of thinking, either it was being thrashed beyond its ratings, or the aerial it was connected to (I assumed the tower on the roof) was badly mismatched. A large fan in the lower section of the cabinet whirred quietly, blowing cooling air on to this monster.
At the other end of the room a small section had been glassed in to form a sound proof room. No light was showing through the glass.
It was around this time something, which had been grating on my subconscious, floated into my mind and I remembered that there were no electricity wires coming into this building. In fact, as the whole area was to be demolished, the power poles and all the wiring had been removed, yet here was all this electrical equipment running, somehow. I decided to switch on the light and follow the power cables from the large powersupply in the bottom of the transmitter cabinet. The light switch didn't seem to do anything to improve the situation so I went back to my car and got the torch I always carry in the boot.
There were six power cables and they ran in a metal conduit from the transmitter cabinet, through the racks, out through the wall, into the hall, down to the ground floor and into the space under the stairs. There they connected to the electric motor which drove the water pump. This seemed an impossibility as there were no other connections. The power had to be coming from somewhere.
One interesting point was that there were six power cables connected to the motor. That's a lot of cables even for a large motor. I looked more closely at where they were connected. There was a curved flap over that section of the motor. Pulling it back revealed three separate commutators, each with its own pair of brushes. No wonder it made such a whine. It must be one of those multi-voltage motors which can run on 32v, 120v and 240v. But why would all six be connected?
I had originally thought that the water pump could have been used to cool the transmitter but there were no water pipes anywhere near it and it was air cooled anyway. The twin two inch pipes, connected to the pump, went straight down into the floor. Obviously there must be another room below where I was standing. A search with the torch revealed a trapdoor in the floor at the very end of this cramped area. Lifting it exposed an iron ladder. Carefully treading very lightly, in case the ladder collapsed, I made my way to the bottom. This lower room was about as big as the space I'd just decended from but was very dank and damp. The two pipes from the pump connected to a six inch pipe which came through the wall from the direction of the street and, after doing a U turn through a large water-valve, dived back through the wall whence it came. The two small pipes were connected either side of the large water-valve.
This was rather puzzling. Electricity, which came from nowhere, pumped water from a large pipe through two little pipes and back into the large pipe which was fitted with a large bypass valve. It still didn't make any sense.
Suddenly the penny dropped. I had been looking at this from the wrong end. The motor wasn't driving the pump. The pump was driving the motor, or to be more accurate, the pump was actually a water driven turbine and the motor was a DC generator. The six cables were carrying tree different voltages up to the equipment. The bypass valve was adjusted to get just the right RPM and the water flowing through the water main provided all the energy for free.
The power problem solved I went back up to the Radio Room. Now to solve that glowing plate.
Having a good look at the TX cabinet I surmised which was the output tuning control and grabbed the knob and began to turn it. The plate did not reduce its colour. In fact it got a bit redder. Obviously the output was already tuned so I put it back where it was. I then went searching for the final valve HT control.
The actual control turned out to be a Variac feeding the primary of the high voltage transformer in the transmitting valve's power supply. Now what were AC devices doing in an all DC installation? After following more cables round, I found that the DC coming up from the generator below fed into what appeared to be a free running electric motor, but this was an odd motor as it had no shaft. The DC was connected to one end and the Variac was connected to the other. It appeared that DC went in one end and AC came out the other. The nameplate said "Rotary Convertor" and the power rating was 500 watts. A number of softly glowing Barrettors in the powersupply provided regulation in conjunction with a very large spiral wound rheostat.
I grasped the large Variac knob and backed it off a little. The plate current meter slowly fell and the plate itself dropped back to what I reckon was its normal black colour. I was just patting myself on the back when the dim light in the room got a little less dim.
I spun round and saw that now a small bulb had clicked on in the glass room. There was a figure sitting at a control desk. It was wearing a sports coat and a felt hat of the type men wore in the 1930s. I couldn't make out the face but as I tried, it rose and walked straight through the glass, past me to the TX cabinet and reset the HT control to its original position. Having checked the plate current meter and that the valve plate was again glowing red, the figure turned towards me and wagged a bony finger in reproach for my having fiddled with its transmitter. Dreading what I was going to see, and with much misgiving, I finally managed to drag my eyes from that wagging finger to the face. My blood ran cold for there were no eyes in those eye sockets and no skin on that face.
Suddenly my knees felt as if they weren't going to hold me up. Moments later a burst of adrenaline stiffened my knees and my feet ran full tilt towards the door. I flew down the stairs, almost tripping and breaking my neck. I fumbled with the etched glass door and beat a hasty retreat, throwing the key back into the fanlight window as I went. By force of habit I had locked the car door and now my hand was shaking so much I couldn't get my carkey into the lock. I heard the glass door open. I turned to find the figure standing behind me with its bony hand outstretched as if waiting for me to give it something. At last I got the key in the car door and opened it. I felt a tap on the shoulder. The figure was now pointing to the Spectrodyne on the seat and indicating that's what it wanted. Reluctantly I disconnected the batteries and handed it the heavy chassis. Surely those bony arms could not hold the weight, but they did so with ease. Now the figure pointed to the back seat where I had put the old Red Book. Oh! No! Not the book. I contemplated whether I could jump in the car and make a getaway. But no, I chickened out and gave it what it wanted. Once it had the Spectrodyne and the book, the figure turned and shouldered the door open and disappeared from view. But not without giving me one last withering look with its eyeless sockets. I jumped in the car and put as many miles between me and that ghostly console-operator as fast as I could.
Back home, after I had calmed down, I went to my little cubby-hole at the back of the garage and had another look at the photocopy of the index of the Red Book. I always make one so as to save wear and tear on the original. Unfortunately, the index was one part of the book which had very poor printing and the photocopy turned out not much better. I could just make out the printing. Scanning down the list for the Spectrodyne, I realised that, due to the poor original print quality, I had misread the name of this particular radio circuit. I thought it had said Spectrodyne but what it actually said was Spectredyne.
Dont break it off. A true story of the good ol' days.
Back in 1970 I went for my first railfan trip with 3813 up front. The trip ran from Sydney's Central Station to Lithgow, about 97 miles, where the 38'er was removed and one of the local Standard-Goods shunting engines came on to take us the 9 miles to Wallerawang, thence the 5 miles to Wallerawang Colliery. As we were the only train on the colliery line, photostops came thick and fast. We arrived at the colliery to find the rail-lines looked just like tram-lines as over the years so much coal dust had accumulated in the rail yard, only the rail-tops were showing and I dont think there was a straight rail in the place.
After an appropriate break for lunch, the TF was run round the train and now faced the correct way for the run back to Lithgow. If we thought the run to the colliery had a lot of photostops, they were nothing to the number now that the engine was facing the right way. At every possible photo vantage point, the train would stop, the photographers would run up the hill and the TF would perform for the shutters. As the photostops progressed, I noticed less and less people were climbing the hills until on one stop, no-one got out. I never thought I'd see the day when not one photographer would get out at a photostop, but this was it. From then on there were no more stops and the 2-8-0 settled down to a steady slog as it climbed from Wallerawang up to the Marrangaroo Tunnel. A smart run through Bowenfels with plenty of whistles finally brought us to Lithgow where our trusty steed 3813 was waiting to take over the reins.
Unfortunately these were the days when steam-engines were being blamed for accelerated degeneration of the insulators on the overhead catenary when inside tunnels. As a result all steam-trains running uphill through tunnels had to be towed by a 46 class electric loco. So after the 38 coupled on, an oblong box sidled up and took over the whole train. With the steamer in neutral, the Wallerawang power station took the load and the train was pulled effortlessly up through the ten tunnels and in no time at all we were slowing to a stop at the stationless platform of Newnes Junction. Itself a left-over from the days of Shays running up and down the 1 in 25 grade of the line to Newnes, long since ripped up.
The humming-box finally got out of the way of the 38 and as we departed with great gusto, the driver of the 46 shouted out to the steamloco driver, "Dont break it off." At the time I didn't know what he was alluding to. We shortly found out.
The 38'er roared up the remaining grade as only a 38 can and we just went faster and faster. We pulled up at Katoomba Station and I'll bet the fireman was on his knees by then, praying to the driver to slow down. We started again, and even though the line ahead is down 1 in 33, the driver was in such a hurry he caused the 38 to slip as it pulled away from the station. We flew down the Mountains and arrived at the next stop at Penrith.
After a short stop, we powered out of Penrith, up the 1 in 66 Kingswood Bank and over the top. The regulator didn't move and the 38's sharp clipped exhaust accelerated until it sounded like a sewing machine. We had to be doing at least 70 mph. I wouldn't be surprized if we hit 80 mph or more. The check-rails on all the points we passed over were really earning their keep and complained loudly. There were a number of crossings with crossing bells and as we passed them, we only heard one "deeeooong" from each bell. On approaching Seven Hills road-crossing, the longest blast I've ever heard of a 38 chime-whistle rang out for a good 9 seconds. If there had been any car stalled on the crossing, we would have pulverised it. The next stop was Strathfield Station and I think the brakes started coming on at Westmead to make sure we stopped in time.
After depositing a number of railfans at Strathfield, the big pacific, pulsating with energy, blasted its way up the final decent grade to Burwood and settled down to a fast, but not spectacular, run to Central.
Now we knew what the 46 driver was telling the 38 driver. Dont break the regulator handle off in an effort to go even faster.
That was my only run behind 3813. What a great engine it was. I say "was" as it is now only a collection of rusting bits spread all over Sydney and Thirlmere.
The Ultimate Temptation? Another true story from the good ol' days.
Have you ever seen a movie where the main character has to make an important decision in a few seconds but the movie stretches this out into 5 minutes as all sorts of thoughts race through their mind? Well, exactly this happened to me.
Back when I first started "tracing chains", the Department of NSWGR was in charge and lucky for me it was somewhat patriarchal in its operation. The Dept. realised a fair slice of the public loved trains so much that they would want to get up close to the objects of their desire and take photographs, record sounds etc. A system had been put in place that allowed you to front up to a particular room in the "Green House" (the NSWGR admin building in Sydney), sign an indemnity form and receive in return, a piece of paper that was better than Gold. It gave the holder permission to go anywhere on NSWGR property as long as you obeyed the standing rules of the NSWGR. I wonder if you can still get it now?
Having had to do a mechanical workshop course back in 1960, I had already bought a blue boiler suit which by now was showing slight signs of wear. With my audio recorder in its carry case, which looked remarkably like a lunch bag, and a beanie on my head, I sallied forth onto the hallowed ground where my beloved steam engines lived. In this case it was Broadmeadow Loco Depot at Newcastle, about 100 miles north of Sydney. Some of you may think that this is a long way to go but in the vast expanse of Australia it's really just round the corner.
We were really lucky to have two steam loco depots right on Sydney's doorstep so to speak. The second steam depot was at Port Waratah, just a few miles from the one at Broadmeadow. While the Pt. Waratah depot was all steam, the Broadmedow one was partially dieselised. The NSWGR management were wise enough to let the Broadmeadow steam fleet run down gradually as most of the locos were less than 20yrs old. You must remember that steam locos were built in an era when there was honesty in manufacturing. They were built to last. The engine that hauled the last regularly steam hauled passenger train in NSW was well over 70yrs old when it retired in 1971. This was a C32 class. No better mid range passenger engine had been designed and built for what it did best. Unbelievably, this engine survived 70+ years at the coal-face so to speak, outliving numerous politicians, general managers, CEOs, etc. and managed to escape any accidents bad enough to cause a writeoff in around a million miles of travelling. It retired and was promptly treated as a collection of spare parts for other C32s and within a couple of months was just a frame with a set of cylinders and running gear. Who knows what passes through the collective mind of a museum? I'm sure I dont.
Suitably attired, as previously discussed, I parked my car in the Broadmeadow loco carpark and walked into the admin building, up to the loco roster blackboard. Scribbled in chalk were the trains running that evening, between Broadmeadow and Gosford (about 50 miles south of Newcastle). Along side the train numbers were the loco numbers allocated to that train. I was just happy to see a 60xx in front of a few of them. I'd jot down the departure and arrival times and beat a hasty retreat to my car and away into the night. I forgot to mention that the steam ran mostly at night so my train chasing occured mostly at night.
I didn't fully realise it at the time, but the clothes I had chosen to wear were just like all the other NSWGR employees in the depot, so I blended right in and effectively became invisible. One night I pushed this to the limit. I couldn't make out the numbers on one particular train written on the blackboard so I looked round for someone to ask. The only person around was sitting in the glassed-in office with carpet on the floor. The nightshift boss. With my heart in my mouth I strode right in and asked him what the number was. He told me with no hesitation. I thanked him and skedattled as fast as I could without looking like I was running. I then realised that he thought I was just another employee. Security? No one was going to hurt the NSWGR. It was a different time and Australians were a much better people than they are now. I guess too many now, dont have the country's best interests at heart.
Time passed and I got a bit bolder. One night I walked out the other exit of the building. This led into the depot itself. I wanted to make a few recordings of the goings-on in the depot. I was soon wandering around between rows of massive Garratts, the mighty AD60, the worlds heaviest. I had discovered the departure road, where the engines, allocated to trains that night, waited for their rostered crews. Some would be going to Gosford, others to Liddel Electricity PowerStation and the mine nearby. I walked past one particular Garratt with its driver hanging out the cab window waiting for the green signal to leave. I asked him was he going to Gosford. He said yes did I want to come? Now what would you say to a question like that? I wasn't planning to go anywhere that night but this opportunity for my first ride on a Garratt was too good to miss. Of course I said yes. He said climb up. I did and spent the next couple of hours in the noisest enviornment I've ever been in. The powered stoker fed crushed coal into the bottom of the firebox, just under the door, but then it had to be spread out all over the firebed. Steam jets accomplished this with a maximum of fuss. I've always wondered why drivers and firemen spoke very loudly, even when in the admin building. Now I knew. They were driven partially deaf by the incessant shrill roar of steam jets in Garratt fireboxes.
When the train got to Gosford, the Garratt was uncoupled and run up to the parking bay just north of the small Gosford loco depot and then watered. The train continued on with an electric loco and with the same crew. The Garratt was moved by a local passed-fireman who was nice enough to let me stay in the warm cab, it being 1am and cold with it. Now came the downside of my sudden decision to ride to Gosford. I was 50 miles away from my car and I had to rely on the generosity of the crew of the next arriving goods train which would have the Garratt as its loco. Would the new crew be upset that they had to drive a dirty old steam engine instead of a nice clean diesel? If they were I couldn't see my return journey eventuating.
So I'm sitting on the top step of the Garratt with my legs hanging over the side. It gets hot in a Garratt cab. My mind was occupied with all these thoughts of possibly being left in Gosford and no passenger trains back to Broadmeadow at that time of the morning. No money to buy a ticket anyway. What a fool I was to get myself into this situation in the first place. Suddenly the stillness was shattered by another Garratt arriving from Newcastle with the next southbound goods train. Wow, soon there'll be another Garratt in the little parking bay. Things will be getting crowded.
Sure enough within a few minutes the second Garratt came up behind the one I was sitting in and pulled up. The driver saw my legs hanging out the cabdoor and yelled out "Move it up a bit will you mate, I need to get to the water-column?"
It was my turn for time dilation. In the next few seconds, which felt like minutes, all sorts of questions were running through my mind. Will I? Could I? Should I? I saw pictures of me operating the appropriate controls (I knew which was what and in what order to operate them). I saw the Garratt move and then accelerate down the line and I couldn't stop it. All hell broke loose. Then I was back sitting on the cab floor with the driver of the other Garratt waiting for an answer. Common sense reigned and I shouted back "I dont work for them, Mate." The temptation had passed. He climed up into the cab, moved us up a bit, then moved and watered the 2nd Garratt and then walked back to the loco-yard building. I could imagine the conversion. "Hey, there's a member of the public sitting in one of the Garratts up in the parking bay." "Yeah we know, he's a rail fan from Broadmeadow." "Well, we shouldn't leave him alone. He might get up to mischief." "No he wont, he's already been there for 15mins and the engine was alright wasn't it?" "Yeah, but I still think we should have somebody there, just to cover our backsides." "OK I'll go but I think its a waste of effort." "Well, you're not doing anything else right now, are you?" "I s'pose not."
Right on time I hear footsteps crunching on the ballast and a young bloke climbs up into the cab, settles comfortably on the drivers seat and goes to sleep. He didn't say one word other than "G'day mate". I assume he thought that I was smart enough to figure out what had happened. We sat in silence for another half an hour till an electric pulled up with the next north-bound train and hopefully my lift back to Broadmeadow.
My heart sped up again as the new crew climbed aboard and I explained the situation. They never batted an eyelid and said "OK mate" as if it had all happened before. Maybe it had, though I was still glad when we rolled into Broadmeadow yard later that morning and I hopped off before we got too near the admin building. Night shift was one thing but day shift people can be somewhat less understanding and I didn't want to get anyone into trouble. I had several more rides after that, all the more enjoyable in that I knew the crews would never kick me off the train at Gosford. I imagine most of those nice blokes have retired by now. I wonder if the current crop are just as nice. From the number of fences and locked gates that now seperate railway property from its owners, I assume the current crop of pencil pushers are not as nice as the ones from yesterday.
What would you have done if put in the same situation?
It is often quoted that American Mallets are better than Garratts as they have constant adhesive weight, whereas the Garratt has high adhesive weight at the beginning of a journey, when the water & coal bunkers are full, and this drops as the fuel & water are consumed during the journey.
I would like to put in my two bobs worth, so to speak, in the Garratts defence. This is only my opinion and I'm probably biassed. I'm sure I'm about to open my mouth and put both feet in but I've got my Ned Kelly suit on, so here goes.:-)
I will assume we are not comparing apples with oranges but this will be difficult, with the original Mallet being designed to allow easy compounding and the original Garratt being designed for use on lightly laid, twisting and winding rail lines. Laying those obvious differences aside for the purposes of this discussion, I will assume both locos are being used on the same gauge lines with the same loading gauge. I will also assume we are talking only about American Mallets with a seperate tender, not tank engine Mallets. As throwing enough money at it can solve any problem, I will also assume our railway does not have bottomless pockets. Given the above I believe the American Mallet has NO practical advantages over the Garratt.
Dont get me wrong. I think the Americans built some marvelous Mallet machines and given how difficult it is to build a large boiler which is not very well supported over the front half of its length, I think it's a tribute to their expertise in working metal that they could build such large locos.
I believe the only disadvantage, the Garratt might have, is that its steam-pipes are longer than the Mallet's and the steam temperature at the cylinders will be a bit lower but I suppose a slightly better superheater would overcome this.
The supposed problem with varying adhesive weight is a bit like the
" Is the glass half empty or half full? " scenario. It really depends on which way you look at it.
At first glance the Mallet seems to be ahead, in that it maintains the same adhesive weight regardless of the amount of coal & water in its tender but lets look more closely at this.
If you were designing a loco to have two engine units, you would end up with a particular tractive effort, given a certain boiler pressure, piston diameter and travel, driving wheel diameter and weight thereon.
When it comes to fuel & water containers, the Mallet is dragging a dead-weight behind it, while in the Garratt, these containers increase the adhesive weight to automatically compensate. Similarly, the weight of the actual coal & water is dragged behind the Mallet, whereas in the Garratt this weight is placed on the drivers once again automatically compensating.
I hope you can see that the weight of the Mallet tender and its coal & water must be subtracted from the train load whereas with the Garratt, it has no effect on the train load as it automatically increases the adhesive weight, as required.
Getting back to the obvious differences, the compounding efficiency of the Mallet comes at the expense of route flexibility whereas the route flexibility of the Garratt comes at the expense of fuel efficiency. You cant have your cake and eat it too.
One solid advantage of the Garratt is that it can travel at the same speed in either direction. Can the Mallet?
It is highly likely, the USA probably didn't need a Garratt but I believe they never even thought of it. Usually, when the Americans think of something, they patent it but as they apparently didn't patent the Garratt .....
A lot of American Mallets were built without compounding so they threw that particular solid advantage of the Mallet, away.
I remember that at least one American railroad company had a triple Mallet which started to look like a triple Garratt would have, if one had been made, so......
One wonders what American Garratts would would have been like had they built some. Possibly their TE1, better known as "Jawn Henry", can give us a clue. Remove the turbine/generator and fit a water tank and you can get an idea. It was 112ft long but, as its body was not articulated, we can be sure an American Garratt would have been longer again.
One interesting thing I noticed, on the few occasions I was lucky enough to be riding on a Garratt footplate at night, was the fact that the driver and fireman did not look out the window at the line ahead very often. After having got the firebox working well and entering a reasonably level section of line, they would sit sideways on their seats, looking, for most of the time, at the gauges, the floor of the cab or each other. Every now and then one or the other would lean back and look out the cab-side-window and yell "Greens" or "Clear". They obviously knew where they were and where the signal posts were.
I asked the driver why weren't they looking up ahead in case there was something on the line. The driver invited me to look out his window at the line ahead. "What can you see?" " Nothing," I replied. "Sorry," he said, reaching up to turn on the big headlight. "Now what can you see?" " I can see the line up ahead for about three engine-lengths (about 300ft)." "If you saw something on the line, and we slammed on the brakes, would we be able to stop this 1200ton train in time?" Sensing a trick question I answered, "Probably not?" " Right," said the driver. "The Westinghouse brake system is good but it cant work miracles. It would take at least half a train-length or maybe more to stop and we would have definitely run over what ever it was you saw so there is no point watching the line ahead."
While standing in the centre of the cab, I felt somewhat blind as we were rushing through the dark at about 45mph. I looked at the back of the big, hot, auto-stoked firebox and hoped that all the other employees of the NSWGR were doing their jobs as well as they could. That the signals worked properly and the signal men operated them correctly. That the rail-line maintenamce people had done their job well. I then realised that these two men, sharing their footplate with me, did it night after night, week in and week out, placing their trust in the system. In the past, mostly overseas, there had been horrific accidents where both the driver and firemen had, at best, been burned on the back of the firebox and at worst, been killed. This placement of trust was no small thing. Their lives depended on it, and tonight, so did mine.
The NSWGR system wasn't the only thing they placed their trust in. As most of the rail-lines only had rudimentary fencing, they place their trust in the population at large not to do anything stupid on the rail-line. The small number of rail accidents up to that time showed that this trust was not misplaced and the Australian population at large did the right thing.
Sadly this is not the case anymore and now high barbed-wire fences stretch for at least 30 miles from each city into the bush and are necessary to protect the rail-lines from mindless vandals who should have been drowned at birth.
I afraid Australia's best time is behind it. Our parents knew how to balance freedom with responsibility. We dont.
I previously mentioned security not being very obvious when visiting various railway locations. I didn't know it at the time but I was under surveillance by various security personnel most of the time I was on railway property. The following story will show that back in the old days security was applied with some common sense. That is, it was not the hamfisted approach which applies now where your nose is rubbed in it and you are made aware of any security with over-the-top flamboyance.
After steam died on the NSWGR in the middle 1970s, most train-chasers turned their attention to the private steam railways. The best of these was the "South Maitland Railways" which hauled coal from the Cessnock area to the main NSWGR rails at Maitland.
This line had been set up in the late 1800s to service a large number of collierys in the Maitland/Cessnock area. By the 1970s only 5 collierys were left. Weston, Neath, Caledonia, Bell Bird and Pelton. A few years later, the Weston and Bellbird collierys shutdown, leaving only three still in operation. Each colliery had its good & bad points with regard to sound-recording but for spectacular operation you couldn't go past Pelton.
The trains from Pelton had the farthest to travel and, as well, had to climb the total length of the Caledonia Bank. One seemingly odd thing about steam-engines is that two can pull more than twice one can. It seems to be due to the pulsing nature of the torque applied to the rails. Two engines have eight pulses per revolution in two non-synchronous lots of four and hence have a smoother shape to the torque curve and hence actually slip less than one large engine would. If one does slip, the other engine fills in the gap till the slipping enginge regains grip. Thus the Pelton trains were made double headers and had bogie BCH coal wagons instead of the wooden 4 wheel hoppers used on trains from the other collierys. This allowed the Pelton trains to get up to maximum speed for their run at the Caledonia Bank. Under full power they would fly up the lower part of the bank but would be down to walking speed by the time they got to the top.
These double headed trains were very long and hence it would take a long time to pump up the westinghouse air brakes on the BCHs. In order to get the trains facing the right way for the loaded return journey, a balloon loop would have been built in Pelton, if there had been room, but there wasn't, so a "Wye", large enough to take the whole train, was built instead. In normal operation the train would come to a fullstop in the "Wye" and then reverse out of it to the coal loader. If the train-brakes had been used to stop the train in the "Wye", it would take a long time to pump the pressure back up again. So to circumvent this waste of time, the trains used to pull up using LocoPower only. The engines were put into reverse and slowly more and more steam was applied until they lost traction and slipped with mighty roars from both stacks. A few more slips occured to get the train moving in reverse and a lot of time was saved but at the expense of the loco tyres.
So this was the place to go to see steam's last spectacular show. The gate to the colliery was always open and, like all good train-chasers, I ignored the "No Trespassing" sign, drove straight in and got as close to the "Wye" as possible, about 50yds away. I walked the rest of the way and set my mics and tape-machine up at a suitable spot to record all the action. I had done this at least 30 times over the intervening years. This brings us to the week before the steam-locos were to run for the last time.
I had spent quite a few days crawling over almost every inch of the SMR during that week and quite a few nights sleeping in the car. On the second last day I thought it would be nice to get a souvenir of some sort or other before I went home. I pulled the car up alongside the line near Neath and was walking along the rails looking for something to take home that may have fallen off a train or been left by the fettlers.
A ute, with I think a small SMR sign on the side, pulled up behind my car and the male driver came over to the fence and said,
"Hey, what are you doing up there?"
I said, "Looking for a souvenir to take home. Tomorrow's the last day."
He looked across at my car and said, "Is that your car?"
I said "Yes."
He said, "Were you in Pelton colliery yesterday?"
I answered, "Yes."
He said, "Keep your eyes open and dont get run over." Then turned round and walked back to his ute and drove off.
Obviously he had seen me the day before and seen what I had been doing and considered me no threat and so left me alone. However, today I was in a possibly more dangerous position and he asked me questions that he already knew the answers to. He then weighed up the possible threat to the SMR and considered I was no threat, other than yet another railfan who may get run over. He did not tell me to get off SMR property.
Now that's what I call real surveillance, or more accurately, intelligent surveillance. Check up on people but dont necessarily stop them from what they are doing if it doesn't harm the organisation being protected.
With the current flap on about terrorists, what's the chances of driving through that large power station, right now, to get to the railfans' favourite place, Hawkmount. Probably Buckleys.
Security, Navy style or just a case of bad PR? A true story that makes you worry about the quality of some navy personnel.
Way back in the 70s the Royal Australian Navy decided to have a birthday party and do a bit of good PR at the same time. One lovely warm weekend, they threw open the gates of Garden Island navy base to the public. Entry was free and all the paraphenalia, you'd expect a navy to have, was on display. There were even a number of warships tied up at the wharf and one or two were open to the public for kids to climb all over, if someone didn't stop them.
My wife and I decided to go with our kids and see what our tax dollars were being spent on. We took our camera of course. It's not every day you get to see Navy ships up close. Nothing was mentioned about whether cameras were allowed or not.
So in due course we arrived at the main gates which were wide open with Navy personnel welcoming the public on board, so to speak. So in we trotted, 35mm camera hanging round my neck, like a lot of other families. There were no signs about cameras, one way or the other. We had a great day wandering round, going on to the open ships, my youngest spending some time on my shoulders getting the best view.
Unfortunately we were so close to the ships and they were so big close up, I couldn't really get any good photos of my family in front of one. Until we were going home.
We were wandering towards the gate, possibly not the same gate we came in, when I spotted a ship tied up at the end of the wharf. This particular wharf finished at this point with a large concrete apron in front of it and fortunately for us, the ship was moored nose in. This meant we could get in front of it and finally I could get a photo of the family standing in front of a warship.
With the kids standing and my wife crouching down, I could, by also crouching down, frame up the shot so the family was in the bottom of the picture and the ship was looming over their shoulders behind them. I was just about to take the photo when a uniformed person, who happened to be walking by at that moment, said "Hey you cant take any pictures in here, its off limits." Well we were dumbstruck. Thousands of people were wandering round with cameras. And more to the point we were only anout 50 yards from the gate and a public road. On the other side of the road were units, 3 or 4 stories high and the occupants would have had a better view of this boat than I did down at ground level. I never did get a picture of my family standing in front of a warship.
This officious person had enough buttons on his uniform to be a commander but I'm sure with the amount of intelligence he was showing at that moment, he could have only commanded a desk. Whatever good PR the Navy had achieved throughout the day, this person evaporated with one sentence.
This is an example of security of the worse kind, the bureaucratic kind. It achieves nothing but bad PR.
Some time ago the Royal Australian Air Force had a birthday and seeing an opportunity for some good PR, threw open the gates of RAAF Richmond air base, near Sydney. There were excellent displays, both on the ground and in the air. Various aircraft were parked here and there all round the aerodrome. They even had the humungus Russian Antinov flying truck which its daring but capable pilots threw round the sky like a cessna. One of the planes, fully get-attable by the public, was a Mirage fighter. If you just happened to have a very large potato, you could have rammed it up the jet's tailpipe. Now that's trusting the public.
Once again my wife and I decided to take the kids and see what our tax dollars were being spent on. Parking was offsite and a section of the fence on the main Richmond road had been removed to provide an access gate reasonably close to the parking area. A large roped-off walking track ran down around the end of the runway and back up the other side to the main buildings. The were tons of RAAF personal suitably attired with smiling faces and ready answers. They had to withstand the millions of questions thrown at them by an inquiring public eager to absorb as much of the airforce culture as possible in the short time available.
We spent all day wandering round the very large base, looking in all the allowed buildings and queueing up to walk through some of the planes on display. All the time jets and piston engines were roaring over-head in a never ending spectacle as all the airworthy planes were put through their paces. By the end of the day we all had cricks in our necks from looking up.
At about 15min before closing time, my wife had had enough and said she would take the kids back to the car. I had one more exhibit to see which was down the end of the base furthest from the gate. It took me almost all the 15min to get there and as I approached the display, the loudspeakers announced that the open day was finishing and would all the members of the public please make their way to the gate. I was almost at the exhibit I wanted to see and only had a little way to go so I kept walking towards the display in question, a plane. Just as I reached it, a line of RAAF personnel, each about 20 ft apart, complete with attack dogs and sunglasses, appeared from behind the plane and slowly walked towards the other end of the base. The nearest one to me said "The base is now closed, could you make your way to the exit, please". This was said in a business like manner and with no smile on his face.
I soon got the message that the welcome-mat had been pulled up and now the RAAF had to get all these pesky civilians off the base as quickly and thoroughly as possible. The line of enforcers slowly swept the base clean until all the remaining civilians were corralled into the roped-off walkway and on their way to the gate.
It was interesting to see how fast the welcoming, smiling faces could be switched off. It was all only a PR exercise and now it showed.
However to give the RAAF its due, as far as I know, nobody stopped anyone taking photos.
Recently, the Star Princess, the largest cruise ship ever to enter Sydney Harbour, came to Sydney on a flying visit. She arrived at Sydney Heads at 4am, berthed at Circular Quay at 5am, and departed again at 9pm the same day.
Being interested in all modes of transportation, my wife and I went down to the harbour to see the Star come in. We were the only people waiting at Bradley's Head when it passed by at 4.30am, trundling along through the rain at jogging speed. The only other boats in motion were two small ones bringing up the rear. One appeared to be the Pilot's boat travelling behind the Star on the RHS and the other even smaller one only appeared as a moving red light on the LHS rear of the Star. Security seemed to be minimal. I guess the powers-that-be reckoned that no terrorist would be about at 4am on a dark rainy morning.
However at 9pm it was a different story. A flotilla of at least 8 small boats, all sporting red lights, completely surrounded the Star, escorting it as it made it's way back down the harbour to the Heads. Now that all the vantage points along the harbour were crammed with people, the powers-that-be seemed to think an attack was imminent.
Or was there actually no security threat and the flotilla was there solely for show and only put on to impress the observing public. Security, not only must be done, but must be seen to be done. Or maybe the latter is all that is needed.
No point in having a security flotilla at 4am if there was no-one there to see it.
The Twilight Zone? A strange occurrence that actually happened.
Back in the late 1970s I used to make recordings of steam locomotives at various locations around NSW. Portland, in the Blue Mountains about 112 rail-miles west of Sydney, was one such site. The Portland Cement Company had a short steeply graded line worked by two ancient tankengines, one a 2-6-2 and the other an 0-6-0. The line has a hump in the middle of it and the grade into the works was about 1 in 40 and out of the works about 1 in 30.
One fine weekday evening I was driving from Sydney to Portland. At around 9pm I was traveling between Newnes Junction and Lithgow on the Bells line of road. The road was fairly flat and straight and ran along the left hand edge of a narrow valley while the old single mainline railway earthworks ran along the right hand side. It was exactly where the main Lithgow Zigzag Steam railway platform is now. Of course back then there was nothing but bush and the ghosts of the past. The Moon was a thin crescent and the surrounding area was barely discernible. I was rolling serenely along in my little tin can of humanity in a vast sea of darkness, full of vague shapes and even vaguer shadows.
I had the radio on listening to some music from, I think, the local radio station. At the end of the record the announcer started talking about an accident that had just happened on the Great Western Highway at Marrangaroo, just west of Lithgow. Apparently a semi-trailer had overturned and was partially blocking the highway, which was only two wide lanes at that time. The announcer requested that the listeners keep an eye out for the accident if they were driving past Marrangaroo. I had to drive past there to get to Portland so I made a mental note to do just that.
About 30min later I was driving along the Great Western Highway, which is pretty straight and slightly undulating as it parallels the main railwayline just before the Marrangaroo Tunnel. I slowed down and drove that whole section with my eyes wide open looking for the overturned semi. It wasn't there. Either the announcer got it wrong or the the wreckage had been cleaned up very smartly. I continued on to Portland and settled down for the night. I had to be up bright and early next morning to get the first run when the engine takes a full load of empties from Portland Station into the Works.
The morning progressed and I had a number of satisfying recordings in the can, so to speak. Lunch time rolled round and the loco crew had their break so I took mine and drove back to Lithgow to buy my lunch. As I was driving past Marrangaroo, over the bridge across the railwayline, the Police were flagging cars to slow down as there was an overturned semi at the bottom of the sweepimg curve that comes off the bridge as the road swings to the right towards Lithgow. Now, there were definitely no semis there the night before, so how did I hear a radio report of an accident before it happened? Strange, huh?