Monday, December 31, 2001

(all of which, by the way, is partly why I'm ashamed of the way Australia is treating refugees from Afghanistan. we are all part of this one world and we have to deal with it, no matter how much we'd like to not do so)
reading an obituary of German writer Max Sebald, who was involved in student protests in the late 60's, I think about the Holocaust/war thing.
when I was a child and teenager, all that seemed so much like ancient history. Now I realise I was born a mere 21 years after Auschwitz was closed, after Hiroshima was bombed, and it's not all that long ago at all.
and I think about how all that led to Israel, and how Israel is the reason for the September 11 bombing, and I think about the terrible things that still exist in the memories of Jewish refugees living in Melbourne, and how my mother's life was partly shaped by her father being away in New Guinea fighting the Japanese when she was very young (and how Grandpa would not talk about it).
and about what the world might be like if Hitler's genocide had succeeded; if there was an entire race that had been allowed to be deleted from the world and how, to a large extent, he did succeed, because the Jewish populations of eastern Europe are so much smaller than they used to be.
and how things hang over us, continue to exist and shape us, even when we dismiss them as ancient history, or believe it's just not relevant to us, growing up in a peaceful country on the other side of the world.

Sunday, December 30, 2001

Take the What Should Your New Year's Resolution Be? Quiz

In today's spirit of blogging the good stuff as well as the highly annoying, I can report a (fairly) satisfactory solution to the Great Oven Dilemma.
I own have a mortgage on a flat - I used to live there, and when I moved out, I put it up for rent. It's about 35 years old, and so are all the fittings.
so, inevitably, it needed a new oven. the tenants had complained, so I went shopping at the sales. turns out that they don't make ovens that size any more - the space available is way too shallow.
damn, bother, etc. So I called the agents, who gave me the tenants' number, hoping I could get in there and measure up and talk to them about whether they wanted to put up with cabinetmakers etc traipsing through, meanwhile panicking about the cost of all this.
turns out the guy who lives there is a furniture maker. I went to see him this morning, we stood in the kitchen, chatted, discussed, measured, discovered we have some mutual friends, wandered up to the whitegoods store, measured some more; the upshot is I've put a deposit on a reasonably cheap but good quality (on sale) oven and gas range, and he's going to take care of the fitting-it-in problem. then I only have to get an electrician/plumer in to install it all and pay for the materials. bonus!
the tenant is a pretty good furniture maker too, from the look of what he has there and the jobs he says he's working on; so I've forgiven him for installing shelves in the wall without asking me first.
I love understatements like this, from the father of failed plane bomber Richard Reid: "He didn't say anything about jihad or holy war - if he had, I would have had a word in his ear. Religious violence is not on."

that's right up there with this, from the former tennis partner of Frank Vitkovic, who shot a large number of people in a Melbourne office building some years back, then jumped out the window: (paraphrased) "He's never done anything like this before."
simple pleasure #1 for the day: buying bread at the fantastic local organic bakery Natural Tucker, and having it handed to me so hot that I have to juggle it on my way to the car. you don't get that at the megamart!
"At Lane's, will write more later when I stop kissing my girl. :P hehe."

isn't that sweet?
I am a great whinger. I take strong personal exception to being f**&%$d around by banks, bureaucracies, pay offices located in faraway cities, and shoddy "services". I've blogged my battles with odious rubbish skip company people (hi, Gavin!) and with rude companies that stick annoying messages on my computer. From all this, you might get the idea I'm a cranky bitch. well, I am, but I can also be nice. Banks in particular annoy me; when I took out my first mortgage, Westpac lost more than $3000 of my money in a key entry error!!!
all of which means I watch the so-and-sos like a hawk. when I found a $9 "overdrawn" fee on my bank statement, I thought "here we go again." and was duly jacked around by various people, including one young man whom I described as an "insolent puppy" after I got off the phone with him. one idiot even said I'd have to go into a branch - this is from a bank that has spent millions pushing its customers out of branches onto the Web and phones so it can close branches in country towns.
then, unexpectedly, came Mark, and this letter, which I'm sending today:

The Manager
Commonwealth Bank
Lygon St, Carlton branch

Dear sir/madam,

As I’ve had cause in the past to complain about the bank’s handling of my business, I thought it was worth writing to complement you on one particular member of your staff.

Last Wednesday I noticed a charge on my statement that I needed to query, and called the telephone service centre. At first I was told that I would have to physically come into the branch or call you myself; after some pressing on my part, the service centre faxed your branch, and when I had not heard back by the end of the following day, (Thursday) I called again.

The person I spoke to at the branch said he would have to call me back. By this time I’d spent 20 minutes on various calls and felt I was having trouble getting bank staff to understand my query, which centered around finding out when the bank had cancelled my overdraft (at my request), which would explain whether the charge was legitimate or not.

The person I spoke to did call back, but I missed the call; when I called back, a person named Mark (I didn’t get his last name) answered the phone.

Instead of just taking a message or passing me on to re-explain the problem to yet another person, Mark listened to my explanation, understood exactly what it was I was asking, and in under five minutes had found the date of the overdraft cancellation, established that the charge in question was a mistake by the processing centre, and promised to have it reversed.

The charge itself was a fairly trivial amount, but the query was shaping up to be yet another case where a bank makes a mistake and then forces the customer to jump through endless hoops to have it fixed, wasting everyone’s time.

Given all that, Mark’s helpfulness and willingness to deal with the problem then and there, not to mention his friendly attitude, was a breath of fresh air, and did more for the bank’s image in my household than any marketing campaign ever could.
oooh, I just hate that! every single one of my pairs of jeans almost fits me. I am developing the habit of not even trying to do up the top button, and just throwing a baggy shirt over the top.
no, I don't really care about my weight. I'd just like my clothes to FIT.
can see boring "no thanks, no cake for me" period coming up.
and here I am with 1.75 of the most fabulous cherry flan I've ever made sitting in the fridge. I suppose I can feed it to all my friends at the New Years party tonight. can also see "pre-no-cake-for-me-period" binge coming on.

Friday, December 28, 2001

batgirl has an impressive collection of who-am-I tests. kind of reminds me of a high schoolers' wall of pinups of for some reason.
the gardens website has kindly provided a photo of where Andrew and I got married last year.
hot, hot, hot.
the first 30 degrees-plus day all summer.
spent the day in the beautiful Botanic Gardens with almost the full complement of uncles, aunties, niece and nephews, cousins' kids, cousins' partners, etc.
cold barbecued chicken and mango. lots of conversations about what's been happening in our lives, lots of vague wandering around, sitting on picnic mats, admiring children, excursions around the gardens. luckily I'd chosen a spot under the oak trees on the Oak Lawn (where else) and we just sweated it out. kind of nice, now that all of us cousins are mostly grown up. family traditions do matter, I guess.
but now have small headache because of heat and am sitting in cool, dark room eating a juicy peach in the quiet of the late afternoon. which is also very nice indeed.
(seem to have adopted habit of omitting the first person pronoun since watching Bridget Jones' Diary. must break said annoying and prentious habit.)

Thursday, December 27, 2001

I mustn't have enough to do with my time. I've been surfing the universities' sites wondering if I should do a Master of Arts degree. I really am very interested in all this online/offline identity stuff and privacy and so on. I've just finished my B.Litt (blog) and I keep a half-hearted id/privacy blog at
but another three years' part-time study? I must be mad.
this appears to be a reasonably clever use of blogging by a high-school teacher getting her class to write; all the usual questions etc are there, but instead of handing in answers, the students are required to put answers, links etc up on their blogs. interesting. have upgraded their "suggest name" function. so if you type in, which is taken by a movie house, it suggests or maybe brings up such gems as

I think their synonym suggestion software doesn't yet understand alliteration or rhythm or the idea of "pun"
if this link works and you're interested in the Z-lists' Freaks and Blogging in Las Vegas convention, go over and have a chat. they don't bite. hard.

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

naked air (via linkmeister)
why not? maybe we could have airline-issued fluffy dressinggowns to keep us warm.
or there could be several classes: people who look good naked, people who don't look good naked, and people who don't give a darn.
I would miss my carry-on books though. so they'd have to set up some kind of onboard library (and something better than the usual Cosmo, Time or Home Beautiful magazines, thanks). you'd need a good range, from Ulysess to light fluffy stuff.
and the moisturizer situation would definitely have to be upgraded. and I'd want a supply of jelly beans and nuts so I could avoid the food in cattle class (damn but I miss flying business class!). and I'd need some free socks. and a blowup pillow. and a notebook and pen. and free bottles of water, as much as I wanted.
then, and only then, would I agree to surrender the precious bag of carryon supplies.

my flying requirements have been somewhat prejudiced by the fact that when I get on a plane, it can take easily 24 hours to get where I'm going, sometimes longer. it's not easy living almost at the very bottom of the planet, you know.
the tension is rising over at Damnthepacific.
Stu and Lane will finally meet, at JFK airport, in the evening of December 27 - about 12 hours from now. personally, if I was meeting the love of my life after that incredibly long and exhausting flight from Melbourne to the East Coast, I'd make sure I had a good night's sleep before I actually saw her, or more to the point, before she saw me. jet lag is not a beauty aid. but I guess they just can't wait another second.
yeeh-hah! blogger is back! thank you, Ev, thank you Kinko's fast Net link.
I'm going to save this blog until the problem's fixed.
but it seems what's happened is that blogger has reset everyone's passwords to 1
this includes blogs that are posting via some other interface than blogger itself. those blogs are happily posting, not realising there's a security problem.
I am feeling quite nervous about it. it's boxing day here, but christmas in the US. this means no one will notice for a while, though I've emailed the Blogger gods.
if someone wanted to, they could get into any blogger-powered blog and post to it, delete it, change the password. this is very bad indeed.

I am desperately resisting the temptation to get Ev's attention by hacking into his own blog. "security" is the normal hackers' excuse for what they do; bringing holes to the attention of the site owner. in this case, I almost think it would be worth it. almost. I don't think I could stand being banished from Blogger.
Surreally and general Z-list folks are getting serious about the bloggers' convention. vegas wouldn't be bad, actually. there's a great waterslide park. and with luck, there'll be a tech conference somewhere in town that I can use as an excuse for tax reasons. and of course, planes do fly from Vegas to New York.

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

boxing day.
weather: heavy rain.
about to launch into my twice-yearly purge of everything; filing papers, tidying up desks, sorting out wardrobes. usually I don't start my "new year" until a few days into the new year. this year I feel ready early, probably because I've already had a couple of weeks off.

movies, movies. Lantana, an Australian drama, is very, very good. don't go see it if your marriage is on the rocks. you'll cry. one of my mother-in-law's friends walked home in the dark through several Sydney suburbs after seeing it, she was so upset. it's good.

Bridget Jones' Diary (on dvd). well, I laughed. a bit. I think it would have been just as satisfying to see the BBC's version of Pride and Prejudice again, though.
Damnthepacific's Stu and Lane are barely a day from their first meeting.

the indignities of Christmas:

(stolen from Cora's page
woah. bad blogger. really bad. all the passwords, or at least an awful lot of them, seem to have been reset in a highly security-unfriendly way. if you use blogger, go log in; if you can't, go to the "discuss" pages for a fix. I'd do it now, if I were you ...

Monday, December 24, 2001

I finally got to talk to GAC - what a difficult and non-intuitive interface they have!
once you're in, you get to submit a statement with a true/false answer.
then you get 20 other people's statements to rate on usefulness and answer. GAC didn't agree with me that statements disparaging religion would offend some people. GAC obviously doesn't get out much.
the statements are a bit varied; some are good, others are in question form, which is not quite what you need for t/f. but they're a funny cross-section. this AI, if it ever wakes up, will be one weird dude
problems found in software can be called bugs
Saturn is smaller than the Earth
Zeus was a Greek god.
Humans have intelligence
Do you like it when your interaction with other people can be described by inspired?
Would you associate "glowing" with your ideal sister?
Does data eat fish?
atomic bombs are radioactive?
Would you associate "galvanized" with your ideal lawyer?
The word "tune in" is at least sometimes used as a verb.
working sucks
there are some converted warehouses we walk past on the way to the park.
yesterday morning I noticed a man going into one of them, carrying a black plastic pot covered by a large opaque plastic bag.
a present for someone, I thought, or protection for a Christmas tree.
then I saw two more people carrying two pots each, similarly covered; and it clicked.
sure enough, up on the first floor balcony, if you look carefully through the reflective perspex, there it is: a fat, healthy dope plant basking in the afternoon sun, clearly visible from the street.

Sunday, December 23, 2001

a good thing about being on holidays: I get to follow up all the little bits and pieces I read, all the random thoughts and "I wonders" and then blog them.
a bad thing about being on holidays: I get to waste heaps of time on the Web. particularly annoying was Mindpixel, the new home of the GAC artificial intelligence project.
the project is using human statements to build up a kind of knowledge base. I read in an older New Scientist that it was too skewed towards sexually deviant, depressed states of mind; a reflection of the people who bothered to interact with it, apparently.
so I felt sorry for it. but when I went to the Mindpixel site to talk some sense into it, I had to trawl through missing FAQ's, registering for the wrong part of the site and all the rest to find GAC. I'm still trying. I'll let you know how I go.
something for me to come back to for work purposes etc: the National Research Council'sState of the Net report, which looks fairly sensible and sweeping.
it's 9.45 am on Christmas Eve. Andrew asks me for the shareholders' discount card for Coles Myer. I ask why. He says "I was thinking of going to Myers." I couldn't help myself; I laughed in his face.
Myers is a huge department store in the centre of town. It's Christmas Eve. the man is INSANE.
when I surf around blogs, I find sad stories, amazing honesty and sometimes (this time via Ev's blogspot blog), things that make you go "awww, isn't that sweet."
this generous access some people give to their deepest feelings has to be a good thing, doesn't it? it says to us: total strangers are deep complex people too. every shell of a human you brush past on the subway has a heart, like you.
I remember once when I was feeling tragically unhappy about something, looking around and wondering how many other people on the train were in the same bad place as me; I was brittle, fragile, couldn't believe I was managing to go through the normal motions of life, and I resolved then to try to be more careful with people on a day-to-day basis, just in case.
my favourite fridge poetry:

A languid winter garden and a tranquil house mean a paradise our frantic puppy could dance for.

(from the collection of little magnetic words scattered over our fridge.)
according to DMOZ, "S" is the most popular letter with which to start a blog title. 118 of 996 listed blogs there start with S. X and Z are equal last with two.

I'm tired, I have a headache, and no, I have nothing better to do.
oh, and the neighbours won. which means the "garden thing" down on the left will lose the overhanging trees and gain a massive wall behind that fence. I don't wish to discuss it any further.
sometimes I come across funny little nascent blogs, like this one, whose owner is bored and has nothing to say yet. but he has a cute tone. he wants to be an actor. my first tip: get over the self-consciousness thing.

Friday, December 21, 2001

The Trelph is a Solitary Creature

Thursday, December 20, 2001

thank God. for a second there I thought I might be Mrs Howell.

The Castaway Quiz
deems me:


You have an exotic aura that makes men instantly attracted to you. Unfortunately you have no personality, so they eventually ditch you for Mary Ann.

via erin

btw, for those who have been following the neighbours' flats debate: the decision has arrived in the post, 15 months after they first told us they were planning to build.
I haven't opened it. I can't yet. later. I've locked it in the study and put the key on the bookcase. later.
well, there's no chance of my site appearing on Pirated Sites. first, it's all my own work (with the help of Blogger's public templates, of course) - and boy, doesn't it show? as a layout queen I make a pretty good dog walker - and second, no one is ever going to steal it. would you?
but I wonder about the stolen-layout thing. Intellectual property is such a wooly thing on the Web. can we say stealing images is not on? - but I do it with img src tags all the time within posts.
if you have no layout skills, can you take some source code and change it around a bit? does information really want to be free? is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? do I actually have anything original to say about this?
I guess this is a case where the existence of technology does change the nature of a "crime". in a recent furore in Australia, when criminal records of citizens were posted on the Web, the argument was that it was all available anyway - if you wanted to dig through court records and old newspapers for it. putting stuff into an easily searchable format, or putting your IP into an easily copyable format, does change the nature of its use, no matter what the pedants say.
and today, amazingly, I got 124 copies of Analog magazine from 1973-85 for $50 Australian. which is about $25 US:

whew. I've been meaning to ftp some pix. about time.
this is the plate all the fuss was about:
bilbo went to a party yesterday:
my friend Ian has never been on the Internet:

now he has


Wednesday, December 19, 2001

still getting lots of you looking for the Doubletree powerpoint presentation.
I'd head straight over there if I were you, before everyone else wears the site out. there's nothing to see here, anyway. move along.
an explanation of why it took me 40 minutes to move 500 metres this morning. I thought it was a bit too bad, even for this time of year. it's nice to get an explanation. sometimes it's all you need to put things in perspective.
btw, I'm still embarassed about the refugees. especially at Christmas
8 inches of lawd have mercy (you have to scroll down a bit)
via miguel
so much to blog, so little motivation.

Miguel has moved

I got the glass plate, but they charged me GST on top of the advertised price. which is clearly wrong and possibly illegal. I told them this, and they said they'd "look into it". If I don't have an email promising a refund by tonight, I'll have to send them an email of demand. I felt really cornered; I'd driven down there (45 minutes in traffic), had to wait 1/2 an hour while the woman with the key to the case came back, and only then did the GST issue arise. so I could only pay it or leave without my lovely plate. sounds like deceptive and misleading conduct to me.

I saw M from next door this morning - the one who had the fit in the middle of the planning tribunal hearing - I trapped her at her car and asked if she was OK and said I was sorry she'd got so upset. she was clearly uncomfortable with it, but I had to insist on establishing that I wasn't a bitch who was happy to see her so stressed out by what is, after all, HER development plan. no news yet.

I have a sick friend staying. he's always been a bit sick, in that off-colour-joke way - for some reason I put up with his political incorrectness. but now he's really sick - had a heart attack a few weeks back - so he has to stay here for a night to be close to the hospital where he was fixed up yesterday.
mind you, he's not all weak and invalid like I expected. in fact, he insisted on having a glass of wine AND a scotch and coke over lunch.

finally, Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz did the red carpet thing in Sydney last night, and not one tomato was thrown. Australians are so tolerant of blatant bad behaviour it makes me sick. the only thing I'm sorry about is that I'll never be able to see Magnolia now, as I'm boycotting every movie or magazine either of them is in. poor Nicole.

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

I am SO BAD. well, not as bad as RuPaul, but bad.
there's this piece of glass, you see. I really like coloured glass.
I noticed it when I was at Monash University for a conference. it's in display case in the foyer, part of the work of a student. it's a red, rectangular platter covered with irregular cream strips. it's $270! turns out, of course, she is just about the most talented student they have. this is a pic of one of her works, but not the one I want:

I've been trying to get in touch with the artist to make an offer. today I talked to a faculty person who told me: no offers. I should just let it go. but I really want it.

so now I am going to - I just know it - go down there and pay $270, in cash, for something I don't need and can't afford. Bad, bad Jenny.
Hoopty says this is proof that girls are evil.
but their math is wrong. it's time and money, not time multiplied by money.
most of you seem to be looking for the Doubletree powerpoint presentation.
when I'm lucky enough not to be at work on a weekday, I can go for a ride in the cool of the morning; it's lovely up on the boulevarde; the air is fresh, the gum trees overhang the road, etc etc. but the cars of the commuters seem to go extra-close that time of the day, and the smell of engine fumes is particularly sickening when it's juxtaposed with the sharp early-morning air.
this morning's compensation was the kookaburras. if you've never heard one of these, you can simulate the sound by pursing your lips and making a fast ooh-ooh-ooh monkey-like sound way down the back of your throat, and gradually opening your mouth and seguing into an aah-aah-aah sound, going slightly higher in pitch as you do so. the trick is to keep the sound coming up from your throat in fast beats. extending the neck also helps. it's kind of a crazy-maniac laughing sound. this morning there were two pairs of these giant kingfishers; one pair was way off in the bush, but the second pair were on a branch close to the road. I stopped and watched them as the male, at the front, replied to the other pair, pointing his long, vicious beak at the sky to get the full effect.
the thing I really liked was that when he'd finished, they both sat still, clearly listening to see if their neighbours had anything further to say on the matter.

Monday, December 17, 2001

if the average Web user is in their 30s and generally well educated and sophisticated - North American respondents are more affluent, with a median in the $50-60,000 range - why, then is this #10 at Blogdex? Hmmm? WHY??
old motel postcards. 'nuf said

while Big White Guy is in North America (and I think: if I'd had the guts to go I'd have been in NYC at the same time as him), I commend to you his tales, which I've only just discovered. The Whispers of Ghosts

plus: evidence that blogging is becoming mainstream: It's on the curriculum. though I'm not sure I like the idea of compulsory blogging. it would take all the fun out of it.

Sunday, December 16, 2001

this is what I like about Blogger: even their oops messages are polite:
Oops! There was some sort of problem. Please reload this page. If this problem persists, please try back later. We're probably we're on it. Sorry for the inconvenience.
speaking of place names; I need a name for the process of calculating just when one should ring one's bell when coming up behind a pedestrian. too early and they don't hear you. too late, and they jump like startled rabbits right into your path.

Saturday, December 15, 2001

Ken Layne has managed to note a real Australian trend and offend me in the one post. it is true that we tend to call things what they are: the big stand in the south of the Melbourne Cricket Ground is called The Great Southern Stand. And the state in the west of the continent is Western Australia.
but Ken goes on to suggest that this is because we are stupid. conservative, maybe, with unimaginative leaders, definitely, but one does take offence at "what is wrong with the Australian brain?" America does it too: I submit Yellowstone Park, the Rocky Mountains and a president indistinguishable from his own father only by his middle initial, m'lud.
the best Australian names (apart from the ululating, echoing Aboriginal ones: Uluru, (Ayers Rock) Kata Tjuta, (the Olgas), Ballarat (my home town) Emily Kngwarreye (an artist who is right up there with Monet and Rodin IMHO), are the ones given by the early white explorers. they started off looking for the Promised Land, naming things New South Wales (and South Wales is lovely), Hopetoun, etc, and as they starved and thirsted and trudged through the apparently hostile countryside, they got a bit depressed: Mt Disappointment, Mt Misery, Mt Warning.
My guess is Ken has never been to Australia.
apart from clearly getting footy mixed up with rugby (footy players are not thick-necked, rugby players are), he suggests that contractions of words (like brekky for breakfast and footy for football) make players sound homosexual. well, first, some of them are. second, there is a tradition of repressed homoeroticism in the traditions of Australian mateship. the right to call someone named John "Johnno" or a Michael "Micky" is a badge of honour and friendship in a culture that is based on large numbers of single males farming, mining etc with very few women around. not that most Australians (Aussies!) live like that now. but it's a strong undercurrent in our culture. Bud.
yawn. stretch. blink.
yes, went dancin' last night. these days such an enterprise involves drinking very strong coffee early in the evening, agonising over what to wear (don't want to look too daggy, don't want to look like a 35-year-old trying to look 20), poring over the street papers to work out where the hell the action is these days, then wandering from club to club trying to find something that isn't pop music, isn't shouty metal music and is remotely danceable.
at one point we were at a hotel dance floor where there was just us, one very drunk beer-drinking man and three girls sitting in the corner laughing - possibly at us. but it did mean we got to request a Garbage track, and we could throw our arms around as much as we liked.
about 1.30 we were back at the first club we tried, a gothesque alternative place, in a room with one kilt-wearing punk, one punk with a Billier-than-Billy-Idol spiked blond hairdo, an Elvis hairdo lookalike, a buxom wench in a red leather jumpsuit unzipped to the navel, several black-coated Goth types (and it was HOT in there), a couple of girls in off-the-shoulder lycra disco chick outfits and who knows what else, dancing to the ska song "baggy trousers".
and no, I wasn't on any drugs...
The Gluetrain Manifesto
via Keep Trying.

Friday, December 14, 2001

and Microsoft wonder why people hate them
um, just in case you didn't see my post on this a while back, I'd just like it on the record that I find the Australian treatment of refugees INCREDIBLY embarassing. and no way did I vote for this lot.
why do I feel better disposed towards Winona now? poor poppet. they do charge a lot at Saks, don't they?
no, I don't know how to tell the sex of a goldfish
I do know that my nephew spent an hour at 3am the other night separating newborn guppies from the adult guppies, which were eating them.
so clearly goldfish can tell the sex of a goldfish.

Thursday, December 13, 2001

you know your car is dirty when young men knock on your door offering to wash it (presumably for payment)

and if you really want to get your Christmas cards written, start at 5.30 pm when the post closes at 6. write anything. send them.
I mailed the powerpoint guys. they mailed back!
this is the relevant paragraph from their form mail, if you got a laugh out of it.

"Earlier, when the DoubleTree Club GM asked what we wanted in the way of compensation for our negative experience, we agreed that a donation to Houston's Toys for Tots campaign in the hotel's name would be nice instead.

With so many people now apparently getting copies of the show, I'd like to try to extend that impulse. If you got a laugh out of it, perhaps you could kick the price of a DoubleTree Hotel club sandwich toward the holiday charity of your choice in the name of Night Clerk Mike. Maybe even notify the DoubleTree Club in Houston that you've done so. Their address is 2828 Southwest Freeway, Houston TX 77098. If you forrwarded the PowerPoint to friends, we'd be grateful if you could chase it with this follow-up request. We like the idea of the hotel getting a stack of cards reporting random acts of kindness and compassion in Mike's name. "
so here's my problem.
you've all seen the final episode of Seinfeld, right? the one where the four heroes videotape a mugging in a country town, making witty comments as they do so - and end up thrown in jail for life for not helping the victim. I don't know whether I should go to jail or not.

today we had the hearing (the THIRD) about our neighbour's horrible flats. they want to build on our boundary. we don't want them to. it went to a tribunal, with some other neighbours supporting us.
for the first time the woman next door, M, actually turned up. other times her daughters or sons-in-law have come. her husband, I don't know if he even can speak English. he certainly doesn't talk to us. they're Spanish, but have been here 30+ years. her daughters came with her today.
Andrew and I, a neighbour, the council guy and the neighbours' architect all sat at the big table and talked to the tribunal dude. M and daughters sat in the main body of what looks like a small courtroom.
yada yada yada; all the usual allegations, counter-allegations, we say it's way too big and ugly, the architect and council make out like we should be grateful they're chopping huge trees down to build this monstrosity. all is normal.
then, after 20 minutes, when we're nearly wrapped up, there's a huge shriek from behind us. M has gone into some kind of full-on seizure. pan-de-mon-ium.
She's on the ground, shaking and twitching, the daughters are with her, the tribunal dude is out the door - to get an ambulance - I'm trying to get my mobile working with my own hands shaking, then for ten minutes I'm talking to the ambulance despatcher, describing M's symptons, asking her daughters questions: is she diabetic? epileptic? has this ever happened before? no, no, no.
in the end, it was all the women in the room - with a nurse who appeared from some other hearing - and all the men out of the room, standing about nonplussed. 15 minutes after it started, M was able to insist on getting up and leaving, against advice from the despatcher (no ambulance yet - I guess they could tell she wasn't dying, but in the room it had seemed like it at some points).
bizarrely, another neighbour turned up at this point, with no idea what had just happened, and we all sat back down and heard her presentation for a few minutes.

so, as Miguel once asked: is everything fair game to blog? am I entitled, now that I know M is OK (I can hear her, as usual, arguing in Spanish next door, probably about us), can I use it as material? can I say "wow, and I was worried about the slight twitch I've had in my left eye: that's not a twitch!"
I mean, at the time, my only concern was M's wellbeing. she was really sick; it must have been some kind of nervous collapse. the whole thing is stressful, but does that mean we have to cave in on this whole thing? no, it doesn't. does the fact that we won't make us heartless? no.
anyway, the tribunal dude said there would be a decision next week. we are going to lose. but now I'm frightened of upsetting M; and she will get upset when we do our house extension, I know it.
Gawd, our neighbours must really hate us now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

I am a Minimalist Cow Sculpture.

My massive green incongruity mingles with past stitched screwdrivers. Mango potential exudes around my recycled writing gastropods. I fire enraged plastic knees on webbed bags.

What smell fragments hot curiosity? The Utterly Surreal Test

look, I'd like to stop blogging for the day. but it would be downright wrong of me not to share this link, which made me laugh until small tears came out the corners of my eyes and caused my dog to come running to find out what was wrong with me.
As a career Angry Person when it comes to really bad treatment by airlines/rubbish skip men/exploitative employers/pigheaded government departments/faceless banks (I could go on), I have nothing but admiration for these people. The format and style of the presentation is Onion-level satire.
Dave Winer's ridden a Segway
apart from my sheer jealousy, it's interesting that he thinks the main use for them should be "fun".
I don't know what's been said elsewhere, but at my office we came up with ideas from navigating huge airports (all you'd need is a navigation chip of some kind) to controlling where people go in secure buildings. so you'd get off your plane, grab a Segway and say "United Terminal 7", or plug in your flight number, and it would take you there. in a secure building, it would only go where it was allowed to, and would sound an alarm if you got off.
also very useful at big nasty trade shows. I bet the first company to hire a batch of them, park them at the door with a sign saying "take a ride to our booth" will be the hit of that particular show.
etc. they're transport robots, really, and it's that intelligence, not the raw transportation, that I find cool about them. though I bet they are fun all right. me want.
and while I'm posting everything that everyone else has already found, the "megway", a fine commentary on the Segway. again via daypop.
ah, geeks. you gotta love 'em. according to Google, this is the oldest Usenet article on the Web:
We have recently installed a Versatec V-80 electrostatic plotter
for producing phototypesetter facsimiles. Aside from a couple of
hardware problems, we are satisfied with its performance

it goes on. not even ONE mention of sex, bin laden jokes or e-commerce. what were they thinking back then? that the Internet was for exchanging useful information? shame!

(via daypop's top 40 )
if anyone cares, I got 88 % for that essay! I think my lecturer may have been swept away by the excitement/smoke and mirrors of a student who was interested in something she (the lecturer) didn't know about, that was also sexily "new media". but I'm still pleased.
this also seems like a good time to point anyone interested in blogging-as-medium to my uni essay for my biographies/fiction subject. it's inside annoying frames, so you have to go down to the link reading " an essay on blogs".
I know I should fix that, but it's a site I can only get at via ftp, which means I'd have to do codey things, which is MUCH harder than blogging.
hey, my verb "to google" is being used! not that this woman is likely to have picked it up from my psuedodictionary entry. but she talks about "googling" herself - a kind of vanity search or egosurf.
via keep trying, whom, as you know from Blogger's front page, is blogging about blogging. which means I'm blogging about blogging about blogging.

but I wonder: what happens to the old "john doe" man on the street term "joe bloggs" now that it's a verb? here's Joe, btw(warning: pdf file link)
supermarket list a)
-Weight of the shopping jeep I hoisted into and out of my car this afternoon: 25 kg.
-My weight: 55 kg (about 120 pounds)
-contents of said jeep: mainly cans of dog food and long-life milk. some muesli.
-# of plastic bags "saved": about 5.
-subsequent reduction of my environmental guilt: .001%

supermarket list b)
-Item I forgot to buy: vegetable stock
-My reaction to realising this: repeating the "f" word four times, very quickly.
-Consequences of said oversight: a less flavoursome curry laksa on Saturday night.
-what I intend to do about it, in descending order of desirability:
-buy stock at the open-air market tomorrow, if they have it.
-complain about lack of stock to husband, whose job it is to go to the supermarket anyway, until he goes and buys some to shut me up/secure tastier laksa.
-go get it myself.
-go without.
-make stock from scratch using free-range chicken carcase, hand-chopped vegies and lots of bubbling pots and arcane kitchen processes.

(the canny reader will notice that making stock from scratch falls below an option which is achievable with no effort, and hence is in the "impossibility" mode of likelihood.)
today's BlogOn

In keeping with the season, some blogs with (jingle) bells on:

A Christmas Witch List

Of no likely use to anyone in Australia, but amazing all the same for the effort some people will go to.The Christmas Witch says: "I really call myself Witch Queen. I really like Christmas, but I live in a studio apartment alone, hate clutter, and will go to my parents' highly decorated home for the holidays. So, I'm not decorating my real-life space for the holidays, but I miss all of the tree-trimming and light-hanging rituals. So, I'm decorating the web."
Her "decoration" consists of sifting through all the United States free-to-air and cable TV programming and listing the Christmas-related shows on her blog, with hyperlinks to more information about them: from The Wonder Years episode # B90509 to Miracle on 34th Street, it's all here.

secret santa:

Not strictly a blog, but so Christmassy it just had to get a guernsey.
Secret Santa is a kind of virtual Kris Kringle, allowing Internet users to give each other Christmas presents. You don’t have to give out your actual address – just link to your wish list and your personal Web site, and before you can say ho-ho-ho, someone has bought you a gift; and you have someone else to buy a gift for.
It has to be worth under $US 15. About 500 people had signed up late last week.

Brumblogs’ Xmas Special

This guy is trying to get all of Birmingham, UK, online for Christmas. Why you’d want a virtual Birmingham is anyone’s guess (OK, cheap shot), but he’d managed 14 by last week.
Perhaps more of a credit to the infectiousness of the blogging meme than anything; but if you want to steal, sorry, borrow a nice “Red Christmas” layout for your own site, surf on over to Steve’s place.

My Miserable Christmas

A highly depressing and miserable site, containing nothing much but posts from readers explaining why they hate Christmas.
Most are tales of domestic violence – who knows how true they are - and some are clearly jokes, like this:
“My Dad gave me an empty box and said it was the Action Man (GI Joe) Deserter Kit.”
But if you hate Christmas, at least you can hang out with likeminded people here.

why is it that the only American and Australian citizens caught fighting for the Taliban are, well, white boys?
I suppose that Arab-Americans and Australians could fade into the mass more easily.
But it makes you think.

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

a really funny 404
via hoopty

Bilbo Baggins

If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Bilbo, Hobbit, uncle of Frodo and finder of the One Ring.

In the movie, I am played by Ian Holm.

Who would you be?
Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test with Perseus Web Survey Software

(I'm not really Bilbo, but the character I was didn't suit, and the test says I can change if I like. so there.)
JD's Blog: everything you wanted to know about online journalism but had no idea how to find. cool.
another platypus, with a sad story about her dog. I would cry for weeks if anything bad happened to Bilbo Baggins.

Monday, December 10, 2001

well this is just fabulous. a co-worker of mine emailed Bill Gates with questions for an article we're writing together for The Age'stechnology section, and got a metaphorical raspberry from Microsoft PR. I was reduced to chasing their local marketing director for comment. we are a real newspaper doing a serious story.
Meanwhile, Sarah, 15, from Lincolnshire , gets a full-length interview.
I think I'll sue Bill for the impact this will have on my professional self-esteem.
wow. I have positions two and four on the Yahoo search for "blog sex"
last night, I got up on the verandah (porch) chair and strung 300 coloured fairy lights along the cast-iron decorative trim. I liked them so much I left the blind open when I went to bed so I could look at them.
I have never done anything like this before. this is our first Christmas in the house (last year we were in Morocco, where there is no Christmas to speak of) and I guess it's that whole homeowner/married thing kicking in.
it may also be my liking for similar objects in a variety of bright colours. anyway, I am well pleased. it's amazing what $30 worth of tat can do for your mood that $300 of therapy or even new dresses could not.
Listening to Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights and other music in the car driving back from Ballarat, I was thinking about really good art - the stuff that makes you think "I wish I'd done that" or "I wish I could do something as good as that (in whatever medium you work in, not necessarily the one the art is in).
A sequel to Wuthering Heights the book would be silly - a song based on it was 17-year-old inspiration.
Is it trite to observe that ideas gain new energy when you move them from medium to medium, but not when you try to repeat or extend them in their original medium?
I need to think about this more...

Saturday, December 08, 2001

sitemeter is down. how am I supposed to obsessively check my stats now?
my Sunday morning pushbike ride takes me up onto the Kew Boulevarde, a long and winding road (where have I heard that before?) with great views over Melbourne.
There's one particular sharp bend, very high up, where the cars come at night to play, leaving beer cans, condoms and pizza boxes in their wake. It's also where the motorcyclists gather to watch each other zoom by.
This morning, though, there were about seven 50 cc Honda scooter-things parked there. Now, I view these as pathetic excuses for bikes. When I first decided to get a bike, I looked at them and decided they were more dangerous than pushbikes, but without the compensations of power and speed. (now I ride a 500cc Suzuki when I remember it's out there in the garage.) These particular scooters are not the sexy beasts you see parked around chichi coffee shops or zipping about Milan; they are quite ugly really, and the type used by posties (mailpersons) here in Australia.
They were also parked on the footpath/bike track, so I had to slow down and weave my way between them and their riders, who were milling about. I thought, derisively, "what is this, a posties' convention?"
Then I rode down the hill and a couple more were coming up the other way, with Pooh Bears strapped to the carry racks. Ah!The toy run!
It was a posties' convention. I felt quite bad for having (internally) grumbled at them.
By the time the whole mob had gathered and took off of for the run, complete with Australia Post flag, there were fully 20 of these little eggbeaters, some decked out with Christmas glitter, and all with a teddy or panda or box of toys on the back. What a sight.

Friday, December 07, 2001

Actually the site that the Dialectizer is attached to is pretty funny. It even answers that burning question: what is the favourite finger of Internet users?
Bob has also provided a link to the Dialectizer. my only complaint is that it doesn't speak Strine.
BobtheCorgi and her amazing rotating colour wheel

Thursday, December 06, 2001

oh, and he called me Platypus. I need to change my name or my URL.
platypus: an impossible animal made up of various others. rare, cute, unique and Australian.
btw, to those who come here from Doc Searl's weblog, I don't know what he has to do with real estate. I once had a persona of the day of "sex kitten real estate investor", which has gained me many hits in the randy kitty department.

his post was about (I think; this is a fast blog) the relevance of blogging as raised on the Cluetrain Manifesto List
I was rude enough to lump Doc in with the "older bloggers" in my BlogOn column. but a real estate blog column is not impossible, I suppose. from experience, there will be at least four of anything out there.
maybe blogging is better for some types than others. can you imagine a goldfish's blog: "went around tank. saw plastic castle. ate. went around tank. saw plastic castle. ate. went around tank. saw plastic castle. ate. went around tank. saw plastic castle. ate."

apropos of that, today I saw a piece of art that used a goldfish's brain cells on silicon chips to produce art.

hmm. none of that makes any sense. but it works for me.
According to this story, the guy arrested in India did flight training in Australia with a view to attacking the Rialto Building.

this building is a wonderful thing. it is the only real skyscraper Melbourne has. it is mostly glass, so it has a habit of reflecting the weather patterns - and weather is something Melbourne does very well. sometimes you can look up at it and seea pillar of storm clouds framed against a clear blue sky, or the orange sunset reflected with a background of darkness.
the area around Melbourne is also very flat, so the Rialto can be seen from 50 ks away.

I would not like it to be knocked over.
but I have to say: their chosen comments method, which seems to require you to join something, sucks.
(edit) you don't actually have to join. you can post as a non-user. you need to read the instructions carefully, though.
ooh! ooh! me! me!

The Z-list blog has arrived!

SO excited...
it is "unprecendented". somehow more objecting neighbours have managed to get the case against our neighbours' flats reopened. this will be the THIRD hearing.
what does it mean? a good sign? or no?
is she following me? I keep seeing a girl, with dark eyes, shoulder-length, rich, dark hair, a slightly snub nose; striking, strong-looking, about 27.
it's not the same girl, of course. but I've seen her out of the corner of my eye; this afternoon as I drank my coffee, at the pool half-naked in the change room, driving a car that turned the corner as I waited at the lights.
she's inside my head, and she keeps taking shape in the form of these real women who pass by me.

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

today's blogon column:

Exercise blogs

Work those typin' fingers! Flex those wrists! The Web isn't only about staring at a screen; it's also about staring at a screen while blogging about exercise (and, usually, weight loss).

Exercise Blog:
"Tuesday: did some funky boy-band street dance, worked out lower and upper body, and ran a mile."
Raymond has problems with girls who won't let him lead, and likes to rollerblade. His exercise blog is connected to his personal blog, news blog and cooking blog - clearly the Compleat Blogger. The question is: when he cooks more, does he exercise more to compensate?

Blog of a fat-ass wannabe bodybuilder
Please, no letters of complaint. This blogger is a self-described "fat-ass" who is meticulously recording his progress towards Schwarzenegger-hood.
Lots of links to low-carbohydrate diet pages, exercise handbooks and jargon primers for other wannabes.
Some of his suggestions involving injectable insulin are definitely NOT recommended.

Health and Fitness
Kerry O is "changing my lifestyle for the better" with the help of an online diary.
Dog walking, jogging, meetings with her weight-loss adviser; this is a serious attempt to straighten up and fly right.
She's 185.6 pounds (84 kilograms), she's "hungry, really hungry" and cannot believe how small a quarter of a cup of cottage cheese is. You'll find yourself barracking for her as she faces the holiday season with determination, humour and her trusty treadmill.

Not much to see here, but if you're looking for a model to record your exercise on the Web, this could be a template.
It's linked to the weight-loss blog of owner Melissa - a Seattle woman who is amazed at how fast she put on weight a few years ago, and is determined to shift it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

ooh goody! A Michael Leunig gallery! eg:

I've been wondering what happened to Ginger. and here she is. I want one. NOW!!!

the proper site is, but it seems to be down right now.

(but as I watched them trundling about on the TV, I had to say: "this means Americans are going to get even fatter, doesn't it?" and what is wrong with walking as a mode of short-distance personal transportation anyway)

Monday, December 03, 2001

more from my reading back issues of Wired: 8.12 has an article about former Monkee Mike Nesmith's annual summit, in which he brings together Great Thinkers to decide what the biggest problem facing humanity is. The way I read this article, the outcome is usually something namby-pamby or too broad to make sense.
but I know. the greatest problem facing the world today is: people.
which makes being an artist the only answer.
If human nature is to be what people are today, then surely we need more people (artists) moderating and mediating those bad urges, helping us understand ourselves, what we are and what we can be?

of course there are other answers. Bill Gates, of course wants to Do Stuff, in that geeky engineer way, and it doesn't hurt to throw lots of money at existing problems. but things don't get better. on a macro and micro scale, we are still bad to each other and the planet. we need to get at that problem that is us. and the only way I know is understanding; as offered by novels, music, art (and maybe things like psychiatry, etc, if you leave out Sigmund Freud and the women-as-void thing)

(don't know what brought that on. I do know that when I went to hear the Dalai Lama talk in Melbourne, he basically said "be nice to each other" and all the thousands of people went "awww..." I sat there and thought: "that's it?". but when you come down to it, few people actually are nice to each other, and that's all the (better) prophets and religions teach)
somehow, I don't think the xmas resistance movement will catch on
via some Dutch bint
jeanNINE has linked me. I'm not sure why, but she's on the Z-list, so perhaps it's merely reflected glory from hoopty
she claims to live in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. is that a real place?
you know some days you just can't go to work?
luckily, I have the kind of job in which it's sometimes possible to be quite productive at home.
today, productiveness consists of doing a few bits and bobs and writing three BlogOn columns in advance for next year (when I'll be on leave).
yes, that's right: just surfing the Internet.
and I am working; just doing it in a quiet, sunny home office with my dog nearby and no noise from annoying colleagues, no interruptions and not even a phone.
a publicist I emailed mailed me back asking for my landline so she could arrange a courier to me; not likely!
I actually am a bit sick; one of those horrid headaches that only an afternoon nap can fix - and more importantly, that being at work only makes heaps worse.
tomorrow I shall pay for all this by having to be at a trade comissioners' talk at 7.30 am. I wonder if they also expect me to be conscious at that hour?
(it's not true. I just thought I'd see what happened if you said "yes" to all the really sick questions...)
90% - 100% (LEVIATHAN.)


Take the DeathKiddy Test!

when we bought our DreamHome (tm) two years ago, a lot of things came with it.
things like rising damp, leaky pipes, horrid linoleum floors - in the bedrooms, worse tiles, an ill-fated hot water service, a rotting side fence.
all of those are now defeated. They pale into insignificance, however, beside the Back Fence. This, this thing, is made of twisted corrugated galvanised iron, thousand-year-old rotting posts, bits of string and our predecessor Luigi's dubious concrete bases. It is about 8 ft high and 18 ft long, and backs onto a lane frequented by our neighbours' expensive cars. It is not stable - never has been. In fact, it has fallen over a couple of times already.
We wanted to wait until we were ready to replace the gate until we replaced the fence. A mistake, of course. Because we couldn't replace the gate until the renovations had been done, and that will never happen. I got my nephew to cretate a network of angle brackets to maintain some alleged integrity in the structure.
After 18 months of anxiously running down the yard to check the state of the fence after every breath of wind (you can't see the fence from the house), I insisted: we get a new fence. That was four months ago. Apparently colorbond fences are in very high demand, and if we're lucky, the fence people might come this year.
Every time we think the fence couldn't get any more precarious, it does. Until this week, it was hanging from a single upright post. fine, we thought, as long as no one brushes against it, it's perfectly safe. then the other day, we noticed that the post itself was rotten at the bottom. it was only staying up - we're talking about a railway sleeper-sized piece of timber here - because it had a six-inch piece of steel either side of the base, plus some complex pieces of physics involving the corrugated iron.

the huge metal fence was swaying in the breeze. I thought about tying it up with more bits of string. but I couldn't find anything to tie it to. so I dug out the last remaining angle bracket, some self-tapping screws and a funny adjustable bolt-turning thing and got busy.

so that's how I spent my night: trying to drive bolts into iron-hard timber in order to hold up fence with a curse on it. in the distance, I could hear the inexplicable sound of a brass band playing, as if mocking me.

(the doorbell just rang. it was the Salvation Army asking for money. i don't give money to door to door people. but yes: it was actually a Salvation Army band playing Christmas carols door to door. how bizarre.)

Sunday, December 02, 2001

we're all grownups here, aren't we?
can someone tell me if this stuff actually works? via Yeah, totally.
(do not follow above link if you are offended by the idea of oral sex or holding hands before marriage)

Saturday, December 01, 2001

"Hi. My name is Jenny and I'm a chocoholic.
I think it all started years ago, when as a tiny child I received lots of beautiful chocolate Easter eggs, all wrapped in coloured tinfoil. I'd break just a little out of one egg and before I knew it it was all gone.
Then, when I was older, I discovered how a good Tim-Tam fest could dull the pain of some boy's emotional cruelty. I even discovered cocktails with chocolate in them!
Once, I went for dessert at a restaurant named Death by Chocolate - or was that the dessert? Anyway, I think that was the only time I couldn't eat more chocolate; after a mousse, a cake, a sauce and pieces of chocolate, I couldn't fit any more in.
I made a joke of it - many chocoholics do - but I could never stop. it was always there, always around. people would urge me to have "just a little bit" and look askance at me if I refused. the social pressure to take chocolate is huge and wears you down, no matter how good your intentions. soon I always had a piece with me; I was that woman taking the piece of chocolate from the inflight meal tray and popping it in her bag for "later."
I tried carob, I tried cold turkey. nothing worked. I tried not having it in the house, but that only made the frenzy worse when I cracked.
now I need it every day. I start out feeling fine, but by 2pm, I know I'll collapse at my desk if I can't get that sweet, dark, melting feeling in my mouth. I have my sources all mapped out; the vending machine down the hall for Mars Bars (rarely), a coffee shop that sells enormous slices of chocolate fudge cake, a stall at the market whose chocolate rum slice goes perfectly with the strong long macchiatos from the stall across from it, sending me back to my desk apparently fine, but really only coasting on chocolate and caffeine. take it away and I'd be a dribbling mess from 2.30 to 5 pm.
at home, no Sunday afternoon nap is complete without a glass of Coke and half a dozen pieces of Cadbury to wake me up. then I go to the pool and swim a caffeine-and-sugar-crazed kilometre, pretending I'm enjoying myself.
but deep down I know the truth. I'm addicted. it's not that it's making me ill or overweight - it's not, I'm fit and healthy and a normal size - it's the loss of control to the demon bean that terrifies me.
I can't go on like this. I seek the help of a Higher Power to make me strong. one day at a time. just one day at a time.
thank you for listening."
someone at surreally is posting about search engine request found poetry. it reminded me of Ern Malley

apparently Peter Carey is writing a book about Ern, from the point of view of a poet who finds himself cruelly brought into existence in his 20s, only to be killed off.

one of Ern's better poems: (Ern was taken to court for obscenity, despite not existing, for a poem about the ballet Leda , if I recall correctly, which I may not, as it's Sunday morning)

Poetry: the loaves and fishes,
Or no less miracle;
For in this deft pentacle
We imprison our wishes.

Though stilled to alabaster
This Ichthys shall swim
From the mind's disaster
on the volatile hymn.

If this be the norm
of our serious frolic
There's no remorse:

Our magical force
Cleaves the ignorant storm
on the hyperbolic.

all these funny little facts that add up to things being not as they were; the fact that women are buying more lipstick (bad, it means they won't buy more expensive luxuries), the weird way I could move around at yesterday's sale, whereas last year it was literally packed, and now, a surge in demand for canaries.
Problem: my new pack, fully laden with all the stuff the walk company says I have to bring (including a sleeping bag) is totally chockers and weighs 9 kg (with a 750 ml bottle of water included, which I will need. This may not sound like much to you but I weigh aobut 55 kg (120lb) and although I am fit, I am not necessarily strong as far as carrying heavy weights across rough terrain goes.
so it would be great to get that extra 400 g off my back. however, I suspect that then I will not be able to fit everything into the pack - 7 litres is a lot smaller, right?
at least the new pack (actually 1.7 kg) is 600 g lighter than my old purple one and, once adjusted properly, will no doubt actually fit me. these things seem trivial, but I understand that once you're actually carrying a pack, you really regret every extra gram. no, I know it; not from bushwalking, of which I haven't done all that much, but from schlepping my gear around the world. I have struggled with that big purple pack and carrybags through excruciating trips on Venetian boats, up the stairs of various subway systems - usually on the homeward leg of my trips, as I tend to, well, collect stuff along the way. I do mail things home, but that only makes space for more stuff, doesn't it?
when I discovered the wheel a few years back, it was a revelation. now I travel with the same junky old backpack I've had for ten years (it zips up into a soft suitcase but still looks like a backpackers' dirty bag, especially when it comes to nice hotels with me), but I also have a fold-up silver trolley which allows me to get around with the big pack, still put the pack on my back for stairs, and while I'm in transit, lets me pile my computer/daypack/handbag onto it in order to run fruitlessly for missed connections.
I guess I'll keep the bigger pack. unless I can convince Andrew he is big and strong enough to carry my sleeping bag for me?
but I can only say I hope it rains and snows at least once on this walk, as I've been told can happen in Tasmania in January (it's summer here, remember?), to justify my carrying the extra thick socks, the waterproof jacket and pants and the thick woollen underwear that I must carry.

Friday, November 30, 2001

we had a little excursion this morning; me, Andrew and Bilbo, walking down Smith St checking it all out. sometimes it's good to get out and mix with the common people. Bilbo was, as usual, much admired.
we popped into the Kathmandu sale just for a minute and I ended up buying a new (half-price) backpack for the great Cradle Mt excursion in January. there was never any question of taking my 70L purple pack - it never did fit me properly, it's heavy and clunky. but I had meant to borrow or hire one for the walk. never mind. I'm still a bit unsure whether the one I've got has too much volume (52 litres compared to 45 litres) but apparently the fit is the same on both, so I'll just have to be restrained about what I actually put into it. might do a test pack tomorrow. (having looked it up on their site, I see it's 400 grams heavier; bother! I always do this when I buy stuff - I can never get it right the first time. will have to go back down there on Sunday...)

not satisfied with that shopping, I did a secondhand shop crawl of High St. I found a box full of old Analog sci-fi magazines from the 1970s and 80s and bought half a dozen. am finding the trashy contents curiously compelling and of course there's that great cover art of spaceships and google-eyed aliens. might have to go back and get another armful.

Thursday, November 29, 2001

I got me an Amazon wish list!
but realistically, I guess I have to decide whether I have a spare AU$200 for books. maybe I should just go to the lecture. at least that's free.

struggling with whether I want to drag myself in town tonight to go to thedis(locations) conference. apparently Lev Manovich, who is speaking, is a terribly significant thinker on new media. and I care about this stuff, I really do. it's just that it's Friday night and all.

yesterday I went to a session where expat Australian Jeffrey Shaw, who now works at the ZKM centre in Germany, was showing some of his stuff. it's pretty cool, really; I liked the one where you are inside a dome and the robot projector points a "window" of an image on the wall where you are looking. much more interesting than just projecting the whole panorama over the whole inside.

Jeffrey said it was analogous to real life, where there are narratives everywhere, but you only see the ones you look for. well, he said it better than that, but it struck a chord with the writer in me. I think we have a natural tendency to create narrative even when it isn't there.

also on media art: went to the AIM annual students screenings last night. the students are always such cool funky young things. what I love about it is the diversity of work in the same batch of students. there were a few unfinished pieces, tho', which may be because they got distracted by some new computer toys. but again, it was the ones with a little story that I liked best (and cute creatures like half-dog, half-sheep babies!). although there was one with no story at all called "drive" that totally captured the mood of being in a cab from the airport after a long trip, staring out the window at things as they go past, with the streetlights sending moving shadows across your face.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

BlogOn. as usual.

Proving that the Internet isn't just a young folks' game, these older bloggers strike a blow for diversity in more ways than one. For more, visit the Ageless Project at

The Mousetrap
The Mousetrap is written by either the coolest septuagenarian on the planet or an utter fraud.
Its supposedly 71-year-old author, Lorraine, writes about her "granddogs" (and grandchildren) and reminisces about where she was when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
She has a healthy obsession with the joys of cats, especially one named Rambo - but also likes to quote the lyrics of James Brown and uses words like "humongous". Her self-portrait on the home page doesn't clear up the mystery; too much make-up and fish-eye lens to be sure of the age.

My Life After Near Death Experiences
Freestone Wilson, 60, claims to have had "over 100 dreamvisions of places in the afterlife worlds" .This blog details what those visions showed and Wilson's "conversations" with people in the afterlife.
This has been going on since childhood, according to Wilson; most people will be sceptical (one assumes) but it seems to be his reality. He says he is autistic, has a profound faith in the afterlife and certainly has an unusual take on the present life. This is one to read for the experience of looking through a different person's eyes.

Doc Searls' Weblog
Doc Searls was born on July 29, 1947. He probably has a Weblog because he's one of the most experienced elder statesmen on the whole darn Internet, differentiating him a bit from the what-my-grandkids-did-today brigade.
He mixes commentary on the technology industry with links to the latest thinking on D.H. Lawrence, and notes from his "astronomy freak" side. He also keeps track of the general development of the blogging scene.

Hot Flashes
This is how "Momma", 57, planned to celebrate Thanksgiving: "The turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress 'private' meaning: Do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win."
When a woman names her blog "Hot Flashes" and decorates it with a pair of bright red lips, you know the fight hasn't gone out of her yet.
"Momma" is not above posting cute photos of her new kitten, either. Which is not a bad thing, you understand.

now I know where the cute NaNoWriMo logo came from: Sam
we now resume our scheduled silliness:

0% - 10% (Britney)

Oh dear, oh dear.
Far from being a world destroying DeathKiddy, you appear to enjoy kittens, bunnies and boybands.
Not a cloud enters your sky and all is sweetness and light for you.

Take the DeathKiddy Test!

enough silliness. this blog will now get deep and meaningful for a while. feel free to come back later.

I've been thinking about decisions and turning points and interdependency. It's true that if a certain man hadn't walked into a bar at a certain time when I was 17, I might not have spent the next three years of my life hanging around with him; but then I wouldn't have gone to uni when I did, and therefore probably wouldn't have been in Finland in 1995, on the phone to a certain other man who subsequently broke my heart.
you see what I mean?
other moments stand out for what didn't happen. I distinctly recall myself standing on a street corner in New York, reading a poster advertising for roommates, thinking about the seeking-a-friend ads in the Village Voice, thinking "I could just stay here, start answering ads and make myself a completetly different life."
in retrospect, I kind of wish I had; but at the time I was still learning my trade, insecure, not to mention too poor to set up shop in New York (and I'm a terrible waitress).
It has come to my attention that certain other bloggers
are claiming to have "discovered" Hoopty "first".
I would like to say that on August 25, I had the temerity to offer Hoopty coding advice. he took it in good grace. I have proof of this, having saved his precious words in my overflowing inbox.
so he's MINE, you hear me? MINE!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

the onion strikes again: Report: Economically Disadvantaged Men More Skilled At Communicating Attraction To Women
don't you love whacky new-style digital artists? Exhibit A: carrots in bizarre shapes.
I want a NightSurfer (tm) keyboard so I can blog in the dark.
my god it just might work
the Hoopty project: go to blogdex, add your site, and then link like mad to Hoopty
let's see if the Z-list can make him # 1 - on top of Ru Paul! (not to mention the Tourist Guy video)

Monday, November 26, 2001

you go, hoopster!
finally reading last December's Wired and this article from Jaron Lanier: "Trips on Manhattan streets were faster a hundred years ago than they are today. Horses are faster than cars."
He's talking about overall fx, of course. but I would like to footnote it: unless you're riding a pushbike or even running. To go against the general flow, or to slip through the interstices, is a highly efficient strategy.
I have no idea how this applies to his actual topic, which is the fallacies around Moore's Law; but I wish I'd read this article before my uni subject last semester, in which half the class seemed to be techno-utopians, and the other half seemed to just flatly deny things without having a good argument. he's a clever man, Jaron.
ahem. as an Australian taxpayer, could I kindly request that you at GET BACK TO WORK!!!
Hoopty's #13 on Blogdex!!
WOOOH HOOOH!!! if we all link him really, really hard, maybe he'll make top 10!

(yes, I know this is the same msg I left on his comments. I'm lazy, OK?)
You know what? I'm glad Uruguay won. more of that soccer obsession would have been just too much for me.
but on more important matters: WE HAVE HOT WATER!!!
my planned week:
Monday night: long bath (broken only for new episodes of South Park)
Tuesday morning: shower
Tuesday night: wash lots of dishes in warm soapy water. long bath. wash hair repeatedly.
Wednesday morning: extra-long shower
Wednesday night: wash the built-up pile of delicate wooly, silk and otherwise high-maintenance hand-wash-only clothes. have a shower
Thursday morning: shower. stand at the sink watching the warm water run over my hands for, oh, 15 minutes.
Thursday night: double bath (the new system is continuous flow so it won't run out. damn the expense. we've saved enough gas this past fortnight to power Crown Casino's gas jets for at least a minute. )
and so on.
hot water, hot water, hot water.
tralala, hot water....

Sunday, November 25, 2001

Human (embryo) cloned.
meanwhile, the Australian news seems to be all about who won the soccer in Uruguay...
fact: by filling up several yogurt containers with warm water and pouring them over yourself in rapid succession, you can almost simulate a warm shower.
oh god, please let the plumber come tomorrow...

Saturday, November 24, 2001

4.30 Sunday afternoon: am I relaxed yet?
I feel just about ready to do something constructive, towards the end of my 3rd day off work.
So far this weekend I've: ridden my bike. visited R & H and their baby and wandered vaguely around the Preston Market with them. Talked fast and cheerfully and drunk a lot at the office Christmas party and known (just) when to simply walk out the door and go home. Bought and cooked a Greek-style marinated lamb grill. Watched Sea Change.Slept. Walked the dog in the bush along the Yarra and mistook a very large lizard for a snake (my heart has stopped racing now). Slept some more.

Sometimes the number of constructive things I could do: cleaning the house, finishing reading No Logo, planning the renovation, spring-cleaning my wardrobe, filing away all my uni documents, etc, are so myriad that I become frozen: to choose one is to rule out all the others. so I mooch about the house all day catching up on my back issues of Wired and never achieve very much at all.

Friday, November 23, 2001

the plumbers say they "can't" get anyone to install the hot water on a Saturday. this is code for "we can't be bothered".

I would like to think of myself as someone who would maintain their standards through terrible privations; but I suspect I'm not.

one of the wonders of Africa last year was that while we (Andrew and I) got dusty and dirty and frankly smelly after only a couple of days away from showers, the Kenyans seemed to manage to be clean and in fresh clothes almost all the time. and we're talking about people who was their clothes in the streams by hand, if they're lucky enough to have a stream.

Thursday, November 22, 2001

office Christmas party tonigh: do I go or not?
Upside: free alcohol
Downside: free alcohol

if I don't go, I'll feel like I've missed out on something. if I do, I'll wander around all night realising how many people in my workplace I've never seen before.

I wonder if they'll have showers there?
I don't know who Brad Lucas is, but he's linked me. hi, Brad.
some mornings I just don't feel like going for a ride. sometimes I give in to sloth. other days, like today, I compromise by taking the shorter, easier route up the Merri Creek path rather than climbing the hills of Kew Boulevarde.
and it seems that whenever I do this, I am rewarded by some little gem.
the creek is a sad, degraded thing in parts, but attempts have been made to replant and rejevunate a waterway that has even served as a sewer for the factories of Brunswick and Coburg at times.
not far from our house is a place called Ceres, and tomorrow night this organic-hippie-alternative power-collective farm thing has its big night of the year: The festival of the Return of the Sacred Kingfisher. I've never been to this rite of spring, but I understand it involves coloured banners, children's choirs and blessings of the earth, all centred on a mythical bird that returns to the creek at this time of year; or something along those lines.
this morning the Ceres alternative types were all out and about, hanging long swathes of white cloth from the eucalyptus trees and doing inexplicable things with bamboo poles, getting ready for the festival. fine.
but as I rode past on my way back, something small and green caught my eye in a tree on the other side of the creek. it looked like a bird, but I wasn't sure. to satisfy my curiosity, I doubled back for another look. When I stopped, I could just see it was a bird - and then it took off and flew down the creek with a flash of teal in its wings.
I don't think the hippies saw it at all. but I did.

I'm getting all the foot fetishists: three searches today were for "sockless boots", "MANOLA BLAHNIKS" and "pics of sarah jessica parker in high heels"
maybe switching to glamorous shoes would change my life, after all.
him: "it's very invigorating"
me: (from the other room) "oh shut up"
him: "it makes you feel all warm afterwards"
me: "so does a hot shower"
yes, our hot water service is still broken. the plumber came yesterday and did some pipey things, but for some reason they cancelled the order for the heating unit. they are "seeing" if they can get one today. it's Friday. I rely on hot showers and baths to get me through my busy weekends. on Sunday it will have been two weeks of cold water.
my shower-led tour of my friends' houses continues. at lunchtime I'm off to R & H's place for lunch and a nice dose of warm water.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Daniel, mentioned below, has helpfully scanned in a clipping from my column so you can see it's real.
blogon, 22/11/2001:

Australians are great yarn-spinners, and the blog offers an opportunity to tell stories without interruption, as these home-grown versions show

Anthony J. Hicks' Weblog and Australian Blog Webring
About 140 blogs are listed at Anthony J. Hicks' Australian blogs webring, the common thread being nothing more than some kind of link to Australia.
Hicks himself is a "music loving, technology obsessive, gadget collecting, aircraft enthusiast and science fiction nut" who decided to create a webring bringing together all the Australian blogs he could find.
His personal blog is pretty much as described, being an insight into the life of your average Australian geek, including his online flight training logs and regular commentary on the burning issues of typical geekdom: Linux, the specifications of the computer he wants and assorted other technical toys.

Diary of an Average Australian
The first blowfly of the summer. Buskers in the Bourke St Mall. Paul Kelly playing at a pub in Richmond. A childhood spent entirely on Map 58 of the Melway.
Maybe Daniel Bowen really is "an average Australian". His blog stretches all the way back to 1994 - although as archives are gradually being put online, it's possible it was more of a diary than a blog to start with.
For Australian blog browsers, it's a welcome change to read references to local television, politics ("my ugly git of a local member") and trivia, all in dinky-di vernacular. Lively and insightful, Toxic Custard is highly recommended to any homesick expat Aussies.

I Hate Married People
Anything but average, former TripleJ radio host Helen Razer has found a new home on the Internet with her blog, "my salon of bombast".
Razer's trademark style of long, obscure words where short, simple ones would do and her slightly pompous, undergraduate sense of humor translate well to the Web. The blog incorporates audio from Ms Razer, and she appears to maintain some of the code herself, if a recent skirmish with the layout tables is anything to go by.
Her media-junkie, always-on approach to blogging - throw it up online, include a link and what's next? - makes for lively, eclectic reading indeed.

Mark's Terrific Weblog
Melbourne musician Mark O'Meara is an inner-city type, filling his blog with his plans for gigs at Collingwood pubs and tales of hanging out with other musicians after the show.
O'Meara likes every post to contain a lesson: on November 9 it was "there are goldfish with better memories than me".
For those who want to delve deeper, he has a main site with downloadable MP3 files of his music. Bonus link? The one that takes you to the collaborative blog/storywriting site, Barry the Fat Puppy.
I'm walking through the subway under the river to get to lunch. there's a busker sitting on the ground, singing that (Neil Young?) song "horse with no name". nothing unusual there.
an hour and half later, I walk back the same way. he's still singing the same song
Park life two: closer to work there's a formal garden that all the office workers come to at lunchtime to eat their sandwiches and play impromptu ball games.
this morning I saw six people having a meeting there, on their fold out chairs, arranged in a circle in their dark suits like they were in the boardroom. I wonder why, if they are going to meet in the park, they don't go all the way and at least sit on the grass.
Park life one: there's a guy who has been living in a park I ride through on the way to work for months now.
I think he sleeps under the playground equipment in a sandy hollow.
He's in his early to mid twenties, and is always exercising: doing chin-ups on the kid's swings, pushups, yoga. He seems pretty harmless - well, he doesn't shout or hit people like some homeless people I've seen around. and he looks clean. his hair is now down to his shoulders, sort of straggly blonde. today he was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the open space in the morning sunlight, meditating and doing yoga stretches.
I wonder if he's Jesus.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Momma is fighting the turkey. and she plans to win.
this is what I get for opting for not being vaccinated:

Take the Affliction Test Today!
this page cannot be displayed. read carefully. do not try this at home.
via someone or other.
miguel has forgotten his real name.
the perils of blogging...

I fixed my other blog, btw. when in doubt, spring-clean your html. every. single. character.
aargh! the reason I haven't been here much today is I've been fighting with my second blog. this is my post to the Help page (hope that long link works)
do feel free to mail me or cruise on over and help. I know I'm not the only one.

This thread is for people who get this message when they publish:

Error 506:Unable to contact view generation service: (server:page)[more info]

I have been getting it on for at least a month, maybe longer.
blogger tells me I've published, and the posts appear in the edit box, but nothing gets through to blogspot.
I have looked at every thread I can find that mentions it. This is what I have found, and been told by helpful other bloggers:
-it could be an empty post. find them and delete them.
-it could be ugly nesting or other html errors: run your blog through and it will show you all your errors, some of which may matter. or at least go into edit mode and carefully check the html in all your posts.
-it could be your template: save it somewhere then try a new template.
all of these things have worked for other people, so if this is your problem, go try them. BUT: none have worked for me. I have even tried changing the URL within blogspot. the only thing I haven't done is change to ftp to another site altogether. I will try that at the weekend when I have time.
if you have another solution, can you post it here for all of us?

Monday, November 19, 2001

there haven't been as many tourists as usual about; but today, suddenly, the Vic Market is full of British accents and Welsh T-shirts. then I realise: it's the football

heard yesterday as I cycled past two men sitting in the park: "She just wanted to ... to hear me say I was wrong."

and has anyone else noticed that men no longer wolf-whistle? instead, when I walk past building sites, a harmless-sounding random tune may start up. I think it's more of a signal to the other men that there is a female about than a direct message to me. and I guess most of them have had their ears chewed by now by women like me, who are not averse to turning on their heel at the sound of a wolf-whistle and confronting the offender.
it's not a compliment. it's harassment and it makes us feel unsafe.
speaking of shoes: so I get to work for my shower (no, the hot water is not fixed yet) and discover that I have not put my shoes in my bag. today I have an interview with the new president of the Australian Computer Society, and a session to attend on business-to-business electronic markets, which will be held in a room full of suits.
Adding insult to injury, I find I have hastily grabbed a pair of dark blue tights instead of black ones. I never wear dark blue tights. I don't know how I got these. And I don't know why they don't develop runs and die, like all my black ones. but they persist.
I have also left my nice black-framed glasses at home. so I can wear sunglasses to this afternoon's session (I can manage with face to face things; I'm nearsighted), or substitute my reading glasses, which are a little too bright red and funky for business use, and which, combined with my old bike-riding sneakers, blue tights and otherwise formal business attire, will make me look quite loopy. and no, I don't have time to go buy some more shoes/tights. and yes, I do normally keep spare tights in my desk drawer. I used them last week. talk about starting off on the wrong foot...