Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sea gulls

At Terrigal beach on Saturday afternoon, it was a bit on the gusty side and the seagulls were having a hard time landing - and flying. So they were mostly gliding - which made them easier to photograph.

That's cold

It was so cold in Canada last week that it was possible to throw a cup of hot water in the air and it would freeze before it hit the ground. Brrrr. (But, would it have worked with a cup of cold water. I think I heard somewhere that hot water freezes faster than cold water.)

Food matters

Having breakfast with my brother and his family this morning on the Central Coast, talk turned to when food could be considered "spoiled". I have this thing about (a) not eating food that has been on the floor and (b) not keeping food too long in the fridge (all right, I actually balk about eating food that has been in the fridge for more than 3 days - although that's not a problem with the freezer). Of course, not everyone is so fussy. Apparently there's something called "the five second rule" - and if you call it when something's been on the floor, it's like the food hasn't been on the floor at all. Hmm. And of course there's the other saying - which was applied to cheese in this instance, but probably has wider applications: "green fur good; black fur bad".

Friday, February 24, 2006

The newest thing on mobiles

Won't be long before we all have the opportunity of loading our mobile phones with moan tones and other XXX content. The surprise is not that this is in the wings but that it has stayed there for so long. I hadn't given it much thought before hearing a radio program about it yesterday but pornography has been among the early adopters of most technology so why would this be any different? Take the #1 thing that sells on the interact, add the hottest technology and, presto, mobile porn.
And speaking of magic, on the way back from lunch, I noticed a woman holding a sign advertising the City's best magic shop. On the reverse was an advert for a beauty Salon!

Hungry for more

A German man accused of eating and murdering a compatriot has apparently told his retrial that he still fantasizes about killing and eating people when he sees attractive people on television or in the press.
Why for only attractive people? And does this mean his access to the media should be curtailed? And did the relative attractiveness of his alleged first victim influence his actions? And does his view of what is attractive coincide with the general view of "attractive"? And how would you feel as a model or person in the public eye to find out that you were the subject of a cannibal's fantasy?

And on the subject of cannibals, I read a question the other day which asked: who supplied the large cauldrons in which missionaries were cooked?

Funnily enough "attractive" was in the news again today. Apparently, according to a US study, non-attractive teens are more likely to grow up to commit crime or as it was explained later in the same report, but with a slightly different slant, attractive males were consistently less likely to be convicted of crimes... but more likely to be pin-ups (for cannibals ... hopefully not literally)!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


To those who commented on how my spelling had deterioriated during my time in the States, I have only this to say:
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.
Well, actually, I have more to say - now that I've done a bit more research on typoglycemia, which according to Wikipedia is: Typoglycemia is the lighthearted name given to a purported recent discovery about the cognitive processes behind reading written text. While the bit about the Cambridge research is an urban legend, there is some truth about the phenomenon (as those of you who read it would understand - and isn't it funny how much easier it is to understand the faster you read it?). Typoglycemia apparently first came to light with a letter to New Scientist magazine from a Graham Rawlinson in which he discussed his Ph.D. thesis:
In a puiltacibon of New Scnieitst you could ramdinose all the letetrs, keipeng the first two and last two the same, and reibadailty would hadrly be aftcfeed. My ansaylis did not come to much beucase the thoery at the time was for shape and senqeuce retigcionon. Saberi's work sugsegts we may have some pofrweul palrlael prsooscers at work.The resaon for this is suerly that idnetiyfing coentnt by paarllel prseocsing speeds up regnicoiton. We only need the first and last two letetrs to spot chganes in meniang.
I just enjoy reading this stuff now - and looking for new word combinations. And thanks to the Stephen Sachs site, you can type your own text and have it jumbled for you: Tihs is smoe txet I julmbed uisng a tool I funod on the web. Cool hey?

Use your headset!

This is reproduced in toto from the Wired's Gear Factor page because I'm not sure how long the link lasts (there's new material all the time). In today's world where we are contantly reminded not to use mobile phones while driving - this shows that not everyone is getting the message (maybe someone should phone it in!).
In a car crash that perfectly illustrates the importance of hands-free mobile devices, a Kentucky woman flipped her truck after veering into the median, and severed her arm in the crash. Fortunately, the woman and her six-year-old daughter survived the crash, and paramedics were able to locate the woman's severed arm, which was found still clutching the phone she was talking on when the crash began. The woman was flown to the hospital in serious condition. Use your headsets, people!


When parents have twins and people ask if there's one of each - you usually expect them to answer yes - one girl/one boy. Not so in London where a woman has given birth to twin daughters - one with dark-coloured skin, one fair-skinned. Both Kylie Hodgson, 19, and her partner, Horder, 17, are of mixed race according to the report in today's The Daily Telegraph.

The Playaway

While at Borders at San Ramon I found some audio books. They were slightly different from CDs or cassettes - because they came with their own player. One book - one player. Didn't say if you could reload them after you've finished the book. The advertising blurb: "Enjoy digital sound from a lightweight player with eight simple buttons. Wear it around your neck or stick it in your pocket. From novels to biographies, languages to business best sellers, Playaway comes already loaded with your favorite content."
Everything's included - and you can also get ideas from their website on sharing each title when you're done. I'm not sure it's for me - but it will be interesting to see how long it takes before it hits Australian shores - and how the approx $US50.00 per title translates into Aussie currency.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Plain food

Why is it that some airlines think that diabetic food has to be bland and boring? Despite rumours to the effect that I happen to like bland and boring, this is not always the case.

Ipod Nano - game

Playing with the Nano I have found: Name that song. It isn't mentioned in the literature so it was wonderful to find it. It takes all the songs in your playlist, selects one and starts playing it – giving you five options to choose from. It takes away an option every couple of seconds just to make it interesting. The faster you guess, the more points it’s worth. Only thing I can’t work out is when you “win”, or perhaps this one is really just about playing the game.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Heading home

I'm at SFO waiting for my flight to board. It has been fun and I'm intending to blog about my time here (rather than just post photos) when I've got some time to (a) catch up on sleep and (b) catch up on sleep. It will be interesting to see if I have jet lag after the trip home. Hope not. One thing I do know - it will be great to be back home again.

Monday, February 13, 2006

SF pics

Click on the pics to enlarge

Band at Pier 39

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Car talk

This was yesterday in the parking lot at the Office - which is the closest I'm likely to get to driving in the States this trip. The colleague with the car kept saying "it's a rental - take it for a spin" couldn't seem to understand my reluctance to do just that. He had received a no-charge upgrade - "would you prefer a mini van or a Crossfire sir?" - when the car he had booked was not available. He gave me a lift back to the hotel in it - and it's the closest to the road I ever want to be! They really do like their cars over here - and I have yet to see a "rust bucket". I'm not sure what the reason for this is - whether I'm in an affluent West Coast area, because cars are cheap here ... I'll ask some questions. And while I'm on the subject of cars - they can be BIG here. Another colleague gave us a lift in her SUV - which I thought was pretty huge but she apologized because it wasn't a "real SUV". It was a "mini". The real ones must be the size of a bus!

Saturday, February 11, 2006


I think there is no doubt about it. I am definitely a creature of habit. I know this because rather than writing this up in my room, I am in the lobby with a cup of coffee watching the world go by. Except being a bit tired, I am having a wonderful time. The kick-off session I came over for went very well and even though we're not quite sure what direction we're going to heard in (because this has to be decided in part by the business), we know the elements of the strategy we will need to put together. It was wonderful to meet colleagues from around the world - finally being able to put faces to names and voices. I was telling our English colleague that I had imagined him quiet differently - a reserved English gentleman. Well, he is English and a gentleman but reserved!!?! It was also good not to be alone on an overseas trip because Darien, my supervisor, was also here. He's flying back tonight and I'll stay on for another three meetings on Monday, before heading back thaht night.
This means I have the weekend free to explore San Francisco and take photographs. I'll post some in the next day or so.

In the US of A

It's 7.25am in San Francisco, 2.25am back home in Sydney, but I think I am slowly getting used to the time difference. Not that that's the only difference here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. (Slight pause as I go looking for the words of the American National Anthem and try to remember if it really is called The Star Spangled Banner.)
I'm sitting in front of a couple of newspapers - USA Today and San Ramon Valley Times - and still cannot get over their size. They seem to be a strange hybrid mix of broadsheet and tabloid which should make them fairly easy to read on public transport - but having seen the traffic back-ups on the local freeways - I'm not sure if there are people out there eschewing their vehicles for MUNI - SF's public transport network.
I had a quick look through USA Today over my STARBUCKS coffee (STARBUCKS is all in capital letters because I couldn't work out whether to capitalise the B if it was in lower case.) While it felt familiar, it took me until the final section, Life, to realise that I am a regular reader of USAToday - the electronic version is delivered to me each day via Avantgo onto my Palm (or Pocket PC).

Thursday, February 09, 2006


How long will the battery last on the flight? I have the screen brightness way down low – which is kind of fitting since the lights are out and window shades drawn. Can’t remember how long I’ve been on for now but I’m still showing 3.33 hours left. My next laptop may be one of those with the even longer battery life. One of the ones I looked at recently, a Vaio ultra-light is reported to have a 9 hour battery life – although reviews suggest it is 6 – which is still fantastic!

Personality types

I have taken a number of personality tests over the years, but I had never come across one which looked at creativity/ingenuity. There are the usual four personality types plus one. The flexor. I’ll have to do some checking and see if the tool is generally available or proprietary to the company before I put down too much detail. But it’s interesting. Unlike lots of other tests like this, I have to say I agreed with this. The profile you receive after completing the online questionnaire outlines the basic characteristics of your type, plus Likes, Can Get Stressed When, Contributes, Potential Pitfalls, and Give This Profile. Pretty neat stuff. (Oh no, I’m starting to sound like an American – and I have strict instructions to NOT come back with an accent!)

En route to SF

I’m writing this from seat 25A on United 870 en route to San Francisco. Unfortunately, it is not the optium typing situation but we’ll see what we can manage to punch out. According to the inflight map, we have just passed over Noumea. So far I have been able to keep my fear of flying (and the thought that we really are … oops, probably best not to go into that while we’re up here!) in check. This is helped by inflight entertainment, that I have had some pre-reading to do for the meetings I am flying to the States for and that I have just finished a three-course meal. And all this while we’re still within a couple of hours of leaving Sydney, I can see the international date line on themap now (should that have capitals?) and find myself wondering if we will be traveling through daylight for the entire flight. Will it still be today when we travel into yesterday? Or will it be tomorrow when we fly into today. It’s almost worth staying awake for – because I don’t think I could work it out without expending some considerable mental calculating. If we’re x hours from the dateline and it’s y o’clock now etc etc.
This is my first time to the States and the first time I have flown with an American airline. It is very strange – since most of my recent overseas trips have been to Asia, to have non-Asian flight crew. It is also different to see older flight crew (something I haven’t seen on recent domestic flights in Australia).
PS 3.5 hours out of Sydney and it’s dark outside. Very dark. I have a feeling that we’re not going to get the same light show that happens over Hong Kong – where the clouds are lit up for miles around.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Choice photo?

In the Daily Telegraph today there is a photograph of a woman with the caption “… leaves court yesterday; (below left) the dress”. On the window of the car is a sign “Anti Theft System”. Which is ironic considering the reason she was in court was because she allegedly stole a $4000 wedding dress from a Double Bay boutique. I can’t help wonder sometimes about the care taken with these photos and having them tell a picture (or substitute for those thousand words). Deliberate or accidental?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Flaming hell

Just catching up with the news from America. It seems that early this year, President Bush enacted a law which makes it illegal to post annoying web message or send annoying email-messages anonymously or without revealing your true identity. While a case could be made to say there is some merit to this, it obviously leaves whistleblowers and critics who would prefer not to be identified for fear of reprisals in a less than desirable position. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison.
That being said - how would they find you? It would seem use of the internet does not allow for let alone guarantee any form of anonymity. And what of the rights to free speech as contained in the American Constitution? And if you send an annoyance through the mail - can you still do that anonymously? And does this mean that if an American were to claim they were being continuously annoyed by spam - that someone would finally do something about it?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Remember when ...

Baby Jessica fell down a well in Texas and rescuers toiled for 58 hours to free her? That was about 18 years ago now and reports on People magazine's website suggests that she is now all grown up - and was married last weekend. Didn't that time fly?

More eye in the sky

I took this photo out of the plane on the way back from Queensland on Monday morning. It's not very clear in the photo - except for the complete absence of shadows - but it seemed the clouds were at ground level ... fog. I'd never thought about what it must look like from above before - and I wondered how often pilots/air craft personnel see things like this, and if fills them with wonder.

Eye in the Sky

Found an interesting site today which has various locations of interest as seen using Google Maps. It breaks them into categories and once at the link you can see where your landmark is. I found the plane taking off at San Francisco airport to be a treat - because scrolling from there gives me a chance to look at the surrounding city and environs. I could recognize some of them - but was a bit surprised that there are hills (big hills?) to the east of San Francisco!