Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Animal abuse

I read on New Scientist today (link to story) that CSIRO scientists are developing a vaccine that kills methane producing bacteria. This will reduce this greenhouse gas — 20% of all methane is produced by animals burping and farting.

Firstly, I enjoyed seeing the word "fart" in a serious publication. Hee hee.

Secondly, I was horrified. Taking away all the fun enjoyed by the animals burping and farting surely verges on animal cruelty.

Peanut butter

I skipped lunch yesterday I was so engrossed in work. After missing breakfast. I had dinner normally at about 7pm — a lovely stir-fry that Ali cooked. But after band practice I was starving.

So we get home about 12:30am, and I hoed into the Vita-Wheats spread with Vegemite and peanut butter — on separate biscuits of course, can't mix your Vegemite and peanut butter on the same biscuit. They might make little Vegenut butters.

I had this twinge about putting butter AND peanut butter and the same biscuit. Is it morally wrong to do this? Am I simply getting two helpings of butter? Surely if you were meant to use peanut butter on its own, it wouldn't be so bloody dry.

I've already started coming out in pimples.

Simon and Sandra

simon and sandra
Originally uploaded by incitatus.
Life's not fair when a Qantas steward gets to hob-nob with the most beautiful people in the galaxy.

Friday, September 24, 2004


After (secretly and silently) vowing not to go back to McDonalds I've backslid and regretted it.

I only ate a late lunch yesterday afternoon, without breakfast, and spent so long at work that I had to rush to get out to basketball without dinner. Basketball finished around 10:15, and I was tired, dehydrated and hungry. I know if I'd just managed to re-fill my water bottle before leaving the stadium what followed wouldn't have happened.

Travelling down the M4 through Penrith I started to think about stopping and getting a sports drink or water. By the time I got to the twin stations at Eastern Creek, I only had to spot the Maccas sign and rather than stopping in the petrol station to get a drink I went on to the drive-through Maccas.

Or rather the wait-through Maccas.

No apple pie, of course (“Only an eight-minute wait, sir”). And a “two-minute” wait for just about every burger they have. Now if it had only been a two-minute wait I would've been happy (well, not exactly happy but at least happier), but for heaven's sake, why do they tell you it'll only be two-minutes and then make you wait five? It doesn't achieve anything except getting me upset. The bloke in front of me must've been waiting closer to ten minutes. I wonder if he got told “two-minutes” as well?

And also, the chips tasted foul.

This time, I'm off Maccas for good. Never again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Mobile

My eldest daughter Charlotte is a beautiful little girl. She's 11 years old, lovely temper, intelligent, and talented. She's also developed the best of Christine and my sense of humour, a dry intelligent wit, and we both enjoy ribbing each other.

Of course I haven't got a father's biased view.

On Sunday, I took the girls to Eurofest 2004 at Frenchs Forest. (Am I the only one who thinks it should be French's Forest instead of Frenchs Forest?) There were rides, stalls, musical and dance groups, a beer tent (woohoo!) and other assorted goings on. As we were at home getting ready, I noticed Charlotte had put on a skirt. [Although I called it a dress, for which I was immediately corrected. I can program computers, play musical instruments, and intelligently discuss the situation in the Sudan, but I can't remember whether a skirt is a skirt or a dress.] I questioned this. "Are you sure you want to wear that dress/skirt? You'll be going on rides like the Jumping Castle?"

But she insisted. She's at the age where she is beginning to make sure things about herself are just right. Clothes, makeup, hair, shoes, etc. Off we went.

We arrive at the Festival, and meet up with John (the Boss) and Jill and their girls. Straight away the kids head for the rides. First the Pirate Boat and then the thing which I call "The Mobile". It's circular and around the outside are hanging individual seats, so when the thing spins around, the seats fly out. Like a mobile. It's only small, about twenty seats around the outside.

So Charlotte and Josephine (my 6-year old) and John's daughter Georgia get onto the ride and sit on their seats facing out. I said to John, "Watch this. I'll get Charlotte," and called to Charlotte as the ride started up, "Sweetheart, don't you wish now that you hadn't worn a skirt."

It was priceless. Her legs closed tighter than they already were. She had a cat's bum look on her face, and I don't think she enjoyed the ride at all, she spent so much time ensuring her skirt wasn't riding up. When she got off the ride, she ran up to me and belted me on the arm, she'd realised I was joking — you couldn't have seen her undies at all.

One of those great parent moments.

And on the way home another parent moment, though not so great.

One of the stalls was a Snow Cone stall run by the sister of a bloke I know, a drummer who I've played with on a couple of occasions. He was there helping his sis out, and slipped my girls a free cone each, just before we were about to leave. So they finished up that and then immediately went again on "The Mobile." Josephine was a bit cranky after we got off, complained that we were leaving "...without buying a toy, Dad!" I didn't think anything of it and started out.

We'd gotten no more than 100 metres down Warringah Rd, when she said, "I feel sick." Mad scramble for a plastic bag. She throws up. About two cups of dark red water from the Snow Cone. Charming. I'm praying that there are no holes in the bag. Needless to say, no permanent damage done.

Josephine calls throwing up spewking. I kind of like that term.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Government buses in the City

I am certain that Government buses in the City are immune to all normal road rules and regulations. Two incidents recently bring me to that conclusion.

Thursday two weeks ago I was waiting at the north-west corner of Bathurst and Elizabeth to cross into Hyde Park. The little red man turns into the little green man and I am just about to step off the curb when a bus screams past going north in the kerb lane, through the red light. I honestly do not know how I managed to stay upright and not get hit by the bloody bus.

On Friday night, around 11:30pm we were waiting at the north-east corner of George and Hunter St, waiting to cross to enter Wynyard Station. The traffic was bumper-to-bumper going north on George, and had banked back over the intersection. When the little man turned green, there was still a bus over the pedestrian crossing, and a bus immediately behind, also into the intersection. The second bus driver, seeing us start to cross the road and weave our way through the traffic, actually looked at us and move his bus closer to the bus in front to prevent us crossing the road. This is in addition to illegally moving forward into the intersection on a red light, he has to be more of an arsehole and try to stop us crossing the pedestrian crossing in front of him. There was just enough gap for us to get through.

It's not enough that they can always have the right of way over other vehicles, they have also got to wield their weapons, ummm I mean vehicles, dangerously or threateningly against pedestrians as well.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Travellling the M4

The M4 is either a huge six-lane carpark, or the best motorway in Sydney. It all depends on when you travel it. Last night travelling west to basketball it was a carpark. It took me 30 minutes to travel four kilometres before I passed the site of the accident just past the Ettalong Rd overpass. A combination of rubber-necking and large number of vehicles ensured the delay, despite the fact that by the time I passed the accident all there was to show of it was little pieces of broken glass and fiberglass or plastic.

It reminded me of my one-and-only non-parking accident. That also happened on the M4

It was late morning peak hour, a beautiful day just like today. The traffic was very heavy, but at least it was moving fast, up to the 100 kph limit. I was travelling in the outside lane (that's the far-right lane travelling on the LEFT), and my mind was wandering, thinking about work. Which is not good at 100 kph. My mind jolted back to reality when all I could see was red brake-lights and tyre smoke ahead. I slammed on the brakes, but not quickly enough. I had slowed down considerably, but not enough to avoid nudging the little blue car in front. Both of us moved off the road into the centre island and got out of our cars, as did the women in the car behind me.

The in-front woman was a small Asian woman who was more than a little flustered. The following car woman was your typical westie-chick woman, probably good-looking up till the age of 18, but then an early marriage, kids and McDonalds took their toll, and I felt sure that the constant cigarettes would not have been able to check her weight gain. I asked Asian if she was OK; she assured me that she was, but remarked that something was wrong with her car, it had made a popping sound. I was a little surprised but told her that I had hit her. Westie confirmed this. There was no obvious damage to the cars however. Asian said the popping sound had come from underneath and at the back of the car. I asked her to pop her boot open so we could have a look. This she did, and I noticed that one of the catches for the bumper bar had popped off. So I eased it back in place. No damage done.

After doing this I looked up and for the first time noticed the traffic. Three lines, bumper-to-bumper moving at a crawl stretching back to Roper Rd. I'm sure we'd only been there two minutes.

I suggested we swap details. Asian insisted that there was something wrong with her car and didn't want to drive it and that I hadn't hit her. By this time, the xenophobia thing had started to kick in with Westie and whilst Asian was away retrieving her mobile, I said to her that I'd definitely hit Asian. She replied "Bugger 'er stupid bitch," or something equally soothing.

Then the Road Patrol turned up, and insisted we move off the road (we were; we were in the centre island), as despite the fact that the traffic was near-stationery, we were in danger. Asian insisted that one of the Road Patrol men drive her car up to the Service Station for her, as she was certain that the car was malfunctioning. I, once again, insisted that at the very least Asian take my business card, but no, she was fine, thank you very much. Westie parted with some racial remark, eased herself into traffic, and was gone. I waited till Road Patrol man had started up and followed into the traffic. And away I went.

The first thing I heard on the radio of course was the traffic report; apparently there was a multi-car collision eastbound on the M4 near the Walgrove Rd exit. "Extensive delays," said the announcer.

I had that rush-of-blood pounding sensation above my eyes. Ah what a nice start to the day!

Oh yes, I got to basketball on time last night. Barely.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Julian Lennon and my daughter Charlotte

On Monday night I went to the Sydney Opera House to see my oldest daughter Charlotte sing in a combined choir of primary school children. 720 children in the choir! It was an enjoyable concert; I was quite impressed with the level of talent in the children.

One of the songs they performed was Julian Lennon's Saltwater. Initially it took me a little while to drag out of the murky recesses of my brain the original artist. It's a beautiful song, lovely chord progressions, lilting melody. It's very Beatles-ish, even down to the guitar solo. I listen to that and then listen to Free As A Bird and wonder if it's the same song. Well no, they're completely different but nevertheless...

Of course that got me thinking of Julian Lennon and wondering where he is and how he's faring. (I should note at this point that I'm a big Beatles fan.) Having been born in April 1963, he's now older than his father was when he was killed (John Lennon 9-Oct-40 — 8-Dec-80). I'm sure that must be a huge wake-up when you reach that age where you are older than your parents at their death. Sort of a notice that you are definitely mortal. John's life was terminated early, though.

Luckily for me, my father is very much still alive and he himself doesn't hit that age for another 12 years. I reckon he'll stay on for another 15 - 20 past that he's such a tough old bastard. Charlotte's got nothing to worry about, her great-grandmother is still alive and kicking up a storm. 90-something.

Favourite Quotes and A History of Australia

I've added a favourite quotes section to my webpage.

It has a couple of quotes that I've taken out of Majorie Barnard's book A History of Australia. Despite being over 700 pages long and written about fifty years ago, I am enjoying it very much. It does need a decent map (where on earth is Western Port?), and a chronological list of Governors of NSW and other notable figures. But otherwise it a great read, enlivening and humouring what can be at times a pretty bland history. She is a very good writer. Actually, was a very good writer. I note from a google search that she was born in 1897, which makes her 106-107?

Unfortunately, it is out of print. My copy comes from Blacktown library which I'm still a member of. Every Saturday when I have the kids, we go to Blacktown library and spend about half-an-hour there browsing and choosing books to borrow. It's actually a great problem for me, because I don't have a lot of spare time on my hands, and can always find one or two books to borrow. This does not help reduce the huge pile of books next to my bed, some of which have been lent to me by friends.

At the moment, the pile consists of: Chronicles of Thomas Covenant - Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen Donaldson, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick, Fatal Storm by Rob Mundle about the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race that went skewiff and killed a bunch of people, Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, The Spirit of Kokoda by Patrick Lin, The Space Elevator by Bradley C. Edwards, Botox, Bumbreath and Bubbles by Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki, The Idiot by Dostoevsky, and about half a dozen Scale Aviation Modeller International magazines. Plus a couple of others I can't remember.

I'm not showing off: I'm just distressed that clearly my desire to read outstrips my ability.

Oh yeah, and (frank admission) I had to google the spelling of Dr. Karl K's book. And also to check whether Philip K. Dick has one or two L's in his name. You never can tell.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A BIG Change

Astute readers may notice a slight change in the blog.

Well actually I know Alison is the only one reading this so I should just say: "Alison you may notice..." And I think she only reads it to make sure I don't say something really, really bad about her.

I've moved my Blog to Blogger, which is off-site, thus reducing traffic to my server, and ALSO allows comments to be made. And I can link to my photos on Flickr more easily.

So Alison, comment away Babe.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Only On The Web Part 2

I originally titled this "Only In America Part 2", and then realised I didn't have a Part 1! Hmmm, that memory has got me again.

Way back when I went to High School, we had a year book (lord knows where mine is now), but we never had individual pictures like the Yanks have.

I found this link off metafilter this morning. It is a collection of photos of Seniors taken from Year Books in the US called Seniors Rule.

I won't explain, there is no need. Trust me. Go there.

Mistakes, mistakes

For some reason, fate chose last weekend to be the weekend where everyone ganged up on me about the mistakes on my website. Which is good in a way, at least if someone else can see the error forest that I can't see for the HTML trees, then they'll get fixed eventually.

One young lady even took me to task for starting every Blog entry with "So, I was walking down the road..." or "So, there was this bloke throwing up in the street..." Apparently I write like I talk. If it wasn't for the fact that she sometimes cooks dinner for me then I'd probably take offence. Nah, I'm lying here. No chance of taking offence from her whatsoever.

Of particular note was the error in the caption of the picture on the front page. Link here. Apparently, it is Little Kev in this shot, not Beefa. I was fooled by the bald head, not remembering that Little Kev shaved to become a Beefa apprentice that week.

And to answer the question: Little Kev is inspecting the setup for a run of Ooh Ah Dancing. This is a curious little sport, where the object is to carefully place as many twenty-cent coins as possible in a cup placed about five metres away. For males, the coins are "loaded" into (cough, cough) folds of skin in the areas between the small of the back and the crotch. Little Kev was my loader on this occasion. For females, the coins are loaded into any available crevice between their neck and sternum. If one exists. (For further reference, please consult the Nork Scale).

You have the choice of "self-loading" or choosing an independent "loader". I choose Little Kev here for his fine but firm touch and expertise.

Once the coins are loaded, you have to (somehow) walk the five metres to where the cup is placed, and deposit the coins in it by "firing" them. This is not an easy task, let me tell you. You need exceptionally fine muscle control to make everything release simultaneously. People with superb control can sometimes fire directed salvos.

The winner is the person who is able to place the largest number of coins in the cup. There are separate categories for men and women, as women are able, due to the location of the coins, to crouch over the cup, and are therefore more accurate. Men have to drop them from some distance. A bit like the difference between high-level and dive-bombing. Some male salvos have been known to break the cup!

Fortunately, this activity is performed clothed — or unfortunately in the case of women. I believe in Ancient Greece, this sport was performed naked. I predict it won't be long before this sport, once again, is entered into the Olympics. Hopefully then, I'll have the opportunity of representing my country. With Little Kev loading, of course.

Friday, September 10, 2004

My Life Expectancy

I found a website, the Living to 100 Healthspan Calculator.

81.5 years, for me, apparently. September 2046.

Not really much of a surprise as my maternal grandfather made it to 83 and my paternal grandfather to 78, so it improves a little on their average.

One of the interesting things was the BMI calculator. For my 183 cm and 87 kilos my BMI = 26.28. With the following info provided for this BMI:

"Significantly overweight, meaning you are at significant risk for obesity-related illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and cancer."

Significantly overweight!! Struth, I know I've got a little tummy thing happening at the moment, but I doubt there is many people in the world who would look at me and say "significantly overweight". I wonder about these universally-applied indexes.

Another interesting thing, it said that proximity to family members is a factor that reduces stress. They obviously haven't met my family.

Monday, September 06, 2004

The Simpons mated

I enjoy and am a big fan of The Simpsons. Here's a interesting link I found on metafilter. It's entitled "If they mated". Skinner and Pattie is my favourite. Link here.

Friday, September 03, 2004

FHM Magazine

Played basketball last night. As you know it's a long way from the court home, and I was pretty cranky because aside from the fact that it was a very rough game, the trip home had too many idiots wanting to travel at 130kph on the M4. So I was a little stressed, and all I wanted to do was sit down and relax with a book.

But we had a bit of Mars vs Venus thing going on, and was cajoled into conversation instead. But no problem, she's lovely and warmed me to it almost immediately. On the coffee table is a pile of books and magazines that had been bought over from my old place, including about a dozen FHM Magazines. One of the articles caught my eye and I picked it up and flicked through it idly. I somehow sensed that I was on shaky ground and my possession of these required some explanation.

I explained that I used to spend many, many hours on the train, and needed something with decent articles to read. What better than with this excellent magazine? How embarrassed and uncomfortable I was when I was reading in the train and I came upon a photo article of some scantily-clad female. I would quickly flick past them with the barest glance. The only reason I read it was because of the articles. Surely she knew that?

She gave me the exact same look that she gave me when I tried to explain my theories of rounding up stray cats and making use of them, possibly as cosmetics or motor oil products.

I guess I have to work on my delivery.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Frank's Joke

Frank told this on Tuesday night. I thought it great that there was a musician joke I hadn't heard:

There's this bloke sax player and he starts going out with a female violin player. Anyway, they're being intimate when suddenly the woman yells out, "Pull out, pull out."

He says, "Why? Am I sharp?"