Friday, October 28, 2005


I'll try to get a better photo and post it here in the next couple of days - but we've just had one of my pics (the Pears aka Pears 1) blown up - on canvas - and framed. It now sits on the living room wall with the two Margarets (Preston and Olley). I'd show more of the room in this shot except I had to crop out the table because the cat was sitting there (or perhaps the table was just a clutter-trap - yes, we'll go with that.)

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Unfortunately it's not the world's best pic (I'll try again later when I have the big camera - 12 x optical zoom) - but this shows the viewing platform that is part of the new Sydney Tower SkyWalk. I keep looking out my window to see if people are using it - but even though it has re-opened following its brief closure (for "welding") the day after it opened - I haven't seen anyone out/up there yet.

This little piggy ...

Do you still have a piggy bank - somewhere to stash spare change until finally there's enough to buy a litre of milk or petrol or take to the bank to have them safeguard it for you? And if you do, what shape is it? The traditional pig shape? The same pig shape that some London banks, Halifax and NatWest, have stopped giving to children and have stopped using in their advertisements - lest it offend Muslims. The report I read in the Daily Telegraph didn't say what shapes the banks were giving out instead. Of cause if the kids in London are anything like my nephew Mark they'll be making their own. One of Mark's best, designed to ensure he didn't dip into his car fund was a welded metal pipe. This seemed much more fit for purpose than the jar with the top sealed on with wax so he could easily see if anyone had been tampering with it.

New technology

As l browsed through the Tandy Store in Leichhardt yesterday, I realised that I had reached the end of an era ... I shouldn't need to buy blank videotapes again! We have invested in a DVD recorder which will record onto its built-in hard drive, CD or DVD. You can even watch it while you're still recording - a feature they call time-shifting. Another wonderful thing is that if you record on the HDD you don't have to label the tape - despite my best intentions I am often quite undiligent about labeling which can make it just a little difficult to find programs. I'm sure there are a lot of programs that I really wonted to watch that I'll find as I take one last long walk through the mountain of VHS tapes secreted in various nooks and crannies throughout the flat working out which to record to the new media for future use. (Dead video tapes anyone ?)
(Only pity is I didn't know Strathfield Car Radios were going to drop the price another $100 this week. D'oh! Ah well, maybe it's not the model I purchased.)

Great Grandmother!

Jennifer at work emerged triumphant from her office one day last week to proclaim that she had become a grandmother. Now, we know Jennifer's daughter is 6 years old so we were understandably intrigued. But we needn't have worried because it was all legitimate - the Tamagotchi Jennifer's been carefully tending for Sophie (since the toys were banned from school) had not just survived under her care, it had thrived and procreated. Crammed onto the tiny screen were now two creatures to be tended, fed, watered and nurtured - by a doting grandmother (although perhaps it should be great-grandmother given the genealogy - Jennifer, Sophie, Tami as in Tamagotchi, and the new "baby".
I couldn't help but wonder how many parents in similar circumstances have taken over care of these electronic entities - taking them on business trips, to meetings, and trying to not forget them when they're tied up with corporate busyness.

Black or blue

We have a continuing quandary at home - which socks are blue and which are black. Even when we have managed to separate them after they've been through the wash, selecting the correct colour from the drawer is difficult. But I think we may have stumbled across a solution. We've decided that from now on, we'll "fold" the black and blue socks differently. Now that's what I call "breakthrough" thinking.

Monday, October 24, 2005

David Copperfield to 'magic' girl pregnant

David Copperfield says he plans to impregnate a girl on stage - without even touching her. Speaking to German magazine Galore (as reported on the Ananova site), the illusionist rejected the theory that there were only seven different kinds of magic tricks. He said: "Bull s**t! There is a great deal of new territory to conquer. In my next show I'm going to make a girl pregnant on stage." He added: "Naturally it will be without sex. Everyone will be happy about it, but I'm not telling you any more."
So we'll just have to wait ... and wonder ... and perhaps even worry a little about what the world has come to, what kind of abomination might be borne of this union, and whether it's all some kind of trick to boost his ticket sales.


We have just started rehearsals for Carolfest with SUMS (Sydney University Musical Society) and it seems that there are very few undergraduates singing in the choir. Yes, we know it might have something to do with them being busy with examinations at the moment - but looking round on Wednesday night, there were very few Soprani and among them, very few young faces. Even those we know as young faces have been in the choir for a while and must surely have graduated by now (they don't keep you back in Uni do they?
So where have all the youngsters gone? Or didn't they join the choir in the first place? And what does that mean for the future of SUMS (putting aside for a moment Voluntary Student Unionism and the havoc that might play on the funding available from the Union). SUMS is supposed to be an undergraduate choir but despite the best efforts of the rank and file, the undergraduates just do not appear to be joining up. Why - or why not?
Perhaps it is because younger people today don't have the time or the tradition of singing. You're hardly going to join a choir unless you like singing - and if you've spent the previous years cramming for the HSC, busily doing 3 and 4 unit Mathematics, Physics, English etc there may not have been that much time for much music besides Violin (and that would be Violin lessons and exams). Katrina (our stand-in musical director the other night) was also lamenting the disappearance of the High School Concert series - which was a great opportunity for promoting all things choral for teenagers.
It's probably only by really knowing why they aren't signing up that there's going to be a real chance of enticing them back - and that's something the choir really needs to do.
The other thing we really need is a sponsor. Not quite sure why, but for the last few years, SUMS has always seems to be in a dire financial position - looking for fundraising ideas - and finally, starting to seriously seek a sponsor to take the place of Optus (who ceased being a sponsor some years ago now). If you have any ideas - and remember, naming rights don't come with this one, but I'm sure there would be suitable signage and promotional mentions - don't hold back.

Personal responsibility

Where does personal responsibility begin and end? A man out on the town is refused a ride by a taxi driver. He's had a few ales at a couple of pubs,and rather than let his friends lead him away and try to find another taxi, the man alledgedly becomes aggressive, hurls fascist slurs at the taxi driver, and even slaps him. So, who takes responsibility for his actions: hands up eveyone who said the staff at the first pub he went to and supposedly had 8 beers, not all bought by him. You'd be right based on a case in Sydney this last week.

Last Drop

I am trying out a new café* in Dulwich Hill this afternoon - The Last Drop. It's not bad, although I am always dubious about establishments that have the menu item, in their beverages, "bowl of coffee" - only because I like a large coffee, and I like it "hot", and I don't know how you would successfully keep a bowl of coffee hot (which is why I am having the "long latte").
They, like a number of places these days, have artworks for sale on the wall - a mixture of paintings and photographs - and under each is a sign with the name of the artist, the price, and "All proceeds to
Dulwich Hill Public School". Hmmm, Kazbah thinks, perhaps this could be a fundraising opportunity for SUMS!
(*The PocketPC - as yet not personalised with a name - insert the little mark above the "e" - pretty spectacular!)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Child support

I have lost the copy of the Daily Telegraph I saw this in so I am hazy on the details but the gist is there. The story starts with two women who wanted to have a baby so they enlisted the aid of a sperm donor. The donor did not want to be involved with parenting or raising the child in any way, and he wasn't expected or wanted to. However at the time, he was required to sign a document confirming he was the child's biological father. I'm not sure if this was at the behest of the mothers or a local legal requirement. And so everyone should have been happy - a good samaritan does a favour for two people who wish to give birth to, raise and nurture a child as part of their family. But alas the story doesn't end there. A while later, the women decide they no longer wish to be a couple and split up, the child going with one of the mothers (I think it would have been the biological mother but I don't recall if that was mentioned in the article). Not news yet right? But then the biological father is required to pay child support! Now, just call me old-fashioned but that seems unfair. It should be the other mother who is required to be in part financially responsible for their child. Would the donor have been expected to contribute if the child had been the result of an anonymous contribution through a sperm bank or the result of a manufactured sexual liaison to acquire his sperm?

More British Bities

Ananova (from a report in The Mirror) reports the capture of a non-native species of wildlife in a block of flats in Manchester. This comes as a relief to the tenants who had taken to weighting their toilet lids down with bricks to prevent Keith, the rogue 10ft boa constrictor, popping out of their loos.
Keith is thought to have been living in sewage pipes, feasting on rats, after being abandoned by an evicted tenant about three months ago – but he only turned up in the flats' toilets last week. This wasn’t particularly surprising to those in the know about things herpetological – apparently boa constrictors can swim well and they can hold their breath for more than 20 minutes - which you’d really want to be able to do if you were living in sewage pipes!
Of course, now that I have seen the picture of the snake, I'm even more concerned about finding some bricks in case the same thing happens at our place - but I'm not sure a couple of bricks would hold something of this size! (Click on the image make it larger.)


Had a wonderful and unexpected moment on the way home this evening. It was raining, not heavily but persistently and enough to get you drenched if you were out in it long enough. As I stood at the corner waiting for the lights to change the woman standing next to me moved her umbrella over so it was sheltering us both - while she simply said "look at me standing here with it just over me". She walked me over York St and George St before leaving me under cover and with a final call of "stay dry" she went on her way up Market St - a good Samaritan in search of another good deed. I'm sure I felt my faith in humanity meter go up a couple of notches. Although that may also have been because she's been staying with an elderly relative helping them sort out the house before the move into retirement care on the 28th of this month. The house has been in the family 92 years - and the item that most amazed my umbrella provider was the relative's sewing basket - with bits passed down from generation to generation of women. "You can tell from it that those were the days when women stayed at home and looked after the family" she assured me, and added, I thought perhaps a little wistfully "not like today."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Head for heights?

It was worthy of the Daily Telegraph's headline writer - "Look Skywalker!" - but it was The Sydney Morning Herald's piece about Sydney's newest tourist attraction. For a mere $109 per adult (less for children!) you too can be breath-tested and walk 260m above the CBD on 25mm thick reinforced glass. Not my idea of fun - it was bad enough being enclosed in the Shanghai tower let alone being able to look straight down at the city. I know I would freeze and they'd have to carry me down or helicopter me off.
The two-tier Skywalk is around the roof of the southern hemisphere's tallest tower - but they don't say what it is. Hopefully the ad campaign will. Heh heh - it occurs to me that the 350m high space capsule in Shanghai is just slightly higher than the Skywalk. It's not obvious in the photograph but I think it's a fair bet that the breath-test is not the only safety process in place!

Family Values

At what point do you take other people's feelings into account. The Korps, tragic family that they have turned out to be, are in the news again. There was what was described in the press as "a heated mediation session between family members discussing Korp's estate", his children by his first marriage had requested some of their father's ashes - and they have now discovered that the ashes have already been scattered - around his former house in Melbourne last week - just before it goes on sale. (I wonder if a discount or premium would be attracted with a house which has two recent deaths associated with it?)

Fair (or bear) warning

I received an email today which made me realise, yet again, that it's important to slow down enough in life to be able to read the instructions. The subject line of the email included the words "read the text first". I didn't heed the warning - didn't even notice it - which is why one of the pictures was such a surprise. The first two pics were of a dead bear - a massive dead bear - a bear so big that on all fours it would be at eye level with a grown man; a bear that was killed by a ranger but not in time to have it not eat two people (remains found in its stomach) or a third victim whose mutilated body was the subject of the third photograph. Let that continue to be a lesson for all of us!

How to catch a "dirty cop"

If you were going to set up operations to catch crooked cops what would you do? Or perhaps as importantly, what wouldn't you do? Here in NSW they're about to start "cleaning out the pockets of police corruption" (I just love what The Daily Telegraph does with headlines!). We know this, from the Telegraph piece which also reports that suspect officers will be set up in targeted sting operations. Is that the smartest thing to publicize? Or is it a clever ploy? By making it public that you are going to target officers perhaps all of them will start doing the ''right thing".

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Ronnie Johns Half Hour

The new comedy show on Channel 10 has received a truckload of complaints. Surprisingly, I happened to watch part of its debut and yes, the humour was "adult", and I was certainly surprised and mildly offended by the use of serious swearwords and by some of the sketches but if I were to raise a complaint about the show it wouldn't be about any of this. It would be because it just didn't think it was funny!

Fitting job?

"It was not a pretty sight." So said the woman at the table behind mine this morning as she told her friends that she had worked at one of the major department stores when she was a teenager. The job? Fitting bras. But, she assured them, I learnt a lot about bras!

Mercy visit

Imagine being injured and waking up to find John Howard or Alexander Downer at your hospital bedside. Who would be your least favourite politician or public figure to find there?

Great description

"... like a dimunitive but malevolent version of Sesame Street's Big Bird" - all this they can tell from the 90-million-year old skeleton of the "probably feathered" creature which they're suggesting is a turkey-sized carnivorous dinosaur. But who coined the Big Bird description - did it come off the wire or is there a wit at work at the Daily Telegraph?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Phial tribute

"The pair wore vials of each other's blood on strings around their necks." The two were Billy Bob Thornton and then wife Angelina Jolie. She also sported a tattoo of a black dragon with the words "Billy Bob". But just as some loves are not destined to be forever, so too can body tributes be fleeting. Ex-husband Billy's name appears to have disappeared from the tattoo (which would be appreciated by her new beau Brad Pitt).
I'm not sure I'm the partner-adorning type somehow - although I did find a bottle at Reverse Garbage that would be perfect for it! Nope, the only thing I want to wear on my arm is my sleeve; and sometimes I might want to wear my heart on that!

Flying high

If you could fly like Superman or other action/cartoon characters, with arms outstretched in front of you (try it now!) would you have your hands open or closed into fists! Would it depend on where you were flying to - if it was to save lives or battle evil, or a joy flight, or perhaps to the shop to pick up some milk (and if your flying suit had no pockets, would you need to hold the milk money in your hand)?

History in the making

A little while ago the chef who lived next door moved out. It was a fairly quick move - helped by his two flatmates having left him in the lurch. He threw out all their rubbish as well but unfortunately the strata's bins were not big enough to contain everything and many items overflowed. When we realised he was gone and the rubbish hadn't, we arranged for a Council (free) rubbish pick-up. The only down side was that the Council will only collect rubbish at the kerb so we had to move it all including electric rice cooker complete with baked in rice. Maybe we wouldn't have been so hasty to throw it away if we'd realised what we held was history in the making. All we needed to do was wait a few years and then this item from BBC News may have been us: Oldest noodles unearthed! The remains of a 4,000-year-old noodle meal have been discovered in an upturned pot next to China's Yellow River.

Haven't the foggiest

While checking my hotmail account this afternoon, I noticed an ad for an upcoming film, The Fog. There was nothing particularly strange with that - what was odd was a news piece I had seen this morning about a mystery fog engulfing Lagos in Nigeria. The city has reportedly been enveloped in a thick, white, malodorous fog, causing panic and traffic jams. It is reminiscent of Ladies in Lavendar and the young man with no evident identity being found wandering, mute, on a beach. Life imitating art again perhaps?

You're getting sleepy...

... or at least feeling generous - now hand over the cash! Welcome to Moldova, eastern Europe's poorest country, where a hypnotist bank-robber is at large. So far the suspect, identified as Vladimir Kozak, has bilked $40,000 from entranced tellers. The Daily Telegraph did not mention if he also had the tales act like chickens, put skewers through their arms, or pretend they had x-ray vision.

Time please

I was watching the "other" morning television show yesterday and noted the bottom-of-screen crawler advising what was coming up next. I can't remember the exact times but the interval is spot-on.

7:10am Olivia Newton John's latest heartbreak.
7:12am Virgin Blue's ... (and I'm not sure what the rest was.)
How on earth can they expect to cover "heartbreak" in 2 minutes?

More lies

Not sure if it's the same MRI reseachers but scientists have discovered that pathological liars have a different brain structure: less brain grey matter and more white matter. It is believed to be the latter which enables quick, complex thinking - needed to lie and get away with it. As one of the researchers, as quoted in today's Daily Telegraph said: Lying is not easy. But nature seems to have made it simple for some.

eBay sales

It's amazing what you can buy on eBay - and how much would you pay for a piece of grilled cheese toast complete with Virgin Mary image ($37,000) or a piece of Nutri-Grain that looked like ET ($1035) or the house where Bob Dylan grew up ($133,655)? However one thing you can't buy is used underwear - unless it's a bra belonging to Britney Spears and it's "memorabilia".

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Cursed bunny?

I know there is no connection between Isle of Portland "Something bunny" poster and the burning down overnight of the warehouse where the Wallace & Gromit props and models were stored - but it is a bit spooky!

Go figure!

When Darien (my manager) and I were discussing a business case the other day, and we were deciding whether to include 5% or 10% as the expected growth figure, I suggested we split the difference and go 7.5%. No, he said, best to go for a round figure: using an exact figure like 7.5 suggests you have specific information to support that - 10% is a round figure and doesn't need to be supported as keenly (grasshopper!)

More crocodile tales

From the Daily Telegraph. Darwin. Yesterday. At least 5 crocodiles remained at large after escaping (read: leaving via a left-open gate) from a crocodile farm at the weekend. Most have been recaptured on neighboring properties although one was reportedly shot dead by a home owner. Residents said they should have been warned the crocodiles had escaped. Valid point ... but perhaps not a job any publicist would want to get their teeth into!

Lie still

Polygraphs apparently have an 80% to "no better than chance" range when it comes to lie detecting. So it's probably a good thing that there's another option - magnetic resonance imaging machines. Initial research (reported on the Wired website) reports MRI machines have a 90% success rate. They show that more blood flows to the parts of the brain associated with anxiety and impulse when people lie. In the research, at the Medical University of South Carolina, questions were projected onto a screen while participants were in the MRI and they pressed a button for their yes/no answers. Unfortunately the test doesn't work if the subject doesn't lie still!

Monday, October 10, 2005

What to wear

Would you believe that a German woman has baffled scientists by proving she can distinguish between colours by touch? Gabriele Simon showed her talent on Wetten dass, a popular TV series. While blindfolded, she used her fingertips to recognize different colours. The skill is the result of about 20 years of pure learning and concentration for Gabriele. There’s a very practical application too, now that she can tell colours by feel, she doesn’t need to ask her mother about what to wear anymore.

Something bunny going on

I’m looking forward to seeing the “Wallace and Gromit” movie – and hopefully I’ll get to see it sooner than the people in Isle of Portland, Dorset, get to see the poster for the film … because according to Ananova (and Sky News), the poster has been banned (unofficially). Why? Because they are superstitious about the word “rabbit” – which really does need to appear as the film is The Curse of the Were Rabbit. For more than 100 years the word "rabbit" has been considered bad luck there because burrowing caused by rabbits has caused land slips in the area's famous quarries. So, instead of having rabbits, they have “underground mutton” and “furry things”. In fact, in the past, if quarry workers (stone from the area is world-famous and was used to build St Paul’s Cathedral) saw a “furry thing” they would stop work and go home for the day. The only poster for the film on Portland is on the road off the island and says: "Something bunny is going on".

Another crocodile tale

... and the rest of it. What do you keep in your garage - and is it what you expect it to be? Not so for a Florida woman who opened the door of her garage - and found a 9ft crocodile there. Naturally, she dashed back inside to tell her husband who is reported to have said "It was just lying there, and it was just staring up at her when she opened the door. Needless to say, it scared the hell out of her." The 200lb male endangered American crocodile was caught at the house in North Miami, Florida, by professional trapper Todd Hardwick. Unfortunately the report didn't say if Mr Hardwick also removed said crocodile. Let's hope so.

F U N E?

English comedian Ronnie Barker has died but his passing reminds us of a restaurant sketch which included:
Patron: F U N E X ?
Waiter: S V F X
Patron: F U N E M ?
Waiter: S V F M
(if this is new to you - say each letter out loud slowly and if it's still a mystery - when did you last have eggs and ham for breakfast?)

Comparison shopping

As Australian (and world) petrol prices continue at record levels a National Australian Bank survey - as reported in The Daily Telegraph last week - suggests we would rather give up our morning coffee to save money rather than leave the car at home and catch public transport. This raises an interesting point - I think I'm paying about $11.99 a litre for coffee at the moment! You've got to be pleased cars run on petrol.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Sony vs ...

The Australian High Court ruled in favour of Eddy Stevens on Thursday. Eddy was one of several hundred small time operators who modify Play Station (1 and 2) to override "region specific coding". He is also one of a group of about 30 such "chippers" who received a letter from Sony warning they risked a $68,000 fine if they kept doing it! So it was off to court for him, and interestingly, his position was backed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which argued regional coding was detrimental to consumer choice and should not be supported. (The court found making a pirate copy of a game was illegal, but the device which allowed a pirate game to be played was not.)
This raises the obvious enigma: how would you eradicate region coding eg DVDs and books? Even the recording standards for videos around the world - Pal, NTSC and Secam act as region coding of sorts. And if you do remove region coding, how do you set license regions, and help ensure the manufacturers remain profitable and keep producing?

Not as it seems

How odd must it be for the other voice-over artists on The Simpsons television show to relate to Bart given Bart is voiced by a woman. Or maybe it's all part of acting where you are pretending to be someone else so it's easy to work with someone who is also pretending to be someone else! But I think it would be difficult.

Morning radio

Julie McCrossin (former host of ABC Radio National Life Matters) has abandoned the 702 ABC Radio breakfast slot she recently took up because the early hours are bad for her health. Now, you'd think that people would understand that rather than having a go at her! The Daily Telegraph's coverage of the story included quotes from shift workers saying that while it did take a little time to get used to, starting earlier in the day did get easier. For my two cents, I would be asking if maybe it was the change of formats as well as shifts that had contributed to the decision. I know that Sooz is not the only one to be missing Julie at her old gig.

Miracles happen

This is a direct quote from Spike, Sydney Morning Herad, 7/10/05
News that Tom Cruise and his fiancee Katie Holmes are expecting a child puts a new perspective on his roles in Risky Business, All The Right Moves and Top Gun. Not to mention Losin' It and Eyes Wide Shut.
Cruise has been waiting for 43 years and 2½ wives - Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman and Holmes - to kick a fatherhood goal. And what irony that, after all this time, it must have been an immaculate conception, as Holmes has declared her intention to remain a virgin until married.
In light of this, perhaps Tom, Katie and child will form some new holy trinity for the Church of Scientology? Regardless, after surviving years of scuttlebutt and innuendo, Cruise sounds as if he's successfully completed his most impressive mission impossible yet.

Friday, October 07, 2005

4 God so luvd da world …

“In da Bginnin God cre8d da heavens & da Earth." So begins the SMS version of the Bible as translated by Australia's Bible Society. You can access all 31,173 verses for free via a 7MB download from their site and then amass an approx $8000 bill to spread the Word (based on 25¢ a text!).
UPDATE: Well, that seemed to be the way it would work based on the report I read in The Daily Telegraph. What I should have understood from reading it is that you can download a program from Australia's Bible Society and install it on your computer; this program then works as an index/interface with their system. You then start an account with them and as you send out messages via your/this system (you can also do it via mobile phone with the right configurations) you spend down your credit. (As Sooz says, there's no such thing as a free Bible - although once, on the corner of George and Park Streets in the City, there was a man handing out free copies of the New Testament.)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Lobby

The tiara got a little bit of a work-out at The Lobby (Castlereagh St, Sydney) on Friday as it was Charlotte's last day. She's off to work for The National Gallery - good luck Madge (as we know you ... long story). And to mark the occasion, she and Lisa were (among other things) putting together a packed lunch for one of the regulars who was planning to catch a flight to Perth that evening - and didn't want to face the prospect of plane food - so instead, they made him a "Thank you for flying Lobby Airlines" care package. I hope he was suitably impressed when he took out his dinner, and miniature fruit salad, and chocolate, and drink as well as his frittata and salad - nothing plain about that plane food!

It's an ill wind ...

Evangelist Franklin Graham, son and designated successor of the Rev. Billy Graham, has reportedly said that Hurricane Katrina could lead to a spiritual rebirth of a sinful New Orleans. Of course, this wasn't to say (and he didn't) that the devastating storm was a punishment from God. However, the article on Yahoo News did note that the city's Mardi Gras revelry and ties to voodoo were adverse to Christian beliefs, as you would imagine were the "satanic worship" and "sexual perversions" which also rate a mention. The good news is that "God is going to use that storm to bring revival. God has a plan. God has a purpose." What these are, or how it would work (perhaps in mysterious ways?) was not immediately apparent in the article.

Not such a good year blimp

This photo has been credited to Ron Davidge and shows one of the 3 North American Goodyear blimps just before it fell to earth in June during a violent storm in Florida (not sure if it fell foul of one of those shoot-first don't ask questions gun-toting etc. etc. I envisaged hunting for unsuspecting travellers to their State.)
The other blimps are the Suffield, Ohio-based Spirit of Goodyear and the Carson, Calif.-based Sprit of America. Heh heh - that's why punctuation is always a good thing. For a moment there I thought they were called the Suffield and the Carson - as opposed to the Spirit of Goodyear and the Sprit of America (although I think that could be a typo on the site should be Spirit of America. )

Blogging v dogging

According to a survey reported by the BBC UK more people know what dogging is than blogging, which suggests that Brits are not as tech-savvy as might be expected. If I have do idea what dogging is, does this make me more tech-savvy or less British? (Ooh, I just found out what dogging is - and if I'd known, I'm not sure I would have chosen it as a topic!)

Duck and cover

We've all seen the movies and TV programs where anyone approaching or leaving a helicopter crouches down as they walk/run, making sure they are well clear of the spinning rotor blades even if they are well above them. It's probably an instinctive natural reaction and I'm sure I did the same when I went on a helicopter ride a few years back. So you have to feel sorry for the helicopter instructor in Qld who suffered a compound skull fracture yesterday. His injuries may have been less severe had he not already removed his helmet before being caught by the slow moving (20 to 30 revolutions a minute) main blades of the helicopter he had just shut down. It does make sense that the blades, when not at full speed, would flex downwards at the ends enough to cause a serious damage.

Travel warning ...

How would you feel about a planned trip to somewhere if you read about the death of another traveller who was probably killed by a four-metre crocodile - and that this could be the second such fatal attack within weeks - and that this death happened on the same day a surfer fought off a great white shark with his bare hands.
You'd certainly want to know about this wouldn't you - which is probably why the British press is making it known that this is Australia - another name for the great Danger Down Under.
The article quotes an Australian High Commission spokeswoman in London as saying: "There are dangers wherever you go, As you travel, you always have to be careful and look for warnings and signs." These dangers include flora, fauna and nature itself – but there is hope through the suggestions offered by a local, Bob Cooper and his Survival Guide:
  • Spiders: Don't play with them, wear gloves in the garden
  • Jellyfish: Heed swimming signs, check the season
  • Sharks: Don't swim near seals or at sunset, in shark areas
  • Crocodiles: Heed signposts (or maybe they don't!!)
  • Currents: Only swim where Royal Lifeguards are on duty
  • Plants: Don't eat them
The other thing worth noting about the article was the comments. I’d copy a few of them here – but really, there are just too many good ones – the mite, the badger, the lip-stinging jellyfish, and the poor driving! But one worth repeating is: I am not going to Australia. I value my life too much. I don't want to wake up with a snake in my bed or a crocodile at my doorstep. No way. I'm sticking with Britain. Mo Ham, UK
Obviously Mo Ham had not read today’s news about how a woman revealed she came face to face with a crocodile - in a village duck pond in Cornwall. Stacey Clayton was feeding the ducks with baby daughter Alanna when she spotted what looked like a 2ft log in the water, says the Sun. Stacey, 20, said: "Then I realised it had eyes. I thought to myself: "Logs don't blink!"
"I threw a stone at it and it lifted its head and looked straight at me. I saw its tail and about a dozen teeth coming down from its jaw." Stacey fled home in St Blazey, Cornwall, and called the RSPCA. Officials think the beast may be a Cayman - a relative of the crocodile. Caymans are sometimes kept as pets and the RSPCA reckons the pond predator has escaped from its owner. Another local had reported seeing a moorhen being dragged below the surface of the pond by an unseen creature.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

More travel advisories

Guardian Unlimited (on the web) has a news quiz - and this was one of the recent questions:
US campaigners are advising British visitors to which state that they may be in danger under a law that allows gun owners to shoot anyone they feel threatens their safety?
Hands up anyone else who's going to give Florida a miss.

Travel advisories

Terror has hit the shores of Bali again. This time the death toll is lower than the 2002 bombings at the Sari Club but still many have been killed and injured. And already the criticisms of the Indonesian government and their stance on terrorism have started. I'm not sure whether this is justified or not but it seems that the Indonesian government would not knowingly encourage terrorism against its own people and against Westerners. Yes they are going to have different approaches and sensibilities and different cultural dictates but not so much that this type of violence is encouraged or fostered. Rather than finding someone to blame, perhaps it's time to look at the root cause of terrorism and try to counter it in a constructive way rather than taking point-scoring shots at foreign governments through the press.
On a positive note, it seems not everyone is determined to blame the Indonesian people for this latest atrocity. Overheard at lunch: people at the next table lamenting the plight of the Balinese people - as poor as they are, relying on tourism that now is unlikely to come their way; why should they be made to suffer?
And an interesting comment by a Chamber of Commerce representative in Kuta: if the Australian Government issues travel advisories against visiting Bali following these bombings, why didn't it issue similar advisories following the London bombings and the 9/11 attacks on New York? (Of course, this is where I take myself off to research that statement and see if it is true: just because it sounds right, doesn't necessarily mean it is - but it does sound as though it's true - doesn't it?)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Girls and Gadgets

Well, now I’ve heard it all.  Just when I thought I was different, I found this quote about someone who likes technology (as much as I do?) – and the thing that captured her interest initially was …
It is cars, not kids, that gave Ms Fitzgerald her first taste for technology. "My love of gadgets started when I bought myself a convertible and the roof went up and down," she says. Hooked ever since, her appetite for clever devices spans her work, communications and entertainment choices.
(I still have the video footage of the convertible Sooz and I hired earlier in the year – with the top going up, top going down, top going up, top going down – you get the idea!!)
To read more of Ms Fitzgerald and other women who like their technology, visit Gidget’s gadgets in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Monday, October 03, 2005

File footage

On the late news they've just given the weather forecast for Shanghai - blue skies - I don't think so!
As I walked back to the office after lunch today, and seeing clear blue skies, I thought again about how lucky we are to live in a county where the air is mostly clean and breathable, where the water is potable and where we do not have a war or internal strife raging and making death by suicide bomber or terrorist a likely daily occurrence - which could make the current "be alert not alarmed" advertising push look a little like overkill.
And could someone please explain to me why whenever anti-terrorism plans or measures are reported on television, they're accompanied by vision of balaclava'ed people abseiling from helicopters or running en masse, machine guns drawn into an obviously empty single or double storey building? Or, if it's not this, it's the same old file footage of two Muslim women, complete with burqas, walking down the street in a suburban shopping centre.
And speaking of file footage there was a piece on radio the other day talking of the live coverage of 9/11 and the now infamous footage of Muslims dancing in the streets; unfortunately this most recent report failed to note that this footage had not been filmed at the time as suggested by its appearance then - rather, it too had been file footage. This was reported then, although not widely enough and now seems to have been "lost".


At lunch on Friday, D (you know who you are - and this is a matter of protecting identities!) was trying out the new Pocket PC especially its ability to recognise normal handwriting rather than having to adapt to the its graffiti. This is part of what she wrote: f Id I J 1X tuck Flick ftuck.
At this point you might be able to work out what she was trying to write (I am not sure why) but she just could not get the PPC to accept it. It truly was as though PPC knew swearing was involved and it didn't wish to be involved or encourage it! By the end I was laughing so much I couldn't see properly ... but D had prevailed - she had penned the first four letter words on my pristine and now no longer "pure" machine. Then she said she was sorry she hadn't done the "C" one as well and I told her not to worry because she would - and in other versions of this story, she does!

Colour your world!

What ever happened to red or black or yellow? Just the simple colours that you knew rather than the new-fangled ones now making their appearance. Take a look at the Colorware site which offers a choice of colours and combinations for your new iPod nano which comes from the manufacturer in basic black or white. Color ware can customise year iPod to the colour/s of your choice including caution, carbon, dragon, ferrari, mystique, powder and prowler. You can go to their site and colour the virtual iPod with these or perhaps alpine or flush.

Pick up the phone?

On September 29 in 1950 - Bell Laboratories and Western Electric created the first telephone answering machine ... and look how far we've come since then. A piece in Icon in today's Sydney Morning Herald offers the services of "the Squirrel" - a "cutely intelligent robot which detects when you want to want to want to answer your phone by your body language". Its creator Stefan Marti was interested in a mix of psychology and technology - and the squirrel is a combination of the two. To find out more you can visit the cellular squirrel site. Hopefully there's a link from there to his work on the prototype - a shoulder-mounted parrot.
NB - funny the things you notice: I picked up the pic accompanying this story from the SMH site - and realised it seems they'd picked it up - and cropped it to remove the copyright material - from the Cellular Squirrel site - where, with ears and a full tail, it actually does look more like a squirrel!

More Smoot

Apparently Smoot went on to become the head of the American standards association - or so it was reported in the next Column 8 update on Friday.
And Duncan Hall , formerly of Cambridge, Massachusetts, but now ensconced in Glebe, has given us the authoritative word on Oliver R. Smoot. What started off as a college prank paid a dividend to Smoot as he was later made chairman of the board of directors of the American National Standards Institute, and later president of the International Organisation for Standardisation. Duncan refers interested readers who want to know more to The Journal of the Institute for Hacks, Tomfoolery & Pranks at MIT.


Ah, remember when families had crests? Did they also have songs? Deb and I were discussing family songs the other day although I'm not sure how!
Our family do have a family song "Running Bear" - or so I learnt at the family reunion back in 1990. I was sufficiently not curious enough to ask the history of the song, or why that particular song had been chosen. Or why our family song should be about two lovers who try to reach each other across a raging river and die trying! I'm sure copyright issues come to play here - so here's a link to the lyrics
Deb was saying that the family she knows sings its song at all major events. They'll be there and then someone will sing the starting note and everyone will join in. At first, she said, she had no idea what was going on.
I can't remember our family actually ever singing the song. Maybe it's time. We're planning an immediate family reunion just after Christmas and it's time the younger members were apprised of this particular heirloom.