Weekly Photo Challenge: Sunset

I guess the trick in this week’s challenge is to know whether a pic is really sunset or someone slipping in a dodgy sunrise…

But Sunset has another significance for soldiers, more than simply the going down of the sun and the closing of the day but a time to remember those who have gone before and sometimes to also mark the end of an era…here Sunset is a sad but beautiful tune played during Beating the Retreat as the flag is lowered…

This photo was taken on July 20, 1989 at the closing ceremony for the home of the First Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, at Dieppe Barracks in Sembawang, Singapore. The following month, in our own version of East of Suez, the battalion and its supporting force, began its relocation back to New Zealand, ending 32 years of continuous service in South East Asia.

As the battalion marched off that parade ground, a place of so many memories, for the last time, the roll of honour of those who had not gone home was read – a particularly sad moment for many of us as we had lost a number of friends through accidents in that last tour…remembering is particularly poignant here at the moment with the news on Wednesday of the death in combat of a second NZSAS soldier near Kabul…

Michael Yon wrote this on 24 September after a young soldier from his tent in 4-4 Cav was killed…

This whole tent is empty now. Chazray is gone and his buddies must be checking their emails in another tent. There were two more KIAs who were shot and so the internet was blacked out. One was shot in the chest and the other in the stomach. Very saddening. Families have been notified and so the internet is back on. It’s strange to see Chazray on the news and then look over at his empty cot and see his picture taped to the door. The video says he ran over the IED but he actually stepped on it but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that he is missed by so many people.

While a soldier can always be replaced – no one is ever indispensable – the gap they leave is a different story altogether…the empty bed space, the position in the Prezzies rugby team, that spot in the bar where they always sat, the spot in family photos where Dad should be…

I didn’t know LCpl Leon Smith who was killed during a pre-emptive operation against insurgents near Kabul last week. I did know Cpl Doug Grant who was killed a few weeks earlier while doing the business against insurgents in Kabul. I remember him as a young soldier, third from the right in the back from of this photo, quiet and professional with the burning desire to learn demonstrated by many young soldiers of that period – when the camp library was shifted to a new building around that time, someone did some analysis of library loan patterns and found that the large proportion of professional military book loaning was done by JNCOs and soldiers, creating more than few ripples in the pond – the sort that so often answer a higher calling and earn the sand beret and winged dagger…in Dougie’s case, going back for a second time…

We are the Pilgrims, Master…We shall go always a little further…It may be beyond the last blue mountain barred with snow…Across that angry or glimmering sea…

Sunset can mean so much more than the simple disappearance of a ball of burning hydrogen and helium…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fall

The theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is ‘Fall’ most likely because the season in the US is now Fall, which we in the civilised world know as ‘Autumn’…it’s a little moot for us where we are as 99.9% of all the trees are evergreens so Autumn is really more about a (possible) change in weather conditions i.e. here we don’t have the massive leaf dumps associated with the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter. I say possible change in weather conditions as we don’t really have a clear delineator for those either: today is the first day of daylight saving here (I’ve been ripped off an hour!!), normally a good sign of impending summer but the same time last year it was snowing!!

So, anyway, the line I’ve taken with this week’s challenge is the more common association with the word ‘fall’ and I dredged up this photo taken on a school camp early in 1981. I know it was early ’81 because late ’81 I wasn’t in school anymore…It’s at a place called Camp Iona on the Kakanui River south of Oamaru – no idea whether it’s still there or not… the slats supporting the upper bunk bed have been removed in anticipation of the unsuspecting occupant leaping up on the bed bed without performing a precautionary prank check…you’ll note that the occupant of the lower bed has placed himself safely at one end of his bed – maybe he was in on it?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Textured

This could just as easily be a good entry for a ‘shiny’ challenge as one for ‘texture’…it is the prototype Fisher P-75 fighter in the R&D Hall at the National Museum of the USAF near Dayton, Ohio…I’d seen many pictures of aircraft in natural metal finish before but this was the first time I was ever up close and personal with one…”Oooo…shiiiiny” was my first response…”Man, that’s big!” was the second: because the hall is so packed it was difficult to get decent shots of some of the larger aircraft simply because there wasn’t enough room to back away…Hence I shot this one into the light and was surprised when it came out so well…

My next take on ‘texture’ is this afterburner can from the B-1B ‘Bone’  (B-One – get it??) in the modern hall at the Museum…this is where they dump hundreds of litres of raw fuel in order to get more thrust from the engines – and so the crew can see the needle on the fuel gauge move – downward!

And finally…

One iteration of the Interceptor from Mad Max at the recent Scale Model Expo in Wellington…it is relatively simple to get smooth shiny unblemished surfaces on models, it is somewhat more difficult to give an impression of dirt, grime and roughness…I thought this builder pulled it off rather well…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

Purakanui Steps

This week’s challenge shows the path from the road down to a little whaling cottage we used to own in Purakanui – the little village I also used in the ‘Old Fashioned’ challenge.

The cottage was really small...

...with a rusticly basic kitchen and two small bedrooms...

...but it had pretty cool views across the inlet - even though this one's on a crappy day...

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

It’s a long way up to the cockpit of the surviving North American XB-70 Valkyrie prototype, on display in the Research and Development Hall at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, near Dayton, Ohio. I snapped this when I visited in May this year – overseas visitors don’t forget to bring your passport if you want to get into the R&D and Presidential Halls as they are in the overflow section of the Museum that’s on Wright-Patterson Air Base itself; booking early for the bus over is also recommended, as is having a plan for loking around as you only have around 45 minutes per trip to cover both halls.

There’s lots of weird and wonderful macinery in the R&D Hall but there are all parked real close to each other so it is difficult to get a good look at any one aircraft without having your view blocked by something else. All the more reason to support the Museum (which is free access) so it can add on some more display halls to the Museum proper and better display the Presidential aircraft and those in the current R&D Hall. It would also mean that the collection of aircraft still displayed aoutside could be better protected from the elements. These include a number of significant aircraft like Prison Taxi, the C-141 that repatriated the first of the Vietnam POWs; one of the few remaining C-125 Raiders designed just in case this whole helicopter thing didn’t work out; a Junkers Ju-52, trusty Tante Ju; and the first NKC-135, the first working airborne laser system…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Flowers

Flowers for this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge are still a bit sparse in this part of the world at this time and they’re not really one of my more common photo subjects – although we have just had our heaviest snowfall in a few years (like, a whole three days worth!!), I noticed this morning some flowers already blooming under one of the maples…they were kinda straggly though…instead I found this much hardier flax flower up the top of the driveway…

…and it must be spring – just as I posted this I heard the first blowey for the season start droning around the light…time to get some natural pyrethrins back in the air…go, go Robo-Can…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Entrance

The entrance to the Lodge when we arrived in 2004...

...and as it is now, looking back the other way...

Yes, sports fans, it’s another WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge post…all that maintains my presence in the blogosphere recently…I’m enjoying my first real weekend off since February and so, apart from checking for booking requests for the Chalet, have been staying offline and recharging batteries… This is the busy period for ASIC and so much of my time is spent hammering the keyboard managing our part of the programme and also drafting various products…maybe too much of this work has got me in a mindset of thinking I need blog posts to be more like articles so I might look at going back to more but smaller items just to keep up the steady patter of ambient noise… Please don’t forget though that it is the bi-ennial Scale Model Expo in Lower Hutt, Wellington this weekend, where this will be on display (with Hawkeye UAV sponsoring a prize as well)… …from the 2009 Expo…

By land...

...by air...

...and by land again (couldn't find any good shots of ships from 2009 ( they were there just my dodgy photos)...

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mountains

Mt Ruapehu from the Waiouru Officers mess dining room around 2006...

Over the shoulder shot of the other side of Mt Ruapehu, early 2010...

One of Carmen's pix - Mt Taranaki, early 2007...

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge…Mountains…which are kinda scarce in the North Island: there is Ruapehu, referred to simply as The Mountain , with its smaller consorts Tongariro (better known in MiddleEarth circles as Mt Doom) and Ngauruhoe; the Mount in Tuaranga which is just a hill; and Mt Taranaki overlooking, funnily enough, the province of Taranaki…in the South Island, there are so many mountains they are all just lumped in under the Southern Alps, which of course, begs the question “Where are the Northern Alps?”