Thursday, January 30, 2003

memo to self: stuff on Ebay is in US DOLLARS YOU FOOL!!
do NOT bid as if it was in Australian $$$.
luckily the bid in question is only US$20. it will not break the bank and I think someone will outbid me anyway. darn ramekin obsession.
pub update: agent eventually came back to me saying that the owners are holding firm at $135,000.
this suggests they either have no idea what a market is, or that they are willing to wait to sell it. I might have even thought hard about it at 130, but at 135 it's just too expensive. my flat may or may not be worth more than I think, but I can't bank on that.
no point having a charming old pub with a collapsed back wall, no toilet and no trees in the paddocks... it's difficult, but as I've moved into This Is Serious mode about getting a place up that way, I've been better able to deal with the romantic yeanings, and more able to see the difficulties. my job, for one thing. even at four days a week I don't have a lot of time to be supervising tradesmen 100 kilometres away. and if I chuck, or cut back, the job, I can't afford the pub. catch-22.

anyway, will think more. will reconsider my plan b place. will probably wait a bit and see a) what comes on the market and b) if the pub is still for sale in six weeks. if it is, may well try again.
Which OS are You?
Which OS are You?

but I'm not happy about it.
not all Americans are crazy. what Kurt Vonnegut has to say about the present situation.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

and this is Iraq, this afternoon. it doesn't really look worth bombing, does it?

some amazing satellite pics of the fires. if you click on the one pixel-250 metres link, your computer will grind wildly and half an hour later a huge, crisp image will come up. you can see everything, even large fields and certainly towns - I can see the one where I grew up in this one, about 100 k due west of Melbourne.
aargh! visitors! and I haven't even cleaned the bathroom sink! panicpanicpanic.
seeing as how Meredith and LoobyLu (oh, the honour) are sending some of their hordes of readers my way, I may as well put up some Real Content to make myself look good.

no mistakes in this one that I know of.


Samuel Pepys

This blog is almost 350 years old. Inspired by the proliferation of online diaries, Phil Gyford came up with the bright idea of posting the famed diaries of Samuel Pepys on the Web - not all at once, but day by day.

Pepys meticulously recorded his daily life in 17th century London for many years, with topics ranging from political intrigue and near-revolution to how he paid the rent that month. Nothing rivals his journals for insights into the city's life over a period that included the plague years.

A typical early entry: "It snowed hard all this morning, and was very cold, and my nose was much swelled with cold. Strange the difference of men's talk! Some say that Lambert must of necessity yield up; others, that he is very strong, and that the Fifth-monarchy-men (will) stick to him, if he declares for a free Parliament. Chillington was sent yesterday to him with the vote of pardon and indemnity from the Parliament."

But a diary is not really a blog, so the Pepys Diary site is annotated without changing the main text in ways that would be impossible in print.

A reference to the writer's wife, for instance, links to a short article about his marriage to 15-year-old Elizabeth St Michel, her beauty and her poor housekeeping skills.

Like the flashbacks at the start of a soap opera episode, this helps you keep up with the plot and start reading any time. Very postmodern.

There are also traditional numbered footnotes, taken from an 1893 edition of the diaries, and a comments function identical to those on modern weblogs.

Just as Pepys' diaries (originally written in a kind of shorthand code) spent a long time languishing in a library before they were rediscovered, this site will bring first-hand history to a new generation.

And where else on the Web would you find the term "sack-posset"?

have just made a colleague dig in the bin for some batteries he threw out. well, I didn't make him, but I did say that I keep all mine and recycle them via the photographers' recycling system. they're toxic waste.

beside my desk is a box full of old drink bottles, which I will dump in the caf recycling; I brought them back from the market, where you can't recycle.

but I'm not a mad hippy or anything. honestly, I burn fossil fuels and waste paper with the best of them. just some things get me in the conscience, and others I can ignore.

oh, and for Batty: a Sleestak mention in my paper. I couldn't put "via" in the piece, but you know who you are.
trudging up Spencer St in the not-that-hot (25 degrees) but very humid air were two Scandinavian backpackers, loaded down with Stuff.
thought bubble above their heads: "I want to go back to my snowdrifts and my reindeer."

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

an interesting book on networking

it's 35 degrees outside and the building just went quiet. I think the a/c has gone off.

and in other news: rang and offerd $125,000 for the pub ten minutes ago. it's probably not worth even that. my brother pointed out some structural flaws that are quite dodgy; a builder who's seen it says it's fixable, but I don't know how much.
and it's deteriorated in the past year. the whole task is daunting me a bit right now. also, agent seemed quite pleased at the number I mentioned. he's the son of the cagier principal agent. I like the place an awful lot, but it would be financial ruin to pay more, especially as I can't rent it out yet.
so I will not give them one cent more. half-hoping they take it, half-hoping not. will let God, and the owners, decide this one.
also "work"; a discussion about in which episode of Star Wars Darth Vader strangled a commander by teleconference.
really. it's work.
actually, this is work.
first I went to the Blues Festival site (yes, I'm going, but that does not make it an illegitimate target for a web sites column, does it?). there I was pleased to realise that far from keeping me out until 2am, with the associated sleep hangover and dog-walking problems, the latest anyone will come on stage is 9.20 pm on Sunday; Saturday's an early night, wiht Bob Dylan starting at 9.15.
the last music fest I went to was a young person's fest, and finished around midnight. I forgot this one was for the oldies baby boomers.

then, in search of an online event I could use for the column, I plugged 8 Feb 2003 online chat into Google. and got back a very scary page about larger men and their male admirers. at the base of that was one of those links you know you shouldn't click on, but do: Chubnet.

Monday, January 27, 2003

oh God, this is embarrassing.
this is my first revamped blogon for the year. I'll spare you the blog tools and meme of the week, b/c they're trivial. but this is my review of william gibson's blog, as it ran in the paper. spot the mistake. (I considered not posting it, or Newspeaking it, but decided not)

William Gibson only invented cyberspace, so the appearance of his very own Weblog was sure to excite the digerati.

Gibson has a history of being something of a Luddite in practice, while making accurate if somewhat dark predictions about the future. He once wrote in Wired magazine that buying old watches on the eBay auction site was his only reason for going online.

Now the author of Neuromancer (where the word "cyberspace" was first used in print) and Snowcrash has his own little corner of the Web, where he discusses much that will excite his fans.

For instance, there's the effect of drugs on his novels: "Yes, I did, rather textually obviously, take some of those, most notably LSD of the old (and I gather rather different) variety, though that now seems a lifetime prior to the writing of Neuromancer. My drug of choice during the composition of Neuromancer, for the record, was O'Keefe's Extra Old Stock Lager..."

More relevant to the books themselves are his musings on style: "There may well be people who abandon Neuromancer on the grounds that it's riddled with sentence fragments, but, in a sense, the sentence fragments are there to scare off readers who aren't ready for that, and to encourage those who want to see the envelope of language pushed even further, the pedal taken even closer to the metal."

Gibson is a writer before all else, and his blog doesn't shy away from that experimental grammar - something of a relief after countless spelling-doesn't-matter-online efforts by lesser mortals.

If you want that kind of thing, you can head over to the forum area to talk to other readers about Gibson's novels and questions such as whether they should be made into films, how new readers find their way to Gibson, the quality of computer games based on his books.

Back on the blog, Gibson offers comments on the discussions like a benevolent ruler watching over the masses, but says: "I regard my being me, ultimately, as a sort of cosmic accident."

Saw Adaptation Sunday night; now this is a weird movie. very, very clever, too. I laughed from the moment the writers'-block-affected voiceover started. it gets a bit off-topic about 3/4 of the way through, and I thought "where did all this guns and drugs stuff come from?" - of course it comes when he lets his formulaic brother in on the scriptwriting.
it's more complicated than even Mulholland Drive, but easier to follow. I just wonder what the guy who wrote this and Being John Malkovich can do next; he's self-referenced himself almost out of existence.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

butterflies in the stomach and an elevated heart rate.
last weekend I dragged husband to Castlemaine for breakfast and looking at country blocks.
I checked the window of the agent who has the pub. there was no "sold" sticker.
so all week I've been nagging him to call the agent for me - thought that to ring myself would be altogether too keen.

and it's still on the market. apparently the lack of a toilet is a big issue for some people. it's been sold and fallen through twice. I wonder if there's a catch I don't know about?

but it's freaking me out and I will have to make a decision. lunch with husband will reveal more.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

too funny. my tenant still hates me.

I never did hear back from him on my offer of 1/2 the amount he surprise-billed me for installing the new stove (long story, you get the idea).

now I'm having the shower - which leaks badly - replaced. the plumber has had no trouble getting access, so I was hoping he and his partner had chilled out a bit. I bought a new tap and shower rose kit, and need to drop them off.
so I bit the bullet and dialled the tenant's mobile. keeping my voice as modulated as I could - last time I got tight-lipped, slow furious and he got loud - I told him I needed to drop them off, I wouldn't have to disturb them, I could just leave them outside the door. I had to warn them I was coming around, I thought. from the moment he heard my name, he simply answered "mm-hh", and short sharp ones at that. no actual words, not even goodby. rude f*&^r.

it left me feeling a little stressed but what the hell. the final inspection of the rebuilt shower will be fun. I'm so scared I'm going to get my husband to come with me (and the rental agent, of course).OK, he hates me. but if I was him, I'd at least have taken the $350 or so. rude, silly f*^&^r.
wrong again.
this slightly amusing site has it:
, Hoppo-Bumpo does of course consist of two opponents hopping on one leg whilst bumping into each other with folded arms in order to knock each other over. The Murtoa Catholic School 1961 version of the rules are being played.
I've discovered something you can't find on the Internet!
the rules of hoppo-bumpo.
there are references to it, but no actual explanation.

will the whole thing suddenly vanish in a puff of smoke now that I've proved it fallible?
finally got through to the animal hospital, and possum news is not good.

his tail was damaged and he was in shock and generally not well. so they put him down "on humane grounds".

I almost wonder if I shouldn't have kept him and tried to nurse him back to health. I mean, how hard do they try with a sick animal? sigh. sad.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

just remembered why I've given up reconfiguring my blog. in the process of saving all my back files, have noticed that June 02 is missing. trying to get it back, have lost all but may 01. would it be better if I paid? this is why I'm backing up, of course.
another fish died last week. no, I don't want to talk about it.

Monday, January 20, 2003

am being very naughty.
sadly, this no longer involves large quantities of abusable substances and unsuitable young men.
no, at my age it means sneakily deciding that I need a/c in my car, whatever my husband thinks about convertibles (it gets really HOT in there and one can't always be sitting in the baking sun), then working out how to pay for it without blowing the budget (some trickery involving mortgage extensions and paying off loans at higher rates), then ringing around until I can find a place that will do it NOW (or at least by Saturday, when it will be 40 degrees and I'll be driving long distances).

bad me. I have lovely girlfriends here at work, though, who have said things like "you deserve air conditioning in your car". I don't, but I'm getting it.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

the air outside is yellow, and there's a smell of smoke. the sun is up there, but it's darker than it should be.
a north window is blowing.
days like this make me feel like something bad's about to happen. I'm on a day off, staying inside and knowing I can't imagine what it must have been like in Canberra.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

(not actual possum; stolen from the Tasmanian gov's possum site)

ringtail possum day: I put some books, water and grapes into a plastic bag and headed across the road to the park for a late afternoon sunny day read.
but then a possum crossed my path. it was sort of just crouching there, which is not at all normal, not to mention dangerous in a park full of dogs.
so I tied Mr B up to the fence and approached it. it moved away, but not fast. I put a grape near its responded by walking up to me and snuggling against my shoe. this is very not normal for a possum.

they can in fact bite and scratch quite nastily, so I was careful. it moved away a bit further, but then stopped. I put my cardigan down around it and instead of freaking, it snuggled in. so I got some passing people to watch Mr B while I wrapped it up and carried it home.

it went into the washing basket with a towel over it. what next? I rang the emergency wildlife number in the phone book, and they recommended I take it to the Lort Smith Animal Hospital.
so Andrew drove while I sat in the back of the car peeling grapes for it and trying to get it to suck water off a piece of bread - the wildlife guy said it was probably dehydrated.

it was so gentle and slow - probably because it was sick. it spent most of the time curled up in the cardigan; at one point it even licked water off my finger. the hospital said I can ring in a couple of days to see how it went. I hope it gets well enough to release to the wild.

if you like native Australian animals, btw, this page seems to have lots of pics.

of course, if you like your animals slimier and weirder, there were always the Sleestak, which Batty has reminded me of. too cool.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

astrofish knows I'm a Gemini. and knows I work out and put my hair up in a bun. and that when I dress up I really dress up.

but I have never turned up on his/her trailer doorstep. really. and "client"? hmmm.

the Web in all its confusing glory.

not sure where to put these; in my uni blog, or to do them for work. but anyway:
pepys' diary. now this is a good way to get through all those Great Works one is meant to have read; get someone to post them on the Web in bitesized chunks. start now while there's only a small backlog.

cory doctorow's book for free. of course I began scrolling and jumping immediately; this is the nature of online stuff.

and z-plus. which looks full of good stuff.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

the rubbish ping pong match is going nicely.
Tuesday night I came home to find a whole lot of junk mail in our letterbox. I immediately realised what had happened; our morning paper pushes the junk through to the garden behind. the body corporate president has decided we are deliberately leaving rubbish in the garden, and crammed it into our letterbox, including one very old and dirty Bunnings catalogue.
so I tossed most of it, but popped the screwed-up catalogue into her letterbox. the next morning it was in our newspaper slot, blocking the paper. poor Mr B couldn't find the paper for a second. so back into her letterbox it went. I felt I'd proved my point, for why would she return it to us if she hadn't given it to us in the first place.
last night it was back in our paper slot. at first I returned serve, with a short note saying "please stop, and btw, we didn't do it on purpose". then I thought again. it's time to call her on this passive-aggressive stupidity and ask, ever so nicely, why she's shoving rubbish in our letterbox?


oh, I just can't begin on this one. The lack of poetry. the narrow definitions. the fact that they seriously expect us all to trot to Federation Square and recite this together on Australia Day.
isn't it possible to be patriotic without being mawkish or gung-ho? or, dare I say it, sounding American?

(edit: and is this the actual card they're handing out? that man under the flag looks suspciously like John Howard)

Monday, January 13, 2003

ha. last night one of the two neighbours who have hassled us about where we park our cars left her lights on. this would have meant a flat battery in the morning. did I just let her car run down? hell no. I trotted upstairs and sweetly informed her of the potential problem. this means she OWES ME!!!

now all I need is the really scary one, who's put herself in charge of Everything, to lock herself out of the block when I'm the only one home. maybe I can even help her upstairs with her shopping, while taking the bins out with the other hand. good little residents us, yes, good. wouldn't hurt anyone would we, no, never, yes. just parking, us, yes precious. good. yes, leave us alone, just parking.
Dear City Mazda,

I don't know how to say this. Look, I'll get straight to the point. I don't want a relationship with you. I don't want you to call me asking me how the service was. How I feel about you. Really, I hardly even noticed it. I know that must be hard for you, after all that work you did. But I paid you, didn't I? Believe me, if I wasn't happy, I'd complain, loudly and often.

So don't call me. If I need you again, I'll let you know. Sure, you could go and find someone else. But I know your type. You'll be there, waiting. You're a sucker for girls with sexy sports cars. So leave me alone, OK? I might be, you know, busy having a relationship with someone else. Just because I used you once doesn't make me a valued client or another number in your little black database.

No, don't cry. Just get on with it. And when I want you, I'll call you. Is that perfectly clear?

Scott has linked to me. so I'm linking to him. warning: contains dachsund.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

watering the garden is becoming a necessary habit. I went past there on my way up to the country today, and stood with the hose for 45 minutes. I'm damned if I'll let any more plants die. plus the butchered grapevine is sprouting a tiny leaf - only a cm long - and I'm determined to keep it going. the builder has been in touch with a friend in WA who runs a vineyard and is promising me a replacement, 80 or 90 years old, for the one that really is dead. that's extremely impressive really - he either actually cares about us or does a good job of pretending to. meanwhile, the architect seems to thinks sending us emails at our work addresses is "communicating." we love our builder. he's getting a slab of beer and good bottle of red at the end of this job.

and why was I going up the country, you ask? to look at more real estate, silly. I may have to start yet another blog, devoted to my idea of a large block of land with a cute building on it in a funky country location. yes, yes, just like the pub I moronically neglected to buy.

have seen one place that I could get fully furnished; it's a old-person house, which is kind of cute. the one I really liked was a big old Victorian place at Glenlyon, just out of Daylesford. but they want $190 for it, plus $75 (those are thousands, btw; divide by 60 for US dollars) for the 1/4 acre next to it. and it needs work. the other place is half that, on a much smaller, almost town-sized, block.

I might be serious about starting another blog for it, which would bring my total to five, I think. if I run it as a rental proposition, it would be cute to have a blog waxing lyrical about the garden, magpies, cows blocking the road, etc etc, to entice visitors to give me money to stay in a place with an outdoor loo. on the way back (I drove 350 km today, all over the shop, down roads I've never been down before), I stopped at the gorgeous Deer Park op shop barn and paid about $50 for a bunch of pastel-coloured crockery that I figure will look cute on the kitchen dresser of this house I don't have. talk about aspirational consumption.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

drama and dog-kissing in the park:I came home and took Mr B straight across the road, as usual. there was a boxer running around with two little terriers chasing it; I didn't take much notice and was talking to an English woman about her greyhound. suddenly another woman came running over asking for a mobile phone.
the boxer had collapsed and stopped breathing. its owner was actually, really, giving it mouth-to-mouth rescusitation. apparently it had an operation a few days ago and he thought it might be reacting to a new antibiotic. I thought it could also be a heat collapse, so I used my placcy bag to get some water, and we all stood around calling vets and worrying.
the owner's wife was coming to get him with the car to go to the vet and last I saw he was carrying his rather large boxer away. the dog was properly awake by then and didn't seem too distressed; nor did it want to get up.

would I give Mr B mouth-to-mouth? if he wasn't breathing? in a flash. dogs really are wonderful things to have around, and this one in particular and if anything happened to him I would cry and cry and cry.
plans for tonight: dinner with my fairy blogmother, Jill, and Meredith the grumpy girl, who is a student of the form. it's shaping up as a very bloggy day. have decided to keep BlogOn going but to dump the stupid theme thing, which was getting harder to sustain, and bring in a meme of the week and a blogging tool, site or tip as well as a main featured blog.
ooh. William Gibson has a blog.

Monday, January 06, 2003

grumpy. angry. upset, even. had just decided to go for it with the pub, even go up to their $139,000 on the basis it might be a very basic place, but it had such huge potential for improvement.
so I rang this morning - pretty much against husband's wishes - and it's sold. for $135,000, I believe. so all my garden and doing-up plans went up in smoke. and I've had it in the back of my mind for nine months and I'm really quite distressed. plus, kicking myself. yes, it was a lot for my budget. but in the perspective of country properties, it was cheap. and I knew it and should have done something about it.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

I'm baaaack!
as I go back to servitude my lovely job on Wednesday, I expect I'll blog more. not just because I'll have fast Internet at my fingertips again (though 28.8 is seeming fast right now because husband spent most of the weekend downloading some game, thereby clogging our connection), but, where was I, because I think I'll have my writing/words functions turned on again. holidays can be like that. get relaxed enough and you don't feel like anything's happening, and certainly not anything worth mentioning.

oh, and today? today we spent the day scoping out properties we weren't going to buy, including some right up in the remote hills around Castlemaine. the land is dry as dry and sometimes looks like outright desert. but it will rain again eventually.

and get this: the pub is still for sale. this is a real problem. my husband rightly says it will be a huge overcommitment - OK for now, but if either of us earns a dollar less we'll be stuffed. but I really, really want it.
and while we were stalking it, another couple - our age or a little younger, also with a dog and with a car parking permit from our suburb, turned up to look at it. this put me out enormously as I was planning to break in. they were obviously planning to do the same, so we went to get petrol to let them get on with it. I felt very miffed; even though they had clearly never been there before, he said they were "thinking about it". I made sure I dropped the fact there is no sewerage. we went back later and I snuck in through an open back window while husband stayed outside. he's just not into it like I am.

so I want to call the agent and agree to buy it at 9 am tomorrow. husband, naturally, is not quite ready yet. ( we first saw it last April or March). rationally I know it would be silly - I don't have time to renovate and plant a new garden - it's basically half an acre of dry grass right now - I can't afford it and we don't have time to go there. it isn't rentable as is, and probably not after I put in the planned composting toilet. but I want it. I want that project, the planning, the planting, the decorating, the freezing nights huddled in front of the fire, the drama of digging the dam, all of it. the "math" says it's just affordable if I sell my sensible investment flat and keep earning at the current rate. just.


Wednesday, January 01, 2003

a publican listing mentioning the Yapeen pub.
a central goldfields land management site.

damn, but the Web's slow today!
I seem to be back on the country-place obsession thing.
here's a report on property prices in the area I'm interested in. (pdf)
and here's a site that has "eco-properties" for sale.
I like this one. no price, but.

the new agents for the pub I wanted have no web site. but I'm sure it's sold by now. pity, as I've just worked out where I'd put the organic dam/swimming pool and how I'd deal with the grey water issue. have decided septic tank is not needed; instead, I'd have a composting toilet and use only genuinely biodegradable products to wash with; subterranean irrigation of non-food plants would deal with the rest.
my Mum does love me. today she dropped by and left behind a copy of the first Lord of the Rings movie on DVD. not ready to watch it yet (want to wait until we're ready to go back for our second viewing of TTT) and have had to hide it from husband. I may sneak it out sometime and fast forward to the scenes with Aragorn, though...
a possible thing to use at work: a study on how patients' internet use affects their medical treatment.
scary. this blog is in the top 10 results on AltaVista for the word "blog". anyone bet they are heavily influenced by page title?
obligatory New Year post:
nye agenda: 5.30, The Two Towers. words cannot describe how much I liked this movie. but I do agree with the reviewer who said there should have been more closeup and action shots of Viggo Mortenson (Aragorn). I am going to rush out and get the DVD in order to play the scene where he dons his armour for battle over and over and over and over and OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. cor.
also of course had an academic appreciation for the niceties of translating to the screen a classic work, blah blah blah. plus the FX and battles - Gollum of course - were just perfect. may even go see it at the cinema again, which I rarely do. last movie that made me want to do that was Mulholland Drive (didn't bother), and that was just to make sure I'd understood it. with this, though, there is so much going on and you need to see it again to get a good look at every Ent when there are 20 on screen at once.
anyway, this is just repeating what everybody already knows.
9:00 - dinner at a good Asian place husband had managed to get a booking for only 10 hours earlier. yummy, mostly. two glasses of champagne and I'm on my ear.
11:30 - meet brother at Federation Square and find a spot to view fireworks
12:00 -fireworks start. everyone scatters as our viewing spot is crap. find better spot and go ooh-ah for 15 minutes.
12:30-1 - shuffle along banks of yarra in huge crowd trying to get home. I even gave one girl a good shove at one point - she turned and said "you shoved me, lady". to which I calmly replied "I did, because you shoved me." I can never believe how a few people think they can RUSH through a crowd of 200,000 tightly packed bodies. and I'm not sorry I did. etc.
so we got home, talked and went to bed about 2am. all of which made me feel like less of an old fogey than I really am.

resolutions? floss more often. that's about it. anyway, the day of the worst hangover of the year is a rotten time to try to clean up one's act. made the traditional hangover fryup for lunch, with organic burgers. am considering becoming an organic substance bore. it appeals to my obsessive side.