29 December 2021 - PAI CANYON - THAILAND





G'day folks,

This bizarre dirt trail winds a narrow path above the tree line. 

With treacherous drops on either side of the path, the elevated trail through Pai Canyon (Kong Lan in Thai) is not a place for a casual stroll, but it will provide visitors with an unparalleled view of the surrounding landscape.  

After climbing a short staircase on the Western edge of the canyon hikers will see a narrow ridge of Earth, all that remains of a walking path through the canyon. Erosion on either side of the path has caused the forest level to drop dramatically with only the tips of the plants rising above the level of the path. With drops of up to 30 meters on either side of the strange trail, traversing it can be dangerous.

 The walk up to the first viewpoint is easily accessible to anyone even with a moderate level of fitness. However, the paths leading further vary widely in width, steepness, and danger. At points, the width of the land narrows to little more than foot wide ridges that must be scrambled across. At other points, the paths turns almost vertical and requires some climbing to go farther. Despite the slight dangers of the Pai Canyon it is a popular attraction in the region. 

Clancy's comment: A great place to view the extraordinary landscape, and wildlife.

I'm ...










G'day folks,

Here, you will find a mile-long navigable cave adorned with stalactites and stalagmites reaching up to 65 feet tall. 

Tham Lod is a cave system in Mae Hong Son province that stretches nearly a mile long. The Lang River (Nam Lang) runs through the entire length of the cave, from one side of the mountain to the other, and the only way to explore the long cavern is to hire a rickety bamboo raft and a local guide with a gas lantern.

Upon arriving at the entrance of the cave, it is obvious that you are not the first visitor to get here, but once you get inside the cave, the utter lack of artificial lights and permanent facilities adds a certain sense of adventure. In no time, stalactites and stalagmites put up a show that took millions of years to form. At different points of the trip, depending on the time of the year, guides stop to let visitors step on the muddy ground and slippery bamboo passageways to get a closer look at the rock formations, which can exceed 65 feet in height. 

 As the end of the trip approaches, a shaft of light cuts through the darkness and the emerald green of the vegetation outside can be blinding. The opening at the end of the cave is huge and thousands of birds dart in all directions.  The chirping can be deafening, but it is an impressive sight.

Lawa people used to bury their dead inside caves, and at one point 1,400-year-old coffins were found inside Tham Lod. You won’t be able to see the coffins upon visiting, but archaeological excavations in the area have proved that Tham Lod was used as a burial place by the Hoabinhian people between 5,500 and 9,000 BC.


Clancy's comment: This is a beautiful part of the country, but I've not yet been to this cave.

I'm ...







G'day folks,

Today, a laptop would probably do the job. But back in 1957, when Norwich City Council became a pioneer among British local authorities applying computer technology to handle its payroll and tax on residents, a BIG machine was needed to handle the work, as became apparent on this day.

So big, in fact, that the computer had to be delivered on the back of a truck and then manoeuvred into the offices using ropes, pulleys – and brute strength.

The Council’s first computer came from Elliott Brothers of London and was photographed being delivered in February 1957.

It took a while before the monster was up and running. Then on 3 April that year, amid much fanfare and in the presence of the Lord Mayor and the Press, Council officials gave a demonstration of the machine in action.

Within the computer was a rapidly revolving magnetic drum on which “words” could be recorded. Each “word” was equivalent to a nine-digit number or six alphabetic characters.

The films for the magnetic drum came in reels 1,000 feet long, each capable of storing about 300,000 “words”. The “words” were received onto the film from hand-punched paper tape.

The preparation of local tax bills came about through the punching on paper tape of the figures involved and the paper tape was used to control electric typewriters.

They produced the finished bill on continuous stationery which was then simply torn off and sent to the householder.

Local government involves a lot of repetitive work and Norwich Council thought that it was, therefore, “a field where the advantages of speed and accuracy inherent in electronic data processing will lead to substantial savings.”

They anticipated savings on staff alone of 20 per cent.

The possibility that they needed to lose staff to make room for such a massive amount of machinery was not mentioned.

Clancy's comment: Man, that is whopping. We have sure come a long way since then.

I'm ...











G'day folks,

Not only do these photos jump off the screen with a vibrancy unmatched by their black and white counterparts, but some feature stories.  There are some famous people depicted in these shots.

Clancy's comment: I still love the clarity of black and white.

I'm ...









G'day folks,

  First there was an explosion, then a puff of smoke, and then on april 2 1877, the first human cannonball was propelled into the air about 60 feet above the heads of an astonished crowd.

She was Rosa Matilda Richter, a 14-year-old English girl who performed under the decidedly un-English name of “Zazel”. A tightrope walker and aerial acrobat, Rosa had learnt her craft from William Hunt, a Canadian who gloried under the title of The Great Farini. He was most famous for performing a high-wire walk above Niagara Falls.

In 1871 he patented the mechanism for launching a human projectile through the air into a safety net. Fortunately for Rosa, the process did not actually involve any explosive, her ejection from the “cannon” being achieved by a system of springs and tension, accompanied by a fake explosion and smoke.

Still, the London spectators who witnessed the first performance in 1877 were wildly impressed and excited. It happened at the Royal Aquarium, a place of entertainment that had been built next to Westminster Abbey the previous year and which continued to pull in crowds until it was demolished in 1903.

Despite her physical prowess and acrobatic ability, the act was not without danger for Rosa. The springs-and-tension method of propulsion – replaced in modern times by compressed air – was hardly precise and the day came, almost inevitably, when she shot through the air and missed the safety net.

Fortunate to survive, Zazel, the human cannonball, who had been playing to crowds of 20,000 in England and the United States, broke her back and was forced to retire.

Clancy's comment: Death-defying feats are not one of my pursuits.

I'm ...







G'day folks,

The largest cave shaft in the world is home to thousands of birds and popular with BASE jumpers. 

Simply staring down into the Cave of Swallows is a test of one’s fortitude. Known as a pit cave, it is a vertical shaft, essentially a 160- to 205-foot gaping hole in the forest floor which drops straight down 1,220 feet – 1,904 from the higher edge – before reaching the cave floor. It is deep enough to fit the Statue of Liberty standing on her own shoulders, the Eiffel tower, or the Chrysler building. 

Called Sótano de las Golondrinas in Spanish and the Cave of Swallows in English, it is the largest known cave shaft in the world and the second deepest pit in Mexico. The cave gets its name from the green parakeets and white-collared swifts that live along its walls. Each day the birds fly in concentric circles up the cave shaft before the flocks come spilling out of the of the hole into the jungle. 

 The cave has more recently become the home to a number of newer aerial species, namely vertical cavers and base-jumpers. A popular destination with the extreme sports enthusiasts, it is tall enough for the BASE jumpers (BASE stands for Buildings, Antennas, Spans, and Earth, all things they enjoy flinging themselves off of) to leap off the edge and free-fall for a couple of seconds before deploying their parachutes. While it takes about ten seconds to reach the bottom, the ascent back up is slower taking between 40 minutes and 2 hours. 

While the cave has long been known to the local Huastec people, it was first explored by outsiders in 1966 by T. R. Evans, Charles Borland and Randy Sterns. The cave is so deep that when rappelling, which can easily take an hour, the friction can cause the rope and equipment to heat up to dangerous levels, so spray water bottles are used to cool the equipment as one descends. 

Clancy's comment: Although keen to visit, I'm not so sure about rappelling into this cavern.

I'm ...









G'day folks,

England’s ancient oak tree has such an impressive girth, people have been hosting parties within the hollow trunk for centuries.  

In a field in south Lincolnshire stands one of Britain’s greatest trees: the Bowthorpe Oak, an ancient survivor that may well have witnessed more than 1,000 years of English history.

The Bowthorpe Oak stands in a paddock at Bowthorpe Farm near Manthorpe village. The first references to the tree date back to the 1760s and describe the tree’s hollow trunk being smoothed out by the then Squire of Bowthorpe, who created a room inside the oak in which he could entertain as many as 20 guests at a sit-down dinner.

The oak, however, was around long before the gregarious Squire of Bowthorpe decided to use it as a dining room. Experts aren’t entirely sure of the tree’s true age, but the current consensus is that it’s at least 800 years old and perhaps dates back more than a millennium.

The estimated age of possibly 1,000 years or more makes the Bowthorpe Oak likely the oldest oak tree in England and one of the oldest in Europe. Also, as many humans in their later years can attest, with advancing age comes expanding girth. The Bowthorpe Oak has slowly expanded to achieve a most impressive girth of 43.6 feet (13.3 meters), larger than any other pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) in the United Kingdom.

 Today, the hollow tree serves a variety of purposes. Livestock sometimes take shelter in its ancient interior, and humans are known to throw the occasional party within the walls of the gnarled old trunk. Of course, nature lovers, tree aficionados, and other dendrophiles also come to Bowthorpe Farm just to visit the oak, to marvel at its mighty girth and imagine all that it has seen.

Clancy's comment: Imagine what that tree has seen in the past 1,000 years.

I'm ...