Friday, 11 March 2016

The Coastal Road Drive

About two hours driving, south of Melbourne....heading westward....you come to the Coastal Road, and a hour or so down this winding road, you come to the Apostles.

It is a breathtaking moment that ranks up there with the Grand Canyon or Empire State Building.

Oddly, while being a national park, they don't charge you anything.  Go figure that.

I probably could have stood up there for hours.  It was late in the day, with a slight fog developing.

If you wanted to make way to the beach below....you'd have to add another hour onto your situation, with a decent walk.

A day at it?  Well, my suggestion for anyone planning.....plan 12-to-14 hours, and it'd be better to have some Aussie drive your car because there is so much to see.

Note also, there is another park prior to this.....with an actual rain forest type walkway....worth another hour-long stop as well.

The drive back?  This is about as rural as you might desire....rolling hills with farms on each turn.  It's the kind of region where everything shuts down by six, and you'd best have the fuel to wrap up your adventure for the day.

On rankings for things to see in Australia.....I'd put this around number two or three, but it'll consume an entire day.

Australia and Weed

One of the interesting thing I came across while vacationing in Australia in February.....was the pace or path they going for legalized medical marijuana.

The Aussie Senate passed the changes necessary.....to create a national license process.

So, while it's still probably a year away.....there will be two licenses.

If you want to grow medical marijuana.....you will apply for this state license and meet some basic requirements for it.  You could only sell.....to a licensed distributor or shop.

All of this is pumping up some business folks to examine which versions would work best in Australia and fit the requirement of medical marijuana.  Dealers might tell you something....but it's not scientific in nature....just a 'feeling'.  So companies are now engaged and will follow through.

You almost get this impression that bulk plantations will likely come out of this....where some company runs an operation in a fairly warm zone (Brisbane and above), and there would be a dozen-odd people cultivating and collecting leaves for the business operation.

All of this bulk farming business.....means that the small time dealer is probably finished (at least five years down the line).   By 2025....you'd find medical marijuana there in your local distributor shop....grown only by twenty-odd plantation operations over all Australia (my humble opinion).  All of this begs the question of how things might develop in the US, and mass production really goes into the 'norm'.

Sydney and Homes

It is a picture of the opening from the ocean to Sydney Bay, and on 18 January 1788....a Captain Phillip led a fleet of eleven ships and 850 British convicts into the bay.

If you aren't Aussie, you probably don't know the history or the various little details.

Few Americans realize that while a fair number of people from the 1620 period to the early 1700s were all volunteers.....there reached a point in Britain where there were too many people sitting in prisons.  The solution?  Dump them in a very unpleasant place....far from England.  So for a number of years.....they sent prisoners and convicts to the US, until the Revolutionary War ended that solution.  Australia became solution number two.

What Captain Phillip knew of the area probably amounted to a forty-page book and details from an expedition by a Lt Cook in 1770.  If they had done further analysis....it might have led people to rethink the bay.  But from the other prospective.....it was probably bay area that any ship's captain would beg for and appreciate.

The soil there next to the bay?  It would take a year or two for the folks to realize that it was unsuitable for growing just about anything.

Fresh water?  Almost non-existent.

Snakes?  It was a major task to do the work assigned and avoid snakes.

Over three decades.....buildings were erected.  A trading port was established.  Better agricultural properties were found.  Fresh water was sourced out.  They built homes and buildings out of brick and stone.....showing a permanent side to the future.

By 1850, Sydney had grown into a fairly decent port city of roughly 30,000 people.  Oddly enough....in 1851, gold was discovered.  For three decades, this gold 'fever' went crazy.  By 1871....over a two-decade period, they had shifted gears and gone to 200,000 people.  Today, it totals near 4.8 million and growth still continues on a steady path.  Some locals think it'll hit the 6 million point by 2040.

Issues of the day?  Mass transit hasn't really solved the issues of people desiring to live on the outer reaches of the town.  The motorways or interstate system would be described by those who use it.....as marginal, and likely never to get much better.  Home prices within the heart of the city are ridiculous.

So I come to this epic story (more or less).  The house in the picture is 139 Kippa Street, over in the Surry Hill neighborhood, in the south part of Sydney.

Someone ought to sit and write 200-page book over this episode.

It was a home which belonged to Natalie Jean Wood.  Small place...75 square meter (probably near a 1000 sq ft).  Nothing special.  No parking spot.  Extremely out of date and most folks would identify it as being one step away from a slum.

Natalie's story?  In 2011, cops got called out to the house.  A sister-in-law had some reason to contact her and to be honest....they didn't talk much between themselves.  Cops broke down the down eventually, where they found Natalie laying there.....dead for eight years.  Yeah...no one had said much and she kinda kept to herself.

Power?  Cut-off?

This was a woman who had a brief marriage after the war, which ended in divorce after five years.  She went back home to live with the parents for a short period before she bought this house.  From 1979 to 1997....she kept the house but lived mostly with her mother.  After the mother passed on....she went back to Kippa Street.  She was.....for all practical purposes.....a loner.  She didn't have a real life beyond the house itself.  All the cops can figure is that she fell at some point, couldn't get up, and eventually died there in the house.  Months and years would pass.

Since 2011, this property has gone through the court system, and finally ended up for a real estate company to auction off.

Now, you'd look at the outside pictures and be turned off.  The interior pictures were pretty bad, and you'd consider the bathroom to be absolutely non-functional.  Nothing about this place works....except it is brick, in fine shape, and in a highly desired neighborhood.  It is three minutes walking to the central train station, with two city parks about five minutes away.  The pub district?  Maybe two minutes away at best.  The stadium is a 15 minute walk, and the heart of downtown Sydney is maybe a three-minute tram or subway ride away.

The auction folks were kinda surprised.  at fifteen minutes prior to the episode....there were twenty-eight people in the room and prepared to bid.  Over the last fifteen minutes prior to the auction....it doubled in nature.  Almost sixty people in an active for a crappy small house, which needed massive renovation.

The final bid to win?  $1.1 million Aussie dollars.  That's 823,000 American dollars.

If you figure the money required for the renovation....at least 150,000 American dollars.  Then the dump is valued at a million easily.

Most everyone involved in the estate or the sale....were shocked.  But it is an indication of where Sydney is going and the scale of cost involved in home ownership.

What happens in twenty years?  That's a curious thing.  Unless some massive public transportation project takes off and shifts people out to thirty miles (say the southwest of town), you won't be able to find any home in the city for less than $1.5 million American dollars.

It begs questions, and radical solutions.  Luckily, the Aussies have the same type political figures as you find in the US.  So don't go and expect much.

The Engine Story

This week, I noticed a little short science piece.  There are a couple of guys who've sat down and sipped enough beer and discussed rocket-science to such a degree.....that they feel confident enough that they could design a rocket-engine that would allow space travel up to roughly 70,000 miles per hour.

You can do the math, but it basically means that we could leave Earth's orbit on 1 March, and pass Pluto around the 25 of April....more or less.  That would shock some folks and start the wheels to turning on radical space exploration.

But there is this hitch to the story.  They only think this, but haven't sat down to design the engine, or for that matter.....discuss the scope of the design.  So, they want some government or university funding to reach this big first initial step.  Basically.....a lot of beer money, but certainly not enough to afford some Air Force jet or buy a fleet of Tesla cars.

Here's the thing.  If they did this analysis and came to the conclusion.....some basic design ideas and then went into a lab for three years.....I'm pretty sure they would emerge with test engine number one.  It might fail....it might succeed.  But it would lay out the groundwork for a real engine within a dozen years.

Then you'd have to build some pretty dense ship to protect the engine, and figure out if you went AI (artificial intelligence robots) or human for the crew.

On general planning, you'd be talking about a ship making this Earth to Pluto run within twenty years.  Leaving this system?  Maybe twenty-five years.

You can figure by 2100....eighty-four years away, that we will have explored at least a hundred planets beyond this system.  Chance of bumping into some plant and animal life?  Unknown.  But the odds are that you will find at least two or three Earths beyond this system, with some plants and critters.

One might as far as predicting that a million humans having volunteered from 2100 to 2200 to relocate and colonize beyond the Earth. All of this?  Dependent on a couple of rocket-science guys and this weird idea of an engine that goes 70,000 miles per hour.