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Traithlon cycling – Challenge Wanaka

Thought for the day…” We learn the ropes of life by untying the knots”

” Better to be an optimist who gets disappointed than a pessimist who has no hope”.

There are 2 classes of cycle speed records, paced (where the cyclist is cycling behind a screen to shield from the wind) or unpaced.  Sebastian Bowier (Netherlands) holds the fastest unpaced cycle record on the flat, 133.7 km/h.   The highest unpaced speeds have been reached downhill, with the fastest ones being attained downhill on snow.  Eric Barone (France) reached 222 km/h in Les Arcs in the year 2000.   And for endurance, the record for the distance cycled in 24 hours on roads is held by Jean Pascal Rouse (France) in Caderousse in 2009 when he cycled 839 km, which is an average of over 34.9 km/h.

Another photo of the cycling leg of Challenge Wanaka for the photo today.   Taken this year at the final corner before T2 (transition 2).   The cycling leg was won by Dougal Allen, with a time of 4 hours 30 minutes 50 seconds for the scenic 180km course.   Challenge Wanaka is said to be the world’s most scenic triathlon competition.  The next race takes place on 20th February 2016.

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and another photo from the archives….water delivery in rural Rwanda….

LOW RES RWANDA Gisenyi 23 Nov 2012 (4)

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Simply colour

Thought for the day…” If opportunity does not knock then build a door”

“The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them”

570km off the coast of West Africa are the 10 islands that make up the country of Cape Verde.   Until 1975 they were a Portuguese colony, and are still also known by the Portuguese name of Cabo Verde.    About 525 000 people live there, including about 130 000 in the capital Praia.   Fishing and tourism are the main industries, although remittances from workers overseas make up a large part of the incomes there.  About 90% of all food is imported, party due to the semi-desert climate on many of the islands.

And the photo today comes from Mindelo, Cape Verde islands.  Simple use of bright colours and late afternoon sun….

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and another photo from the archives….more colours but this time in Gambia…

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Getting your pulse down – slow TV

Thought for the day…..” Life is 10% what you make it, and 90% how you take it.”  (Irving Berlin).

A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions

Back in 2013 Norwegian TV NRK  broadcast a 12 hour, non-stop programme at prime time on a Friday evening showing a burning log fire.    Just a log fire, nothing more.  For 12 hours.   It did have some commentary, from wood ‘experts’ who gave tips on burning, stacking and slicing wood.   People sent messages to the TV producers, half of them complaining that the bark on the wood was facing up, and half sent messages to complain that the wood was facing down.   Reports said that 1 million people, or more than 20% of the entire population tuned in to watch the wood burning.    Fresh wood was added as needed, with viewers giving advice on where to place it.   Now in the news is the story that Icelandic television  has followed the trend, with a programme from a farm showing 24 hours of live lambing.  Icelandic TV said that it wanted to give viewers an ” unforgettable time for those able to see the little lambs being born into this world”.   Almost as bad as the 18 hours of salmon swimming upstream, shown live, again on Norwegian TV.   I wonder if they are planning a marathon TV programme showing paint drying?   It says a lot about Norway and Scandinavia !!

A happy scene from Cuba for the photo today.

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and another photo from the archives….market colour in the Netherlands….

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They are taking over….already

Thought for the day…”I will go anywhere as long as it is forward”  (David Livingstone).

”  A negative mind will never give you a postive life”.

More worrying news, this time from China.  The official Chinese news sources are reporting that in Dongguan, a factory there is replacing its workforce of 1800 workers with a new factory which is based on robots.  The new factory will employ just 200 workers, so around 1600 workers will lose their jobs to robots (that is about 90% of the factory’s workforce).   And when you consider things like self check-outs in supermarkets (=lost cashier jobs), automatic check-in at airports (= lost agent jobs) and automatic check in at hotels (=lost reception jobs) then the future looks bleak.    If you look at the videos of car production, then you can see how redundant that a human being can become.  So if the trend continues, then what are all the displaced people going to do for work?   A good question.  Technological unemployment is coming faster than we realize.

Off to Seoul, Korea for the photo today, and a busy street market.

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and another photo from the archives….the ultimate Swiss army knife…

LOW-RES-Swiss-army-knife

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CRAZY hotel prices in Oslo

Thought for the day..” Thinking about exercise burns a total of 0 calories”.

”  You have to be ODD to be number one”.

Anybody planning a holiday to Scandinavia is going to need a lot of money, and if they are intending on visiting Norway, then a great deal of money.    Searching on the internet yesterday for hotels in Oslo, Norway, found some very interesting prices.    Can you believe that a SINGLE room in Oslo last night could cost up to 1073 euros (=UDS $1202)?   And that is not a special room, just a standard hotel room (judging by the pictures).

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And it is not just the hotel prices in Norway that are crazy.    Everything from a bottle of water to a meal out has high prices.    If you are fond of a drink with your meal, then get ready for a big shock.   Most alcohol in Norway can only be bought from the government run alcohol shops (Vinmonopolet) and even in hotels and pubs, only up to certain times.  It is a similar position in Sweden and Finland, where the government controls the sale through the government run shops (Systembolaget in Sweden, Alko in Finland).    So if you are going to eat, drink, sleep and be merry in Norway on holiday, then the final bill could be a nasty shock.

and another photo from the archives….no worries for these Albanian boys….

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Handy new invention for photography

Thought for the day….” Learn to appreciate what you HAVE before time makes you appreciate what you HAD”

“To err is human, to arrrh is pirate”

The current craze of selfie photos is sure to get a boost with the latest invention, the arm selfie stick.   Instead of a basic pole or stick, users now have the chance of a friendly arm reaching out to them…just right for the photo…..

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I assume that you can purchase these from an armoury, or perhaps from a second-hand shop !!!  No ‘arm in asking though.

And for the photo today, Spring sunshine in Hankø, southern Norway.  Taken a few days ago, still quiet there before the summer rush in July.

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and another photo from the archives….a Cuban man ponders the future…..

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Holidaymakers heading home….time to fly

Thought for the day…” Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge, others just gargle”.

“Always remember that the future comes one day at a time”.

I often get asked what camera I am using to take the photos.    Previously, it was the Panasonic FZ150 but now I have upgraded to the Fuji X-E1.  Both cameras have their good points, but the quality of the jpeg images from the Fuji is so good.   Far less time spent with editing on the computer now, as the pictures straight from the camera are so good.    The kit lens (18-55mm) is brilliant, and it produces fantastically sharp images, helped by an APS-C sized sensor.    The negative thing about the camera is that it does not make good videos, hence the Panasonic is still in the bag for the times when a good video is needed.    But for still photos, the Fuji X-E1 is hard to beat.  Not perfect, but no camera is, but a great camera.  As many people have said, it MAKES you want to take more photos.   And it does !

Fuji X-E1Panasonic_FZ150

The Panasonic has only a smaller CMOS sensor, but does have a 24X zoom lens, and an LCD screen that can be moved.  Initially I thought that a tiltable screen was a gimmick, but after a time you appreciate just how useful it is.   Going back to the Panasonic after handling the Fuji, you realize just how cheap and plasticky it feels, but it can produce some good images (and videos), as the photos on the website show.  But more and more, the Fuji X-E1 is the camera that goes with me and the Panasonic is gradually being retired.  But it is the end result that counts, regardless of the camera that has been used.

Today’s photo is from Funchal, Madeira, and the now bankrupt Sterling Airways.

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and another photo from the archives…. happy children in Laos…..

LOW RES COPY LAOS Children nr Luang Prabang 1d

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Two from Oslo, Norway

Thought for the day…”Pretty words are not always true, and true words are not always pretty”.

“You cannot live a positive life with a negative mind”.

Think of Scandinavia and you probably think of countries with high standards, countries that are clean and also countries that are fairly well-ordered.    So when you mention Norway, and the capital, Oslo, you do not tend to think of a city with problems.   Two of the big problems there are hard drugs and also gypsies.    What is also surprising is that this happens not just in the suburbs, but in the very heart of the city.    Just a few steps from the main train and bus stations (and sometimes even inside these) are people openly dealing in drugs, even during the daytime.   Drug use is also very obvious in the city centre, yet the police seem to do little about it.   It is not just the ‘soft’ drugs but the serious ones like heroin as well.  Around 250 people die each year in Norway from heroin overdoes.    And it is very obvious who is using these hard drugs too.   Add to that a huge problem with begging gypsies and it makes the city centre of Oslo far from pleasant.     Last summer gypsies were even setting up camp in the main squares and parks, then lighting fires to cook on.   Now they are plagueing the city streets, begging in shop doorways and street corners.    Add to that the explosion of grafitti in Oslo, and the city that tourists discover on arriving is far different from the city that they expected.

Staying in Oslo for the photo today…..a colourful corner shop.

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And another photo from the archives…..a perfect autumn morning in Geilo, Norway……

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Disappearing down the corridor

Thought for the day…..” Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”

” A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station”

No doubt there are many of us who will sympathise with the man from Colorado, USA who is being prosecuted for shooting his computer, which had gone wrong.   Probably anybody who has experienced Windows Vista or Windows 8 will especially sympathize with him.    Lucas Hinch, aged 37,  became so frustrated with his non-functioning computer that he took it outside and shot it 8 times.   A Colorado judge will decide his fate, although the computer is now definitely not working.    Revenge is sweet !!

Down the corridor for the photo today, something a little different with the camera…..and another triumph for the Fuji X-E1

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and another photo from the archives…..lakeside on Lake Malawi, Malawi…..

WORD PRESS LOW RES MALAWI Cape Maclear 26 Oct 2012 (34)

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Is air travel becoming too cheap?

Thought for the day…” A bad attitude is like a flat tyre.  You cannot go anywhere until you change it”.

” Look up to the sky.  You will never find rainbows if you are looking down”  (Charles Chaplin).

Is air travel becoming too cheap?   The Flight Centre, an Australian/New Zealand chain of travel agents, published some figures to show how the cost of a return ticket from New Zealand to Europe has fallen in real terms.  Interesting reading….

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Travel’s golden era
• Best price of a return flight from Auckland to Europe:
• 1947: $1170 (85 weeks’ pay of average worker)
• 1980: $1800 (six weeks’ pay)
• 2014: $1500 (1 weeks’ pay)
Source: Flight Centre
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Whilst the days of the 1 euro ticket in Europe have disappeared, it is still possible to get flights for under 20 euros.
The New Zealand tourism department are no doubt congratulating themselves on the record number of arrivals into New Zealand, now over 2.9 million arrivals a year.    The airlines are hopping with joy at the demand for seats to and within New Zealand.  Emirates Airline now flies 3 Airbus A380s a day to NZ, Chinese airlines are putting on extra flights and even low cost airlines like Air Asia and Jetstar (part of Qantas) are planning to increase services to cope wit the demand.   All very nice for the the airlines who now have full aircraft.   All very nice for hotel and motel operators in NZ, who are often fully booked.  BUT not so nice for the small towns and popular places in New Zealand.  Most of those 2.9 million tourists want to see the same few places (such as Rotorua on the North Island, and Queenstown on the South Island).   Some of the most popular walks (for example, the Tongariro Crossing) are so crowded that the idea of giving walkers start times has been discussed.   The media in NZ often shows the traffic problem in Queenstown, which at one time was just a small lakeside resort in the mountains.  Tourists are sometimes finding that their travel plans are now dictated by where they can get accommodation, rather than by where they want to go.  Same situation with buses, plans are now being dictated by when the bus has available seats, rather than by when and where the tourist wants to go.  As the number of tourists goes up, often the level of service goes down., cafes, shops and tourist attractions are suffering from the big increase in visitor numbers.    Queenstown, which was once a small, quiet lakeside town has become a major internnational tourist resort.    Try finding traditional New Zealand local life in Queenstown now.   Difficult.    The situation in some places (again Queenstown springs to mind) is becoming similar to the Caribbean islands, where the arrival of 2 0r 3 huge cruise ships absolutely swamps the local towns, when 7 or 8 thousand tourists descend at once.
No sign of any tourists in this photo, the hills near Tarras, Otago, New Zealand.  As usual at the end of summer, the hills here are very dry, and there is little for the sheep to eat.  This view was taken from the main road which heads down to Queenstown.
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and another photo from the archives….festival girl in El Salvador….

LOW-RES-El-Salvador-carnival-woman

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