Les UX

Jun. 29th, 2010 09:19 pm
sharplittleteeth: (Default)
Was just watching Greatest Cities Of The World With Griff Rhys Jones. Tonight's was on Paris.

It finished with a section on les UX. Who are are underground urban explorers that break into Paris's ancient monuments, and restore them.

Seriously. They broke into the Panthéon and spent a year restoring its 150 year old clock.

According to this article from the Times Online:
Mr Kunstmann said that les UX had 150 or so members divided into about ten branches. One group, which is all-female, specialises in “infiltration” – getting into museums after hours, finding a way through underground electric or gas networks and shutting down alarms. Another runs an internal message system and a coded, digital radio network accessible only to members.

A third group provides a database, a fourth organises subterranean shows and a fifth takes photographs of them. Mr Kunstmann refused to talk about the other groups.

It's like the Cave Clan rewritten by Cory Doctorow.

Wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_UX



Dec. 7th, 2009 10:36 pm
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We're back.

Took a long weekend to go diving. In Mooloolaba. On the wreck of the ex-HMAS Brisbane.

It was amazing. The Brisbane sits upright on the sea bed. They cut access holes all through the structure so even beginner divers like myself can dive inside her. We swam through corridors, the old galley, even the computer control room. Saw lots of octopuses, three scorpion fish, and manages to scrape my hands up on all the barnacles. (I feel very macho now - I have dive injuries. I also now have a pair of gloves.)

My camera fritzed itself, so there aren't many photos. Instead, feel free to picture me wrestling an enormous octopus through vast, drowned engine rooms of war.
sharplittleteeth: (Default)

Ten metres under the waves.

I'm kneeling gently on a bed of kelp. The fronds sway softly in the currents. Above and to the right of me, one of the students is having a panic attack. But she's in magnificent hands: [livejournal.com profile] _ryn is calming her, holding her hand, settling her breathing.

Soon the class will be ready, and we will swim deeper. There's a blue devil fish down there, and a undersea canyon that used to be the Yarra, and a toadfish that the instructor will pull by the tail so that it puffs up into a spiky ball.

And after that: the heavy climb back into the boat, then hours of theory, and the final exam, and the instructor quietly informing who is now a certified Open Water Diver, and who still needs more work.

But that's all still in the future.

Right now, I'm kneeling on a bed of kelp, ten metres below the waves.

And all I am thinking is yes.


Jan. 14th, 2009 11:53 am
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Just booked to do my Open Water Scuba certification with Queenscliff Dive Centre.


The funny thing: [livejournal.com profile] _ryn answered the phone there. Neither of us recognised the other.

i've kissed mermaids, rode the el nino
walked the sand with the crustaceans
could find my way to mariana
on a wave of mutilation...

sharplittleteeth: (Default)
Jel and I went to the Hocus Pocus exhibition at the City Museum this afternoon.

It traces the history of stage magic in Melbourne, from the first performances in the gold fields onwards. There are lots of advertising posters, potted biographies of the magicians, and various props.

The posters were wonderful, but it's quite a small exhibition - just two little rooms. Not a patch on ACMI's Eyes, Lies and Illusions exhibition from a few years ago.

Still, it was only $5. And that included entry to the rest of the ground floor of the museum.

Where we saw a great documentary about Melbourne's old cable tram system.

It ran from 1885 to 1940. The trams were powered by clamping on to a moving cable that ran beneath the streets. The cable was powered by giant steam engines in the various powerhouses around the city, like the one on the corner of Nicholson and Gertrude street (photos at http://www.cable-car-guy.com/html/ccoznz.html).

The documentary had lots of 1930's footage of the trams and the powerhouses in action. It took some wonderfully and absurdly elaborate engineering to make it all work. Very, very steampunk. Not to mention dangerous to maintain, as the documentary narrator explained in a jolly voice. 

From the 1920s, the cable tram system was slowly replaced with electric trams. The last cable tram ran on October 26, 1940.

The weird thing?

No one told the public. Patrons caught the tram in to the theatre that evening. But when they came out, the trams had been replaced with double-decker buses.


Jan. 1st, 2009 03:59 am
sharplittleteeth: (Default)
Back from Euchronia. Drunk. Happy. Eating chips.

Costume photos later, but I had to show you this:

This was the brooch I made, my own personal bit of cryptoentomology inspired by the work of Mike Libby. Sorry it's so blurry.

Happy 2009, dear people. May it be strange and magnificent for you all.

sharplittleteeth: (Default)
Article in today's Age about the research station on Heron Island.

The research team there are part of a project examining the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef in WA. They've just release some initial results which include the discovery of hundreds of new species.

Article here. Multimedia content (video and slideshows) here, which do a very nice job of showing off Heron Island.

When I was in Primary School, I wanted to be a marine biologist. My mother actually told a story last weekend, about how I came home from the library with a book on marine biology and read it within a few hours. He didn't really read it, she thought. He just looked at the pictures. So she quizzed me on it, and I answered every question.

Somewhere along the way I chose robots over reefs, and ended up in IT. It's not that I regret my choice. But I've been thinking about it a lot, ever since we got back from Heron Island.

Guess I'll just have to be an enthusiastic amatuer.

sharplittleteeth: (Default)
Right. We're back.

In case you missed it, A. and i spent the last week or so up on Heron Island.

We patted an epaulette shark. A. fell in love with christmas tree worms. I snorkelled with sharks, and learnt how to scuba dive. On my first ever dive, I saw a manta ray feeding. We flew in a helicopter, found turtles mating, and saw a humpback whale breeching.

I even have a travel story that fits my theory of travel stories*. It involves a tick, my privates, and an item from a computer toolkit.

We're back now, sunburnt, sleepy, and blissfully happy.

Photos soon. We'll be at Gulag tomorrow night, if you want to hear us blather about it all.

* "No one wants to hear your travel story about how you went to Africa, saw an elephant, and it was amazing. Everyone wants to hear your travel story about how you went to Africa, saw an elephant, and it almost killed you."


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