Friday, August 30, 2002

The heat’s come back to the city. I think it’s risen up out of the subways, because it certainly never cooled down there.
I’m sitting in front of an open window, chowing down on a really great taco thing. I’ve just cracked open a can of Heineken, and things are feeling pretty good.

The day’s agenda: wake late, stretch, wander out for a latte. Think I’ll make the French place with cafĂ© au lait in bowls at the end of the street my regular; there’s too much attitude in the gay joints on 8th Avenue.

Then poddle back home, grab the camera and catch the subway to the scene of America’s worst peacetime disaster. Not that I haven’t seen Osama’s work before; there is an empty block in Nairobi rather similar to the place where the World Trade Center used to be.

Why? Well, why were all the others there? Anyway, I’ll blog another blog about that strange scene. Will only say now that I most certainly did not buy any disaster merchandise from the street vendors. When did the first one appear? A month later? Six weeks? What is a decent interval before one starts profiting from tragedy? (Says me, who works for a newspaper that does just that all the time…)

But while I’m down there, note that Century 21 has re-opened and I must go back and bargain hunt; and pick up a pair of silly, probably too small high heeled sandals that perfectly match my handbag and will be excellent for my planned excursion to Fifth Avenue, midtown, next week.

Sleep a bit. Stretch some more, chugalug some Coke, eat some fairly soapy Hershey’s chocolate, then write up my piece about Australians in New York and how they are dealing with 9/11. Fairly well, it seems; it struck me last night at the Union Square coffee shop that the four who came along to see me (one of whom earns EIGHT TIMES my annual salary) were notably attractive young things. I guess it helps in a city like this.

Very glad to have that bit at least 80 per cent over; I’ll need to review it some more over the weekend and check a fact or two, but it’s more or less ready to file, and I think it’s along the lines the Editors expect. Plus the unexpected appearance of one of our photographers in town means there are pix to go with it, which is a bonus. I need that piece to run, for tax and earnings purposes; Vegas wasn’t quite good enough to me.
That done, or done for the moment, stretch some more, look at the clock and run out the door. The 1 and 2 line is a good one; it takes me right down Eighth Avenue, in this case to a little cinema called the Screening Room. Where there is a highly amusing people-wrangler, African-American with a lovely clear voice, who issues orders you really want to follow, and commands before the show that all those people “with no inner life” are to turn off their mobiles and not spoil this classic movie for the rest of us.

Roll credits. About 30 seconds into the movie, small screen or not, I know I’m seeing something really fabulously cinematic, as images dissolve into echoes of themselves and a sweeping art deco cityscape appears in black and white. It hadn’t occurred to me that New York was the best place to see Fritz Lang’s Metropolis for the first time – it was just that the ad said it was a new print and the alternative movie, Seven Samurai, didn’t appeal right at that moment. Maybe it was a subconscious urge.

But to emerge from the cinema after that truly thrilling ride of effects, orchestral music and really, really cheesy acting (don’t think I’ve ever actually watched a silent movie before, and btw, is The Fifth Element a total ripoff or what? right down to the strappy things they cover Milla Jovovich’s body with?), into the Metropolis itself, complete with backlit art deco towers, was just so right.

So I caught the subway home, stopped in at this great Mexican place for some “takeout” and here I am. hot darn, but I’m enjoying myself. probably a little bit too much, in fact.
No free lunches here
Save Karyn
"I am not a real charity - I refer to myself as a 'charity case' as a joke. I repeat, you are not giving your money to a charity, but rather a chick who spent too much money."
The scary thing is that people are giving this girl money. In a single week in August, she received $US1392 ($A2548) from people she didn't know to help pay off a $US20,000 credit card debt she ran up buying expensive bags and such.
Karyn - if that is her real name - set up this site, with a blog in the form of a weekly update, to help her in her campaign to clear the debt and to get this message across: "Credit cards are bad!"
To be fair, she's also selling a lot of her stuff on auction site Ebay, but the concept is still there: "Give me money because I want it."
"I just couldn't stop buying things. It's as simple as that. I'm going to be honest here ... I wasn't out saving the world. I was just at Bloomingdales."
Admirable honesty? Maybe. Her total last week was more than $A12,000. Who says blogging doesn't pay?

Computerised Investing Blog
This blog is run by a group of Philadelphian geeks who believe their computers can help them get rich.
Much of the information is about their local meetings - not much good to Melburnians - but there are also reviews of investing software and mysterious references to charts, directional indicators and "$urf"-ing, which seems to mean surfing the Web for money-related information.
Some of the material is hardcore techie; go here if you want to know how to import data from TC2000 and QP2 directly to Amibroker. In fact, go here if you know what those things even are.

Beyond Value Investing
Although this blog hasn't been updated for a couple of months, it is a rich source of links to articles about what not to do; corporate failures, US corporate regulation crackdowns and why the Internet bubble was really a "pyramid scheme" are the main subjects.
The idea, according to site editor Bob Hilier, is "to understand why stocks go up and down". In this case, mostly why they go down.

Trend Macro
More of a financial newsletter than a blog, this site does have daily updates and news about finance-related matters.
The recent issues questioned the place of technology in the stockmarket's future and analysed the woes of WorldCom.
Its serious adviser background shows in the numerous graphs and phrases such as "bias shift". There's also a joke of the day, usually something along the lines of "Intaxication - Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realise it was your money to start with".

Thursday, August 29, 2002

The common Australian practice of giving children a "marsupial parent" who will school them in the ways of the Australian native animal. This little girl is a little worried at the prospect of being popped into her "roo-Mom's" pouch for a ride; Dad is assuring her it's perfectly normal, all she has to do is hang on really tight.
vegas 2:

I think the nicest thing about what just happened is that it was part of The Plan.
I always though “I’ll just win the cost of the trip back in VEgas”.
I haven’t, but I did put my last $12 (after shuttle and bellboy tips) onto a roulette table and walk away up $190 – after I tipped the croupier the original $12, even if he did look dismissively at my stake and his general demeanour was less than friendly.
I left the table when he did – a), I had a big pile of chips and b), I was really, REALLY late to get back up the hot, bustling Strip to catch the airport shuttle for my 1.15 am flight.
As he pointed out to the other players, I only failed twice to win something. At least four times I got a number right “on the money” at 36:1. 28 (my birthday) came up twice.
I bet on the 0 once when I got nervous. It didn’t come up. The second time, towards the end, I bet on 0 and 00 with $2 – 00 came up.
Maybe my internal random number generator was working in tune with the wheel’s. Who knows?
There were a lot of even-odds wins – balancing the $5 I lost on the “inside” of the table – but enough 3:1 and 9:1, 18:1 wins to keep that row of blue chips growing.
So I guess I do like gambling after all – it’s nice to win and the numbers make sense, unlike the spinning wheels of the slot machines that leave me cold, wondering idly why I keep feeding coins in.
A cautious hour, sure, but still good pay – I’m up AU$360, maybe 1/20th the cost of the trip – but as an old lover used to say, it’s better than a poke in the eye with a wet fish.

of course now on the plane I’m thinking “I could have bet more and won more”, but I know it doesn’t work that way.

in a funny way it reinforces my understanding that I have to be responsible for myself – that financial freedom won’t come from sitting at a table in Vegas on a lucky streak. It’s only $360 and I think I’m constitutionally unable to take the risks needed to make that $360,000. to do that I’d have to bet tens and then hundreds, then thousands as the pot grew. and I know that eventually the house wins. If I was sitting there with $10,000 I didn’t have at the start, could I put it all on 28? No. When it came up 0 instead, I’d see it as losing $10,000, not breaking even.
So my wins (and losses) will remain trivial and I have to keep going with the long haul (in which real estate has been my best ever, and accidental, bet).
It’s lucky my husband, who regards my earnings as slightly amusing, I think, given he’s able to carry our mortgage on his own, won’t read this.
vegas and blogcon notes:

so many cameras: taking photos to prove we were there, we really met these bodies

at the point where I have to touch things to be sure they are real (no, not the other bloggers!)

the way the scale of it fools you; you think something is close, but it’s actually a mile away. it’s just BIG

outside the horrible Excalibur: even in a place as designed as Vegas, there are spots you can sit – in the shadow of an overhead tram line, bum on the base of
the pylon, feet on the recently watered grass.

there’s a good soundtrack here – Madonna, Men at Work, boppy yet not over-played music.

at the airport, Superman-like, I disappear into a toilet cubicle dressed in Vegas brights. after blinding the toilet-flushing robot with a carefully placed t-shirt, I change and emerge in New York City black and white.

little things that emerge in memory: Jon Sullivan sitting on the couch at his soiree, saying in every lull “well, that was fun” as if we should all go home. at the airport, waiting dully for a shuttle tram I think “well, this is fun”

and Batgrl said the lulls always happen at 11 minutes to and 11 minutes after. haha, we thought. at 2:11 am the next morning, in Hoopty’s room, all fell silent.

a whole passel o' notes from my little notebook.
I went to a stationery store today; just love those black and white "composition" books. and I have some work to do tonight, so I've been purging my files.
notes from the trip over:

waking at 6.15 am.
the moon is golden; the sun is just over the horizon. air chills. it’s neither day nor night. I’m going travelling.

the new security checks are explained in the inflight magazine. the hows are detailed. the whys are not. it’s assumed you know. Why. What Happened.

getting out of the car, I realised I’d forgotten my essential black cardigan. I sooked. I ranted about how none of my clothes would work without it. then I saw the guy being got out of the car behind us into his wheelchair. I shut up. (but I still miss my cardy)

toilet working again. this has raised my hopes in general.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

it's happening again...
drugged on exhaustion, melatonin and half a sleeping pill last night, I half-noticed rhythmic thumping sounds coming from upstairs. the walls here are thin.
fine. people have sex.
but now, it seems to me at exactly the same time, the noise has started again.
can't wait for Thursday night!
goshdarn it! get on the Web and before I know it, it's midnight in New York.
I haven't posted all the people who were at Blogcon yet (have to set up a Blogroll of honour, I think); but Mikey called me a little Energiser bunny. I can't deny it...
oh, and don't even think about BlogCon pix. yes, I have them, but one more second working out technical details will be one second more than I can afford on this trip.
anyway, Illusionnaire has some, and I'm sure there's lots more out there. don't remember half that stuff...can only be in one place at one time.

have sacrificed a platypus toy - the nearest thing I had to schwag/a card for blogcon - to the cat... she is still ignoring me, though from closer up now
right. now that I have a jinnantonik instead of the phone in one hand, and a pretzel stick in the other, in place of the keyboard, I think I'll just try to forget the last 24 hours ever started and begin my sixteen days in NYC now, instead of having 17.

it occurs to me that what just occurred is a kind of parody of my SJP fantasy; here I am at my window overlooking leafy backyards, clicking away on a laptop, but not creatively; oh, no, more like "so, the script says "user ID..." look, you really don't want to know.

other occurring thoughts: that at some stage I will have to work out what is wrong with the toilet. that the cat may in fact not eventually come around and may spend two weeks either under the bed or fleeing from me when it feels cornered. I'm ignoring it, of course, except the odd gentle scratch and provision of food. we'll see.

that, despite surface similarities between the owner of this apt and me - she's 7 yrs younger, a tech journalist with some fiction ambitions - we must be very, very different. I am drinking my G & T out of the glass. one. it would take me a hour to pack my collection of coloured 1950s, champagne and all-purpose glasses. maybe it's a New York way of saving space.

that I could happily stay here for a year and read my way through her bookshelf. some of my favourite books and many must-reads. last night at 3 am I reread Borges' short story on rewriting Don Quixote and I think I understood it. for what does authorship mean? and is there anything left to be said.

that it's quite good having lots of other people's windows a few metres away, and their backyards to provide leafiness; I even have a fire escape balcony on which to sit! this kind of behind-the-facadeness is why a sublet is better than a hotel; I'd love to do this in New Orleans, where the glimpses down sideways suggest there is a hidden green town denied to tourists.

that I have maybe 1000 words of notes in notebooks since I was last online that I need to blog; but not now. all my pouring-out was for this morning and tech support hell has made me limp and weak. instead, I think I'll go cruise my fellow blocon-ees. in real time, yet!
all I can say. I mean ALL I can SAY. is that it's very lucky for a certain tech support guy at my work that he is now about as far from my two hands as he can be.
for yea, verily, they itch to throttle him.

all day I have been working from a password he wrote down on a sticky note for me.

now, after 8 hours of tech support hell while a New York day passed me by, after two closed Net cafes (Lonely Planet strikes out again; they always seem to be outdated, and Kinko's advice line needs to be double-checked; phone first!), and an unwelcome excursion through Times Square at night, after Japanese takeaway on the subway instead of pleasant Mexican from the 8th ave takeaway, I am finally online.

I wish I knew more html so I could put that in 22pt. I could not be more angry. I started out at 12.30 pm doing a quick email check. I was calm, relaxed, happy to be in New York. by 6.30 pm, explaining myself to the 10th (really) Compuserve person, all of whom wanted to put me through the hoops and none of whom had a way to check the username/pwd combo, I was almost in tears.

oh, and the toilet backed up this morning. I bailed, and turned the water supply off.

welcome. to. New York.

happier blogging soon...
welcome to hell Compuserve!
8 hours of my first day in NYC have been spent in an increasinly frustrating battle to connect.
as the line goes "I need to get online!
it took me 3 goes and 2 hour on the street/subway to find this net cafe, and it's so slow I'm
writing this in notepad while the blogger interface opens.

so all my many thoughts about vegas and the Big Apple will most likely be blogged offline and posted
in a rush up to 2 1/12 weeks from now. can't even transfer files on floppy. God knows how I"m going
to file stories; maybe I'll have to type them in live at $2/hr in this bright, ugly 42nd street cafe.
better go, must save remaining minutes to check mail tomorrow.'s nice to be here. I think.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

finally, some time to blog about blogging meetups! actually, I'll do that later. I'm pooped! I've been riding the free tram between the MGM and the Luxor, which is the strangest-looking hotel here hands down; a glass pyramid with the surface of the obelisk from 2001. And I've been walking in the 101 degree heat (going Farenheit in honour of the US of A and because it sounds hotter: "over 100") and stressing out about getting a ticket to the Neville Brothers tonight, which resulted in me paying about $40 Australian (because that sounds more like the shocking figure it is) to do a return cab (taxi) ride I'll have to repeat tonight.
as you can see, my American is getting nicely refreshed. next I'll be saying "I should have gotten this ticket yesterday".

totally random thought about hotel life: these people who wander round at 3 am talking on loud 2-way radios, and stand in the hall outside your room discussing which rooms they've cleaned in the middle of afternoon nap time should introduce themselves. they should come and visit when you first check in (just after you've crashed on the bed) and say "Hey there! I'm Marcelle! And I'll be your shouter on your visit to the Las Vegas Aladdin Hotel! Have a nice time! and don't get too much sleep!"

speaking of naps, it's that time. at about 5.30 pm my Web access cuts out and I won't be online again until at least Tuesday night. don't know how I'll manage.
it's amazing how easy it is to lose a few people when you're wrangling a group of 15 or so in a crowd of several thousand milling around the fountains outside of a Las Vegas casino.


Saturday, August 24, 2002

to all those coming here from KD's site: yes, I am responsible for introducing her to gin last night.
I think she liked it a little too much...and I wonder, do they really put oxygen in the air to stop you sleeping? there's certainly something.
completely irrelant to blogcon; something to read later
wow. my images, because there are heaps, have made me referrer #25 to Vicnet, the ISP where I keep my images.
as you can see, it's all happening over at the foopty circus (at time of writing, image showed Mike the Nerd Boy asleep in a chair)

and as I wandered down the hall for ice at 2.35 am (my timestamps are actually realtime here) I wondered why I'm here, why I've come all this way to hang out with people I hardly know when I have friends I hardly have time to see.

but I'm having fun. and I think sometimes it's just good to test yourself out with a new group of people; not so much to pretend to be someone else, but to see how you go with different personalities, where the conversations go when you don't know pretty much the major dot points about the person to whom you're talking.

b/c really, I don't read everyone's blog every day. I drop by, more or less frequently. there are people here I've never heard of, and I sit across from them at dinner and have to say something. and sometimes, that way, one can find out a bit more about oneself.

Friday, August 23, 2002

blogon for yesterday. on a predictable topic. hey, it's nice to be paid for doing fun stuff sometimes.

BlogCon 2002
The site that started it all; set up in a fit of optimism by a group of bloggers late one night, it's the place to find the itinerary (including two weddings and a public haircut), the meeting spots and a summary of the cheapest places in Las Vegas to get a drink.
You can also track the more, um, interesting plans, like a war drive to sniff out Las Vegas's less protected WiFi networks, and take part in the discussion about whether an Elvis concert is a worthy event to include.

C.C. Chapman
C.C. was planning to make a "blogumentary" about the inaugural BlogCon, but ultimately decided it would get in the way of his having fun. He's that kind of guy.
Apart from heading to Las Vegas, he is buying a house (with a huge US flag on the lawn), looking after two kids and making movies.
He blogs about day-to-day life, barracks for Bob the Builder over Barney the Dinosaur, gets excited about rainbows and writes best after his morning coffee. C.C. loves to help out his online friends with the technical stuff, and is enough of a geek to run a countdown to the release of the latest Star Wars movie - oh, and to know in advance what actor Natalie Portman will be wearing in it.

Jaded Ju
To find Jaded Ju in Las Vegas, just cruise by "the ambrosia salad at the hotel buffet" or the "nickel slot machines, (where she'll be) losing my savings".
She's tearing herself away from an incredibly busy life in San Francisco to be there, but as an official "co-conspirator" really doesn't have a choice.
On the Web her presence is part social commentator, part introspective philosopher; so her work on race relations sparks a self-critique about her role as a white woman talking about non-whites; her trip to a friend's prospective apartment segues into a tale of how she needs to feel her options in life are open.
Who knows what insights the ambrosia salad might feed.

Skits has a warning for her fellow bloggers at BlogCon: "You will be hugged. I am a hugger. I can't help it. I come from a huggy family. We hug everyone. We're touchy, we're feely, we're affectionate. If I consider you a friend online, chances are the first thing I'm going to do when I see you is throw my arms around you and give you a big ol' hug. It's involuntary. Forgive me."
Her blog is a fun space, devoted to such things as photos of Elvis, thought experiments along the "what's your favourite piece of ugly clothing" line and answering lists of questions about herself in a slightly flippant way. She's a member of no less than 13 "blog-rings", linking like-minded blogs together. There's a list of Osama Bin Laden joke sites, and she likes to save the e-mail hoaxes she receives for the record.
It's all a bit of a whirlwhind, but that's the way she likes it. As a mother, she has her serious side, if you look hard.

my idea of hell: pounding the pavement and carpets of the Aladdin Hotel, wondering where everyone has gone. coming up to my room, frantically mailing and phoning, to no avail. trying the buffet one last time: heaven! everyone there, decent food at last (kept away from the fried stuff and had lots of chickpeas and green stuff) and a coffee. I feel....almost...human...

oh, and Jill has done us the favour of posting a few links to who's here. I'm still putting faces to names/sites.
forgot to say; the good camera shop is in the Hurrah's (spelt?) casino area, south of the Venetian hotel on the same side as the strip. it faces the street - it's not the one in the minimall you have to walk around at one point.
ps: but I still can't post pix till I get to nyc. it will cost me $1/minute to access the Web from the laptop, and I'm already paying $10 a day for the room terminal.
damn it! just typed a huge post about cameras, meetups and getting stuff for free, and the hotel internet system cut me out when I tried to post - you have to reauthorise every 24 hours, but it doesn't take your browser down, just kills the link.

who said you get nothing for free in Vegas?

this old guy in the elevator got caught on the up-swing when they wanted to go down. and he said "that's OK, we'll go for the ride, it's the only thing that's free." which I thought was pretty funny.

the first place I tried for a new camera was Walgreen's, where the girl behind the counter couldn't even listen to me, I mean was incapable of concentrating on what I was actually trying to say - attention span of a (g)nat, must be all the sugar. lucky I insisted on her telling me if the Walgreen'$20 cameras could be refilled other than in a Walgreen's store - it's almost impossible, it seems - so I bought a $10 disposable while I thought about what to do.
camera store number one showed me two 35 mm cameras and took no interest in my digital being broken.
store number two at least asked about it, and cut the price of a 35 mm down a bit for me.
but at store number 3, when I was looking at cameras in the window, the guy came out and talked to me. he said I should bring the digital in and he'd try to reformat it for me. he took my word that it was the flash card that wasn't interfacing properly (unlike a certain tech support person husband in Australia who emailed me asking if the batteries were in the right way !
so I took the camera down. there was a different guy there, but he took the card, gave me another - which worked, proving that the problem was the card, even though it works in the laptop - and reformatted mine. then IT WORKED!
then he refused to take any money. in the meantime, guy number one came back. I thanked him, he showed me his internet-capable PDA, I told him about BlogCon and he asked me out for a drink.
cute. the move, not him. though on a scale of the average person I'm seeing on the street here, he wouldn't be the last on the list to be stuck on a desert island with.
now I'm back in my room getting ready for another attempt at actually meeting up with all the people I'm here to see. it's the food court again at 6 - at the fountains, if you're around.
there's something about a place where you can watch a woman lose money as fast as she can.
they have a kind of musical gamble-a-thon thing here, supervised by people in 70's afro wigs.
this woman was on a 25 c machine, hitting the button at least four times a second.
in au dollars, that's $2/second. $120/minute. $7200 an hour.
and that's only one woman at one machine in a town where there are endless thousands. I'm starting to understand how they can afford to build little venice lagoons (where the gondolier's job would be the best outdoor job you could have here, owing to all the water, replicas of the Eiffel tower and coat everything with real or fake marble.
that is what my camera says, and how I feel. it's 2 am at home and no amount of drugged sleep will help me feel truly awake.
the camera is refusing to recognise the flash card. for a while I thought maybe my laptop was dead too, but that was just my husband having locked the "on" key. I foiled his evil plan to drive me MAD, though.
so the card works in the laptop, but not the camera. aren't I meant to be out having fun, not troubleshooting?

have also remembered why I lose weight when I come to the US and why the US has the most overweight citizens in the world; the food is awful. I know you can get good food if you can cook for yourself or afford really good restaurants, but right now I'm like most people; can't do either (I can cook, but not in this hotel room!).
therefore I must rely on sugary iced tea and muffins that are more like sponges full of fat than muffins. the result being I don't eat all that much really.

at least the trip to Walgreens to get a new cheap camera will give me a chance to buy more floury bananas.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

there's a tiredness beyond sleepiness, one where you come through the other side, like a drunk drinking yourself sober, and find you can function again.
just ate a particularly greasy fried chinese dinner with Batgrl, who was both younger and more, well, like me, than I'd imagined.
talked about wacky Australian bands, accents and the con(ference/vention); I didn't realise some people had put so much work into it, even coming over here especially to reconnoitre (spelt?).
so now it's morning in Australia, 9.30pm here, I've taken half a sleeping pill, wish I had some melatonin, and I'm going to try to sleep. will 3 am find me wide awake, playing the slot machines with the $15 I won on my first 25cent bet?
what a time for my camera to stop working.
it keeps flashing up "error" and nothing will induce it to work again.
if it doesn't come good soon, I'll have to buy another camera. and it won't be digital and I won't be able to post pix.

vexing, very vexing.
ah, Walgreens. the endless assortment of STUFF you can get here.
the magazines are trashier, the makeup wilder, and I don't know where outside the US of A you could buy purple plastic floral thongs in a drugstore.
current attitude to spruikers; minimal acknowledgement - "no thank you" - then sudden deafness to their cheeky replies.
man, having only one window sucks.
Room 805, if anyone wants to call me. don't come knock on the door; that might be a bit too confronting for a shy Australian. besides, I may be sleeping at weird hours.
two average movies, half a Martin Amis book, one security search and quite a lot of time spent with my head in my hands on the tray table, feeling rather ill, and here I am.
not that I'm really "here" yet, as I still exist in transitspace; planes, airports, shuttlebuses, long hotel checkin lines and hotel rooms; they're all the same.
the wait may have been long, but I'm happy to say the people at the desk were v. nice about the stuffed-up booking I was left with. it had lapsed b/c Wednesday night wasn't cancelled by my roomie; but they resurrected it. which was wonderful news from the depths of my 5 am, 20-hours transit dehydrated fog.
now I'm a bit rested, clean and wondering what on earth to do next.
I guess I'll head over to the forum.

("fast" net access here only allows one browser window open at a time, so links may be sparse in the next few days.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

awww. I'm Hoopty's favourite aussie. is that like a favourite martian? does he have a favourite Venezualan, a favourite New Zealander?
oh, and to any potential sharers of my room - I hope you like crocodiles.
feel like I'm downloading a few things to clear my brain before I leave (I've finished work, but still have some freelance stuff to knock off, and I leave in 24 hrs)

a new discovery; there are people who actually have really, really clean houses ALL THE TIME.

like, not just when their mother in law is visiting! we've had occasion to drop in on a couple of people we don't know at all well on very short notice, to look at possible house sits and rentals.

and their floorborads were shiny! their bathroom sinks gleamed!

In one case, the person concerned was a single male and I suspect cleaners were involved. the other, though, was a young family. with actual, messy children. but not a spot or dirty dish in sight. none of my friends live like this. I mean, we do our dishes. sometimes. we scrub the bath. when it needs it. but we don't live like the pages of a glossy magazine.

I want to know how many of Us there are and how many of Them. I feel like I should be confessing when I enter a Clean House "look, we're not like you. you don't want us in your house." having said that, I know we will return this house we're in now to its owner in pristine condition, as we got it. Cleaners. it's the only answer.
so much for my smug I-exercise-five-times-a-week healthiness. I did the body age test at testcafe, and at the age of 36.25, scored exactly 35.6. so I'm probably "younger" by about the amount of time I spend exercising.
otoh, I quite like doing it, so why am I whingeing?
my friend's little boy plays junior football. well, they kind of kick the ball around in training. he's very small still.
he told me they have an end of year match. the grownups play the five-year-olds. but it's OK, he said, because they get to have twice as many players as the grownups.
I asked how they tell who's on which team.
he said, very seriously, that they wear red and the grownups wear blue.

Monday, August 19, 2002

my bank is probably no worse than other bank in the customer service department. which is to say, terrible. I rang the only number they give out, asked to be put through to my local branch to see if some documents were there. the call centre guy demanded to know exactly what documents I was expecting. to tell the truth, I don't know how *they* classify them. so I said I couldn't choose between his two options. he wouldn't put me through! that is, until I explained to him carefully that all I was asking was to be connected on the phone to a branch, and if I had to put the phone down and WALK up there to inquire, I would, metaphorically, have his guts for garters.
he then explained to me why he "needed" to ask, in tones usually reserved for telling small children why they can't play on the road. but I got through. sheesh.

they keep doing this to me. the slighest problem develops into me saying "you're not helping" and them saying "we don't care, these are the rules." talking to banks is my personal hell.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

nasa wants to read your mind
so busy I'm cross-posting from the blogcon board:
aargh! last minute crisis! Kimberly has bailed - not her fault, but it leaves me with (I think) a booking (hers) and no roomie.
if anyone either has a spare bed, or would like to come in on my booking, drop me a line: jennysinclair (at)
like, soon; I leave Wednesday night, US time, and arrive in Vegas on Thursday.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

the neighbours are used to us now.
when we moved into this house-sit, a couple were a little curious; I spoke to one or two and waved at the others.
for all they know, we've murdered the owner and buried her under the lemon tree.
but we seem such nice people, going to work each day, walking our fluffy dog. we must be OK, musn't we?
another thing there should be a word for: sudden awareness of a threatened body part.
on my Sunday morning bike ride, an innoccuous-looking Labrador suddenly rushed at me.
and I swear every nerve in my right calf, which it was heading for, came alive.
to Abony? (it's in Hungary somewhere) - "as I watched the book drop to the floor, I had a wave of abony in my big left toe, but too late to move out of the way."
but I wish Miguel was coming. he rocks. and so do the bugs. is he the reincarnation of Kafka?
did I mention I'm going to BlogCon?

only five days until I leave! and I haven't even packed yet! who has time for that? I'm just crossin' off the things on my List, one by one...

Friday, August 16, 2002

is it possible that Hotmail's complete bastard act of deleting everyone's sent msgs was a way of getting our attention? after all, no one ever read their "updates" until now. but I've just opened and wasted my time on an email full of ads, just in case there was something in there I should know.
bad news: Andrew was too sick to go skiing today. and it's a lovely day with the snow deep on the mountain, etc. feeling very disappointed.
good news: this allowed me to knock off the rest of a 4,000 word piece I've been working on for months. amazing how deadlines focus the mind. I don't even know if I'm getting paid for this one, which hasn't helped. so I now stand a fighting chance of actually getting everything done before I leave.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

friday afternoon. sleepy. vaguely wanted to blog this, which is a "top 50" that all the goth sites link to, with "vote for me" buttons. sort of a self-promotion popularity contest. amihotornot for categories of web sites. some sort of new meme there... said I was sleepy.
should we rent a nice $300 a week house in the area we live in now; or should we take a five-week housesit for $100 a week 20 k south of the city - a long, long way away, but near the beach?
the former is reliable but expensive. the latter means more reliance on the volatile house-sit scene. unusually, I don't feel like taking the option that gives me more control.

TravelBlog's posts are infrequent but worth the wait. Sabrina Dent, 30, formerly of New York City but currently of London, makes monthly (or so) excursions to destinations in Europe and the United States, and maintains a blog to record them.
To get to each post, you click on a snapshot of the destination, accompanied by a summary of what lies beyond: Kilkenny, Ireland: 15 - 18 March 2002, is titled "In which castles loom, football is played, and the power of a fluffy bathrobe triumphs over evil".
She puts her digital camera to good use, complete with clever captions, and gets blogging mileage out of everything from rude car-hire clerks to losing her passport: "They let me on the plane with an expired Rhode Island driver's license as photo ID. I don't think the woman at the desk cared much. This is obviously both a good and bad thing."
If you like Sabrina's travel entries, she also maintains a more regular journal detailing her distaste for London newspapers.

Chrisanta's Travelogue

Chrisanta has been travelling in Africa, camera in hand, and blogging when she can. She has traversed Ghana and Kenya, apparently as part of some kind of library aid or outreach program, though it's not entirely clear.
Her photos are big on people, sometimes with her as a small, pale figure in the midst of a large group of Africans; most telling is a photo of a "library" where a young student sits in front of near-empty shelves.
The rest are safari shots of wildlife, and as she says, it's almost impossible to take a bad photo in the Masai Mara.

"Am I having FUN?!"
"Well, let's see. Are polite, creative and sweet students fun? Are gin and tonic in cans fun? Is watching Korean women in costume doing traditional dances fun? Is being approached on the street by strangers with offerings of boarding, beer and friendship fun? Are fireworks fun? Are swimming pools fun? Are dance parties fun? Are weekend trips to the third-largest city in the world fun? Is soaking naked in a natural hot spring for hours in a pool with a view overlooking the town fun?"
So the answer is yes, then?
Solbeam has taken six months off work to travel the world, and is now in Korea - having fun, of course.
The young American set off in July and is now working at the "American Dream Academy: Actual name of a camp in South Korea that recruits naive American college graduates to create, organise and facilitate the activities and academic curriculum of 200-500 11-thru-13-year-olds".
In September she'll be in Australia as a "Trip Leader Assistant in a volunteer/work/learn/adventure excursion through Australia, New Zealand and Fiji", where the activities include "goat mustering".
"(If anyone knows what the heck 'goat mustering' is - please e-mail me.)"

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

I have an article in the Age today on blogging.
it's in the more magaziney bit, so I'm hoping it will get more readership than my column, which runs in a tech supplement to the TV guide that not everyone reads.
I also hope I the bloggers involved will still speak to me!
my subway line

it's so exciting! now all I need is a home here in Melbourne, and I can have my life back.

I need to write three freelance columns at home, 6 blogon columns at work, three articles about education and technology and one arts article before I go. and book some photos and organise the work I'll be doing in the States. and keep up with my uni reading.

can we fix it? yes we can!

Monday, August 12, 2002

my whole life is househunting right now.
after seeing the lovely northcote place yesterday, I came to work to a msg about a possible housesit 20 k south of the city, in a seaside suburb.
it's six weeks and we'd have to pay catboarding - about $100 a week - but I'm kind of taken with the idea.
it would mean again not knowing where we'd be living after that one.
but having, I think, finally cracked the NY sublet thing - I hope so, anyway - I am working hard on having faith that Things Come Up and Life Provides and Good Things Come to Those Who Wait.

and on having a good, solid Plan B at all times.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

as per usual, it's only 1.45 hours to my second class and I haven't finished the reading. still, I've read the bits I have read fairly thoroughly, and that must count for something.
this should be in my uni blog.
been to see a nice house this afternoon - I saw it advertised at work - it's really lovely and we think we might take it.

getting excited about another possible apartment - easy, girl, easy!

haven't blogged anything lately; not even the wedding yesterday, where Julie looked like Halle Berry in a slinky white dress, and Gerry just looked like he couldn't believe his luck.

there’s a lot of art on the web
there are performance projects, mirror projects, people being other people, link art, video, flash animations.
and it’s all free and it’s all done freely and for no pay.
and no one seems to be noticing except the people who are there.
and sometimes not even them.
as video cameras freed up cinema (though sure, it wasn’t as pretty), how is the Web freeing up art?
how are we playing with our new spaces, creating with our new tools and with the huge store of information and humanity that’s suddenly been made available?
I was looking for some stats on blog readerships for my editor and cruised by damnthepacific.looks like it's over.

Friday, August 09, 2002

two things that made me cry a tiny, tiny bit today:
the sight of my beautiful new five-day-old nice curled up to her mother, feeding.
Curtis Mayfield's pure, sad voice resonating in the dark as I drove back to Melbourne from Ballarat, playing my new CD.

in other news, still hunting apartments. it's eating up all my online time and some. no blogging time.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

there's only one thing more aggravating than your own architect. and that's your neighbours' architect.

It's every reporter's dream: a theoretically infinite page, a deadline of your choosing and not a sub-editor in sight. See what journos get up to on their days off at these blogs.

Tim Blair
Sydney journalist Tim Blair's blog is a little bit Media Watch, a little bit Frontline and a lot of his opinion.
He catches the Sydney Morning Herald's TV writer out on the small matter of which party President Gerald Ford belonged to; he puts the boot into SMH columnist Peter FitzSimons - "some people mock (FitzSimons) because he is a former rugby union player, but his real crime is that he writes like a former rugby union player''. Blair lets us know that the "Australian Democrats continue to howl and sulk'', and he declares it a "safe bet'' that Ali Baktiyari, father of the two young Woomera escapees, is not really an Afghan.
And he compares payments to people smugglers to the large amounts needed to secure economic immigration to Australia: "People pay vast sums to get aboard those leaky boats. Or maybe he (`plant fetishist Bob Brown') just prefers that rich immigrants pay people smugglers than contribute to their new country.''
He says his blog has hit the half-million reader mark, and labels himself "journalist, commentator, and oppressor''.
In real life, Blair writes for The Australian newspaper, and he was once with Time and The Daily Telegraph; unsurprisingly, his pieces are often billed as "opinion'' these days.

Margo Kingston
One other blogger described Margo Kingston as Tim Blair's "bete noir''.
Kingston probably has a lot more on her mind than just Blair; she's dealing with Phillip Ruddock and yes, the Democrats again.
Her modus operandi is to link to a relevant material, often from the Sydney Morning Herald site, give a few words of what she thinks about it all, sit back and wait for responses to roll in.
Her access to the SMH's resources allows her to post original material, such as documents submitted to the "children overboard'' inquiry.
What the readers have to say is a major part of this blog.
Kingston is a senior journalist at the SMH, which is owned by Fairfax, owner of The Age.

Peter Maass
New York Times writer and former Washington Post Bosnian war reporter Peter Maass uses his blog to give a thoughtful perspective on world events.
He wonders why American students aren't encouraged to learn languages or visit non-Western countries, pointing out the need to understand the people there.
He links to, and backs, another reporter who is amazed by the blase public reaction to the US's plans to invade Iraq. Then he offers, and analyses, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' figures on the number of Afghans returning home.
It's all done in a format as simple as a printed page: black text on a white background and no bandwidth-wasting frills.
There is some light relief, like the off link to the site of a "gypsy punk band/cabaret''. The site has copies of his past magazine and newspaper writing as well.

The Paul Wall
Seattle-based technology journalist Paul Andrews mixes his printed columns with chat about his personal computing agenda.
Given his location, he is somewhat Microsoft-oriented, but not always on their side; he is engaged in a discussion with his readers on whether or not "Microsoft Research has yet to produce a successful breakthrough product''.
He surveys the wreckage of the technology press, most recently the woes of the Ziff-Davis media group, and isn't afraid to show how silly the media game can be sometimes:
"(Aside: My colleague and co-author Steve Manes, Forbes magazine columnist, began counting the number of times presenters used the word "rich''. Within an hour he had tallied something like 17. I started throwing pieces of candy at him every time the word "rich'' was used, but soon was out of ammunition. Rich experience. Very rich scenario. Rich audio, rich photos. Rich user value. Rich interface.)''
His posts are also available as an e-mail newsletter.
Incongruously, the site's mascot is a small white fluffy dog.

Journalists' Weblogs
The last two blogs were found at this site, which has an article about journalists' blogs:

proof that the smart people in Canberra are the dumbest in the country; they're the ones who bothered with Channel Nine's "national IQ test".
the people in WA are clearly the smartest, as they didn't bother; at least, not the clever ones.
oh, and speaking of doocing, I'm telling potential roommates/landlords to type my name into google to find my stories/work.
they'll also end up here, and are.
hi there!

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

it gets better; I emailed back saying "yes, I've called X" (the parent company of the competiton, Y) and SP wrote back saying "I think you need to talk to Y".
it was with some relish that I told him "X=Y".
I mean, it's my job to know this particular area. gimme some credit. sheesh. sigh.
think I'll do something fun for a while, like my blog column.
I've recently come across the idea of being dooced (I think PixelKitty mentioned it first.)
it's a metablogging issue really; it's why I don't blog many work whinges, and disguise some people, and don't blog some things at all. not when this blog is currently the #1 return if you search on my name.
I did find one woman who totally blasted her grandparents' personalities and manner on her blog; I guess she thinks they don't get on the Web much.
but can I just say, I find it really annoying when some Senior Person gets me to do an "issue" story based on something that happen to SP, then when I tell them I'm talking to one party involved in their encounter with that issue, they mail me back "don't just get that one voice in there". well duh. after 13 years doing this, I think I have enough brains to ring the competition as well. of course, I already had. there's only one thing that annoys me more than close supervision and that's close supervision that treats me like a fool who doesn't know her job.
in more important news, I have a new niece, born on the 5th of August: Chevez. I haven't seen her yet, I get to do that Friday.
searching, searching, searching.
so many places are only from September 1. which is fine, except it means I have to spend half my budget on a hotel to tide me over until then.
the lovely apartment is definitely gone. I hope I don't regret that. but I have to be firm. this trip is already costing me much, much more than I should be spending.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Mark Bernstein of Eastgate Systems is my brother!
and it's all thanks to our Mom, Jill! I wonder what Jill thinks of her grandson?
let alone some of the great-grandkids...
speaking of SJP, I think it's OUTRAGEOUS that Channel Nine are holding the next, final series until 2003!
the last series only finished last night and I've already got withdrawal symptons; it will be so hard not to peek on the Web or when I'm in the US.
this is a funny thing: blogtree.

I don't know how they get this information, but here it is: proof that Bloggety Blog begat Hoopty-Loops.
and to think CC and I haven't even met yet!
I've got a broken heart.
I fell in love with an apartment on Fifth Avenue over the Internet.
It was a whirlwhind romance; I answered an ad that seemed too good to be true; the apartment flirted back.
I made a further advance; it was responsive.
I called. We chatted happily and I wondered if there was anything else to say. We were perfect for each other.
But I said "think it over". I wanted to be sure I really was the one.
Still, my heart sang as I cycled home. I could see myself sitting at the window, looking out onto the street as I tapped away on my laptop, just like SJP.
Then, this morning, I discovered there'd been a misunderstanding.
The apartment doesn't love me after all. It wants more than I've got to give - about twice as much more.
I'm a sad, sad Jenny.
there'll be another apartment. I'm already batting my eyelids at one or two. I'm tough, yet still tender.
I'll manage. I'll be fine. As long as I know how to love, I know I will survive....
but a part of my heart will always be on Fifth Avenue, down in the Village.

the moral of this story is: never assume. ask "is that for the whole two weeks, or by the week?"
note to self:
sites to look at that Natalie liked:
filthycritic - uk site
feisty noodle
man. in 1 hour minutes I have:
had my photo taken and got a student card.
joined the bookshop, bought my textbooks, a wedding card and got a bookshop membership discount card.
found the library and taken out a $90 book I liked in the bookshop that had nothing to do with my course.
figured out the stupid library selfservice checkout.
discovered that book "hold" messages are sent to a stupid uni email address I'll never look at
got onto a Web PC in the library only to find I can't login. asked the guy next to me and still not been able to login
found I have to go create an account elsewhere in the library before I can login.
found the stupid computer elsewhere - it's all so tecchy-driven, haven't they heard of users - asked someone what my password for that is supposed to be
logged in.
blogged this.
and now I have ten minutes to get to class.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

in fact, if the days go by any faster, time will start to run backwards. which could be useful.
no, haven't posted all weekend. I'm getting into that pre-holiday mania, in which I write a Very Long List of things I need to do, and try to get them all crossed off. this includes getting four weeks ahead on my work and getting up to the country to see a new niece or nephew whose arrival is overdue.
and getting to know my BlogCon colleagues better.
and trawling Craig's List and April's List ("because sleeping in your car sucks") and even New York Habitat with its sky-high fees for a place to stay in New York.

Friday, August 02, 2002

$14.90 is too much. it would sponsor an African child for 2 1/2 weeks of education, or buy 30 people immunisation, or buy a family a goat (really! goats are useful if you're poor!)

this is a new and dumb meme: "I'm so stupid, give me money" - first the credit card girl, now this!
another thought on the "80 % of students cheat" story: who's writing all the stuff they rip off?
if 20 per cent are pure, and 80 per cent cheat, that leaves 0 per cent to study AND provide cheat sheets.
or something

Thursday, August 01, 2002

someone's putting up culture-jamming posters around the market. the latest: a picture of a puppy in a rubbish bin an the caption "Philip Ruddock hates puppies."
oh, and there is a simple way to get stuff from an iPAQ handheld to a PC. you get an au$79 doovie that fits into the USB drive, take the memory card out of the handheld and slot it in.
but I'm bringing the laptop anyway.
Ladeeez an' gennlemen,
introducing .... my... BlogCon ROOMIE!

(she's a witch wiccan, but I've already told her I'm not scared of her!)
whoa! how can this be? there are TWO George W. Bush blogs on the Web; the one in blogon below, and this one.

Gee, W. must be busy with all that blogging...
6pm: today's email count (at work only, excluding Hotmail, internal instant messaging, phone calls and people dropping by my desk): 27.
these are real messages, not spam. they are pieces of information and requests I have to think about and deal with, sometimes at length.
and I wonder why my neck hurts...
I don't like the new trams.
they have fewer seats, and stupid pads you're supposed to rest your bottom on while you stand. it allows them to cram more people in.
and when I got on one in Bourke St today I heard a little old man say to his little old lady wife "we'll never get a seat". and they stood at the stop and waited for an older tram, with a seat.
I wondered if I should say to them that I'd make sure they'd get a seat? would they be embarrassed? as it was, the tram lurched madly all the way down Bourke St, throwing several able-bodied people to the floor.
I don't like the new trams.