*take nothing for granted!
  • Sydney Australia

  • Luang Prabang Laos

  • Angkor Wat Cambodia

  • Halong Bay Vietnam

  • Yangon Myanmar (Burma)

  • Forbidden City Moat Beijing China

  • Great Wall Shuiguan China

  • Shanghai China

  • Terracotta Warriors Xian China

  • Giza Pyramids and Sphinx Cairo

  • Jemaa el-Fnaa Marrakesh Morocco

  • Damascus Syria - (Oct 2010 pre destabilisation)

  • Istanbul Turkey

  • The Sphinx ANZAC Cove Gallipoli Turkey

  • Saltzburg Austria

  • Cezky Krumlov Czech Republic

  • Prague Czech Republic

  • Champs Elysees Paris France

  • Oberbaum Bridge (over the Spree) Berlin Germany

  • Budapest Hungary

  • Rome Italy

  • Florence Italy

  • Venice Italy

  • Valletta Malta

  • Lisbon Portugal

  • Plaza Mayor Madrid Spain

  • Seville Spain

  • Alhambra Granada Spain

  • Mosque–Cathedral Córdoba Spain

  • Moscow Russia (from Moscow State University)

  • London England

  • Mumbai India

  • Udaipur India

  • Taj Mahal - Agra India

  • Varanasi (Benares) India

  • Kathmandu Nepal

  • Madurai India

  • Havana Cuba

  • Pyramid of the Sun Teotihuacán Mexico

  • Zócalo Mexico City

  • Buenos Aires Argentina

  • Ipanema Rio De Janeiro Brazil

  • Iguazu Falls Argentina-Brazil

  • Machu Picchu Peru

  • Lake Titicaca Peru-Bolivia

  • Queens New York USA (from the Empire State)

  • Boston USA (across the stern of USS Constitution)

  • Washington DC USA (from Arlington House)

  • San Francisco USA (from Alcatraz Island)

  • Los Angeles USA (from the Getty Museum)

Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2015

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>  Romania

Capitoline Wolf
Travel

Here it is at last.  I've finally given up my fight with Google Pictures and accepted URLs the length of small essays, just so that I can store my images in The Cloud.
The essay on Southern England uses the old Picasa image storage. But in the middle of writing this, a few days later, Google withdrew it and introduced their mega-URLs. Then, before I could get any further with a solution, I found myself in hospital.  See below.

Anyway I hope this was worth the wait - particularly for those of you who like to travel and have not yet been to Romania. .

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>  Southern England

Port_Isaac thumb
Travel

In mid July 2016 Wendy and I took flight again to Europe. Those who follow these travel diaries will note that part of out trip last year was cut when Wendy's mum took ill. In particular we missed out on a planned trip to Romania and eastern Germany. This time our British sojourn would be interrupted for a few days by a side-trip to Copenhagen and Roskilde in Denmark (later posts to come).
We spent the initial week in London and after our return from Denmark, toured about the West Country to Cornwall and then east along the South coast as far as Sidmouth.

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>  Do I still have the energy?

Have I still got the energy?Energy

Regular visitors to this website will know that I have been on about energy since the site's inception in 2010.
Now that I've had the chance to say "I told you so" in the case of South Australia and suggest one solution - Read Here - I've revisited some with new statistics (kindly provided on-line by various government agencies) to confirm that the numbers still support my earlier arguments.
Obviously they do or in this post-truth world I'd just be keeping quiet. 
In particular I've updated the Electricity Storage section of 'How does electricity work?' with South Australia as an example.
For those who've recently read it - there are now new supporting data regarding energy production and costs.

Read More...

 

>  Losing my religion

Losing my religion
Ideas

Catching the ferry back from seeing Wendy onto the airport train on her way to Iran, I saw a girl with ash on her forehead and realized it was Ash Wednesday.
What would I give up for Lent?  Undoubtedly the obvious.
Then the following day I was wearing a so called 'halter' monitoring my heart for 24 hours to see if death is imminent - perhaps at Easter?
And that made me revisit this story, adding some additional personal details.

Read More...

 

>  The Password - A short story

Book Short Stories thumb
Fiction

As Easter approaches I have revisited this story and added an epub download - for e-books.

In 2011 I had my wallet stolen on the train in Buenos Aries.
So in this short story I imagined my anti-hero growing up in Rio - perhaps the child of one of the 'working girls' we had seen plying their trade along the beachfront at Copacabana. I gave him a terrible, misanthropic life and made the theft of my wallet as his final undoing.

Literary revenge.

The Password...

I have published a dozen other stories on this website. Here are a few of them:
The Time Lord (science fiction?)
The Secret (a Russian adventure)
 A Twisted Pigs' Tale (a twisted fairytail)
His Life in a Can (a domestic tragedy)
The Soul of the Matter (a travel inspired love-story?)
April Fools' Day (paranoia on a ferry)
The Cloud (a full length novella - Dystopian-Shakespearean science fiction)

 

>  Clean Coal

303px Carbon sequestrationEnergy

With the long predicted problems in South Australia and soon in Victoria  due to over-dependence on wind generated electricity (follow this link:  'Wind is seldom a good match for the customers’ consumption requirements...' ) clean coal is back in the news as a possible solution.
It may come as a surprise to some but coal is not carbon free. Nor is petroleum. Nor is 'natural' gas.
Coal-fired supercritical steam technology may get coal close to conventional gas but it comes at a cost and neither are 'clean'.
So when people speak of 'clean coal' they usually mean technology that incorporates a means of capturing the combustion by products - in particular carbon dioxide (CO2) and putting them somewhere other than into the atmosphere.
I've explored carbon capture and storage also known as carbon sequestration on several past occasions.  
I'm not a fan as there is an obvious; safer; less expensive; and technically mature; option already in widespread use. 

Read More...

 

>  The Meaning of Death

Etherial Richard
News

I was recently restored to life after being dead for several hours. 

'Really?' you say, 'dead?' What does: 'dead' really mean?

At one time a person who was no longer breathing; who had no heartbeat; was limp and unconscious; and failed to respond to stimuli, like being poked with a knife; or having their heart removed; was pretty certainly dead.
Yet while a death certificate may well have been issued for me in the not so distant past, today we set no store by the heart or the lungs or even reflexes as indicators of life but rather the potential recovery of the brain and central nervous system.

Thus I was not actually dead. The colony of cells that is me remained relatively undamaged, still a viable living organism thanks to continuing oxygenated blood supply. In particular my brain was undamaged, so my mind could be restored to awareness when anaesthesia ceased. 

Read More...

 

>  Skydiving

Coming Down to Earth
News

For my 70th Birthday Wendy took me at my word and bought me a voucher to go Skydiving.  I've always wanted to try it and 75 is a limit for insurance.

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>  Recollections of 1960 - the U2 Incident

Movie poster
Recollections

The 2015 Spielberg movie Bridge of Spies recalls the U-2 Incident, one of those seminal moments when the world would take a new path into the future.  In 1960 this otherwise mundane spy flight would swing the result of a US election and thus set the tone for the coming decade.  The new President was to make US confrontation with the USSR a hallmark of his term in office.  The Cuban Missile Crisis; escalation of the wars in Indochina; conscription;  draft dodging; protest; flower-power and a spate of assassinations; can therefore all trace their roots to this incident. 
On the positive side was the Peace Corps and the 'Space Race' that would lead to rapid technological advance. The technologies of the 21st century: communications and computers; new materials; 'and all that' came from there.

Read More...

 

>  Berlin

Berliner Dom
Travel

I've been to Berlin several times but have been reluctant to offer an 'off the cuff' summary of this complex city.
Instead here are some selected impressions that are by no means intended as a comprehensive analysis.

 

Read More...

 

>  Australia and Empire

british empire 1922 tNews

The recent Australia Day and Invasion Day dispute made me recall again the late, sometimes lamented, British Empire.
Because, after all, it was the Empire that was the genesis of Australia Day.
For a brief history of that institution I can recommend Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World by Niall Ferguson.
It may also have some relevance to US hegemony - Amerika über alles!

Read More...

 

>  The McKie Family

McKie Ginger Beer
History

This is the story of the McKie family down a path through the gardens of the past that led to where I'm standing now.  Other paths converged and merged as the McKies met and wed and bred.
Where possible I've glimpsed backwards up those paths as far as records would allow.
In six generations, I, like most people, have 126 ancestors.  Around half have become obscure to me. But I know the majority had one thing in common: they lived in or around Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England.

During that time Newcastle grew from a small port town into one of the World's most important and innovative cities.  Thus they contributed to the prosperity, fertility and skill of that blossoming town during the century and a half when the garden there was at its most fecund.

So it's also a tale of one city.

Read More...

 

>  Climate Change - a Myth?

Ice core data
Environment

Partly in response to my article Carbon Footprints (below) several friends and acquaintances have told me that Climate Change is a myth.

Might this be true?

 

Read More...

 

 


 

 

 


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Travel

Cuba

 

 

 

What can I say about Cuba? 

In the late ‘70s I lived on the boundary of Paddington in Sydney and walked to and from work in the city.  Between my home and work there was an area of terrace housing in Darlinghurst that had been resumed by the State for the construction of a road tunnel and traffic interchanges.  Squatters had moved into some of the ‘DMR affected’ houses.  Most of these were young people, students, rock bands and radically unemployed alternative culture advocates; hippies. 

Those houses in this socially vibrant area that were not condemned by the road building were rented to people who were happy with these neighbours: artists; writers; musicians; even some younger professionals; and a number were brothels.  

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

Preface - The Craft

 

 

A Note about Witches

In fairy-tales, witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks, and they ride on broomsticks.
But this is not a fairy-tale.  This is about real WITCHES
REAL WITCHES dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women.
They live in ordinary houses and they work in ORDINARY JOBS.
That is why they are so hard to catch.

Roald Dahl - The Witches

 

The Craft is an e-novel about Witchcraft in a future setting.  It's a prequel to The Cloud, set initially at the turn of 2069-2070 after The Great Famine.

It has adult content.  

As with all fiction on this Website stories evolve from time-to-time.   Unlike printed books that have distinct editions, these stories morph and twist so that returning to them after a period may provide a new experience.

Click here to Read more...

 

 

 

Opinions and Philosophy

The Meaning of Life

 

 

This essay is most of all about understanding; what we can know and what we think we do know. It is an outline originally written for my children and I have tried to avoid jargon or to assume the reader's in-depth familiarity with any of the subjects I touch on. I began it in 1997 when my youngest was still a small child and parts are still written in language I used with her then. I hope this makes it clear and easy to understand for my children and anyone else.

Read more ...

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