Sunday, August 13, 2017


I read something the other day about the Mars Curiosity Rover ... that, all alone on the Red Planet (as far as anyone would be aware), it had been programmed to sign "Happy Birthday" to itself once a year.  How sad!  But then it became just a little sadder.  Last week marked the Rover's fifth anniversary on Mars ... but there was no "Happy Birthday" this time ... in fact, there was only one "Happy Birthday" sung and that was back in 2013.  Why?  The report I saw quoted Florence Tan, the deputy chief technologist at NASA's Science Mission Directorate as saying (after she had said that "the answer to your [Marina Soren - the author of the article] questions will sound rather cold and unfeeling" ):  in a nutshell, there is no scientific gain from the Rover playing music or singing 'Happy Birthday' on Mars.  Marina Soren's comment in response:  In the battle betwen song and science, science always wins.   Why did it do that one time?  Well, in that case, it was to see if it could be done:  so ... Curiosity (Rover) won!


Is memory fickle, fragile or something else entirely?  At lunch yesterday, one of the guests was a retired teacher - who had taught at Rangeville State School back in the '60's.  That sounded a bit familiar ... and, sure enough, I had also been at Rangeville State School in the '60's  - as a student.  Our times there had not overlapped - we had missed each other by a couple of years ... but she asked an interesting question ... who was head of the school when I was there.  I told her I couldn't remember ... I can't remember any of those years with any clarity. The first teacher I can remember clearly was Mrs Tremble, who taught me during my first year at High School in Charters Towers.  Mrs Tremble used to send chalk home with me for my (by four years) younger brother.  The next teachers I can remember were at my next High School - a couple of years later - on the Gold Coast.  I can't remember lots of their names - and the memories of some of them are much clearer.  And it seems that might not be everyone's experience ... others at the table talked about how well they remembered their school years - even their primary school years - and their teachers.  How amazing would that be!


Imagination is alive and well!  While the kids were playing on their tricycles this morning, one was making a call on his mobile phone (a toy one) to the other - who answered on his tennis ball.  The reason for the call:  When you will be home?  I guess that bit may not have been that imaginative at all and probably shows what today's 4-year-old boy thinks a mobile phone is for.  Gone are the old Star Trek days when a mobile phone could have been a space-age communicator!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Names of things

I wonder if this was intentional?  The Brand name for the toaster is VERO but you could be forgiven for thinking it is NERO ... does anyone else smell something burning?

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Cutting the Mustard

"Cut the Mustard" - what does it mean? What are its origins? I have been pondering these questions since I saw the plastic squeezable bottle of mild American mustard on the morning tea table when I came in. How do you cut a liquid - but I think you do - cut whisky for example -which essentially means adding just the right amount of water (maybe ice). But where does "cut the mustard" come few? There is some suggestion that it might be about soldiers being mustered - and only the ones who passed muster were called on to fight - or about not being able to harvest (cut) mustard (plants). Or not being able to cut very tiny round mustard seeds. The general consensus is that if you can't cut the mustard, you can't make the grade, are somehow sub-par etc etc ... but what a funny way to say it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Handwriting is on my mind at the moment ... I'm reading a novel (Last Writes) about a forensic handwriting analyst - and I have started following a blog where one of the key focus areas is handwriting and how to improve yours. It's quite interesting (both of them) - especially for someone who loves handwriting. One of the recommended exercises is filling out crossword puzzles neatly, or writing out your favourite quotes, and, of course, practice ... and lots of it. But it has to  be good practice - mindful of the implements you use, taking care to form each letter, and aiming for consistency. Also recommended - keeping (and dating) your practice sheets so you can come back to them later. The thing that strikes me about this advice is that it seems that the handwriting is an end product, more important than what is being communicated ... when "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." is one of the suggested practice exercises.
I wonder how Claudia Rose, handwriting expert, would cope with line after line of handwriting practice and what she would be able to tell about the writer ... their motivation ... state of mind. She's currently holed up in a sect hideaway looking for evidence of less-than-pure-of-heart converts as she seeks out an-about-to-be-three-year-old girl who is about to be given over to be "sacrificed" (not literally - or so we're being led to believe at this stage) into a subsect of the sect.
Meanwhile, closer to home, I'm wondering about the difference in writing - and if there is one - depending on whether writing is done digitally by typing, or through transcription Software, or by handwriting. Probably different input methods work best for different uses.  I prefer handwriting unless I'm in a hurry - or in a typing mood!

Monday, October 10, 2016


One of the "quizzes" doing the rounds on FaceBook at the moment is "Your Life Quote" - which is fairly easily arrived at.  You select the provided link, then "sign in with FaceBook" and it gives you a quote ... and, the good news is that if you don't like the quote you get .. you can go again (and possibly even  again and again and again) to see if you like that quote better!  I know I did!  But why would people believe that something as generic as FaceBook is (as it must be) could provide something of personal significance?  Who's your soulmate? Who makes you laugh the most? You get the idea.  And you know they can only take names from your FB friends, possibly even friends of friends, or from your contacts (if you've allowed access).  The whole idea intrigues me because I know (from my cyber-security friend) that you should never click on those links (they can be as dangerous as opening that email attachment) but I know I keep doing it!


We used to play Trivia regularly on a Monday night and while we often had some good scores, there was another team who often had great scores, only missing one or two answers some nights - other nights not doing so well at all.  In the end, after a change in format, and because the night dragged on for too long and various other reasons, we stopped going ... and have been trying to find the same trivia game at another venue.  I've sent emails to the company that supplies the trivia questions but they have not responded, and when I did ring their number, I was told person who managed the Trivia was out of the country.  But yesterday, quite by accident, we stumbled across a game - at the Nerang RSL.  We were having a late lunch and at some point I noticed what I thought were fairly familiar Trivia sheets ... and they were ... and Trev's Trivia Show.   And even though I recognised the sheets, Sooz did a better job ... recognising someone we knew from our old Trivia - none other than one member of the "performing incredibly well most of the time" team. Hmmm ... we thought ... hmmmm.  Could this be the secret of their success?  I suggested that it might be that they had stopped going to the Monday night Trivia and be coming here instead - and Sooz was inclined to agree until she made eye contact with the man in  question ... and he looked away (guiltily?).  What a turn-up that would be ... attending Trivia a day before so they could win the half-time game ($15 voucher), the full-time game ($50 meal voucher) and the Baffler (drink vouchers for the table)!  And here we were thinking they were just good at Trivia ... except for those nights when they weren't.  The question for me is why anyone would want to cheat at Trivia at all?  Surely the reason for playing is to see how well you do using your own resources? 

Sunday, October 02, 2016

A mix of words and pictures

Once upon a time we had "mixtapes"  - a hand-made compilation of music (typically copyrighted songs taken from other sources - thank you Wikipedia) recorded in a specific order ... although with shuffle on an MP3 player these days, that's not always necessary.  Before we did it though, they were typically compiled by DJs in the 70s and 80s who "mixed" and recorded them onto cassette tapes - hence the name.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say they had a less eclectic batch of songs - and possibly shorter - than on the mixtapes I currently have on my phone - which are running at 40, 41 and 55 tracks long.  I don't play the songs right through - sometimes just listening to the first few seconds of a song reminds me of where it's from and why I like it ... most of them are "favourites" because they remind me of people or places or ... sometimes something else which I can't quite describe, just evokes a particular feeling ... a bit like visual art.  There was one piece ... a painting ... I heard about recently where people would look at it - and start crying. It sounded to me like it had "E Flat" in it - and while that sounds a little out there, when you think that vision and hearing both relate to "waves", anything is possible!  And who knew there was at least one book about such things - James Elkins' "Pictures and Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings".  Of course, art, in its many forms, has been making people cry for about as long as it's been around - and the "why" is the subject of much speculation and discussion ... and seriously worth a bit more consideration.  I remember someone saying once that an artist spends their life trying to create that perfect piece and then, if/when they do, trying to do it again.  You have to think that part of that drive must be left in the piece ... perhaps it's that which strikes a chord in the rest of us.

To remake or not to remake?

Why do they have to remake movies? I watched the remake of Poltergist today - possibly because of the clown news out of the U.S. (nothing to do with their Presidential race). Over the last few months there have been random (?) sightings of clowns - not nice ones - around various areas of the States. One with a machete apparently even tried to lure a woman into the forest - although I'm not sure that even something as fun (to some folk) as a clown would be able to lure anyone anywhere if it was carrying a machete! I'm not one that;s afraid of clowns - there's even a name for it - but I do know some folk who are! It could be they have seen IT (the Stephen Kong miniseries) with Pennywise the clown or Poltergeist - old or new - with its horrific clowns. Come to think if it even the Simpsons with their Krusty the Clown also has the less than nice clown bed that Bart sleeps in in a Tree house of Horror. For such figures of mirth you have to wonder how clowns ended up with such a bad reputation and why they're always called so-and-so The Clown - as if we can't actually tell that they're clowns by how they look!  But back to the remake of Poltereist - which I'm not giving a rating but which was vastly different and oh so much less subtle than the original.  I understand that technology changes when it comes to movie-making but there was nothing wrong with the old one and so much right with it that it makes me wonder if there isn't any way they can come up with new ideas for movies rather than doing remakes. 

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Lost my way

Nooooooo .... is it really months since I last made an entry here?  Alas, I think so ... I fear somewhere over the last couple of years, I have lost my way - doing shares on FaceBook rather than taking the time to write.  Not that I haven't been doing some jottings in that time ... there was Jannie Jaunts and This is what's happening ... but it's time to turn my attention back this way for a while.  Hopefully I haven't forgotten how.