Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in review

Baby Alex dominated my life in 2009. From a tiny two month old to fourteen months the changes have been remarkable and the experience wonderful. However, I am yet to have a full night's sleep!

I did do many other things in 2009. January saw us pick up our new car, a red Mazda 6. I suggested that the best job in the world could end painfully and I was right, with the blogger getting stung by a jellyfish! Alex experienced his first art exhibitions with Degas in Canberra and Monet and the Impressionists in Sydney. I also joined the USB missile club, though I'm keeping my nuclear intentions secret at this stage.

February saw us planning a trip to Japan to view unknown gripped poop, but before we departed in March we first visited friends in the Blue Mountains with a robot lawnmower.

Alex's first overseas holiday was to Japan. He got sick, I cracked a tooth, but we still managed to have a fantastic time catching trains all the way south to Kagoshima. Then in April we took him, and our dog Kita, on another holiday, this time to the South of NSW over Easter.

Alex turned 6 months old in May.

It was my turn to travel in June, but this time all by myself. We had launched the new website using Plone and I was to attend a three day course on the technology. The thing was that the course was held in London. So I caught Qantas' giant A380 to Singapore, the 747's to London, Hong Kong and back home. In the process I rediscovered the magic of long distance flying.

Swimming lessons started for our little fish Alex in July and his first tooth appeared.

My June travels had made B envious, so we took advantage of cheap airfares to book a trip to Singapore and Malaysia in August and September, riding the Qantas A380. Alex handled the five flights really well and B drove for the first time in Malaysia.

We woke up on Mars on September 23 when the big dust storm struck Sydney. It was an amazing experience.

Alex began crawling in October, while I became a television star thanks to Catalyst. One of my brother-in-laws Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Monty, sadly passed away due to a consequence of his fine breeding. We also found a new home for ourselves.

In November Alex turned one, but B had to return to work, so I began working most of the week from home to look after him.

Finally, in December we sold our current house and we got a Playstation 3 at Christmas.

A pretty amazing year, especially considering the age of our baby. 2010, less than quarter of an hour away as I write this, is shaping up to be even busier.

Happy New Year!

No Santa next year

If you missed out on your pressies this year, sorry. Our dog killed Santa.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Playstation 3

Santa was very kind to me this year. He brought me a Playstation 3. So I spent Christmas day glued to the console playing games... No, that's not right. I don't actually own any games for the PS3 and getting the time to play them is nigh on impossible anyway.

Using the PS3 I can
  • Watch Blu-ray discs;
  • Record HD television using the PlayTV attachment;
  • View my photos in glorious big high definition on the TV;
  • Listen to my MP3 collection through the stereo downstairs;
  • View web pages on the tv (and update this blog!)

I've got a WD MyBook World network storage device with my MP3 and photo collections, which it shares with other DLNA devices. That means my Sony VAIO PC's and notebooks, the VAIO networked photo frame (through which I can view photos and listen to music) and the PS3. The systems works really well for me.

Photos look fantastic on the LCD tv, so much more vibrant than on the computer monitors and large enough that you feel like you are almost there. It's good to have the music playing in the background too. If only the PS3 automatically rotated portrait photos.

I haven't yet got PlayTV to pick up SBS, but the signal is pretty poor anyway.

The PS3's web browser is okay, but not as good as your standard PC browser. A number of websites, including Jetstar, think that it's a mobile device and don't show the standard pages. I'm used to browsing on non-standard devices, but I haven't had the mobile issue before, except when actually using a mobile phone.

I attached my Logitech EX100 wireless keyboard and mouse to the PS3 and it worked automatically, although the range is quite poor. Still, it's much easier than using the game controller or remote to try to type.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the setup. If I wanted to play games I'd get a Wii, but the PS3 is fun for many other reasons.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Multitasking minds

An interesting article in Scientific American about the abilities of individuals to multitask media (eg blogs, television, music) and their ability to focus only certain information. The results were basically that heavy media multitaskers had difficulty focusing.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hidden Linux everywhere

I used to run Linux on my computers, usually in preference to Windows. I still prefer Linux based servers to Windows, but these days I seem to spend most of my time in a desktop environment using the default version of Windows that was installed with my machine. Yet the usage of Linux in this house increases.

My Sony Vaio P mini notebook computer has a Linux Instant On mode that is really useful. The Sharp Zaurus 3100 PDA runs Linux, as does my Sony MyLO handheld media device. My Sony digital photo frame uses a Linux operating system and so does my Western Digital WorldBook network storage drive. Apparently our Sony DSC-T70 digital camera runs Linux. Even our Sharp LCD television runs Linux!

Sony has a list of their consumer devices that run Linux - it's quite surprising!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Japan invaded by redbacks

If only the mark was a spot instead of a red arrow then they would be acceptable. I'll swap places with the redback spiders.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Australia vs the sheep

I borrowed a few DVD's last Wednesday for the household to watch. The selection included Australia and Black Sheep. An Australian movie vs a New Zealand movie. I chose the Kiwi.

I did see the end of Australia. Such a self-consciously epic film that I couldn't stomach it. Watching mutant sheep bite the arms and rip the guts out of people was much more palatable. Did Australia ever have the immortal lines "You f_cker!" "Actually it was a sperm sample." "You wanker!"? I don't think so.

The Australian film industry is usually so absorbed with films about miserable people or trying to define the Australian stereotype that I am put off watching most local movies. Imagine how much better many of those films would have been had Peter Jackson directed them (with the help of his special effects team). Certainly would have been more huge battle scenes. And if we could all 10 of the local film actors scanned and computerised then we would save loads reusing them in each movie (which pretty much happends now). Could the CGI Bill Hunter or Nicole Kidman be any worse than the real thing?

First words

It's a debate whether Alex's first words are "Wow!" or "Yum!". I suggest the latter. He loves his food.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Alex is one!

Alex turned one year old today. What an amazing first year it's been. He's done an incredible number of things in that time:
  1. Was born
  2. Started crawling
  3. Visited Japan, Malaysia and Singapore and been on a short road trips around the south of NSW and Canberra
  4. Taken nine flights, including two on the A380
  5. Caught numerous trains, including the super fast Shinkansen
  6. Ate durian
  7. Started swimming lessons
  8. Attended a wedding and a funeral
  9. Watched a movie at the cinema (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince)
  10. Attended a science conference
Last Saturday we held a party for him. I decorated his cake as an aircraft. Today, on his actual birthday, I took him in to visit him Mum at work then to see Sydney Aquarium. Alex seemed to enjoy it, saying "wow!" when he woke up in the shark viewing area.

He's a determined and confident child and an absolute delight. He is worth all the sleepless nights as he has brought such joy into the household. Happy Birthday Alex!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A new home

We received word today that our offer on a new house has been accepted, so we'll be moving in the new year. Have to put our current house on the market.

I'm not sure how I feel about the whole thing. The new house is nice, but it's closer to the relies-in-law, so I hope it doesn't mean more interference in our lives. I like our current place, the sun in the mornings, the view from the study, the closeness to the shops, the library, the bus. Close to parks and bushwalks. I think I'll miss it a lot.

What I don't like is our noisy neighbours with way too many cars. But they won't live there forever. The new house also has a place for guests to stay that segregated from our living space.

I was hoping that our offer would be rejected. Then, at least, I would not be held responsible for the decision by those pushing for it. But they did agree and now my lazy summer will be spoiled by house inspections and paperwork. So I'm not the happiest person in the world right now.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cars are the real inhabitants of our cities

I have come to realise just how much Sydney is ruled by the car. B wants to move out of our duplex, tired of the loud Arabic music and swearing that come through our wall late at night and of neighbours with far too many cars. We were looking at a new development down the road in Barden Ridge. Half of it already has houses, the rest is yet to be cleared.

It was dead. But for one family playing with remote control cars and electric ride-on toy vehicles on the road there was no life in around the new houses. In the background I could hear the distant sound of trailbikes in the surrounding bush. Apart from those sounds, and the odd jet flying overhead, it was silent. Spookily so.

In the little community, segregated off from the rest of the suburb, there is a tennis court, an oval, but no shops or services. None. Want a carton of milk? Drive. Bread? Drive. Feeling peckish? Drive. Sure the nearest shops, restaurants and schools are only ten minutes away, but that's by car. No wonder the suburb is so quiet. Everybody is out driving.

More sad news

I learned today that George Dobson passed away after an accident in India.

I knew George when he was the convenor of the CSIRO Double Helix Science Club's Rockhampton Chapter. He organised a number of events, including a wonderful bush trek and a talk I gave at the Rockhampton Airport terminal about human travel to Mars. As a high school student I had been agitating a number of years for a chapter to be set up in the local area and was delighted when George took up the role.

George was trekking in India when he fell down a mountainside, sustaining injuries that left him a quadriplegic. Hospitalised in India, while his family in Australia struggled to raise funds for his treatment and to bring him home, he eventually succumbed to complications.

You can read more about George Dobson on the Bring George Back website. And please learn from this tragedy. If you are travelling overseas, buy medical insurance because the Australian government can't bail you out.

A question of breeding

My brother in law's Cavalier King Charles spaniel "Monty" died yesterday of probable heart failure. He was six years old.

Monty was a pedigree dog. We purchased him from a show dog breeder as a companion to Michael's other Cavalier, a tricolour female named Meiji. B and I were sitting down at the breeder's house with the litter of puppies wandering around the floor when Monty kept coming up and nuzzling us. He had his father's affectionate nature and he chose us.

The contrast between Monty and Meiji was extraordinary. Meiji, the dominant partner bought from a non-registered breeder, was scruffy but highly intelligent and independent. Monty, on the other hand, had a fine coat and beautiful tail, loving nature but was rather dim. He adored both human and canine company and pined for Meiji when they were separated, though he would always cover up any of her business with a quick piddle of his own.

At nine years old Meiji of unknown descent is still the queen of the rear garden. It was the lineaged Monty that passed away first. Apparently, the vet had previously diagnosed a heart murmur, not an uncommon condition in the breed.

We thought that we were doing the right thing by going to a registered breeder, but it seems obvious now. One dog was bred for looks over brains and health, the other, who knows? It was all too uncomfortably close to the recent BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed. At least neither of them showed signs of syringomyelia.

Maybe there should be two types of registered breeders. One that breeds the canine equivalent of Paris Hilton for dog shows. The other can breed healthy and intelligent dogs for the rest of us.

Rest in peace Monty.

Monty (floor), Meiji and our dog Kita

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Mock Nobody - Television Star

You can catch my (probable) Logie award winning performance as Mock Nobody on ABC television's Catalyst science program or watch the video online. It may not be a speaking part, but my lugging around of an ancient Toshiba laptop computer was crucial to the portrayal of the whole wifi patent case. I'm sure that a movie deal is just around the corner!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Creeping crawling

When I arrived home from work this evening there were Alex and Kita at the door bouncing up and down happily. It was such a lovely greeting.

Alex began his first tentative crawl on Sunday evening. I caught him out of the corner of my eye while making dinner. He had been shuffling around on his bottom for a while, threatening to crawl, but now he finally worked out the process. It's terribly cute, but scary to think about all the childproofing required.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I woke up on Mars

I went to bed last night wondering how easily humans could reach Mars. After a night dreaming of giant storms and packs of wild dogs I awoke to a red glow from the windows and realised that I had arrived on Mars a sometime during the night.

The dust storm had passed over Canberra and inland NSW and struck Sydney. It was not as dramatic as the great Melbourne dust storm of 1983. I remember standing on the playing grounds of my primary school, looking north as a great wall of red approached. The wind suddenly picked up and black ash fell. I didn't know what it was. A huge fire? It looked like the apocalypse had arrived.

A few hours later, when we left for home, the dust and grit still made it difficult to breathe.

Today there was just a fine powder in the air, visible rather than tactile, and the faint smell of dust. The train windows, cars and ground were coated red.

The scattering of light by the dust lent halogens a brilliant blue cast, contrasting the red air. Then Sun was a faded disk in the sky, brightening and dimming as the clouds of dust flew past.

I took photographs all the way to work, which, appropriately enough, is located in Marsfield.

But it could also have been in Beijing...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Taken out of context

I'm going to upgrade varnish to the latest version. If that doesn't
work I will switch to using squid.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Yesterday I travelled to work via England and the Middle East. Or that's what it felt like. I caught the train from Arncliffe. As I walked up towards the station along the eastern side of the railway line I came across a small park. At the end of the park, at the beginning of the footbridge to the station, there was a disused kiosk. The kiosk, footbridge and station buildings themselves looked like they were transplanted from somewhere in England.

When I arrive at the station entrance the scene changes. Schoolgirls in headscarfes and olive skinned schoolboys mill noisily near the steps. The shops lining the road to the west of the tracks are adorned with Arabic script. A clothing store sells Arab fashions for women.

As I wait on the platform for the train, surrounded by people of Middle Eastern, Asian and European descent I watch the Emirates giant A380 aircraft lift slowly into the air. It was flying to New Zealand now, but when it returns the passengers inside will be destined for Dubai or London. Maybe they should just visit Arncliffe instead.

End of the line

Where is that, the old track going?
Where is there, I want to know
Running away, I want to follow
Far away, I want to go

Into the distance, the old track leading
Into the unknown, I will follow
Hidden away, I will seek
Beyond horizons, I will go

Comes the time, the old track ceases
Comes the place, I find the end
Where it goes, I cannot follow
The passing of a dear friend

Monday, July 27, 2009

1st tooth

We noticed Alex's first tooth, a lower incisor, on Sunday. No associated drama, despite all the stories. It's very cute!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Burning Gates

At Derweze (Darvaza), in Turkmenistan, there is a 60m in diameter crater filled with the flames of burning gas since a Soviet drilling rig collapsed into it in the 1950's.

There are some awesome photographs and videos of this doorway to Hell.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Baby swims

Took Alex for his first swimming "lesson" in the local pool on Saturday. It's not really swimming, just familiarising the children with water, playing games and singing nursery rhymes. Alex took to it like a fish to water, kicking his legs as he has done since before he was born. Exhausted him though, and the poor kid had to meet the cousins for a Malaysian lunch at Abang Sam in Kensington.

He's so much fun. I dread returning to work on Monday as it means being away from the family. Weekends are wonderful for the time spent together.

Friday, June 12, 2009

On my plone

A third acid attack on Hong Kong shoppers, a 48 hour strike on the London tube, windy weather. What's the connection and why do I care?

Today I fly out for London via Singapore and back via Hong Kong. This isn't some long planned trip, but a sudden opportunity to attend a Plone workshop in the British capital.

I'm approaching this trip with very mixed feelings. On the one hand there is the excitement of travel and my first opportunity to fly on Qantas' Airbus A380. There is the eagerness to learn more about what has proven to be a complex system. But there is also the heartache of leaving my wonderful wife and baby for a week. I treasure every moment with them and I know that the time apart is going to hurt.

Part of the preparations for this trip have involved setting up internet video and voice and text communications. It's really the first time I have cared about communicating with home using anything other than email. I recorded a video of me reading a story to baby Alex and he seemed to respond to it.

So, what will I do other than attend the three day workshop somewhere in the centre of London?

The trip is scheduled entirely on Qantas. Friday evening sees me fly out on their new Airbus A380, every other flight should be a 747. It's the wrong way around really, as I would rather have the superior entertainment system (and hopefully greater comfort) on the overnight flights.

I land in Singapore late tonight and have booked to stay in a hotel away from the main tourist centres, but hopefully convenient for food. Eating is my main objective for Singapore, but I will probably look for some cheap computer parts as well. Maybe even cruise around on the MRT rail system if I have the time.

Flying out the next evening I will cross the dreaded turbulence of the Bay of Bengal. I remember an awful flight with British Airways on this route in 2005. Arriving early in the morning I will probably be extremely tired, but I hope to visit some of the free museums and galleries of London.

Another day to sightsee, then the workshop begins. Hopefully the days finish with enough time to catch some more of the late opening sights.

The flight to Hong Kong leaves in the middle of Friday, so there won't be any tourist time after the end of the workshop. An overnight flight to Hong Kong, then a full day there before another night flight back to Sydney. It will be a punishing day in Honkers as I rarely sleep on flights and B has an extensive shopping list for me. The transit rest options are quite expensive too and unlike everyone else (or so it seems) I don't have airline club membership.

As the hour of my departure approaches so too is my sadness at leaving my family behind. Every moment with them is precious. Last night I was forced to stay late at work and I was brought to tears by the thought that Alex may fall asleep before I returned. I would miss out on feeding him dinner, bathing him one last time before I go.

Fortunately, I made it back in time. And now it is time to leave again.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

If you fall out of an aircraft

Imagine being blown out of an airfraft high above the land. What would you do?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Half a year old

It's difficult to believe just how quickly the last six months have passed. We were looking through some old photos of Alex a couple of nights ago and it's incredible to compare his size at birth with his long frame now. He has also lost hair and does a pretty good Dr Evil (or is that Mini-Me?) impression.

Just as incredible is how many adventures he has already had over the last six months. Viewing world-class art exhibitions, two weeks zipping around Japan on high speed trains, carried to the top of a castle, around a ferris wheel, and watched monkeys play in the wild. He's gone on long drives south to Canberra and further a few times now and even attended a Star Wars exhibition.

Last Sunday he squealed with delight as we wandered around Ikea when, for the first time, he was faced forward in the Baby Bjorn.

I don't know what he thought of all of those adventures, but I do know that music brings him a lot of pleasure. If Alex hears John Williams' themes to Star Wars, Superman or Indiana Jones he listens intently. He's started to "sing" along when listening to music or bashing away at the electronic keyboard, he sings to his mobiles above his cot.

We read him books, but one of his favourites we cannot read (yet). A book about the Ampanman train in Shikoku might be written in Japanese, but it has a series of buttons that play various sounds related to the train. Symbols on the page give you sequences of buttons to press and he seems to be able to relate the two.

But what seems to bring him the most pleasure of all is being around his parents. Last night, after returning home from work, I opened the door to see Alex in B's arms. Alex saw me and began smiling and laughing away whenever we looked at each other. Naturally I was laughing just as hard back at him. It is the most wonderful feeling to give love and be loved in return.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Bio war

The Sunshine Project is an interesting website about biological weapons. For all my love of Japan, citizens of that country have committed some terrible atrocities, such as biological warfare and experiments on live prisoners of war.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009


Gargalesis is the tickle you give someone when you really want them to laugh, as opposed to knismesis, which is feather touch torture.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Petrol of a good vintage

In France they convert surplus wine into ethanol for use in biofuels. In Australia many petrol stations sell E10 fuel, petrol with up to 10% ethanol content.

Our Mazda 626 requires either premium unleaded or E10 fuel, and this must be the case with many of the more expensive European vehicles. It has just occurred to me that there might be a business opportunity here in selling premium E10 containing ethanol sourced from wines of a good vintage. Can you imagine running your Renault or Peugot on E10 sourced from wheat? Surely it would run smoother on a good French wine? Or your Mercedes on a fine German Moselle. Even your Fiat's fuel economy would improve with a fuel from Italian grapes.

Oh, and while your at it, would you like to purchase some tablets that improve your car's fuel efficiency?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Convenience in the electronic age

Over the weekend we visited a couple of doctor friends up in the Blue Mountains. With two young children and with the husband constantly on call at the hospital they don't have much time for household chores.

Their house is designed to be low maintenance. Every room is wired up to a central computer that can control the lights and heating, automatically sensing when the room is occupied. Solar panels supply their electricity needs and in the back yard a large steerable satellite dish picks up television from Asia. In their main lounge room a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner sucks up the dust when the family are not around, while in the backyard a robot lawnmower from Israel cuts the grass. It was rather amusing to watch it chase our dog while he was squatting down to do his business.

It sounds like a geek's dream, and it is, but watching the robots in action I realised just how far they have yet to go. I don't mind mowing the lawn, it's trimming the edges that annoys me. Yet this is precisely what the robot mower doesn't do. Similarly, the robot vacuum cleaner can't suck the dust off the nooks and crannies, the shelves and furniture, but this is what takes the most effort. These are not simple activities to train a robot to do and the devices that will one day do these tasks will probably bear little relation to the crude robots in action today.

Is it better to design the living space around the robot, or the robot around the living space? Most technology presents some form of constraint on the end user. The friends' house and garden was already designed for minimal maintenance, but our own multilevel house and sloped garden with irregular borders would present a far greater challenge for an autonomous device.

Another chore that they have attempted to simplify is grocery shopping. They buy in bulk from discount retailers over the internet. As a result they have very little fresh food. Even the milk is of the long-life UHT variety. Personally, I would rather forgo the convenience for the joy of cooking and eating with fresh meat and vegetables.

So, how do they spend the time saved? Their lounge room has a huge projection screen, wonderful for watching movies on. What I do not recommend using it for is racing car games on a PS3. B and I both felt physically ill from the motion on the large screen.

All this left me wondering if geek heaven was really such a wonderful place to be. At the end of the day I was glad to be home.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sexy farts

According to a recent research Hydrogen Sulphide, or rotten egg gas, could play an important role in male erections. It gives a new meaning to those awful late night Nasal Delivery Technology advertisements!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


You know you are are in "The Shire" when the bleached blonde next to you has an Australian flag as their mobile phone background, there's a drunk girl clutching stubbies of VB and a uniformed schoolkid with a surfboard on the bus.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Unknown gripped poop

A Google automatic translation of sightseeing spots are Yanai in Japan.

I know I can't wait for a very much dry detention because I axed my mother first, gripped by unknown poop.

The television tax

We pay for our public broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, through our taxes. Is this so different from the commercial stations? Each time we buy an advertiser's goods we pay a small fee towards their television advertising budget, and thus towards the commercial stations.

Just think of your money going towards reality television. Do you mind so much paying your taxes now?

The businessman and the scientist

"The problem with scientists is that they don't know how to monetize their genius. When the water flowed out of Archimedes' bathtub he should have shouted 'Ka-ching!' rather than 'Eureka!'".

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This evil lair is defended!

Thanks to my colleague Daniel the evil lair (ie office cubicle) is now defended by a missile system. Annoying users can no be dealt with directly from the PC - there is no longer a need for me to get out the bamboo stick. They will feel the force of cold, hard foam against their weak skin!

What was really amusing is that the missile launcher didn't work out of the box. It would move around, but the rockets failed to fire. A search of the forum revealed that this was not an isolated problem. Thankfully, the solution was simple. Just hit the rear of the launcher a couple of times!

I like a problem that requires a violent solution. Muhahahaha!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Alex and the Art

Alex has now seen two blockbuster art exhibitions in his first two months. A couple of weeks ago we took him to the Degas Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. Today we caught a train into the city and viewed the exhibition of Monet & the Impressionists at the Art Gallery of NSW, just a few days before it is scheduled to close.

He was whinging in his stroller, so I took him out and carried him in my arms around the gallery. Alex was wide eyed and staring the whole way, gurgling and chattering away. We know he likes good art - he can't stop staring at the fine print of McCubbin's "The Lost Child" in our lounge room. I think he's now taking more notice of the Monet print as well!

The pieces of Monet's work on display were gorgeous. We fell in love with his works, and those of the other impressionists, when we visited the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. Claude Monet is inarguably the best of all of them, with an incredible ability to capture both light and life in his paintings.

Just one more exhibition to attend now: the Powerhouse Museum's Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination. I'd better play the DVD's to him first!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

An Asian weekend

On Saturday we were doing a rare shopping trip to Bankstown when we discovered the Lunar New Year festival celebrations. There were crowds, stalls and dancing display with the event compered by the popular comedian Ahn Do (pictured below). Had a very enjoyable Vietnamese lunch at the My Canh restaurant, along with many other parents and strollers. They serve the best tomato sauce rice that I've tasted.

This afternoon I had my first Japanese tutorial with Noriko. Learned to talk about likes and dislikes, along with family. One of her Japanese friends lives very close to us. It was interesting to find out that we have seen so much more of Japan than they have.
Posted by Picasa

Never again

I was searching for information related to our upcoming trip to Japan when I came across the following photo:

It's a photo by Shogo Yamahata (©) of Tanaka Kio trying to breastfeed her 4 month old son as he lies dying. They were victims of the atomic bomb blast over Nagasaki. Seeing this and the other photos of Ms Tanaka and reading more about her story brought me to tears. The thought of experiencing something like this with our own son is horrifying.

I have not visited Nagasaki before, perhaps we will this time. We did go to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum back in 2006. The memorials, the stories, the models of schoolchildren with their clothes burned off their backs, they affected us deeply.

War is not a game and atomic weapons are not tools that anyone should contemplate using. I hope no child will die ever again through a nuclear bomb.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Is it really the best job in the world?

Apparently Tourism Queensland are going to paying someone $150,000 just to blog about staying on a tropical island. Let me save them the trouble...

Day 13. Middle of summer. Bloody hot. Went swimming to cool down but returned in agony after the box jellies got me. Was hospitalised briefly.

Day 27. Decided to investigate the rock pools. Thought I saw movement under a rock, so I lifted it up. Saw an octopus which suddenly flashed blue rings. The blighter bit me. Was in agony. Went to hospital on the mainland for a few days.

Day 30. Thought the weather was supposed to be perfect in Queensland but today's been windy and wet.

Day 34. Tropical cyclone Howard hit yesterday. Blew the roof off me shack and I was struck by debris. Got 20 stitches.

Day 48. Shack was struck by lightning and my computer fried. Was supposed to get my new PC last week, but they are really slow up here.

Day 58. Was walking on the beach picking up shells when a cone shell shot me full of neurotoxin. Doctor said I'm lucky to be alive.

Day 70. Woke up to find a taipan snake poking his head in through the window. I jumped but it still bit me. Went to hospital again for a few days.

Day 80. Was walking near the rocks when I felt a stabbing pain in my foot. I had stepped on a stonefish. Had to go to hospital.

Day 88. Visited the mainland and went for a swim in the creek. I was lucky to escape the crocodile with only a chunk taken out of my left thigh.

Day 92. Apparently the itchiness and pain in my leg is due to an infection from the coral that scratched me while snorkelling off the reef. On some pretty strong medication.

Day 94. No worries about getting the stitches out from my left thigh. The shark bit the whole bloody leg off. That'll teach me to go swimming with a bleeding wound.

Day 100. Apparently acute dengue fever can be fatal. How's that? After everything else it was a mosquito that finished me off. Goodbye...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Celebrity mathematicians

I knew that the head of Qantas, Alan Joyce, studied mathematics at university, as did (uggh) right wing columnist Miranda Devine. I didn't know that it might be the only thing she shares in common with South Park co-creator Matt Stone, who has a joint major in film and mathematics from the University of Colorado.

Other (more) famous people with mathematics degrees include past and present presidents of Singapore, Peru and the Philippines, along with Teri Hatcher and Art Garfunkel.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Zoom-Zoom 2

We picked up our new car today. It's a Mazda 6 and it's red (Copper Red, to be precise). Now I have some leg room again and there is space in the boot for something other than a pram. Bit sad to say goodbye to our traded-in Mazda 3. It's been an excellent car and never given us any problems.

The Mazda 6 has a few more features than the 3. It's going to take time to play with all the buttons. I preferred the red lighting of the Mazda 3 dashboard, like the eye of a cylon, as opposed to the blue of the 6. Radioactive Red as opposed to Cerenkov Blue. They are made in Hiroshima, you see.

At least the 6 plays the "Zoom Zoom" music when it starts up!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Best photo of 2008

An interesting challenge on was to nominate your best photo for 2008. Leaving out baby Alex photos, I listed mine as:

It was taken at Ritsurin Gardens in Takamatsu in Japan. Most of my photos can be seen on my Picasa site.

Popular Posts