Thursday, August 31, 2006
Another feature was the hygienic toilet seat covers: the plastic sleeve is "moved along" one seat's worth when you pass your hand in front of a sensor. I tested: it's not the same bit being moved back and forth. Also worked by sensors:the flush, and the sink taps. And, as you'd expect, there are no main restroom doors so there's no fear of door germs on your way out either The other feature of Chicago that has left me intrigued is the Towers around the City - they look like huge golf tees complete with ball. What are they? Some have suggested water towers; some not. Homeland security devices perhaps - given that Chicago is the busiest airport in the US according to a recent poll - and I'd agree that it seems to be one of the biggest!
But it didn't have the fog San Francisco had that day - or the snow we flew over on the mountains (amazing given how hot it's been in the States!). (Notice the difference in quality between photos taken on the camera - and on the phone!)
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Man accused of online overseas extortionThe encounter turned into a sting operation because the alleged perpetrator did visit the States (from Dubai) and tried to set up a meeting with the girl - who by that time had been to the police who began posing as her online. A number of charges have now been laid.
AP - Charges have been filed against a man accused of persuading a teen to send him a nude photograph by threatening to ruin her parents' credit rating and saying he would come from the Middle East to have sex with her.
At the very end of the article is this statement:
(Rewrites throughout to correct suspect's first name to `Babir' sted `Babar,' based on updated information from sheriff's department; ADD that Chaudhry was visiting a brother, other details.)
For those who can't imagine this story not having a photo to go with it - you're right - you can see it at the EDP site (... where Norfolk really matters!).
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Psycho Killer Raccoons Terrorize Olympia, Devouring Cats, Attacking Dog, Frightening Residents
OLYMPIA, Washington Aug 22, 2006 (AP)— A fierce group of raccoons has killed 10 cats, attacked a small dog and bitten at least one pet owner who had to get rabies shots, residents of Olympia say.
Some have taken to carrying pepper spray to ward off the masked marauders and the woman who was bitten now carries an iron pipe when she goes outside at night.
"It's a new breed," said Tamara Keeton, who with Kari Hall started a raccoon watch after an emotional neighborhood meeting drew 40 people. "They're urban raccoons, and they're not afraid." ...
Read the full report at the ABC News site.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
The BBC recently carried an interview with Sha Zukang, China's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva. The interview looked at China's emergence as a super power - and its military build-up (it's third in the world - behind the U.S. and Russia). The big question is whether the world should be concerned. It may be that this quote as reproduced in the NY Sun's article reporting the interview, is not the best indicator:
"It's better for the U.S. to shut up," he said. "Keep quiet. It's much, much better." His voice rising, Mr. Sha continued: "It's the U.S.'s sovereign right to do whatever they deem good for them — but don't tell us what is good for China. Thank you very much!"
For more information on the BBC program "What China Wants", and for a link to a transcript of that program, click here.
A woman is suing an American company after being attacked by a legless female mannequin in one of its stores. The incident happened a year ago as the woman shopped for a blouse. The only one in her size was on the mannequin and as a sales assistant removed the garment, the dummy's arm flew off and hit the woman in the head. She was treated at the scene by paramedics - and later took herself to hospital. Injuries from the incident: bleeding scalp, cracked molar (requiring a root canal) and recurring shoulder pain.
Of course, in retrospect, it’s easy to see that this was an accident waiting to happen - obviously the mannequin was legless but it wasn't 'armless (well, initially, anyway).
Thursday, August 17, 2006
War is … hard when you're being shot at by both sides. It seems that 306 British soldiers were shot for cowardice, desertion and other offences in the 1914-1918 war. One of them was Private Harry Farr - and for years now, his family has been fighting to have him awarded a posthumous pardon and to have his name cleared. Why? Because they believe he was suffering from shell-shock and should not have been returned to the front-lines. The same seems to be true of others - although there may not be full and accurate records to satisfactorily show this - which is why a review of the cases has not gone quickly - and why, in 1998 the Government decided that it could not issue a blanket pardon because: it could not "distinguish between those who deliberately let down their country and their comrades and those who were not guilty of desertion of cowardice".
But that's changed now - and Defence Secretary Des Browne has announced that a group pardon would be presented to Parliament for their approval. After the announcement, Pte Farr's daughter Gertrude Harris, now 93, said: "Well to be truthful, I'm overwhelmed. I prayed that it would happen in my lifetime but I never realised really that it would. It's come really as a shock today. "We were determined for my mother' sake because she always said he was no coward, he was a very brave soldier and he fought for his country and he died fighting for his country." For more on this, see the BBC report.
Of course, the question is - what kind of civilised country executes its own people?
Spare a thought this week for Boy George - hitting the streets of New York - with shovel, broom, plastic bags and gloves to do five days of sweeping as part of community Service awarded for "wasting police time". He called them to his apartment late last year - where they found cocaine - and subsequently arrested him. Now, I know there has to be more to it than that - because isn't that what police are supposed to do? But back to the present - where Boy George's first day on the job seemed to be more about the media's interest in his community service than him getting the dose of "humility" he thought the exercise was meant to engender. In the end, the foreperson decided it would be better/safer all round if Boy George went back to the depot and spent his time working on their parking lot. Hopefully the media's interest in the star will fade enough by the end of the week to allow him to return to the streets.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Around 10,000 bags checked in by British Airways passengers have gone missing at airports since the UK security alert began, the airline says ... It said half of them were still piled up at airports waiting to be delivered back to their owners.So, does this mean it's "good bye" for the other half - and is it only the ones with laptops and ipods that aren't waiting for their owners to collect them? (Cynical ... me?) And if these are the figures for one airline - 5,000 in a week - which is more than the previous average for all airlines- what does the global figure look like? And how happy are the travel insurance companies about now?
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
"Gun Herald reporter has his day in court - but at least he has good taste in newspapers" screamed the headline. A crime reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald allegedly pulled a gun on a reporter from The Daily Telegraph earlier this month. He (the alleged gun-wielder) is currently on leave following a group of his colleagues urging management not to fire him. The matter - a charge of common assault and possessing a prohibited weapon without a permit - is due back in court later this month. But will the Herald reporter repeat yesterday's trick - turning up at court with the opposition's paper?
I like it when I work stuff out … suggests the mind is still working: and that's a good thing. I received a wmv file from my brother earlier this week called "Ice" which shows a snappily-dressed businessman coming out of his house to find all the cars in the street ice-bound. He takes to his car with his briefcase scrapping off ice; chipping off ice, hitting off ice. It is hard, slow, cold work. But finally he is done... and he presses his alarm fob and the car in front of "his" beeps its response. I got there two seconds before this punchline - and I'm sure the folks around me wondered what was so amusing - but had to explain its the joy in realising a man has just de-iced someone else's car.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
I tried to locate a replacement at stores within walking distance of the office and hotel in San Ramon - but the best I could find at Greatlands Target was a 30GB video iPod. But, back at the hotel the next day, I tried the keyboard again and lo and behold, it worked ... and then it didn't - and the Palm was pretending the keyboard was connected even when the keyboard was turned off. Hmmm ... maybe there was some kind of interference in that part of the hotel room - which it seems may have been the case because the keyboard is working fine now! Just as well I didn't buy a new one - that would have been wasted money (that could have been invested in an iPod!)
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Update: Borders wins. A different, quieter crowd but definitely a crowd. And there are more tables here too - inviting long lingering although it may be that there is no other kind. It is cool to see so many people, all ages, reading.
What's the word for fear of 13?
More sightseeing in San Francisco today - but not as much as I'd thought I would squeeze in. Might have something to do with the 11km walked yesterday - but it was fun - except that by lunchtime today - with another 8km up, I realised my feet were very sore and ready for a decent rest. I'd arranged for a car from the hotel at 6pm, hoping I'd be able to meet up with some friends who were flying into San Fran cisco today, but in the absence of word from them - I brought the car forward and here I am at 6pm, in San Ramon having a dry ginger ale and some pretzels while my laundry is quietly agitating in the laundry. And just as well too as I am down to my last sets of things (no need to go into details here). It's funny how places you've been before can seem familiar and fill one's heart with a feeling of comfort (or something akin to it). Can't wait to get home now and experience that feeling for real.
But first, some pictures from today's wanderings and Muni rides. I started out at Third Street and made my way up past the Meteron where lots of children were excitedly waiting to visit the Titanic Exhibit. Just before then, for those who know San Fran, there's the Sony shop - and I would have been prepared to excitedly visit it and openly (figuratively) salivate over the new Sony UX UMPC - oh, if only they'd been open - probably a good thing they weren't!!
Hmmm. If I'm going to describe the whole day - it could take a while. So, the short version. I took the F
Trolley to Castro and saw the biggest rainbow flag ever - and wondered where the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir - about to be in San Fran - are staying. Then back into town to have a wander around the markets at the United Nations Plaza. I think this is a less desirable part of town - and I would suggest that it is coloured by lots of neon and possibly some adult shops at night. Another short trolley ride took me back to California Street - and a visit to the Hyatt right next to cable car turn-round (although this one doesn't have the same turntable or crowds as Powell Street). Then it was down to Pier 1 and along that stretch - including a wander up to the TransAm building (the pyramid-shaped building). On the way there, I found a film crew although I couldn't tell what they were filming - although from the looks of the bikes, it could have something to do with motorcycle cops. I had a look at the cop/actors, but no-one looked familiar ... yes, yes, I know that, with my facial recognition skills, that means nothing!
Then I went along the pier fronts to have a proper look at the Bay Bridge (top level goes into San Fran, bottom level goes away from ... ) - and that was when I chanced upon the installation art. I know we have some BIG things here in Australia - but the mother and daughter (I have made the assumption that this is the intended relationship) and bow/arrow are up there. I am unsure of the symbolism of the life-sized and illuminated chef on the other side of the road.
I feel as though I know San Francisco a little more after this weekend - not yet enough, but it's a decent start.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Sunday, August 06, 2006
I had a great day sightseeing and taking photographs in San Francisco today. The high point was Lombard (The Crooked) Street - which I chanced upon because I was trying to get to Nob Hill. But it was good - with tourists lining up to take photographs of other tourists going down Lombard Street.
I'll just post the pics now, and come back on comment later!
I arrived yesterday afternoon and took myself off on the Muni (public transport) to see what I could see. The Muni is good - you can ride for 2 hours for $1.50 and the buses and trolley cars go all over. I'm still to locate a map of which routes go where - it was fairly hit and miss yesterday but I wanted to see everything so it didn't really matter - but today I want to go to specific places. Hopefully I'll be able to track down a better map than I currently have.
So one of the things I did yesterday, apart from riding public transport, was to take a cruise on the Bay, out under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz (Island). It was a smallish boat but a wonderful way to get cold (the heat wave that had settled on California causing around 100 deaths has now moved to the East Coast) and wet. Unfortunately during a bag swap in a slightly over-tired and befuddled stated, I left my spare battery back at the hotel - and for the first time ever found myself with a flat camera battery and some great shots going missing. Torture ... made worse by the lack of capability of the camera in the mobile phone. D'oh. I may need to re-do the cruise tonight. Hope I can get the $10 ticket again.
Of course, San Francisco is not just about "the Bridge". There's also hills. It's hard to capture just how steep they are - that's one of the things I'll be attempting today. As we were sitting half-way up a hill at a bus stop yesterday, I found myself thanking the inventor of effective braking systems - and hoping that the Muni never skips on brake maintenance. It would be horrific to think about a fully loaded trolley car hurtling backwards down one of the hills. Hmmm. Of course, from that, it would come as no surprise to know that I woke at one point during the night thinking "now what do you do in case of an earthquake?" Especially when you're on the 19th floor. The hills of San Francisco are due to much seismic disturbance - the last big one being back in 1989.