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Beneath Coopers Plains - Suffering From Elation
A Survivor's Tale
tania
tania
Beneath Coopers Plains
The weekend was nice. Hammond came over and we all 'ooh'ed and 'aah'ed over his new iPhone. I'm generally not much of a technophile - computers are tools, not toys - but even I was enchanted by this magical device. Not enchanted enough to sign up for a $60/mo plan for the next two years though; I don't even know if I'll be in the country anymore in two years time!

I love the multi-point touch system, though. I'm waiting for the day when Wacom Cintiqs meet Macs and result in a single, flat tablet-screen that is light enough to be carried around with you, large enough to read and do artwork on, and touch-sensitive enough that the keyboard is a touch-operated digital (not literal) graphic on the screen which can be 'slid out' when needed and 'slid away' when not, and when a mouse is a relic of the past. My ideal computer will be just one big shiny square that works with nothing more than fingers and, in Photoshop, a stylus for art.

Later that night, Joe and I went on a little 'spirit walk' down to the motorway, across the river, to the place where Amazons used to be. Amazons was Brisbane's waterslide park until competition with Wet & Wild on the Gold Coast took it down. It's gone now and there's just houses and factories where it was, but it was still a pretty awesome nightly trek. The backlots of factories in particular can be creepy fun at night.

In completely unrelated news, I picked up The X-Files seasons 1, 2 and 3 on a really good deal - all of them were very much on sale, and on top of that it was buy two, get one free. So we watched a fair bit of that on the weekend, reminding ourselves that the show was much, much better than that awful recent movie, and as a result I have a neckache today. Woe. This is what happens when I watch too much TV in bed.

And this reminds me, in five minutes it'll be 9am, and then I can call our TV repair guy and find out why he wasn't answering his phone on Saturday. -_-

In other news, the cat run is FINISHED! Thanks Richard's Dad, Thrad! I bought a rake and some environmentally-friendly cat litter and created a toilet area in there. The cats have picked up on how to use the cat flap (Jangles was first, but happily, even Sawyer has twigged to it now!) and they LOVE the run - racing back and forth in joy, rolling in the dust, flopping in the sun, and all in complete safety from cars, dogs, and unkind humans - but as yet they haven't twigged that it also has potential as a bathroom. Any ideas on how to encourage them to switch their pewping activities outside would be appreciated.

The best and most interesting thing we did on the weekend happened when we caught up with Greg (greg_merlo) on Sunday. On a whim, we drove out to Coopers Plains, where Joe spent some of his teenage years exploring the underground stormwater drain system with his sisters. To date Ruby holds the record of farthest distance reached, as she was nine years old at the time and could wriggle further.

Wriggle room wasn't a problem for us that day, as we were sticking to the main routes, many of which are so large you can walk upright through them.

We had one small LED torch and a green laser pointer to light our way - and those tunnels are completely black. We chose a cloudless, dry day and it hadn't rained for a week, but beyond that we were ill-prepared. Next time it's miner's helmets and knee-pads,a nd for me, proper boots instead of sneakers. There was a bit of climbing to be done but the water level was very low, just a trickle in most parts. I found one completely dry area but the tunnel was quite small so I was the only one who was game to go in.

At one point, when we were deep in the bowels of the system, something exploded with a crack-flash between Greg and I. I yelled at Joe straight away because I knew what it was. Poor Greg wasn't so lucky. ;P Joe has these little tiny paper pouches full of small stones and gunpowder. When you throw one, the impact of landing causes the gunpowder inside to ignite with a loud CRACK! He misuses these frequently.

The echoes in the tunnels are amazing. We also found some really funky little white toadstools growing out of a crack in the wall. Joe's camera ran out of power almost immediately, but we're going to go back on a planned expedition with proper gear and charged cameras. I postulated a scenario where the torch dies and we hear something coming toward us, and the only way we can see is by flashing the camera again and again. Joe added that in that situation, it should be one of those cameras that charges up with a slow whine before each flash, just to add to the tension.

I'm sure the real trip will be less eventful, but still awesome.
16 have fought ~ fight the power!
Comments
hammond From: hammond Date: August 4th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I used to love exploring the stormwater drains near one of my houses I lived in. This was also around the time that Power Rangers and TMNT were in so it made the drains so much more fun.

I'm so in, just let me know when you're going (in as much advance as possible, if possible).
tania From: tania Date: August 4th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Will do! I'll talk it over with Joey and we'll pick a date. :) I'd advise you now to wear sealed shoes, clothes you don't care much about, and to bring some kind of torch... I'm going to buy a couple of LED headlamps off ebay for Joe and I to keep our hands free. Excitement!
stokerbramwell From: stokerbramwell Date: August 4th, 2008 02:26 am (UTC) (Link)
The one thing that disturbs me about touchscreen technology, as awesome as it is, is that it is completely inaccessible for the blind. And as everything is gravitating in that direction, accessibility options for them may grow fewer and further between. There are laws in place that are supposed to guarantee that companies be able to provide accessible alternatives for the same price...but truth be told, they're not very well enforced.

We shall see, though. Who knows what new innovations await?
tania From: tania Date: August 4th, 2008 02:31 am (UTC) (Link)
If the major companies keep shunning the blind and deaf, there could be a growing place in the market for a company who creates technology specifically catering to those groups.
stokerbramwell From: stokerbramwell Date: August 4th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, the companies already exist. The problem is that the disabled market is tiny, and thus, costs are higher all across the board. That coupled with the fact that many employers are loath to give a job to someone with a disability for fear they couldn't perform means that a great many people can't afford the proper tech without government help.

Really, it would just be more pleasant for everyone across the board if people would comply with the laws. ;p Fortunately, there are one or two kick-ass groups (in the US, at least...I don't know what the situation is like in other countries) like the National Federation of the Blind who go after them until they can't be ignored. :D
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stokerbramwell From: stokerbramwell Date: August 5th, 2008 12:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Aye, that COULD potentially solve the problem. We'll have to wait and see how the technology develops!
master_haakon From: master_haakon Date: August 4th, 2008 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)
For the iphone and whatever turns up to compete with it I can think of a couple of ways of dealing with it.

For those not 100% blind, larger fonts and increased contrast. Use audio and vibration to supply haptic feedback. With Multitouch you could also allow for "mouse gesture" like commands.
stokerbramwell From: stokerbramwell Date: August 4th, 2008 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Ahh, but see, here's the thing: These are all fine ideas, but they have to be tested with actual blind people...or better yet, have an organization like the NFB actively involved in developing the technology. A lot of people come up with plenty of good ideas for accessibility...and completely neglect to ask the people who have the most experience with it what works for them. There are a lot of perfectly logical solutions that utterly fail in day-to-day practical application.
rosequoll From: rosequoll Date: August 4th, 2008 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG Joe has poppers??!?! I haven't seen those since I moved from the US. *glee* I love those things.

That sounds awesome though. Why don't the people I hang with have crazy adventuresw?? =(
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rosequoll From: rosequoll Date: August 5th, 2008 04:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Freaking sweet. I work Sunday's, but I am free for mischief on Saturday's. =)

If you get more poppers, get a few for me. :D Need!
tania From: tania Date: August 5th, 2008 05:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Looks like we're doing it this Saturday! Is that too little notice?
rosequoll From: rosequoll Date: August 5th, 2008 08:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Nope, thats fine! Sweet, Stephen's got plans anyways, so I'll be bored and looking for stuff to do. What time? =)
tania From: tania Date: August 6th, 2008 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Let's say... 10am? Would you like us to pick you up? That or we can meet you there, up to you - the location is here: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ptab=2&ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=105627791662467164411.000453986d85bf44708d2

Joe's marked a lot of the points where the tunnels re-emerge into daylight too. :)
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rosequoll From: rosequoll Date: August 6th, 2008 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Will do, in that case! 10 sounds shiney. =)
sigmoidal_suseq From: sigmoidal_suseq Date: August 4th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually it wasn't Wet and Wild, as I remember there was quite a serious accident with some boy (he may have died?)
tania From: tania Date: August 4th, 2008 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
o rly?? That sounds interesting, I'll have to do some research!
16 have fought ~ fight the power!