Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tourist Brochure.

Did everybody know that Australia actually has an honest-to-goodness working nuclear reactor? I only realised it recently because of the uproar (again) of the commissioning of the replacement research reactor to replace it.

So it is but an itsy bitsy
10MW research reactor which is over 40 years old. The replacement reactor is double the capacity at 20MW. In comparison, full scale commercial nuke plants can each generate 1000MW or more of electrical power.

At least they would not have problems finding enough uranium to fuel it. Australia has about 30% of the world's proven uranium reserves and most of it in WA. There are uranium deposits mere hundreds of kilometres from Perth. (Loud conspiratorial stage whisper: Yet another reason Perth is a dangerous place and should not be visited casually.)

And I do not believe the Lucas Heights reactor is even plugged into the power grid to use the power it generates. Still, one of the things I would like to do in my life is to visit a nuclear power reactor. And it is a mere 40km from Sydney. This has now replaced the Latrobe Valley area of Victoria as the #1 place I want to go visit for a holiday in future.

Latrobe area has about 90% of Australia's brown coal deposits and is one of the world's largest deposits. The valley generates most of Victoria's power. I had a chance to see that area the last time I was out east, but did not have sufficient time to tarry and explore. And it is a bonus that the area is in some of the most scenic parts of Victoria, with the Great Alpine Road not too far away.


Australia is not very creative with naming stuff, are they? The Great Ocean Road. The Great Alpine Road. The Great Sandy Desert. The Red Centre. The Great Dividing Range. The Snowy Mountains. The Great Barrier Reef. Ayers Rock. You would think this country does not really give much effort to naming stuff. Then again, having personally originated from a place where the government wasted millions of dollars trying to rename their airport Airtropolis and yet another half-million seeking a new name for the bay hosting a marina.. the straightforward no-fuss names are a refreshing relief.


Latest updates on my life which is thankfully settling into some form of normalcy. Or at least of some form of routine anyway.

I have purchased yet another
Summit shelf. Their website (and marketing) is not too impressive but their basic product addresses a very specific need at a very cost-effective price. They have one satisfied customer in me. This next one will get assembled and put up for storage in the computer work area. Hoping to get the computer area set up over this weekend. Unlikely but a good target to aim for. (And yes, I have still to unpack and sort out my stuff in the bedroom!)

I have also immobilised the car immobiliser.

This little side project carried out in the morning - when I was supposed to be resting from the pain of the dental surgery - turned out a lot better than I hoped. WA laws require cars below 20 years old to be fitted with anti-theft immobilisation devices. The Good Little Car came with the most basic version - a contact setup which requires fumbling with a small finicky keycode device which must be inserted into a plug on the steering wheel column in exactly the right orientation. A downright royal pain in pizza-delivery conditions where you need to repeat the process in the dark by touch alone as many as 20 times in a single night. (The dashboard and all the interior lights in the car are non-functional.)

By hardwiring the entire keycode device behind the dash permanently to the circuit and breaking the always-on circuit with a momentary-contact push-button switch, the setup fulfils the letter of the law (the need to have an immobiliser) but perverts the spirit (making the car easier to steal). And who says National Service does not teach people about obeying rules?

Now instead of having to muck around with finicky electronic immobilisation devices, I just get into the car, press a push button mounted discreetly in the dash, insert key and start the engine. This is one of those projects where the initial upfront effort is definitely worth the repeated annoyances. At least until one dark moonless night many miles away from home when the makeshift wiring fails on me, stranding me far from any help..

Hmm.. maybe it would have just been wiser to try to fix the interior lights of the car? Or to get a non-contact keyless immobiliser system installed professionally?

Perhaps.. but it would be nowhere as much fun! Nor provide the swell of pride in juryrigging a solution to an otherwise annoying problem. And what else would I have to blog about otherwise? Stay tuned for the upcoming exciting entry about the setup failing and leaving me stranded in the middle of nowhere..


Historical point of interest:
Somewhere in the wee hours of this morning, the sitecounter rolled over into six digits with the 100,000th page load.


Blogger C said...

"Yet another reason Perth is a dangerous place and should not be visited casually"

*chuckles* This is so going to come back & bite us in the ass some day.

November 12, 2005 7:50 PM  
Blogger Jeff! Lim said...

haha, i like what u've done with the immobiliser. ;) long time no visit liao, my man.

November 12, 2005 10:31 PM  
Blogger Beach-yi said...

Have I mentioned before that during my road trip with a friend up in Melbourne that we came across a couple of country roads named Singapore?

It was so weird. But I reckon it's cos of the British historical ties that we get to see some ulu country road named after the red dot.

November 12, 2005 11:43 PM  
Anonymous mrs budak said...

Erm, why you want to visit a power plant (and a plant that runs on dusty brown coal at that), I have no idea.

Yeah I've been to a couple of these things when I was in Victoria some years back. Power Works is quite an interesting place to visit. The stations themselves, however, are rather boring :P

November 13, 2005 7:10 PM  
Blogger Elia Diodati said...

Every month, I get a little pie chart at the end of my power bill which tells me what natural resources the electricity comes from. The first time, I got a shock when the pie was 40% nuclear. But then, I got used to it. Done carefully, nuclear is a great resource, it's relatively abundant and much less polluting than fossil fuels especially after reprocessing. Of course, the problem is ensuring that the proper checks and balances are in place if one wants to avoid another Chernobyl or Three Mile Island.

November 14, 2005 6:11 AM  
Blogger Venitha said...

Someone from Singapore complaining about boring place names; that IS rich. =)

November 14, 2005 2:00 PM  
Blogger elin said...

This is coming out of no where. Just want to remind you that IF you are thinking of travelling overseas at anytime, that you have to apply for a Residents Return Visa (RRV) which costs about 120 and can be done on the Internet.

November 16, 2005 11:08 AM  
Anonymous teacup said...


i'm coming to perth to study for 2 yrs coming 06. gonna apply for PR after applying for the regional sponsorship. good site u have here, really informative.

November 16, 2005 8:54 PM  
Blogger the virgin undergrad said...

Hear hear! I was quite surprised to find out that the main city area in Brisbane is also named St George's Street or something which is suspiciously similar to St George's Terrace.

Oh yeah, and Singapore do in fact share quite a few similar places names with Perth. There's a St George's Road in Singapore, there's Northbridge in Perth and Northbridge Road in Singapore and off the top of my head, i think there's a suburb in Perth called Woodlands too hehe. Talk about how Asian Immigration has terraformed WA.

Sometimes you just wonder what exactly lends an identity and consequently a name to an area. i mean, Punggol was essentially the overaching term for the wild frontier beyond the borders of Hougang barely 10 years ago, and suddenly inexplicably it's now named with pseudo-funky/ Archie like names like Rivervale and Compassvale. I can't help but to imagine that it's just a couple of old hacks at URA who randomly choose new Street names not unlike how George Lucas decides on the names of Star Wars characters...

November 17, 2005 2:35 AM  
Blogger KnightofPentacles said...


Perth is so isolated that when we start running out of fuel we cannot get supplies from overseas and this being WA, nobody notices till two weeks later. :)

Heard the news about the Kwinana refinery breaking down?

The annoying car immobiliser setup had been bugging me for the longest time.

If I remember, there is an actual town (abandoned) somewhere in Australia sharing that name too.

mrs budak:
I guess it just fascinates me. When I had a car on the small island, I would spend hours just driving around the western corners just gawking at shipyards and refineries and power plants and manufacturing factories.

elia diodati:
What about the radioactive waste? That stuff will still be around long after we are gone.

I am glad the irony is not lost. :)

The RRV is only required if the original visa has expired. Otherwise you can (re)enter the Australia on the original visa and remain here indefinitely.

Enjoy your stay. And I hope you have the opportunity to wander beyond the social circles of the student population.

the virgin undergrad:

Same around the world I guess. Just like almost every town in Malaysia has a Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, and almost every UK town has a Queen Elizabeth street/road/square.

Not sure if all the naming conventions were influenced by Asian immigration. After all, Northbridge is north of the horseshoe bridge. And Woodlands is in wooded lands.

November 17, 2005 1:51 PM  
Blogger Kenneth said...

conGREATulations on your GREAT historical moment of crossing the GREAT 100,000 mark in a mere 1 year's worth of blogging :)

ey, don't read this wrongly... i'm using that pun on the GREAT naming experience of the aussies :) hehehe... everything's great there... even the portions on their fish & chips :p

but yea... i'm glad i cam here to read your stuff... insightful indeed :)

November 18, 2005 7:54 PM  
Blogger Mr. Winston Smith said...

>Have I mentioned before that during
>my road trip with a friend up in
>Melbourne that we came across a
>couple of country roads named


Well, you don't say... for all you know those roads might be longer than Singapore is wide. Some of those roads in the country areas are really long indeed.

November 21, 2005 3:31 PM  

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