Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rust in Peace

There's only one place you can go to visit the dead, the graveyard. Now you can visit one for reasons that are less depressing than usual. In a desolate city near Uyuni, Bolivia sits an abandoned railroad hub and terminal station, or in other words, a train graveyard. It has turned into a place where steam locomotives from the UK and US take their last and final stop.

The town had plans to develop the surrounding community in the 1800s starting with a railroad hub acting as a main junction connecting four lines from La Paz, Calama, Potosí, and Villazón, Unyuni. Time passed and the land was eventually neglected and became a dumping grounds for steam locomotives and their giant metal body parts. More than 200 years later, the destination has made its way into the itineraries of curious travelers.

Uyuni is a very small desert town with an estimated population of 10,000 people. Despite its lack of agriculture and water supply, it is home to the world's largest Salt Flats - Salar De Uyuni.

Visitors that are usually drawn to the area by the salt lakes run into the decaying trains and become fascinated with their thick walls of rust. The unrelenting rays of the sun have coated the trains with a rich mahogany layer, providing a perfect backdrop for writing messages.

Foreigners have come from all different corners of the earth to pay their respects by etching a note or two on their walls, similar to leaving flowers on a tombstone. Just because they're trains, doesn't mean that standard cemetery customs don't apply.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Speakers So Loud, They Blow Women’s Clothes Off

The Italian Job is one of my favorite movies, and not just because Mark Wahlberg is in it. There’s also a reference to the infamous speakers so loud they blow women’s clothes off. Now I’ve never tried this… mainly because my boombox doesn’t really get that loud. Anyways, after finding these, I’m thinking about giving it another shot. Pics or it didn’t happen — hey, who said that?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bugatti railcar

Ettore Bugatti paid a high price for his idealistic and perfectionist personality. His vehicles, pure works of art, would often translate into huge monetary losses. Such was the case of the Royale which, despite its excellence, revealed itself to be a comercial flop and forced his creator to come up with a solution to his imminent bankruptcy. Thus, his practical side created a bold locomotive, propelled by Royale's powerful engines. He named it the wagon rapide. And it was, in fact, fast.

The WR had all the cutting-edge technology, design and charm that was charcteristic of the brand and was the predecessor of today's fast, suburban trains. The first design in circulation, introduced on May, 1933, reached a maximum speed of 172 Km per hour and a 116 km per hour cruising speed, which was remarkable, at the time. In its interior, it lodged no less than four 8 cylinder in line of 12750 Cc, that gave it 800 Hp and an even more impressive energy consumption.

Its aerodinamic lines were unlike anything at the time, especially the piloting post in superior part of the vehicle, reminiscent of a cabin of a plane. Howevever, this positioning had a rather weak visibility which, together with other 'little details' (that included its high fuel intake, its brake's fast erosion and other unwanted mechanical problems), conditioned the train's success. These problems, together, stopped the WR from becoming a commercial success and kept the company in dire financial conditions.

Nonetheless, Bugatti was able to see his vehicles working until 1958 in regular routes at the French railroad. In fact, the French State was one of Bugatti's most important costumers, ordering various of his vehicles and, even, transforming one of them into a presidential carriage. As with every Bugatti, the WR has become a museum piece.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Largest Man Made Crater

In the picture you see a sedan crater than can be visited in Nevada Test site. You can see how enormous it is when you compare it with the space a platform takes in the picture. This crater is a result of an underground test of storax sedan and remains the largest man made crater. The nuclear testing was done in the 60s to look for non military use of nuclear explosives.

The nuclear device buried 635 ft under the ground displaced 11,000,000 tons of soil, leaving a crater 320 ft. deep and with a diameter of 1280 ft. It is the largest depression caused by a nuclear detonation. Over 10,000 people visit the crater every year. The test took place on July 6, 1962 and resulted in large amounts of radioactive fallout. The negative effects and health concerns apart, it remains a sight to behold.

Railway construction in China

The China Railway Construction Corporation is the second largest state-owned construction enterprise in the People’s Republic of China, just after China Railway Engineering Corporation. Its headquarter is in Beijing.

Formerly the railway arm of the People’s Liberation Army, CRCC is engaged in the businesses of construction contracting, survey, design and consultation, industrial manufacturing, exploitation of real estate, capital operation and logistics. It is currently China’s largest construction contractor and the world’s sixth construction contractor.[2]

CRCC is under the supervision by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.

In February 2008, A shares and H shares of CRCC were listed on the Shanghai and Hong Kong, with IPO price RMB$9.8 and HK$10.7 respectively.

The A shares closed at RMB$11.64 at the first trading day, 10 March 2008, 28% rise compared with its IPO price of RMB$9.08. The H shares closed at HK$12, 12% rise compared with its IPO price of HK$10.7.

The performance was poorer than expected because of poor investment atmosphere from United States subprime mortgage crisis and China’s economic macro-control. However, it was the second-largest IPO worldwide, with funds raised in the amount of USD 5,709m, second only to the IPO of Visa (USD 19,650m).

“1186″, the stock code of CRCC H shares, was used by two famous companies before.

The first time was when Richard Li’s Pacific Century CyberWorks injected its assets into Tricom Holdings, which had stock code of “1186″. But “1186″ was not used after Pacific Century CyberWorks merged with Hong Kong Telecom in 2000 to become PCCW.

The second time was when Value Partners Group used it for Value Partners China Greenchip Fund. But it was delisted in 2007 and became an open-ended mutual fund.