Monday, March 18, 2002

Blog!

It's Monday and I'm blogging again, exactly two weeks after I last blogged. There must be something about Mondays that makes them paticularly blog-worthy. It's a versatile word 'blog', and variations come readily to mind. For the benefit of lexicographers, I'd like to propose the following additions to the language :

  • blog, n.  A weblog. An online document in which entries are recorded chronologically, much in the manner of a diary or journal. Also, any entry in such a blog.
  • blog, v.  The act of creating a blog. Hence, blogging.
  • blog-worthy, adj.  A person or thing that is worthy of being the subject of a blog.
  • unblogged, adj.  Ideas which, though blog-worthy, have not yet been blogged.
  • blogistry, n.  The art and science of creating blog-worthy blog entries.
  • blogged out, adj.  Any topic that has been the subject of a blog so frequently that it is no longer blog-worthy.

I'm sure there are more variations. I'll add to this list in future posts.

Anyway, by now you've probably read Debbie's latest blog, so you know that we are, at last, bound for home, albeit via a spectacularly circuitous route. At one point during the planning of our journey home, I asked Debbie, jokingly, if we should include Seattle as a city to visit. Startingly, she paused and seemed to give the idea unwarranted merit, but eventually decided against its inclusion. I don't dare suggest New York ...

So with thoughts turning towards home - wherever that is now - it seems natural to be reflecting on the differences and similarities between the US and Australia. Debbie's already recorded some of her observations on this in her last blog, and I believe has another piece part-blogged (there's another one!) to be published sometime soon. I'm also going to make it a topic for a future blog, but for today I'm moving on to:

The Great Walk - Across the Golden Gate Bridge and Back By Foot - Feb 26

One of the outstanding features of travelling the world with Debbie is the level of interactivity she insists we have with any significant landmarks in the city that we happen to be visiting. Not content with merely gazing upon and perhaps photographing these highly-trafficked spots from a safe distance and at ground level, she invariably has us landing on, walking over or climbing up - often without mechanical assistance - at least some portion of each landmark. In Europe, for example, we visited and climbed so many cathedrals and churches that I came to adopt the phrase We came. We saw. We climbed as a neat shorthand to summarise the majority of our activities in each city.

It was no real surprise then when Debbie suggested that we visit the Golden Gate Bridge and walk across it. Both ways. Total distance : 5.4km.

Planning our trip on the night before our assault on the Bridge, we exposed an apparent error in the trip planner we had recently and reliably been using to navigate our way among the various public transport options. Had we followed its initial suggestions for travelling from home to the Bridge we would have arrived some 8½ hours after leaving home, having spent at one point over 4 hours on a station waiting for a train. A further suggestion would have required us, during the course of the journey, to travel on 4 different buses or trains. With a little tweaking of the options, we eventually found a route that delivered us to the Bridge before nightfall and without the need to introduce ourselves to every bus and train-driver in the Bay area. Humans 1, Computers 0.

GGB Tower The moment you see the Golden Gate Bridge close-up, you appreciate why it is considered one of the most beautiful bridges in the world. The colour - International Orange - is certainly different for those of us more accustomed to the gun-metal grey of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but what's most striking is the Golden Gate Bridge's sheer size. The towers, one of which is pictured at left, rise 227 metres above mean high water making it almost 100 metres taller than the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is a bit over 2.7km long (including the approaches on each side) or, for those with a sporting bent, the equivalent of about 125 cricket pitches laid end-to-end. As you can see from the table below, it dwarfs the Sydney Harbour Bridge on every dimension except width and, somewhat as a consequence, on average daily traffic volume. But, of course, Sydney's bridge is far more picturesquely located ...

Golden GateSydney Harbour
Length (incl. approaches)2,737m1,149m
Length (main span)1,280m503m
Length (suspended)1,966mna
Width27.4m49m
Height (above mean high water)227m134m
Clearance (above mean high water)67m49m
Construction Time4½ yrs8 yrs
Official Opening28 May 193719 March 1932
Average daily traffic100,000 vehicles150,000 vehicles
World Ranking8th longest suspension bridge3rd longest steel arch bridge

Ever the statistician, I sought reliable data on a few other dimensions too. Though I was unable to corroborate these data, it seems that the Golden Gate Bridge weighs 380,000 tonnes and the Sydney Harbour Bridge a mere 52,800 tonnes, and that the Golden Gate Bridge requires 227,000 litres of paint to cover it and the Sydney Harbour Bridge just 124,000 litres. Neither Bridge, it seems, could be given a quick touch-up over the weekend between footy matches. Not even with the help of a couple of mates and the promise of a beer afterwards. (Sorry, Aussie humour for those who are reading this from other countries).

GGB Lime Point Lighthouse As we approached the northern tower, towards the end of our south-north crossing, we looked down to see the unusual building depicted at right. Without the benefit of research, I assumed that the building, covered as it was in some white substance, was a disused lime kiln. I wasn't even close. It was - and still is - a lighthouse. Originally, it provided accommodation for a lighthousekeeper but, after its automation in 1961, the only residents have been sea-birds who have, it appears, been 'repainting' the building in a sea-bird white ever since.

Marina The photogenic marina pictured here lies on the northern side of the bridge and includes, so Debbie discovered, a mooring for a torpedo-carrying boat. The mooring was empty on the day we were there, so I can only assume that the boat was out terrorising nearby water craft. I imagine that a torpedo-enabled cruiser 100 metres off the port bow would command considerable respect and attention.

Bridge in Charcoal Today's final 'photo' was taken from the northern side of the Bridge, looking back towards the city. To get the effect you see here, I used PaintShop Pro and applied the 'Chrome' effect. I think the effect is more 'charcoal' than 'chrome', but I like it anyway. Debbie and I have been very happy with PaintShop Pro - all the recent photos you see here and in the rest of the site have been cropped, colour-balanced and otherwise manipulated with PaintShop. It makes me feel quasi-creative.

To finish, I must mention the extraordinary bus trip home or, more accurately, the extraordinary driving technique of our driver. Basically, his approach involved tooting the horn - gently, and usually in batches of three - whenever we approached a bus stop, an intersection, another vehicle, another bus from the same company, a passing insect (or so it seemed) and generally anything else that appeared vaguely toot-worthy. At one stage I watched, bemused, as a person entering a house near the sidewalk jerked his head around in response to one especially pointed triple-toot at nothing in particular. The bus driver must be the only driver on the planet who gets 10,000 km/30,000 toot warranties on his horn. A fun end to a long and calorie-burning day.

Originally posted by TC

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