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What are your favorite, most scenic train journeys? For me, I'd have to say Chippenham to Bath is an especially beautiful section, as well as snippets of the South Coast line. Amtrak's Coast Starlight route is an excellent means of heading from Oakland to LA, too, once you're past Monterey - some genuinely awe-inspiring vistas along the way, not to mention passing very close to the Pacific in places, and the possibility of seeing wild dolphins frolicking, as I did, shortly before pulling into Oxnard. (More than once, I've wished for special photography trains that would stop at all these wonderful points along the way, giving people a chance to take well-composed shots from vantage points often not readily achieved any other way)

People who live in glass houses have some stunning views. =:D

If you fancy some photography-related travel, Fstoppers are running a contest to win flight & hotel to Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai, March 1-8 2013. Entries are, gratifyingly, open to anyone over 18 worldwide. It's the usual form, to enter: you can leave a comment on the posting, make a specific tweet (thankfully, they simply provide the text, rather than requiring you to give them access to your account), or the F*c*b**k route, or indeed, any combination thereof.

A simple competition, open to UK and US (but not NY, RI, FL, or Puerto Rico) residents, to win an Olympus PEN EL-P5 camera.

From 2010, but still worth repeating: 'A German student "mooned" a group of Hell's Angels and hurled a puppy at them before escaping on a stolen bulldozer, police have said.'

Ordnance Survey have released their own iOS app (Universal), OS MapFinder, with quite a complete feature set, and with the tile data retina display-ready, with high-scale maps included for all of the United Kingdom. However, you'll want to keep other apps around for local coverage, as they're charging for the low-scale maps, with each tile covering 10x10km: 69p per 10x10km Landranger (1:50,000), or £2.49 per Explorer (1:25,000) tile. Alternatives include OutSide Maps, which supports down to 1:50,000 "Landranger" level; ViewRanger or ViewRanger Premium (which includes £15 of map credit, for £10) with IAP options for Explorer and Landranger, "up to" a rather lower 62.4p & 10.6p per tile, or as packs or regions, though the purchasing map seemed to be b0rked for me, insisting no maps were available; and, if you have a net connection in the wild, Bing's mapping also supports Ordnance Survey - where the top-left option defaults to "Road", you'll find the pulldown also offers "Ordnance Survey Map", which appears to go all the way to 1:25,000 "Explorer" map level, but of course, without features like recording your route, or offline caching.

I hadn't even heard of the Fairey Rotodyne until the other day - but isn't it quite a wondrous aircraft? The speed of a turboprop, with the landing requirements of a helicopter. Seemingly it performed very well, though the first versions were rather loud at landing, due to the use of small jet outlets on the tips of the rotor blades.

Jessops are completely gone. =:P "With effect from 11 January 2013, Jessops online and retail stores have ceased trading." The administrators outline the situation for people caught up in the debacle. Meanwhile, you can read about a Jessops employee's perspective.. "Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things that make me lose my shit whilst working; most unfortunate is the fact that they have hands and heartbeats, but I still insanely enjoy my job. I’m a photographer; I have an incredible knowledge of the products, and I can make an absolutely brilliant recommendation for customers, up until the point that we get to the till and the entire order ramps up to a cost that I look at and scream inwardly “BUY IT ONLINE!” I mean come on, 40 fucking quid for an 8GB Extreme SD card. Are you serious? They cost £16 on amazon. £16." Zomboy's comment is also worth reading, going into the company's evolution - a sadly all too typical story of abandoning their original core market to pursue the bottom end, only to find that in turn swiped away by supermarkets and online retailers, leaving them in a poor position to satisfy either end of the market. (And it sounds like HMV will be joining them shortly - apparently, the word has gone out to refuse gift cards, with the expectation of administration. Edit:Confirmed: HMV will be appointing administrators)

An iOS title worth a look: Pangolin: a curious game of bouncing. Free for the first ten levels, then a 99¢ IAP for another forty.

Yay, snow! It won't last, of course, but there might be some more on Wednesday. Meanwhile, I had to head out into the nearby woods, and see what I could capture of the moment, toward the end of the afternoon. Here's one of my favorites, looking straight up into the treetops, out through a little gap in the canopy, into the winter sky.


Dredd is now out on iTunes, BD, and DVD. Buy it! Buy lots of copies! (And if you happen to have a 3D TV, this would be one to get. Cinematically, the 3D worked particularly well, to say nothing of the dreamland slow-mo scenes, filmed using a camera made for the production) As it was the housemate's birthday recently, I went ahead and picked that up, plus one that rigelkitty reviewed the other day, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, somewhat in the vein of Hot Fuzz' black humor, setting the usual horror cliché of "innocent college kids meet homocidal hillbillies" on its head. It proved to be a worthwhile purchase. =:D (And as usual, Requiem took care of the needless DRM, permitting its playback with no loss of quality on the main room's AV setup. Yay Brahms!)

And, hey, I haven't posted any of these "quizzes" in a good while.. ^_^

Your results:
You are Spock
Spock
67%
Geordi LaForge
55%
Will Riker
55%
Jean-Luc Picard
45%
Data
42%
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
40%
Mr. Scott
35%
James T. Kirk (Captain)
30%
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
30%
Chekov
30%
Uhura
30%
Deanna Troi
30%
Mr. Sulu
20%
Beverly Crusher
20%
Worf
15%
You are skilled in knowledge and logic.
You believe that the needs of the many
outweigh the needs of the few.


Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Quiz



Can't imagine where it got that idea. ^_^

Finally, a little special something, courtesy of an old friend - an excerpt of ConFurence 5's Fur Le Dance, featuring Hilda the Bambioid and Red the Panda. ^_^
 
 
 
 
 
 
You caught my attention at "stolen bulldozer".

Is this Rotodyne thingummy superior to the V22 Osprey or roughly equivalent?

Your results:
You are Jean-Luc Picard
Jean-Luc Picard
80%
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
80%
Spock
65%
Will Riker
65%
James T. Kirk (Captain)
60%
Worf
60%
Mr. Sulu
55%
Uhura
50%
Deanna Troi
50%
Data
47%
Geordi LaForge
45%
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
40%
Chekov
40%
Mr. Scott
30%
Beverly Crusher
30%
A lover of Shakespeare and other
fine literature. You have a decisive mind
and a firm hand in dealing with others.


Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Test


This does not surprise me in the least.


Bugger snow. I'm quite tired of it.
I loved the mention of the "chase" in the bulldozer leading to a massive traffic jam on the autobahn. ^_^;

I'm afraid you'd have to consult someone like moth_wingthane on matters aeronautic. It's rather sad to see what was, apparently, a perfectly viable and safe option, canned and forgotten. With development costs as they are, I'd be surprised to see anybody take up such an unorthodox approach, absent some secure funding up front. (Though, in a rather different field, there might yet be the Skylon) The Fairey design kept the helicopter rotors active at all times, it seems, which would presumably have some distinct difference in performance, but I'm poorly placed to tell how.

You came perilously close to being a redshirt? Now there's a curious outcome. ^_^; Maybe I'll try my paw at coding something like that sometime, though I suppose with a good few questions involved, you'll inevitably wind up with some peculiar outcomes.

And will we ever see M'Ress officially reinstated as canon? Sci-fi needs more furries!
It was probably the last 4 questions that got me so many Redshirt points.

But in the end I scored slightly higher for my favorite Captain.

Picard is Best Pony.
By reading the article on that roto-whatever-you-call-it I answered my own question. It's 20-30 years older than the Osprey.

According to Memory Alpha the entire Caitian race is canon.

Edited at 2013-01-15 07:20 am (UTC)
What are your favorite, most scenic train journeys?

Favourite and most scenic don't always go together, of course, but a couple where they do: the Heart of Wales line is lovely. Very slow (four hours from Craven Arms in Shropshire to Llanelli) but the lush, rolling hills of eastern Wales are green and lovely. Also, the south Devon coast run, especially the Dawlish sea wall. Dawlish station is pretty much on the beach, and in rough weather waves can crash over the trains. (See this video for an example.)

More than once, I've wished for special photography trains

Unfortunately, the National Rail network is just too crowded for those to be feasible in most places. Most of the larger steam lines do them, though, and there are occasional photo charters when steam ventures onto the main line. (The Fort William to Mallaig trip is a favourite for this.)
Ahh, I can certainly believe it! And whilst I've spent a fair bit of time in South Wales, I've seen virtually northing further north of Merthyr. What might be some good excuses to take such a ride? I'm thinking of places to get off and engage in some photography, or especially good pubs. ^_^

It's probably around Dawlish I had in mind! There's a particularly notable rock formation along the way, ne? Quite a wonderful view, on a fine day. Not quite sure how thrilled I'd be at the train being given a free wash along the way - on the other paw, maybe I'd just be excited by it all. ^_^

Mm, I imagine as much - there's just so much traffic on the lines, and spots like Chippenham and Dawlish are certainly no exception. Still.. it would be wonderful, ne? *grin* Maybe it there could be some advantage taken of maintenance periods on Sundays, so whilst all normal service might be suspended, one train might proceed in stages..

I never actually did get around to capturing any of the steam traffic passing through the town! Ah well. (And the vantage point from Bathampton Hill would be good, too, though you'd need a long lens) A very good thought with the steam lines, though! That'd be worth looking into.
You need excuses? Well, Offa's Dyke provides both historical and scenic interest, and the line passes through Knighton, which is on the Dyke. (The place's Welsh name, Tref-y-clawdd, actually means "Dyketown".) The teeny tiny station of Dolau, barely more than a hut, is forever winning awards for its flower-strewn upkeep. And Llandrindod Wells has some attractive Victorian architecture, a yearly Victorian festival and a bicycle museum. Be careful, though, as the Heart of Wales only has three or four trains each way per day, fewer on Sundays.

It does sound very much like Dawlish, especially with the rocks. Red sandstone is so attractive, though I'm biased as it's what we have around my neck of the woods, too. And trains don't usually have opening windows now, so you should stay dry inside! The line isn't electrified, so at least one potential hazard is avoided...

For steam photo charters, a couple of good choices are the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and the narrow-gauge Welsh Highland Railway. Both over wonderful upland scenery, and both with attractive towns at the end of the journey which are well supplied with refreshment stops!
You are SPOCK

Congratulations!  When I was at University, many people told me that.  In fact, my wife *still* thinks so from time to time.  But this quiz says I'm LaForge, which isn't all that wrong.

You believe that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Is that what Spock believes?  I think LaForge has been known to say "the needs of the many outweigh the desires of the few", which is basically "Conservatism in a nutshell".  Perhaps the Liberal version would be "the needs of the few outweigh the desires of the many".
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Ah, the Fairey Rotodyne, another great if-only story from the annals of British aviation! You might enjoy a book called Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled The World.
Can't say I've had many train trips at all... or too many that memorable for that matter... but I do hope to have some in the future!... I had a basic one from Euro-Disney to Paris and back, and the thing I remember was All The Graffiti ;P

The only other trip I had, notable and/or memorable was crossing thru Hungary from Czechoslovakia to Yugoslavia around 1969 as a lil tyke while traveling with my Dad.... ^v^
People who live in glass houses have some stunning views. =:D

Indeed. Unfortunately, everyone else also has a stunning view of you. :) Might be fun to recreate these on SL, though. (I don't recall, how good is SL's material simulation? Does it actually handle refraction in transparent materials, or would they appear literally invisible?)

From 2010, but still worth repeating: 'A German student "mooned" a group of Hell's Angels and hurled a puppy at them before escaping on a stolen bulldozer, police have said.'

Talk about bizarre... I don't know how fast bulldozers are, but if he got away, I doubt anyone actually pursued him, which casts doubt on whether it was really an "escape" in the truest sense. :)

I’m a photographer; I have an incredible knowledge of the products, and I can make an absolutely brilliant recommendation for customers, up until the point that we get to the till and the entire order ramps up to a cost that I look at and scream inwardly “BUY IT ONLINE!” I mean come on, 40 fucking quid for an 8GB Extreme SD card. Are you serious? They cost £16 on amazon. £16."

Yeah, there's always that. I try to support local stores, but in the end — it's business, right? The store's trying to make a profit, first and foremost, and I'm looking out for my money, too.

I've found that it helps to do research beforehand, though. Most stores are willing to listen and give you a better price when you say "this costs X bucks on amazon. What price can you offer me?". I don't even mind paying a few extra bucks in a brick-and-mortar store; I just mind having to pay a huge difference.

Speaking of cameras specifically, BTW, I've found that the more expensive bits and pieces tend to be competitively priced even offline, BTW; presumably people who spend three- or four-digit amounts will always do their research first. It's usually only the smaller things that are (much) more expensive.

Here's one of my favorites, looking straight up into the treetops, out through a little gap in the canopy, into the winter sky.

Lovely. :)

And, hey, I haven't posted any of these "quizzes" in a good while.. ^_^

Mmm, I'm a mixture of Geordi LaForge and Deanna Troi, apparently:


Your results:
You are Geordi LaForge
Geordi LaForge
55%
Deanna Troi
55%
Jean-Luc Picard
50%
Data
44%
Spock
42%
Beverly Crusher
40%
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
40%
Uhura
35%
Worf
35%
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
30%
James T. Kirk (Captain)
25%
Mr. Scott
25%
Chekov
25%
Will Riker
25%
Mr. Sulu
20%
You work well with others and often
fix problems quickly. Your romantic
relationships are often bungled.



But 55% is not a high percentage for a match, so I'm gonna say I probably don't align too well with any of the characters listed.

In reality, I'm more like Q. c.c
Speaking of train journey's, this September I plan to take a train (or bus) from Alberta (Edmonton or Calgary) to British Columbia (Vancouver) which means that I'll get a splendid view of the Rockies ^^
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I've been on on manymanymanymanymany train rides throughout the post-Soviet states over the past few years, but the one that sticks out to me is from a different region and a different time. It's the main west-to-east route through Slovakia, running through Žilina, Poprad, Prešov, and Košice on its way to Hungary and Ukraine. Lush fog-shrouded green mountains, rocky tunnels, picturesque Slovak villages strung along rivers, and medieval Hungarian castles perched atop crags at several points along the route - not to mention that the train ride itself is a marvelously wacky post-Communist experience, with 1970s carriages manufactured by the Czechoslovak Railway Workers' Union packed end to end with standees who lean out the windows and have picnics in the hallway and occasionally manage to smuggle in entire sets of portable furniture on which they will lay out marvelous spreads of French cheese and Moravian wine. I still count that train ride as one of my favorite experiences in eastern Europe.

Somehow, I've only taken one Amtrak ride in the US - the Keystone Express from Pittsburgh to Philly - which was also surprisingly beautiful, winding through mountains, crossing narrow valleys, and negotiating occasional horseshoe curves. Much slower than driving the same distance, but it's worth the trip.