Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dead centre

I know some people are dying to go to San Francisco, but did you know you won’t be welcome there if you’re dead? In 1902 the city’s Board of Supervisors outlawed burials in city limits – and demanded that the larger cemeteries in the city move their remains elsewhere. It took nearly 40 years, and many legal battles, before the last bodies were removed from the city – leaving only two cemeteries, neither of which accept new burials, in the city.
So, what to do with the dearly/newly departed?
You move them out of town – in this case to the nearby city of Colma (population 1200 above ground, over a million below). From the 1950’s, according to The Cemetery Project site, Colma city officials restricted development in the city to cemeteries and its supporting industries (except for gambling, introduced in 1996).
According to the Colma town site, its 17 cemeteries comprise approximately three-quarters of the town’s land area.
Dying is a thriving business, and apparently it doesn’t need to be morbid or macabre. Take a look at the Cypress Lawn site if you need proof!

Lost opportunity

You have to love life’s little ironies. Let’s remember back a little while when Michelle Leslie, model, was held in an overseas prison on drug charges. She started wearing Muslim garb (hijab?) because that was what you did when you converted to that religion. It was never explained why she had not chosen to take up the garb from the time of her conversion … but let’s not get too picky. However, within the last month I’ve read reports that suggested Michelle had in fact not converted, and that the garb was to “hide her face” from the media. (I suspect being on drug charges and having your face splashed over the media is not detrimental to a model’s career only if they are at a sufficiently high level on the modeling totem pole.) I’m not sure how Michelle’s modeling career is progressing, but it seems if was a convert, she would be perfect for the new range of swimwear and sports wear fashion designer Aheda Zanetti is about to launch on the world market. As reported in today’s Sydney Daily Telegraph, Bankstown designer Ms Zanetti is to take her Ahiida range to the IslamExpo in the UK before taking her wares/wears to Dubai for meetings with potential buyers.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On the ball

Well done Reuters. They have just carried an article "Well, there's your problem right there".
More sex. That's what one expert says is needed to solve Japan's baby shortage.
That would have slightly more chance than the "counselling" (only) option suggested in that BBC report recently.

Safety tip

Had I not slowed down to look at a chicken in a ramshackle falling down barn (did The Kettles live near Richmond, Tasmania) ... we would have been in the same spot at the same time as a car coming the other way that had crossed to our side of the road, over double lines, while coming around a corner too quickly. Oversteering is one of the dangers of driving on an unfamiliar roads in an unfamiliar car - a common mistake, but possibily a lethal one for you and others. Take care on the roads (and not just while on holiday)!

The Apple Isle

We visited the Salamanca Markets in Hobart on Saturday and they were well worth a visit. The only downside, as one of the locals pointed out, was that you don't really get to see the historic aspect of the area with all the stalls there. (Certainly when we went past later in the day, after the stalls had been packed up and taken away, the area looked very different.) There was lots of fresh fruit and vegetables on offer and we bought a couple of apples - 20 cents each - and they were the tastiest, crunchiest, juiciest apples we've had in a long while. No wonder they call it the Apple Isle. And in the midst of this euphoria, we wondered what would have happened if Adam and Eve had never left the Garden of Eden. What would have happened if they hadn't partaken of "the apple". But it wasn't an apple I said. It's portrayed as an apple but that's probably because no-one remembers what the fruit of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:17) looks like.

Early risers

I'm usually up at about 5 of a morning - but it's only when you travel (we were up at 3.30am for the trip home) that you realise how many people are routinely up and doing things at that time of day - hotel staff, travellers, air employees, taxi and bus drivers, traffic controllers, rubbish collectors, sea farers ... and all while most people are still snuggled up in their beds. The most amazing thing is that most people are fairly awake at this time - not falling asleep 10 times in a space of moments on the airport shuttle on the way to the airport. Of course, this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me because I usually manage to catch a few zzz's on every bus trip!

Locked filing cabinet

On returning from Hobart on Monday morning, I went straight to work. Of course, along the way I realised I had not packed my Dallas Button to be able to clear the security doors at work - not that big a drama - but then I realised the key to the filing cabinet was on the same lanyard, still languishing at home. It's only when you can't access something you use every day that you realise what's there: computer, smartbadge, coffee stirrers, hot chocolate, paper clips, scissors, business cards ... the list goes on. And every time I reached to open one of the drawers, I realised again that the cabinet was locked. D'oh. I'm going to work out a secure place to keep the key at work from now on.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tasmanian weekend

We spent the weekend in Tasmania. What a wonderful State. We can't wait to get back there!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

'Ear we go again

There’s nothing quite like the thrill and exhilaration of sliding down a slippery dip – although it has been a fair while since I partook of that particular pleasure. But it can, and does, carry a hidden danger for some children. Static electricity. For most of us, it may just make our hair stand on end. For kids with cochlear implants, it’s a fast slide into silence as the static can shut down (nontechnical term = fry) their cochlear implants in an instant – and cost up to $1,000 to have the device reprogrammed.
According to a Wired article, static electricity has been a problem for the implants since they first became available in the mid-1980s. "One of the first children to have an implant erased its memory by simply pulling a sweater over her head, and had to have the device replaced." (We assume the “its” in that sentence refers to the implant not the child.)
By hooking sensors to children as they slid down slides in St. Louis and Tucson, Arizona, researchers found that children easily built up 25,000 volts of electricity, the limit of the measuring devices. They equated it to "a pretty good lightning bolt." (The problem is with plastic slides not the metal variety – although the metal ones are not favoured as they can get very hot in Sumner I guess that could lead to a different type of “frying”.)
The solution? They’re looking at dynast types of coatings to dissipate the charge – but in the meantime, it’s the metal slide or no slide. Hmm. As if the kids didn’t have enough to contend with.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Culinary curiosity

Fluffernutter sandwich - an irresistible combination of Marshmallow Fluff and peanut butter, preferably on white bread with a glass of milk handy.
According to the Kansas City Star: Since its invention, legions of New England (US) kids have grown up on Fluffernutters. Parents have used the sandwich as a food of last result for finicky eaters, sometimes adding banana slices to complement the protein of the peanut butter.

Is this right?

This is a direct quote from an RSS feed of BBC stories:
Counselling 'restores fertility'
Counselling alone can help "perfectionist" women regain their fertility and become pregnant, research finds.
I am not an expert on these things, but I thought a little more than that was involved!

And 'ears the news

Two recent stories have revolved around ears. One is the use by students in the US of a ringtone which many adults cannot hear. This allows the students to use their cellphones during classtime, a practice not encouraged. Apparently as people age, their ears "harden" and they cannot hear as great a range of frequencies - so by designing a ringtone outside the normal "adult range", you get a ringtone perfect for teenagers. You can also devise a perfect sound repellent for teenagers that doesn't bother adults - which has apparently already been done ... a good way to stop unwanted youth hanging around outside your store - although playing Glenn Miller recordings might have a similar effect.
Another earily concerning story about students hails from Beijing. With fierce competition - 9.5 million candidates, 2.6 million university places available - some have turned to cheating, and being fairly hi-tech about it to beat the surveillance measures in place to prevent it. One lad used earphones so small they slipped further into his ear than intended and perforated his eardrum. Another had to be operated on to have his earphones removed "when an electronic device connected to headphones and strapped to a third student's body exploded, injuring his abdomen" (Daily Telegraph). I am not sure whether the ear phones were removed from the abdomen (ouch) or whether I am just not reading the sentence correctly.

Planning ahead

Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, has announced that he will be giving up the role to concentrate full-time on charitable works. The transition is expected to take 2 years.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


This afternoon the alert tone for a possible evacuation sounded in our building, on our level. This is the first time it's happened without warning and it was a little anxiety producing - perhaps even a little more so for those of us who are fire wardens. It was a good exercise ... and a false alarm thank goodness. Luckily the office had had a trial evacuation only a couple of weeks ago so the procedure was fresh in everyone's mind (except for those of us who were on holiday at the time). I found I could remember the warden procedures but I would have felt a little more comfortable with my cheatsheet/checklist especially if I had updated it with the learnings from the last exercise. (There's a job for tomorrow!)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Weekend wonders

It looks as though Rusty is not only triplets ... but has now started rearing offspring (heh heh). We found this one at Nareen Gardens, a senior care facility on the Central Coast. I know that it's not exactly like Rusty ... but you have to take into account the genetic material the other parent brings to the mix!

We found this car parked in the Palmdale Crematorium grounds. I couldn't work out if was a "bet each way" or whether the two components would cancel each other out.

While we were on the Central Coast, we called in on my brother and his family. He was up to his hands in dishwasher trouble - the overfill valve had kicked in and wouldn't kick off. A search on the internet wasn't particularly useful, but one comment in a user forum suggested cleaning the overfill valve screen - which had my brother taking the front off the dishwasher to investigate further. That's when he found the water pooling in the metal tray under the machine. We had to leave before it was resolved - but he'd already taken over 2 litres of water from the tray by that point. If it had been me, I would have just called the service guy - but my bro' has never been afraid to have a go - so hopefully he's solved it and they don't have to wash the dishes by hand!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Feeling old

I have long been a fan of Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and was pleasantly surprised to see her in the ads for a new sitcom How I Met Your Mother ... or at least I thought it was her (I'm not really brilliant on face recognition), which is how I ended up on the IMDB site checking. It was her (she?) so I had a look at the page for HIMYM and that was when I started feeling old. Really old. Alyson's role as Lily in HIMYM is, as one person commented "her first adult role" and added that she was 31 (then, now 32). It could be that I've just started re-watching BTVS from the very beginning, filmed when Ms Hannigan was 21 or so, but she seems much younger.
I wonder how that is for people who have had careers in the visual media. Not like the rest of us who make do with home videos and happy snaps - they see themselves at an age, playing a different age, playing a different person. Wonder if it gets confusing for them.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

New purchase

I bought a new mouse today - well I thought it was a mouse, and according to the label it's a mouse (Wireless Optical Mouse) - but Moses has different ideas. Moses says it's a USB human interface. Hmmmm. Oh, and speaking of Mice, I received a Powerpoint file via email the other day entitled "Best Positions in Bed" and, despite my reservations (and I still don't know why I did) I opened it. It was the most delightful series of photos of pets and children in various sleeping poses. "You were thinking of something else, huh?" as the last slide in the series asked.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Love that net

BBC News Mini-dinosaurs emerge from quarry

Scientists describe a new species of dwarf dinosaur that was unearthed in a quarry in northern Germany.

I was a bit taken aback when I read this because it seemed they were talking in the present tense. And it reminded me of something I'd read somewhere ages ago about quarry workers - or were they digging a tunner for a railway - and when they cracked open a boulder there was a pterodactyl inside, and it took a breath, flapped its wings, took a step and fell over dead. I've never been able the reference again ... until tonight when I searched for it on the internet!! You just have to love the net. The Talk says:

Pterodactyls, extinct flying reptiles, supposedly existed around one hundred million years ago. According to an article in The Illustrated London News of February 9, 1856, page 166, workmen discovered a living pterodactyl. In the winter of 1856, they were working on a railway tunnel between St. Dizey and the Nancy lines, and they had broken and removed a boulder of Jurassic limestone, when the creature stumbled out of the tunnel toward them. It fluttered its wings, croaked, and collapsed dead at their feet. It had a wingspan of ten feet seven inches, four legs with talons for feet, legs joined by a membrane like a bat, a mouth filled with sharp teeth, and black, leathery, oily skin. An exact mold of the creature's body was found in the limestone from which the creature was released.


Baugh, Carl E. 1989. Panorama of Creation. Oklahoma City, OK: Hearthstone Publishing, Ltd., pp. 19-21.
Doolan, Robert. 1993. Are dinosaurs alive today? Where Jurassic Park went wrong! Creation 15(4) (Sept.): 12-15.
If you go to the Talk site, the suggestion that this actually happened will well and truly be debunked ... but it was good to finally find it again.

Shedding light on the soccer

It'?s World Cup time ... soccer, FIFA - something like that .. have been trying not to take too much notice but it's difficult when they're closing roads in a nearby suburb for matches when Australia's Socceroos are playing. But I have to say that I was totally surprised while watching the news of our 3-1 overnight win against Japan. Most of the soccer I've seen on television here is played under lights so it was a huge surprise to see the game being played during daylight hours. Who knew?

Different tune

Following concerns over the adult content of Australian Big Brother last year, you could understand the producers being more careful about what goes to air this year. But some caution has come from a different angle: the songs the housemates are singing. I think this comes from concerns that the songs are covered by commercial copyright. This is surmised from a comment made on the show (I think by Gretel Killeen, host extraordinaire) that Big Brother was being prevented from airing some conversations from the house because there was commercial music being sung in the background. And it seems that at least one house mate has now been penalised for singing in the house. Not getting any easier to be a producer (or housemate) is it?

A lesson for the learning

Remember Jessica Lynch? She's sure people do and that they recognize her - they just don't say so. And that's apparently how she prefers it. She wants to be just another student on campus. This is a far cry from the spotlight of publicity Jessica was thrown into following her rescue three years ago from Saddam Hospital. Nine days before Lynch's 507th Army Maintenance Company convoy was in Nasiriyah when it took a wrong turn and was attacked. Eleven American soldiers were killed and six were captured, including Lynch. Her dramatic nighttime rescue in the early days of the Iraq war made her an instant celebrity. She's now a student at the West Virginia University, where she's hopeful of being just another anonymous college student on a campus of thousands. She's studying Journalism (originally she'd planned to teach Kindergarten) but may end up in broadcasting: "I'd really like to start a kids TV program here in West Virginia. Something for kids who are in the hospital or have cancer."


Titanic (the newer version) was on television the other evening and I sat through it again ... and thought about all those who perished - and those who didn't including Lillian Gertrud Asplund, the last American survivor of the sinking. Lillian died recently, aged 99. The Yahoo report I read didn't mention if there are other survivors alive in other countries. It did mention the other American survivors - who were both babies at the time and do not remember the events of that night in April 1912 when a variety of circumstances came together to sink the liner many believed to be "unsinkable". Lillian's mother, Selma Asplund said at the time the family went to the Titanic's upper deck after the ship struck the iceberg. "I could see the icebergs for a great distance around ... It was cold and the little ones were cuddling close to one another and trying to keep from under the feet of the many excited people ... My little girl, Lillie, accompanied me, and my husband said 'Go ahead, we will get into one of the other boats.' He smiled as he said it." He and three of his children were among those to lose their lives that night. Selma Asplund died on the 52nd anniversary of the sinking in 1964.

Da Vinci Code

Despite (or in spite of) the “review” on the noticeboard of a church in Leichhardt (paraphrased: if you thought Church was long and boring … you haven’t seen The Da Vinci Code) we took ourselves off on the weekend to see the movie of Dan Brown’s (or was it?) book. We were pleasantly surprised. Even though the show was 2+ hours long, it didn’t drag. My only concern was that as I had read the book before seeing the film, I will never know if I would have worked out the location of the Chalice (and Blade) before Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. I think I also spotted a couple of continuity errors – one with views from the plane coming into England … and I can’t remember the other one. Minor irritants. Would I line up to see a film of the next one (Angels & Demons) – probably – I’d like to see how the helicopter sequence.

And on things relating to art and Da Vinci, I was reading somewhere the other day that the last time the Mona Lisa was moved – just a few meters - it cost 3.2 million British pounds. It would be interesting to see the itemized account for that!

Monday, June 12, 2006


I spent part of Sunday doing a computer intervention. I went with Lizzie on Saturday when she bought an MP3 player at George'?s, York St, Sydney. I was a bit surprised when the phone rang? and it was Lizzie having trouble loading songs onto the new machine. But, alas, the phone intervention didn't work so I was booked for an actual intervention. And I have to admit the devil was in the detail - and I didn't like it. Why would you make your media player work hand-in-glove with Windows Media Player. Which is okay if you know about playlists and things, but not so great otherwise. Two-and-a-half hours later it was sorted - instructions written and tested. And music, photos and text installed on the MP3 player (which is a generic name of course). Phew.

Birthday Yum Cha

We usually go into ChinaTown for Yum Cha but that may not be the case after today. For Margaret’s birthday we went to a local Chinese restaurant (in Marrickville) for Yum Cha. We had tried to go a couple of Sundays ago but the queue was off-putting. But someone was on the ball for today and had made a booking. And just as well. It was busier today than the last time. With good reason. It was very good – okay not as slick as in ChinaTown but good value, quick service … and very hot tea. So we’ll go local next time.

Also part of the birthday celebrations was coffee (or tea or hot water) and a not exactly to the rules game of trivia. It was good fun - but a bit disappointing when the others decided they’d had enough! Why is it that people have different tolerance levels for games – especially trivia? I suppose that’s what makes life interesting!

Happy birthday Margaret!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Blogging made easy?

It's been a bit hard to blog over the last couple of days because the Blogger Site has been undergoing maintenance. I hadn't realized how much I've come to rely on the site just being there ... just waiting for our blog sessions. But when you think of all the people using the Blogger site, it's amazing the site is so reliable. Makes me wonder how many hack attacks the site attracts daily - and whether any are ever successful.


Not really - but we could have. For Sooz's birthday we decided to go to dinner at Glass, Luke Mangan's establishment. (Who is Luke?) Situated in the recently refurbished Hilton Hotel in Sydney's CBD, Glass is fairly special - even more so by night. The lighting is subdued, the atmosphere relaxed, the service is plentiful and attentive and the food is excellent in quality and preparation. We were pleased to share the evening with M, one of Sooz's oldest friends (as in they've known each other for over 25 years), who is in town for the week. All in all a wonderful evening and a night to remember. M was staying at the nearby Swissotel and we called in there before dinner to freshen up and take in the view (we'll do happy hour and canapes another time) from the Executive Lounge on Level 24. And for anyone visiting Sydney, the Swissotel does offer some rooms with balconies - and the chance to escape into fresh air if you've a mind to.

Cash Backman

While we were on the Gold Coast a couple of weeks ago, and Sooz was waiting to see the doctor at the Medical Centre for a lurgy she had contracted (possibily from spa water inhaled), I went for a walk in the local shopping precinct at Palm Beach.
First shop I came to ... Cash Converters. Second shop ... a pawn show (don't remember the name). Third shop ... a music store where I was attended to in my search for a clarinet or perhaps an harmonica by a Mr Cash Backman. Seemed that if the music store didn't pan out for him, he would be nominately perfect for either of the two previous shops!

Beaconsfield Media

Listening to the ABC's Media Report from a couple of weeks ago - about the time of the rescue of the Beaconsfield Miners - gave some insight into how the hordes of journalists were managed on site. For example, SMS alerts were used to advise when press conferences would be held otherwise it would have been difficult to co-ordinate the media who were spread throughout the town including, it seems, "hiding in trees".
The program also raised the issue of Cheque Book journalism - and that who won the exclusive television rights to the Miners' story depended in part on the personalities the networks could front. Once David Koch (Channel 7 personality) had been invited into the back of an ambulance bearing one of the rescued miners, Channel 9 apparently realised it would need to send its biggest gun (Eddie McGuire, also known as Eddie Everywhere) to have any chance of securing the deal ... which they did - supposedly for $2.something million. Little wonder then that the Nine Network has recently announced that it will be shedding 100 jobs (aka people) from its news and current affairs division, mostly from its Sydney office.
Other interesting points made:
* The miners survived 5 days - then they had all the mod cons albeit in very cramped conditions (!! and without bathroom facilities)
* It was estimated that the deal broker for the Miners' story would have earned 20%-30% commission. (I suppose there's no way of telling if that is true or not.)

The Onion Radio News ...

... is a podcast I listen to regularly. While it has previously been quite quirky and funny, it seems to have become ... how to put it? ... in fairly poor taste. Today's was about a day wasted looking for a missing baby; a couple of days ago - a politician being questioned about a scandal deflects media attention by shooting the person standing next to him. Or perhaps it's just me and my perception of funny? How big a part does a person's disposition play in what they see as comedic?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Yet another two remakes have hit the big screen - "Poseidon" and "The Omen". Usually movies are released on a Thusday but in a marketing move, "The Omen" was released on Tuesday - 6.6.06 - which may have something to do with the supposed mark of the beast "666". That reminds me of a Gary Larson cartoon of a few years ago which had a "333" sign for the idiot son of "the Beast". Somehow it seemed funny at the time.
Not sure if I'll go see either of the movies - although "Poseidon" would probably have some decent special effects ... but will it have Maureen McGovern singing "Morning After"? And what was her song from "Towering Inferno"?


In a conversation with our web developer Steph yesterday, the subject turned to "stuff". Really. And how you could substitute "stuff" for more technical terms and language and still know what you were talking about. And Steph reminded me of one of the features of Google - where you can enter "define:stuff" and it will return results. So we did it - and were stunned at how far-reaching "stuff" was/is - especially with the Wikipedia entry. It left us both scratching our heads!

Good design

I recently invested in some screen protectors for my tablet PC (aka Moses) but was a bit disappointed because they seemed to be very plasticy and very blue. I persevered for a couple of weeks and then decided l couldn't tolerate it any more and as soon as I returned home from holidays I was going to remove the protector on Moses and file the other 4 that came in the pack as "last resort". But as I was showing my Dad how blue the screen protector was, I flicked the corner, and in so doing, separated the screen protector and its protective covering - who would have thought a screen protector would have a screen protector. I take back everything I said about the screen protectors being badly designed _ but if you'd seen how marked (and blue) the screen protector was, you'd understand why. Of course, the thing that was really off-putting was that the stylus/pen just did not glide over the screen like it did before the screen protector ... but it's all better now! Fujitsu rules! OK.

Coffee tragic

I am the first to admit that the situation is becoming a bit silly. Bad enough that my coffee order is currently quite specific (large flat white weak and very hot) but it's about to get worse. After many attempts to get a "decent coffee" from the baristas other than Brendan at my local coffee shop, I was stunned to receive a less than good coffee from him. Hmmm. And then I realised that Brendan was not at his usual post on the machine. He was on the other side. Who would have thought that all those dud coffees could be related to the machine rather than the barista - although Brendan is still the best! So now to make sure that the best cup of coffee arrives all I have to ask for is a large flat white weak and very hot from the right side of the machine - or, if it's not Brendan: a large one shot flat etc etc. Coffee tragic. Definitely.


I read a report this morning about someone who had invented an alarm clock which won't turn off until you enter in a corresponding sequence of flashing lights (to ensure your pre-frontal cortex is as awake as the rest of you). Then I read the items immediately underneath it - Ads by Google. This interests me. Is it automated? Triggered by key words? Manually inserted? Who pays for them? How many do you get for your money? Do you only pay if people click the links? I'm off to find out more.
CPAP Specials, Service
Australia's leading CPAP supplier Specials, Services, All in One
Sleep Disorder Centre Aus
Sleep Lab provides diagnostic tests for sleep disorders (OSA, Snoring)
Top Insomnia Treatments
The Top Treatments For Insomnia. End Your Sleeping Problems Now!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Thanks Ben

On Saturday night we went to Sydney University's Great Hall for the farewell performance of conductor Ben Macpherson OAM. Ben's had stewardship of the Sydney University Musical Society for the last 23 years and done a fantastic job. He will be missed. I hope his vineyard appreciates him as he hums his way through the rows. Thanks for all your efforts Ben. Muchly appreciated - as would be central heating in the Great Hall for winter concerts! Thank goodness someone had given us the heads-up so we were suitably rugged up - including beanies and gloves!

An apple a day

Isn't this a wonderful specimen of an apple? All the way from the Apple Belt in Queensland ... Stanthorpe to be precise. It's always nice to get presents - especially ones almost picked fresh - well, hand picked from the local markets at least. Thanks M.

Lurgy time

Not quite sure what's going around at the moment, but it's not good. Have just been down for a couple of days with a lurgy (which I may or may not have contracted from Sooz who had it last week, or my sister who had it the week before that). Also on the (more serious) health front, on Saturday my Dad was taken to the Emergency Department with "the highest blood sugar reading ever recorded at the hospital" which they think will result in him being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Also in hospital, sister-in-law Kim, who is still there following a bowel haemorrhage. She's doing better now and they believe she will be out on the weekend.

Unkind thoughts

Okay, I admit it, I felt dreadful for thinking it. The story that prompted it was in today's Daily Telegraph:
Two university students were found dead inside a large, deflated helium balloon after apparently pulling it down and crawling inside it, officials said. The deaths of Jason Ackerman and Sara Rydman, both 21, appeared accidental, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Major Bob Schrader said.
Of course, you have to wonder what they were thinking - and if it were me, it would have had something to do with plans to inhale the helium and speak in high squeaky voices. (Not that I would ever condone it!)

A quick Google search reveals that this might not have been too far off the mark. A CBS News Report states:

"It was more a fun thing they thought they were doing," said Linda Rydman, mother of Sara Rydman, adding that the two were apparently breathing helium from the balloon to make their voices go higher.

But the U.S. Compressed Gas Association warned that inhaling helium is dangerous because it can quickly lead to brain damage and death from lack of oxygen.

The county medical examiner said Sunday the official cause of death will not be released for six weeks, until toxicology results come back.