Wednesday, October 31, 2001
First there was Fishcam, and now pet blogs; these sites are testament to just how dotty people can get about their furry, feathered and finned friends
Litterbox: A cat-a-blog
"Since the Mama Human recently discovered that I enjoy glazed doughnuts, she is convinced that I must have worked in law enforcement in one of my past lives."
There, in one sentence, you have Litterbox. The author not only writes in her cat's voice, she refers to herself as Mama.
Here you may find a "Webring" linking you to fellow "cat moms" as well as Mama's own journal about life as a flight attendant. And if you want details of Otto the cat's toileting habits, there's that, too.
Blog for dogs
This isn't just a dog blog: it's a dog blog portal, your handy guide to all things canine on the Internet. Although sponsored by a US dog-food company, it has a refreshingly amateur feel, with links to a dog-of-the-day site, a chatty tone and discussions of what color dog bowl would match the author's iMac.
It even has a link to "the #1 fire hydrant information resource" for when nature calls.
Demerit points for the annoying pop-up ad. Bad blog! Sit!
Anthropomorphising knows no limits; even a rabbit can have a website these days.
But as this blog points out, rabbits are far under-represented in the general media. For instance, "the rabbit situation in Afghanistan is something that has received alarmingly little coverage".
This blog is only a few weeks old: give it time and it might go somewhere.
The lair of the crab of ineffable wisdom
OK, this is not strictly a pet blog. In fact, it's not entirely clear what it's on about.
But it does include regular new images of fantastical animals straight from the blogger's slightly twisted mind, advice to readers on the finer points of developing a crab circus and photo-essays involving the Queen and jumper-wearing penguins. Oh, and he also addresses the neglected issue of the role of rabbits in the war in Afghanistan.
Clearly a blogger with way too much time on his hands. Visit and marvel.
and for what? because it was there?
what next? go back to the List and start working my way through? Spanish sounds good. a mosaic workshop in the garage. write (another) unpublishable novel? waste more time by finagling my way to New York in December?
Once I couldn't imagine what I did before the Internet. Now I wonder what I did before always-on broadband. get it. it will change your life.
(for a start, you'll spend so much time online you won't have time for your rl friends, dog, family, job. I didn't say it was a good thing.)
Tuesday, October 30, 2001
Monday, October 29, 2001
and if I don't, what is it a metaphor for? freedom? things I should have done? the things I think I would do there?
she probably hates looking so amazingly striking. it will change her life, unless she's silly enough to dye it brown when she turns 13.
Correction: Age IT journos live to lunch another day
By Michael Sainsbury, iTnews
Tuesday, 30 October 2001
Apologies to the Age IT journos that iTnews sacked in a story Wednesday - the report was incorrect and no Age IT editorial staff have been made redundant.
The story said Glenn Mulcaster and four other staff at the Age IT section had been made redundant following a move by Age owner Fairfax to consolidate its IT editorial efforts in Sydney. This was incorrect.
However, Fairfax spokesman Bruce Wolpe admitted that there had a been a “seasonal reduction” in Fairfax sales staff at the CitySearch directory operation inside Fairfax’s troubled f2 online division. Wolpe described the staff reduction as in the “very low double digits.”
He said CitySearch had a seasonal sales cycle. Wolpe added that the news and classifieds section of f2 was “tracking steady.”
Fairfax fires Age IT journos
By Michael Sainsbury, iTnews
Tuesday, 30 October 2001
Tough times are starting to bite at Fairfax, with the media outfit dumping its entire IT editorial staff at the Age in Melbourne.
It is beleived that Fairfax will centralise its IT editorial operations in Sydney.
Gone from the Age are IT editor Glenn Mulcaster and four other staff. It is unclear at this stage whether the sackings at Fairfax extend beyond the IT division.
The unexpected move comes amid strong industry rumours of an imminent round of redundancies at the loss making Fairfax online division f2. Further rumours are swirling around Fairfax regarding a possibly takeover play for the company, which has lost a mound of advertising revenue to the Internet.
(my comment: this copyright notice below does not apply, seeing as they took my ironic notes without permission, out of context!)
Copyright © 2001 Penton Media. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed in any form without prior authorisation.
someone at itNews, without checking, put up a story saying we'd all been sacked. Like, on an actual news site. my editor is getting heaps of calls, etc etc
the story will no doubt go down soon. I don't know if I'm sorry, amused or outraged. Lesson One: Check Thy Facts and Do Not Use Material from Lists Without Checking.
well, there's me, Glenn, Barry, Nathan and Adam. They're making Sue (snip_ go
back to court reporting. and I'm four days/week, so I only get $4 million
and I don't get the Sunday Age for free.
The IT section will be all done out of Sydney, I think. I don't really care,
I'm too busy shopping for Spanish villas on the Internet right now.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Brad xxxx [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2001 11:52 AM
> To: xxxxx discussion list
> Subject: Re:  Career opportunities
> Haven't heard anything at Fairfax in Sydney - had thought Hilmer was
> specifically against redundancies? Who's been offered them?
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jenny Sinclair"
> To: "'ixxxx discussion list'"
> Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2001 10:58 AM
> Subject: RE:  Career opportunities
> > (deleted) you've let the cat out of the bag.
> > the truth is, Paul, that we've all been offered $5 million
> > lifetime subscriptions to the Age.
> > the rest of us are taking the money and running.
> > (deleted) however, is such a dedicated worker that he wants to
> keep slaving
> > away in journalism for the love of it.
> > there. now you all know.
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: Paul [email@example.com]
> > > Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2001 11:33 AM
> > > To: 'xxxxxdiscussion list'
> > > Subject: RE: [ixxxxx] Career opportunities
> > >
> > >
> > > C'mon (deleted) .... drop the other shoe!
> > >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: (deleted)
> > > Sent: Tuesday, 30 October 2001 09:55
> > > To: 'firstname.lastname@example.org
> > > Subject: [xxxx] Career opportunities
> > >
> > >
> > > Grr. Anyone chasing a sub/journalist? Replies off-list please.
> > > -(name deleted)
At the Bourke Street Mall, on the steps of the post office, a religious haranguer was doing what religious haranguers do: haranguing
but he must have been running out of ideas - as a tram rumbled past he spouted "and what if your tram blows up? where will you be then? heaven or hell? you need to decide!!"
and I walked on, dodging pedestrians, well pleased by the mental image of one of Melbourne's big green trams spontaneously dissolving into a puff of smoke.
what if your tram blows up? where will you be?
Sunday, October 28, 2001
now, apart from the possibility that Robbie was simply dropping by for a drink, have they considered the headline "Is Nicole Having A Good Old Rebound Bonk With No Messy Emotions"?
I now await the advent of 3,409 Web surfers searching for the terms "Nicole Kidman" and "Bonk" in the same sentence.
the relief of not working with words or reading for a change was palpable. pun intended.
so I'm a couple of days off submitting my very last Uni assignment, and I come home from my mosaic workshop to find the computer on the floor and all my data quite unavailable. I didn't really need to work on it tonight, but not having it available made me terribly anxious.
the household technician was understandably miffed that I didn't appreciate all the work he did on the backup and network improvements; I was miffed that my main work environment had been closed off from me just like that.
computers...this wouldn't happen if I worked in longhand on bits of mashed tree, would it?
Friday, October 26, 2001
And before I knew it, I had the credit card out and I was happily buying births, deaths and marriages information over the Internet, compiling a slightly pointless family tree. I've got back to 1859, to an ancestor by the amusing name of Smee - not to mention Hrolf ‘the Ganger’, himself father of Rogenwald ‘the Mighty’, who are kind of generic Sinclair ancestors in Scotland.
After that, I'd have to start searching overseas sites. And there is an amazing amount of genealogical stuff on the net - most of it either pointers to other lists of stuff, or details of how you can physically go into record-keeping centres in Scotland, New Zealand, etc and get real data. which is all rather frustrating.
my point being that if one is determined to futz around not carrying out a core task, one will find a way.
I once had an idea for a great Web site/database. it would somehow assign unique identifiers to each and every person alive and known to have lived (I'm sure the Mormons could help), and have lots of room for descriptive free text that would also somehow be cross-referenced in a meaningful way to prevent duplication. It would be able to read all kinds of family tree software. People could put their family trees up and find matches to other people's family trees - I'm sure, for instance, that John Kerr Sinclair, married in Haddington, Scotland in 1875, has other descendants apart from me.
gradually a huge interconnected web of people and ancestors would be built up, and we'd all have cousins stretching for miles and miles around the world. And it would make us all feel wam and mushy and neighbourly about each other.
(I mean neighbourly in the ideal sense, not my actual relationship with my neighbours to the west!)
Thursday, October 25, 2001
both those trees go, and the two-story units will be 10cm past that fence. the fence runs south-north (remember the sun shines from the north here: you're looking north in the photo.)
it turns out the neighbours over the back, who are also angry about it, just got their dates mixed up, which is why we were by ourselves at yesterday's hearing. none of which helps our case.
The reason? Mike has created icons for all his referrals instead of using boring old words. this is me:
thanks, Mike. every little bit helps.
Although English is taking over the world via the Web - or at least American English is - blogs by non-English speakers or the bilingual are at least trying to keep other languages online
Climb to the stars
Posts in French and English about life in Switzerland and India. It's a multicultural world, all right. Stephanie Booth includes links to French guides to HTML alongside tales of her daily doings and those of her cat, just like any monolingual blogger.
Just in case you can't tell the difference between English and French, posts in Francais are marked with a handy tricolor icon. Fortunately, emoticons seem to be the same the world over. ;-).
Blog Do Jean
"I couldn't believe my eyes - Quase no acreditei."
As well as blogging in Portuguese and English, Jean-Charles DeOliveira maintains a healthy list of Portuguese-language sites; a nice change from the standard list of sites that many English-only blogs seem to cut and paste from the same template (as long as you can read Portuguese, that is).
DeOliveira writes most of his posts twice, once in each language, and kindly translates the odd Brazilian joke for the rest of us. Living in the United States as he does, his topics are less exotic; the World Trade Centre attacks, the TV show Friends, the apple pies his partner cooked for dinner, oh, and the turkeys that appeared outside his house and chased him last Tuesday morning (yes, turkeys.)
Norwegian digital cultural researcher Jill Walker writes a blog about blogs and everything else she's studying. As she says, "the blog is hovering between two languages, so some bits are in English and some are in Norwegian. I reckon you'll manage just fine."
English is dominant just now, but there are academic essays and links in Norwegian. She mixes the latest on the world of blogging, both popular and academic with her programming efforts and news on online life in general.
Walker has strong Australian links - literally, as her site also links to interesting local research and blogs.
What's German for anthrax? Milzbrand, of course. Andrea, a student in Bonn, distracts herself from her maths and physics exams by blogging and posting photographs of her travels on the Web, bilingually.
If you've ever wanted a banana bread recipe in German, Andrea's your girl.
Wednesday, October 24, 2001
I probably work in computers, or a history
deptartment at a college. I never really
fit in with the "normal" crowd. But I have
friends, and this is a good thing.
I got a better score on the geek one. I think I should rate higher, actually. Will force Andrew to do this test and report back: I predict a score of at least 72 % for him.
It's not a fashion craze, or even a cool thing
to do. I should just swallow it, get Lost, and take my friends
the online tests are getting stranger...via bwg
maybe I can make up my own:
-post to your blog more than once a day?
-feel anxious if you can't get to a Net-connected PC?
-know off by heart the URLs of more than five blogs?
...and visit them more than once a day?
-spend more time installing new blog features than you actually do writing posts?
-check your site stats each time you post?
-feel jealous when you see other blogs linked?
..and so on. the answer is, if you bothered to take that test, you are a blogging tragic.
and here's something you can post on your site: "tragic, me".
wonders: is there life beyond Weblogs?
we made our points and all, about the horrible impact of this thing on our yard, but the council was supporting it and went on at length about how it technically fits the rules. and Mr Sharkey ended the hearing by asking about how small, tweaky changes would work - things like a 20 cm reduction in height. we just don't want it within 3 metres of where we want to put our lawn.
so I am fully expecting the decision to go against us.
although I have just Googled Mr Sharkey and found this, where he supported another council's opposition to two-story dwellings in back yards. so who knows. all I can do is keep planting trees on the boundary...
in other news, I have been outbid on an eBay auction for yet more ramekins; which is a relief as I've just bought an identical set. and after spending $130 on Boyd ramekins (such gorgeous colours and cute rounded shapes) at the weekend, I really didn't want them anyway.
finally, Mr B (that's him down on the left) has conjunctivitis. all we have to do is put drops into his squirmy little eyes three times a day, which is easier said than done.
and now that's over, I have to write a 4,000 word autobiographical or fictional autobiographical piece by Friday week...another student said I should just submit my blog. it's a cute idea, but I just don't think it has the required structure, discipline or even capacity to make any sense at all.
Tuesday, October 23, 2001
today is the big tribunal hearing over the neighbour's horrible flats (they want to build them on the boundary of our backyard).
I have on my best going to court outfit, including a white wool jacket that will be too hot but looks very respectable. We have worded up and will pay too much money to a professional town planning consultant; but in the end apparently it's a gamble that comes down to the tribunal member who hears our appeal.
so it's all up to Mr/Ms Sharkey in room 5.14 of VCAT at 10 am today (T - 90 minutes)
flap, flap, flap
Monday, October 22, 2001
"These voters are fearful of change, worried about global insecurity, distrustful of urban elites and comprise up to 25 per cent of the electorate." - Deirdre Macken in today's Financial Review.
(edit: we are having an election in Australia. I'm sure that is of no relevance to the United States.)
the fact that it was said breathlessly against a noisy background that sounded a bit like a chaotic disaster scene didn't help.
but it was "only" a small new development.
by 7 am, the radio news had demoted the latest bioterrorism deaths to second place, after the deaths of several hundred Middle Eastern refugees on a boat off Indonesia.
does that mean we're getting used to it? or just that in Australia, refugees are a more real problem (so far) than bioterrorism?
Well: for a start, we had to wake up at 4.30 am. My body did not want to move. It didn't understand. But with a 5am start, it just had to.
It's really quite lovely at 5am in the Yarra Valley. Apricot light is breaking in the sky; there are drifts of fog in every valley and over every dam. It's cold, crisp, the morning star is the brightest thing in the sky.
organisational chaos and much bouncing about in buses is something I'll skip over.
The thing about ballooning is that it's so gentle. After lots of sound and fury and hot air blowing the thing up and a 10-second lesson in the brace position, we lifted off without a sound, with nothing but a soft letting go of the ground.
there were about 5-6 other balloons already floating off into the air around us.
the burners, of course, make a huge roaring sound, but apart from that there is almost no wind (you move with it) and we were 700 metres up before we could really think about it. that's all 17 of us - only one pilot.
for a second there I was - not scared, but shaky. do you imagine what it would be like to jump off a high building? well, I thought about how easy it would be to climb over the edge and free-fall down to the ground, and I really had to concentrate on not doing it. I had to think about my Mum and what a bad example I'd be for my 18-year-old nephew. and I'm not a suicidal type.
we floated in the clouds for a while. it was a bit dah-dah-dah (theme from Jaws) at one stage, as there were other balloons in the cloud and we didn't know where (there was radio contact) a balloon gondola can rip a balloon envelope apart; it's happened before. so I felt best when we were above the others, not them above us.
even though it was great to be floating right up in the sky, I think I liked it best when we were only about 6-12 feet up - really - skimming along at a few kilometres an hour. they have amazing control of the height, and we did silly things like buzzing a line of pine trees.
landing is strange. gravity feels heavier somehow, like getting off a boat.
and then we all went and drank champagne. the pilot told a story about champagne and the first balloonists (who were also the first humans to fly), but I still don't know if it was true or just an excuse to drink champagne at 9 am.
Your temperament type is Idealist.
this is all according to the p-types site.
via Miguel, who clearly likes a good personality quiz as much as I do.
interestingly, my "type" lists my current job. maybe this is slightly more reliable than horoscopes...
ballooning is wonderful; the party trick seems to be to skim a few feet above the treetops to scare your passengers.
the only problem is that you have to get up before sunrise to do it. which meant 4.30 AM!! on Sunday. so now I am very, very vague and sleepy.
oh, and I went to an experimental art show thing today; the highlight was the Excelsior 3000, a multimedia toilet with full sound fx, screens showing images designed to augment your toileting experience, and gleaming, vaguely suggestive pipes. the lack of a photo of this object on the Web is a sad thing. this is the best I can do; an artist's essay.
ps: I won my first ebay auction: more ramekins. what will I do with them all?
Friday, October 19, 2001
when passing on a narrow bridge and another cyclists thanks you for giving way.
when driving in heavy traffic
when communicating with a dog.
when half asleep, as in the case of a husband applying cold hands to body.
it also, according to the program “deconstructs and constructs” ballet. choreographer William Forsythe.
you can’t describe great dance, of course; impressions are a horde of dancers wearing different coloured rustling long taffeta skirts sashaying their way onto stage; groups of men and women in coloured sweat pants and shorts and T-shirts dropping in and out of classical dance formation; bodies taking charges of energy from each other in jerky puppet-like motions.
One of the highlights was a young New Zealander – female – demanding her money back at the second interval. Talkback radio had already been full of debate over whether the nudity and language (strong but amusingly so) was appropriate and whether it was “ballet”. There were warnings before the show, which had been added because of the debate – she must have missed all that.
(the context was that the dancer was one of the Dead in the underworld. His monologue went “I’m fucking dead here man. I’m going to ...(insert graphic violence here.)
And at one stage I found that I’d put my hand up to my neck and somehow forgotten to put it back in my lap. When you consider that I no longer have any attention span, and this show had me frozen, it must have had something going on.
it’s late now...
Thursday, October 18, 2001
Do many hands make light work, or do too many cooks spoil the broth? It all depends on the recipe, as these collaborative blogs show.
Bob the corgi. kd. mic and miguel: Not the cast of a new, culturally diverse childrens' TV show, but just some of the seven authors of Surreally.
From California to Singapore, New Jersey to Washington, the Surreally mob share their highs and lows in a virtual space adorned with the motto: "dance like it hurts. love like you need the money. work when people are watching."
Seven authors means seven sets of eyes hunting out interesting links, and updates around the clock, and they're clearly all having a good time doing it.
The posts can also be read grouped by author, if you happen to prefer your blogs one person at a time.
The protagonist's blog is part of a larger site run by 14 - count 'em, 14 - separate authors. You'd think this would be hard to keep consistent but the self-organising principles of the Internet seem to be at work.
It probably helps that they're all aged between 14 and 18 and all seem to believe that a new photo of silverchair's lead singer is hot news. Their geographical diversity - Australia, Malaysia, New York, etc, - is well and truly subsumed by mutual teenagerhood.
Blogged serves as a pointer for what's going on in each member's life; they all have more extensive journals linked to the site.
The mother of all collaborative blogs, Metafilter is more of a portal/Internet news site these days by virtue of its 12,000 or so members.
The idea is that if you find something cool, interesting or just plain weird on the Web, you post it here so other users can take up the discussion.
Topics last week included terrorism (of course), anorexia, how to make money from the Web, a strangely funky Flash site from the US military about anthrax and an attempt in the 1940s to produce an animation by Walt Disney and Salvador Dali.
Eclectic enough for you?
ps- It's coming down soon, so this link will eventually die...
Wednesday, October 17, 2001
Tuesday, October 16, 2001
Well, if it's good enough for William Gibson, it's good enough for me. I stupidly typed in the word "ramekins" on eBay. then I stupidly bid on a very nice, but incomplete, set of Martin Boyd ramekins (Boyd was a Melbourne ceramic artist, one of a huge and talented artistic family. Great colours).
Then I missed out by FIFTY CENTS. Now I am watching two sets of "Diana" ramekins - one in the original box and wondering just how high I'll go.
I hate auctions. they are stressful and push one further than one really wants to go. And you never know, if you walk away, whether the opposition were about to fold.
Is it too late to bleach my hair, knock five years off my age, move to the West Coast (east of here, but let's not quibble) and become a movie starlet?
The California Blondes Project might be a good place to start ...
Sometimes I feel so excluded, not being American.
(via Evan, whoever he is. )
Monday, October 15, 2001
(I noticed on this Webcam site that we in Melbourne also have a World Trade Centre. It is quite a small thing, but don't tell anyone, just in case.)
Dear Mr Dougall,
I wish to make a formal complaint about the driving and behaviour of one of your employees, Peter Tyndall.
At about 2.40 pm on Monday, October 15, I was waiting with my bicycle to cross Nicholson St, North Carlton at the pedestrian crossing just south of Brunswick Road.
As I began to cross when the pedestrian light turned green, a car drove across the pedestrian crossing just in front of me and stopped in traffic, partially blocking the crossing. I tapped lightly on the rear right of the car to get the driver’s attention and said “You just went through a red light.” At that stage, I thought it was possible that he had not realised there was a crossing there, as it is quite close to a large intersection. The driver immediately began to shout at me, so I returned and told him again that he had gone through a red light.
He then abused me quite strenuously, in a tone and with an expression I can only describe as snarling. One term I am sure of is “fruitcake”, another is “bloody idiot” and something along the lines of “you people are idiots”. What kind of people, I’m not sure; women perhaps, or possibly people on bicycles.
When I pointed out that if I, or a child – there were two within 10 metres of the crossing as we spoke – had relied on the lights and crossed, we would have been hit, he again called me an idiot, or similar. At no stage did I use comparable language to him.
I asked if it was a company car he was driving and moved to check his registration plates. He then offered me his business card and produced it, continuing to call me an idiot, etc. The card he gave me gives your company name, the name Peter Tyndall and this address.
Of course, it is possible that the person who handed me the card was not Mr Tyndall, in which case none of this applies to him, obviously. If that is the case, please advise me so I can pursue the matter with the appropriate authorities.
But, if it was in fact him, I believe that Mr Tyndall’s behaviour was dangerous, and certainly impolite in the extreme. It is surely not the sort of behaviour your company would condone from a customer service manager or in fact any employee. One reason I am writing this letter is to put his driving on the record in case of any future incidents; I am quite happy to make a sworn statement of these facts if necessary.
I am requesting an apology from Mr Tyndall, and some kind of assurance by Commander that this kind of driving and behaviour is not acceptable from its employees in company cars in business hours, and that they have been made aware of that.
Sunday, October 14, 2001
Saturday, October 13, 2001
tonight it was Sexy Beast; it delivered everything the reviews promised: a heist movie with characters you could care about, Ben Kingsley doing a psychopath like I haven't seen since Once Were Warriors (and I know good psychopath when I see it, from experience), and some kick-ass music.
we came out of the cinema feeling rather drained actually. always a good sign.
(before that it was the manga Perfect Blue, which went all over the place, in a good way. pop princess goes crazy and you're not too sure about yourself, kind of thing)
want: this function which would allow me to write something anywhere and have it instantly blogged. Could it be adapted for the iPaq so I could blog thoughts anywhere and have them instantly uploaded when I synchronised the iPaq.
need: not much really.
Friday, October 12, 2001
Thursday, October 11, 2001
I'm touched to be included in the ranks of under-read and in-need-of-help sites. Truly. And the Bulltown blog-digest idea is a nice spin on collaborative blogging.
But: if it's about small backwaters, why don't they call it Capillary instead of Aortal?
Jorge Colombo prowls the streets of New York, armed with a sketchbook and notebook, picking individuals out of the faceless masses and bringing them to life.
Each day, he posts a new drawing on his site, noting date and location and little else. Individually, the characters stand alone, but as a group he hopes they “build a group portrait of types I cross regularly in Manhattan.”
As a professional illustrator, Colombo has the technical ability and eye to make the project a fascinating one; two and a half years’ worth are already up on the site.
Another New Yorker, John Copeland scans in his visual diaries as well as many of his art works and illustrations.
His colourful, fragmented and sometimes disturbing images are presented in a gorgeously clean design, allowing viewers to “turn” pages with the click of a mouse.
Copeland appears to be an artist who is not using electronic media to create, simply to reproduce, but little is lost in the translation.
Beware of Art
Jen de la Cruz struggles with her art, she really does. This is what she wrote on September 27:
”Last night I found a stray chicken bone under the microwave. Now, any NORMAL person would presumably be slightly grossed out, and throw it away. But once I saw it, I couldn't possibly throw it away -- no, no, I suddenly realized I could use it as the spine for an insect sculpture. Maybe a dragonfly. Art alert, art alert!”
De la Cruz makes rather exquisite animal-like metal pieces from found objects and traditional materials, all the while chatting about the process – and selling – online.
Claire Robertson looks out her window every day and sees reluctant schoolchildren, focussed businesswomen and dog walkers going by, unaware that they are about to achieve global reach on her site, LoobyLu.
This Melbourne artist and writer’s sketches have a slightly retro, 50’s feel. She also maintains a written blog, covering matters both personal and related to Melbourne’s young alternative arts community.
Don’t forget to hold your mouse over the image for Claire’s hidden comment.
In the main street of Ballarat, the old ladies wrapped in thin oilcloth raincoats frightened me like the future.
If I couldn’t swim, I’d go mad.
I’m not very good at it. It takes me 25 minutes to swim a kilometre; Kieren Perkins can swim 1.5 ks in 14:something minutes.
I don’t look great in my bathing suit. This is partly because it’s a black and thoroughly covering kind of garment, the sensible shoes of swimsuits, with shorts-legs to save me waxing and a high back to keep the sun off. It’s old and baggy and every time I wear it, I get a chafing rash between my left breast and my shoulder.
It doesn’t help, either, that I squash my long red hair up under a latex cap and fit a painfully tight pair of goggles across the bridge of my nose before I walk out onto the cracked concrete apron around the Fitzroy Pool.
On winter nights, when I’m getting wet (from rain) and a gale is blowing across my near-naked body, I stand on the edge of the no-frills 50 m pool and mutter: “Why am I doing this?”
Before I have time to answer (because I suspect the answer is “yes, it’s foolish, let’s go drink coffee and scoff cake in a warm cafe”), I dive in. Well, I kind of hop into the chilly chlorinated water and start swimming. I’m not springy enough to dive, really.
Water gets into my mouth, I splutter a bit and my shoulders start to ache as I churn off on the first of 10 laps, 1000 metres.
Being obsessional by nature, I have a routine. Going up the pool, I breathe on strokes 2 & 3 of 3 beats; coming back, I breathe on every stroke, turning my head only to the right, favouring my damaged left shoulder. I never take a break before four laps; I’ll swim 4:3:3 or 4:4:2 or sometimes even 5:3:2. It’s mindless. I swim in the slow lane because I’d rather have to turn early at the end of a lap than be crowded from behind in the “medium” lane.
When I’m swimming, I think and I don’t think. I count my laps, holding the numbers – “four”, “six”, “seven” at the centre of my consciousness, driving everything else out.
I can’t hear music, words or traffic underwater. There is only blue, a black line on the floor of the pool, a turn and turn again every 50 metres. I can’t read the news or watch TV. I can’t write or surf the Internet.
The feel of the water on my skin is like cool silk.
I swim in the late afternoon; sometimes after a nap, going from drowsy warmth to the triple jolt of Coca Cola, chocolate and cold water in minutes. Often then, I don’t wake up properly until I’m halfway home again.
Sometimes I swim after work; if it’s been a hard day I arrive feeling tainted, overheated, full of diurnal business. I leave washed.
When I’m away from home, I hunt out swimming pools, Once I drove desperately around my parents’ town crying hot, angry tears because one pool was closed, and the other was too full of people to allow even one lane for laps.
After a week of not swimming, my limbs start to creak and feel dry, like machinery in need of oil.
Sometimes in summer, after my laps, I float from my lane into the area called “aquaplay”. My face reflected on the undersurface of the water, I float through legs and headless torsos like a diver on a coral reef. I watch mercury bubbles rise from my lips. I weigh nothing, I am nothing. I am 70% water.
If I couldn’t swim, I’d go mad.
Wednesday, October 10, 2001
The information was slow coming (their server was down); in the end, the interview subject faxed it to me herself.
So we did the interview, very nice, very chatty, see you later.
I was halfway through writing the resulting article when the phone rang: "Hi, it's (government department). I've got that information for you."
Did I say "too late"? Did I let the poor thing know she'd be wasting her time? Did I tell her that the subject had sent it to me?
hell no. I said "that's great, thank you, I'll look forward to it."
it's called the path of least resistance. and one doesn't want to make people who have gone to some effort for one feel unappreciated.
Tuesday, October 09, 2001
the insurers say it was one "attack".
I'm trying to think of something to say about that ...
I started sneezing when I came to work today. discussions later on among my co-workers were about the quality of the air in here, and the black dust around the a/c vents. Our Muslim co-worker said: "It's anthrax. I put it there."
strangely, I found this funny.
miguel is feeling morbid
Monday, October 08, 2001
I said "No one questions you. You just have to look like you know what you're doing."
and it occurred to me that I had spoken a Great Truth about life in general.
I have written back demanding that they show me all the data they hold on me. If they won't, I'll set the Federal Privacy Commissioner on to them.
I suspect that they have some wrong information. Surely that's the only explanation?
I should have expected this from a bank that makes you fill out a photocopied form and mail it in to get Internet banking turned on.
grumble...I only wanted it for the frequent flyer points anyway... grumble, whinge...
Sunday, October 07, 2001
The only thing better than getting together for a chat over a coffee is to get together for a chat about coffee.
Slightly out of date - "ebitch" was just popping over to Starbucks back in August, and hasn't posted since - but worth a look for anyone who doubts that it's possible to devote a year and a half of Web journal to the coffee, the whole coffee, and nothing but the coffee.
French or Sumatran? How often should the barista clean the equipment?
Ebitch isn't afraid of these and other Big Questions of life, such as:"it is raining, i am inside, and i am out of coffee. what am i supposed to do?
put on a rain bonnet and run over to starbucks?"
SEE digital photos of "an emergency BoilerEctomy on my Solis Master 5000 Digital", THRILL the to comprehensive photo-gallery of coffee cups, MARVEL at the tale of how Mark Prince progressed from a Nescafe kind of guy to the owner of separate, top-notch machines: Rocky the grinder and Livia the espresso machine.
There's tension (the 48-hour wait before Livia could be used after delivery), there's sadness (the slight scratch on Livia's front), there's drama (at one point, his wife questions his coffee-related expenditure) but most of all, there's love - between a man and a humble brown bean.
It's clear that if coffee was to disappear from the planet tomorrow, Mark Prince would be left with a serious gap in his life.
But he's not addicted. It's a obsession; there's a difference, OK?
Coffee To Go
Coffee To Go is supposed to have four people feeding it; at the moment it seems to be the exclusive terrain of Mike Tremoulet, a UK resident who spends a fair bit of time travelling about the place.
If you want to know whether the British Airways business-class lounge at Heathrow Airport has decent coffee, look here.
For design lovers, click on the "flavour" settings and see what happens.
in general, I like things that come in sets of identical shape but different colours. it's just a thing I have. but ramekins, hoo boy. crazy. I must have twenty sets, where a set is three or more. they were usually made in sets of six.
so today, as my parents, my nephew (18 today, he can VOTE! but he's too silly to enrol, yet), Andrew and I were walking down the street in Williamstown (pretty seaside suburb, lots of outdoor cafes and Sunday markets, you get the idea), I saw a sign down a tiny alley: "antiques & collectibles".
and before Andrew could stop me I was down there like a ferret after a rabbit. sure enough, not one, but two lovely sets of ramekins emerged with me. I don't have pix of them yet, but from my records:
It's not the worst compulsive behaviour I could have, is it? one day I might get them all out of the boxes where they are living "until we renovate" (hah!) and put on an exhibition. I could invite all my friends to the opening of the show and serve champage, and deliver a lecture on 1950's domestic design and the explosion of colour that came after the War.
why not. my husband already thinks I'm nutso.
Saturday, October 06, 2001
to Vevey, perhaps?
(ouch. I left a final " off the post below, and now if I try to edit it, it tries to go to a horrible long URL starting with my post and ending with the edit link, thus freezing Explorer. so I guess I'm stuck with it. I can't even go tell Blogger about it, because it's a post making fun of the great Ev. let this be a lesson to me.)
When I ask Andrew if he wants to take the dog for a walk with me and he doesn't feel like it, I say to Bilbo "your Dad isn't coming because HE DOESN'T LOVE YOU."
And so on. If he (the dog) ever learns to understand it all, he'll be one psychotic, neurotic, in-therapy fluffball.
Thursday, October 04, 2001
try pruning a young olive tree. as usual, I have no idea what I'm doing. all I know is that this one isn't going to be allowed to get 40 feet tall like the one the previous owner of our house planted too close to the fenceline.
I'm out there with the secauteurs, judging just where I should chop, if the tree will branch again in the right direction, and feeling my blood pressure rise as I position the blades just so, close my eyes, and squeeze.
part two: getting bits of string and tying down the supple branches so they spread out nicely.
is it possible that I have become bewitched by this house/garden? with all the renovation, ripping up of concrete and replanting of olive trees, not to mention my toothandnail fight with the architect and Andrew to save the old grapevines, it seems all I do is fix up Luigi's mistakes and protect the good things he did. am I the only person in the world who appreciates what a treasure a patch of dirt, well-composted for 30 YEARS, could be?
I really need a new computer. I bought this computer so long ago that I regularly receive phone calls from paleontologists who want to excavate the data buried deep within its boring beige exterior. How can I be Mighty when I can read War and Peace before my computer finishes booting? Every time I double-click, the hard drive spends the next couple of minutes protesting so loudly that the garbage men knocked on my door and asked me to keep the noise down. Just yesterday, while waiting for PhotoShop to load, I was able to make a life-sized llama out of duct tape, a few coat hangers and some old socks.
I sold it on ebay for $135.
Thank God for blogging, I say. until now, all these clever people's bon mots were restricted to their circle of immediate friends, the people they actually drank with and talked to. But now we can all share.
Bodily fluids as political comment; I like the girl!
As small things seem less important, suddenly the things that do matter - like treating other people decently - are more important. And to speak up - or spit - in those split-second moments when injustice is done is the hardest and bravest thing.
(edit: if the link wasn't working before, it is now. She moved. Freeservers has been a bit vague lately, it seems.)
a bath in splendid isolation in its own little room next to the bedroom
a study lined with bookshelves - only high-quality literary novels and art magazines, of course.
a slate wall around a fireplace with a jutting steel hearth.
bare, smooth, concrete floors
white walls, the better to show of the collection of 1950s orange art glass
a kitchen with an original 50's stove - just two huge, fat, red dials.
If you read Wallpaper*magazine, you have the picture.
sigh. however, it will not do. the bathroom is rudimentary, the appliances need replacing, the pool needs fencing and someone will fall so madly in love with it they'll pay far, far too much.
have been thinking of selling my little flat and sinking the money into a more expensive investment property. but from about $70,000 of equity I have in it, after taxes, agents' and lawyers' fees and most of all, wicked stamp duty, I would have only $21,000 left to actually put down on a new place. so I'll sit tight.
great pool, though. just gorgeous.
Wednesday, October 03, 2001
the creation of Ansett Mark II is great, but the idea that eventually, the airlines might get Ansett going again exactly as it was, except for my many, many ff points, rather bugs me. I mean, I had enough to get to the US and back, with a side trip to Wales thrown in!
so I've registered with the class action that's being got up by Cohen Woolf and Weinberg.
we'll see. if the action is against the people who ran the airline down, I'm all for it.
Tuesday, October 02, 2001
despite the fact that the wonderful Michael completely fixed my back and neck last night (those hands ...) I am ruining it again by working hard on planting the haul of native plants we got from the plant nursery on Sunday.
we've had a $300 voucher for the nursery since our wedding in May last year; but until the concrete came up, we really had nowhere to plant things.
now we have lots of lovely red bottlebrushes, grasses and low creepy things (no, not politicians!) and I am madly bunging them in the ground as a defence against the neighbour's horrible yet-to-be-built flats.
it's amazing what you can do with some old leftover well-weathered bits of fenceposts and chunks of bluestone dug up from behind the garage. I'd almost bother getting some images of the transformation together, but my boy seems to have taken the digital camera to work with him.
probably a really cheeky cat.
every time I have to do real code, I inwardly say "THANK YOU BLOGGER FOR SAVING ME FROM GEEKY HELL."
not that there's anything wrong with knowing how to do really funky stuff. just that I can't and it bores me senseless to try.
my essay draft is at my Vicnet site. It goes on about blogs as tools for personal empowerment and the kudos to be gained by linking. but it's not that good. it's only worth 20%, and I have some serious gardening to do.
every time I pick a topic for my BlogOn column, I run out of room for the really good ones.
like Milky Elephant, one of the most charming sites I've ever seen. I came across it a long time ago, stole an elephant pic for my desktop, then lost it. she does a drawing more or less every day of her milky elephants.
but to get it in, I'd have to dump Jorge or the local girl, LoobyLu, or a fantastic illustrator I found, or the artist who makes insects out of razor blades. and I just refuse to do that. Might have to devote a column to elephants ...
Monday, October 01, 2001
The contents of my brown suede handbag:
generic yellow matchbook, one
box of Redhead matches, one
hair band loopy things, six black, one blue
silver hair clips, two
sunscreen lip balm, one
mascara (Maybelline Great Lash in the pink tube) one
brown eyeshadow, one
Pens, eight (from Intel, Netscape, The Age, tdSoft, the Parkroyal hotel and three generic)
Work security pass with ugly photo turned in and out of sight, one
Silver Tiffany’s card case given to me by Dell when a) we didn’t have such strict rules about gifts 2)I didn’t know what it cost and 3) companies still gave such flash gifts (ie 1998), one
contents of card holder: three of my cards, one from Multimedia Victoria's PR guy.
Guess watch in need of new battery, one
Swiss Army knife, one
feminine hygiene items, three
loose change, 5 c
address book, one
handy tiny notebook with black cover, one
Free diary that came with a British Marie Claire and has lots of useful information on clubbing in Glasgow, one.
emery boards, two, one generic, one from the Chifley on the Terrace in Perth.
Post-it note with husband’s phone numbers on one side and the words “The ‘I am’ that matters" and "AUDEN-BLOG" on the other, one
glasses polishing cloth in case, one
dirty glasses cloth of no use at all, one,
safety pin stuck through dry cleaning tag, one
receipts, several, including native nursery for plants, now-unclaimable receipt for coffee at the beach with Damnthepacific’s Stuart, and administration fees from VCAT for our appeal against neighbours’ development
Leather card holder held together by rubber band, one. contents numerous cards, including but not limited to: union card, swim card, writer’s centre, business card for local wine shop, tailor's business card for a shop I've never been to, Sam's business card, public radio, bike club, frequent flyer, cinema club, video shop, medicare, card with my blood type ( A negative), frequent-buyer card for local nursery and a train timetable from Melbourne to Ballarat, one.
Safety earpiece for Nokia mobile phone, detached from phone and rarely used, cord knotted, one.
Outdated Tattslotto tickets, two
paper napkin and old tissue, one of each
Wallet, containing Visa Card, bank card, Melbourne University student card, more business cards, B & W photo of husband in suit, colour business card with a wacky photo of my Dad, book of stamps and $5, one
detrius of chocolate bar, assorted.
used tickets to Renoir to Picasso, exhibition, two
instructions for using funky popup calender/clock/calculator from a company I’ll never write about, one
Receipt for physiotherapy treatment, one.
no wonder my neck hurts, lugging that lot around.
anyway, here it is again: no one noticed the proposal, Dave Winer pointed out that it was a Bad Thing, and this list went crazy the day after submissions closed.
I personally saw Tim Berners-Lee (he only INVENTED the Web) attacking unnecessary patents back in May. So what the F is the W3C up to? are they caving under corporate pressure? realistic? I think slower progress, but free, would be better than fast slavery. (OK, slavery is an exaggeration. but I'm still not as rabid as some of the Linux kids, hey?)
Ned Kelly's The Jerilderie Letter
The Communist Manifesto
The Unabomber's manifesto.
the one by that crazy woman who shot Andy Warhol:
Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.
I'm sure there are more ... my philosophy class last year had something called I, Pierre Riviere, having murdered my mother sisters and brother... which was an account by a mad french peasant that became a text for new theories of identity