Day 287- June 4, 2010

I woke up today and the sun wasn’t there! It was very distressing. Everybody else seemed relatively unperturbed. Guess they’re all used to getting up at 6am. Strange, real-world people.

I ate my museli and drank my coffee and watched my 30 Rock (what a good boy I am!) and went off to Sandown Racetrack for my defensive drivers course. For those of you unfamiliar with Melbourne’s geography, said racetrack is in the south, next to that delightful region we call Dandenong. I recently got bored and looked up a whole bunch of places on Wikipedia. Dandenong comes from an Aboriginal word meaning “lofty mountain”, while the nearby Noble Park has nothing to do with nobility, but was originally a testing ground for explosives developed by Alfred Nobel. Oh, Wikipedia.

I took the freeway and the tollway and the tunnel (which always creep me out a bit) past all the bizarre futuristic bridges and sculptures they’ve decided to build alongside the M3 (which look even weirder when the sun isn’t fully up and it’s foggy) and managed to arrive about half an hour early. Hooray me! After being directed by several men in reflector vests to a parking spot, I was told to go into a conference room that strangely resembled the hotel from The Shining. The carpet was appalling, and featured what I presumed to be a logo for something, but seemed more like pretzels copulating than anything else.

Other people started filing in and eventually we started. There were a few young people who had been sent to the course by their parents (like me!), sales reps for Nestle and Schwepps who had been sent to the course by their employers and a nurse. We saw some videos of ridiculous car crashes to scare us and were told about how far you’d go after the time taken to react to something and brake (at 60km/h, it’s over 50m). Luckily, it wasn’t all theory, and we went out onto the racetrack. Woo!

Remember those road safety ads where one car is travelling at 60km/h and the other at 65? Both cars brake at the same time in response to a semi-trailer coming out in front of them. The first car hits the truck at only 5km/h, the second at 32. So we tried that out for ourselves, seeing how far we went after slamming on the brakes at the different speeds. It’s quite a difference. Also, some poor schmuck was driving a Tarago (you know, those cars that look like fridges) without anti-lock braking and managed to knock over pretty much all of the cones. We also practised braking and swerved and driving a slalom course (weaving around cones). All very good fun.

Then off to the city, as I had heard about some bizarre light installation in Federation Square. I parked at the university (I love opening doors and boomgates with my student card; it makes me feel like a secret agent) and took the tram down, witnessing some sort of scuffle at a Palestinian rally. Somebody was clobbering somebody else over the head with a cardboard placard. Probably not the most effective weapon…

The light installation was part of Federation Square’s The Light In Winter festival and was supposed to be, well, not unveiled, but… opened (?) at 5.30pm. Of course, this is Art, so we had to wait around till about 7 for all the artists and committee members and politicians to finish up congratulating themselves and talk to us, the public. Oh well, at least we had some band playing sun-themed songs such as “Here Comes The Sun”, “The Sunny Side of the Street” and what appeared to be a reggae/calypso-ish version of “House of the Rising Sun”. I also managed to get some city and river shots while I was there, which was good. I really want a tripod now.

All this sun-ness was because the light installation was, in fact, a sun. A large spherical balloon, suspended 20m above the ground, with some mathematically-generated, NASA-based “sun” projected onto it using five projectors at different angles. A 1:10,000,000 model of the Sun. Except not lethally hot. Strange how a day that started with no sun ended with a large artificial one designed by a Mexican-Canadian. Oh well. That’s what you get for living in Melbourne. Things that are wacky and awesome.

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