Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Readers Digest

I just love Readers Digest on so many levels. I love the humour ... but most of all, I love the inserts that come with the publication each month. This month it was a catalogue for Bright Life Australia. There were some great buys. Classic Retro Style Typewriter - because there's nothing more satisfying than the click, click, click of a typewriter; the Thigh Pillow because sleeping with a pillow between your legs may help to maintain spinal alignment; the perfect for outdoor & indoor 5 in 1 TV-Radio-Torch-Lantern-Siren; the Wrap-Around Quilt which also doubles as a bed throw; the Un Bra silicone bra with self-adhesive system; and the best idea I have seen in a while - the Big Letter Keyboard which makes typing a joy and not a chore. If you wanted to have a look at these and other products offered in their catalogue, you can visit their site.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A new era

Today marks Day 3 of the new era – a laptop has come to live with us. I have coveted a laptop for some time, and finally, on the weekend, I found myself standing in front of display of various machines, all tied to the counter, trying to decide what features I most wanted in a laptop. Did I want more memory, a huge screen, the ability to take it with me, wireless access … I found myself wishing I had done lots more research. Over the past couple of months I’ve been saving and reading articles on how to choose a laptop – so I had a general idea of the features I wanted, but it’s amazing how much and how little variation there is in computers when it’s all said and done. I ended up with a Sony Vaio which is a nice, smallish little machine that is sold on its “mobile” feature – which is not to say that it doubles as a phone, but that it is easy to take anywhere.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Greater Union Bondi Junction

A new cinema complex is opening in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs this week. One of its features is a Gold Class Cinema – like having your own cinema at home – where you can relax in reclining seats (more like lounges) and have someone wait on you, bring you something to eat and drink while you watch the movie – well, maybe it’s not quite like home! The ad I just saw for the cinema was also touting new movie food – including donuts and hot chips. What will they think of next?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Talk about unlucky ...

Ananova carried a story today that an actress, Leslie Ash, says she is making a steady recover after being struck down by the MRSA superbug. Acccording to the news service, she contracted the bug, which could leave her paralysed and unable to walk, while she was being treated at a London hospital for injuries she picked up during conjugals with her husband. Leslie has denied doctors said she will never walk again because nerves in her spine had been damaged.
But Leslie is a survivor - although there were no details in the article I saw, there was reference to two other stories: Actress speaks of 'trout pout' ordeal; and Leslie Ash crushed by her own car. Good luck Leslie.

Training daze

Fresh on the heels of last week's first aid training, I'm now doing a course on supervising staff. It's actually quite different to the content I'd expected - although it shouldn't be. We're looking at teamwork and leadership - and what combinations deliver the best results. It is great to be in a learning environment again - especially so soon after last week. I think my learning pathways haven't had a chance yet to slide back into hibernation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Truth stranger than fiction

We all have horror stories about bus drivers who don't actually
realise that there are there to transport the public, but yesterday
morning the actions of one bus driver in Rozelle helped dispel some of
the bad publicity. We were running a little early as we approached
one of the stops, and two women had seen the bus and were running to
catch it. But instead of sailing past them, the driver pulled up the
bus 50m before the stop to let them on. Talk about service and
putting the public back into public transport!


Some schools of thought believe you can gain positive results if you
visualise the activity and the expected outcome. Does it work with
dreaming? The last two nights I have dreamt I have stood up too and
told off someone I would like to tell off in real life. I can't
remember what I said - it was different in both instances - but it had
the desired effect. Now if only I could translate that to the real
world ... although will the dream domain negate having to do that?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Two down ...

Last year I made a list of the things that I wanted to do. There
were: (a) attend a trial, (b) see a crane being put up, and (c) do a
first aid course. Well, following the course yesterday and today, I
now have my Senior First Aid Certificate ... yah!!! Three cheers for
me! So, since I did the trial last year, there's only one to go - now
where am I going to find me a crane?

Art imitating life

There's a new drama series on television here - Threat Matrix. It is based around the premise that each morning the President of the United States is presented with a list of threats to the country - this is the Threat Matrix. A specialised team, comprised of skilled operatives from various government security agencies, then responds to those threats. Last night, they were in the Middle East; the threat - nerve gas. So what agendas is this serving? That no-one is safe; that to keep people safe it's okay to pry into people's lives and personal records; that there are no unknown threats; that the government will protect you ... and probably about a dozen others!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Shades of Big Brother

At his eviction from the Australian Big Brother house on Sunday night, Merlin Luck staged a silent protest, holding a sign "Free The Refugees" (or it would have said that had the "e" in "the" not fallen off). The studio audience booed and hissed - and now a site has been published which lets you put your own message on Merlin's sign. I'm not sure this is a good thing. I know it represents freedom of speech (and the burgeoning of the creative spirit) but it seems to allow mocking and derision of a valid message - regardless of Senator Amanda Van Stone's assurance that "there are no refugees in detention". Again - what's in a name? There are still men, women and children being held behind bars when there is surely a more humane method of tracking/holding available (if really required).

What's in a name?

According to the most recent issue of Slatterys Internet Watch (June 14, 2004) there are now more than 63 million Internet domain names registered. Statistics released last week by Verisign, the operator of the global .com and .net registries, indicate this is a greater number than existed during the height of the Internet bubble (read "dotcom era") - but now, unlike then, the domain names actually resolve (ie go somewhere) rather than just being registered. The 63 million works out at about one domain name for every 100 people living in the world today. Wonder what that stat look like if you exclude all the countries/people who don't have access to computers or the internet?

Monday, June 14, 2004

Time flies faster

Where has the year gone? It's almost the middle of June, almost the middle of 2003, oops 2004. Time does seem to speed up as I get older. I think it's a function of how many regular activities we do - it's amazing how quickly Wednesday comes around each week when it's Choir night. Might be something to do with familiarity - like how a long car trip seems shorter if you know the landmarks.

Fundamentally speaking

We seem to be moving towards a rebirth of the '50s here in Australia and elsewhere in the World (read USA). This would not necessarily be alarming except that it is accompanied by a move towards 50's morals - and last thing I knew, we'd moved on a bit since then. I suspect that some fundamentalists would not agree that this was truly 'progress' what with women having easy access to abortions and women wanting to have babies with each other, and wanting to marry each other. And boys too ... wanting to marry each other that is. So, rather than accepting this diversity and that some folks can be different yet not hurt anyone, there is a move by Church and State to rectify the situation ... by turning the clock back 50 years.
And no wonder the Church and State seem so aligned in this. According to a report by John L. Allen Jr in the National Catholic Reporter (Vol 3 No. 42), during his recent trip to Rome President Bush asked a top Vatican official to push American bishops to speak out more about political issues, including same-sex marriage.
The article also notes “Bush supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and has urged Congress to take swift action. Since polls show that in several battleground states in the fall election a majority of voters is opposed to gay marriage, some Bush analysts think an aggressive push on the issue will help the president’s prospects.”
Is it possible that there is a political motivation (or several) here?

Sunday, June 13, 2004

See what I mean?

An Arm and A Leg?

The price of petrol has been on the rise this morning, I knew that - but I was stunned to see it was $1.07+ per litre at the bowser this morning. Fairly expensive - and I'm not the only person who thinks so (I'll post a pic tomorrow.)
Of course, I wasn't at all impressed when within 15 minutes we had spotted petrol for $0.97+ per litre. D'oh. And this wasn't even at a discount chain. No wonder there had been no cars (and only a bicycle using the air pump) at the service station we'd gone to. Looks like I'll have to change stations - we've always gone to the same one because it's had a consistently lower price than others in town. Not any more. Maybe it's under new management.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Lend a hand ... of paws ...

Had some time to go net surfing this morning and chanced upon this.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Drive Thru?

Some could say the driver of the vehicle that crashed into the Allambie Heights (NSW) KFC restaurant yesterday morning doesn't understand the concept of "drive thru". He told bystanders that the accident occurred becasue he had blacked out. He was unhurt in the incident, although his car, three gardens and the front of the fast food outlet did not fare as well. While identified only as "the driver" in the newspaper item, his photograph (Caption: the uninjured driver) might ruin his chances of remaining anonymous. (Does this mean his goose is cooked?)

Just the shot

Professional surfer Jai Abberton is on trial in Sydney for allegedly
shooting a standover man. The dead man is pictured in the Daily
Telegraph article, with the caption 'Murdered ... Anthony Hines in
prison in 1994'. Mr Hines is shown in a 3/4 shot, from the knees up,
wearing nought but a pair of togs, some wrist adornment (bracelet?),
and perhaps some oil on his 'six-pack'. Why this photo? Is this the
only one they could find? The only one on file? Or do they check with
loved ones 'which photo would he have wanted us to use?' 'Oh, he
always liked this one ...'

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Wines - they are achanging

.. well, packaging anyway. First they started to do away with corks in favour of screw tops. Now they're going to sell a range of wines in aluminium cans. And we only have to wait until September for Baroke to have them on shelves in NSW. The 250ml cans will sell for $3.99 each according to today's Daily Telegraph. The RDTWs (ready to drink wines) have been a hit overseas apparently, especially in Japan where they can be found in over 1000 convenience stores. Here, you'll have the choice of four carefully blended wines including a carbonated Cabernet Shiraz. Mmm. Oh, and it appears they'll have quite a high alcohol content - the pic in the article shows a can with a 13%ALC/VOL.


The new Harry Potter movie hits cinema screens in Australia tomorrow.
One of the characters is Scabbers, Ron's rat. Scabbers was played by 2
rats, both of which were adopted at film end by the actor playing Ron.
Perhaps not so fortunate are the mice which may be the reason for
the RSPCA threatening to take a Queensland hotel to court. The hotel
ran a competition involving eating two live mice. Although it seems
two men took part, hoping to win a Gold Coast trip, it is not known if
they ate the mice, or thought them nice.

On the way home this evening, I noticed some commotion (okay, it was
one camera flash) and crowd outside a theatre in town. If I hadn't
been running a bit late, I would have investigated - and had a photo
of something big and green and Shrek-like to post here. The ogre, and
glitterati, were out for the Australian launch of the sequel. Oh well
... perhaps next time. Sigh. I wonder if Princess Fiona was in

Brother ...
This week's mystery guest on Channel 10's Big Brother is Maria. Recent
regular 10 viewers may recognise her as Miriam - the not quite as
"she" as is made out in 'There's Something About Miriam' where men
compete for her affection, unaware they are being had. So 'had' did
they feel when they discovered Miriam is a 'HE' that they sued for
damages and, if I recall correctly, were awarded nearly $2million.
The house mates won't know Maria/Miriam's 'secret' ('Something About
....' started after they went into the house.)
When asked about the ethics of Maria/Miriam's placement, someone from
10 said: we've had no complaints. I was horrified. I had been so
sucked in by the manipulative nature of the exercise that I hadn't
thought to speak out against it. And who would have thought that any
one would be waiting for input. You can learn something every day ...
like the most recent evictee is comfortable 'wearing naked'.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Choristers in waiting

Found this on my phone - I took it in the choir room the other week as we got ready for the concert. Don't we look dapper in academic gowns?

Turning over a new leaf?

I haven't read a book in a while. This is not to say that I haven't been reading - just that I've been doing it with electronic books (aka ebooks). I was thinking about this the other evening as I luxuriated in a steaming hot bath, perusing the latest edition of "The Readers Digest". As I leafed through the pages, being careful not to get them wet (my partner has only recently recovered the previous issue which had drowned and then plunged unceremoniously down the wall side of the bath - making it extremely difficult to recover! But I digress ...) I wondered if people feel more of a sense of completion when reading a paper book - knowing they are half way through, or closer to the end. You don't really get this with an ebook. Sure you can see from the scroll bar how far you've come, and how far there's still to go, but there is nothing as satisfying at the end as closing the back cover and putting it down. Done. Complete. Finished. With an ebook you might delete it, or save it onto a memory card for later reference, but you don't pop it onto the bookshelf as a book you've read. And they're certainly not easy to share around! But you can read them in the dark, and they're very light to pack!


I don't know where it came from but I spent some time last week trying to get some insidious "thing" off my computer. I'm not sure what the right term is but everytime I used Internet Explorer, closing the active window would cause a pop-up message saying the program had closed, and did I want to send an error report. A couple of pop-ups kept happening - did I want to synchronise the clock on my computer, and did I want to optimize my computer. Close the window and bingo, the program closed and wanted to send an error report. I cleaned out cookies, I cleaned out files, I looked for new, unfamiliar programs. Zilch. But finally, I found them, 5 programs downloaded on the same day last week according to the details. Not quite sure how it happened - just knew that it was when I was using the computer - and finally decided it was when I was searching for a program - clicking links off to various sites, when the system was compromised. But I thought the firewall was suppo!
sed to stop that, and surely the virus program should have kicked in at some point? Obviously I need to understand this "stuff" better - so I have a new project for the coming month. And were there really 340 instances of these investations (as the Adware program suggested). I guess so, but at least they're all safely quantined now.

Last meal?

The Sydney Morning Herald's Good Weekend (5/6 June 2004) carried a picture article about "Last Meals", and the choices made by prisoners executed in America. What would you choose?

Saturday, June 05, 2004

What's In A Name?

The Vatican's Internet site is powered by three host computers named
after angels -- Raphael, Michael and Gabriel. Raphael stores graphics
and navigation paths, Michael protects the site from hackers and
Gabriel interfaces between the other two computers and the outside

Survival Rule of 3s

Humans can survive for: 3 minutes without air; 3 days without water; 3
weeks without food (but only just). Well, that's in real life. In
the disaster movies it's quite a different scenario. We saw "The Day
After Tomorrow" last night (were they really pumping freezing air into
the cinema?) and noted that the main characters (those who were still
alive at the end of the film!) had survived on candy bars and potato
chips. I guess that doesn't really count as being "without food" but
it certainly wouldn't have made their dentists happy! It's amazing how
people see different things in movies, isn't it? I noticed that while
the NY library characters were busy burning books to stay warm (that
isn't much of a spoiler!), there seemed to be a few chairs lying
around that could also have been used for fuel - unless of course the
wood was chemically treated and they might have been killed by the
release of toxic fumes. My partner noticed that at one stage a
policeman's vest had letters obscured and now read, simply, "ice".
Nice touch. Of course, "The Day After Tomorrow" IS a disaster movie
so doesn't count as "quality entertainment" but it's worth a look -
the special effects are amazing! - and it does carry a message, as
long as people choose to listen. Maybe some governments who have so
far resisted could warm to the idea of the Kyoto Accord?

Friday, June 04, 2004

Marriage Acts

There is a move within the Australian Government to change the
definition of marriage so it excludes all but men and women ie
same-sex marriages will not be an option. Overseas marriages of
same-sex couples will not be recognised here. But ... what of the
rest of the definition? Will they change that as well if and when it
suits the Government of the day? For example, under section 46 of the
Marriage Act, civil celebrants are required to explain the nature of
the relationship before solemnising a marriage with words to the
effect that marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a
man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered
into for life. Hmmm. For life. Imagine if they enforced that!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Standard rate of commission?

Have you been a victim of the Russian mafia? This is a question
Sydney's "The Daily Telegraph" asked 1 June (pg 13) in a story about
Westpac customers who had been duped into visiting bogus internet
pages and revealing their account, security numbers and passwords.
According to the report, the bank is about to start reimbursing an
unknown number of its customers several million dollars. The scam was
apparently engineered by the Russian mafia. So why are the Russians
targetting Australia? Who are the "mules" - "individuals recruited
with offers of a 10 per cent cut" of the action - who withdrew the
money from the halfway accounts where the victims' funds had been
transferred and forwarded it to Russia. And have any been caught?
And if not, how could anyone know what their cut was? Or is 10% the
standard rate of commission?

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


As I carefully sheilded my PIN entry from prying eyes at the automatic teller machine this morning, my partner quietly leaned over and informed me that she already knew what it was! "I do this all the time, not just because you're here," I explained, before launching into a PIN safety talk.
And talking about PIN safety - did you hear about the inflatible boy who took a pin to his inflatible school, and his inflatible headmaster told him "you've not only let me down, you've let yourself down and you've let the whole school down!" (Boom boom - as Basil Brush - and nephew Patrick who told us this joke - would say.)

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Look! Up in the sky ...

On the afternoon of Tuesday 8th June 2004, for the first time in over 120 years, Venus’s dark silhouette will pass across the face of the Sun in of astronomy’s rarest and most famous events: A Transit of Venus. For more info, click here.
Thanks to Lizzie for posting info on this on her blog.
If you're placed to see it - don't look directly at the sun! You'll do yourself a damage. And the transit has been responsible for enough:
The Transit Of 1769: James Cook - The most celebrated transit of Venus is that of June 1769, The voyage to observe the 1769 transit is especially significant to Australians for, after successfully completing the observations, Cook opened sealed orders from the Admiralty to search for the unknown southern continent. He did not find this mythical land, but did claim New Zealand and New South Wales for the British Crown.

Curious I am. Will there be SPAM?

Will GMail have effective spam filters? I ask that because I went in to have a look at my new GMail account this morning. Why would I do that when it's a new account and I haven't given the address to anyone yet? To see if it will go the way of my other accounts - spammed, spammed, spammed. Even the one account which I don't use on any newsgroups etc etc etc, is now being spammed - admittedly only once or twice a week - but it's still spam, and not at all welcome. As GMail places advertising based on message content, what will happen when the messages are for male member enhancement pills
procedures, or the other products that spam usually offers?
Oh ... If you're thinking about signing up for GMail if you get the chance - it seems you can only access your mail via their web page at the moment; you can't yet set up your email client to access it.

Mmmmm ...

Ready for another session of coffee making ... the cups are a gift (found at the Zoo) from my partner's brother Chris and wife Sandy.

The perfect cup of coffee

... has yet to emerge from the espresso machine I currently have on loan (thanks Sarah!). But I am trying. Some days it all seems like a bit of a production to make a cup of coffee - fill up the water reservoir of the machine, turn the power on to allow it to heat for 45 minutes before measuring out the coffee; then tamp it, insert the holder into its groove, turn to lock, put a cup under the spout to catch the coffee and then turn on the water - and then take cold milk from the fridge, put it in the frothing jug, put the jug under the steam arm, and then open the valve. And remember - steam is very hot and it will scald you if you break your concentration for a moment (like when you realise the coffee has filled the cup under the filter and is about to start overflowing!).
But the brew is getting better, especially as I am now using a new batch of coffee (Columbia - still full-flavoured, but mild) from the local coffee emporium, ground to the right consistency for the coffee machine. (And no, I was told, don't keep the coffee in the fridge - just an airtight container at room temperature will maintain it for a few weeks ... Oh, and 200gm is the smallest quantity you can buy at a time.)