Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Wrap Up

In less than an hour we'll be saying goodbye 2010. I'm not going to write much as we just returned from a trip down to Melbourne.

It's been a strange year. A lot has happened and very little. In February we moved out of our old house and into the new. I'm still less than happy at the new place, though ask anyone else and they'll tell you that it's a wonderful house. I did enjoy floating around the pool this evening.

Alex started childcare.He seems to like it, though he also develops faster when on holidays with us. He has to travel in the train with us for over three hours a day and my daily commute is now up to five hours. Unfortunately, he still doesn't sleep through the night most nights. In other ways, especially language, he has shot ahead.

Talking about holidays (see Travelling Allrite) we had three major trips: Shanghai, Hong Kong and Japan in June, Singapore in October and Melbourne this past week.

Technology wise, I'm still waiting for the solar panels to be successfully connected to the grid. I also joined the ranks of smart phone users with an HTC Desire Android phone. It proved very useful on our recent trip.

What will 2011 bring? I don't know yet because life has been too busy to stop and consider the future.

Here's hoping for a peaceful (ie quiet) start to the new year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas is almost over for another year. Exhausting! Alex threw up in the middle of last night then took two hours to return to sleep, but seemed okay this morning and actually slept in. Relatives-in-law descended upon the house so there was almost no quiet time, but at least Alex, Kita and I got a swim in the pool.

Continuing with the Doctor Who theme I set the various recorders to copy Doctor Who at the Proms and the Christmas Special, both on ABC1 tomorrow. Woohoo!

I can't wait to read my Christmas present "Amberjack" by my favourite author, Terry Dowling. It's a signed copy, too!

Off to Melbourne to show Alex my city of birth.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Train 'em up young

Everybody has a right to be an individual. Does the world really need another me? Probably not! But I can't help but want to share some of the twisted way that I grew up with my son. Think it as a way of connecting. And it looks like I am succeeding via the medium of music and television.

To ensure that Alex could share some of the experiences that I did when I was young I purchased a number of DVD's for our collection. The boxed set of all Monkey episodes and a number of Goodies episodes (and they are currently screening the series on ABC TV!).

So far the Monkey has mostly stayed in its box, but the Goodies has already had an effect. Alex sings out "Goodies! Goody goody yum yum!" and asks to watch them. I even taught him about lighthouses and rockets using a couple of episodes.

Occasionally Alex will also see a bit of the Thunderbirds on Saturday mornings. I used to set my alarm to wake up to watch them when I was a wittle boy.

This Wednesday I had another success. After playing the four CDs that comprise the Series 4 Specials and Series 5 soundtracks, then screening half of the first episode of Series 5 Alex suddenly started asking about "Doctor Who".

I may have to rearrange the couch so that he can hide behind it.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A desire to post

Sorry for the lack of updates. There has been much to write about but little time to do so. Most of the action bar been over at travelling allrite and on Twitter.

Anyway, maybe that will change now that I have joined the ranks of smartphone users thanks to my new HTC Desire Android mobile phone.

I decided that I really needed a better device to allow me to access the web while on the move. The Sony Ericsson w705's browser just couldn't cope with things like work's webmail. Pity, because it was otherwise a great phone.

Pity that typing on a virtual keyboard is so error ridden in comparison to a physical pad. Next time I'll be looking for one with a keyboard, having had quite a lot of experience typing with small keys.

Friday, October 08, 2010

The future of Star Wars

Let me gaze into my crystal ball to the year 2020...
Marking the 100 year anniversary of Charlie Chaplin's silent movie, The Tramp, 2015 has seen a digitally remastered re-release of the movie in cinemas. With its new soundtrack recorded by a popular, but talentless, teen group the film is a critical and commercial success among an audience jaded by poor 3D movies.

Seeking to replicate The Tramp's success between 2016 and 2020 George Lucas rereleases all six Star Wars movies without dialogue and with the characters restored to their original colours (they were all turned blue for the Avatar inspired 3D rerelease a few years previously). Critics have rated the silent rerelease the best yet.

"Jar Jar Binks is actually watchable and Yoda is intelligible," says one critic, "but I missed R2-D2's beeps".

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Swims, sizzles and slides

Had a fantastic day yesterday. For the second time Alex swam by himself. Initially he was too scared to swim, but gently pointing his bum downwards in the water with a couple of fingers set him off kicking and splashing his arms. Then, when the instructor brought out the foam mat and bent it to become a "tunnel" Alex couldn't wait to go through, and did so all by himself. 

Sizzler might seem a bit of a daggy place to eat now, but B and I have happy memories of it from our uni days. After Alex slept off his morning exertions we drove to the Sizzler in Kogarah for lunch. It was so much fun! Alex had a blast feeding himself lots of different foods brought back from the salad bar and even managed to poach a few Smarties from our bowls of dessert. For once a restaurant meal wasn't all about chopping up our own dishes and feeding him at his pace. Instead we could give him his own bowl of suitable stuff and enjoy our own meals. 

It was a beautiful warm sunny day outside, so we continued on to Kyeemagh and let Alex loose on a playground while I caught glimpses the aircraft take off across Botany Bay. He had great fun on the swings, slides and tunnels, while reading the numbers off a clock display in the playground.

More fun today when we brought Alex and Kita to Miranda Park and let them run on the greens. It's so nice to watch KIta run, while Alex had a huge grin on his face.

Off to Canberra for a Communicators meeting tomorrow. I'll be missing Alex and B and no doubt be left with a big headache at the end of the day.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Father's day 2010

Alex actually slept in the cot throughout last night, despite the ferocious winds outside. Then, when he woke up early this morning I carried him to our bed where he promptly slept again until 8am. What a magnificent father's day gift!

I can't believe that he is already reading numbers now. He is really so much fun to be with, such a lovely, fun personality, despite him trying to rip my face off when I wouldn't let him down on the bird poo covered walkway  to chase seagulls and jump into Darling Harbour today.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Brown skies

Smoke somewhere around Sydney lent the air a brown tinge today. Late in the afternoon the light was golden, as in Asia. I watched the aircraft fly overhead and imagined that I was there. If only there were hawker stalls and noodle carts along the street! I'm sorry to say that I like polluted skies.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The little ones attack at night

Saturday was very busy. After a rough Friday night that saw me struggling to resettle Alex at 3.30am we woke up a bit late. Then race off to Alex's swimming lessons. Return late library books. Eat and shop for Malaysian ingrediants at Kingsford. Take Alex to a playground at Kyeemagh. Buy other groceries at Menai. Dinner at the relatives. I'm exhausted and have a headache.

Finally, everyone had gone to bed. After a whole day of waiting I went to the loo. Relax. When I emerged I could now hear Alex crying. Unfortunately, you can't hear him while in the loo, because he had been crying so much that he had vomited. Meanwhile, B is blissfully asleep.

I remove him from his cot and go to the kitched to give him some water. Then I feel something underfoot. A dog turd!

I lose it, swearing and shouting, before running off to the bathroom and washing my feet in the tub, Alex still in my arms. B awakes to the commotion and helps clean up, but I just feel like nobody will allow me to relax anymore.

It's all better in the morning...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Moving forward

MFlight International reports that Julia Gillard has taken the campaign to outer space. Despite being an atheist she has, pledged to move Australia forward with a Hy(er)Cause.

Caption: The Australians are moving forward with HyShot and HyCause, launched June 2007.

Obviously Flight International made a small error with the caption as it should read:

The Australians are moving forward with HyShot and HyCause, launching Kevin07 into space as our first ambassador to the Universal Nations

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Alex loves trains

B drove Alex and I home from work yesterday. Late in the drive Alex suddenly started saying "No, no! Woo-woo. Woo-woo". Woo-woo means train. It was pretty clear that he wanted to ride on the train rather than the car. He was so upset he threw up a couple of times.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Alex loves his Dad

Childcare told me that they had to put tape over their photo of Alex and I as Alex was walking up to the photo, looking at it, then crying. He used to kiss it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The blonde gets blonder

Instead of taking 500 mg of chloroquine phosphate per week to prevent malaria, a 16 year old blonde took the dosage daily during a holiday in Costa Rica. One week after her holiday her hair turned even paler.

I wonder if any brain cells died in the process.

Reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hughes having fun with the election?

Normally elections bore me to death. Noisy advertising and lots of emotive promises devoid of any rational thinking behind them.

But this year it's different in the Shire. No more Danna "John-Howard-is-like-a-father-to-me-we-will-be-out-bred-by-the-Muslims" Vale. And our electoral boundaries have been extended outside of the mostly racially pure Sutherland Shire to include chunks of, wait for it, Sydney's lawless South West. You always know that if a news report begins with "gunshots were fired" it will end with "in Sydney's South West".

I should know. We've been living on the border between The Shire and The South West for years now. That's why I am able to live in a partly Asian household as the borders are somewhat porous.

Unfortunately, the effects of extending the electoral boundaries are now apparent. The Labor candidate Brent Thomas' home in Engadine and electoral office at Moorebank were both shot at. As we all know, the Hobbits of the Shire only have access to Aussie flags, utes, and broken bottles of VB when it comes to weapons, so it is obvious that the deed must have been done by out of towners. Not fellow members of the Labor party as Mr Thomas would otherwise have been a victim of a midnight knife to the back.

Anyway, now that it's vale for Vale, the Liberal candidate is a Mr Craig Kelly, whose ugly mug has been appearing on street sides all around our area, looking like a typically trustworthy real estate agent or used car salesman. But thankfully for Mr Kelly he's got some great admirers/supporters, including a Malcom KY who refers to him as a his goddess (see the comments at the end of the article).

I can't wait to see who will make up the rest of the ballot paper for Hughes!

Exciting news from Apple

Wasn't Steve Jobs' press conference last week so EXCITING? I, for one, was thrilled by to see Apple add value with the addition of a phone cover to their standard iPhone 4 package. Apple are again leading the world in innovation. They have REDEFINED the mobile phone cover. These babies are going to GO FAST. I bet there will be long queues in front of the Apple Store with fellow Apple lovers who bought an earlier version of the iPhone 4 lining up to get their covers. I'm sure Microsoft will releasing a cover for their wanna be Windows Phones any day now, but you can rest assured that it won't match the iPhone 4 cover's functionality, good looks and sex appeal. The iPhone 4 cover is definitely a MUST HAVE item for the cool phone user.

In other news, I hear that Apple are considering Mel Gibson for their new television commercials. Why Mel for a Mac? Well, he definitely isn't PC.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Trottoir Roulant Rapide

The Trottoir Roulant Rapide was a very fast travelator located between Paris Montparnasse station and the adjacent metro. I remember using this, though I can't remember if it was in 2004 or 2005 and whether we had luggage with us or not. Scary and exciting at the same time. Pity that it has been slowed down or even dismantled now.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A great excuse to go outdoors

Feeling a bit brain dead after a week in the office? Then it's time for a trip outdoors to ingest some bacteria!

According to research recently presented at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, exposure of mice to Mycobacterium vaccae, a soil bacteria commonly ingested outdoors, stimulated neuron growth and improved their ability to navigate mazes.

Pity that it's raining outside right now.

Via ScienceDaily.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spending and safety nets

ABC's Foreign Correspondent program had a segment tonight called China - The Biggest Domino asking whether China can keep up its rate of production and consumption. An interesting statistic is that they consume the lowest share of GDP ever recorded, relying on foreign consumers and big infrastructure projects to drive demand.

According to the "Chinese battlers" they interviewed, the reason for the low demand is the lack of a social security safety net, especially with regards to medical issues. They have to save as much money as they can in case they have an accident or fall ill.

There are certainly many arguments against the reckless spending habits of the West, but perhaps it should (but probably won't) give pause to some of the anti-welfare lobbyists, especially those who rely on selling non-necessities to the general consumer.

A message from the Oil Industry

Following on from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico the Oil Industry would like to assure citizens that it is working as hard as possible to ensure that such events will not take place in the future. As events show, the release of underground oil can have devastating consequences for the environment. That is why we are working to extract as much oil as possible from these underground reservoirs and converting it to harmless substances such as plastic or carbon dioxide. These processes will ensure that future generations will no longer risk causing climate change through the burning of oil.

Texas: the biggest state (of stupidity)

Anyone would think that the objective of the nutcases on the Texas Education Board is to raise a bunch of kids dumb enough to believe that products advertised on daytime television are actually worth buying. Anyway, I thought that Iran was a beacon to the world chosen by God (or Allah in their case). Or was it that North Korea was a beacon to the world as chosen by the Kim Dynasty? Oh, it's all so confusing. Isn't it so nice to be so blissfully ignorant.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

One and a half

I can't believe Alex is one and a half. It feels like such a short/long time. It's a long time since I had a full night's rest (just had to duck out and attend to him then), but he has also changed so much over a short period. He's going through the toddler phase of trying to demonstrate his independence and saying "no" (even when he means yes). But he continues to demonstrate his wicked sense of humour and his love. Every moment with him is precious, which is good, because so few moments are without him, except for those painful days at work. Neither B nor I could ever imagine how much joy he has brought to our lives over the past year and half. May it continue for many, many more.
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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Appropriate reading material

I wonder if it was a good idea to purchase 'The men who killed Qantas' the day before flying with them (to Canberra) and when we have an upcoming FF trip on them as well. Oh well. I like their current CEO. He's a mathematician.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Malaysians make masterful meals

I must profess to rather enjoying the cooking competition series Masterchef, which is now back on TV, though I can only catch half an episode at most as the scheduling clashes with Alex's bath time.

The other night they had a challenge to recreate their fondest childhood food memories. Gosh, that would have been a challenge for me. Mum and dad cooked some okay food, but I cook and eat a whole lot better these days. Unsurprisingly, the challenge was won by Alvin, a Malaysian born contestant.

I say unsurprisingly because I contrast my childhood food experiences with that of my Malaysian wife. Food is possibly the single most important aspect of their culture. It's more than just laksas and curries. There are influences from India, Thailand, the West and the many provinces of China and the Arabs. The fusion of the Chinese and Malays with the Nyonya cuisine is an example. There are sweets and flatbreads, fruits and spices, noodles and soups. When we visit Malaysia it is mainly to eat!

Not only did B's parents own a restaurant and catering business, but eating out both at restaurants and the very cheap hawker stalls is very normal in Malaysia. And when they do cook  themselves it is often a feast of many dishes.

Last year's winner of Masterchef was Julie Goodwin. B bought her recently released recipe book and soon regretted it. You can see why she writes for Women's Weekly as her dishes are old fashioned Australia. Simple, heavy flavours that do not challenge the palate. Easy to cook comfort food. There is a place for that, but the recipe book was redundant.

The runner up, Poh Ling Yeow, also a Malaysian, is the exact opposite. She loves to experiment, while still exploring her culinary heritage. Plus her recipes and video are available for free on the ABC website.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to eat the wonderful meals dished up by my masterchef Malaysian wife (and try to contribute where I can!).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The ABC of BBC Comedy and TV

I'm excited to see that the ABC will be screening Psychoville from May 5. It's a black comedy from the creators of The League of Gentlemen, a very weird comedy of which I own all the DVD's. I watched the first episode of Psychoville on its very first screening last year while in London and couldn't wait to see more. 

Right now I'm enjoying the repeats of The Young Ones on Tuesdays on ABC2. It's utterly insane and absurdist comedy, so unlike the self-serious nature of most else on TV. Naturally, I can't watch it live, but fortunately the Playstation3 PlayTV recorded size is only about 1 gig so I can copy the files off the PS3 and on to a flash drive and watch it on my laptop in bed after everyone else is asleep.

PlayTV is set for the "other" region thanks to those stupid Australian Freeview restrictions that don't allow copying of programs out of PlayTV. It means that I can't record or view SBS using the PS3, but I have other recorders that can cope with that.

I also required the free VLC media player to watch the recordings on my PC's. I used to be able to use Windows Media Player, but something changed.

I recorded an episode of the new Doctor Who series on my laptop using my DVICO FusionTV usb dongle. The streamed file was over 10 gig in size! The included converter software fails on attempts to convert the software, but maybe that's just the small amount of free space left on my hard drive.

I'm really enjoying the new Doctor and the episodes, though you can tell that the producers were fans of the Tom Baker era. I do wish that the composer Murray Gold would reinstate "the middle 8th" in the main theme as it is my favourite bit of the music. We ended up watching the first episode on iView. We had it on the big television, then Alex decided to race around with his noisy toy lawnmower, then the mother-in-law arrived to interrupt us. We tried to play it later but Alex was woken up and started crying. ABC's iView is a pretty cool application and the quality was quite decent.

Little Li's Pig's Blood Cakes

We are considering visiting Taiwan just so we can eat this popular and fragrantly chewy and soft snack available at the Gongguan Night Market. Or maybe for other reasons instead.

Check out other interesting food, like Frog Hits Milk, in Taiwan Tourism's North Area Street Eats guide.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Toddler temper tantrums

Alex has learned to say "No!". The last week's train ride have been very difficult at times. Our 16 month old has been off colour (so many bugs since starting childcare!) and has been throwing tantrums in packed trains. I can't blame him. He's tired, a bit unwell, and it's no fun in such a crowded train.

But tantrums are only a tiny part of his day. He can also say "Yes" (actually "yeah"), everything seems to be a star or a shark, except Kita who says "woof!" He has a powerful voice that can project quite far. One amazing thing is his sense of balance. He can walk around a moving train only rarely falling over.

My days are very long. Alex usually wakes at around 5:20am. Sometimes I am still settling him at 9pm, so that doesn't leave much free time, if any at all, to do things like update blogs or plan holidays. Sometimes I fall asleep next to him when settling him on the futon in his room. But he is such a snuggly kid that I forgive him!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Alex and the zoo

Finally, some decent weather so that we could take Alex to Taronga Zoo. He slept for most of the ferry ride across Sydney's magnificent harbour, waking in time to eat lunch. He was quite interested in the reptiles, like the Komodo dragon below.

The giraffes and zebras also took his fancy, but he was too tired to get excited by the elephants, despite the presence of calves Luk Chai and the very recently born "Mr Shuffles".

I would think that he enjoyed the kids zoo most of all, not for the animals but for the running water to play in. He did giggle at daddy's pig snorts and shout "wow!" as a seal raced by him as he peered into their tank.

After lugging him around on my back we had a very pleasant swim in our pool.
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Friday, March 19, 2010

A funny thing happened on my way to childcare

I was walking along the footpath at the Riverside business park. There was one other person ahead of me, but otherwise we seemed to be the lone pedestrians. While sitting in the train between Epping and North Ryde stations I had read an article in The Big Issue about discrimination and was imagining completing a survey about my own biases. I decided that, were I an employer, I probably wouldn't discriminate on the basis of race or disability, but that I might have a hard time accepting somebody who belonged to an evangelical religion.

Suddenly, round the corner a lady appeared walking on the footpath in the opposite direction to me. She attempted to hand out a copy of Awake! magazine to me.

Awake! is published by the Jehovah's Witnesses.

I had to laugh!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Malaysian feast

My family dropped by for lunch today and we introduced them to the cuisine of B's birthplace with a real Malaysian feast. We cooked up fish cakes, opor ayam (chicken curry), nasi lemak (coconut rice), ikan bilis (fried dried anchovies), Singapore noodles, cekodok (deep fried banana and coconut fritters) and kuih talam (a Malaysian coconut and pandan sweet).

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The other Time Lord

After a reasonably short delay (for us) we managed to watch the first part of the latest Doctor Who episode The End of Time. Timothy Dalton's appearance confirmed something I've long suspected: there is another Time Lord on Earth and he is not The Doctor or The Master. His name is Bond, James Bond.

I wonder if his TARDIS is disguised as an Aston Martin.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Music of Wild China

A much fruitless searching previously, I finally found the Barnaby Taylor's soundtrack to the BBC documentary series of Wild China. What's more, it was available for purchase and download from 7digital. The main theme never fails to send chills down my spine with its beauty.

Wild China was the first Blu-ray disc in our (currently two disc) collection and is an amazing documentary series about the natural environment and animals of China. I do wonder if its constantly upbeat evaluation of China's environmental future is an artefact of their local production partner. We saw much to depress us during our visit to the country, though there were certainly swathes of natural beauty as well.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Unreal estate

That's the view from the streetside in front of our house, looking directly down towards Sydney's central business district. Of course it's not the view from the house itself. The only water we can see is that of swimming pools.

After almost a week now since moving house I'm gradually starting to recover from the ordeal. It was horrible, as horrible as I imagined it could be. We were still shifting bits and pieces long after settlement time on our property and even managed to leave a few items behind. At least our removalists seemed okay, but there were so many scattered items that they couldn't move because we had not packed them.

I remember the joy of moving into our other house on Christmas Eve, of escaping from parents and into our very own home. We had hardly any possessions then and little need to move them quickly from the in-laws.

It was so different to this move. The first few days I loathed our new house. All my memories of where stuff is located, how to use the home, it was all defunct. Alex kept hurting himself, jamming fingers, falling down stairs.

We couldn't work out how to disable the child lock on the stove that first night, so a pasta sauce turned into an electric frypan cooking topping for rice cooked in an electric cooker. The next night the circuit breaker tripped on the house lights. There are ants everywhere.
I had so little sleep the nights before this move, a combination of packing late, working late and a disturbed Alex who looked to me, only me, for comfort. I was exhausted beyond my tolerance levels, no idea how I functioned.

I did manage to get the automatic pool cleaner working and actually had a swim with Alex yesterday, pushing our dog Kita into the water as well. We walked to the local shops, a longer walk with less and more expensive choices at the end of it than what I was used to.

Less and less do I feel the need for a house for everyday living. The concept of a hotel, where your life is stored in a suitcase seems so attractive now. A few clothes, a notebook computer, digital music (if only all my books, magazines and lecture notes were digitised!) what more do you need most days of the week?

I love the memories inherent in many of our possessions, the knicknacks, the books, the old computer software. You never know when they will come in handy - they usually do - but I so rarely need to see them that it doesn't feel worthwhile unpacking them. I'd like my own little museum that I could visit now and then, but could safely ignore the rest of the time.

Though this is the first home with my name on the title, I don't really feel like it's my house yet. Right now it feels like a temporary pad. Ask me again in another week.
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Friday, February 05, 2010

To here

So much stuff to move. Endless packing and shipping from one house to another. Now endless unpacking awaits.

No more simultaneous settlements ever again, skimping on packing materials or trying to move with a young kid.

Horrible sticky weather for a move, rain and thunder. Too exhausted to be excited. Snuggling next to Alex on the futon as his cot is still in pieces. Goodnight!

From here

Thursday, January 28, 2010

iPads, the Avatar soundtrack and other bits

One week now until we move house. Scary.

Listening to James Horner's Avatar soundtrack and enjoying it. Sure a lot of themes are derivative of his other works amongst others, but that's what you get with Horner. The music makes me want to see the movie, but I don't feel like leaving Alex in the hands of a babysitter at the moment, what with so much of his time at childcare. Plus he is extra cute. Maybe I'll wait to the blu-ray version is out. Could probably do without the 3D headaches right now.

I've cut down to a 4 day week in order to look after Alex when he's not in childcare. It's great spending time with him.

Not particularly excited about Apple's iPad tablet. The only Apple stuff I own is a ex-work Apple Mac LC II that I brought home for the university memories and an Apple Airport Express that sometimes provides me with wireless access in hotels with ethernet ports. Not even an iPod, because I have other devices to play mp3's and watch video and I hate the annoying iTunes client. Not an iPhone because, in the end, I wanted a phone first (though I am listening to the Avatar soundtrack on my phone right now) and my Sony Ericsson W705 is the right size.

The iPad isn't anything particularly innovative (but what Apple products are?). It's a tablet computer and not a particularly attractive one at that. It looks like a cheap digital photoframe so far as I can see. Give me widescreen as well, not 1024 x 768 pixels. Hopefully someone comes out with a highly portable keyboard for fast typing on the go. I wouldn't like to write one of my travel blog entries on a virtual keyboard.

I think I would be more interested in the Android tablets when/if they come out, considering how much of my stuff is web based and uses Google technologies. I rather like the cloud stuff, so long as I can work offline as well.

Anyway, I'm sure there are enough rabid Mac fanboys and girls out there that the Church of Steve Jobs doesn't need to worry about my opinion.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Australia Day 2009

I could rant and rave over the jingoistic nationalism that has spoiled the Australian flag (and that dreadful Union Jack in the top left corner), but I'm not going to this time. But I'm not going to.

Apropriate for Australia Day, while cleaning out a wardrobe yesterday we discovered a couple of Australian flags purchased for the Sydney Olympics. Our little Assembled in Australia From a Mixture of Local and Imported Ingredients loved waving them around.

In the evening we drove down to a local oval where they had stalls and performances celebrating the day. Alex stroked guinea pigs, goats and rabbits at the mini farm while our solicitor's daughter sang up on stage. We gave Alex a little bit of sausage sanger before returning home for our real dinner.

For the last time we stood at a rear window of our house watched the fireworks explode into the sky.
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Friday, January 22, 2010

A week of childcare

Alex survived his first week of childcare, as did his parents. When I left him there I felt confident that he was being looked after. He seemed happy, too busy playing outside to notice that his Daddy was leaving.

However, for the past two days he has burst into tears when I came to pick him up. He sees me and wants to be picked up and reassured, which of course I do. Then he cheers up again.

The real challenge is the train ride to and from childcare. Sometimes he is quiet, other times a real handful. He's always hungry on the ride home. Then there is my trip from childcare to work and back. More walking in the very hot sun, more train rides. I am sorely tempted to give up my green transport and drive, saving so much time and effort - Alex is usually good in the car, especially with good film music on the car stereo.

Just need to get my licence. Ha ha.

North Ryde station, on the new Epping to Chatswood railway line, is an impressive piece of architecture. I could see it used in some futuristic film. It certainly doesn't feel like Sydney. I always feel like there should be a small stall or series of stalls selling drinks, kuih, nasi lemak, or other Asian snacks. Unfortunately, there's nothing.

I miss looking after Alex during the day. I think it was easier than work/childcare and certainly more fun. Plus Alex tended to wake up later than 5:30, which he has suddenly started doing. At least it's a short week coming up.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Childcare tomorrow

Alex starts childcare tomorrow. I think he'll do fine, but I'm going to miss looking after him and sharing the day with him. I wonder if it's cruel that he has to follow our too-long work and transport schedules as well. I guess we'll see how it goes.

It's been tough looking after him lately, as he has developed a bit of separation anxiety when I leave his sight or go outside. It's been a 24 hour job in many ways, especially when he wakes up during the night and it feels like I have little time to myself. Meals are rushed, toilet breaks quickly snatched during his naps. I have numerous computers located around the house so that I can access work emails when he's on the move - a laptop is just an attraction for his itchy fingers. But when he smiles it is all worth it.

He sees an aeroplane it's "wow!" and a sweep of his hand with a whooshing noise. His favourite word right now is our dog's name Kita, which he can say quite clearly. He has started to make animal sounds (ducks quack, lions and tigers roar) and to make sounds from his favourite stories.

Alex is almost walking. He took a couple of steps to me the other day, but he is still too hesitant to let go of his support while he moves around. He can stand unaided for a few seconds though and delighted tonight in doing dramatic "falls" on to his bottom.

When settling him tonight I feigned sleep and he responded by squeezing my nose, then laughing. Very cute!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Links between Alzheimer's disease, Down syndrome and atherosclerosis

Apparently all Alzheimer's disease patients have some cells with three copies of chromosome 21 rather than the normal two. People born with Downs syndrome share in the trait, except that they are born with "trisomy 21" in all cells. In the case of Alzheimer's the trisomy 21 is probably due to damage inflicted in the cell microtubules by the amyloid protein, disrupting chromosomal replication. It is also suspected of causing the diabetes, strokes and atherosclerosis that is seen in many Alzheimer's patients. ScienceDaily has more details about the research.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The future of digital cameras

Now that the megapixel war is coming to a close (it's pretty pointless going beyond 10 megapixels in most consumer cameras) the digital camera manufacturers will have to compete on other features. One such feature is automatic image enhancement. I foresee the day when digital cameras will be equipped with the equivalent of Adobe Photoshop built in. Human subjects will be automatically de-blemished and airbrush enhanced.

With a touch of a button freckles, wrinkles, sunspots and cellulite will be banished from the photo.

Shortly afterwards we will see a campaign by celebrities to make such features compulsory in all cameras and unable to be switched off, especially by the paparazzi. Women's mags will then be forced to Photoshop blemishes back into their photos in order to fill their pages with Shocking Photos of Celebrity Cellulite.

Queensland invasion

I got a shock today during my train ride into work. I looked outside the window to see a QR (Queensland Railways) freight train travelling towards us in the opposite direction! I know we were going north, but not that far north. Apparently the difference between NSW's standard gauge tracks and Queensland's narrow gauge is not enough to keep the Queenslanders away. I knew that there was a valid reason for the rail gauge mess that is Australia, but it looks like the Queenslanders circumvented it by buying old Victorian Railways stock and forming QRNational. Now I am haunted by my past.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Kappas, Mamma Mias and Tonkotsu Ramen

While B and my Mum went off to watch Mamma Mia at Star City's Lyric Theatre Alex and I enjoyed ourselves wandering the city. We saw representations of kappas, mythical Japanese water creatures at the Maritime Museum, had iced chocolate at the Lindt Cafe and admired televisions at the Sony Centre.

I was carrying Alex on my back, in a Phil & Ted Escape carrier. Unfortunately, there is an issue with the carriers support legs collapsing under pressure and I have to wait for the supplier to contact the shAfteop I bought it from before I can get any service done on it. I do love carrying him around in it, feels very adventurous.

I met B and mum after the show, leaving mum at the Chinese Gardens while I sought B's opinion on the Sony S Series tv deal. Whilst at World Tower we ran into some relatives of hers and of course they wanted to play with bub.

We eventually returned to Darling Harbour to collect mum, then had dinner at the Eating World food court in Chinatown. There I had to most delicious tonkotsu ramen, the soup and noodles silky smooth. It brought back memories of Fukuoka last year, eating tonkotsu ramen from the portable yatai stalls that lined the streets.

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