Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Mal Partridge Theory of Joke-Telling

...And NOT the Mal Partridge Theory of Telling Jokes

[Note that this appeared some years ago on my website, and I've moved it here as part of a clean-up. Apologies Mal.]

Mr. Malcolm James Partridge is a little-known Australian philosopher (remember Rule Number One?) and he has formulated a theory of joke-telling which has received some degree of fame. Sadly, this hasn't yet hit the internet. Until now.

Since Malcolm is a good friend of mine, I have taken the liberty of debuting his theory and its corollary on the internet. It is high time.

Theory

A joke will get funnier and funnier in the retelling to a male, in an inverse proportion to the amount it gets funnier to a female. For example, a retold joke that doubles in apparent funniness to a bloke, will be exactly half as funny when retold to a woman. This applies if and only if the joke increases in apparent funniness to men. Said joke is referred to as a joke of funniness potential increasing (FPI). FPI need not be linear. There is no corresponding funniness potential decreasing.

Corollary

There is a corollary that states that a retold joke of FPI can be contracted with each retelling, so that the whole joke can be represented by a paragraph, a sentence, a phrase, and in extreme cases, by a single word, with the same results as if the whole joke were told.

Monday, July 07, 2014

My Final Top 100 Books Update

Well the marathon is over!

These are the books I've read since my last update:

  • War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - 4-Dec-13 - Now I actually understand what is meant when people compare something long (and possibly) tedious with this book. 
  • Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell - 30-Dec-13 - A bit girly. Is this where the expression "A Scarlet woman" comes from?
  • The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCollough - 1-Apr-14 - McCollough does Michener.
  • Oscar and Lucinda - Peter Carey - 23-May-14 - A real beaut.
  • A Passage to India - E. M. Forster - 18-Jun-14 - Had me hunting through wikipedia for information on British Imperial India.
  • The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner - 7-Jul-14 - I would never have completed this without sneaking looks at a digest.


I feel not only a small sense of accomplishment but also significant unburdened relief as well. 19 September 2006 through to 7 July 2014 and a lot has happened in that time, marriage, two (more) children, many jobs, house moves, and sadly deaths. The slight feeling of dismay at the length of time it has taken me to complete this challenge is tempered by the fact that yes, I have been rather busy. The most notable change over this time was that at the start, I bought all the books as, well, books, you know, made out of paper. Now they are files on my Kindle.

My future challenges will definitely be of shorter-duration. Like managing a whole month without drinking.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Another Top 100 Books Update

I noticed that my last update in my blog for the Top 100 books reading progress was in August 2010, which was, well, a long time ago. I haven't stopped altogether, but I have slowed considerably. It's also interested to see that I've been doing this for 7 years now, from when I finished The Hobbit in September 2006 till now. For reference, my previous update was here.

Since 2010 though, I have a Kindle, and I try to get everything in an Ebook format for this rather than buying the paper versions. A lot of the stuff left in the Top 100 is available at Project Gutenberg, but the unfortunate (or otherwise, since I really enjoy reading) side-effect is that I now have hundreds of books waiting to read in my "To Read" folder on the Kindle. I tell you, it is far easier to read just one more Philip K Dick than another Tolstoy.

I still read by DailyLit, though I still find I use it to jump-start reading of a particular book, and then switch to Kindle to finish it off.

The finish dates are interesting on these. The Assistant was finished on the same day it was started. The Hobbit I re-read, yet again. While there appears no books between January and July 2013, my "completed" spreadsheet shows that I actually read 15 books during this time, including the huge Song of Ice & Fire series by George R. R. Martin.

These are the books I have read from the list in that last period in order of finishing:

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 28-Sep-10
  • Housekeeping - Marilynne Robinson 24-Dec-10
  • The Assistant - Bernard Malamud 7-Jan-11
  • Bridehead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh 7-Jan-11
  • Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy 14-Apr-11
  • Dog Soldiers - Robert Stone 21-Jul-11
  • Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert 28-Sep-11
  • A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute 7-Oct-11
  • The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas 23-Nov-11
  • Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë 20-Dec-11
  • Ulysses - James Joyce 9-Mar-12
  • The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 12-Apr-12
  • Little Women - Louisa M Alcott 26-Apr-12
  • All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren 21-May-12
  • The Brother Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky 29-May-12
  • Herzog - Saul Bellow 22-Jun-12
  • The Periodic Table - Primo Levi 6-Jul-12
  • The Confessions of Nat Turner - Willian Styron 2-Aug-12
  • Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky 8-Aug-12
  • Don Quixote - Miguel De Cervantes 11-Dec-12
  • (The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien 3-Jan-13)
  • The Tin Drum - Gunter Grass 10-Jul-13
  • Naked Lunch - William Burroughs 20-Jul-13
  • American Pastoral - Philip Roth 2-Oct-13


In terms of the actual books themselves, I don't think there are any that I have read and thought, "I've wasted part of my life." There are some which I have gotten to the last page and thought, "finally that's over," but even these I have gotten something out of them, whether it has been insight into people and their motivations or a different perspective. Ulysses (for instance) was hard, very hard. I had three attempts at it. But even reading it, it fascinated me on a couple of fronts at least. Firstly I have been to Dublin briefly and could recognise some of the places he refers to, and secondly the banal similarity between people's lives then and now, their attitudes, thoughts, motivations and actions. Superficially, Dublin in early 1900 is a vastly different place to now, but the people still strive for the same things. Fascinating reading, but very tiring.

This is what is left to read. War and Peace I am partially through on DailyLit. Six-hundred and sixty-three parts to this novel. So almost two-years of reading!
  • Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
  • Oscar and Lucinda - Peter Carey
  • A Passage to India - E. M. Foster
  • The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner
  • The Thorn Birds - Collen McCollough
  • War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
I think my original estimate was that I would finish in about 2011. Even though there's only six left, I perhaps want to adjust that estimate a little.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Breaking your fast

An interesting thing happened yesterday.

Last night I was in the front room clearing up some of the mess, when Alison came in to do some school work. She brought in that expensive box of Lindt chocolates that she'd received for her birthday.

"Are you having a go at me" she asked indicating the box, of which only a handful remained.
"No, what do you mean?" Mystified.

She turned over each of the remaining chocolates to reveal a tiny bite-sized chunk had been taken out of each one—the worst was a little log which was almost hollowed out.

For the last couple of weeks, Jude has been sneaking downstairs first thing in the morning and raiding the lolly cabinet. Now I have a huge issue with us even possessing a lolly cabinet, but I married the daughter of the owner of the Asquith Corner Store, didn't I? Since the store has closed down, Des and Sue have progressively bought all their remaining lolly stores into our house. It does give them a weapon in the armoury whilst looking after our kids three days a week, I must admit. But since discovering Jude's little morning habit, we've moved all the lollies out of reach and hoped that the problem had disappeared.

But now the chocolates.

This morning, after coming back from her run, Alison goes into the kitchen and there is Jude, startled, with a big block of chocolate in front of him:

"I'm only breaking it up into pieces for you, Mummy." 

Friday, April 01, 2011

Are Australians the most unimaginative people in the world?

The other night I was talking to a mate who is wanting to set up a simple website for his own business. He was complaining that while he has an idea of what he wants to put on his website in terms of content, when it comes to graphics and colours and the like, he is at a complete loss. He can not start from a blank page. When he looks at a room, he can not imagine the furniture in any other spot than what it is. When he has a choice of shirts to buy, he can not decide which one would look best when worn. His wife, an Australian with Italian parents, says to him, "You just don't have any imagination, Darl'."

Despite this, he is quite good at Jazz improvisation.

Recently at a child's birthday party, I was talking to this Canadian lady who lives here in Sydney. I was describing to her where our son Jude goes to day-care, and I said, "The place is near the street which runs alongside the train station, Station St, I think."

She replied, "Station St. Hmmph. That is so Australian."

(By the way, I was wrong, Susan. The place is actually on the corner where the Gas Company building used to be. It's called Gas Lane.)

And thinking about it, Susan is right. So many things in this country are labelled with either what they look like, or what they are used for. If not that, then the place is named for some place in the UK or after some person. I blame it mainly on the people who founded this country. They were unimaginative military types, or civil servants toadying to some bigshot back home who could get them off this rock and home to a nice cosy job where they don't have to daily walk past some poor bugger being given 100 lashes for not tipping his hat. Or possibly the poor bugger himself, later on in life when he's gotten off the chain gang and exploring the bush, imagination stunted by senseless beatings and starvation-level diet.

So, a road between Sydney and Bathurst is called "Sydney Road" at the Bathurst end, and "Bathurst Road" at the Sydney end. The big long road that heads north: "The Great Northern Road". The place where some bloke and his party has a nice breakfast while exploring the environs is called "Breakfast Creek". Places named after politicians abound, British Home Secretaries and Secretary of State for Colonies being the favourites: Sydney, Hawkesbury River, Melbourne, Goulburn, Hobart, Camden, Castlereagh River, Liverpool, Bathurst, Huskisson, Murray River, Newcastle to name a few. Or Governors of New South Wales: Hunter Valley and River, Brisbane, The Darling Downs, Fort Dennison, and Gippsland. Phillip, King and Bourke Streets all over the place.

Not William Bligh, though. He understandably doesn't get much of a look in.

Governor Lachlan Macquariejust named everything after himself.

A beach that happens to be 11.3 kilometres long is called Seven Mile Beach. Numerous Sandy Beaches, and numerous Shelly Beaches (also Shelley Beaches, though. How poetic). A beach that has interesting colours through the sand is Rainbow Beach. The beach where the local indigenous fellahs looked strong and manly is called Manly. And the big long reef that barriers the coast of Queensland (Queen's Land, eh?) from the Pacific Ocean is The Great Barrier Reef.

How many country towns in Australia have this sort of thing? Most streets out of town are named after the town that the road heads to. Church St has a church. The road out to the local stone quarry is called Quarry Road. There'll be a few pubs in town of course, The Commercial near the first bank, the Station Hotel in Station Street near the train station, a Union Hotel near the now non-existent Trade Union Hall, and an Exchange Hotel of course. Everyone has an Exchange, regardless of whether there really was an exchange there or not. There may be a golf course on Links Road. In Memorial Park in the centre of town, there'll be a War Memorial for one or more conflicts. In olden times, you'd probably go shopping in Market St. The athletics field will be located in Sportsground Road. There's a particularly curved road called Boomerang Road. Wharf Road, however, will only be in coastal towns, or those near large bodies of water.

It started even before there was European settlement here when Captain Cook was driving the Endeavour up the east coast. Just about everywhere he put in was named after someone or something obvious. All the way up past Cooktown to where he took possession of the east coast of Australia, on, ahem, Possession Island.

What about New South Wales itself. The place looks a little bit like South Wales (oh really?), and it's new. New. South Wales. Not the old one.

The naming nightmare continues on to this day. The place in Sydney where operas are performed: The Sydney Opera House. An iconic building, a laconic name.

There are many, many exceptions of course. Particularly anything with an Aboriginal name is cool, even if just because it doesn't sound so bland. Cattai, Kurrajong, Mulgoa, for instance, are places in and around Sydney named after the poor fellahs who don't live there anymore. I grew up in Milperra, "meeting place" in the local dialect. Interestingly many of the streets in Milperra are named after World War I battles and towns.

So my solution? Do the Ayers' Rock/Uluru thing. Grab a dictionary of the local Aboriginal dialect (there's a few to choose from), and start renaming things. Make the name be descriptive if possible. Wave Rock could be renamed the local equivalent of "Rock formation shaped like Bob Hawke's hair." The Opera House could be Eora for "Meeting Place of Large Loud Women." Blacktown could simply be renamed by the Dharug equivalent of "Town where the White people live."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Top 100 Books Update

I am still continuing with my attempt to get through 100 top books before I die, albeit slowly. I may actually make it, as I have now read 71 of the 100 books. Refer to this previous post which should take you through the history.

I've even re-read one of them. Our trip to Japan (see photos here) included Kyoto and a visit to the Gion district, which inspired me to quickly read Memoirs of a Geisha again.

This is the list of latest books read, in order with most recently read at the end.

  • Wide Sargasso Sea  Jean Rhys. I liked this in the end, but felt it came to a surprisingly quick halt.
  • Lord of the Rings  J.R.R. Tolkien. Always love reading this. I might start it again.
  • David Copperfield  Charles Dickens. Via DailyLit. As mentioned before, I hated this at school (and consequently didn't finish it) but thought it was great this time once I got into it.
  • Emma  Jane Austen. Not as good as her other one.
  • Good Omens  Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. (At the risk of not really wanting to use this word in a blog post:) Quirky.
  • The Woman in White  Wilkie Collins. Through DailyLit. Pretty good.
  • Dangerous Liaisons  Pierre Choderlos De Laclos. Yeah. I loved the way he was able to switch writing styles in order to switch character. The notes at the end of the book helped enourmously.
  • Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë. I started reading this on DailyLit and then switched to book. What is the go with this story? Am I missing something here? Isn't it supposed to be a great love story? I had trouble with some of the language as well. Are we meant to understand what Joseph is saying, or does everybody who reads this just pretend they understand that gibberish? Does anybody else despise the housekeeper telling the story? It's more a Russian tragedy than an English novel, as just about everybody dies.


DailyLit is the read-by-email service I've mentioned before. I do recommend it, with a few caveats:

  • reading on-line can be tiring. Especially if reading from your phone;
  • if you start really getting into the book, it's easier to just grab the PDF or the book rather than continually clicking on the "Get next installment now" link; 
  • there's always a "where was I yesterday?" feeling, but you get that with books as well, just not as frequently;
  • sometimes you lose emphasis in a medium that doesn't support simple things like bold and italic. Switching to HTML doesn't help, as the text that DailyLit has does not contain the bold and italic either. I found this out when a copy of Wuthering Heights turned up at my place after I'd be reading it on DailyLit; and
  • if you let the emails pile up in your in-box, it can be a trial to clear them out.

Currently I am reading Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and Ulysses by James Joyce. The last is a little hard to get into, I've got to say. I hope it gets better, as there is 329 installments of it to go!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Mother-to-Son communications interface

Alison has had laryngitis for a few days now.

While many blokes would reckon I am sure that the peace and quiet during this time would be bliss, I can assure you that things like spousal nagging do not necessarily decrease just because she can't speak. It just takes other forms. Also since Jude is just coming up to 18 months old, and has all the energy of a New Years fireworks display, I have been expected to provide the constant verbal discipline that he needs.

And I have also assumed the role of translator between her and Jude. My wife has a new language that involves hand movement, occasional grunts or humming, and head movement amongst other things. Since I am a bit of a linguaphile, I'd like to share just a few examples of this wondrous form of communications.

Alison's non-verbal cues - My verbal response/translation

  • Pointing at her feet - "Jude. Come here and get your shoes on, mate."
  • Holding her hand in front of her mouth like a duck bill and opening and closing it - "Jude. Take the book out of your mouth, please."
  • Pointing at Jude and making a circle around her face - "Jude. Come and get your face cleaned mate."
  • Grunting and shaking her fist at her son - "Jude. Have you been a bad boy for Mummy?"
  • Holding her hand in front of her mouth like a duck bill and opening and closing it - "Jude! Sit back down and finish your dinner!"
  • Using her thumb and forefinger to make spectacles over her eyes - "Jude. Stand back from the telly please, mate."
  • Tapping her wrist and pointing her thumb over her shoulder - "Jude. Time for your bath!"
  • Miming two-finger typing - "Jude! Stop pressing buttons on the DVD player!"
  • Holding her nose - "Jude. Have you done a poo?"
  • Holding her hand in front of her mouth like a duck bill and opening and closing it - "Jude. Time for your medicine."


Obviously, you'll agree that with a few of these, the context provides the hint to the translation.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is this a bi-definition?

I am in the middle of writing an email to colleagues advising that we have regular meetings twice a week, and I think to myself, "Should I use the word biweekly in this case?" As I'm a little unsure, I google the word, and get numerous, dictionary website entries that explain that the word biweekly, means both:

  • twice a week, and 
  • once every two weeks.

For instance see: http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_1861590876/biweekly.html

So would someone please explain to me how it is possible to use the word biweekly without it being unclear? The only possible way I could imagine using it is something like this:

"Hi guys. Don't forget our biweekly meeting tomorrow. That is, our meeting that is held every Tuesday and every Friday, that is twice-weekly, and not every second week on Friday."
It's enough to drive a man to drink. Oh. Don't mind if I do.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Weather or not this unit is broken

For Alison's last birthday, I bought her a weather station. It has two parts to it, the indoor base unit which has its own temperature and barometric pressure sensor, and displays all the information on a LCD display, and a separate little remote outdoor sensor unit, which sends temperature and pressure readings wirelessly to the base unit.

I bought it at Jaycar Electronics in York St in the City; quite a good price and so far it seems OK. However, when we first unpacked it and turned it on, we couldn't get the remote unit to work. The little tell-tale light on the front didn't wink like it was supposed to when sending data, and the base unit did not display any data for the outside.

After what followed though, I don't think it is a huge wonder that the remote sender didn't work...

On the way past Jaycar Electronics a few days later, I dropped in to see about the sensor. I was standing there at the counter waiting, when I heard from behind, "Hey, can I help you Dude?" It's just me I'm sure, but I'm probably a bit old-fashioned in thinking that it is a little unusual to be addressed this way by a sales assistant. A young fellah, thin, relaxed, long hair. I'm sure you know the type.

I explained that I'd bought (pointing to shelf) that weather station and that (indicating unit in hand and taking it out of its protective bubble-wrap pouch) this remote unit didn't seem to work. He couldn't understand why I didn't bring the whole thing in. He said, shaking his head sadly and slowly, "Well I can replace it, but they all work on the same channel." I didn't bother to show him the little switch where you can change the channel on the unit, or bother to reveal my suspicions that the lack of tell-tale light indicated that the remote unit was the bit that was broken and the base station appeared to work perfectly.

Reluctantly, he pulled another box off the shelves, removed the remote unit from that and gave it to me. "Well, look," he said, using his best explain-to-a-four-year-old voice, "you can try this one, but if it doesn't work you'll have to bring the whole thing in." Well thanks. That, at least, is good advice.

After saying that, he took my broken sender unit, placed it in the little bubble-wrap pouch, and put it into the box that he'd taken the new one out of. He then to put the box back on the shelf.

As I was leaving the store, I heard him talking to one of the other sales assistants, "Man, we had another one of these returned the other day."

Oh save me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Grails - infuriating

I am doing a bit of work in Grails at the moment. For those who are going: "What??", it's a web framework, which intends to allow a developer to build web applications quicker, or better, or easier.

Overall, it is a bit of fun, easy enough to get off the ground, and you don't seem to have to write a great deal of code to get a great deal of result. But doing anything beyond a simple website it seems to get you into ever increasing layers of complexity and time-consumption.

The things I most dislike about it are:

  • There does not seem to be a lot of information out there on it that is beyond the simple stuff, airports and flights, books and authors. I find that if you add the words "finally found an answer" to the google search, it leads me more quickly to helpful people who are also trying to do non-simple stuff.
  • The documentation, particularly the "Guide" is reasonably good and (for a change) well-written, but so many important nuggets of information are buried in it, you find yourself reading and re-reading the same section of doc over and over to try to find answers. You know the answer has to be there somewhere.
  • The specs seem to change markedly from one version to the next. Little things mainly, of course, but it potentially means that when you think you have found the answer to your question, you have to be careful that the answer is still current to the latest version.
  • The community seems to contain more than it's fair share of "that's the way it is, deal with it", or "it is simple, you are stupid" people. It certainly doesn't encourage asking questions when you see some bloke get his arse flamed off for asking the same dumb question that you had. No I didn't notice the subtleties in the previous answer, thanks for pointing them out and displaying your obvious superiority.
  • The Exceptions that are generated when things go wrong in the app are way out there. I guess this is as a result of the way it's built on top of Groovy on top of Java with potential other helper frameworks jammed in. But struth, if it's a database error, then tell me it's a database error and not some other obscure error.
  • Grails uses Hibernate for database access, and getting it to work with an existing database is a real trial. Days worth of work, trust me. Oh so you DON'T want an intersection table with that simple one-to-many relationship? Well you're doing it wrong then. Whether it's complexity is Hibernate's fault or Grails's is debatable, but cripes, sometimes I wonder whether it's easier for me to write a simple SQL query. Much easier than trying to wade through the Hibernate documentation as well.
  • And finally, some things just don't seem to work as advertised. Or perhaps I didn't read the fine print in the advert? For example:

    //// A bug? ILike doesn't seem to work here and an exception is thrown.
    //// At least in this case, the exception is meaningful!
    //list = Customer.findAllByNameILike(params.ajaxParam + '%')
    //// The following does work, though.
    def crit = Customer.createCriteria()
    list = crit {
        ilike('name', params.ajaxParam + '%')
    }


I am not giving up on it yet, it will just take me time to learn. I am thinking though, when I compare it to my experience learning Struts, that while I spent a LOT more time writing code to get to a certain level, I spent a lot less time finding out how to do things. With Grails to get to the same level, I spend a LOT more time finding out how to do something, and then writing two or three lines to code it up! The time spent seems to be about the same.



I am also thinking that Grails may not quite be the Holy Grail of webapp development that I originally was hoping for.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Top 100 Books Update

I'm still continuing with reading my list of Top 100 books. Refer to this article. Over a year since my last update. One thing I am noticing, looking at the dates I have started and completed the books in my little tracking spreadsheet, is that large or hard books slow me right down. While this may seem obvious, it is more than just a simple words-per-minute ratio. Hard books tire me out, and I usually end up having a break from reading, or resorting to familiar, small or kids books immediately afterwards.

These are the latest read in order of finishing:

  • The Berlin Stories — Christopher Isherwood. A bit different to Cabaret. Really.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray — Oscar Wilde. Spooky.
  • Treasure Island — Robert Louis Stevenson. Rollicking.
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude — Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I really liked this one.
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps — John Buchan.
  • The Great Gatsby — F Scott Fitzgerald. Strange. I've read this before and remember it as mainly a "fun" book. How wrong I was.
  • Lord of the Flies — William Golding.
  • Frankenstein — Mary Shelley.
  • Moby-Dick — Herman Melville. I read this via Daily Lit, one page per day.
  • The Stand — Stephen King. I chose his most recent version, with all the cut out bits added. The ending stretched on and on and on.
  • Guards! Guards! — Terry Pratchett. Funny.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird — Harper Lee. Not sure if the movie spoiled it for me or not.
  • The Executioner's Song — Norman Mailer. Creepy. Long and drawn out.
  • BFG — Roald Dahl. The Queen?
  • Charlie And The Chocolate Factory — Roald Dahl.
  • Charlotte's Web — E. B. White. And then I watched the cartoon.
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe — C.S. Lewis. OK. Enough children's books already.
  • Pilgrim's Progress — John Bunyan. Another Daily Lit read. Tortuous. But I'm sure it is responsible for saving someone's soul.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy — Douglas Adams.
  • The Catcher in the Rye — J.D. Salinger. I really don't think this helps me understand John Lennon's killer. Not that I really want to.
  • Lucky Jim — Kingsley Amis. Amusing.
  • Things Fall Apart — Chinua Achebe. Unexpectedly good.
  • Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone — JK Rowling.
  • Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets — JK Rowling.
  • Matilda — Roald Dahl.
  • Money — Martin Amis. It took a long, long time for me to get into this one, and then I got into it, and rushed it at the end to finish it. Martin Amis turns out to be Kingsley "Lucky Jim" Amis's son.
  • Huckleberry Finn — Mark Twain. I struggled with the American patois.
  • The Portrait of a Lady — Henry James. Daily Lit again but in two parts. So just when you finish the first you realise there is a whole second-half of the story to go. Why say two words when you can more eloquently express the fullness of your ideas in a more abundant literary manner.
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie — Muriel Spark. Yeah, I liked this. I'm sure it was shocking in it's day.
  • Lolita — Vladimir Nabokov. I struggled for ages with this. Dare I say: a little bit boring.
  • The Unknown Terrorist — Richard Flanagan. This is one of those books you read and immediately think it is preposterous, and then it gradually eats into you, and you start closely reading the news for hidden agenda. I rush read it the story was so good. Yea gods, one of the characters in this lives in Panania. Panania. That's the suburb next-door to where I was raised.

My current Daily Lit read is David Copperfield (Part 124 of 447). This is a bit embarassing, because I was supposed to read this for English in High School, but I ended up giving up quickly and reading the Brodie's Notes on it. I must admit I like it better the second time around. The book by the side of my bed is Part 1 of Lord of the Rings, and my read-on-the-bus book is The Wide Sargasso Sea. This latest is a very hard book to read in an environment that is conducive to travel sickness.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My son and I

Yesterday I went into the kitchen, and tripped over our son's toys and plates that he'd pulled out of the cupboard. I said a couple of swear words, cleared things up and went out to the loungeroom. It was covered in musical instruments, mostly guitars, sound gear, music stands and music that I had left everywhere.

We're not really that dissimilar.

Reminds me of that great line from Men Behaving Badly (the English version) when Dorothy and Gary are having a baby, and Dorothy laments about now having two flatulent little bastards with a breast fixation.

Friday, June 12, 2009

How to kill Google Chrome (from behind a corporate firewall)

This is quite annoying. Most annoying is the fact that I do this every single morning without remembering the issue.


  1. Start up Chrome.
  2. Before the proxy sign-in window has a chance to come up, open a new tab.


Stop. You've done enough. From here, you can't seem to do anything, no keypress or mouse-click works, and you have to kill the process and start again. I imagine if you wait long enough, something will time-out, but you know...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Talking on the bus

It still amazes me how much some people can just, well, talk.

This morning on the bus going to work, a pretty young girl entertained the whole back half of the bus for the full 45 minutes journey. First, it was talking to another young girl, who could hardly get a word in edgewise. The subjects ranged from her boyfriend, to her part-time job babysitting, and to her prospective purchase of a new car. After we had heard at 80% volume that her man is inattentive, her little charges are just gorgeous, and that she is intimidated test-driving cars that are equipped with a manual transmission, her no doubt partially-deafened friend exited the bus at the first city stop. She immediately took out her mobile phone and, at 75% volume, regaled the rest of us and her lucky callee with her hopes and expectations for her upcoming trip to Byron Bay.

Although this may sound strange coming from a man who blogs to the world, which is in itself a form of loud talking on the bus, I wonder whether this girl finds time to herself to just think rather than talk. One of the things she perhaps may think about, if she ever found the time, is how utterly ridiculous she sounds.

After alighting from the bus, I passed her in the street. I was surprised to see that she wasn't still on the phone. Her think-time, perhaps?