Saturday, September 30, 2006


Aaargh - and it's not even talk like a pirate day. I've taken to listening to and watching podcasts - and am becoming increasingly annoyed at a disturbing new trend ... advertising. Sponsorship messages weren't too bad - "this program brought to you by ..." type of thing. But I don't know how many more times I can take the GridIron Gang trailer - or the latest IBM innovation message. I've started to fast-forward through them - and I am getting better at it - but advertisers please be aware - it's okay the first couple of times then it just becomes increasingly more annoying! Yes I know that all brand recognition should be good but it's not ... okay!
Update: I decided to give some feedback to CNN about its video podcast "In Case You Missed It" which used to be a quite manageable about-2-minutes - and still is, except for the more-than-2-minutes sponsorship program about Ford - some at the beginning of the pod - and the full one at the end. The message suggests you can choose to view the full Ford program - which you can - except you've already downloaded it. It might have been okay if it was only over the course of a week or on alternate days but it seems to be constant. I've reached saturation point now - and am about to unsubscribe to what was otherwise a great podcast - but when the associated sponsorship is longer than the pod ... well, it might work in the US, but not for me. So I've sent them an email to let them know - cause I decided there was a good chance they don't read my blog.

Remember the Segway

Seems that the manufacturers of the Segway just cannot win. Despite recent announcements of the launch of two new models of the Segway Personal Transporter, there is now an active recall of all 23,500 of them. A software glitch has been found that makes the wheels unexpectly reverse direction, throwing off the rider! The good news is that the problem should be able to be fixed with a software upgrade.
According to a Wired report this is the second time the scooters have been recalled since they first went on sale in 2002. In 2003 the first 6,000 devices sold were recalled - again the problem was that riders were likely to fall off - but this time it was when the battery depleted.
Hopefully this won't affect those planning to take a Segway tour of San Francisco.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Vale Margaret

If you look up "on this day" on the internet for 24 September you should, but won't, find the passing of Margaret White who finally succumbed to the cancer she had battled for the last several years. She was "seen off" at 2.15 on Sunday morning by her friends and her cousin who had cared for at home before her hospitalisation early last week. They were all with her as she took her final breath - sorry to lose her but glad she was no longer in pain and trapped in a body that had failed her. Margaret was a special woman who did much to make the world a better place. She will be greatly missed. Vale Margaret.


Thanks to The Daily Telegraph's article on designer handbag thieves, I feel like a target. Yes, I know there are probably lots of others who carry around heaps of stuff with them - but my little backpack doesn't look like it holds a laptop, Palm, smart phone etc etc etc. And even though the stuff is insured (it all is now) I'd hate for it to be taken from me - especially just because the paper decided to run an item and pic saying that thieves could be looking at a $6,000 haul! Of course the illustration they used was for a designer handbag (itself worth a dollar or two) - makeup, coin purse ($200+), iPod, camera ... the list went on - it was a pretty big handbag!

Replacement Palm

My newish Palm LifeDrive stopped working last weekend - wouldn't even turn on. So I rang Palm to arrange a replacement - and of course we went through the general "have you tried this, have you tried that" and finally they gave me a replacement number and the process started.
The process is supposed to go like this:
  1. Get the replacement number from Palm.
  2. Send in your Palm - with this number - to their drop-off centre.
  3. They will send you an email saying that the Palm has been received.
  4. Receipt of the Palm starts the process for a replacement to be couriered to you.
  5. You receive the Palm and rejoice in having it back.
Well, I sent the Palm off on Monday afternoon - and I didn't hear a word until 10:15am on Wednesday morning when the replacement Palm arrived. A couple of hours later I received an email telling me it had been despatched, and the next day I received an email telling me they had received my old unit.
Great work Palm!! I don't give a jot about the comms as long as I have the LifeDrive.

And Kovko makes two

The Daily Telegraph had an item the other day about Private Jake Kovko's death in Iraq on 21 April this year from an injury sustained from his own pistol. Their point was that this was not the first time such an incident has happened. They told of another serviceman, Trevor Petith, in Vietnam - who on 21 April 1985 also died from an injury sustained from his own weapon. 21 years to the day.
I did some quick research (read "google") on Petith and although he is mentioned on a couple of sites, it doesn't say what happened to him - just that his holidays had been cancelled and that was the last time his family saw him alive - and that his homecoming was sad.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Eye=popping ...

Kim Goodman of Chicago has a rare gift - the ability to "pop her eyeballs to an extrusion of 11mm" - making her the current world's record holder. So how do you find out you can do this? For her, it was apparently after she had been hit in the head with a hockey stick. Now she can do it at will - and when she yawns. In the couple of items I read, I couldn't find a reference to whether she had been able to harness her skill to a "useful" purpose - as had Brazilian Claudio Pinto (7 mm) who until recently had a job scaring visitors in a haunted house. It's unclear whether he chose to leave or if he was laid off - and it wasn't mentioned if it was the eye-popping that was the scaring tool - or whether he would just leap out of the dark and yell "boo" - if someone did that to me, having their eyes popping wouldn't help the effect - because mine would be covered, closed or being carried away by my fleeing body! But, I have to admit, the picture of Mr Pinto doing his thing is pretty amazing! (I only included a link to the pics of both Kim and Carlo here so you can look only if you want to: Carlo's is more "graphic").

Monday, September 18, 2006

Marrickville Festival

We took time out yesterday to take a walk up and down Marrickville Road to enjoy the Marrickville Festival. It was fun - and there were some great stalls for Sydney Council (thanks for the water bottle and squeezy ball) and MGM (Marrickville Galleries & Museums).
It was a lovely sunny day for the event - and it was nice seeing so many people out and about in the local community.


This was sighted on a pack of ginger biscuits from overseas - and this seems to make a lot more sense in labelling foods rather than solely with the numbers. It gives a better idea of how this food would equate with others - especially for those of us who have no idea how much our recommended daily allowance for, for example, sodium is. Would it make a difference if we knew that that candy bar we love so much actually has 110% of the recommended daily intake of salt? And what was that <holding hand to ear> "let's have another one because it was so yummy"?
Is the problem not so much portions - as not knowing what those portions represent and therefore not being able to make informed decisions?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Hedgehogs - One; McCurry - None

Hedgehogs take heart - McDonalds has agreed to redesign it's McFlurry ice-cream containers. When the containers were littered, hedgehogs would lick inside the container and then become trapped, causing them to starve to death. McDonalds is now making the lids smaller so hedgehog's heads cannot enter.
Not so lucky is Kuala Lumpur eatery McCurry, which insists its name is an abbreviation of Malaysian Chicken Curry. It has lost a five-year battle with McDonalds over use of the McCurry name. Even though the open-air eatery serves spicy fish-head curries, tandoori chicken and other Indian dishes, the name McCurry and their signage featuring colours distinctive of McDonalds had the multinational chain concerned that customers would confuse McCurry with their outlets.
Word on the street is that McCurry's is planning to appeal the ruling.

Mass hiss-teria

Reuters reports that dozens of children have fainted, apparently because of mass hysteria, after school authorities in Nepal killed a snake, considered as sacred by many Hindus. Laxmi Secondary School in Lekhnath town in Kaski district, west of the capital city Kathmandu Since Tuesday, at least 67 Laxmi Secondary School students, aged between 9 and 16, have had fainting fits - where they suddenly scream, cry and faint. Some recover after a couple of hours while others have not yet fully recovered. Some of the afflicted students said they had fainted after seeing a huge snake that was poised to bite them. The school was closed and there are moves to have shamans exorcise the slain snake's spirit before the school reopens Sunday. Doctors told school officials it was a case of hysteria caused by fear of divine retribution for the snake's death. Hindus regard snakes as sacred and Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, is shown wearing a serpent as a garland.
Cases of hysteria are not uncommon in Nepal according to the Hindustan Times. According to their report, the hysteria can be linked to Maoist insurgency, communist rebels, forced migrations and other pressures faced by Nepalese youngsters.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Blog pedantries

On occasion, when I'm reviewing previous blog entries I notice a mistake - could be a spelling error or grammer (that was intentional) or even that I've left the post as purple when importing it from my desktop - and I'm torn between going back and fixing it and leaving it "as is". When reading a friend's blog the other day I was intrigued to see that I'm possibly not the only one who goes through this - because the mis-spelling I'd noticed in one of her recent entries - understandable because she had been typing with her elbows at the time - had been corrected. But it raises the question - what is a blog and how should one be regarded - and do visitors go back over entries? For example, recent posts here have referenced earlier posts ... but would it be better/more cohesive to simply go back and update the original entry? Hmmmm.

... in the rain

It rained heavily overnight,and that's continued this morning. Which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't raining inside the bus as well. I'd been dripped on within seconds of sitting in my regular seat this morning and decided to move to the other side of the aisle. There was a leak there too, but only on one seat. Seat #1 seemed much more affected by the rock and sway of the bus. As we journeyed, I pointed the drip out to the new arrivals who went to sit there. And that's when I was reminded what a wonderful thing communication is. At one point I'd been reading and missed the couple moving into the seats - but I just looked up above their heads, and the man, sitting closer to me, looked up too - saw the water droplets - and shepherded his travelling companion out of the seat and further down the bus. It's also amazing to see that people do choose their bus seats - not sure how - but there were some people who were not the slightest bit interested in the "under leak seat" and immediately forged towards the back of the bus. How do you choose a seat on the bus (if you're lucky enough to get a choice)?

Telephone talk

When the phone rings, do you know who's calling? In recent tests, respondents were able to correctly tell who was calling 45% of the time - leading the researchers to assert that "telephone telepathy" really does exist. I have a much higher ratio of getting it right - about 85% - although I dare say that if I didn't have caller ID on my work and mobile phones, I wouldn't do nearly as well. Seriously though, I have had occasions where the phone rings and it's someone I was thinking of calling only a couple of moments before.

And what's your "telephone obedience" like? When the phone rings do you have to answer it, regardless of whether you're up to your elbows in dishwashing, or soaking in the tub - or … well, doing anything really? If you do, you are not alone. (Why is it that … ET Phone Home … just popped into my head? And is that the phone ringing?)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Snakes and Indians

50,000 people died last year in India from snake bites; in Australia, with 10 species of the world's most venomous snakes, only 1 person died. The difference? The ready availability of anti-venom in Australia. There are moves in India to get anti-venom into local centres to help reduce the death toll - so people don't have to wait for hours for transport to a hospital for treatment - in which case it's usually too late.


On the way to lunch today I walked through the Pitt Street Mall and was not surprised to see buskers at work. What did surprise me, and perplex me more than just a little, was that the five black-suited dancers were twirling sharp pointy things - scissors - a pair in each hand. Now, I'm not saying they weren't competent or good, but it just seems that it is a slightly dangerous thing to do. Yes, I know there are people out there who juggle chainsaws - but most kids can't get a hold of several of them to practice. Scissors are a different thing. So, I was left with a dilemma - to kick in when the hat was passed - or walk away with my money still firmly clutched in my hand to protest the scissor twirling whirling dervishes. Yes - I walked away quickly before they were finished so I wouldn't have to decide!

For what?

How long was Friends on air for? I'm not sure, but the real question is: Is the "for" necessary in that question? Would "How long was Friends on air?" not elicit the same answer? Is it an illicit use of "for"? And in what circumstances, such as this, can "for" correctly be used? Next time round, I want to attend a grammar school - even perhaps a grammar grammar school (elementary my dear Watson). Or perhaps I could just play for a while with The Grammar Gorillas.

Solid foundation

Spare a moment today to think about your shoes - and depending on whether you're male or female - you'll probably think about them differently. In both case, they're the point of contact most of us have with the ground - but that's where the similarity seems to end. Generally speaking men's shoe choices are activity based while women's shoe choices are mood based - you can apparently tell a lot about a woman from their shoes - and possibly even from the height of their heels. Why/how did you choose the shoes you're wearing today?

In the picture

What do photo-journalist Grace Robertson and Dick Muir have in common? Lots - considering Dick Muir was Grace's pseudonym when she was first trying to carve out a career in photo-journalism in the 1940's. She sent in her first batch of photos under the name Dick Muir. They were returned. She sent in another batch - which were also returned, but with the note "persevere young man" - which she did. To hear Grace talk about her life and work, visit the BBC Women's Hour site.

Short of the mark

Khagendra Thapamagar may not get to claim the shortest man title just yet ... in an item titled Short Changed on today's early morning news (not sure which one, I was channel surfing three lots at the time), it was suggested that he will have to wait until he is 18 to claim the title of the shortest man in the world. Does this mean there is no "shortest teenager" category? (Hope he doesn't develop any sort of complex about all this!)

A tall story

Sperm donors in the US need to be at least 5'10" tall before they can participate. Who would have thought that height would be the most sought-after trait?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dead unlucky

Virginia Yates, 60, of Vermont, was killed recently after she fell getting off a pontoon boat onto a dock. According to a witness, she sustained a twisted ankle and a bump on the head - not life-threatening injuries - but because she was unable to walk up the 100-plus steps to a nearby house, rescuers decided to ferry her across the river to a waiting ambulance. Ms Yates was strapped to a backboard and placed on an airboat - which then began taking on water, capsized, and sank, taking Ms Yates with it. The emergency services personnel, none of whom were injured, were unable to recover Ms Yates until some time later.

Talking point

Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the net, there's news of a mermaid or maybe it's an Authentic Organic ALIEN Corpse UFO Time Traveler. I found this on Snopes, together with more photos - and a link to the eBay seller who was selling these but is now selling something else - no doubt also a conversation piece for any home. When I followed the link, there was a "Bodies The Exhibit Macabre Medical Wonders Corpse" - and you could "Buy It Straight Away" if you didn't want to bid and wait for 6d 07h 35m (and counting)!

Package information

There are moves afoot examining changing the packaging information on Australian foods - so that as well as giving standard nutritional information, packages will also have "exercise" details eg how much exercise do you need to do to burn off the energy a food contains. Another suggestion is to label foods like traffic lights - green, amber and red - so people could be steered away from foods high in fat, salt and sugar. The latter system is currently working well in the UK.


Harold Stapleton has perfected a device - dubbed "The Mosquito" - which produces a noise highly annoying to teenagers. When switched on it is barely noticeable - but after 5-10 minutes it emits a piercing wail which can only be heard by people under 25 years of age. This might work a little more effectively, and create less of an annoyance factor, than the plan in effect in some of Sydney's southern suburbs - where Golden Oldies are being pumped out of/in areas where the young congregage and the old wish they didn't.

See ya mate

Much will be written in the coming days of wildlife conservationist television star Steve Irwin who was killed yesterday while filming off the coast of Far North Queensland. I found this comment this morning. Seemed to cover most of the important things.
Some reports have likened Steve Irwin's death to that of Princess Diana - unexpected and tragic. Of course, we are a society that tries to avoid the very existence of death and dying - which is why it sometimes seems like such a shock when people do die - especially if they have a "good" public persona and following. The advice in today's Daily Telegraph advising parents to be honest with their children when they ask, and give them a chance to talk about their feelings, and allow them to grieve, could very well apply to the rest of us as well - now and for the rest of our lives.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Guinness Book of World Records

While trying to find out who was the world's shortest man today, I stumbled across an article on Craig Glenday, editor of the Guinness Book of World Records. In it there is a reference to the start of the book:
The book famously began in 1951 as an argument between Sir Hugh Beaver, managing director of the Guinness Brewery, and friends with whom he'd gone hunting in the Irish countryside. Beaver exclaimed that a bird he'd shot at and missed, the red grouse, was Europe's fastest; the others disagreed. Sir Hugh's well-stocked library could not resolve the matter, and "he realized you needed something to settle these arguments which must be raging in pubs all around Britain," says Glenday. Beaver hired the McWhirters, Norris and Ross, to be the editors and in August 1955, the first edition of Guinness Book of World Records was launched. It had a beer-proof cover and was sold to Britain's 84,000 pubs.
But who were the McWhirters? And why, in 1975, was only one of these identical twins with photoraphic memories and outspoken political beliefs, Ross, gunned down by the IRA?

But back to the shortest man. It used to be Gul Mohammed (India) who was 57cm tall but he died in 1997 aged 39. Current title holder Younis Edwan (Jordan) is 65cm tall. But there's a rising contender - Khagendra Thapamagar of Baglung (Nepal) - who at 14 can only contest the title of World's Shortest Man because he is considered to be "fully grown" at 50cm. A ruling on his claim to the title is in progress.

Grouper Groupee

There's lots written about YouTube but this morning I managed to find Grouper - which is a similar site recently acquired by Sony Pictures for $65 million. It's worth a visit for the landing page - a selection of thumbnails from site content is served and when you hover over one, it "pops up" at a slightly larger size, gives a caption, and a play button. Cool! The category list down the side is fun too! The only downside is that it appears to serve up a different selection each time you visit - which could be a plus for regular visitors but may make it difficult to find the preview for Stranger than Fiction again.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Las Vegas news

Warren Jeffs, recently arrested leader of a polygamist sect, appeared in a Las Vegas court earlier this week and said he would not fight extradiction to Utah on charges he arranged marriages between underage girls and older men.
Also in Las Vegas this week - news that the self-proclaimed wedding capital of the world will no longer cater for those who want to marry late at night on the spur of the moment. The Las Vegas marriage bureau plans to close its all-night counter.
Of course, you can still get hitched at any hour - you just have to plan for it.

Cheese please

A couple of days ago I blogged about the NY Times' new perfume critic. Seems he's come along just in time. Word just out ... you can now get Eau de Stilton - which I guess is the equivalent of cheese phew in a bottle. Nigel White, of the Stilton Cheesemakers' Association, which commissioned the project, is reported as saying: "Blue Stilton cheese has a very distinctive, mellow aroma and our perfumier was able to capture the key essence of that scent and recreate it in what is an unusual but highly wearable perfume." I'm not sure I want to test it and see if it really does "recreate the earthy and fruity aroma" of the cheese.
Of course, cheese isn't the only thing being channelled into perfume - according to an ABC News Nightline Online report Who Wants to Smell Like Cheese there are people who dab on a little essence of almost anything eg dirt, new car, burnt rubber, burning leaves, library and even Play-Doh.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Good news me hearties!

It's almost Talk Like a Pirate Day again - and the amazing news is that if you're here in Australia, you may get to do it twice - which I think is a bit strange. A decision has been taken that because September 19 (official TLAPD) is a week-day, employers may not fully appreciate and embrace the event, so the Australian "organisers" have moved TLAPD to September 23. And as I be celebrating my first great, grand TLAPD observance, I might just be doing both! Aarrr. (You too can learn how to speak like a pirate - yarr, me hearties - you can be speakin' pirate-like!) Oh, oh ... just remembered, there's a site (a site? there are tons of them) you can go to and get a pirate name - "I might try that again" said the recently dubbed Mad Mary Flint which is slightly better than Iron Deficient Cynthia.

Hold the phone ...

Yesterday's Media Report on ABC's Radio National focused on the future/features of the mobile phone - and its possible replacement of dedicated devices such as the iPod (not yet) and as a data caster and entry to digital space. Well worth a listen - and a lesson. (Thanks for the SMS re this Lizzie.)