Wednesday, December 17, 2003

blog? who has time to blog when my fulltime job is walking around the house slightly jiggling my right shoulder, and nervously watching a baby monitor? he does sleep. sometimes.

anyway, as you can see from the "recent updates" list at , about six million words a day are being added to the blogography, so the blogsphere does not need my humble contribution any more.

btw, has Hotmail done something new? my spam has dropped to just a few a day...

Monday, November 24, 2003

a massive oversight: Alexander does not yet have a football team. Fitzroy died years ago with the dreaded merger, so my footy heart is broken. and his dad couldn't care less. he can't be a real Melbourne baby, can he? maybe I'll auction his affections. any bids?
someone asked how I was going. I said: complete joy interspersed with desperation. (forgot to mention the bit about propping my eyes open with matchsticks to feed/change Alexander at 2 am).
she said yep, that's how it goes on from here on in.

he's 13 days old today and I think we have the basics - food, changing - under control. there's still no real pattern to his life, but I made it down to the North Fitzroy Village this morning, just to prove I could, and we survived the outside world. after the caesar I was very restricted - first five days in my room at hospital, then a week here without leaving the house and garden. not feeling much urge to do much else, and now that Alexander's dad is back at work - a whole two weeks off - we're into the serious stuff.

new car comes this week. poor MX-5 Must Go. still dreaming of keeping the motorbike, but I know it's a dumb idea.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

With the raw materials in my blog, she could actually construct an accurate picture of who I am. This is fucking serious."

as a mother, I resent this. not.

yep, Alexander is here. too tired to say much about it. ended up bringing him out through the sunroof. oh well.

will post pix soon - there's an amazing one of the ob. holding him up seconds after the birth.

and of course he's beautiful.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Jon Sullivan has a spoiler-filled comments area on the new Matrix movie discussing what it all meant. only go there if you've already seen the movie.
well, our builder was wrong. he said that the neighbours wanted to build their horrid flats too cheaply and wouldn't get someone to do it. they either found more money or a dodgy builder, because they've spent the last week knocking down their garage and jackhammering a yard full of concrete up. not very peaceful for this overdue mother-to-be, I can tell you. and soon the lovely tree (in the pix down on the left overhanging the "garden thing" which is now thoroughly established) will be cut down, and there's nothing I can do about it. we hates them precious, yes we does.

speaking of which, the new Matrix movie (which I saw at a 10 am screening on the first day, 100s of seats, no waiting!); not bad. some of the scenes were very much recycled from earlier movies, and the climactic fight didn't do what it should have. plus watch out for the scene where Trinity says "oh yes I can". I can't decide whether it's in character or just plain cheesy dialogue. but I enjoyed it enough. and there were previews of LOTR 3, which no doubt I'll have to see on video, unless they do "crybaby" sessions.

just hangin' around here waiting, really, four days overdue. nothin' to see, move along...

Thursday, October 30, 2003

this is outrageous. how can you sack someone for a fairly innocuous post on their own site? Bill, Bill, Bill, you still don't get it, do you? the words "information" and "free", I mean.
just when I'd given up on Wired ever doing anything interesting again, the current issue has some interesting think-related pieces that aren't just about "homeland security" or videogames featuring girls with big tits.

now checking out two blogs from their "human nodes" article: Joichi Ito in Japan and Clay Shirky in the US, on "Economics & Culture, Media & Community, Open Source"
used to be that Batgrl would write about battening down the hatches for tornadoes. now it's fires.
it's been ages since I linked to any new blogs - have been pretty much not doing the blogrounds since I stopped doing my blog column for the paper, and computer time has been limited to getting ahead on freelance work and chatting to buddies lately.
but this one is not only local, but well written, funky-looking (could be a standard template for all I know, but I like it) and in the old-school Interesting Observations On Life vein.
so most of the really important stuff is crossed off my to-do list now. which is lucky because I'm a bit of a zombie today and not feeling like doing much at all.
eventually, one day, I know that the pub and maybe even study and online identity issues will get me excited again. work, I dunno about.
but at the moment I'm just a big round ball of hormones waiting to have a baby. have decided to have it on my due date - Monday - just to annoy all those people who say "it might be early" or "first babies are always late".

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

If I bank a cheque, it ALWAYS takes three business days to clear. standard. no argument. etc.
so why, oh why was I able to walk into a Bank of Melbourne in High St, Northcote, Melbourne, Australia today and bank a personal cheque drawn by an American on a bank in San Antonio, Texas, and be told it had cleared that second?

it is nearly as galling as the fact that after the pathetic xchange rate and tax, I'll be clearing about $400 for about two-three weeks' work, done a year ago. hey ho. at least it makes my trip to the US (when the xchange rate was against me the other way, of course) a bit more tax-deductible.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

sometimes it's best not to think about things too hard.
so there's this huge ball of glowing gas up there, slowly burning away:

and down here several million or whatever k's away, this other ball of rock has developed all these things, this life that grows and moves and feeds off just the light from that ball of gas.
and one kind of those things is humans, and that's why I can sit here at a computer and think about it all.
my brain hurts. a lot.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

not blogging here very often. so much of my preoccupation seems to be unpacking boxes or shopping for baby stuff. or napping because I'm not sleeping well (could it be the several kilos of fluid and baby attached to my front? I wonder...). and none of that is really interesting, is it? nor, I guess, will the baby be. except to me, Andrew, my friends and my INSANELY clucky mother.
my copy of the book arrived today. for all my annoyance at the pittance I'm to be paid for the work involved (and the rise in the .au dollar in the meantime), it's kind of nice that it has actually happened.
the ABC is showing Dr Who from the very first episode. we're taping it and haven't missed one.

we have decided that Terry Nation is a fun writer - the other guy was a bit odd. current series, the Keys of Marinus, is a mix of Barbarella and existential, Matrix-like philosophy (are they better off being under the control of the Mesmertron or knowing The Truth?). plus it has brains in a bottle with big snail-like eyes. cool. Terry was the writer who brought the Daleks in. I particularly like the continuity breaks, the Dr stumbling over his lines, and the occasional glimpse of people moving sets behind the actors. truly.

actually, checking out that program guide, the ABC seems to have skipped a few series? bad ABC!
talk about people getting the government they deserve!

I have nothing to say about this. I love America. I even love some of my American friends. I love New Orleans and New York and Las Vegas, some parts of which are actually also part of America. But. BUT!!

And I wonder if Arnie really knows what he's letting himself in for?

Sunday, October 05, 2003

why can't we get a clothesline to fit our wall?
this may seem trivial - ok, IS trivial - but they go straight from 1.2 to 2.2 metres. 1.2 is too small. 2.2 is too big and would require the use of very large amounts of concrete to install, and in the wrong place at that.
and I am going to NEED a clothesline soon, dammit. I'm 36 weeks pregnant and my future is nappies.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

particularly liked this one:
whatever happens, I now have an excuse: it's the hormones.

having finished work in order to get a whole lot of things done, I now find that it's so easy to let things ride, things that formerly I would have got hot under the collar about. this is good, because I'm not quite as much of a stress bunny as usual. it's bad, because it's quite possible a large number of things won't get done.

it's grand final day. I used to be a rabid Fitzroy Lions supporter; I would ride my motorbike to the western suburbs in the rain to watch them lose. I knew every player's name and number. then they became the Brisbane Lions and broke my football heart, no small thing in this town. so today during the second half of the Brisbane Lions' third consecutive Grand Final win - an extraordinary feat, three in a row - I was taking advantage of the emptiness of the Brunswick baths, getting a lane all to myself.

between the box-unpacking and baby-stuff-shopping I've been indulging myself with that kind of thing. yesterday I went to see the 2002 Ranamok glass prize exhibition, and lusted after some of the most beautiful pieces of glass I've seen yet. then went to Acland St and wandered around, followed by a rare night out at the movies with a friend, complete with a visit to a cool bar for a (non-alcoholic) drink afterwards; it was almost like a date - she picked me up, we laughed at them movie together, talked for an hour, then she dropped me home. as usual, one wonders why one doesn't get more time with one's old friends.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I need - and there probably is somewhere - a link-surf recorder. it would tell me that I came to this article about why nerds are unpopular (I'm only 1/5 of the way through and I'm grokking it and getting secondary school flashbacks), from this site about girls' computer games to which I was referred by this blog about gaming , which was brought to my attention by workmate Nathan

then, when I have that software, I need to convert it to RL conversations.
finial - A small, decorative appendage that finishes an element of architecture, furniture, etc., especially at the peak of an arching structure. One common design is knoblike with a foliate texture.

A common site is the terminating ornament found at the top of many lampshades.

feeling a bit sad about this burning down. haven't eaten anything there for years, but it made a nice finial to the St Kilda pier. is that what finial means? sounds right.

this is my last whole day at work; after tomorrow morning I am on maternity leave. kind of weird. but there is so much to do outside work, and I am slowing down with all the hormomes/an enormous creature living under my skin compressing my stomach and lungs, so I guess it's time.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I've remembered why I like Jim.he links to good stuff, like this article on administering the replicant test to politicians. it should be compulsory. I can think of at least two Australian politicians, make that three, who would fail miserably.

oh, and the ABC is going to run Dr Who from the first ep. starting next week. I'm on baby-having leave from next week! ex-term-in-ate

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

homestarrunner; nice use of tecchy stuff
strangely amusing: an RSS feed into a serious-looking newspaper format. found-newspaper-headline-poetry.
opposite my office is a derelict power station. it's full of asbestos. it also has a huge concrete chimney, maybe 15 stories high.
this morning, I turned into the end of the street and saw the words "Save the Tarkine" painted right down the side. When I got there, there were cop calls all over the place. the people who painted the slogan, and another saying "No jobs on a dead planet" are still up there. they had to climb up a couple of hundred metres of ladder, then abseil down the side, to paint the chimney.
I can see the chimney from my office window. the fact that this is a newspaper office wil probably not hurt their attempts to get publicity.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

the web site for the book in which I have a chapter is up.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this?
And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.''

- Einstein, 1937

...there is no cat

Monday, August 25, 2003

well. so much for the British Royal Family. you'd think that Prince William would have had more sense and compassion than to kill a dik-dik. I've seen this little critters, when we went to Kenya 2 1/2 years ago. they are SO CUTE.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

oh. it did post the first time! oh well, an interesting comparison of rewriting something from memory...
nah, can't let it go. this is what I'd like to write to him:

Dear A: it seems to me that your problem is not so much with me as with different representations and manifestations of faith. If Sara wants to promote the concept of "WTFWJD" on her blog, I'd see it as her way of raising that constant question of Christianity of how best to follow Jesus. She is an actual person who really is considering joining the clergy, so I think she'd be shocked at your reading that she has an ''addiction to making fun of Christianity."

I notice that you sponsor a Christian radio station. Perhaps this is why you took exception to my introduction. The fact is that overtly promotional music, writing etc of any kind is rarely listened to by outsiders; what makes Sara different is her sense of perspective and humour and this makes it more likely she'll "connect" with non-Christians, in my opinion. It also makes the blog a good read, which is the main reason I wrote about it.

As to the question of the value of the space: editorial space is not for sale. Threats to do with advertising have never been influential with decent newspaper editors, and I hope they never will be.

I notice that your business is engaged in a kind of tithing, for which I admire you. I also notice that we have both recently donated to the same cause; just something to think about.

I'm concerned that you chose Islam as your example of another religion you say I wouldn't target; I do hope you're not suggesting that Muslim people are somehow more deserving of attack. At any rate, if a similarly amusing and well-written and thoughtful blog from a Muslim person came to my attention, I certainly would cover it; in the past I have written columns on religious blogs covering Islam, Christianity, Buddhism etc.

Finally, on a personal level, I am upset to see that you have copied your email to several people unconnected with the editing of the article, including people at companies I deal with professionally, while not sending the email to me. I believe this is unwarranted, and given that you accuse me of cowardice and religious prejudice, also defamatory. I hope that after a careful rereading of my article and Sara's blog you can see your way clear to writing to those people, with whom your opinion may carry some weight, with a different view, rather than letting the unfounded attack on my character stand.
nah. can't let it go. this is what I'd like to say to him:

Dear A: it seems to me that your problem is not with me, but with different representations and manifestations of faith. if Sara wants to promote the question "wtfwjd", that's how she wants to get the message of Jesus' example across to a world that sometimes has trouble listening. You may not like it, but I found it different and original enough to be worthy of note. I also made a point of describing her obviously very real moments of enlightenment.

I'm concerned that you picked Islam as your counter-example. AFAIK, the Muslims have had quite enough fun poked at them recently; but if a genuine and amusing Islamic blog written by one of that faith came my way, I'd cover it.

I notice that you sponsor a Christian radio station. maybe that's why you took offence at my opening line. I also know that such stations are generally "preaching to the converted", which is what most Christian blogs do, and what makes Sara's different; she writes well and in a way that is likely to draw in non-Christians to at least think about the path she's travelling. I also notice that in recent months you've done some charity work, that your business carriedsout a kind of tithing, for which I admire you, and that you've recently donated to at least one cause that I have also donated to. Just something to think about.

As to the question of advertising and the value of the space: a) our editorial space is not for sale, and b) threats and actions to do with withdrawing ads have never affected decent editors. So don't bother.

Finally, on a personal level, I am upset that you have chosen to CC: your email, in which you accuse me of cowardice and religious prejudice, to several people unconnected with the editing of the article, especially those at firms with which I work regularly in my professional capacity, while not sending it to me personally. I believe that this action was unwarranted and defamatory of me. I hope you can see your way clear, after a careful re-reading of my article and of Sara's blog, to writing again to these people with a retraction, rather than letting your attack on my reputation, which may carry some weight with those individuals, stand uncorrected.

and I wonder how Sara would feel about being described as addicted to making fun of Christianity?
oh never mind. let it go...
The original article: BLOGON


Blogging for Jesus

Christian blogs are often the textual equivalent of Christian rock, but Going Jesus is one of the notable exceptions.

After all, how many Christian rock songs feature the f-word, as this blog entry does:

"I am just tired. Really f---g tired and fried."

The blog is set in a renamed parish named St Ned's, after The Simpson's pious Ned Flanders. It is written by a blogger named Sara who is on the "ordination track'' - working towards formal admission to the clergy.

In the meantime, she is working as a church secretary getting a hands-on feel for the ministry and struggling with her Bible studies schedule.

Sara pokes fun at the attempts of other sites to update the Bible as a kind of funky advice magazine for confused teens and shops for her cross-shaped jewellery at a website called Kiss My Ring.

She notes that the requirements for acceptance to the ministry include "imagination and openness to new ideas, emotional maturity, stability and self-discipline, potential for leadership, ability to get along with others and (a good) attitude towards authority''.

She writes: "I knew I shouldn't have been running around with scissors in my teeth, screaming Get Away From Me!!!!! at everyone who came into the office last week. I knew that would come back to bite me in the butt. Oh, wait, that didn't actually happen, that was just a fantasy sequence while I was working on the newsletter."

Sara describes her moments of being called by God as "those 'Jesus throws a sandal at the back of my head' moments'' and comes out with poignant descriptions of how it feels to walk with her God: "I realised that, physically, I feel like there's a great deal more space inside my chest. Like my chest is on hinges and could fly open at any moment (this may explain why it's so hard for me to find a bra that really fits), releasing ... I don't know what. Something good, anyway.''

Another time, Sara writes: "I'm just so glad I'm not alone in this life (my inner nasty atheist sneers, 'yes, you have your little imaginary friend Jesus' and then I whack her on the head) and that God works in my life through other people."

If the mix of genuine belief and overworked irony looks familiar, you may have seen an earlier blog - Going Bridal - in which Sara was a candidate for another kind of lifelong commitment. The wedding fell through in the end.

But you can still support Sara's mission - whatever that is - at her online store, which has added T-shirts asking "WTFWJD?" to its range of Bridezilla merchandise. A clue: part of the question is "What ... Would Jesus Do?"

The blog in question: goingjesus

The letter, copied to two editors at my paper, plus a number of people who work at companies I deal with regularly, such as IBM, Telstra etc, which among other things accuses me of religious bias and calls me a coward:

"Subject: Jenny Sinclair's "Blogon" Article.

Dear Editors,

I was appalled to read Jenny Sinclair's article "Blogon" in the Livewire
section of the Green Guide. I fail to see why so much space was devoted to a
piece describing someone's addiction to making fun of Christianity. Lately
I contemplated advertising in the Greenguide and received costings. From a
rough estimate she used more than $1000 worth of space to write this junk.
As the editors, how could you let this happen? What was the motive?
Isn't it funny how she focuses on Christianity? Let's see her write about
people who make fun of Islam and point out where to buy t-shirts that make
fun of Allah. Coward.
Why don't you people use your talents to write articles to challenge and
inspire, rather than degrade?

P.S. I will no longer advertise in the Green Guide."

waddaya think? should I sue? I have left the man's name off this, but it really worries me when the messenger is shot, and the original message is clearly tongue-in-cheek, if genuinely felt. or am I wrong? have I misrepresented the blog and undermined Christianity as a foundation of Western civilisation, thereby abusing my position in the Fourth Estate?
why am I not blogging? well, this morning at 6:45 am, the alarm went off. as I moved to turn it off, I triggered a KILLER cramp in my left leg (pregnancy side effect). it took five minutes to unfreeze my calf. at 7:00 the bobcat driver turned up to get his machine, and I had to ask him to remove one last giant chunk of concrete and engage in general concrete-removal chitchat. somewhere in there had a shower and breakfast, and get dressed for work, all the while keeping an eye on the front door for expected arrival of electrician. at 8:00 after two prior calls got through to vet re: dog's eye, which has been acting strangely. they said bring him in now and they'd have a quick look. left house at 8.08, got dog looked at and further vet advice, returned at 8.23. no electrician. locked up house, put dog in bedroom (low light is good for the eye), left our street at 8.31. arrived at market at 8.48. fed meter. Andrew rang at 8.52 while I was trying to take money out of the bank for the shopping. he told me the electrician had turned up at 8.15 and left within 5 minutes after failing to raise him on the phone, and not bothering to ring me. I got distracted during all this, used wrong card, machine ate my Visa card. got off phone. bought donut and decaf coffee, bread, cheese, couple of vegies. got back to car at 9.28. Drove 1k to workplace, but it took about 20 minutes because there was a tram broken down across the intersection, complete with idiot drivers behind me trying to force me to go through a red light after circumventing tram. got into work car park (the one work benefit of being pregnant, and compensation for no longer being able to ride my bike in), changed my shoes, arrived in office at 9:50. fired computer up, called bank's main number while checking email and deleting spam. bank can't help with the card. have to ring a branch. branch informs me that no, I can't have my Visa card back. I have to cancel it. ring to cancel it, am informed that a new account will be created and all my direct debits will die, necessitating that I a) work out who's taking $$ from the account and b) notify them of the change in writing. this is because the bank uses contractors, not staff ,to empty the machines; they will just throw my card away. hang up phone, complain to colleague. phone rings. it's someone I need to interview. I can't face it, beg off for five minutes to visit loo/buy fresh water, call back. spend 40 minutes on the phone (you can't hurry artists). start writing up interview. remember I need to email builder re: electrician and the need for him to call, and why did he turn up after 8 anyway, did he think we'd be there all morning? now trying to arrange photo of artist while worrying about how long it will take Andrew, who was rear-ended in my MX5 at the weekend (not his fault) to arrange to get it fixed.

oh, and the plumber putting the toilet in the pub has let me down. and tomorrow morning I have five tradies turning up, six urgent calls to make, and need to get paint samples. that's my "day off". hah! and you expect me to take time to BLOG?

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

have won FIVE tickets to the Blues Train at the Queenscliff Music festival.

well great. normally I'd love to. but it has to be taken when I'm either 36 or 37 weeks pregnant. and it's on a train that runs till 11.30 at night. and no doubt there will be drinking and carrying on.

what to do? wonder if I can find someone who has a place at Queenscliff who'd let me use a room in exchange for tickets?

Thursday, August 14, 2003

well hel-lo? so finally we have a court saying that indefinite detention of asylum seekers is illegal.

how about immoral? especially when some of them are children.

oh, and btw? I hereby declare this blog "fair and balanced"

Thursday, August 07, 2003

stupid westpac. just spent 1/2 an hour working out bsbs etc to make regular payments to my comm. a/cs and at the end I realise they're going to slug me $2.50 for EACH ONE EACH TIME!!
so instead I'll go on and hand-process them every fortnight or month. which will be just as much if not more strain on their computer systems. $2.50 for a computer to flick a switch? I don't think so.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

erk. blogger seems to spit out the new interface at random.

today's thought: the only thing worse than a sealed airconditioned office when you have a cold is a sealed office where they've turned the a/c off. I don't think I'm going to last the day. one needs air, you know.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

due to the complete incompetence of NameZero, whom I won't dignify with a link, the url of .com is now a poster shop. I won't link to that either, in the hope that one day they might give up using it, but they will probably get enough hits to make it worthwhile. I don't care that much, really, but it's annoying: I tried three times to pay the bastards to renew it, and they just ignored me, and I guess I wasn't organised enough - yes I have been busy - to get it transferred.
I have a couple of other URLS that I was using for vaguely uni-related projects, one of which expires soon. luckily I managed to move them to dotster, who seem to be able to read emails sent to them. I was meaning to transfer the one, but it ain't happening now. maybe I'll just get the .net version. at least it's not a porn site. yet.

today has been a sick day. on top of the pelvis, I picked up the husband's cold. normally I'd struggle into work the first day or two, then collapse; this time I just took today off, did a little Web-based work, etc and hopefully I'll be OK tomorrow.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

things I learned today: K-Mart is an inherently depressing place. Just because pink donuts look good, doesn't mean they taste good. Don't try to get sense out of a bank teller who has demonstrated a complete lack of interest in your views. It's true that people start to treat you like a fool when you're a pregnant woman.

But most importantly: never get old, slow and disabled. like me with my dodgy pelvis, you will be reduced to stopping dead in your tracks when yet another Young Person barrels towards you, clearly expecting you to get out of their way. and when you're old, they may not actually see you standing in their path. At least I have that much.

the physio says I should not walk or stand if I can help it. this is completely counter to all my instincts, needs and wishes. and what am I supposed to do when we have various blind/curtain people trotting around our house suggesting swag curtains and other monstrosities? just sit in the kitchen and ignore them? hell no.

spotted today: one of those young people who would probably not bowl over an old, infirm person. She was maybe 20, with dirty blond hair streaked with brighter streaks, two twirls of it pulled back and tied behind her head,, forming a halo. She wore a purple jumper of no particular cut, wide black sailor pants, flat shoes and a large shapeless black shoulder bag full of her business. She crossed Wellington St on her way to her life, noticing nothing, reminding me most of those dogs you see from time to time; clearly knowing what they are doing, and not caring what's going on elsewhere.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

too busy. buying the pub, finishing moving house, fighting the &^$&^@# bank, which I eventually made settle without a proper repayment schedule b/c they couldn't get their act together - it would have fallen through if I hadn't panicked.
have a week off work now to "rest" - meaning get stuff done with one less thing, ie work, to do.
my hip has given up - another pregnancy thing - and all I want, and am going to get, is a long, hot BATH!

Monday, July 21, 2003

At last; the giant (3600 word) post in its entirety.
this ran in Sunday's paper. it's been a while since I was so scared to publish something, and so pleased I had.
feel free to wander off and busy yourself with other things; it does go on a bit...
EVERY morning between 7am and 9am, while the world is waking, drinking coffee and getting ready for business, a series of cars pulls into a leafy side street in East Melbourne.

One by one their drivers - young, female, childless - swing their legs out of the driver's seat. They feed the parking meter, then hurry across a carpark, entering under the sign "Maternity Unit", in search of a dream. Once inside they subject themselves to a battery of procedures - injections, blood samples and ultrasounds. Then it's back in the car and on to work, or back to the rest of their lives, leaving workmates and friends oblivious to their secret morning ritual.

I know, because I was one of them.

The hospital is the Freemason's and the clinic is Melbourne IVF, which helps around 700 couples to have babies every year. Inside, the scene is one of polite early-morning anxiety (the clinic opens at 7am to allow women to receive treatment without affecting the rest of the day). Women, and sometimes their partners, sit quietly in waiting areas or outside doctors' rooms or operating theatres, talking in low voices and flicking through old magazines. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

My IVF journey began in late 2001 when I realised it was taking me longer than it should have to fall pregnant.

At the age of 35, I was well aware of the dire warnings from fertility experts about the dangers of "waiting too long". So I visited my GP, along with my husband of 18 months, armed with temperature charts pinpointing my ovulation each month for a year, in case the GP told me to go away and keep trying. But she didn't: she referred me straight to an infertility specialist.

Before we saw the specialist, I had the first of endless blood tests; this one to confirm that I was ovulating. I was, which meant that we had two options; keep trying, or "investigate'' my reproductive system.

The latter involves getting in there and having a good look around. This can be done without surgery, but the most conclusive method is a laparoscopy under general anaesthetic. This keyhole surgery is relatively minor, and uses advanced methods and miniature cameras to limit any incisions to tiny cuts. Even so, the thought of it terrified me.
If it showed up a serious problem, we might never have children. If it showed that my fallopian tubes were blocked, we'd be referred on to an IVF clinic. The best outcome might be that I had endometriosis, a kind of misplacement of tissues that could possibly be cleared on the spot. We were given time to go away and think about it. We intended to wait a while, but just before my 36th birthday in May 2002, I bowed to the inevitable, and booked in for surgery in July.

Over the coming months I often thought about wimping out on the operation, but that would be tantamount to deciding to remain childless. Through everything that followed, that choice remained; do this, or don't have kids. It gave me a grim kind of strength.

The surgery, as surgery does, knocked me around. Over the several days of struggling to get from the bed to the couch that followed, I questioned how far I'd go.

The "investigation" had given us good and bad news. My fallopian tubes appeared to be completely blocked. That might seem to be a terrible blow, but by then I was beginning my own investigations, and I realised that things could be far worse. If the blocked tubes were my only problem (my husband had been given the all-clear), I was an excellent candidate for IVF. Blocked tubes are what IVF was invented for.

When Louise Brown, the world's first IVF baby, was born on July 25, 1998, the world treated her as something between a freak and a miracle. Now, almost one in 50 Australian babies is conceived with some kind of assisted reproductive technology - and Melbourne has always been at the forefront of research. Australia's first (and the world's third) IVF baby, Candice Reed, was born here on June 23, 1980, less than two years after Louise Brown. The world's fourth IVF baby was also born at the Royal Women's Hospital.

The basics of IVF haven't changed since the 1970s. By taking eggs directly from the ovaries, fertilising them outside the body and replacing them in the uterus, the tubes are bypassed and pregnancy is often achieved. Often, but not always.

One of Melbourne's IVF pioneers, Professor Carl Wood, began his infertility work by trying to fix the problem of blocked tubes. By 1969 though, he was working on in-vitro fertilisation, in parallel with the UK clinic that eventually helped Louise Brown's mother, Lesley, to give birth. Professor Alan Trounson, scientific director of Monash IVF and chief executive of the National Stem Cell Centre, says Wood's nature was to try whatever would work.

"He had all these patients who had infertility problems and he actually wanted to do something about it.''
Twenty-five years of refinement has brought what used to be a hit and miss procedure down to a fine art, though still a difficult one. Between 1978 and 1980, when Candice Reed (the first Australian IVF baby) was born, he worked with about 100 couples. With barely a sliver of hope, these women agreed to be admitted to hospital for regular blood and urine tests and frightening new forms of surgery.

"It was incredibly invasive and it was incredibly demanding," Trounson says. "You basically gave your whole life to doing this. Surgeons would carry out a laparotomy and if they were lucky, get one solitary egg cell to work with."

Trounson's background in veterinary science had taught him there was a better way. Although the UK researchers had had little success getting artificially stimulated egg cells to fertilise, he pioneered the use of a gentler drug, Clomiphene, to bring on "superovulation" of several eggs at once. Later, he developed the use of a large dose of a hormone called HCG as a trigger to ripen the eggs virtually on command.

In October last year, our own day to start the IVF program came. At this point, all I knew about IVF was that it involved needles. Lots of needles. At best IVF is a drawn-out, invasive and uncomfortable set of medical procedures that can deliver a healthy baby, sometimes two. But at worst, as I discovered partly for myself, but more through talking to veteran IVFers on the internet, it can be a nightmare game of snakes and ladders, heartbreaking but almost impossible to abandon.

New patients are put through an induction process lasting several hours: we saw our specialist, talked with a counsellor before signing consent forms and then we were walked through the complicated course of treatment by a nurse.

Surprisingly, the first drug I was put on was the contraceptive pill. This helps the clinic to time treatments so there are not too many women going through the crucial egg pickup and embryo transfers at the same time. Artificial though it all seems, these precise controls have helped success rates zoom upwards.

In November 2001, I began self-administering a powerful drug called nafarel acetate via a nasal spray twice a day. This had an even more incongruous purpose; to create a state of artificial menopause by shutting down my ovaries. I'd decided that my best chance lay with doing exactly what I was told, so I used the spray at precise 12-hour intervals, once in a car barrelling down Lonsdale Street in the middle of a night out.
Once my ovaries were officially "down regulated" I was ready to start waking them up again with a vengeance. This was the bit I had been dreading - injecting myself with an ovary-stimulating drug. It wasn't as bad as I'd imagined and in the end turned out to be no more than an inconvenience to be borne with gritted teeth. I couldn't quite face injecting myself so a sympathetic nurse friend gave me the weekday shots and the clinic did it at weekends.

We'd been warned that the hormones could cause mood swings like those of PMT or menopause, pregnancy or teenage hormonal rushes - sometimes all three at once.

I was hit by a wave of emotion about half-an-hour after each shot. I once wept irrationally at the sight of a shop window full of baby clothes, but on the whole I got off fairly lightly and soon learned to be ready for that hormonal rush and roll with it.

This was a crucial time - the more eggs I could hatch, the better our chances. I gave up coffee and alcohol (I missed the coffee more) and started force-feeding myself eggs, meat and nuts, acting on a random snippet I'd read somewhere about protein possibly helping eggs to form.

When the ultrasounds confirmed that I was responding well, the level of ovary-stimulating drug was increased and I was booked in for undoubtedly the worst part of the process: egg retrieval.

WHEN Louise Brown's mother underwent IVF in 1978, egg retrieval was done via an operation called a laparoscopy, conducted under a general anaesthetic. A needle was inserted through the navel and bladder to reach the ovaries, guided by an ultrasound scan. Back then, patients were lucky if one in 10 of their eggs fertilised (now it's more like seven in 10). Egg retrieval can now be performed less invasively via the vagina, and can often be done under sedation rather than anaesthetic.

Hating general anaesthetics, I opted for sedation. At 11pm on a Monday night, I went to a hospital outpatients service to be given the HCG trigger, and the retrieval was booked for exactly 36 hours later.

I hoped that like most women, I wouldn't even remember the egg retrieval. It's a finicky business, involving a fine needle attached to a suction tube, guided by the ultrasound scanner. The time window is short - a few hours too early and the eggs aren't ready, too late and they may escape the ovaries and be lost. Each egg, the size of the head of a pin, is extracted and sent to the laboratory where it's mixed with sperm, and hopefully fertilises. Staying perfectly still during retrieval is crucial, not only because of the delicacy of the work, but also because there's a major artery very close to the ovaries.

While I went through pre-surgery check-ups, my husband went to a private room to "provide a sample" for the lab to mix with my eggs; apart from one blood test, this was pretty much the extent of his duties. He came back in time to hold my hand through the retrieval.

I don't sedate easily and instead of floating off in a pleasantly drugged haze, I was acutely aware of each painful movement of the needle. I spent the next two days hobbling around the house in a doubled-over position, with heat packs clasped gingerly to my abdomen.

Meanwhile, I hoped, the eggs were fertilising in the laboratory.
On the third day, we returned to the clinic for the transfer - placing an embryo into my uterus via a catheter. Still tender from the retrieval, my first reaction on seeing my doctor was "I'm not letting you near me." She replied, "You will when I tell you the results." Ten eggs had become 10 embryos, all of good enough quality to transfer; not bad for a 36-year-old.

Hearing her say "I'm putting the embryo in now" was one of the most surreal moments of my life; along with a moment earlier when, on a TV monitor hooked up to a microscope, we saw the four-celled blob that might become our baby, looking like a watery black-and-white four-leaf clover. Afterwards, despite knowing there was no way it could "fall out", I was afraid to stand up, let alone walk. But I did, and we went home to wait, and wait, and wait.

IVF has a reputation for producing multiple births, but they're not inevitable. In Australia, it's rare to transfer more than two embryos. This is civilised compared to what happens in clinics in the United States, most of which are private. There, transfers of several embryos routinely result in what's called "selective reduction"; which really means aborting some embryos to save the others in multiple pregnancies of five or six.

Trounson puts this down almost completely to the cost of IVF in the US. Because the cost to patients is $US15,000 per IVF cycle (compared to out-of-pocket expenses starting at about $1000 here), there are massive pressures to succeed in any given cycle. In contrast, the Australian approach is to use the best embryos first, then freeze the rest for later use. Freezing has reduced the need for repeated IVF cycles and contributed to increased success rates.

Unsure of how I'd respond, and wary of the medical problems associated with twins, we'd decided to transfer just one embryo at first, even if it meant it took longer to conceive. For two weeks we did time, waiting for the blood test that would tell us whether the transfer had "worked". I couldn't stay off the internet, surfing sites about early pregnancy, examining my body for tiny signs, and chatting to my "cycle buddies" at a British clinic about their symptoms.

Two weeks finally passed and I was told I was something I'd thought impossible; I was "a little bit pregnant". There was a detectable level of pregnancy hormone but it was low and I'd need another test three days later. I thought I'd burst with anticipation. By the Monday, though, I knew we hadn't been successful. I'd been perhaps slightly pregnant for a few days, known as a biochemical pregnancy. This is common in non-assisted pregnancies (Trounson says up to half of all embryos are genetically unviable) and most women don't even know it's happened.

Even though I knew that success the first time was unlikely, I allowed myself to collapse just a bit at the news. I got a little too drunk one night, became a little neglectful of the household chores. When I had to go back yet again for a third and final blood test a week later, on New Years' Eve, I had to hide in the toilets for a little while until I could make myself walk down that corridor.

I also discovered I wasn't as ready as I thought for more medical treatment. At a routine visit to the dentist I felt like jumping from the chair when the moment came for yet another needle, yet more meekly holding still.

It seemed a small comfort when my doctor told us that my overall chances were now considered to have improved. IVF specialists love to talk in terms of the odds of pregnancy, but when it comes to your own particular case, even good odds aren't what you want to hear; you want an iron-clad promise that it will work, preferably this month.

Trounson can't give that, but he does believe the success rate of any clinic - defined as a pregnancy lasting beyond six weeks - shouldn't be less than 35 per cent of all women in more than two successive months. Of those pregnancies, up to a fifth don't result in live babies. In practice, this means that if there are no insurmountable problems, such as a complete lack of eggs or sperm, the longer you try, the better your chances.
At least our nine frozen embryos ("frosties" or even "snowbabies" to the women on the internet bulletin boards) meant I wouldn't have to tackle another full IVF cycle straight away. Despite being assured that it was likely one of our embryos would take - but there was no knowing which one - I felt that I was condemned to months of transfers, waiting, more transfers and quite possibly another IVF cycle. This, more than the treatment itself, is where IVF requires strength; as long as you're in the program, your life is in limbo.

For people trying to conceive, uncertainty seeps into every aspect of life. Decisions about taking jobs, buying houses, planning trips and anything else which requires looking beyond the next menstrual cycle are clouded, and the only way to resolve that is to get lucky or give up.

Throughout the whole treatment there was one thing which really annoyed me - the way the words "desperate" and "IVF" are so often paired. It made me cringe. We were never desperate. In fact I sometimes wondered, what if? What if we embraced the selfish life of DINKS, chose yearly overseas holidays, running two cars and complete freedom, over nappies, tantrums and damaged finances and careers?

Trounson's patients range across all ages and social demographics. What he doesn't see much of is the stereotyped high-powered 39-year-old career woman suddenly realising she's left it too late. "Absolutely not. It's a huge mixture of women . . . yes, there are business-suited women, (but) they may also be from the western suburbs, or new immigrant couples."

Some join the programme for a while, then leave. Maybe they realise they don't have the right partner, he says. Others are willing to try a couple of IVF cycles and, if they don't succeed, move on, saying "that's enough interference in my life". Others still, Trouson says, will persist for an astonishing 20 treatment cycles.

WE chose to go on. The convention is to wait one cycle after IVF, then transfer the next embryo(s) after the woman's natural ovulation. I started obsessively researching what might help an embryo to implant successfully.

Acupuncture is being seriously researched at several clinics, so I found a GP who could give me acupuncture. Coffee and alcohol were off the menu again. I took up yoga to help me relax. I asked for, and got, a course of the hormone progesterone (which can support pregnancy) for the period after transfer, more as a placebo than as a treatment for any real problem I have, I suspect.

Some studies suggest that very low doses of aspirin may help implantation for some women, and for once I went against medical advice and took a quarter of an aspirin nightly.

Then we embarked again on the two-week-wait, again with one single embryo which had not only thawed successfully (not all do), but come out of the blocks dividing at an encouragingly high speed. This one was not a four-leaf clover, but a whole golf ball of cells. Time seemed to slow down as the test date approached and the six hours between the blood test and getting the result seemed an eternity. I wondered how many of these waits I could take, and planned to move to two-embryo transfers soon.

But we got lucky that time: very lucky. I escaped the office on a Thursday afternoon and called the clinic from my mobile phone. The nurse told me it was "a good result"; when I should have been thanking her, I was demanding the magic HCG number - the level of pregnancy hormone in my blood. It was sky-high, almost high enough for twins, and I had to go for a walk in the park to calm myself before I could return to work. I sat down in a quiet grassy corner, looked out over the city traffic obliviously rushing past me in King Street and said aloud: "I am pregnant."

I'm now six months pregnant and looking back I can see just how lucky we were. To get away with under six months of treatment feels like a gift.

Sometimes I'm amazed I managed to go through it all; then I think of the women who are still trying, or who have given up after up to 10 cycles, or have had repeated miscarriages, or multiple medical problems, or all three, and I know it was nothing.

Twenty six years ago I would have been classed as "barren". Now I can already feel my child moving in my belly and, like Louise Brown's mother moments after her daughter's birth, all I can say is "thank you".

Sunday, July 20, 2003


· FIRST IVF BABY: Louise Joy Brown, born on 25 July 1978 in Oldham, UK.

· First Australian IVF baby: Candice Reed, born on 23 June, 1980, at the Royal Women's Hospital.

· Total number of IVF babies born worldwide: One million-plus, according to Monash IVF.


· Total Women undergoing a full IVF cycle*: 3,926.

· Total number of IVF cycles completed: 4,821

· Women undergoing a frozen embryo transfer: 2,454

· Women who had babies or were pregnant from fresh or frozen IVF cycles: 1351

· Clinical pregnancies (lasting over six weeks) per IVF cycle: 22 per cent

· Pregnancies per frozen embryo transfer: 15 per cent

· Embryos still in storage: 21,435.

· Age groups of women treated

Under 24: 86

*25-29: 533

30-34: 1679

35-39: 1761

40-44: 849

45-49: 108

Over 50: 11

*Figures are for numbers treated, not pregnancies. All annual figures are for Victoria for 2001.

Source: Infertility Treatment Authority


· Female problems: 1325

· Male problems: 1327

· Multiple problems (male and female): 1593

· Unexplained: 1635


$1500: cost of a basic IVF cycle after Medicare rebates. Additional drugs, procedures and surgery fees are extra although some of the cost is covered by private health insurance.

$5500: cost of a basic IVF cycle for overseas patients.

Prices vary according to the treatment required and the clinic


· General information and discussion: (US site)

· Australian Infertility Support Group:

· Conception/pregnancy site and discussion:
trying to post a huge piece; obviously I'll have to chop it into smaller bits. bear with me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

latest thing for people to say to me: "how are you?"

meaning "how are you, PREGNANT WOMAN???" and probably "ARE YOU BEING RESPONSIBLE AND NOT DRINKING AND SMOKING?" and a few other things besides.

I know people say that anyway. but people who have never inquired before are doing it. there's a certain tone to it. and the door-opening is getting ridiculous. this is not a whinge; it's kind of cute really.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

house still disaster. whatever. hate electrician, without whom it seems nothing can really happen around the place.
on the upside, the baby is wriggling happily away and I am STILL able to ride my bike to work, ever more slowly.
think floor fumes are giving me headaches. that or general stress.

what a whinger. no, as my nephew says sometimes "it's all good."

Monday, July 14, 2003

believe me, the only reason I have time to be here is that Outlook is taking FOREVER to download my mail.
blogging is for people who tread the middle way; interesting lives with plenty of time to reflect.
but right now I'm no Samuel Pepys

for ages my life was boring; work, talk to builders work.
this weekend we moved house, were burgled, crashed the moving van, and within hours of being in the house the &%^$&^%$ electrician smashed FOUR of my favourite plates, plus a few other nice things.
then he thinks we're letting him use the backyard to work in! with our DOG there!


spent all day yesterday cleaning flat out. I'll miss the park and the lack of tradesmen turning up unannounced at 7 am.

and so, to work...

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

OK, I'm playing with wikis. all I can think of right now is to do collaborative lists, open to anyone who wants to help. simple but interesting.

so we have one on song titles about New York and New Orleans.

and one on what to name the baby.

go for it. please don't mess them up. this is kind of work for me; one minute I hear about it, the next I'm an expert writing about it! shallow, shallow.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

erm, what?
sold flat. have lots of money. in theory.
currently bullying nephew to make him keep his promise to help us move.
will be lucky to have house back anyway. but it's happening either way.
FABULOUS bike riding morning. body is going to give up on it soon, though, I think. my 35-minute ride is now 45, and the bumps kill. oh well. only 3-4 years until I can start again.

hey, batgrl is moving!
why wasn't I informed? so much for my ideas of a free holiday in Louisiana. yes, San Diego is nice. ho hum.
oh dear. have noticed wikis. a multiuser playspace with a serious side. possibly as cool as blogs.

but there is no time to work out how I can use this thing.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

remember that song "Angel is a Centrefold"? about a man who opens a magazine to find his unattainable teen dream girl from high school showing it all?

well, how am I supposed to feel about the news that Bob Crane, who played that charming GI in Hogan's Heroes that I had a slight preteen crush on, made home porn movies? and was murdered when I was 11? and that I can buy said porno tapes WITH BOB IN THEM?

shattered. that's how. and tempted? maybe. but no. I liked him with his cap on. hmmm, wonder if he wears his caps in any of the tapes?
no. not going there.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Given the choice between a steep hilll and a stiff headwind, requiring equal effort to counteract, I'd choose the hill every time.
I don't know why.
this is how stupid my body corporate is: the hole they knocked in the wall? it's in the wrong flat.
the person living there tells me that the leak is actually in the flat upstairs.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

my bike is FREE!
thank God; I was getting withdrawal symptoms. what will I do when I'm too big to ride it any more? am seriously considering a tricycle. really.
or maybe a nice exercise bike. the secondhand ads are full of them.
what sort of idiot body corporate sends a plumber to knock a hole in a wall without checking with the owner of the flat first?
and no, I didn't need yet another crisis. now on top of riding the builder's team to get our house done in time, working, organising a move and buying the pub, I need to make sure they fix the hole before settlement in two weeks (I can imagine the buyer getting very scared at the sight of that), and get a letter from them saying it's insurance's problem, not the flat's.

oh, and someone has either stolen or picked up and not returned the keys to my pushbike; this meant I stayed here at work until nearly 9 last night and have to get someone to grind through my U-lock to free my bike. and that I couldn't ride home or into work this morning. this might seem minor, but I figure I only have a few weeks' riding time left before I get too HUGE and I treasure every moment.

good dream last night: was staying in a kind of faded hotel run by Myer of all places; my room was all mirrored panels on the walls and red velvet curtains to cover them. the floors were tiled, European-style, and there was a bath suite next to my room with one of those cool freestanding clawfoot baths. kind of how I'd like the pub to feel, I think.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

that's it. I've had it. I've set my Hotmail to "known addresses only". it will probably cause me problems when I try to register for things, and use eBay, etc, but I was so sick of all the spam.

and with house-shopping and madly trying to keep exercising before I become the size of a house, I don't have time for deleting it all.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Professor Quotes: funnier than it sounds, eg: 'Pygmies' is not the politically correct term, it refers to their size. But the Pygmies don't speak English, so it's kinda like making fun of the Amish on TV. How are they gonna know?"
Randall Zidones, Music of Eastern Cultures
The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

via batgrl, where I don't spend nearly enough time.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

this morning, a worker upstairs put out an APB saying he was heading over to Bali for some work, and was taking orders for calico bags for a group of bombing widows who are trying to support themselves.
by 5pm he had $1530.

Saturday, May 31, 2003

funny things, blogs. some things you can say on them and some you can't. especially when some friends and work colleagues are known to read them. times and places for everything.
which is a roundabout way of explaining why I haven't blogged this before despite knowing for 14 weeks that I am pregnant. four months tomorrow.

he/she will be arriving on November 3; at least that's what they call the "EDD" in the trade. it has no relation to reality, of course. now does it make sense that I will kill someone if I don't get my nest house back like, tomorrow?

there is too much to go back over in one post. the baby has not kicked me yet, at least not in a way indistinguishable from wind. but we've seen it wriggle on an ultrasound, and it is forcing me to eat huge quantities of food. no, I didn't throw up. yes, it's weird to think of having a live creature inside me.

I have read several encouraging and a few frightening books about this whole process, but generally it's something I not only accept, but embrace. I am very, very pleased with myself. yes, I know it's all been done before. but not by me. not THIS baby. no more than you yourself have been "done before".

heh heh heh...

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

my disproof of the morality of utilitarianism: all over Melbourne, lifts are breaking down or being turned off. this is because the lift maintenance people are on strike.
so there must be hundreds of thousands of small moments of annoyance happening everywhere. if utilitarianism is correct, at some stage these small reductions in quality of life will add up to enough to balance out, say, shooting one lift maintenance man.
what bullshit.
The morning sun touched lightly on
The eyes of Lucy Jordan
In a white suburban bedroom
In a white suburban town
As she lay there 'neath the covers
Dreaming of a thousand lovers
Till the world turned to orange
And the room went spinning round

At the age of thirty-seven she realized she'd never ride
Through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair
So she let the phone keep ringing and she sat there softly singing
Little nursery rhymes she'd memorized in her daddy's easy chair

Her husband, he's off to work
And the kids are off to school,
And there are, oh, so many ways
For her to spend the day
She could clean the house for hours
Or rearrange the flowers
Or run naked through the shady street
Screaming all the way

At the age of thirty-seven she realized she'd never ride
Through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair
So she let the phone keep ringing as she sat there softly singing
Pretty nursery rhymes she'd memorized in her daddy's easy chair

The evening sun touched gently
On the eyes of Lucy Jordan
On the roof top where she climbed
When all the laughter grew too loud
And she bowed and curtsied to the man
Who reached and offered her his hand,
And he led her down to the long white car
That waited past the crowd

At the age of thirty-seven she knew she'd found forever
As she rode along through Paris with the warm wind in her hair ...

Copyright © 1979, Sheldon Silverstein

yesterday I turned 37. (May 28 was yesterday here, no matter what the dateline says) I celebrated by taking the day off work, and despite yet another crashing headache, driving Lucy, my MX-5, up and down Beaconsfield Parade and over the Westgate bridge with the top down. as you do. at the top of the Westgate on my way back, I saw a man out of his car, leaning over the edge, looking down rather than out. the car had its bonnet up as if it had broken down. but it was a newish MX-5, like mine, and they don't just break down like that. particularly not right at the top of a bridge, just by coincidence.
I wonder what he was doing there? was it his 37th birthday and was he going to jump? or was he just admiring the vertiginous view?

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Your search - "getting our effing house back" - did not match any documents.
Your search - "timber glue removal" - did not match any documents.
Your search - "removing timber glue" - did not match any documents
Your search - "parquetry removal" - did not match any documents.

yes, it's all going pear-shaped at the house.
the hallway parquetry is glued on. this may mean ripping floorboards up and replacing them. meanwhile, the builder has no idea when the floor at the back will be done. I cannot say just how BADLY I want to move back in five weeks from now. really badly. and it is collapsing before my eyes. it could be more like 8-9 weeks at this rate.

sorry, having a small and highly irrational meltdown. but I want my house back. now.
been a bit busy having a life this weekend to blog.
sold my flat on Saturday - a fantastic sunny day seemed to help, though I hate the way no one wants to be the first bidder and I got a bit nervous when bidding stalled just below reserve. in the end it went enough over that I think I'll be able to afford a toilet in the pub, but not enough to eliminate the mortgage - which is good, because it stops me from being silly with the theoretical tens of thousands I now have. the buyer was a nice Japanese woman - she was bidding very quietly and I was barracking for her, so that was satisfactory.
we celebrated by seeing Reloaded. so much FUN! all very unrealistic, of course, but that's the point, innit? loved Hugo Weaving's understated facial expressions, loved the hot chick on a motorbike bit (dream on, me) and generally found it the best bit of escapism I've had in ages.
and today we went to Andrew's deceased great aunty's place to put dibs on furniture. I find those sorts of things a bit uncomfortable, because (especially when it's a rello I never even met), I don't want to ask for something that someone else wants. at the same time, I don't want good stuff to go begging, and there is a pub to furnish. a lot of it was very very nice 1930's stuff that's too good for the pub anyway, and we didn't ask for; I'm hoping mostly for a marble-topped kitchen table that Andrew liked too, but probably everyone wants. it's a bit of a lottery, but being done in a very civilised way, and in the end I'd be happy with the highly practical laundry trolley I spied, or even the rather watermarked and not at all antique but way comfy 3-piece lounge that would be excellent with new slipcovers over it.
then a (slow) organic lunch with sister in law and her partner, and an exciting afternoon of napping and paperwork.

Monday, May 19, 2003

finally finished our third viewing of the Matrix last night. so we are now SO ready for Reloaded. I still think that the bit in the subway where he gets up and does the kung-fu pose is cheesy beyond belief. and I still find the foyer scene a bit yucky; it always reminds me of the trenchcoats at Columbine, which happened just before it was released.
but it doesn't matter, does it? the helicopter crash is still fantastic, the people so darn gorgeous, and the whole thing so self-confident that I don't care at all.

all of which is my intro to a site you've already seen: Matrix Essays, a worthy effort at bringing together Matrix mania and commentary.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

so you don't think Keeshonds can be as wonderful as I say? well, try this: even a dog judge, and dog judges are notoriously unemotional creatures, couldn't resist saying of the Keeshonds in the Royal Melbourne Show last year: "enjoyed judging the breed". so there.


The fugitive
Flight Risk is probably a hoax, but as an article in Wired News said, who cares? It's a good read.
Quite a lot of trouble has gone into inventing the character of Isabella V, who claims to the be red-haired daughter of a wealthy European man fleeing an arranged marriage.
She moves from place to place, worrying about her money, and, somewhat improbably, logging onto the internet via the wireless network cracking program Airsnort.
The writing verges on florid from time to time: "Though this particular meeting is somewhat vague in my memory, I do remember that sudden click of recognition, the surprise familiarity, when I saw my father's mentor, 'Alain' from afar..." And there is little of that real introspection into motives that you would expect from a young woman who has left behind an entire world of wealth and privilege. Her prospective husband, Yves, is mentioned only in passing.
She's more concerned with the mechanics of being a fugitive: "As of last week I had settled into a jurisdiction that seemed safe enough and possessed of sufficient technical and literary resources to do some at least mostly sophisticated research on where to actually settle for good and start my life over - if there is any such thing as 'settling for good' in my situation."
Whether the self-consciousness of the writing is a result of looking over her shoulder or artifice can't be known. Wired News traced one comment she left on another weblog to the Bahamas - consistent enough with her story, but proof? Not yet.
And like the girls in the thrillers who insist on running from the monster while wearing high-heeled shoes, she has a flaw in her "flight" story - the distinctive red hair she talks about often is yet to be bleached blonde or dyed black.

wanna buy a nice flat?
(skip intro, select "clifton hill" and apartments" under "residential property")

bandwidth theft justified by it being my ad, after all.

pay me lots of money for it and I might actually be able to afford the pub.
swings and roundabouts dept: some *&^%(^ had smashed a beer bottle on the bike path, resulting in a huge shard of glass flattening my tyre in 30 seconds flat (sorry).
and of course the bike pump was in the car after another joyful evening moving boxes around our house - we needed it for the trolley's wheels.
luckily I was only, oh, 250 metres from the petrol station, and at least I had a spare tube. so I walked back, encountering a new Keeshond on the way - always a joy - and when I got there, the guy who was pumping up his bike tyres let me go first, saving me maybe 60 seconds of a 20-minute Monday morning delay.

life. what can you do? it just is. etc.
should I be excited that the book I have a chapter in looks like it might actually come out?

I guess so. it's still hurting that I'm being paid about 1/5 of what I'd get on normal freelance rates for it, and that the US dollar is going up all the time. if I'm really lucky, I get paid in October or something.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

morning. raining. grumpy. headache. decide to ride bike to work anyway b/c traffic sucks. stupid rain.
and when I arrived at the beach and turned north in the annoyingly light drizzle, I looked out across the grey water and mist and saw a rainbow landing just near the shore in a flock of brightly lit floating seagulls.
the rain cleared and the rainbow stayed there, arched over dull old Port Philip Bay, the ends reflecting on the water, the whole time until I turned west into Albert Park.
bugger Sydney. I love Melbourne.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

weekend in Sydney = very Mosman. the whole deal only confirmed my belief that you'd be mad to live in Sydney unless you could afford to have harbour views, proximity to a lovely little beach like Balmoral beach, and regular trips to expensive restaurants. then it would be heaven. except, of course, for the hills, which are not cyclist-friendly.

Beck, who describes himself as "someone who's writing some silly little songs and prancing around a stage", was last week finishing off a "vacation tour" of Australia. And it is true that there is more on this musician's blog about the tourist traps than his actual performances.
Beck saw the country as a playground full of surfers and Sydney as a "city ridden with beaches, buildings and kindly hoards (sic) ... this place of symmetry and health which reminded us of another era, the '50s maybe".
Melbourne attractions get the once over, too.
"We went to a new cultural center in Melbourne today. It was an architectural maelstrom. It had many shapes and textures going on; it looked like a patchwork of cement and glass. I really enjoyed standing in the middle courtyard letting it all unfold around me. The ground had incredible multi-colored cobblestone. There were students, elderlies, a battalion of Chinese tourists and your obligatory guy painted gold, acting like a statue and holding poses for cash."
Unfortunately, Beck thought Luna Park was "a shut-down amusement park from the '40s".
More luck was had at the Melbourne Zoo, where the star made peace with the concept of kangaroos and band members tried on animal masks; Beck's camera has recorded it all for your amusement.
Even rock stars can be fans; Beck praises one "Michael Angelo from Nitro, who shreds on a four-neck guitar in all his bison haircut glory".
The blog is part of the official Beck site, with all the usual chat rooms, tour news and online shopping for band merchandise.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

one of my colleagues, who is a) extremely technically knowledgeable, especially in all things open source and b) not short of an opinion, has started blogging. I'm nagging him to get comments and sitemeter and stuff, but I think he's already addicted.

Monday, May 05, 2003

man, I"ve been slack. I'll make up for it by posting three blogons at once.

Lost in Transit

Expatriatism is a particular state of mind. So it was only a matter of time before a group of expat bloggers came together.
Here they have created a new blog called Lost in Transit.
There's Miguel, of in Austria, Randall, of Big White Guy in Hong Kong, Francis, of in Stockholm, all funny people whose insights have been sharpened by living in a foreign culture for many years.
They are joined by a dozen or so other bloggers, including one Australian living in Scotland and another in Mongolia.
Adventures in recent weeks for this lot include "the 14th annual Truckersdag" (truck day) in Holland, an early encounter with New Zealand's cooler seasons for an American-born woman and graduation ceremonies in Japan.
By limiting the subject matter to their interactions with the local scene, the participants have created a miniature travel magazine, filled with the kind of moments you only get from living in a place, rather than just passing through.
"One of the many things I love about France is that political and literary debate are a mainstay of prime time TV," writes Canadian Gail. "Perched on stools around a tres design table, or slumped on fat velvet couches, babes with their boobs spilling out of their tops hold forth on Kierkegaard or Middle East policy, sparring off with middle-aged men in rumpled pink shirts ..."
In the comments areas, the group (and anyone else who happens along) discuss making a living from their native language and in one poignant post Miguel muses on the idea of where a world traveller should ultimately be laid to rest.
"Twenty years ago, when we were living in Seattle, a Japanese friend was visiting. She mentioned enjoying life abroad but wanted to be buried at home in Japan.
"Back in those days I was still young and bulletproof, so I found that line of thought macabre.
"Now I'm older. Friends and relatives have died and I've had my close calls. When the time comes, I'll be dead so why worry about it? Still, there are times, occasionally, when I give in to that mood and ask myself where I want to be buried."

Dave Barry

Syndicated Miami Herald newspaper columnist and Pulitzer prize winner Dave Barry indulges his sense of the ridiculous on his blog, where he plays out his love-hate relationship with life in general.
He expresses incredulity at Madonna's dissing of celebrity ("such a kidder!") and fantasises about striking loud mobile-phone talkers with baseball bats.
Most of the value here is in the links to wacky news stories, like the plan to catch several thousand rabbits infesting a local airport and fly them to Texas rather than letting them be exterminated. (The problem for planes was not so much the earthbound rabbits as the large flying vultures that came to feed on them.)
He also dabbles in celebrity baiting, as befits one of the writers of this year's Academy Awards show, and the plain ridiculous: "When people ask me, 'Dave, where can I find a good Japanese-language educational video about the dangers of trying to hit a melon with a stick while blindfolded after narrowly escaping from a shark?' I always direct them here." (Pointing to a link contributed by one of his loyal readers.)
Barry's actual blog pieces are short and flippant, revealing little about his personal life and lacking the sustained crescendo of sarcasm that typify his columns.
For those, you can read the archives of old columns at the Miami Herald's site, linked to this site. You can also order his books here, naturally.

Girls Are Pretty
Did you get married last Wednesday? Well, you should have, according to the fractured fortunes at Girls Are Pretty. In fact, if you didn't, you might as well give up right now.
Not so much a blog as a series of surreal raves, Girls Are Pretty snarls its way through tasteless suggestions and instructions for each day - and has been doing so for more than a year.
Among the less offensive commands is You Like Girls Day: "until midnight tonight, if you come in contact with a person who is female, you like her.
"I know what you're gonna say. 'But Mrs Kim at the deli is soooo gross!'
Not today. Today, you wish Mrs Kim would make your babies."
Another suggestion was "Hang your sneakers from an electrical wire", which may answer the question of how those shoes get up there.
The Wrong Bus Driver Day, Buy a Chili Dog Day and even Kurt Cobain Day (on which you are instructed to taunt the ghost of the dead grunge star), have all been and gone.
Some of the other titles, let alone the "instructions", which verge on twisted short stories, are pretty much unpublishable. But that does not stop about 1000 web surfers coming by daily - here's hoping they don't take the instructions literally.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Fifth Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Very High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)High
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)High

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test
look, the highlight of my week has been the sight of a six-foot plastic beetle in a company foyer, with an exerminators' van parked outside. so what's to blog?

maybe the four days down the coast, eating and sleeping and (just once) swimming in the freezing Southern Ocean with wetsuited surfers has just overrelaxed me. pointed the film camera at various things, and I'm thinking of doing a Lomo-style survey of my everyday stuff. anyone in Melbourne will share my shock at what happened to Brunetti's and I'm kind of sorry I didn't get a photo of its 1960s cake shop decor before they raced it up.

dragged boy to see Punch Drunk Love over Easter, and thought it just a perfect little movie. apparently some people don't like movies that don't tell you where they're going. I love them.

um, what else blogworthy? still no house to live in, still bashing a semblance of courtesy and communication out of the architect. artists should not be allowed to be project managers. working on selling my flat - also trying to bash some honesty out of the real estate agents, who wanted to underquote outrageously. I'm instructing them to raise it a bit - a) I don't want to play quite that dirty and b) it's just a flat, people won't fall in love with it and overspend like they do houses, so that bait and switch won't work and c) I want to position it in the market where it should be - why would I be wanting to attract people who can't afford what I want them to pay?

while we were travelling around in the MX-5 (finally fanged it along the Great Ocean Road!) with the fluffy dog, I noted a couple of the comments he got. #1: April 24, Lavers' Hill, 3:30 pm: "Look at that beautiful dog out there!".
# 2: April 26, Apollo Bay craft market, about 11.30 am, from a teenage boy, delivered real quick: "Coolestdogintheworld."

these are typical pieces of spontaneous praise. I wish I was his mother so I could feel terribly proud.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

there have been a lot of newspaper articles lately discussing trends - fatherhood and so on - in terms of the way those things are portrayed on TV and in movies. and the movies/TV are inevitably based on/inspired by something else. and so on.
is there just one person in a small room somewhere, pumping out actual original ideas? and are the rest of us just feeding off that?

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

today I took a backward step, technologically speaking, and bought a film camera.
my last one was stolen two years ago in Ireland. ever since, we've been using the digital camera and unidentified digital files, which I may not delete even if the images are cr*ppy, according to one's husband, have been banking up on the laptop.
so I can't sit down and flick through them. sure, I can print them out. or I can shrink them and post them here.
but with a road trip coming up next week (about time that MX-5 got down the Great Ocean Road, after a year!), I felt an urge to point and click.
I didn't get a really good one, but good enough. it's got a zoomy thing and red-eye reduction and a snazzy silver body. it'll do.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Monday, April 07, 2003

pictures of Melbourne
blogging? what's that? no time.

all is v. normal, at any rate. annoying site meetings, never enough time to see people, life dominated by renovation and the need to walk fluffy dog 3 times a day.

my big adventure was a dip in the 17 degree waters of Port Phillip Bay, via the Brighton Baths.

I really, really needed a swim; yet another headache, etc. and my regular pool has closed. so I struggled down to the sea baths and paid me money.

very cold water has this interesting effect on me: my chest constricts and I can't breathe. at first I clung to the steps, then after dunking my head underwater, I struck out for the other side, maybe 30 metres away. I swear I thought I wouldn't make it back, even though I turned after about 7 metres. once I realised I could touch the bottom, weedy and rocky though it was, I got braver. made it all the way to the other side and back, panting and hooting and wondering if the warm sensation in my limbs was hypothermia. I mean, there was one guy swimming around in there in a wetsuit, and I was virtually naked. I lasted about 10 minutes, I guess.

the thing is: it totally got rid of my headache. so I'll probably do it again.

Friday, April 04, 2003

well, that was a day.
W's wife, J, was amazingly strong. she stood up in front of a couple of hundred people and told their four kids (one hers, but he was the "dad") all the things W wanted to say to them when he was alive, but couldn't; why he loved them, what he got from them and that he was sorry he wasn't there. She also made sure to tell them not to carry his pain with them. she spoke for ten minutes at least, beautifully, and I am full of admiration for her.
as it was a pagan funeral, there was a meditation/visualisation; a chance to see him leave (stepping up into a sunbeam, and it worked better than it sounds), and to speak to him one last time. everyone very very upset of course, and when they took the coffin out she let herself cry properly, which was heartbreaking.
there were a couple of people there I haven't seen for close to ten years - W and J and I went way back, 20 years, but haven't been close lately, though knowing what's going on with each other.
the house they'd just finished building on their bush block is beautiful, their kids are beautiful and I still can't work it out. there was talk about him resolving issues in his life and so on, but if he'd finally done that, why suicide?
I'm trying not to be angry with him. as I hardly saw them, it's not like I'll miss him specifically, but I am so sorry that he's gone.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

so if our world is constituted by what we share with other people. and it's this belief in the existence of other people that gives meaning and substance to what we experience (to mangle Heidegger etc).
what does it mean when a person with whom we share our world, or did very closely once, decides not to live any more? is our total world diminished by this, either in reality or perception?

the person in question is, was, married to a woman who was my best buddy when I was 17 and stupid. at the time (17), he was the partner of another friend of mine. I am remembering snippets of the funny half-lisp with which he talked, coming down to Melbourne one day on the back of his motorcycle, sitting in a corner on my 17th birthday packing away vodka and having what we used to call a D & M. his slightly defensive manner, mixed with sensitivity. the mudbrick house he and his wife were building in the bush to house them, her daughter, his son and their ?2?3? - see, the ties aren't as close as they were - kids, one of whom is still only 12 or 13. they came to my wedding. he died yesterday. the message I got said he'd been having difficulty lately. whatever that means.

earlier today, before I heard, I saw a shrivelled little lady with white hair tucked away in a corner of McDonald's, using a magnifying glass to check the death notices. by the time my grandmother died, very few of her contemporaries were alive. who has to be last?

I'll probably be going to a funeral this week.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

most of the links to the time traveller yarn appear to be around March 31. hmm. is it a real story or an April 1 setup?
and a very sensible dolphin. bugger these sea-mines, I'm off to have fun! Douglas Adams was right.
NEW YORK -- Federal investigators have arrested an enigmatic Wall Street wiz on insider-trading charges -- and incredibly, he claims to be a time-traveler from the year 2256!

Monday, March 31, 2003

puggle (baby platypus) update: there were TWO of them. the second one was hiding.
I came into work today to an email from a journo at another publication praising my front page yarn on wireless Internet.

in honor of the self-satisfied feeling that created in me - even though I had to come in early last week and bust my gut to get it done, still knowing it wasn't entirely what I wanted to do - I dug up this, from a book I found in the Ballarat Mechanics' Institute Library when I was 18 or 19. The book is titled Adventures in Journalism

"The adventure of journalism which has been mine - as editor, reporter and war correspondent - is never a life of easy toil and seldom one of rich rewards. I would not recommend it to youth as a primrose path, nor to any one who wishes to play for safety in possession of an assured income, regular hours, and a happy home life.
It is of uncertain tenure, because no man may hold on to his job if he weakens under the nervous strain, or quarrels on a point of honour with the proprietor who pays him or with the editor who sets his task. Even the most successful journalist - if he is on the writing side of a newspaper - can rarely bank on past achievements, however long and brilliant, but must for ever jerk his brain and keep his curiosity untired.
As nobody, according to the proverb, has ever seen a dead donkey, so nobody has ever seen a retired reporter living on the proceeds of his past toil, like business men in other adventures of life. He must go on writing and recording, getting news until the pen drops from his hand, or the little bell tinkles for the last time on his typewriter, and his head falls over an unfinished sentence. ... Well, I hope that will happen to me, but some people look forward to an easier old age.
I have known the humiliation of journalism, its insecurity, its never-ending tax upon the mind and heart, its squalor, its fever, its soul-destroying machinery for..."

and that's just the first page!

Sunday, March 30, 2003

it's official.
wanting to go to IKEA is not as daggy as we think.
not if LoobyLu is going.
everyone I know is feeling the inevitable pull of the homewares maze. soon, soon.

oh, and I've dropped out of uni. will think about that later. but it had to happen. that sort of thing shouldn't be a drudge, and that's how it was shaping up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

goshdarn doesn't it show when one slacks off posting and there's not much happening around here?

look, to me it's all truly fascinating. shopping for lights, booking tradespeople for the house and my pub, keeping up with the war, etc, etc. trying to keep up with exercise (a bit), friends (not very successfully) family (must ring my Mum). oh, and there's work

but I just don't feel compelled to blog it all right now.

War boy
Think your job is challenging? Maybe even dangerous? Log on to Kevin Sites' blog to realise just how mundane and sheltered your life really is.
Sites is a CNN correspondent in Iraq. Not near Iraq - actually in Iraq, in the city of Kalar, as of late last week.
While working his way through the north of the country with fellow correspondents, he finds time to email and phone in the occasional blog entry detailing his adventures. He even sends in photographs of the locals - some were still managing to smile for the camera last week - and if you have the right software you can listen to his phoned-in posts.
Luckily for Sites, he happens to have an Irish passport as well as a United States one. He also manages to stay calm in the face of threatening local chefs, rooster sacrifices to "christen" his car (probably not the word the locals use for the ritual) and aggressive attempts at story-spinning by army press officers.
His previous journeys through wartime Afghanistan are included, bearing the somewhat gung-ho title of "War Boy Journals Part III".
A typical quote: "The shock waves of the explosions are dulled as they cross the valley toward us. But they are still persuasive. Their concussions a silencing voice, ripe with anger, full of vengeance. We watch from a forward front line position. There are dozens of other journalists here. It is a theatre of war and war as theatre."
Anticipating the war, he wrote: "What will happen, where should we go? Race west toward the oil fields of Kirkuk," Sites writes.
And if all of CNN's coverage goes blank one day, Sites will know why. He says the buzz among the media on the ground is that the US intends to use an electromagnetic pulse weapon to disable all electronic gear in the war zone, including satellite transmitters and mobile phones.
"We could end up covering this war with wind-up film cameras." Sites writes.
Although the blog is still there, CNN has told Sites to suspend his blog. The reasons are unclear but Sites has complied.