Sunday, August 28, 2005

Holy flying humanoids Batman!

You just never know what you're going to find on the internet. I went searching for more information on the person spotted flying over Serbia, when I came across another blogger's site which talked about this AND other flying humanoids. Apparently Mexicans have been seeing this phenomenon for the last few years - and even videotaping it. Except, from the tone of the article, the sight hasn't necessarily filled them with awe and wonder - so it's no wonder they're referred to as "entity" (which, either rightly or wrongly, has always had a bit of a negative connotation about it). This could have something to do with one of the FH's having attacked a policeman. One of the links from the "flying humanoid site" will take you to this story: In January 16, 2004, a police officer from Guadalupe, N.L. was attacked by a mysterious flying being while on routine patrol in his police car in the Colonia Valles de la Silla neighborhood. The time was 3:15 AM and the dramatic incident caused a complete police mobilization and a serious commotion among the neighbors.
So how many countries have experienced similar sightings? Have any of them also had experiences of the Mothman - of the Mothman Prophecies - sorry, not sure why I need to put that, because there probably isn't more than one Mothman! But of course I'd be wrong about that ... check out if you're in the mood for some stories of a man and his moths!.
No, Mothman was the name given to a strange creature sighted many times in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia, on the border with Ohio between November 1966 and November 1967. If you think you remember a movie about this, you'd be right.
For more information on this Mothman you can visit Wikipedia's entry or this cryptozoology site.

Science Project

Ananova reports that a British school boy has invented a mobile phone charger for a school science project. They already exist of course, but the novelty of this one is that it's powered by hamster. Peter Ash, of Somerset, came up with the idea of attaching his hamster's exercise wheel to a generator to power up his mobile phone overnight while he sleeps ... but does his sister? It was she who gave Peter the idea after she complained that Elvis (the hamster) was keeping her awake at night by playing for hours on his exercise wheel.
And is it just me - or does the hamster look really uncomfortable about the whole deal?!

Another keyboard breakthrough

It would be possible to type in different languages on the one keyboard using Daskeyboard because there's nothing on the keys to confuse the user. Some prefer a more tangible tool - and the Russians have come up with just the thing. It's a keyboard where each of the keys has a tiny video screen which can be changed to show different characters and symbols meaning you can use it for different languages and for different programs! But don't rush out to buy one today - word is they're not yet available - and hopefully we won't have to wait the year that's been suggested in some of the information I've read. To find out more about the Optimus keyboard (and see some more cool pictures) take yourself off for a Google search.

Serbian Superman?

Is there a real live Superman flying around over Ljubovija in Serbia? People have claimed to have seen a cloaked figure flying in the sky, even changing directions mid-air according to the local daily Blic (as reported on Ananova).
Wouldn't that be an incredible thing to see if it were true? Look! Up in the sky! And wouldn't it be an amazing thing to be able to fly!

Plastic bags

Some states in India have apparently banned the manufacture, sale and use of all plastic bags, saying they choke drainage systems during bad weather.
Here in Australia, some states are also working on this. There has been a push towards encouraging shoppers to use "green" bags and most major retailers either sell them or give them away. Some have even come up with fold up bags, easily carried in bag or backpack - otherwise it's a bit difficult to "say no to plastic bags".
I miss plastic bags though - they were the right size for the rubbish bin in the kitchen which we now have to buy bin liners for. I guess that means they get our money both ways - but I suppose it's worth it if it helps the environment. Whatever happened to the idea of biodegradable plastic bags? Some are on the market - I know, we buy them for the cat's litter (wouldn't want anyone to find this still in the bag in a couple of hundred years time!).

Saturday, August 27, 2005

More quirkies

I just love the Ananova site where they publish all sorts of strange and wonderful stories. There were a couple worth noting yesterday, and as I checked to make sure I still had a link from the left navigation here - I found a story about a new exhibit at the London Zoo. The article says the eight homo sapiens in the exhibit (just for the bank weekend) will prowl around wearing little more than fig leaves. This is of course beggars the question: if one of the participants (selected from an internet competition) says he has brought along a game of pocket Scrabble in case of boredom - where is he going to keep it? (Another reason for visiting the article - a photograph!!)

A thought

Life is too short and friends too few.

Sudoku rules!

Not content with the one version of Sudoku on my Palm, I keep visiting Palmgear in search of new versions which might suit the way my brain works better. There are now several versions available there - and another version is about to be released by the games people Astraware and so excited by that am I that I have put my name on the "notify" list.
I am spending far too much time with Sudoku - as evidenced by the timers that are now routinely included in the Palm versions. I keep thinking "I'll just have another game and see if I can beat my last score" and then I am trapped for another 10, 20, 30 ... minutes.
What surprises me most is how Sudoku puzzles can be so different (not to mention difficult) to solve - but I guess that makes sense when you consider that people's minds do work so differently.
The good news is that I have introduced my brother Greg to them and he is now thoroughly addicted too.
Update: When I checked the Palmgear site this morning (1 September - welcome to Spring), there were not one but two Sudoku programs in the 10 Best Sellers! I guess the craze is catching on (which reminds me, there's supposed to be a free Sudoku puzzle book in one of the morning papers this week.)

Friday, August 19, 2005

More "soldier on ..."

I knew there was another ad I had taken exception to ... for NRMA insurance when an assessor, complete with neck brace, is at a customer's house - they are appreciative of his attendance - and so they should be - the ambulance - obviously waiting to ferry him to hospital -is waiting outside. The super says something to the effect of "NRMA Insurance - if we make an appointment, we keep it." Maybe it's advertising puff, but I don't think it's sending a very good message about looking after oneself.

BB05 The T(win)s

Big Brother 2005 has been won by Twins. The Twins win.
I'm not sure I agree with the voting public - although it was apparently quite close at one point during the evening before votes closed.
The winner (The Logans - Greg and David) walked away with a large novelty cheque for $836k. The prize money had originally been $1 million but for this round, the contestants were fined $5k for each "misdemeanour". The housemates had won some of their lost money back - but there were still well short of the million. But I gues $836k between two isn't bad.
I was a little disappointed that Big Brother didn't award the other $164k to Tim, the runner-up. He was amazingly gracious in defeat - watching that large novelty cheque slip from his grasp! Especially as he didn't seem to get any more prizes than the other contestants, some of whom had lasted only a week.
Another new feature this year was a catch-up on the major news items that had happened over the 100 days contestants had been in the house - it was fairly superficial as a news bulletin, but it served to remind that life does go on, and it did, and there were some fairly horrific things that happened. I don't think any good news items got a guernsey at all.
But back to the twins. I posited to Suzanne, as we made our way to the bus stop on the morning after the final, that it had been unfair to have twins as housemates - it allowed a very real splitting of "good" and "evil". It allowed you to think of one as nicer than the other: "classic Kleinian theory" Sooz reminded me as I ranted on the way to the bus stop. So, if you wanted to keep the one you liked in, you had to vote to keep them both in. Hardly fair.

With my rucksack on my ....

Sooz was telling me the other day that the literal meaning of "ruck" as in sack - is "back". It's German. I'm not sure who invented it - but I do know that the first time I saw a "front pack" - a backpack worn to the front - was when I did it in Hong Kong in 1997. It took a while to reach some popularity but I see at least one a day now - especially in the city. (And who said I wasn't creative!)

Tammy - where art thou?

Having fly-away hair, I am always on the look-out for a good hairdresser. This chore is made just a little hardeer as I am not prepared to spend much on a haircut - so imagine my joy when I found Tammy, hairdresser extraordinarie at the local Just Cuts. She did a marvellous job - one of the best cuts I've had - and as she was brushing the off-cuts (sounds odds!) from my shoulders, face, arms I asked her what I should ask for next time I wanted my hair cut like that. (This is not that odd a question, because a haircut isn't just a haircut - the same as a coffee isn't just a coffee - to have coffee made the way I like it - and I am fussy - at the coffee shop downstairs from work, I have to ask for a large, one-shot, weak, flat - that's when Brendan doesn't make it for me - with him it's "the usual" or a large flat white weak and very hot.) So in answer to my question about my next cut,
Tammy writes on a business card - hands it to me, and says just ring to make sure she's there.
So, when it's time for the next cut, I ring the number and am told that
Tammy no longer works there; she's gone off to be a baggage handler with one of the domestic airlines! Great lot of help that is. Why would she do that? Why would anyone do that? (The other thing Jane - person answering phone - told me was that they were all excellent cutters at the salon - so I gave them another chance - and I'm happy to say that it's okay. I don't have to go searching the airports for my next cutter.

Soweto Gospel Choir

Sunday night saw us at the Revesby Workers Club to catch the Soweto Gospel Choir. The performance was amazing - the costumes, the dancing - and, of course, the singing. So colourful and alive.
But I did have a question about finger clicking: it seemed to be less loud when the choir were clicking with their left hands. Can you click as loudly with both hands? Can you click with both hands?
There was another issue from the evening for me. Near the end of the performance it was announced that they were going to perform the South African National Anthem, and they asked everyone to rise. Just before this (knowing it was on the program) I had wondered if they would ask people to stand, whether people would stand (when asked or spontaneously) and whether I would be one of the ones who did said stand.
Raised a Jehovah's Witness, I was taught not to stand/sing national anthems - in fact, I had received a reprimand visit from Brothers in the congregation after my performance at a school event - during which I mouthed the words - I didn't sing them. In my mind, it was okay to do that and not be contrary to teachings. Unfortunately, it wasn't seen this way by them.
So, as I sat there on Sunday night, I found myself asking if that dogma was still running around my head. In the end, I decided that it probably was, but by standing, I was showing respect for the choir and their beliefs, not making a statement about my own isms.

Plastic bottles

Over the last week, I have read of two new uses for recycled plastic bottles - and I'm wondering if this could lead to a shortage. An Australian woman has worked out how to make steel using them; and Chevron, the petrochemical company, has worked out a way to use them to manufacture base oil.

Moon trip

I read in the Daily Telegraph newspaper the other day that some group is offering trips around the moon for $100 million. I can't tell you the disappointment I felt when I found out that that's in US dollars - add another $31million odd (based on current exchange rates) if you're paying Australian dollars. I was comfortable with the $100 million pricetag - didn't think it was out of my reach (although it definitely is), but the extra just seems silly!

How do we read?

Who decides that we should start at the beginning and work our way through to the end of a book.
I am reading a John Irving novel at the moment (Prayer for Owen Meany) and because I was also reading the new Harry Potter book, I thought I'd skip to the end of Owen and see if I should keep reading.
The good thing about reading the end first in this particular novel, is that it's giving me a greater appreciation of the craft of writing - how JI is leading the reader to the end.
I still have a long way to go - and so far I've read the end three times (and cried each one time) - and I'm more determined than ever to keep reading to see how he constructs the journey.
Surprisingly, when I mentioned the notion of not reading a book from start to finish, one of my mates was horrified and aghast - as if to do such a thing was akin to some kind of crime. Maybe she's right - but it's a relatively non-dangerous way to take a walk on the wild side!

Carlton Draught

Music and television intersect in a new ad for Carlton Draught - using Orff's Carmina Burana to sell beer! The Big Ad site has a copy of the ad; in different resolutions so you should be able to access it even if you're still using "dial up". I wonder if they have a downloadable version - it's something I wouldn't mind keeping a copy of.
But will it make me drink or recommend the product - which is, afterall, the expected outcome of advertising. Time will tell.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

New desk mascot

Thanks to Trish and Terri (and their recent trip to/holiday in Malta), I now have a new addition to my desk ... Mally (pronounced Molly!). She is very reflective - in many ways - and fairly versatile in her demeanour.
Mally does Alfred

Monday, August 08, 2005

Flight to Earth

The space shuttle Discovery is due to return to earth (Earth) this evening Australian time - although it may need to be delayed for 24 hours because of unfavourable weather conditions. It will be interesting to see if they can land it safely, given that there have been some concerns about the heat shielding since the shuttle launched last week. I think this is where the Americans say "God speed".

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Testing ...

Will this font display differently? Sometimes I would like to use a different font, so I am testing it here. And if it doesn't work, you will know because everything will look the same. And if it does work, it won't (look the same).
Some bloggers don't have to resort to editing HTML (which I just did) to get the different fonts, because it's built into their Posting template. No such luck here unfortunately, but this is a way around it. Yippee!

Friday, August 05, 2005

English observations

The other day I was sending an email in which I said I was "baffled". Then it occurred to me that "baffle" has more than one meaning - to quiet (as in "no, I won't be asking any more questions") or to puzzle (as in "yes, I will be asking many more questions").
Not so ambiguous was the small yet difficult boy on the bus tonight. When he refused to slide across to let his mother sit down, she lifted him across the seat. He protested loudly, she responded including asking him to quiet down, and he finished the exchange by calling her "you big pooh pooh". Now no-one can say that's not sending a good, clear message!

Something (else) for nothing

Download hereCoke seems to be for the "now" generation ... and they're certainly pitching some of their advertising at the tech savvy, mobile-phone crowd. They've started advertising Lime Coke on billboards in the city - and on some of the static (non-rolling) boards, they've incorporated an infrared port so you can download free phone ringtones, animated screensavers or wallpaper to your mobile. The ringtone I have is the sound of a Coke being opened and poured. Not sure how well it would work as a tone, but it's fun to play!

Giving it away

It's either fairly ineffectual (ergo the large number of discarded cans!) or they were giving the stuff away. Yes - it was the latter. Several people were handing cans of drink to anyone who wanted one, and there were plenty who did. I would have asked for one except I wasn't prepared to get off my bus (too long to wait for the next one!) - I don't know that I would have indulged though - I've heard some horror stories - not attributed to any specific product - and certainly not this one - but it was enough to make me cautious (and that usually doesn't take much!)

Soldier on

One of the tissue companies has a new Anti-Viral variety out. In its TV ad, a teacher of small children is at home unwell, and a knock at her door, when answered, reveals her class - tissues in hand. When the teacher takes them, the children follow her inside and gather around so she can read them a story. Just what you want when you're sick!
Mind you, I have a cold at the moment and on the basis of nothing but that advertising, I'd give those tissues a test drive - as long as the children weren't included.


Have you got a calculator handy? Try this. (Of course, you could try it by hand - but it will take longer!) 111,111,111 x 111,111,111. And the answer is ... cool!


One of the "feeds" I get from Quick News (which I have yet to decide to buy) is Snopes - the Urban Legends (debunking) site. It has a page where people can send in material - which is where I found this, posted around the time of the Queen Mother's death:
What with all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person which almost went un-noticed last week.
Larry La Prise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey," died peacefully aged 83. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin.
They put his left leg in - and things just started to go downhill from there.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

5 seconds of F(r)ame

Following the bombings in London, there has been a move towards more security in centres including Sydney. Options suggested vary from a smart identity card and stripping citizenship from terrorists to increased surveillance measures. When reporting such measures on the Channel 9 shows "A Current Affair'' and "Late Night News" the visuals showed CCTV security footage shot in Sydney - without the knowledge of those shown! All I can say is thank goodness I wasn't doing anything strange or wearing anything odd when I was filmed on Tuesday otherwise my 5 seconds of f(r)ame could have been embarrassing. (And imagine if one had been captured doing something like snogging someone not their partner. Some would say we live in dangerous times!)


One of our cats loves to stand on the keyboard when I'm trying to work on the laptop. I've wondered what effects just the "right" combination of key strokes could produce - besides a non-sensical string of letters. If you don't want to find out, there's a product that detects irregular typing and brings up a screen that says "Cat-Like Typing Detected." If it is you, type "human" and you can proceed (as could your cat if it was smart enough to have worked it out, or can read!). PawSense is reportedly the work of Chris Niswander who wrote the program after cat crashed computer.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Be Prepared

It hasn't been a good week for Boy Scouts in the United States - especially as it was their national Jamboree time. The headline on one site says it all "Bush bringing encouraging words to Scout Jamboree marred by electrocutions, heat illnesses". Four adult scouts were electrocuted at the start of the event when they hit power lines when putting up a tent. A volunteer had died the previous day from an apparent heart attack. Later that week, "Scouting enthusiasts waited hours in the heat for Bush, who later canceled his appearance because of threatening storms. Scouts began collapsing from high humidity and temperatures in the high 90s. More than 300 people were treated for heat-related illnesses." That visit was cancelled, then postponed, but it was third time lucky.
Not so lucky were another group of scouts in California, undertaking a 70-mile hike who were caught out in a 10-minute thunder storm. Despite following safe procedures, lightning struck, killing the scout leader and a teen scout. One of the scout leaders said: "When I talked to the ranger, I said, 'What could we have done?' He said, 'You did everything right, it just turned out you were in the wrong place.'"