University has restarted and I'm starting to get back into gear. For the curious, the courses I am taking are History of the Future, Turning Points in World History, Great Issues of International Relations, and a second-year subject, Politics of Development. Politics of Development is fantastic; for the first time, I actually feel mentally stimulated and a bit challenged by the material. It's holding my interest. It also has a bloody massive course reader! Not that it could compare to the brick of a textbook I had to buy for Turning Points in World History; I'm convinced that if you dropped that from a significant enough height, it would serve quite nicely as a lethal weapon.
Quite possibly the most exciting development of the last few days is that I have been invited to submit an article for review for one of the university's peer-reviewed academic journals. I'm now trying to think of a topic on which to write. The prospect of having to write something that offers an original contribution or new perspective at the standard of an academic journal article is a bit daunting, but certainly a challenge I've been looking for after feeling so bored and intellectually unstimulated last semester. If I'm honest, given that I'm free to choose any topic I like, I'm thinking of ways to mesh together politics and my love for railways.
Speaking of railways, I'm hoping to visit a model railway club over the weekend. I've been thinking quite seriously about my model trains lately and have been re-evaluating my use of the HO scale. Given that HO does not properly suit New Zealand's gauge, I may just switch to Sn3.5 or HOm (HOn3.5) or NZ120 (TTn3.5). Spotting a pattern with the n3.5? Here's a short explanation. The standard gauge (distance between the two rails) of railway tracks in the world is 4' 8.5" (1,485mm), so standard model track is a scale replica of that: for example, HO is 87 times smaller than the real thing, so HO track is 87 times smaller than 4' 8.5". However, New Zealand's railways are narrow gauge, 3' 6" (1,067mm), so when you make NZ's trains 87 times smaller, they don't fit on HO track, and the only way to make it work is to build your models slightly out of scale. However, there are sub-scales that allow you to model 3' 6" gauge in a particular scale, such as HOn3.5 for HO (it's essentially HO trains on TT scale track). So I'm trying to find which n3.5 scale would suit me best, and by making this club visit on the weekend, I'll be able to check out their equipment in operation and see what I think. Should be good.
(I suppose I should make a note here that my usage of imperial measurements outside brackets followed by metric in brackets may be a reversal of the norm and against all logic, but quite deliberate nonetheless. As much as I assert the superiority of metric is an objective fact, I understand railways in imperial measurements due to the fact the majority of railway publications utilise imperial measurements. Furthermore, I model NZ in the 1950s, before metrification came to New Zealand, so all documents and plans from that era are in imperial and it's easier to scale those down without throwing in a messy conversion. In some cases, such as gauges as above, I have recently acquired a bit of an understanding of metric and I intend to expand this as it seems the shift to metric is finally starting to seriously gather steam within the hobby, pardon the pun.)
And that's about it for now. Have a good one, folks.