Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Curated ReBlog: South Korean threat from North Korea

I'm going to be spotlighting some of  my fellow bloggers in addition to my own content to spread some love. First up is from Unprecedented Mediocrity by Jeff Edwards  who shares some opinions on "better them than us" with regards to the North Korea vs South Korea questions:

Check it out here:

"Or I will Bring Fury and Fire Like You Have Never Seen Before Upon You"

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Review: Light'n'Go bonfire log

Its log, its log, its heavy hard, it's wood, not new from Blamo.

Here's an interesting product from Light'n'go
that I saw whilst visiting my local Bunnings for  gardening supplies and tools. Bear with me. This is  a weird one. What I saw was a round of a log, 1/4Cu foot / 7.1L /  430 cu cm in size, with  length of sisal rope bolted on as a carry handle. It has a series of radial cuts in the log through its center and along is flat end surfaces in order to make combustible surfaces.

The Bonfire Log is new, unique, and the "most extraordinary innovation in firewood of our time". Put it virtually anywhere and create a beautiful bonfire with one match. No chemicals, just pure kiln dried beautiful white birch, with a paperboard firestarter, with its patent pending design, delivers a great fire and an instant good time. Bonfire Logs can be enjoyed in a fire pit, chimnea, or fireplace, indoors or out. Light'n'Go suggest you can take them camping, cook marshmallows or hotdogs on a stick, or drop a frying pan on the log for eggs.
 It's year round instant entertainment, never easier or cooler.

The cuts are crude chainsaw plunges and could be easily replicated by any skilled operator and the concept of the Swedish or Finnish fire log   is widely known. Take a log, and use a saw to cut at least 3/4 of the way down the length of the log. Adding kindling to these cuts allows a fire to be lit inside the log, which both allows the fire to burn surrounded by fuel but also shelters the fire and insulates it. the cuts allow air into the fire from it base as well as the sides, ensuring  good steady burn. The raised base allows the fire to be lit on wet, or snowy ground, and if both ends are properly flat, the top can be used as a cooktop, where a grill could be placed, or a pan placed.

This could even be enhanced with  the addition of a purpose  built grill-top such as the Sportes MITI grill.

Back to the Light'n'Go log: It is reported to be suited to both indoor and outdoor fireplaces. apparently it can be successfully lit with just 1 match and then would burn for more than 1.5 hours while the bonfire jumbo log burns for about 2.5 hours.

Lacking accelerants, the all-natural, fire-log, being kiln dried birch, lights with one match, burns 2.5 hours produces a large halo, a clean flame, and a charming aroma.

The Light'n'Go log is  a commercial product you can pick up at a hardware store, but you could make your own easily enough if you have dried seasoned logs and you're a deft hand with a chainsaw. However, if the plunges or cross cuts seem a little too much, a similar effect could be achieved by simply splitting the log with an axe four ways, and binding it with a length of wire to hold it together in much the same way as the Sportes MITI grill.

 I have a couple of logs in my fire woodpile that are flat ended and will see about cross-cutting one with a hand saw to give this a try myself but as an eyes-on, it looks like the Light'n'Go bonfire log is a very simple, easy to use and effective looking product. but its nothing you couldn't do yourself, given skills and simple materials. ust like baking bread or sewing pants. Before you scoff at its simplicity and redundancy, consider the utility and convenience. Time not spent setting up a good fire is time spent securing your site, food prep, setting camp and doing vital gear and personal maintenance. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

review - Kogalla battery

I'm a fan of my electrical gadgets, and with that comes the need to keep them charged on the go. whether it be in transit, on the trail, out cutting wood or doing chores, I like to listen to my tunes, stay in touch with the news and my feeds and all of that takes electron juice. 

I have a collection of batteries, from simple vending machine ones to those that came as bonus to some of my solar chargers like the Kogalla solar bank I recently covered.

I've covered some of my battery collection as well in the Limefuel by Limeaid . 
But, this new one is very nice. The  Kogalla BatPak 2 is a rugged, rechargable storage bank. Designed specifically to power the Kogalla RA Adventure Light, it also does a great job charging phones.

Built with  a whopping 48,580 mWh charged by a 5V, 2.1A Micro USB port. Outputs are by 3 5V 2A USB ports. which can be run simultaneously, for a 3.7V/13,400mAh capacity

Compared to the vending -machine issued Promate charger ,with only 10,000mAh with a 5V 1A and 2A dual outputs. The power dense Kogalla BatPak 2 is wallet sized and fits nicely in a pocket.

With its triplicated power outputs, and compact size, the BatPak 2 is a remarkably portable and powerful tool to keep your gadgets and devices charged on the go.
The protective case is simple and simple, with a single texture and  few extrusions, high- speed, low drag indeed!

I keep it charged up and couple it with a rugged Lightning cable to keep my iPhone charged. It usually sits in a side pouch of , my EDC pack the Mystery Ranch 1DAP but it just as easily sits in cargo pocket of pants or tucked away in my Hazard4 Escape RG harness.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Review: Small Australian Business - Strategic Threat Solutions

Earlier this year, a new kid showed up on the tactical gear block when Strategic Threat Solutions was launched in the Australian marketplace. I knew the primary owner from his vocal support and membership with ZERT and online, so when I realized they were ramping up I thought it would be a good time for an interview to scope out what they're all about. As first sen on Breach, Bang & Clear!

What is STS?
Strategic Threat Solutions (STS) is a multi-dynamic business with its core focus on the tactical urban survival/preparedness market. We have three core areas which work in tandem with each other; those core areas are our retail, membership and training divisions. What started out as an Australian business has grown internationally into the US and Europe, including key strategic partnerships. Everyone involved believes in what we are trying to achieve, that is collectively having like-minded individuals changing mindsets and teaching people to think outside the box and become more situationally aware of the changing world we step foot into each day. We are trying to shake loose the chains of "the crazy doomsday preppers" and show people that being a "prepper" isn't all tin foil hats and conspiracy theories. It's a way of life. Most people are preppers and don't realize it. And that is why STS transformed from an idea into a business. We are the new kids on the block, but we are here to stay. 
That's the kind of grounded and thought-out philosophy I like to hear in a business plan.
Side note: I wonder how many RFID blocking wallets it takes to make a tin-foil equivalent hat?
When did you form?
STS formed unofficially well over two years ago when Nick, Rob and myself would discuss at length gear, training and ideas. We all met through another group, we are all members of the Z machine (Zert). It was through this group that we connected with other like-minded individuals who shared our passions. From there things started to grow. In March 2017, we officially launched STS to the Australian consumer.

It takes time to get a business up and running and build a dependable team. It sounds like STS have got themselves pulled together.
Who is your core team?
Our core team is Josh, Nick, Rob and another still active current serving ADF member who at this time will remain nameless given his working environment. We also have international partners who we will introduce at a later time. It's safe to say the reaction and support we have received internationally has shocked us. And we are bringing people on board to help assist us with our membership and training divisions overseas. 

 OPSEC is important, boys and girls.

Who are your core audience and target market?
Our core audience and the targeted market is the tactical, survival/preparedness sectors. But while the focus is there, we are keenly aware that this market is not "mainstream" here in Australia. We have noticed the trend shift as people realize we live in crazy times and being prepared to support and look after your family during a disaster is paramount.

Spot on for me, and one can only hope that as the idea becomes more mainstream, it will be easier and easier for us to source and share our interests.

What can you tell me about your American division, how are the two different?
Our American partner specializes in personal protection, medical and emergency crisis management. They play a vital role in our US market and will facilitate training to our members in the US once our membership division is up and active. They will also help assist our team in gaining certification in training practices that we can deliver here in Australia not only for our members but also when our training division begins to roll out packages to external agencies etc.
 I can hardly wait to get professional training to build on my self-taught skills. Having a go-to source for trainers and training is just what we need.

What do you plan to bring to the community that is currently missing?
We have noticed and looked at what is currently in the Australian marketplace, and while we will have similar products available to our customers we are going to focus on two main things providing quality gear at a reasonable, cost-effective price and specialized custom gear that suits each customer. While we - as a small business here in Australia - may not have the buying power of some of the larger companies, we work very closely with our suppliers to provide the best possible price and gear and reach out to custom makers to provide that right piece of gear. We enjoy working with other small businesses worldwide in finding that perfect piece of kit that people are after. Now with that said, while we supply the gear, we are working hard to supplement the equipment with training so people not only get the gear but the training that goes with it to help them understand just what it is used for. It's certainly a long process but we have measures in place and some experienced personnel on board to make it become a reality.   

With an outline like this, products with appropriate training as a one-stop shop, STS can position itself to leverage a whole lot of focus in the community. Good for them, better for us.
What do you see as your signature traits, skills, products?
Certainly, our signature trait, skills, and products will be in the urban survival/preparedness market. We have been lucky enough to get some fantastic support from the US with some of the world's best gear providers and manufacturers, namely Imminent Threat Solutions. Their urban survival gear is second to none, and it's just one of the companies we are excited to work with and to bring their gear to the Australian market. 
Being on a big island very far from the industry of the northern hemisphere can be a real drag sometimes. Having a local source for the gear we see and hear about online is excellent, especially when some of the brands are hard to get otherwise. 

Custom gear & training offerings?
Custom gear is one of the things we at STS are going to focus on. We have many custom gear makers on board helping us achieve just that. To name a few we have MUHL CUSTOMS (belts, rigging systems, speed-mags), LOTAR COMBAT (custom-made IDF ENDORSED knives), BTSC (custom compact survival kits), RONO solutions (custom weapon carriage systems/slings), Rare Element (custom lock picks and equipment), Battle Patches (custom made morale patches), Matteo's Signs (custom engraving and signage) and STS-US will be providing us with custom iFAKS and medical gear but also providing training services. While we focus on the urban "jungle" with survival and preparedness in mind, we also recognize the fact that all over the world the wilderness is at everyone's door. So, instead of spreading ourselves thing we have partnered with Australian Survival Instructors (ASI) who are leaders in the bush/wilderness survival sector and have them on board to assist us with all things primitive and bush survival orientated.

Who are your affiliate partners, Who do you hope to get, gear makers, training facilitators?
 STS has many affiliates that we are working with closely. Our affiliates are not only business related, but we have aligned with some other small Australian business that comes from a variety of backgrounds and believes in helping grow small Australian businesses. Our affiliates to date are: Battle Patches, Mind4Survival, Matteo's signs, Patriot radios, Delta Echo Apparel, RJM vertebrate pest control, Firearm Owners United, ZERT Australia, Encompassing Australia, A.S.I Australian Survival Instructors, Yamato, Zahal and Rift Recon.  

Lots of good lines here, rare and hard to get lines at least in Australia, til now. The STS folks have really pulled together some really interesting and desirable vendors and I look forward making use of that for sure!
We are always looking to expand our ever-growing network of affiliates that share our passions and goals. Our current gear makers we have mentioned previously, but we do have a few things working in the background at the moment that we are excited about and will release that information in due time. Our training facilitators, some we have mentioned, and again we don't want to spoil some of the things we have in store, but we are very excited with what we have developing.

I think STS is going to be a company to watch in the future not only for the products they will be carrying but also the lines of training and services that will be offered under their umbrella.
Carry On Cocktail Kit
Travel made easier: carry-on cocktail kits for your flight or ride. Carry one for each of your favorite cocktails!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Talking Australian pt 3

See Part 1: A-D here.

See Part 2: F-S here.

Language Lessons on Breach Bang & Clear!: Talkin' Strayin' S-Z according to ME: Apocalypse Josh

So, the time has come to draw a close to my A to Z of Aussie lingo. I hope its been educational and amusing, and prevented more punch-ons than it started. These are by no means complete lists, and the lingo is heavily regional and varies in different communities, but I hope I've give a broad enough basis to communicate with any stray Aussies you might come across and maybe even interpret for them. In this final segment, we'll cover from S - Z and discuss some pretty obscure Aussie terms. Enjoy!

Shag: To have sex, a milder term for fuck, but only having a sexual connotation. "We were at Dave-o's party and there was this Sheila from out of town there, someone's cousin, and I really wanted to shag her, but, it wasn't happening, mate. She'd had too much to drink, and I'm a gentleman".

Sheila: A girl, a chick. Diminutive term for a generic female person. "They all piled out of the wreck, lucky no one was hurt. Three dudes and a Sheila. She looked a bit flustered, and one of the dudes got on the phone to call someone and the Sheila started yelling at him to call the cops, but they weren't having none of that."

Snag: A Sausage, like a bratwurst or Frankfurt. There are myriad kinds of sausage in the Australian culinary line-up. The humble snag is really the simplest and least glamorous, perfect for a Saturday morning Bunning's Sausage sizzle or other mass-public catered event. "Sure mate, bring them and the kids, we'll throw some snags on the barbie and everyone can go for a dip in the pool."

Snap: A response to a simultaneous event or phrase. Used much like "jinx". Originates from the simple make-a-pair card game of the same name. "Macca's run? Macca's run! SNAP!"

Sannga: A contraction of sandwich, equivalent to "sammich." Generally a simple two-slices of bread and one ingredient bachelor-grade meal. "I'm afraid all I can offer you is a cuppa and a cheese and vegemite sannga. Not even an snags left, that mob cleared me right out!"

SAUCE!: Made not of chocolate or apples, but tomatoes. What would usually be called ketchup is just called sauce in Australia. Good on snags, burgers and chips. Not to be used on steak, unless you're a monster. Could be put on pasta, but not where your Italian neighbor's gonna can see, or it's the wooden spoon for you!

Specie: A sporting term referring to the "spectacular" aerial tackles of "Aussie Rules Football" in which one player runs up or otherwise climbs up an opponent to intercept and catch an incoming football, marking and thus securing it for their side for the next play. Quite a rough technique that can lead to impact and cleat-related injuries on the marked player, and to the performer upon landing due to the heights attained and the marked player's movements. Also used as the cheer for when such an event takes place, on or off the field. "We were at Stevo's wedding and when they threw the bouquet, up comes this Sheila, Sheryl, from three rows back and just goes mental, chucks a speccie, up over the bridesmaids and takes it, but didn't stick the landing, did her ankle, had to call an ambo .. not pretty."

SUSS: Contraction of "suspect." Suggesting something isn't quite right, or in some way tainted or illegal. "The whole unit couldn't be any more suss if it were run out of a van parked behind a Target, where a guy called stinky Pete who wears a raincoats all year long makes belts out of shopping bags. But, we elected them."

Spew: Vomit, to vomit, to chuck. "Mate, pull over quick, I'm gonna spew, hurry, hurry. BLAAAAARRRGH, too late."

Sun's coming down like an anvil on a nail: Colloquial expression indicating a very hot, overpoweringly sunny day. Could also be used as an authority figure in response to wrong doing. "If I hear about any of you blighters trying to shag those exchange students, I'll be coming down on you like an anvil on a nail, understand?"

Texta: The Brand name of a felt-tipped marker. Kids coloring pens. Generally not permanent markers for those, it's usually a Sharpie. "Hey, I found these Textas's in the porta-crapper, figured we could use them for maps. But we need to get some sharpies, cause those dick pics just wipe off."

Tea time: Dinner. Supper as a meal term is not used much in Australian conversation, but "tea time" is fairly common. Not to be confused with a tea-break, which is equivalent to a coffee or smoke break. "Go out if you want but if you're not home by tea time there'll be hell to pay."

Trooper: A person showing resilience, especially through adversity. Also the private rank in the ADF. "Look at Trooper Marra there, yomping up that hill, in full pack in the rain. Pack's as big as he is. What a bloody Trooper! Credit to the Regiment he is."
[Edit from the peanut gallery:Pretty accurate, Trooper is not the Private rank of the ADF however. A Private in an Armoured Corps is called a Trooper, same with SASR. Infantry Privates are just Privates though.]

Root: A coarse equivalent to shag. Also to break. "Mate, I could totally do with a root.

Rooted: To break something or have sex. "Can I get a lift down to the servo for smokes? The car's rooted"

Pie: The idea of what constitutes pie differs between Australia and North America. In North America a dinner plate-sized baked desert under a pastry crust is "just like mom used to make." However, in Australia the pie is a savory dish. Sized like a hamburger, filled with minced 'beef" and gravy, in an all-enclosing crust, and eaten with care because "Caution: contents HOT". A squirt of tomato sauce and you have yourself a hot, almost nutritious meal when at the footy, on the building site, or between classes.

Pissed: To get angry, or drunk, sometimes both. Derived from the term "piss" which refers to booze. "So the boss came down from section five and was seriously pissed. After the shellacking he gave us, we're gonna all need to get pissed tonight!"

Piss-up: Drinking party, a kegger. A most Australian of conventions, usually centered around a BBQ. The piss-up is rarely the advertised formal goal, but it just takes a bit of imagination, a wink and a nod to escalate from "just a barbie at Kev's" to a full on piss-up over a long weekend.

Piss off: Dismissive insult, also a negative reply. Can be used in a variety of contexts including to depart an unpleasant situation. "So I told him if he was that pissed off that Davo's kids BBQ wasn't a piss-up, that he could pack up and piss off, right smart."

Povo: Poor, a contraction of "poverty stricken". Often used as an excuse for not taking part in some shared activity, or potentially to escape paying one's share. More often than not it's a legitimate plea for aid. "Sorry mates, I'd love to chip in but rent was due and the kid's birthday, so I'm totally povo till next pay".

POETS Day: Piss Off Early Tomorrow's Saturday, a cute way of saying "I'm pissing-off and taking the rest of the day as a Poets Day." Perhaps there will be wine, beer, or dancing on bar-tops with a tie around one's head. The important thing is there is a long standing Aussie tradition of "knocking off early once the work is done, and going for a drink".

Where ya goin'? To the pub?: A self answering question. Usually asked in pairs, and often obvious. Another Australian quirk. "Is it wet out? Maybe I better take a coat?"

Westie: The majority of the Australian urban populations tend to live along the Eastern coast, from Cairns and Brisbane in the north, Sydney further south, and in the more bayside cities of Adelaide and Melbourne (where I live). It seems a socioeconomic effect of being far from the coast is that the less affluent suburbs are further west. In keeping with the fine Aussie tradition of abbreviation these folks are called "Westies" and generally looked down upon by the more sophisticated Eastern suburbanites.

Yeah nah: An acknowledgment and negative reply all in one. "I have heard and understood you, but I disagree." A polite way of declining. "Maccca's run? Yeah-nah. I'm povo." The inverse, "Nah-yeah," can also be used as appropriate.

Yeah-yeah-nah: An expansion of "Yeah nah." "I have heard and understood you, I agree but I have to decline." Sometimes you can concur with the situation but not be able to do anything about it.

Yobbo: A special kind of hoodlum, causing trouble and being obnoxious. "What is that noise? Is it bin night? Is it a riot? No, its just some yobbo's coming home early from the pub! PULL YOUR HEADS IN, you Westie Dickheads!" Derisive, and counter to the usual appreciation of someone who bucks the system. Nobody likes a yobbo.

Wedges: Finger sized slices of potato, with skin on, deep fried and often served with our cream and sweet-chili sauce. As distinct to the rectangular, peeled, jumbo French-Fried style "chip". "I could murder some wedges mate. Hold the sour cream, don't want to spew."

Zed: The last letter of the alphabet. It gets pronounced differently in Australia, for no good reason I can determine. Aye, Bee, Cee, Dee, Eee, Eff, Gee.... Double You, Eckss, Why, ZED. As in: "Whose motorcycle is that? It's Zed's. Who is Zed? Zed's dead, baby, Zed's dead." Also, the white African horse with the black stripes?" A zeb-brah not a ZEE-Brah. Don't ask me why.

There you have it, my Aye to ZED of Australian terms of phrase, a user's guide to Strine! I'd be remiss however if I neglected our antipodean cousins from New Zealand. They're the Zack of the aNZac name and we're as proud as punch of them, especially when they're not over here collecting welfare and getting famous (I'm looking at you, Russell Crowe). They also talk funny. Here are a few choice terms that spring to mind. Hope they help you communicate with any Kiwis you come across.

Chully bun: "Chilly bin," an ice box, a cooler. "You brought beers? Great, chuck them into the chully bun, bro."

Chup: "Chips," hot chips. In combination with battered deep fried fish, served with vinegar and salt or sauce as "FUSH und CHUPS."

Jandal: A sandal, or flip-flop. Thongs. Footwear, not underwear. "Get your jandals off the table you duffer, here comes the fush und chups."

Sex: The number that comes between five and SIVEN (seven). Play games with your pet Kiwi, get them to order fush and chups for you and your five friends, and get them to repeat the order. "So, it's sex battered pieces of flake. Sex dim sims. Sex pieces of calamari, sex bottles of Coke and a fried pineapple ring for Stevo, you cunt?"

Shear: To cut the wool off a sheep. "No I'm not shearing this sheep with anyone, get your own you randy bastards".

This isn't really a thing, I'm just teasing. It's a common joke between the Aussies and Kiwis. We say that Kiwis are outnumbered by sheep, and farmers get lonely ...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Home Front: Big Dumb Blocks

As first seen on Breach Bang & Clear: Big Dumb Blocks

Following the recent mass-casualty vehicle attacks in Charlottesville and New York City, I'm prompted to finish a piece I've been working on related to these tragic and horrific incidents.

Back in January 2017, a dude out on parole thought he'd dodge a police pursuit by driving through a crowded pedestrian mall in Melbourne on a Friday afternoon during school holidays. Within the thronging crowd, 35 were injured — two critically — and by the end of the rampage, four people (including ten-year-old Thalia Hakin, 22-year old Jess Mudie, 33-year old Matthew Si, and an unidentified 25-year old man) died on the scene.

Five-month-old Zachary Bryant later died in hospital, while his two-year-old sister survived her injuries. Ten days after the attack, 33-year-old Bhavita Patel died in hospital.

Police officers rammed the car and the driver was shot in the arm before being arrested. He was charged with six counts of murder and 28 counts of attempted murder.

Bourke St Mall bollards are staggered along the pedestrian access. Tram lines are obviously unblocked.

Witnesses reported mass chaos in the wake of this attack in Melbourne. Most people were uncertain what to do, while some courageous first-responding citizens rendered first aid and moved stricken victims out of danger until the driver was neutralized. Since it's effectively an unarmed society, there was little to be done to stop the driver. All bystanders could do was attempt to avoid the danger and helplessly watch the attack unfold before their eyes.

But in a paved pedestrian mall, where and how can people take shelter from a steel-bodied motorized human crusher?

June rolled around and the Victorian state government proposed a solution to the problem of vehicular slaughter, taking a page from WWII static defense, and installed dragon's teeth. Around sixty concrete bollards appeared at key Melbourne locations overnight, a rollout of "anti-terror" devices to prevent a vehicle attack similar to those in London or Nice. Lines of concrete bollards are now in place along scenic Southbank Boulevard, near Queensbridge St. and Crown Casino, and at Southern Cross Station — all popular crowd-filled locations.

Overnight, upwards of 140 concrete bollards were placed at eight locations, adding to those already installed on June 10th in the Bourke St. Mall and at Federation Square.

My size 11's putting some personal perspective on the Big Dumb Block issue.

The bollards aren't the classically pyramid-shaped dragon's teeth of the Atlantic Wall, but they follow the same general principle.

The three-foot cubes are made of utilitarian concrete, with rebar fittings to make them easier to haul and crane into place. They're crude and ugly, to the chagrin of the cultured and erudite Melbournite. To my eye, they offer safe haven if you manage to get behind them "Run Forrest RUN!"-style, and also provide a disincentive for attackers to mount the curb and ram squishy pedestrian herds. Some rough eyeball guesses and fast math suggests that the 1m cubes would likely weigh around 2.5 tonnes (around 5,500 pounds). Staggered as they are, I feel pretty safe that a driver of a rogue car, van, or light truck would come to a pretty abrupt and painful stop if they chased me past one at speed.

So, big dumb blocks started littering our scenic spots, offering refuge and deterrence. As I said, big, dumb UGLY blocks.

Some serious thought went into their placement. Sub-committees were formed and met weekly, no doubt. Melbourne Council installed the bollards at the request of the State Government and Victoria Police. The new locations are:

* Queensbridge Square at Queensbridge Street, Southbank
* Queensbridge Square at the intersection with Southbank Boulevard footpath
* Boathouse Drive under Princes Bridge
* Federation Square at the Swanston Street/Flinders Street intersection
* Flinders Street Station at the Swanston Street/Flinders Street intersection
* Southern Cross Station between Collins Street and Lt Collins Street
* Southern Cross Station at Bourke Street
* Queen Victoria Market surrounds

Federation Square bollards are staggered along the sidewalk curb. Tram lines and roads remain unobstructed.

In a statement, the council stated, “The concrete barriers will provide greater security to people visiting and gathering in the city. We will continue to work closely with State Government and Victoria Police to ensure public areas are kept secure.”

Police Minister Lisa Neville said more bollards would go in around Melbourne at new, unnamed locations. “These are temporary, these are not what people will have to put up with forever,” she told radio 3AW’s Neil Mitchell the morning of their arrival. “It would be great if we didn’t need to have this, it does change the nature of our city a little bit.”

Thirty to forty bollards line the entry to the busy Southern Cross station, preventing cars from entering. The bollards are similar to those placed at Federation Square earlier this month, as part of the state government move to prevent terror attacks in Melbourne’s CBD.

A longways view of Federation Square bollards staggered along the sidewalk curb.

As soon as the bollards started showing up, people started decorating them. Painted stencils, slogans, and even fabric covers brightened up the cold grey slabs of concrete. Predictably, this then brought on an anti-graffiti response from the Victorian police. Artist duo Cit Cat alleged its members were threatened with arrest for painting stencils on a bollard.

"I think we can reach a very good understanding with Victoria Police that says the bollards are almost like Hosier Lane – they're fair targets, fair game (for street artists)," Mr. Doyle told Fairfax Media. "Police ... threatened to arrest me if I didn't give my name," one of the artists said. "They told me they would process the issue and to expect a summons in the mail."

Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle said police were "maybe ... a little overzealous" in reprimanding Cit Cat. "I suppose by the letter of the law it is illegal – it is damaging other people's property, it's not ours," he said."However, I do think when there is organic creativity and humor, the last thing we should be doing is stamping on it."

A spokesperson for Cit Cat said governments had initially sent "mixed messages" on what was and wasn't appropriate by promoting street art to tourists. "Street art is part of Melbourne," he said, adding that it was "incredible" the lord mayor had now endorsed painting the bollards.

"I have spoken to the police today to more or less say 'let's just cool our jets, let's just watch what happens'." Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has given street artists the green light to paint hundreds of concrete safety bollards in the CBD.

concrete blocks, big blocks, blocks

Mayor Doyle had already given a tick of approval to the cloth covers members of the public have added to some of the bollards. There are currently approximately 200 of these "temporary" bollards scattered around the CBD, installed as anti-terror measures. Reports of up to 500 in total when more are rolled out in coming months.

The bollards are on loan from crowd control supplier Harry the Hirer and the council would likely need to return them in the condition they were given, Mayor Doyle said. "But we've got graffiti removal units who are quite expert at doing that," he said. A green light for street art on the bollards did not mean people could simply "tag" them, however, and the council reserved the right to remove anything "offensive or obscene." The City of Melbourne has a detailed policy on graffiti and street art management, including definitions on what constitutes street art and designating places such as Hosier Lane available for artists to use.

However, Melbourne rose to the challenge. My favorite so far is the perfect LEGO cube in "Welcome to Melbourne" livery. The little kid in the photo above shared my sentiment.

concrete blocks, big blocks, blocks

Finally, Mayor Doyle announced that it could take up to a year for permanent bollards to replace the temporary ones, but that he would be open to keeping some of the best artistic contributions.

"If we get a series of these that become much loved that are really very clever and additions to the streetscape, of course, I would consider keeping them," he said. A Victoria Police spokesperson said police will "respect the rights of the City of Melbourne in regards to their property."

"There are offenses relating to criminal damage, littering, and graffiti which could be applicable, however, every incident is treated on a case-by-case basis," they said.

I suppose stopping vehicular spree murderers is hard to do preemptively, and malicious bollard-taggers can be caught red-handed. But as long as the authorities are going to be putting these up to protect the thronging hordes — and I sincerely hope the blocks achieve that goal — I also hope people will have a go prettying them up. Concrete is cheap, and so is sidewalk space. Little kids minding their own damn business is priceless.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

WISH-LUST: UV PAqlite MSL micro-safety-light

So, here's a Kickstarter project I thought I should promote. It's an upgrade product of something I already have and I am only too happy to share the news . I've covered products by UVPaqLite before, their unpowered glow-in-the-dark items are awesome  but none have been as impressive as the powered Mule ORB lights. These USB rechargeable battery powered LED lit globe with a shell of epoxy embedded strontium aluminate crystals. The LED's act to charge the crystals, as well as acting as a  mild green-yellow flashlight. An on-board chip  allows it to pulse every 2 minutes to keep the crystals charged. 
An even smarter feature utilizes a small photo-receptor built into the side of the Orb, just beside the USB charge port.
 Holding the on-off button for a double-flash of the light letting you know you've activated the light sensor and now the Orb will only function in hybrid mode when it’s dark. It lights up for about 4 seconds, which can be a bit disconcerting if you're trying to get to sleep and it's dangling over your head but certainly enhances its 100hour battery life. .

So, UVPaqLite have come up with a new and improved version of the Orb, in the MSL, their Micro Safety Light. The MSL -Micro Safety Light - is a compact flashlight and safety device. It's the light you'll want everyone to own!

The MSL is pocket sized, being a slimline lozenge shaped, light, with a more prominent on-off button than that found on the Orb.  The LED is being in two different options, a bright white (30000-35000k) version with a 2.3 hour run-time or a UV (400-410nm) version with a 2.6 hour run-time.

It again features a pulse mode, with a 2 second / 2 minutes mode, or a 2 second /15 minute mode. These have runtimes of 140-156hour and 1037-1172hour runtimes in white/UV respectively. (It runs for almost 6 full days on the faster "pulse mode".)

The portable design makes it easy to take anywhere. Ridiculously bright flashlight. It glows in the dark so it's easy to find. The MSL also is designed to attach to a very loud emergency whistle (reported to sing at  115 decibels) which is great for survival situations, natural disasters, crime prevention, or to ward off animals. It's much louder and less exhausting than yelling for help. And the pitch of this whistle can be heard over loud rescue equipment or ambient noises.

The UV emission wavelengths of  that LED option is particularity good at exciting strontium aluminate and will be the one I hope to get once the project goes live.

Now, it's battery powered, rather than USB rechargable, which is a down-side, but the battery time is cheep, plentiful and  given the long run-times  I see this as a good investment.  get onto it. Get one for you kids, your parents and your own keychain!

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