Friday, 11 December 2009

Family Tech Support

Somebody truly understands ...

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/11/st_kia

I love my dad, but I'm going to lobotomize myself if I have to be his tech-support serf forever. When can I stop taking parental IT calls?

Having generously donated half your DNA, your pops is certainly entitled to some hand-holding as he navigates the frightening realms of Windows Vista and Facebook status updates. But if you're on the verge of jamming pencils into your frontal lobes, it's time to cut the cable.

That doesn't mean you need to go all unhelpful-IT-department on him ("Sorry, that is not supported"). Instead, says Laura Funk, a fellow at the University of Victoria's Center on Aging, "gently suggest that your father take some basic computer workshops. You could even offer to pay for them as a holiday present." Alternatively, on your next visit, walk dear old Dad through the basics of troubleshooting. And bring along one of those "For Dummies" books.

Then drop the hammer: If his hard drive starts screeching and smoking, sure, he can call. But short of that? He'll have to muddle through or call the Geek Squad. Tough love is still love; surely he gave you some of that, too.


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Scorpion And The Frog

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion says, "Because if I do, I will die too."

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp "Why?"

Replies the scorpion: "It is in my nature..."

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Another one bites the dust ...

http://www.smh.com.au/national/its-last-drinks-at-the-abercrombie-and-punters-raise-a-toast-20091118-imjz.html

Personally, I'm not too fussed about the loss of the Abercrombie, just because it's old doesn't mean it's historic.  But they better f**king leave the Clare where it is!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Droid is coming

I don't like to advertise corporate propaganda and, being an early adopter, I'm stuck in a contract with a while to go ... but I am a fan ...

Monday, 5 October 2009

Does anybody miss me?

Have I resolved the issues of home?  As close as they can be resolved save building a time machine to avert this journey in the first place.  But time machines are difficult, the plutonium needed to run them is expensive and hard to come by and there's definitelyan easier way.  As the heavens opened up to the drought stricken shire the familiar mutterings of it being good for the farmers were heard.  It wasn't cold so the wetness didn't bother me as much as it may have done.  My resistanal fortitude and strong moral fibre ensured that my intoxication was steady and manageable but the balkanus paprikus circle dance ensured that my body was broken down yet again.  The last nights music was suitably entertaining, a touch too jazzy and self congratulatory for a cynic like me but hey, its global, what are you going to do?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Its not a struggle if you're winning

http://mobile.theonion.com/site?t=HycvGfyBHVE199U07w58BQ&sid=onion

a relaxed man

I've never been a morning person, getting up at a reasonable hour has always been a struggle, but I'm thinking that this must be a relative thing as both mornings that I've woken I've had hours alone waiting for my compatriots and most of the other festival goers (except for the overenthusiastic zenergetic practicioners who were up at the crack of dawn to balance their chakras ... or something ... but they're not really people who I can identify with too much, as hard as I'm trying).  a few hours of solitude, broken only by the inane pleasant chatter of hippies was most welcome before Abell Tours took us out to one of the local beaches which was a bit windswept but still very nice, greasy fish n chips lined our stomachs prior to the liquid onslaught that would no doubt follow.  Music was entertaining, african and local artists, a bit of rock, the inevitable jazz and reggae and, of course, a smattering of the female singer songwriter (what would we do without them).  Not as immersive as the previous evening but still very nice - I managed to push through to the very end this time and after a nightcap was dead to the world, which was good as apparently the locals brawling outside kept everyone up till the wee hours.  Its good to be a deep sleeper.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Carnivale

After moving out of my house in centennial park (in a manner of speaking anyway) I started the long trip to the global carnival with a semi epic trek towards bondi junction, only epic due to the ridiculous size of the pack id decided on taking with me.   Miscommunications about leaving times and the fact that some of our party had difficulties getting out of their places of employ meant it took a few hours before we were properly on our way in the last tarago in sydney.  However, despite being relegated to the cattle class sections it was a relatively painless journey to the mid north coast where we spent the first evening being accommodated by our John Major's lovely parenta (I find it very difficult to shake the analogy of the man who ran away from the circus to become a politician with the boy who left the commune to become a banker). 
The festival was yet to start so after checking into NSW's best backpackers TM we headed for the local swing rope enhanced watering hole, the journey only slightly marred by a slight scraping incident with a vehicle in a carpark.  My delicate tootsies survived the razor sharp skipping stone shore and after being properly refreshed with immersion in water and consumption of pies and beer we finally made our way to the carnival.  Now, I'm not exactly a festival type person and my mood was tempered with the responsibilities id left at home (and the stepdaughter, who I really think should have been there with me) but a drumming circle does have the potential to bring one around to the right mentality.  As does beer, especially when the festival is sponsored by the messenger's choice of refreshment.  Took a six year old on my shoulders so he could get a better view of the balkan fiddlers, just at the moment when they decided to start a stage wide circle dance which dragged us into its gravity well, unable to shirk the attachment to my neck, me and ade found ourselves whirling for what felt like hours, our spines slowly being compressed by the weight of boys which seemed to gather mass with each bow fiddle.  I think I might enjoy this place.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Mission Accomplished



After far too many weeks of faffing around at the wrong end of a paint brush major painting operations are now over. I can honestly say that the past weeks have not been the most enjoyable job I've had to endure but the finished product is rather satisfying (I do think I need to clean my camera lens though).

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Usaver

Who's that handsome man who is NOT maxed out?

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Corey Mk II


I'm too young to be living on the other side of this - a couple of days in a mindless fug of jetlag and other various frustrations not conducive to a sense of well being. You can't expect the world to have stopped while you're on holiday but this is ridiculous. Young people are assholes (ok, some of them).

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

I divorce you! I divorce you! I divorce you!

Its been fun to have been married for th3 past three weeks but the novelty is over and the ring hurts my finger and despite my new surname being easier to pronounce I'd like to have the old one back.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Closing in

A relatively short and mostly painless flight into Dubai, as our tickets for sydney were independently booked of our turkey-UAE flights we had to completely check out, go through passport control, out of customs, fight over whether I was allowed a cigarette in the dripping humidity then get a bus to the next terminal, check in, buy an overpriced breakfast and wander the purgatory that is an airport terminal for a few hours.  I've gone through so many metal detectors and screeners that I've just removed my belt entirely and am walking at dangerous risk of flashing my well tanned thighs to all of the travellers.  Eyes are drying out, body doesn't know what time zone its in, am going to be fuct on return.  And then I'll have to deal with Sydney.

Next year? insillah

We awoke to a city decorated with even more flags than usual. Up till now the only place with more national flags fluttering has been the US of A but on 30 august, victory day, istanbul has handily clinched that dubious honour.  We had a late checkout, thankfully, as it took us the best part of an hour to arrange our acquisitions in a configuration that would allow the zips to close.  Here's hoping that we don't get caught out with a weight violation on the Istanbul-Dubai leg of the journey home (I was reminded, reading the Poisonwood Bible that while airlines can be strict on baggage, they rarely weigh the passengers so we might be decked out with every t-shirt and pair of pantaloons we've got with us).  The last museum of the trip was the old Sultan's palace and was definitely the highlight, the contents of the treasury are simply spectacular, classical treasures which you only expect to find in a d&d game with with a very generous dungeon master, egg sized emeralds, bejewelled swords and armour, the biggest and most ornate candlesticks I've ever seen and, of course, the 89 carat diamond whose name I've forgotten already that was originally found in a garbage dump and then sold for three spoons.  I guess the finder, like me, wasn't a very good haggler.  All of these items gifted and swapped amongst the royalty of the wider world, at least now they seem to be in possession of the "people".  Decided to seperate for a while as I couldn't quite muster the enthusiasm for another venture into the western style malls of this town. The last day of a trip always feels quite strange to me, I end up wandering the areas that I'm now familiar, I feel that the spruikers realise I've been there for a while and are ignoring me now although perhaps its just me who is ignoring them but maybe not completely.  In our last hours we still, bafflingly, acquired more stuff, and this was complimented by the fact that we probably ingested another couple of kilos of foods, foodstuffs and food related non foods.  Somehow managed to schmooze our way onto the plane with all the extra kilos we've gained on this trip and there were no arrests for public disturbances either (which never go down well at airports). 
As for returning to this country, as much as I've loved I can only hope that the travels take me back although returning to a country is always difficult when there are so many others I am yet to see.  I surely hope I will because if I don't there's going to be a rug seller who will be very upset with me.  Insillah. 

Sunday, 30 August 2009

To the end

on Our first night in istanbul as we explored the local regions looking for someplace for eats we were assaulted by various spruikers including one place that served the ottoman special dish of testi kebab and according to the restaurant they were the only place in turkey that did it.  Well, as we ranged further around the country we did find other places that served it but finally on our last night we made the decision to sample this local delicacy.  A spicyish stew cooked in a sealed amphora that is broken open by the waiter with a firey show.  Our waiter explained in between his flourishes that ocean's 7 was the ONLY place that did a true testi kebab and everyone else just copied them, I wasn't to argue but it was definitely a meal highlight in a country of great meals.  I caught an excellent YouTube moment of the show but it appears that tech issues may have resulted in the Android's storage card being fried and all of the content including music, photos and videos being lost (shades of similarity with losing my entire photo collection from SE asia in 2005) but at least there's alternative sources for memories, including my brain which is the only real storage medium for memories and it will be a little while before that storage zone is fried, I hope.
After eating we wandered up to the square where we were assaulted with Ramadhan celebrations, whereas it appeared that all of Istanbul had converged in Taksim a few weeks ago, it appeared that all of Turkey had moved to Sultanahmet on Saturday night.  I suppose you could compare it to the easter show but millions of people flocking in for a religious celebration is kind of amazing.  Every age group was there, it seemed very secular with picnics in every spare piece of ground, hundreds of food stalls and nargile zones and music pumping through the crowds.  A bit claustrophobic but very happy, energised and friendly.  It almost felt like turkey was gathering for a goodbye party.

Hagia Sophia

Tick Tick Tick!

Our second to last day and it is a day to cover the bases of Istanbul.  Visit the Hagia Sophia for some culture?  Tick!  Visit the underground cistern for some history?  Tick!  Get back to the bazaar for some poorly negotiated souveneiring?  Tick!
Well, for the most part whatever we've bought, while we may have paid more than we could have we still have paid less than what we might have paid in Australia.  Where was Tilly when all this was happening?  I am going to be very happy to return to a place where the price I see is the price I pay - even after my turns in South East Asia I have never sympathised so much with Brian of Nazareth. 
Perhaps it was the negotiations, perhaps the extended bus trip followed by a late night nargile or maybe its just the fact that we're on the tail end of our journey but I haven't felt so physically wrecked since arriving.  There's lots more to do as there always is but I'm sure some of it can wait.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Troy

From the site of one battle to another.  watched the continually screening Peter Weir movie, Gallipolli, after the visit which seems to be an institution of hostels on the travelling circuit (the Killing Fields runs every night in most hostels in Phnom Penh) and had an early wakeup call to cross the Dardenelles to see the site of the other great siege of the region (praise be that we didn't have to watch the film adaption of that particular battle).  Our guide was a very spiritual aging hippie who was not only very knowledgeable about the history of Troy but also of the various positive and negative energies that pervaded the area.  Personally, I couldn't feel them but perhaps a little meditation may have helped.  There were no fewer than three replica horses in the area, the best of which was the plastic one donated by the makers of the film (pictured).  A rather whirlwind tour of the site as we had to jump on the bus taking us back to the heart of the country if we were to avoid having to cram into the alternative transport, a sardine can masquerading as a vehicle.  Got friendly with a local sydney guy and evangelised my principality to him (he may join us on his return) and after returning to istanbul attempted another try of the ubiquitous nargile with slightly better results than previous goes.  The end is drawing close and Sydney and its issues are crystalising but they are not upon us yet.

He that giveth also taketh away

Despite the warnings from the internet message boards and the local cellphone representatives I was hoping that the my android would not be cut off 10 days after purchasing the local SIM card ... but it did.  for a few days I was reduced to relying on the not infreuent hotspots that litter the country but yesterday, perhaps from a fortuitous configuration of sunspots my connectivity returned.  My phone still claimed to have no service at all yet chats, tweets and emails flooded to me.  I wasn't one to argue with this good fortune but I used what was given to me until this morning, when I turned off the android as we headed to the city of Troy to save power (the battery is the achilles heel of this device, which was rather poetic as Achilles himself was buried just over the hill) and when I turned back on the mysterious connection was gone.  Struggled through various configurations but it was not to be.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Our Mecca?

Wasn't completely certain as to whether we'd be making the Australian (and kiwi) pilgrimage to the Dardenelles but we realised it would be a time before we did return to Turkey and knew it should be done.  A long awaited victory in the principality of Catan preceded an early wakeup call (we've just been started edging towards the semblance of a sleep-in) and we took another journey on one of Turkey's superb buses (??) towards the site of Australia's greatest defeat.  The tour was very long with many stops but once we managed to crack Hasan's challenging accent it was very informative and very emotional.  I've always tried to pride myself on trying to get a balanced view of things and it is only from the Turk's themselves that one can get their side of this story.  From the museum with its contrasting letters to home from the Australian conscript and the Turkish martyr to the site of the landings at Anzac Cove (who could have possibly thought that it was a potential landing site?) to the memorial to the greatest eulogy ever said and the cemeteries scattered all over the point, it truly is a holy place.  And not just for us, we may have gone over as Brits and returned as Australians and New Zealanders but a part of modern Turkey, distinct from the Ottoman Empire was also forged on these battlefields.  I've grown up being taught the larrikin spirit and defiant nature of the diggers at Gallipoli but the memorials show the humour and strength of the thousands of Turks who also fought there and as one Mehmet reminded me, 'they came to invade, we came to defend'.  One of the few great conflicts where such carnage was conducted by such 'gentlemen'.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Back to Istan-bull

Taking too much advantage of the bright mediterranean light resulted in two bright red australians (I do have a fondness for red but this was pushing the boundaries) but if history repeats itself I'm hoping that it will fade to brown before our return.  We went back to town via the excellent public transport system where we decided to split so I could swap some books out and try to find the elusive Tütün local tobacco shop (no luck there) and louisa could look for more ways to take up my dwindling baggage allowance (I'm a big believer in having the right bag for the right occasion but there is a limit).  Managed to find enough literature to last me through the rest of the trip, settling on Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (ooooh, very good!  Very good! According to Jamal, the very well read proprietor) and the Poisonwood Bible (also very good!  Very good!) and traded back the baffling Image of the Beast and its sequel which I managed to conclude before we finished we skipped out of town.  despite living out of the 'wife's' pocket for two weeks the amount of usual bickering has been surprisingly low, especially in light of the dramas unfolding half a world away and the only real issue seems to be how much walking one of us has been prepared to do.  Despite a warning that we would not be walking to the beach, the smattering of clothes shops that lined the boulevard enabled me to coax someone out of the comfort zone and out to the commercialised beach zone which was very pretty, if somewhat lacking in sand, surf and many of the other things that I think of when walking along the coast.  But there's only so long that I can cope with a resort lifestyle and we shall soon be heading back to the heart of Turkey, having missed its brain.

Who knows what horrors lie behind the door of room 101

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Sitting by the pool at a mediterranean resort should be a very relaxing, if somewhat cheesy, way to spend one's time.  Of course it would be if euro disco music weren't blaring non stop.  Not only that but the hotel seems to only have one CD and its on constant replay.  to top it off the phillip jose farmer books I acquired yesterday were less engrosing than expected and have already been finished, who'd have thought that the deviant sexual adventures of intergalactic species posing as werewolves and vampires in a smog choked los angeles would be as exciting as I thought?

Just chill, man

Having underestimated the amount of reading I would have been doing on this trip I've spent a fair amount of time invetigating the few bookstores that happen to sell english language tomes with very limited success.   There was a 2nd hand place in the hostel sector of sultanahmet in istanbul but he seemed to specialise in barbara taylor bradford and the D&R stores were only useful if one was after the twilight series but with the aid of google I managed to locate Owl Books hidden deep in the bowels of the Antalyan bazaar behind Hadrian's Gate.  a very good collection of all english books, with most of them read by the proprietor, a vrry hospitable if somewhat slothful man (he was very much looking forward to the film version of the Amber Spyglass with its living bicycles, the mulefa (at least that's the part I'm looking forward to)) and it seems that I've got enough literature to tide me over to sydney now.
Unfortunately when we decided to relax with a cafe afterwards (we've both hit the wall when it comes to turkish coffee now) I realised that my cigarello fixings had been left behind at one of the shops wed visited and with a fair amount of panic I hightailed it back into the bazaar.  A brief moment where I decided to run was almost instantly stopped by a small kerb where I stubbed my toe for the first time in 20 years.  It hurts.  A lot.  Really, it f**king hurts.  But, the eczane sorted me out and an hour of tracking managed to recover the sweet nicotine from oz (some people can't comprehend the subtle differences in smoking methods and brands).  Unfortunately the turkish cellular network decided that they didn't want my phone on the network (I was warned that this may happen after 10 days) so the google assisted travel is mostly at an end.  If my understanding of louisa is correct there will be no wandering of cityscapes looking for hotspots but I know where they are in the hotel districts so I won't be cut off completely. Still trying to take in the medidative qualities of the mediterranean and ignoring what's happening on the other aide of the world. 

Monday, 24 August 2009

The wheels on the bus

Another 13 hours of rolling through the night in the turkish countryside got us to the mediterranean.   Sleep came in snatches and involved both of us dreaming of earthquakes and explosions.  The bus was half empty which was good as there were a fair few broken seats and we were able to sprawl out a bit although I did wake to find myself sharing with one of the attendants, a bit disconcerting when you're half blind and delirious from broken sleep.  Upon arriving there was a bit of confusion with the issue of transferring to the otel and we were told to wait here then wait there then go over there and after an hour of frustration and multiple phone calls on dwindling credit and battery life we ended up taksi-ing to an average otel with a spectacular view, just the place to shift out thoughts of wayward teenagers and irresponsible exes (although I still cannot believe I'm living in such a cliche ... its like a bad sitcom).  Plunged into the mediterranean for the first time (I did dip a toe in the middle of winter back in '98 but that doesn't count) and worked on a suntan whilst churning through the worst cathedral building historical epic I've ever read.  We decided to bus it into town, checked with the driver to make sure we were on the right one but weren't sure where to get off.  Forty minutes later as we meandered through the outskirts of antalya we finally plucked up the courage to ask whether we'd gone too far (we had).  No matter, the bus was on a loop and our 15 minute ride turned into a (very cheap) 90 minute tour of the city.  Sampled overpriced local fish and tried on fake trainers, avoided the ubiquitous germans (although I've been thinking we might be able to find someone to have a game of settlers with, let THEM feel the wrath of the lady ...)

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Valley of the Penises

... officially known as the valley of the mushrooms

Johnny, have you ever stayed in a Turkish prison?

Apparently a good place to buy carpets ...

Have YOU ever considered a camel ride?

As was expected slightly less walking on the second day's tour with a visit to what definitely seemed to me to be the valley of the giant penises, a pottery factory where someone was not able to resist the lures of the local ceramics (but as I've always said you can never have enough platters) and, of course, a carpet manufacturers where we were able to resist although I have to admit I was very taken with the undyed carpets that were made with a combination of white, brown and baa baa black sheep wool. Howeverm due to the wonders of international roaming we were slightly disconcerted when we received a call from the parent of one of the ward's friends' parents asking for confirmation that her daughter was going to a sleepover at our house that night.  Brushed it off, thinking it must have been a mistake as she was evidently not in our care.  The second call from another parent aroused our suspicions slightly and we attempted a call back to sydney to get the low down on what was going on.  The third call from sydney was not from another parent but from constable mcgregor from surry hills police station informing us that they'd just had to break up a 250 teenager strong party at our house.  I've never had 250 people turn up to any part that I've held, even the well received 'back to the future' bash only collected a 70 or so (and that included our parents which this one obviously didn't).  Well, I've been assured that chevette, puck, hermaphrodite and the unnamed TT weapon are unharmed and there's really very little to be done from this side of the planet except plan an elaborate punishment and try to see the amusing side of the story.  Trying to negotiate an investigation by phone meant we almost missed the open air museum tour and we had to fight our way through the ticket booths and rush through it but it was mostly churches (all defaced by the greeks according to our tour guide) and id already started to feel a bit templed out but a timely local hamam scraped away the worries of the world (and more than a few layers of skin) and we decided that the australian problems could wait a few more weeks because we're in Turkey.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Once again, the misleading local pricing (the numbers can refer to either lira, euros, us or australian dollars ... generally whateverls worst for the tourist) meant an overpriced hamam was our last experience of istanbul but was well cleansed for the back breaking, neck creaking, leg twisting overnight bus journey to cappadocia.  Just in case we had any regrets for not shelling out for plane tickets the kindly tour operators indulged the fantasy by ordering mobile phones off because they interfered with the breaking system, provided realistic turbulence and even inflight entertainment that ranged between ultra violent local soccer and a 4hr epic local musical variety show.  Managed to survive and get to the hotel for 15 minutes before being picked up again for some cappadocian tourism.  A bit of walking around the ruins which despite being up to 3000 years old were either still in use or had only been vacated in the last 30 years and unlike any western tour with all those pesky rules to limit liability we were allowed to risk our necks by climbing right up into the tunnels and caves ... its like no other place I've ever seen, an entire city literally carved out of the volcanic rock. 
Returning to the virtually deserted hotel we decided to eat in ... no menu, just a very nice home cooked (but evidently authentic turkish) meal prepared by the one staff member there.  Felt a bit bad as he'd been fasting all day for the first day of ramadhan while he was cooking our meal but as soon as the sun dropped the city wide speakers blared out the prayers signifying that he, the city (and all of the other observant muslims in this timezone for that matter) could break out the pides and beer (so maybe they weren't that observant after all).

Friday, 21 August 2009

Four beautiful ladies

Three beautiful ladies

The sisters of the 3 sisters?

View from thre star 'otel

Regards Sax
sent from my gPhone

Traveller or tourist?

http://mobile.smh.com.au/article.action?articleid=688872&section=top

I'm evidently one of the tourists the author is bemoaning here, crying out for the good old days when he was the only foreigner brave enough to visit those countries that gave him an authentic experience.   Is it a pity that travel has become cheap enough for it to be experienced by nearly all of us?  Does he want all the 3rd world countries to resist adopting modern technology so that he can enjoy the old world?  I for one think travelling has been enhanced immeasurably by being able to remain connected, I can always choose to ignore the things from home that would worry me.  Having to share my travels with busloads of compatriots and other nationalities is simply a fact of life in this era of cheap flights and porous borders.   And I still bitch about the bedbugs.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Ticked off another box by visiting the islamic museum of science and technology, not a bad place to visit although the fact that the entire collection consists of stuff from between 1000 and 1500 (thereabouts) does say a bit about the stagnation the culture's progress.  Lots of astrolabes, mathematical equations and the physics section is something that will certainly be amazing when its finished (dozens of working models of engineering marvels that unfortunately don't work just yet).  There were a bunch of models that were obviously meant to be hands on (everything else was covered in glass) but when I tried to set the perpetual motion machine into perpetual motion a surly guard told me to stay away.  I've already decided that I don't want to get on the midnight express so I readily complied.  Thinking it might be nice to get away from the heavily spruiked bazaars we tried a few of the gigantic malls on the urbanised side of town and they were just as soulless as anything in the west.  The keens ripoffs sourced in dubai have proved to be exceptionally painful to the feet (my dogs are barking!) and both of us were suitably wrecked upon our return.  There's a second hand buy/sell/swap bookstore a few blocks away from where we're staying, I checked it out a few days ago and made a second determined attempt this afternoon - I just finished rereading Dune (after watching the two major adaptations in relatively quick succession) which is a superb book in any event (although I recall the sequels being less so) but perfectly suited for reading over here with the desert fremen and arrakis drawing heavily from islamic culture but was I able to find dune messiah anywhere? Not even close.  The bookstore is full of english books but the collection seems to consist of nothing but the absolute worst of airport fiction and more barbara taylor bradford's than you'd see at 2am on channel 9.  I had to whip my companion like a MBA certified 1 minute manager to finish the 'cathedral @ the sea' so i'd have something to tide me over until I can find another bookstore but its not looking hopeful (I forgot how reliant my travels have been on the MS Reader app in the trusty iPAQ).  My negotiating skills got a workout in the evening, whilst I wasn't able to negotiate myself out of the leather store I did manage to scrape some sheckels off the price which I'm hoping I won't regret.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

My fountain is bigger than your fountain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDXIfwoTHYk

The only time I've ever seen a scene like this was when I was in amsterdam (and truth be told that memory is a little fuzzy although I can't for the life of me understand why).  Istanbul has about 20 million people or so I've heard and I think all of them were strolling down iskatel st with us.  A nice alternative to the old city where we've spent most of our time, lots of shops and restaurants.  The street that Time Out assured us was where the locals ate was, shockingly, full of turistas like us and was as overpriced and spruiked as anywhere else we've been but I've long since given up on the idea that my type of tourism is any better than the masses.  We did manage to see a little bit of culture by visiting the left breast of istanbul's cleavage and tried a new epicurean delight of chocolate soaked baclava, trawled down the bosphorus and found a slightly less intimidating area of the markets (these ones sold guns and tobacco amongst other things).  Recovery took the form of the settlers of catan card game, we'd tried to play previously in marathon 4 hour session (hell, I've done marathons that were shorter than that) that ended when someone made an illegal play, backtracked, forgot where she was and then conceded (????).  This time the lady claimed her principality proper and the noble laird once again learned his place.

Monday, 17 August 2009

The Travellers of Catan

Someone couldn't work out the air conditioner at 3 in the morning and decided that opening the balcony door was the best way to provide solace not realising that outside was 30 degrees and the we were in the cleavage of istanbul, prime location for hearing 5am morning prayers being blasted into the ears of anyone sans earplugs.  Another day of market trawling and I was getting a little tired of revealing my australian nationality and getting gdays and anecdotes about kangaroos and poisonous snakes and spiders so we revealed ourselves as residents of the fair isle of catan (we kept our titles as laird and lady to ourselves).  It backfired a bit when the shop owners started interrogating us about the details but at least I could give some detail of our principality's resources, rich in ore, wood, brick, sheep and grain.  It also helped that he'd discovered a place he'd never heard of only the week before (the isle of man).  I managed to resist the hard sell although I am very tempted to return for a red leather jacket (I'm partial to red) which is more than I can say for the wife who is quite partial to spending.  A shrewd negotiator she may be, I wish we had tilly here to bargain on our behalf. 
And also after much gnashing of teeth the rather superb customer service of vodafone turkey got me up and running with data (oh precious data, I am truly addicted) which means I will be leaving behind the twee advice of lonely planet and becoming a traveller powered by google ...

Mosque bleu

Seat 12a!

It was with a resigned pessimism that I requested a bulk head seat when we checked in @ 6 in the morning for TK1165.   Of course they were all taken and there wasn't even an aisle for one leg to sprawl into but at least row 12 was close to the front.  I wasn't really disappointed because I've long given up on getting leg room while flying so imagine my amazement to find that there is no seat in front of seat 12a (neither 12f for that matter) and I could literally sprawl.  Its events like this that make flying tolerable.  And now that we're out of the sauna that is dubai and in a place that has the weather you want on a holiday.  Hoped to work out some data issues but have not found myself truly mobile yet although I've been assured its possible.
First thins first when arriving in turkey after a shrewdly negotiated bus ride into istanbul and that is obviously having a muddy turkish cafe, which I love although ill bet ill be gasping for a nescafe before this trip is done.  Its a great wandering place at first impression, if nothing else the humidity is within human tolerance levels and the spruikers are no worse than any other tourist infested city.   I'm sure if I wanted a rug, platter or water pipe i'd have no issues finding one,  right now I'm negotiating how much my 22 spare kilos of baggage space is worth to my ladyfriend. Its got to be able to be translated into something of value, no?

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Can your iphone do this?

Regards Sax
sent from my gPhone

By law or bylaw?

These signs are scattered all over dubai yet many of the restaurants and lobbies not only have people flagrantly disobeying but they also have ashtrays actively subverting the message.  Smoking is a disgusting habit, I know, but the middle east is one of the last bastions where a smoker is not a pariah.  Its changing, sure, but, like mad men, at least its giving us memories of a different time.

Its not the heat, its the humidity.  This place seems to take that statement to the next level.  Every time i ve stepped outside it feels like I'm being hit with a sleedgehammer of heat but every time we go back inside the air conditioning chills to the bone and I find myaelf hopping back and forth trying to equalise my core.
the city seems to be a theme park for adults. This is what you get with most unlimited money and no oversight to drag back the excessive imagination of the architects.  Fake islands, huge buildings, cheap cars and cheap petrol to fuel them.  And according to our tour guide there's no crime, no pollution, no drugs.  Well, no worries then!  Its hard to accept that taxis are just about the only transport available to us tourists..  they're not that expensive but it certainly adds up and whilst everything is somewhat subsidised by the royal family's vast wealth on th whole things are a lot cheaper than they could be and we're not even residents or ...citizens. 
The social mores are interesting, I'm paranoid about offending the morality police who I've been told lurk around every corner but I haven't managed to offend anyone other than my travelling partner and I rarely go a day without doing that anyway.  As part of the jetlag push our local friend, the second of the nightmare of ravens I've known, took us out to an authentic arabic restaurant (id be very surprised to find an inauthentic one in the UAE) followed by an expat filled beer barn celebrating all that is obnoxious about the international subculture.  A lot more enjoyable than I ever thought it would be.  Well, I think it cured the jetlag anyway although it can always come back to bite you.  A bit more sensible on the second day, heat hadn't alleviated at all but at least we saw some things we came to see ...

Early impressions

Long haul plane journeys are trying at the best of times and once again I was denied the exit row but I still managed to get a smattering of restive sleeps only broken by stewardesses and passengers crashing into my left leg that sprawled into the aisle. A little bit of dreamy hallucination interjected with the worst of hollywood from the in flight entertainment absorbed the 14 hours quite nicely.  Attempted to push through the jetlag by wandering the dead streets of deira.  Perhaps its the hotel's locale, maybe Friday morning is not the best time to see anything in the middle east but my first impressions are that of a ghost town more populated by indians than arabs.  Its only been a few hours thus far and am certain that there will be more to come.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

So is he

She's about to leave on a jetplane

With thumbs

Blogging with your thumbs seems like an enormously painful method, I have to say thawt I have extremely fond memories of my ipaq 4150 with infrared keyboard which is still the most effective ultra portable I've ever owned.  I expect grammar and punctuation to plummet and content will have extreme brevity but potentially will be richer. 

The Tralevlogue Starts Again

Since settlement I've been learning the arts of painting a house from a wise artisan.  My standards will never be as high as his but they're worthy aspirations.  But for now, the painting will have to wait as the lurching progress of the professional renovators dig in and I will be heading to the middle east, first in the hub that is UAE and then not to the place that divides the West and Islam but where Islam and the West come together.  I think this could be a good opportunity for a travelogue (and potentially one more live than ever if I can get a SIM card that works over there) ...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Am I A Mad Man?

The first bike I owned was a Malvern Star.  The last bike I owned was a Malvern Star. 
A legend is the human actions that have taken place in history that defy ...
An Australian bike the equal of any in the world.  An Australian cyclist the equal of any.
The best cyclist in the world , a bike the equal of any.  Australian
Oppy was a rider the equal of any in the world, Malvern Star Oppy is a bike the equal of any.
It is said that legends are born and not made.  This legend is made.
Some legends are born.  Some legends are made.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Flounder On A Chessboard

I was always curious as to whether this was actually true ... praise be to the Internet (and Italian wildlife shows that PETA wouldn't approve of).

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Dangers of Changing Your Man

It doesn't matter whether you are a bike courier in Australia or a President of France the machinations of the female are bound to cause issues ...  Why can't they leave us as they find us???
http://www.smh.com.au/world/carlas-draconian-diet-blamed-for-sarkozys-collapse-20090729-e0fk.html

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Contador refuses to bite on LeMond's 'clean' challenge - tourdefrance - Sport

Being a relative newcomer to the tour I'm not completely qualified to make or defend the accusations that fly regarding the doping scandals.  But LeMond's extrapolation of cheating by deducing the VO2 max of Contador seems a bit underhanded.  Certainly, if I was given a question which basically implied cheating I'd probably not answer it either.  Since Mr LeMond was reputed to have one of the highest VO2 max scores ever (92.5?) it's understandable that he's a bit obsessed with this stat but the claim that nobody's had one higher than 99 is a bit misleading - Bjørn Dæhlie supposedly had a score of 96 in his off season with the researcher's claiming it was possibly over 100.  Contador has shown himself to be the strongest cyclist in this race so maybe he does have the highest VO2.  But as any statistician will tell you - correlation and extrapolation is no guarantee of knowing anything - there are always outliers on the edges that defy the hypotheses.  Maybe Contador has taken something illegal or, more likely, he's trained in the grey area of legality, regardless, he's looking likely to win and it should be left up to the drug testers to determine whether he's cheated and not stat obsessed former champions.
http://www.smh.com.au/news/sport/tourdefrance/contador-refuses-to-bite-on-lemonds-clean-challenge/2009/07/24/1247942049092.html

Friday, 17 July 2009

Mulefa


This is the first mulefa I've seen that actually seems plausible and it's animated!

http://www.ericdubois.com/3dsamples/mulefa/mulefa_walk8loop_1b.mov

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Win-Win!

Thanks to a bit of assistance from those in the industry can now legitimately claim to be a freelance "journo" (that's what journalists call themselves).
 
Posted by Picasa

Now That's A Burger!

After the previous day's debacle at finding a truly great hamburger I found myself in Newtown, having born witness to the shrewd bargaining skills of my ladyfriend at a residential orction - a celebration was needed and despite my ladyfriend's complete lack of expertise and judgement in choosing the perfect burger I managed to convince her to go to the Fuel for sustenance.  Step 1 was convincing her to go there and step 2 was convincing her to try to utilise the combo bargains on offer.  Whilst BurgerFuel does not offer a combo for the 1/3 pounder with cheese it does offer one for the 1/8 pounder.  So, I ordered an 1/8 pound combo and immediately heard a shrieking, 'I don't want a combo!  I don't drink Coke and I don't eat chips!' (I ignored the bald face lie part of the statement and tried to quickly explain whilst dealing with the service attendant that I was going to eat the combo and she was going to have the burger).  Having been in this situation before I found it prudent to deal with the ladyfriend rather than just barge ahead with my well intentioned plan and it did work dividends.  Oh, and what a surprise, she ate the chips.  But as a burger what a magnificent one it is - toasted, slightly wheaty bun that completely contains the juicy (yet still well cooked) patty and a saucy relish that is warmed by the bread and meat it accompanies - not straight out of the fridge and on the side like most cafes serve the butter for their toast.  I am yet to try the mythical In'N'Out but if it is, as some say, the best in the world and therefore better than my local legendary Fuel then what an amazing meal that would be.

The First Smoker

http://www.theonion.com/content/amvo/president_obama_still_smoking
Truth be told, it does make me feel a little bit better to know that I share a bad habit with him.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Official Google Blog: Introducing the Google Chrome OS

Well, this does look interesting.  The Mac experiment was fun for a while but I still find myself drifting back to Windows - now, if only Google could get Spreadsheets and Documents to work like Excel and Word ... I'd be very happy.
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/introducing-google-chrome-os.html

Jilted Hasbro CEO Laughs Coldly As Scrabble Destroys Another Relationship | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/jilted_hasbro_ceo_laughs_coldly_as?utm_source=onion_rss_daily
I wonder if Klaus Teuber is cackling away at me?

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Good Burger?

Market research is never an enjoyable way to spend time - there's always too many people who love the sound of their own voice and everyone tries to throw in sly boasts about themselves that don't really interest anyone else (good for you, prime minister's EXECUTIVE assistant!) but they can work out to be cost effective.  Keeping things efficient, while we were in the neighbourhood, me and the boys decided to try the new burger joint, The Counter.  The menu from the web site seemed gourmet but not too gourmet - and the very salty kumera fries seemed to bode well for what was coming.  An interesting method of ordering - a tick the boxes menu with a mix of traditional and relatively unique ingredients was a bit disconcerting - too many choices of traditional and "premium" extras and far too many sauces - there were some standards on the menu but they didn't really appeal.  I'm not a big fan of the build your own burger - I always end up putting things on that I like individually or I like in other burgers but don't really gel when they're put on in the combinations I choose.  I want someone else to design my hamburger - if there's something on it I don't like or something extra I want I can always change the order.  The vast variety of ingredients that can go into a hamburger means an almost infinite variety of burgers but in truth there is only a very FINITE number of great burger designs - The Third Pounder with Cheese (from BurgerFuel), the classic Milk Bar with beetroot is another, even the Big Mac for all its faults is a brilliant design, having conquered the world.  The problem was not the combination, I don't think, the bun was cold and not toasted, the sauces were substandard (and I had to apply them myself!), the patty was too thick and too raw (truth be told, I had ordered a big one and we were warned it was only medium) and in the end the whole thing was just way too thick and it almost fell to pieces as I struggled to wrap my laughing gear around it.  It needed to be flatter (a Doofer wouldn't have gone astray although I don't think there's been a Doofer constructed that would hold this monstrosity).  The decor was eminently forgettable but I could get a beer and the waitress was nice.  These things are not important when it comes to enjoying the sandwich - don't get me wrong, it was tasty, it was a good burger but it wasn't a great burger.

Creepy

At one level this is kind of amusing and impressive but at all others it's just disturbing.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Time Trialling

Watching sport on TV has never been my thing - the Olympics occasionally had it's moments and I gained a new appreciation for the medium during the past two fitba' world cups, but probably only because they happened to be played in a relatively close time zone.  Only once, when in Canadia, did the Tour de France happen on a watchable hour and I really couldn't get the interest up - however, unemployment has it's advantages and I think this could be the year I make an effort to follow this event.  It doesn't hurt that I participate in the sport to some extent - for me riding will always first and foremost be about personal transport but it is an amazing and enjoyable sport and one that I have some ability to follow.  For some reason I'm mightily disappointed that the "drug cheat" Floyd Landis is notably absent from this year's race - there are plenty of contenders, of course, for patriotic reasons, it'd be nice to see an Australian take it, but it's highly unlikely.  I'm not Lance Armstrong's biggest fan but he certainly seems to be a Tour de France winning machine and as someone once told me, he hasn't returned to compete - he's returned to win.  He probably shouldn't have found himself in the same team as the favourite - I think it's highly doubtful that he would work towards a victory for someone else no matter what platitudes he's mouthed over the past few days.
Watching three hours of time trials is an endurance event that am simply not capable of myself - especially when I was riding my own Calga time trial the next morning, but I did stay up to watch Lance's race and it's just depressing to see how good some of these riders are.  I know what it feels like pushing one's self to the limit on such a short course - to me, 15k is much worse than 160.  Did get a few tips from watching the professional's style that I tried to put into action the next morning - you've got to know when to step into the saddle and when to stay down, I also think it's wise to have more than two gears that work on your bike. 

Saturday, 4 July 2009

A Night of Games

The art of gaming has been quickly becoming a very satisfying hobby.  I'm not sure how long it will last but I have passed through the gateway via the portal of Settlers of Catan well and truly.  The mathematical reduction of civilisation with structured limitations but enabling it to be just as good with a 10 year old or the scheming, ruthless lady of Catan.  In short, like they always do, the Germans have brought their optimising skills to something new - the most efficient way for three to six people to enjoy themselves for 60 to 90 minutes (or 150 if you play with some of my friends). 
Each game has varying strategies and outcomes - tonight the dice were against me and whilst there was jostling for front stage, a tenuous longest road pushed James out in front and he edged towards an early victory, there was only one resource producing industrial powerhouse led by PJ, Ade strengthened himself by striking at me and the two closed in on the prize (I started to see possibilities in the future but had no time to close the gap).  PJ hovered at the edge and when Ade knocked everything down by building an unneccesary city and wresting the longest road from James it appeared that he was, once again, a laird.  Had it not been for PJ's lack of gaming knowledge he would have already claimed the game and the isle of Catan but the rules do state somewhere that if you forget to claim victory on your turn you forfeit but the points had been legitimitely taken - the palace he bought at the end brought instant gravitas to his empire and he was the true laird.
All three of us contenders had been allowed a basic flub, and one had been issued to PJ on layby.  So, perhaps the game was his (but also Ade's ... ... ..?).
The victories were spread around the table generously - the poker games that followed brought riches of a more tangible kind to James, the one in need of gold to brighten his heart, an, to a smaller amount, me, who hasn't won a game in ages ...

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Perfect Burger and All Its Parts - NYTimes.com

There are some very good tips within this article but I really don't think you want to over-engineer this most important of food items.  I'm a great believer in Burger Fuel and think that they are far and away the greatest of the franchise burger makers (although it must be said that I am yet to try In'N'Out Burger which has received the Eric Schlosser seal of approval) but when it comes to a great hamburger, and I mean great, you can't go past the Milk Bar Burger.  Truly, the Greeks have bestowed wonders upon this world.  First, they gave us critical thought, then democracy ... there was a bit of a gap there for a while, but great things come in threes and finally those noble immigrants capped it off with the perfect hamburger.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/01/dining/01burg.html?em

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

Not even my cold heart could resist this machine-less time traveling romance.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Résumé Font Offends Employer | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

I always prefer to use a manly font ... TNR is so bondi.  Thus far, it hasn't seemed to help in a while though.
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/52073

Monday, 22 June 2009

Bike Rack

Now, this is how you move a bicycle ...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

God Answers Prayers Of Paralyzed Little Boy | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Now, to all those debating the ethics of satire in the light of the Chaser's recent misreading of public sentiment in regards to the Make-A-Realistic-Wish skit, the primary prerequisite of satire is that it should be funny.  And this is.
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28812

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Bing! Again!

What do you get when you google, 'Bing'?  Bing Lee, one of Australia's most notable dealers in electrical goods ... BingMail, apparently a great way to send email ...  some upstart search engine developed by one of the dinosaurs of the tech world.  Wolfram/Alpha tells me that Bing Awad is a Papua New Guinean language spoken by approximately 1200 people.  It's good to see some competition in the world of search but it'll take something really special to move me away from Google.  Perhaps Stephen Tobolowsky could be the spokesman ... he kind of looks like the "I'm a PC" guy ...

Monday, 1 June 2009

It's like surgery

Examinations are like surgery.  Often better than the alternative - it'll be over in a couple of hours but unless all is prepared it could go horribly wrong.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Hubert's Homebrew

http://hubertshomebrew.blogspot.com/
Now, it has been some time since I blogged properly due to the machinations of my current existence which is really no excuse but it has been even longer since I have had any experience with the construction of or even just the imbibing of home brew - and they've always been relatively positive experiences.  From the first time I tried the first attempts of some old school chums (which rated a mention in a best man speech as I recall) to the copious quantities imbibed at an @home stag night they've all been memorable in their own way.  The previously mentioned first attempt was not quality but it was drinkable and I believe I may have even been sub18 so it would have been one of my first true drunks.  It was hot, the beer had been designed with as high an alcohol content as possible and whilst there was no real shenanigans apart from total loss of control it was a drunk and I hadn't had any (although I do believe it was the second one), next was my own attempts, the first one was pretty good - a stout, some was given away to positive reviews, it was taken to parties, it was drunk and it was celebrated.  Pretty good for one's self esteem and nobody ever complained - I can't recall any stories other than positive reviews, so it was appreciated and not criticised which is also good.  The stories of the infamous Satan's Sloe (Gin) were even wilder - so good that it was sold for cash, it's qualities got me one of my first kisses from my best friend's girlfriend! Not something to be proud of, it was kind of sleazy but it's a memory that will stay with me forever even if it is one of the haziest ones I have, I think we got caught but it didn't seem to cause too much trouble in the long run.  There was more produced on a grander scale by AJ, my experimental school friend who has a Life Wish which can be equated with mine although it expresses itself in different ways, nearly always good and often reducing a party's costs by half.  When you've got home brew on hand in quantities then the dynamic of a party changes - you can booze till you drop and often do.  Not all of the expeirences are drunken but they're often memorable.  I think I've got still got a brewing kit stashed under M&D's house.  Maybe I'll pull it out.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

And All That Jazz

Man, I think I might like jazz if it wasn't such a wank.  Where to start?  The fact that every song is dedicated to someone who has profoundly influenced the jazzer's life (and most of them are sadly no longer with us), the repeated introductions to every member of the band (who are all geniuses by the way), the solos that go on and on and on and on, that every song has a title even though if there are lyrics they're just 'bup bup bedoop boopedy doop bup bup bup', or ... is it just the hats and jazz-tarts that adorn everyone's head?

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Death Star vs Star Trek

So there is a purpose for After Effects after all ...

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Milli O'Nair's happy life cut horribly short in freak accident | smh.com.au

As tragic as this accident was it certainly appears that it was an accident and these things do happen.  Am I the only one who's curious about her name though, I wonder if she had a brother named Billy?
http://www.smh.com.au/national/milli-onairs-happy-life-cut-horribly-short-in-freak-accident-20090512-b1d4.html

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Cyclist's Escape


A funny thing happened to me on my last trip to California ...

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Stunt Bike

I could do this, I just don't want to ...

Friday, 1 May 2009

Watch out



"Oh my God, I swallowed a fly!"
"Ooh no! So did I!"

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Too-whit?

Too-whoo?

Time

You would really think that a retrenchment would bring out the wordsmith within - it feels so strange to be the 'statistic', the quintessential victim of the GFC ... there's a lot of time - the 'job' takes up a lot of it and even though the freedom is overwhelming it's also menacing, time means spending and you've got to reel that in despite the gummint stuffing cheques in the mail urging you to do your bit (a hell of a lot better than spilling blood for the latest war). The days are shattered and shuffled together - tasks are allocated, goals are set, it's not that much different from half the time at work. I expect there are a few psychologically determined phases that I'll be going through over the weeks or months and I guess I'll ride them out.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Monday, 20 April 2009

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Condoms 'too big' for Indian men

The life of a statistician, it's not all ANOVAS and t-tests ... Now, was this is a simple random sample?  Did they check the variability of the sample?  Do a Bonferroni correction for the directional planned contrast?  Or did they just do a SNK post hoc test to see what they would see?  I hope the people who did this analysis did their homework properly because I'll be damned if I'll do it on my own ...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6161691.stm

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

"This is not where East and West divide -- this is where they come together,"

Zing, again!  That Obama sure has a way with words ...

You Play You Pay

Now, this might be old news but I've been very lapse on the weblog front of late and the issue still hasn't been resolved yet so I would consider it to still be current or at least raisin.
At first glance this story appears to be one of the little guys standing up to evil big business - albeit a scruffy, dot com millionaire little guy - but even a cursory look over the reporting reveals a very different story. The 27 year old Nicholas Bolton saw a bargain - undervalued shares going very cheaply, he had the available cash to buy up a huge chunk of them so he did. Upon the realisation that he was obliged to pay millions he tried to dissolve the company and therefore the project that the company was built around. What did he think he would do with all of these shares? Sell them when they appreciated a couple of cents, netting a fortune for himself all for being lucky enough to have the available cash to play the market. He tried to make a quick buck in a game where he didn't fully understand the rules and now that he's losing he doesn't want to play anymore and is willing to railroad a massive infrastructure project that would have great benefits for a lot of other people - the least of which are the construction workers who would get employment building it which is a good thing in this economic climate. I'm not a big fan of roads but I use them and recognise their necessity. I don't know how this thing is going to play out - much of this economic crisis is due to people playing the trading game with no regard to the consequences of what happens when capital is sloshed around like water in a bathtub - when you play and f**k up you should have to pay.
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/business/story/0,28124,25070213-30538,00.html
http://business.smh.com.au/business/danger-money-turning-a-tollway-into-a-train-wreck-20090402-9l3r.html

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Thursday, 2 April 2009

First Wives Club

http://www.smh.com.au/world/rein-relegated-to-g20-first-wives-club-20090401-9jov.html
I think it's a great thing that Mrs Rudd is a successful businesswoman (in the dubious field of Human Resources but let's not split hairs) - the fact remains that she was not elected (at least not by the Australian people) so she really doesn't belong in the thick of the G20 summit.  Mrs Obama also has (had?) a successful career and so did Mrs Sarkozy even though it's in a different area to the others.  Nobody forced her to go to the UK while the PM was over there - the idea that she's been "relegated" to a wives club that will be doing some charity work is a bit silly though - she's the partner of a public figure, isn't that what they do?  If anyone's going to feel the pinch of relegation it would be Mr Merkel and Mr Kirchner.  I'd presume that they would be used to it by now but apparently they're not even going to attend.  Personally, if I was the partner of a female leader (and apparently I am if my ladyfriend's rantings are anything to go by) I'd love to be stuck in a room with the wives of 20 powerful people.  The gossip and bitching, which I am not above, would be intriguing to say the least.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Major Major - The Beast


Not a bad song, the rider is a bit of a reprobate ...

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Huzzah!

Trade Practices Amendment (Clarity in Pricing) Act 2008.

This legislation requires corporations making price representations about consumer goods or services to specify (as far as possible) a single price for acquiring those goods or services. This amendment is expected to commence by 25 May 2009.

Happens to the best of us ...

Join the club, Lance ...

Friday, 13 March 2009

It's about time a song was written about the City of Villages ...

From Chicago to Boston
To Toronto to Mexico to Prague
There have been ships that I've crossed in
From the majestic mountains of Canada
To the thick London . . . Fog

Belize and LA.
San Fran and Singapore
I guess I'm popular
I'm such a fagabond
A regular, globe-trotting cabaret whore . . .

And
Of all those wond'rous places
That I have come to see – b
Who'd a thought my world-wide tour
Would crap me out . . .
Here in . . .
Glebe?

On the shores of ol' Black wattle
Everybody drains a bottle
Ain't it fun to get pissed here in . . . Glebe?

You can walk into the city
Through parts pretty and parts shitty
Where from? Right here in . . . Glebe!

I could climb the Eiffel tour
Go to Berlin where the kraut is sour
But there's no place that I'd rather be - b
Than here with you
Here in . . . Glebe!

Glebe . . . An area of land belonging to the church doled out to the peasants for farming, houses, shops, factories . . . And evidently lots of drinking! You people are fish down here! And I love it!

There's a market on the weekend
Tons of houses past their peek and
It happens all here in . . . Glebe.

There are tracks for dogs and horses
And drunk students flunking courses
Yes! All right here in . . . Glebe!

Sure, I could get a tan in Rio
Go to the Nile to visit Cleo
But there's no better place in Oz, I guarantee – b
Then being here with you . . .
Here in . . . Glebe!

I could . . .
Go to Kentucky to drink a julep
Head off to Holland to pick a tulip
But I'm likin' it here at the old AB – b

Just wasting an hour with you
Sculling a beer or two
Getting all queer with you
Here in Gle-e-e-eb!

Just singing this song for you
Humping a leg or two
Getting faced-on-my-ass here with you

Here in glebe!

Sure I could
Visit the wall in china
Explore Madonna's . . . Ancient vagina
But there's no place that I'd rather be – b

Than here with you . . .
Here . . .
In . . .

Everyone . . . And in harmony!

Glebe!

Music by Dennis T. Giacino
Music & lyrics by Dennis T. Giacino & Fiely A. Matias

Some things should remain science fiction

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/the-bizarre-ideas-that-could-help-the-world-20090312-8wig.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1
Ideas like this scare me.  I would hope that governments would be as dismissive of these mega projects as I am - some things just belong in science fiction.  I loved reading about the giant magnfiying glass and controlled atmospheric burnup of comets in Red Mars but I don't want this to be done to MY planet.  Climate change is a real problem but the issue clouds what I consider to be the real problem which is pollution and human disruption of nature.  Cooling the world will not solve will not scrub the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and methane, it may drop the overall temperature a few degrees but who knows what the consequences could be?  
This is scarily like the cane toad solution - the (native!!!) prickly pear is a weed so let's get in a caterpillar to eat it.  Oh, the caterpillar doesn't like it but it does like sugar cane.  What do we do?  Let's get a toad to eat that.  What's that?  The toad is ground dwelling and the caterpillar lives a few feet out of range.  Big solutions can have big side effects and we can't afford to f**k around with things we don't fully understand.  And if we do manage to cool global temperatures a bit the urgency for reducing emissions goes out the window.  Already there are companies who are "seeding" the ocean by dumping iron in it to boost the growth of phtoplankton which should be able to absorb CO2 (http://news.nationalgeographic.com.au/news/2002/01/0108_020108oceaniron.html).  That's fine as an experiment to see if it helps but not when you're then selling this is as a carbon credit.  They want the world's governments to PAY them to pollute?  I think you're missing the point.  
To curb CO2 we need to develop carbon sinks - something that can absorb and capture the excess CO2 and related gases that are causing these probelems.  Thus far, the best we've got is planting trees but all this gain is lost when they're cut down.  Storing it in disused mines is an interesting idea.  But what about capturing it and turning it into building material?  Diamond and graphite is sequestered carbon and it takes a long time to break down.  I'm not an engineer so I can't say whether this is feasible in terms of the energy required to convert the gases into a solid but whatever the solution is it has to be low impact.  Putting a sail in space or polluting the oceans or air is going to have massive risks that we just can't afford to make.  Let's try this on Mars first - we've only got one planet to live on thus far and we wreck this one we're screwed.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Fiction Is Good

Now, I like my fiction, nobody needs to justify the value in reading it.  
http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/fiction-nurtures-the-soul--a-must-for-even-hardhearted-politicians-20090310-8u3f.html?page=-1
One might not agree with all in this article but if there's one worthy line it must be this:
As we experience difficult economic times, it pays to read Keynes, Stiglitz and Krugman of course. But it also pays to read Steinbeck.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

I have a dream ...

... uh, that's it.  I just wanted to tell everyone that I have an HTC Dream phone powered by Android.  I've wanted one for a while.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

I think we'll be fine ...

After seeing another one of these stories ...
This is the fourth time this has happened in as many months.  I LOVE dolphins - I love seeing them do tricks, I love reading stories about them rescuing sailors, I love the idea that they were the second smartest creatures on Earth and their goodbye message was "so long and thanks for all the fish", I fear them evolving opposable thumbs (http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28315).
But, is it possible, just possible, that they're not as smart as we think they are???

Thursday, 26 February 2009

R.I.P. Philip José Farmer | Books | A.V. Club

91 is a good age to go so I'm not sad.  Looking forward to seeing you on the riverbanks Mr Farmer ...
http://www.avclub.com/articles/rip-philip-jose-farmer,24338/

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

J'Accuse

Hola amigos ... long time since I rapped at ya ...
Oscar night is still the only awards show worth watching even though it's often somewhat cringeworthy and I rarely completely agree with the winners - the timezone difference is also more and more difficult to negotiate in this age of aggregated news and and 24 hour on message notification - my email war with the Sydney Morning Herald web editor about 7 years ago still hasn't paid any dividends and the provincial online news source still considers it a scoop to blare the winners out on the front page as they happen.  So, as happens every year the last Monday of February (is that when it's scheduled) is my "No News" day and I have to say that whilst productivity could have been better it's somewhat of a relief to get away from being up to the minute in terms of information.  But it's hard - news screens at cafes and in lift wells still can't resist keeping us informed whether we want the information or not - not knowing the fact that there was a bomb in Cairo that killed 30 is a small price to pay for not knowing that Sean Penn pipped the resurgent Mickey Rourke before it happened eight hours later.
A princely spread of popcorn, sawsage rolls and choc tops with a bit too much beer was a good way of spending the evening and the healthy turnout in attendees and, more importantly, entries into the spectacularly elegant Oscar sweep competition made a very entertaining evening.  A victory by yours truly also didn't go astray - despite negating any opportunity for accusations of fixing by emailing all nominations the day before and results afterwards my integrity was still impugned by calls of bias and accusations of foul play through electronic measures but I know where I stand and the cool one hundred and fifty dullahs combined with a clear conscience smoothed my damaged ego.  Huzzah.  I have to say I was rather pleased all in all with the winners, which is a change, Slumdog was a deserved winner - the movie was great, the music was inspired genius and I was sure that was Sudeep from work up on stage celebrating the victory.  Still don't know how he got there in time.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Police Banning Blogs?

Will mentioning the name, Brendan Sokaluk, cause Evil Melon to be banned?  Not only is this guy a potential arsonist but he also seems to be accused of holding child pornography.  That's two monsterisms in one, he must be the devil incarnate ... I wonder if I rearranged the letters in his name if I'd get a derivative of 666 ... In any event, I could certainly do with the traffic that the attention of a banning can bring to a website - I may have been a bit lapse in keeping up with a running commentary on my life and the bits and pieces of the world which amuse me but I don't recall free speech being banned in this country yet.  I know net censorship is on the cards but those laws haven't been passed yet or have they?  However, I absolutely must agree with keeping private details off limits - vigilantism is not a sign of an enlightened society - this is not the UK, last I remember it was the courts and not the media who decide whether someone is guilty and the punishment is meted out by the justice system and not thugs who've nothing better to do.  
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2009/02/17/1234632773480.html

Sunday, 15 February 2009

I Will Fear No Evil


Despite having rain put off one of my cycling events for the weekend - the SCC time trial which I was probably not up to having been cancelled by overzealous administrators - it would take more than a hangover to cancel a bit of blatant exhibitionism. My second round of cycling themed body art took a very similar look to my last - almost exactly the same as my last in fact, but this time with a bunch of other people. Riding from Kensington to Maroubra with a bunch of half naked cyclists covered in rainbow coloured paint is not everybody's cup of tea for a Sunday afternoon but it beats sitting around the house watching a DVD box set of an American cop show. I did that on Saturday. Lots of painted boobies - some pert, some pendulous and a rather enjoyable ride home. Nobody seems to bat an eyelid at the art work so I'd say it was successfully done.

Friday, 13 February 2009

The world's best???

http://www.smh.com.au/travel/travel-news/the-worlds-best-airline-complaint-letter-20090130-7tgo.html
Come on ... it's really not that funny.  How can this old story still be at the top of the favourite lists?  it used to be that you had to trawl through the obscure stories in the obscure international press ... now the viral network tells us what's funny, whether we like it or not.  Oddly enough ...  I'm sick of it.  Truth be told, I didn't need to click on the link.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

I was waiting for this

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/green-ideas-must-take-blame-for-deaths-20090211-84mk.html?page=-1

Ms Devine has been waiting, anticipating, maybe even hoping for something like this to happen.  Not only is the green movement responsible for shocking economic policy but now for mass murder.  The Victorian fires are shocking are devastating but they're hardly unexpected.  The Australian bush survives by fire - it always has and it always will.  In a few years time when we revisit the sites of "hell on earth" we'll find a paradise of greenery and regenerated bushland.  The urban areas that were destroyed by fires over the past week should have been better managed in terms of fire prevention - that is a given.  But the blame does not lie with the philosophy behind keeping areas pristine and "untouched" by human hands - it lies with the people who moved into the bush and were then baffled when it did what it evolved to do.  Burn.  It is tragic and sad that so many people have died but nature is amoral - if someone swims in shark infested waters and is killed we don't blame the sharks (although frequently we do) we blame the person for being where they shouldn't.  It's like the frog and the scorpion - the scorpion can't help it's nature.  If you're going to build towns surrounded by the bush you can't be surprised when this happens.  That said, the towns are there - we're not going to move them now, so they may as well be fire-proofed (as much as that's possible) - we've already made an impact on our environment and we can't say we've done some damage, let's leave it and let it return to it's natural state - the natural state is dangerous and it does have to be managed.  I'd be very surprised if there isn't a fundamental rethink on the way we manage the urban bush.  But there's enough urbanised bushland already - let's not create any more.