Monday, June 29, 2009

Free Mini Tattoo

Yeah, sure, and you'd wake up with a big tattoo, right? Of course there are other types of tattoo - and if you're at Sydney Domain this Sunday at 10.30am you'll be able to see one - a band mini tattoo to commence a colourful parade of Standards and Banners to celebrate Reserve Forces Day.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Not news any more - really!

Yet there it is again ... as "news"!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is there ...

... a mnemonic for mnemoic? Seems like that could be useful.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stars in her lies

Was there seriously ever any doubt that the European lass who said she asked for 3 stars to be tattooed on her face - and after she fell asleep, woke up to find she had 56 - was not being totally truthful? She now says she did ask for 56 and had blamed the tattooist only after her father was horrified when he saw a galaxy where the left side of his daughter's face should be. Despite it not being his error, the tattooist offered to pay half the cost of laser treatment for removal of the tattoos because he didn't want to have a dissatisfied customer. He's also thinking of having people give written approval to the work they've asked him to do - before he does it - just to be on the safe side. Tattoos aren't for ever - but they don't just rub off either - although there is this new ink ...

Taking it seriously

Following news of Australia's second death from the H1N1 virus, and full-page newspaper ads about being alert but not alarmed (well, that's not actually what they say but it may be what they mean) it's good to know our elected Government officials are setting such a fine example - one continues to attend parliament despite being treated for possible swine flu after he had contact with a relative who had contracted the virus. If this thing does take off, I don't hold out much hope for its containment.

Lightning test

I wouldn't try this myself but word on one of the technology news feeds is that a woman has survived being hit by lightning because the iPod she was carrying absorbed most of the charge. She wasn't uninjured in the incident but the iPod was apparently totally "fried". There was no indication of whether the iPod was on at the time or what she was listening to or if what she was listening to had in any way led to the bolt from on high as in "where's that awful din coming from, it's very annoying, zzzaatt".

No pressure

According to today's The Daily Telegraph, celebrity Todd McKenny has asked his co-star to have a child with him. She has not yet given an answer to him but at least it's good to know there's no pressure. It's not as though the proposal - to have the child - is public ... oh, wait ... yes it is. There is no suggestion of a romantic involvement for the pair even though they have been "good mates" for nearly 30 years.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Little Rock?

By definition you would probably think that Little Rock could be a smallish place - but possibly not so. A tractor-trailer hauling pigs crashed near there recently and some of the livestock got loose - meaning a stretch of the highway between Little Rock and North Little Rock had to be closed while the hogs and the wreck were cleared.Only question now is, is there a South Little Rock - and how big are the Little Rocks really - individually and collectively?

Water bottle doohickeys

People just never stop thinking of things to spend money on and now you can have designer doohickeys to pop into your designer - or tap - bottled water. As the report I read on Gizmodo pointed out, this is one kind of organism you wouldn't mind sharing your water bottle with - although, you'd hope they came in a sealed plastic bag - or could be sterilized - before adding to your water bottle. A good point on the Gizmodo report - and definitely worth remembering if you have a penchant for slamming down the water - chances are that if it's small enough to fit into the neck of a water bottle, it's probably small enough to choke you. More details - and pictures - can be found here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Selective attention

Cardboard king Richard Pratt has been remembered, two months after his death, at a memorial service yesterday. It was probably fitting, in that context, that no mention was made of his lover and their daughter (neither of whom attended), or the fine of $36 million his company had earned for price fixing. His good works during his lifetime, however, were mentioned and hopefully will serve as an inspiration for and to others.

Hold the phone

Telstra's State of the Nation report is now out and its findings raise more questions than it answers. Over 1200 Australians were canvassed in May this year - all right it was 1201 - about their mobile phone message behaviour and use. It seems that one in four Australians have found out their partner was cheating by reading a text on their partner's phone. "One in four Australians" ... hmmmm ... that should probably have read "One in four of the 1201 surveyed" rather than the blanket statement they used. But, IS this indicative of the population as a whole? Or could it be extrapolated that people who use Telstra as their carrier are more prone to philandering? Rather than, as was once suggested to me by someone who wouldn't have a mobile because ... only people wanting to have affairs have mobile phones?

Rising numbers

Rarely has an invasion been so successful. Today marks the 74th anniversary of the introduction of Cane Toads to Australia. What started as 101 of them, caught in Hawaii by Reginald Mungomery of the Bureau of Sugar Research, has now burgeoned to ... well, people have actually lost count of how many there are now. Films have been made about them, sports have evolved around them, and souvenir shops carry them or their likenesses. Yes, successful indeed ... but did their introduction do what it was planned to do - control the beetles which were munching on local sugar cane crops? The jury is probably still out on this. But it's interesting that there are a couple of numbers about how many of the toads were initially released. The first figure of 101 came from The Daily Telegraph's "on this day". An Australian Museum fact sheet puts the initial release figure at more than 3000.

Proof of ageing

... or is that "aging". In any case, you know it's happening when you have to take a photo of a Gary Larson "The Far Side" cartoon, using macro, so you can then zoom in on it in the camera, to be able to read the titles of the books the cat and dog are reading. Was it worth it? Definitely.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

No laughing matter

Contrary to popular opinion, word now is that Hyenas aren't laughing when they make that giggling sound, they're actually "frustrated" or making fighting sounds. The research which led to this finding was carried out on captive hyenas - would it be any different for hyenas out in the wild, in their natural habitat? More on LiveScience.

Mistake ahead

Scientists have conducted some research that suggests that the brain can tell when a mistake is about to be made. There's about a second's notice - but it seems that the brain needs to know there is a mistake about to happen as opposed to the real advantage of knowing you're about to make a mistake even when you don't know it's a mistake. Of course, word is that there are practical applications based on the brain wave activity that accompanies the "awareness" of thius mistake ... such as in air traffic control. You can read more here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


There are stories where you just wish there was more detail - like this: Authorities said a woman obsessed with rabbits is in trouble again. In violation of probation terms, she was found holed up in a hotel room with more than a dozen rabbits. Officers said they had to break into the room Tuesday and found eight adults and half a dozen baby rabbits, one dead. The police say some were caged, some roaming.
It really bugs me that there isn't more detail.

Texting and cut and paste

A 15-year-old girl with a 500-texts-a-day texting habit thumbed her way to the $50,000 grand prize at the L.G. National Texting Championship in New York on Tuesday. Well I'm sure she probably didn't use cut and paste but I did on the iPod Touch to do this blog entry. While the iPhone 3.0 update cut and paste may not be as elegant as some tech reviewers would have liked, it seems to work just fine.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

No ... really?

I don't think it should be allowed ... how on earth can the millionth English word be "Web 2.0" - it's not even a word - oh, wait, it is now! In the running, but missing out on being the millionth - N00b, slumdog and Jai ho. Hmmm, once upon a time words were composed of letters ... but that was before the N00b style of doing things I guess. So - who decides? Apparently it's a US company which monitors internet traffic and once a "word" or perhaps that would be a conglomeration of letters, numbers and/or symbols travelling in close proximity, has been used 25,000 times, it's "recognised". I can feel a new hobby coming on - coining a new word which could be something like ... Samagrams. Hmmm.

Forget the shoe phone

Here's a good use for technology - GPS shoes to track Alzheimer's patients. A new shoe has been developed with a GPS chip which will offer peace of mind to caregivers and relatives of people who suffer from this tragic disease. The units are accurate to within 10 metres and can be used in conjunction with "geo fences" so if the person wearing the shoes leaves a designated area, an alert is sent out. This will certainly make finding people easier - and can have much wider uses - and users! (Heaven knows we could have used it 20 years ago when my grandmother went missing and finally showed up several hours later - luckily spotted by someone who knew her and the family; she was in a part of town where none of us had, or would have thought to have, looked.)
Hmmm ... or perhaps the shoe phone might have worked - although maybe the person might have just wondered where the ringing was coming from.

Old or new news

Not sure what the agenda is here but the news feed I get on the iPod Touch from the Sydney Morning Herald's Technology page always seems to have this entry.
Speed adds spice to cable war
Wed. 11 Mar 2009 11:26 +1100
Telstra plans to increase speeds on its cable network by between 70 and 100 megabits a second - three times faster than is currently available.
Is it possible that, now that's it's June, it's time to drop it - or report on progress?

China censorship

What do Australia and China have in common? Apparently, it appears that the web filter projects for both, designed to keep children safe from porn, have the ability to be used to censor politically sensitive material. Hopefully, the Australian version (when I last heard it was undergoing testing) won't be installed on individual computers because when they've been testing this in China it apparently opened users to security risks - and drew calls from a Californian software company that that version contained stolen portions of their software. Curiouser and curiouser.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Blue skies

... turning me grey. New research suggests that grey hair may be caused by sunlight, smoking and poor nutrition. At the rate the transformation is happening - and given smoking and poor nutrition aren't issues, it has to be the sun! No more sitting in the park for this little black (soon to be grey) duck.

Rules is rules

Dateline: New Zealand. A cinema has refused entry to a mother and her child to see the movie The Reader because the child - at five weeks old - was below the minimum age limit, ie 16 years, to see the film.

Mixed news

Biotech company CSL is hard at work on a swine flu vaccine - so much so they're in the market for 300,000 chicken eggs a day for testing. That's a lot of eggs.
Also in the "lot of" category, it apparently takes 3 (or 4) crocodiles to supply the material for one Hermes crocodile skin handbag. After a two-year wait, because that's how long the waiting list is, you can get a bag, hand-prepared in France, for $60,000. Unlike other companies, Hermes is faring well in the global recession and a spokesperson suggested the waiting list may continue to be long: "We cannot face demand ... we are limited by our ability to train new craftsmen." And to get crocodiles apparently. In an effort to ensure supply and cut out the middle man, Hermes has started their own crocodile farms, mainly here in Australia.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Weekend prices

There was a call today for Australian consumers to report service/petrol stations that were charging "too much" for petrol for the coming holiday weekend. I can't recall if the cheapest day for petrol during the week (there is one) is Tuesday but I do know that was when I bought petrol this week and paid $1.18/litre as opposed to the $1.30/litre I would have been charged today. The expected price for this weekend is $1.28/litre. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow (Saturday) brings at the bowser.

Wrong spelling?

I'm not quite sure how it came up, but I was speaking with someone about cafes this morning and I mentioned that a good barista could make very hot coffee without scalding either the beans or the milk. "Well," Christine, told me, "the first time I saw the word 'barista' was where someone had written it as their occupation on a form, and I thought 'He's a barrister? He can't even spell it!!!!" I like it.

Dropping the ball

It's sometimes seen as a bad thing - dropping the ball - but there's at least one place where they do it daily, on purpose. Sydney Observatory first dropped the ball back in 1858 to mark it's opening on 5 June (yes, On This Day, The Daily Telegraph). The Time Ball was dropped from a tower at 1pm to signal the exact time - a tradition that continues to this day (and beyond).

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Chicken nugget

Reuters reports that Chinese health authorities are putting a stop to restaurants serving chickens which have been bitten to death by poisonous snakes and cooked up for a supposedly detoxing meal. At first I was amazed at how they could possibly find enough of these to meet demand ... and then I read another report of how the snakes and the chickens are kept "out the back" or at the front (finally remembering the snake cages streetside in Hong Kong) and are "prepared" as required. Does make you wonder how people come up with ideas for dishes: oh no, our last chicken has been bitten by a poisonous snake, perhaps we shouldn't eat it; oh no, says hungry companion, poisonous-snake-bite-chicken is very good for you, cleanses the blood. And so a dish was born - or maybe not. Mmmm ... chicken.

Sleep on it

Donna Sheppard-Saunders, 33, is a free woman today after an English court found her innocent of trying to smother her sleeping mother with a pillow because she, Donna, was sleep-waking at the time. Donna apparently has a history of sleep-walking, which her mother says is a side-effect of leukemia treatment she underwent as a child. Donna and her mother were sharing the same bedroom when the incident happened. Her mother had beem asleep for about an hour when she felt something on her face - which turned out to be a pillow. Her mother managed to push Donna away, and in a call to Emergency Services, made by Donna, Donna is reported as saying "I didn't know what I was doing 'til Mum woke me up". She said that she herself had gone off to sleep and the next thing she knew her mother was "shouting and slapping her". However, this does seem at odds with that she is also quoted in the TimesOnline article I read as saying that after the incident, Ms Sheppard-Saunders had followed her mother out of the bedroom, apologising to her for her actions and mentioning that she had "tried to stop her snoring". Mention was made in the article of testimony by Donna's father that she does have a history of sleep-walking. However, the report carried no answers to my now burning questions: why did Donna and her mother share a bedroom; where was Donna's father at the time of the incident; was there a change made to Donna and her mother's sleeping arrangements following the "smother" incident; and lastly, if Donna had no recall of events after she had gone to sleep, why did she tell her mother she was trying to stop her snoring?


Just when I thought I had seen it all, there are reports that a new energy drink is about to hit the market - Cocaine. Now if only I could remember which existing energy drink has been banned in at least one country overseas because it reportedly really did contain traces of cocaine - as opposed to Cocaine which apparently doesn't.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Lost in space

Today marks the 44th anniversary of the first American's "walk in space". This is an interesting turn of phrase considering they don't - walk in space. Try as I might, though, I can't think of something else short and snappy enough to describe it - "just popping outside into the vacuum of space to mend the robotic arm" doesn't really do it. "Walk in space" as a label is probably a fairly descriptive tag - once we know what it means. Could be interesting to ask a young person what they understood by "walk in space" - and whether the timbre of the answer would vary depending on whether they'd had an imaginary friend or not.

Imagine that

Research out today suggests that having imaginary friends helps children "learn the complexities of spoken expression sooner". Children with imaginary friends also tend to be more creative, a first born or an only child. My older brother had an imaginary friend - which I am taking to be the chicken (yes imaginary) who he used to play darts with - or was that my grandfather? It was a long time ago. Funny though that it would be a chicken (just thinking out loud now) since my grandfather had the dancing chicken concession on the rural show circuit - really! I'm not sure how the research classifies "imaginary" though. One of the reports I read started off referring to teddy bears and dolls. These aren't imag'inary - sure, you have to make up what they say, but they're real! Did the researchers cross reference their findings with earlier findings which suggest the verbal quotient (I may have just made that up and unfortunately don't have internet access so can't check but the meaning can be extrapolated from the context) increases with each child born into a family. I'm not sure if that research covered what happened to the exisiting members of the household as new ones came on board. Usual age for imaginary friends - 3 to 9. Other benefits, besides creativity? In adult life those who had imaginary friends are more likely to be achievement-oriented and emotionally responsive.
All this talk of imaginary friend has just gotten me thinking about Harvey, and wondering what he was, and where my copy of the film of the same name is.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Domino effect

The other day I heard that a certain starlet (and I say that because I cannot remember who it was) had been singled out because she did not know what "Dominos" was. Imagine then my own surprise at missing it as an answer to a clue in today's crossword. To be fair I was channelling home renovations rather than games when I read "Pipped tile".

Monday, June 01, 2009

Testing personalities

Also in the news ... the Church of Scientology. Sydney Council will tonight vote on whether a planned redevelopment of the Church's Sydney headquarters can go ahead. If it does, chances are that it will be banned from "trawling" the street outside the building for new recruits through the use of personality tests. Which means they could just move further afield - to the next street?. And the recruitment process seems to work - although the 2006 Census had only 2507 folk self-identifying as Scientologists here in Australia, Scientology spokesperson Vicki Dunstan is quoted as saying that the organisation now has more than 240,000 members here - and the numbers are growing.
Other Scientology news - it appears that Wikipedia has moved to ban all Scientology IP addresses "in an unprecedented effort to crack down on self-serving edits". Although, if they are maintain Wikipedia entries as well as their own website is maintained - there may be little to worry about.


It's not just businesses that are being downsized. Latest published news - via news item and advertisement - is that Mars Australia (provider of Mars Bars and other confectionery) has announced that - in the interest of public health - they are downsizing their bars to make them lighter. The Mars Bar itself will now weigh 53g instead of 60g. The only thing that isn't set to drop is the price. Which isn't surprising since there have been other products in the marketplace that have been dropping their size but not their price over the last little while. At least Mars has been upfront with it - even though it could also have mentioned that it was still after a healthy profit margin and that the slim down might be more beneficial for it than ... no, wait, as nutritionist and GP Manny Noakes has been quoted as saying "... paying the same for less is not a bad thing". Hmmm.


A small item on pg 2 of yesterday's The Sunday Telegraph carried the heading "Clarification" . It referred to an article the previous week which had stated that Chanel uses Chinese factories [for manufacture]. Apparently not, according to a spokeswoman for Chanel who "states that Chanel does not use factories or any other kind of manufacturing in China".
My question/s: is this a clarification or an apology, what prompted it, and if it's not billed as an "apology" does this mean here are/not legal ramifications if Chanel chose to pursue the matter?