Friday, 6 June 2014

Auto Racing: A Fun Pastime

Auto Racing: A Fun Pastime

Have you ever picked up a favorite pastime or activity that you knew you were born for? Just as there are many people who feel that they were born to greatness, so too are there many people who contend that they were born to be famous in the auto racing industry. When one thinks of the many famous people within the auto racing circle, such as Jeff Gordon, one can easily see how the personalities of the drivers in NASCAR and other auto racing circles do correspond to the activity that they are performing in. If you have ever considered auto racing, though, chances are that your mind just glossed over the thought of it. In fact, many people don't even know how to get started with auto racing, even though it can be one of the most fun sports and pastimes ever. Here are some reasons to get involved right now with auto racing:

Free As a Bird

Many people choose to get involved with auto racing for a lot of reasons, but the number one reason that many people cite when they are asked about why they got started with it in the first place is because they are able to be as free as a bird! In other words, when they are in the car that they perform their auto racing in they are able to control everything from the speed that they're going to the place that they finish in. People who auto race for enjoyment on the weekend love the rush that they feel when they've completed a course and they also love the attention they receive whenever they've finished in First Place!

Home Away from Home

Another reason that many people cite when asked about auto racing is the fact that they are able to hang with some of the most fun people on the planet. Friends are able to meet friends in auto racing circles, and there are always plenty of opportunities to meet new people. In addition, many people feel that the people they meet in their auto racing circles can be their home away from home, and use the auto racing hobby as a way to leave all their worries behind and focus on the one thing that they're good at!

The Chance to Speed

At least in the United States, going over a certain legal speed limit is illegal. One reason that auto racing is so popular is because of the fact that one is able to go well over the speed limit legally and not get into trouble. Even though street racing is illegal in many places and should not be done by any means, the normal auto racing that takes place on racetracks is an easy excuse to speed past the other drivers, taking one well over 100 and 150 miles per hour!

All in all, auto racing is literally the chance of a lifetime for many people to branch out into their favorite pastime and meet new friends. It is very true that the popular hobby of auto racing definitely has increased in recent years, and chances are that it won't slow down anytime soon!

Tatts Finke Desert Race 7 - 9 June 2014 - Alice Springs

Northern Territory Air Services Aircraft Charter.

Important Dates

  • Finke Family Night

    Thu 5 Jun : Lasseters : 6pm
  • Scrutineering

    Fri 6 Jun : Blatherskite Park
    Bikes 3-9pm : Cars 5-9pm
  • Prologue

    Sat 7 Jun : Start/Finish Line
    Start : Cars 8.30am : Bikes 12.30pm
  • Race Day 1

    Sun 8 Jun : Alice > Finke
    Start : Cars 7.30am : Bikes 12:00pm
  • Race Day 2

    Mon 9 June : Finke > Alice
    Start : Cars 7.30am : Bikes 12:00pm
  • Presentation

    Mon 9 Jun : Convention Centre

Race Maps and Diagrams Links

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Private Aircraft Ride Sharing: What It Is and Is It Worth It?

Direct Private Air Charter 

Ride Sharing:  What It Is and Is It Worth It?

Are you interested in chartering a private aircraft?  If so, you are definitely not alone.  Each year, a large number of individuals consider chartering a private aircraft. 

While many wish to do so, there are many who end up booking reservations aboard a traditional commercial airline.  One of the many reasons for this is the cost of chartering a private aircraft.  It is no secret that chartering a private aircraft is generally more expensive.  You could spend anywhere from one hundred dollars to ten thousand dollars for a round trip. Depending on the type of aircraft and distance.

But, did you know that there may be a cheaper way for you to charter a private aircraft?  There is and that way involves a term that is referred to as ride sharing

Ride sharing, as you likely assumed from the name, is when you share a ride. 
Who you share a ride with will depend on the circumstances. Although one of the main reasons why private aircraft are chartered is because of privacy, the other reason is for ease of use.  

Chartering a private aircraft allows you to reach private destinations or bypass long airport lines.  That is why many private aircraft chartering passengers are more than willing to allow to strangers to share a ride with them, because it is still convenient.  

Even if ride sharing involves sharing a privately chartered aircraft with five people, it is still better than a commercial plane full of people, which could include anywhere from fifty to two hundred other passengers. 

Although ride sharing is a great way to save money, as each passenger helps to split the cost of charter, it is not always allowed.  It is no secret that aircraft chartering companies are in the business to make money and they have caught onto the main purpose behind ride sharing. That is why a large number of private aircraft chartering companies do not allow ride sharing aboard their aircraft.  With this in mind, it is also important to remember the difference between ride sharing and your travelling party.  If you are travelling with your family or even a bunch of your co-workers or business associates, this is not considered ride sharing because you would likely be travelling with those individuals anyway.  

Ride sharing is most commonly used to describe an agreement between strangers. 

As it was mentioned above, the main purpose of ride sharing is to save travellers, just like you, money.  That is the biggest advantage to ride sharing.  If you are travelling on a budget and you do not mind sharing a ride with other passengers, you are advised to examine ride sharing and the aircraft charter companies that allow ride sharing, as it may be able to save you a considerable amount of money. In many cases, the hardest part of ride sharing to finding someone to share a chartered aircraft with.  If you do not already know of other passengers who would be willing to share a chartered aircraft with you, you may want to advertise on-line.  You can do this through on-line classifieds or on-line message boards

Despite being able to save you a considerable amount of money, there is a disadvantage to ride sharing. That disadvantage is that your privately chartered aircraft really isn't considered so private any-more.  While not everyone minds giving up a little bit of their privacy, you need to examine whether or not you really want to.  

To do this, it is advised that you examine your trip.  Are you chartering a private aircraft for a family vacation or a romantic getaway?  If you are privacy may be a concern of yours.  If you are worried about having your travels ruined or your private moments interrupted, it may be a good idea to avoid ride sharing.

The decision as to whether or not you want to share a chartered aircraft with others is your decision to make.  You may want to take a little bit of time to thoroughly examine your decision before making it and when making your decision, you will want to keep the above mentioned points in mind.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Home Decorating for Spring

Home Decorating for Spring

Spring is a time of renewal. It is the time of year when people across the country begin shaking off the final dregs of winter, opening their windows, and hanging clothes on the lines to dry. It is the time of year that many people associate with cleaning but very few associate with home decorating. Sadly enough there are very few times of year when it is more appropriate to decorate your home. Face it, for most of us, this is the only time of year that we are actually happy about cleaning.

During the summer months we clean because the kids (young and old alike) are constantly tracking dirt, mud, grass, and goodness knows what else into the house. Cleaning in these days is a chore and yet we still manage to bring out the patriotic colors and celebrate America in style. Goodness knows how with all the extra cleaning that is going on and the nearly double amounts of lemonade and iced tea being consumed daily. Still we manage to decorate and take great joy in doing so as if some right of passage has been achieved by our home decorating efforts.

During the Thanksgiving and Winter months we clean house because we have no choice. Friends and family will be coming over and they expect our homes to be well decorated and clean. This I must tell you is quite the accomplishment with the rush of the holidays afoot and yet somehow we manage to muster up some Christmas cheer when others are around while playing Mr. Scrooge when it comes to running the mop and the broom around our rooms.

Spring is the one time of year in which our cleaning efforts are nothing short of inspired. Yet it is also the spring that often eludes us when it comes to inspiration for decoration. Perhaps we are too tired from all of our cleaning efforts to seek the inspiration to decorate. If this is the case with you, then my hope is that some of the ideas mentioned below will help bring some serious decoration inspiration your way.

1) Flowers. 

Spring is the time of flowers. They are all around us. Use fresh cut flowers and candles to create beautiful arrangement and centerpieces throughout your home.

2) Candles. 

While briefly mentioned above they deserve their own spot among the top five to say the least. Candles can be soothing, relaxing, invigorating, inspiring, beautiful, elegant, and simply smell good. Candles are great no matter what time of the year it is however, if you select candles in bright spring colors and fragrances you might be amazed at exactly how uplifting these candles can be.

3) Towels. 

Yes I said towels. In your kitchen and your bathrooms you need bright, bold colors that signify spring, birth, and renewal. These little touches can make a huge difference in not only your attitude about cleaning and decorating but also your attitude about cooking.

4) Fragrance. 

While most people do not realize that the fragrances we use in our homes is a type of decoration. It makes our noses happy to some degree but also the potpourri and candles are often decorations in and of themselves. Put out bowls filled with brightly colored and lightly scented fragrance balls, dried fruit, and other delights. Gourmet potpourri can be found in all kinds of gift and fragrance shops and is a rather inexpensive way to add a fragrant touch to your home decorating as well as the fragrance of your home.

5) Fruit. 

Have bowls placed throughout your home filled with fresh fragrant fruit. Not only does this add yet another layer of fragrance to your home but it is also visually appealing and edible. There are three checks in the 'pro' column for this simple decorative step and I have yet to find one in the 'con' column unless you consider the fact that it must be eaten before it gets too ripe.

For those needing springtime home decorating ideas and inspiration I hope this has helped. If you haven't found some outstanding suggestions above I at least hope that you will have been inspired to find your own fabulous finds for spring decorating.

Prospecting for opal in Australia

Prospecting for opal in Australia


Does someone in your family own a ring or pendant that contains an opal? An opal is a 'gemstone' - that is, a mineral valued for its beauty. Gemstones are most often used in jewellery and examples include diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, jade, opals and amethysts. Gems generally get their colour because of certain metals contained in the mineral (for example amethyst is quartz containing tiny amounts of iron) however opals are unique because they display many different colours.




Opals are used in jewellery and ornaments.

Photo courtesy of Office of Minerals and Energy Resources, PIRSA
Photo courtesy of NSW Department of Primary Industries


Photo courtesy of Office of Minerals and Energy Resources, PIRSA

Opal is found around the world (Brazil, Mexico, Honduras and the western US) however Australia produces 95% of the world's precious opal.

White opal was first mined commercially at Listowel Downs in Queensland in 1875. Today, Coober Pedy (SA) is the main white opal centre, Lightning Ridge (NSW) the world's only source of black opal, and boulder opals are mined in Central Queensland.

Opal is one of the few minerals which can be mined economically by a miner working alone.

The miner digs a shaft using a pick and shovel, uses explosives or a pick to dig out earth sideways from that, then uses a small hand-pick or even a screwdriver to extract any opal traces found.

'Noodling' is when people search through old mullock heaps (see left) for pieces of opal that might have been missed in the initial mining operation.

However, since the 1970s machines have been gradually taking over from hand mining methods, along with the use of radar and electric currents to find possible opal-rich areas.

Once mined, opal ore is then sifted to separate the hard material, which is then tested for any signs of colour.

After that, opal sorting is done by hand and requires a keen eye to see for signs of 'colour in the rough'.

Information for tourists

Note: Visitors from overseas who wish to apply for a Precious Stones Prospecting Permit must have an unlimited working visa.

The immigration online verification service will be used to confirm the status of all international passports prior to a permit being issued.
Coober Pedy
Stuart Creek
Lambina and Welbourn Hill

Amazing Facts

  • Opals are multi-coloured.
  • Opals consist of small spheres of silica arranged in a regular pattern, with water between the spheres.
  • The spheres diffract white light, breaking it up into the colours of the spectrum. This process is called 'opalescence'. Larger spheres provide all colours, smaller ones only blues and greens.
  • White opals have delicate, pale colours on a lighter background.
  • Black opals (very rare and valuable) have a dark background and colours ranging from brilliant red through to greens, blues and purples.
  • Boulder opals are cut with the natural host rock, ironstone, on the back.
  • Opals have the same hardness as glass (5.5 - 6.5)
  • If you move the stone, light hits the spheres from different angles and brings about a change in colour.
  • Opal comes from the Greek opallos meaning 'to see a change (of colour)' 
  • Opal artefacts several thousands of years old have been discovered in East Africa.
  • As early as 250 BC the Romans prized opals, thought to have come from mines in eastern Europe, the world's main source of opals until 1932 when Australia took over as the major producer.
  • In 1915 a group of people were prospecting for gold at the edge of the Great Victoria Desert Northwest of Adelaide. Making camp one night, a 14 year old boy found an opal. This started an 'opal rush' and soon the settlement of the Stuart Range Opal Field was founded.
  • Today's main white opal centre is the town of Coober Pedy, whose name comes from the aboriginal name Kupa Pita, which means 'White man in a hole or burrow'.
  • In Coober Pedy many people have built their homes in old mine shafts (calling them dugouts) or in low hills because in summer the temperature goes over 50 degrees Celsius. 

Photo courtesy of Office of Minerals and Energy Resources, PIRSA

Although there is no restriction on tourists accessing the proclaimed opal fields at Coober Pedy, Mintabie, Stuart Creek and Andamooka, it is not recommended because of the many open shafts, deep bulldozer cuts, heavy machinery and use of explosives.

If you want to visit the opal fields, it is recommended that you use a recognised tour operator. For more information visit the local tourist information centres.

Opal was discovered in Andamooka in 1930. The Andamooka opal field covers an area of 263 square kilometres. It surrounds the town, located approximately 35 km east of Roxby Downs and approximately 250 km north of Port Augusta via Woomera.

Accommodation may be found in Andamooka and Roxby Downs.

Discovered in 1915 the opal fields cover an area of 4954 square kilometres, located on the Stuart Highway 550 km north of Port Augusta.

Coober Pedy is a modern town with all amenities and tourist facilities.

Located on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankuntjatjara Lands 32 km west of Marla, the Mintabie field was originally discovered in 1929 and covers an area of 213 square kilometres.

Access is restricted under the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights Act 1981. A permit to travel to Mintabie township can be obtained from Marla Police Station.

As a result of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Land Rights (Mintabie) Amendment Act 2009 which came into operation on 1 July 2012 changes have been made to the Opal Mining Act 1995. These changes to Precious Stones Prospecting Permits and to Precious Stones Tenements on the Mitabie precious stones field. More information about these changes

Discovered in 1947, the Stuart Creek opal field covers an area of 25 square kilometres, approximately 58 km north of Andamooka. It is a remote waterless area without any significant shade trees, requiring a 4WD vehicle for access.

Stuart Creek opal field is only recommended for experienced opal miners and bush travellers.

It is not recommended that tourists travel to Lambina and Welbourn Hill.

There are six negotiated diggings over the two pastoral stations. Access is by service of Notice of Entry to genuine opal miners.

See Earth Resources Information Sheet M08: Prospecting and mining for opal outside proclaimed precious stones fields (.pdf 4.7Mb) for more information about the requirements to enter these areas.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

10 mysterious airplane crashes

10 mystery flights - aircraft crashes

A330 Air Bus

The final report, released at a news conference on 5 July 2012, stated that the aircraft crashed after temporary inconsistencies between the airspeed measurements  likely due to the aircraft’s pitot tubes being obstructed by ice crystals  caused the autopilot to disconnect, after which it stalled and could not recover.

Flight 990

Two weeks after the crash, based the two investigations done by the FBI and National Transportation Safety Board, it was found the crash was caused by deliberate action of the Relief First Officer Gameel Al-Batouti the Egypt Civil Aviation Authority found the crash was caused by mechanical failure of the airplane’s elevator control system.

Flight 571

Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, also known as the Andes flight was a chartered flight carrying 45 people, including a rugby union team, their friends, family and associates, that crashed in the Andes on 13 October 1972. More than a quarter of the passengers died in the crash and several others quickly succumbed to cold and injury. Of the 27 who were alive a few days after the accident, another eight were killed by an avalanche that swept over their shelter in the wreckage. The last survivors were rescued on 23 December 1972, more than two months after the crash.

BSAA Star Ariel

On 21 December 1949 the report of the inquiry was issued by the Chief Inspector of Accidents, Air Commodore Vernon Brown, in it he stated that “through lack of evidence due to no wreckage having been found, the cause of the accident is unknown.”

Flight 191

While maintenance issues and not the actual design of the aircraft were ultimately found responsible for the crash, the accident and subsequent grounding of all DC-10s by the Federal Aviation Administration added to an already unfavourable reputation of the DC-10 aircraft in the eyes of the public caused by several other incidents and accidents involving the type. The investigation also revealed other DC-10s with damage caused by the same faulty maintenance procedure.

BSAA Star Tiger

There was no evidence to suggest that radio failure or navigational error were responsible for the disaster. During the inquiry it was suggested that the Star Tiger had been sabotaged. It also claimed that Prime Minister Clement Attlee had ordered all inquiries into the incidents to be abandoned. In regard to the loss of the Star Tiger, a 2009 theory is that the loss of fuel could have contributed to the plane’s disaster.

Star Dust

The last Morse code message sent by Star Dust was “ETA SANTIAGO 17.45 HRS STENDEC”. The Chilean Air Force radio operator at the Santiago airport described this transmission as coming in “loud and clear” but very fast; as he did not recognize the last word, he requested clarification and heard “STENDEC” repeated twice in succession before contact with the aircraft was lost. In the absence of new clues, the meaning of STENDEC is likely to remain a mystery.

Flight 19

500 pages report was released few months later the plane went missing. This report was subsequently amended “cause unknown” by the Navy after Taylor’s mother contended that the Navy was unfairly blaming her son for the loss of five aircraft and 14 men, when the Navy had neither the bodies nor the aircraft as evidence.

UC 64 – Norseman

The disappearance of Miller was classified as missing in action. There are theories about what happened to Miller’s plane, including the suggestion that he might have been hit by Royal Air Force bombs after an abortive raid on Siegen, Germany. The logbooks of Royal Air Force navigator Fred Shaw recorded that he saw a small, single-engine monoplane spiraling out of control and crashing into the water. However, the actual story of what happened still remains a mystery.

Lockhead Electra 10E

Many researchers believe the Electra ran out of fuel and that Earhart and Noonan ditched at sea. Navigator and aeronautical engineer Elgen Long and his wife Marie K. Long devoted 35 years of exhaustive research to the “crash and sink” theory, which is the most widely accepted explanation for the disappearance. But what happened to her flight is still unknown.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Northern Territory Open speed limit on trial and under fire

Northern Territory's Stuart Highway speed limit trial begins, 

attracts sports car enthusiasts

The first day of a trial of open speeds on a section of the Northern Territory's Stuart Highway has already attracted motoring enthusiasts in high-powered cars.

There will be no speed limits on a 200 kilometre stretch of highway between Alice Springs and Barrow Creek for the next 12 months.
Today a number of high-performance vehicles, including an Aston Martin and Ferrari, have been seen on the road which police are monitoring for dangerous driving.
The Country Liberal Government has come under fire from the NT Opposition, the Police Association and the Automobile Association, for instigating the trial.
Peak medical bodies are also lobbying for the trial to be scrapped.
Doctor Christine Connors from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians NT says the Government is ignoring the evidence.
"Increasing speed increases the risk of a crash, increases the risk of severe injury, increases the risk of someone dying," she said.
"We are going to have people not driving to their capabilities, driving far too fast, and causing unnecessary accidents that might kill themselves or somebody else.
"The evidence tells us that speed kills ... the risk of people dying is very high."
The Police Association has described the trial as purely a political move.
But the Government has defended the decision, saying the onus is being put back on Territorians to drive responsibly.
"The evidence tells us that speed kills... The risk of people dying is very high."
Dr Christine Connors
"The stretch of highway has undergone a multi-million dollar upgrade to improve safety during the trial," Transport Minister Peter Styles said.
"I have heard rumours that there are people from interstate who are coming up here and want to treat it as a street race.
"Sadly for those people, if they do and they do not drive responsibly, then they will probably find themselves being summonsed or arrested by the police."
The Government commissioned four reports on the topic before announcing that open speed limits were back, but the reports have not been made public.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Power of Black and White Photography

The Power of Black and White Photography

It’s interesting how sometimes older technologies or art forms take on an even greater value when they are made obsolete by the new and modern.  This is certainly true of black and white photography.  When color photography came on the scene, it seemed the days of black and white in both video and photography were over forever.

But that was certainly not the case.  Over the years we have seen black and white take on a new artistic value in both genres.  In fact, it is not at all unusual any more to see a very modern movie filmed entirely in black and white.  It is also common to visit a fine art museum and find a photographic art display that uses black and white extensively.  Black and white has some artistic and emotional qualities that are just not possible to achieve in color photography.

Probably the strongest quality that grabs the viewer with a black and white photo is its emotional power. Even if the photo is just of an old barn or an antique car, there is an emotional appeal that is difficult to analyze in words but universal to all of us as we look at a black and white shot.  That is why black and white photos almost instantly take on an artistic look.  So if you are evolving your artistic photography
style and portfolio, including some experimentation with black and white
will do a lot to improve your work.

Black and white also focuses the eye on the emotional center of the piece.  Probably the best subject for black and white photography is the human face.  In even a tranquil expression, the viewer can see such a vast range of expression in the eyes, the tilt of the head, the subtle wrinkles or peculiarities of the face and the focus of the gaze.

Black and white almost always invites the viewer to want to know about the story behind the picture.  If it’s a landscape, “What happened here?” is the question that often springs to the mind of the viewer and the longer they gaze at the photo, the more their imagination fills in the details.  If you are viewing the face of a serene or melancholy girl, it is almost impossible not to wonder what she is dreaming about or what of life’s issues is weighing on her mind.

Along with the emotional power and the way black and white compels the viewer to search for meaning, black and white carries with it a tremendous romantic power that touches the heart in a powerful way.  That romance can easily translate over to the sensual or even the erotic without having to become pornographic to achieve that effect.  Shots that are trying to evoke the power of sensuality and romance do well when they involve moisture or a water scene such as the beach.  Despite the lack of color, these colors appeal to the five senses in ways that color can never hope to achieve.

You can experiment with black and white and gather the responses of friends and family to learn how to utilize the subtle but powerful artistic nuances that seem to come with black and white photography almost unconsciously.  The digital camera has ushered in a whole new era of black and white photography.  You see the form used even in otherwise non artistic settings like wedding portfolios or anniversary pictures.  That is because of that emotional and romantic power that black and white conveys.

If you have not started to experiment with black and white shots, it’s worth the time to learn how to capture the powerful images this type of photography can make possible.  Along with the creative use of light and framing, black and white gives itself well to editing that you can do with Photoshop to bring out the emotional center of each shot.  Before long, you may actually find your self seeing black and white shots in a color world.  Your awareness of what will make a great moment in this format will become acute and you will be ready to capture those moments spontaneously, which is always the best kind of photography.

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