Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 10 – 26/27 February 2017

(“Oops I skipped a day” isn’t going to work anymore, right? Sigh…)

OK, so today we went to a beach again. It was a very pretty beach that was very wide. It had a great big rock in it, which naturally Migaél and I climbed (I had an unholy number of uneven steps), and gazed upon the beauty that is New Zealand’s North Island’s West Coast. From today, I believe that New Zealand is just as pretty as South Africa and that it can indeed be a film maker’s paradise. Well done to you Peter Jackson & Co.

Also, today I saw a bunch of nice cars. From a 1970s Chevy Camaro to a Pontiac GTO Convertible from the same era. There was also a 1960s Chevy Bel-Air hot rod and a Vista Cruiser hot rod from the same era. I walked past a Lancer Evolution IV and VIII. The Evo VIII was modified with custom bumpers, side-skirts and a carbon hood. It was also lowered to a silly height, or should I say ‘lowt’.

We are past halfway through our trip here to Slightly Skew to Down Under. The Branckies keep telling us to change our flight to later, but yeah… Oh, plus I realised that I have a two-hour test to do the day after we get back. Qatar Airways, I hope you have good internet…

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Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 4 – 19/20 February 2017

I skipped a day, shhh.

So today, we went driving about. We drove to the north of the north island to go see a small patch of land that our friends bought. On our way there, we stopped at a place called Sheepworld. Sheepworld had exactly five sheep, all of whom were pink – and a broken tractor. This place also had flags about it with ‘sheep’ on them, but that actually looks like clouds with legs. My parents and I had some expensive lasagne and some of the best ginger beer we’ve ever tasted.

Also, the Holdens in this country are awesome! Yes, most of them have V6s, but the odd one has a mighty ‘Murican V8. I decided that I will buy one one day and ship it to SA. It shouldn’t be a problem as it has its steering-wheel on the correct side and everything.

 

Later…

I am currently writing this from a bench at a petrol station somewhere on the North Island. The reason for this is that our car, the trusty Toyota TownAce NOAH, has decided it needs to charge its batteries with something other than it’s own alternator. I find this all hilarious. Here’s how it went…

We drove up a hill and the car started to shake a bit and lose power. It kept losing power until it had had enough. The revs went down and down and down and I was amazed that it could idle at 200rpm. Anyway, we stopped under a tree and waited a bit. Oom Abe called for help and everyone decided to go find coffee. Me, my mother, tannie Leoni and the kids walked a kilometre to the nearest hotel-ish looking building, but upon closer inspection decided to walk a bit further to the petrol station across the road. The hotel looked a bit dodgy. We waited about an hour before finally deciding to buy a new battery and risk driving back to Auckland, which the mechanic said we might not make. The 120km drive that would have taken us about an hour and a half, took about 3 with all the stopping without us even reaching our destination. Instead we half-drove half-freed our way back to civilisation.

So, in the end, rather than reaching our destination, we have another hilarious story to tell with the Branckies.

P.S. It is currently five in the morning (4pm crazy time). I am laughing inside.

Giulia on Stilettos

So recently, Alfa Romeo released the Giulia, a sporty four-door sedan to do battle with the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4. What is incredible is that all the Giulias will be rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and will come optional with all-wheel-drive (AWD) for the European market. The point is, it is refreshing that Alfa Romeo did not go with the normal front-wheel-drive (FWD) layout and AWD for sporty versions layout that most manufacturers use these days. Even Ford has resorted to AWD in its Focus RS.

Another good thing is that not only does the sporty Quadrofoglio Verde version (my personal favourite) comes with a carbon driveshaft (the bit that goes from the engine to the drive-wheels that makes the car go), but the normal versions as well – even the Diesel!

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Now, one car will not be able to bring Alfa back to the top of the ‘Passionate-Cars’ category. Like Jaguar has done recently with the F-Pace (silly name), Alfa Romeo unveiled the new Stelvio  (shown below), a take on the smaller SUV segment. Its styling is heavily influenced by the Giulia and to me looks like a Giulia on stilettos. But I like it. It’s just as pretty as its smaller sister and I imagine that it will have the same 2.9L Bi-Turbo V6 producing as much power as a BMW E60 M5. Imagine that – 375KW in a car the size of the F-Pace (if the F-Pace had the monstrous 5.0L Supercharged V8 from the XFR or Range Rover Supercharged, which would be awesome). Yes, most other SUVs get more than that, like the X5M and X6M, Mercedes and all its different versions of the used-to-be ML – even Land Rover itself. But, do you get that power from anything as pretty as the Stelvio or the Giulia? No, no, you do not. I mean, look at those hood vents! I really hope they make it to the production car.

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I always liked Alfa Romeo. I thought of it as the Ferrari for normal people who can’t afford a Ferrari. Then Top Gear praised Alfa Romeo and I liked it even more. The 147 GTA was one of the best cars on Gran Turismo 4. Heck, I think I still have a 300KW version on one of my PS2 saves. The 156 is just as pretty, especially later models – and then there is the 159, which I am actually looking at to buy as a first car (Yes, I know about all the various problems).

So yes, the Stelvio. No one knows how it will drive yet, or if it will be able to go off-road, but damn, is it pretty! Even if it only stays in the city like some kind of soccer-mom car *cough* Range Rover *cough*, I am just glad that it is a thing that exists.

Lots of Hours watching Videos

So, like many other people, I watch videos on Youtube. I am currently watching NerdCubed’s Completes series with Fallout 4. I also watched his Completes Cities Skylines series too. Twenty-six hours. That was a bit much, but it was awesome. Yes there were boring parts, lots of boring parts. Placing all the bushes and trees around the agricultural area was agonising. But it was a relaxing experience. Nice to watch.

Currently the Completes Fallout 4 is great. The looting in Workshop Mode is a bit boring, but you get to see how the game mechanics work. It’s tonnes better than Fallout 3 and New Vegas, which I’ve played a bit. New Vegas is fun and cool, but the grey-green filter they used to make it more nuclear-fallout-ish is a bit dull and the mechanics are too stiff. The characters are emotionless – like Megan Reed’s mother in Deus Ex: Human Revolution when you tell her the bad news.

Fallout 4’s visuals are better and more interactive, as well as having more colours. The world is more vibrant. Well, that’s what I can see from the videos I’ve watched. I haven’t actually played any FO4, but I’m looking forward to it.

I’m currently on NC’s 6th Fallout 4 video. You can watch NerdCubed’s Completes at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWiBBdXFKNg

Time

Time. Time is interesting. It is the factor to which we calculate everything. It is the single most important constant to human civilisation. But time is relative.
The famous experiment thought up by Albert Einstein to see whether time can be slowed down or sped up proved to be true. When two clocks were used, one stationary and one moving at high speed, the clocks had a different time. Not much, you wouldn’t be able to tell it without advanced scientific equipment, but it proved that time isn’t constant. Another example is the fact the two atomic clocks’ times vary by 0.0005 of a second. The one in Colorado, sits at 1645m (5400ft) and the other in Greenwich, sits at 24m (80ft). The time difference is due to a difference in gravity at the two locations.
Science has recently created a space in/of time, without time being in it. Essentially, they have created a – I don’t even know what to call it – a ‘timeframe’ that makes time stop. But unlike in the movie, Clockstoppers, the world doesn’t stop.
The scientists used a light beam and projected it through a series of filters and prisms. With this they extracted some of the colour spectrum and ended up with blue and red light. These two travel at slower wavelengths than say, green or violet. But what happened was that the blue light exited the last filter first. There was a pause, and then the red light came through. That pause didn’t have any time in it. It was timeless. Granted, the pause only lasted a millionth of a second, but it is possible. However if you want to create an entire second without time, it would require a light beam range of about 100 kilometres long.
This all being said, the person who invents a working ‘time-machine’, which can work perfectly every time it is used, will have all of time revolving around him/her. This person can then alter our time to exactly what he/she wants. This person will rule time. A Timelord (or Timelady) if you will, like I believe Doctor Who is.
How scary, yet awesome is that?!

Who knows? Maybe we even live in a better or worse version of history than they have created…

Games an’ Stuff

Ok. Hopefully Electronic Arts and/or DICE and/or whoever is reading this listen.
The whole point of creating a game on the basis of its predecessor is to make it bigger and better and badder than before. It should be more awesome!
I, and many others, would have been happy with a souped-up, HD, next generation version of SW Battlefront II. Maybe a blend of Battlefront and Battlefront II would’ve been cool. We’d be a bit disappointed, but happy still.
But what EA has done is made a cool game, and then decided it should be worse.
I saw many videos of the closed beta and I have to say, it looks beautiful. But what’s the deal with those cards?! Why are there no classes?! Why are there only two heroes?! Why are there so little AI’s on each team?! It’s silly!
It’s Battlefield 4, only with worse options.
I’m disappointed with it. I really hope that EA is just releasing this one to ‘test the waters’ to see how fanboys react. I still, however, long for the brilliance that would have been Battlefront III with ground-to-space battle transitioning.

Look at Square Enix for example. They create games such as Just Cause 2 and 3, Murdered: Soul Suspect, the new Lara Crofts and that complicated as heck Final Fantasy series. All of which are from thinking outside the box. Heck! In Murdered: Soul Suspect, you are the one solving your own murder! The Just Cause series, as you may or may not know, are open-world games full of explosions, people being flung around with a grapple hook tether thing, explosions, cars being driven off cliffs, explosions, etc. and it is brilliant (I can’t wait for JC3).

Electronic Arts is the sort of company which create an idea and use it for all the games in that category. I bet they sat around a table going through ideas like, “Let’s use the Battlefield 4 system, but let’s change the décor and add laser pistols and tell everyone that it isn’t the same thing…”
So. Here I beg to some company to remake Battlefront II into HD. Just the visuals. Leave the gameplay and missions and stuff alone. Please!

Who needs legs anyway?

Airlines. Particularly commercial airlines. They are cramped, we all know this. I personally believe that commercial airline engineers and decorators or whatever they’re called, think that we, their passengers, are midgets. I’m sure of it.

Me, being freakishly tall, have it even harder. No matter what position I am in, I just can’t get comfortable. Neither sitting nor reclining. Just because of this, I have decided that I hate flying. Taking-off is awesome because you get to feel the power of jet engines, but the rest is horrid. And before you quote that saying “It’s about the journey, not the destination”, you can just bugger off. Flying is overrated. It might be nicer if you fly with Emirates Business Class where you get your own little cabin with a bed, kitchen, desk and bathroom (with shower), but for me it’s awful.

Now, just to clarify, I love road trips. Driving, stopping to pee, driving, stopping to eat, driving some more, stopping to buy whatever limited edition toy cars Shell has that year, driving again… that’s fun. Sitting cramped in a ridiculously small space for 8+ hours is just silly. I say ‘BRING BACK AIRSHIP TRAVEL!’

Yes it would take three times longer than a Boeing 777-300 to fly from O.R. Tambo to Horus, Cairo, but it would be a lot more relaxing. Having your own cabin, eating dinner in one of the restaurants, a midnight ‘dop’ in the bar and maybe even going for a Jacuzzi in the early hours of a Wednesday morning. That would be awesome! Hugely expensive and the company in charge would no doubt go bankrupt within a year, but awesome none-the-less.

Also, I typed this from my seat on Egypt Air, Flight MS840, Seat 24H long after midnight. Feeling like I can sleep for a week. Oh, and don’t forget my numb bum.