Thursday, November 30, 2006

But at 9am ??

I'm not sure what is weirder about this - that people actually do it or that she did it at 9am??

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Blogging is kind of odd- like Jen's magnificent boobs say - you put intimate bits of your life up there for people to read.
And as Steph noted and I have often thought -you also look at the world through the eyes of a blogger; thinking - I could take a photo of that and write it up, so in some ways it motivates me to be more aware of the moment; I’m sharing it and I want it to be as colourful as possible.
It is a record of what I did in this life – sort of a diary. Mine is about the things that are important to me: Doing stuff, the family, environment, cool science, home life, all the things that I would talk to my mates and family about. My friends and family read it to find out what is going on and what we have been doing and with a click can share our adventures and trials.
It is not anonymous, well not really. There is some meager protection for them in that I don’t put my last name up but there is enough info in the blog in different places to make it a 10 minute Google job to get my work phone number.
It’s a compromise – I write some posts for a specific person and others are less than appropriate for some of the readers (but I post them any way). Some are for family, some are for me (like the tunes I listen to at work). Some are for the kids in the future and most of it is for you, the 10 or so people that regularly read and comment. I don’t post anything politically too controversial because you never know which way the wind may blow and this is a permanent record, also attached to my wife, son and daughter – all of whom have no say in what goes up.
It is also participation in a small but fantastic social network – you guys in the blog roll to the right are to varying degrees either merely interesting people who I will probably never meet (Andrew Bartlett) or are very real friends for whom I have a great affection and share more and know more about than my in real life friends. Like I said in an email to one of Libby’s friends (family?) when enquiring as to the birth of her little girl a few weeks ago – it is amazing (I think I used the word strange but I mean amazing) even when you only know someone through their blog, through a public exchange of paragraphs – how much affection / friendship there is. You poor yourself a bit at a time into those paragraphs and there is often more there than a casual chat with a friend. I sincerely want to meet all of you – how could you not want to have a beer with this man
I'll admit that it is done for an audience: there is a little of the exhibitionist – (i.e. Steph’s blog) – in most blogging but its not like getting thrills showering where some stranger can perve on you because, as I said above most of you are no longer strangers.
This post was prompted by the question Leesha’s put to her readers regarding what did we want her to write. In answering I’m answering to all of you should you ask - Well what ever you want, I don’t want to read what I would write, I want to read about the things that you'll are motivated to write about. That’s what makes this blogging thing interesting.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A brief history of the Australian Liberal Party

The Liberals are the Australian conservative party - slightly to the right of Milton Friedman (think Augusto Pinochet if you don't know your economists). Regardless, this is an instant classic.

Tails from the Anatomy Inspector

I was awed by the job title, but it seams that there is such a thing as an "Anatomy Inspector".

Do you think that it comes with an official looking badge and a car with sirens and lights?
The puerile schoolboy within imagines the scenario thus:

inspector: *cough - hu ummm*
inspector: (authoritatively) "excuse me miss"
miss: (perplexed) "yes, can I help you?"
inspector: (authoritatively) "yes - I am the state anatomy inspector and it is required that you submit your anatomy to me for inspection"
miss: (disbelief) "ahh, right, just stay there - I'm calling the cops"
inspector: (flashes badge) "That won't be necessary, I believe that you will find everything in order,"
miss: (starts to undress) "well, ... ok then"
inspector: *cough - hu ummm*
inspector: (embarrassed) "not, ah, your anatomy - the specimens - the ones in the fridge over there marked toes"
miss: (giggles) "thank goodness, I thought you meant"
inspector: (interrupts) "happens all the time"


With a return to hot windy whether today we are all hoping that the Blue Mountains fires are extinguished or contained and don't spot over. To see just how far ahead of the main fire spot fires can start have a look at the map above. you can clearly see several spot fires near Linden and Faulconbridge that are about 10km ahead of the main fire.
(original image from here)

Go Check Out Sean's Blog

Sean has just finished competing in the 17th FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championship, Tochigi, Japan, 2006.
He normally does a bit better than he did this year (too much Saki?). No matter, he may not have finished in the money but it sounds like he had a blast. Go there and check out the photos in what has to be the worlds most photogenic sport (except for pole dancing).
Sean - can you arrange for a combination of the two?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Some (random) thoughts on renewable energy.

Nuclear, solar, wind, wave, geothermal, fusion, tidal, “clean coal”, geosequestration, hydrogen economy, global warming, energy storage, fuel cells.

This is complex stuff. Getting it right will, just possibly, preserve the climate within familiar bounds. Getting it wrong – well who cares somebody else, some future generation will pay the price for our mistakes / greed / apathy, so why should I really care?

One of the problems oft pointed out about many sources of renewable energy is that it is not reliable. The sun does not always shine, wind blow or waves run with the power to generate electricity.

OK, so my question is why not store the energy?
Use wind power to pump water uphill in the snowy scheme. That way your not using off peek coal sourced power to do it, your getting it from a renewable.

Why not use renewable power when it is available to generate Hydrogen from sea water and store it for use in fuel cell vehicles? Wind not blowing?, sun not shining?, that’s ok because you have stored enough Hydrogen to get you through.

No water – no problem, just desalinate using wave energy. Perfect solution – the energy is at the point you want to use it. Use high pressure air forced into a tube by wave action focused using a parabolic wave reflector and you have a very low maintenance source of high pressure air that you can use to push sea water through RO membranes.

Roof tiles with solar cells, passive housing and building designs such as better insulation all make a difference. Anyways lunch is almost over so I’m back to work, but please poke around these links:

Update - 28th
Firstly, sorry for the ramble.
Thanks to 'Brian', presumably Brian Meano, CEO & Founder of Fieldstone Energy, Inc. for his link to on a similar technology which I will drag onto the front page here.
I also caught up with a whole bunch of Radio National podcasts that I'm linking to the transcripts (the podcast get taken down after a month but be quick and you can listen)

and then there is all this stuff on Ockham's Razor that I've been reeding past my bedtime

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Australia Burning

Well, my thoughts go out to Mike and others living in the mountains. The whole damn country is burning at the moment. From where I sit the column of smoke rising kilometers above the central mountains is occasionally visible through breaks in the haze and the world is bathed in an weird orange light. Eucalyptus smoke fills the air and a stiff hot wind does little to cool the 38° air and a fine gray ash rains like mercy from heaven.
I look forward to walking down in the Blue Gum Forrest when the park is opened up again, it will, I imagine be a surreal experience.

The CSIRO has an online tool, sentinel, which you can use to zoom in on hot spots anywhere in Australia. I's a little slow with all the voyeurs like me zooming in on black heath rooftops so I have captured a few screen grabs of the fire. Sydney is just to the east (right).

Reports and Pictures
SMH photos and reader photos
SMH news
ABC news

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

So - think you can flip a Sea Kayak ass over tit?

I think this fellow has chosen the wrong tool for the job.

I sipped my beer and though how good life was

Last night I as I turned the chops and sausages on the BBQ and retreated from the afternoon heat under the shade of the lemon gum I though just how good it all is at the moment. Annalise and Adrian are growing and learning and changing day by day and both seem to be doing really well. Work, well its work, nothing worth moaning about. The Cockatoos were screeching out raucous good evenings and the James Squires was doing a decent job defending me from the afternoon heat. Even the ash raining from the sky seamed to be missing the cloths on the line.
I think next time I'll turn the BBQ around the other way so the bung wheel and slope of the paving cancel each other out instead of exaduratign each other and spilling the oil of the hot plate.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thought for the day

Sometimes I fell just like this

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Beer is to the Franks what wine is to the French, or is that Christ to the Catholics? Either way, should some monks want to set up a Trappist type monastery some place in Belgium. Pray to their god and make my beer... well who am I to complain.

Free* Leffe to the first that can tell me the odd one out in the photo above.

Thanks to the local bottle'o who have the foresight to sell Belgian beer by the case and thanks to Keiran for the excuse to sit and drink for hours.
Now if anybody knows where I can get a case of this or this I would be grateful

* I'm not sure you can post outside of Australia, or if you can even post it at all, so to collect your winnings you have to present yourself in my Kitchen. Offer expires 1 Jan 2007 or if I drink the case before then.


We had some more visitors for breakfast

Strangers in the kitchen

So I was making breakfast on Sunday morn and I opened the cupboard to grab the Vegemite and what should jump out at me but this...
bloody big vicious gecko
Well, OK so he clung onto the golden syrup but he clung with attitude, right out at me.

(click on the pick to get a close up of the amazing eyes and skin)

Who are you?

Mining the stats

From whence you came.
You are probably Australian (49%) or American (21%) although I have 1 regular reader each in the UK (Hi Lachlan), Colombia (Hola Paula) and one in NZ (G'day Leesha). There are a smattering of people from other places, mostly Latin America (looking for pictures of boys in singlets) and Arabic nations (hello readers from Iran, Egypt, Kuwait, Cote Abidjan, D'Ivoire)

What I know about you.
You are a geek in that not only do you use Firefox 2 but you upgraded the day it came out.

How you get to me
There is a 50/50 split between return readers and first timers. Most of the return readers come back about every three days or so. Of the first timers about a third of you click through from another blog or via my blogger profile, presumably after reading one of my comments someplace. About one third of the non repeat visitors actually view more than one page.

Seek and ye shall find
Most of you find me through Google, either searching for images or for an odd assortment of girls in gumboots, handbag fetish, washing day analysis, boys in singlets, preeclampsia and the occasional scientific name for Australian native plants and animals. Some people come looking for help, for the person looking up "Installing fiberglass wool roof insulation", I hope you found something useful and please where long sleeves. For the person that came looking for "How to manipulate the hernia" - please see a doctor.
Most of the Arabic trafic started after I posted on Horrorism which after the birth photos is the most read post (14% of all traffic) but strangely, you didn't search for that post - you entered the blog directly on that page so the link is being passed around or I'm being monitored by right wing freekoids.
My fav strange search is "the theam of an enemy of thepeople" - where I rank number 5 for a post on jellyfish!!

You are reading more often but I am still, thankfully, a nobody.

I am the second highest search for emunctory, not bad for an excretory organ (in Latin it means to blow your nose)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006


Whilst trolling youtube for an anthem for the Democrat Election win in the US, looking for something about justice and Freedom - something like this, I cam across this nice little tune laced with irony - yes that is a somewhat prescient John in the middle.

- Imagine the size of the mouth on Mary Travers and Steve Tylor's love child.

Sean dun good

Sean came 4th (in the money) in the 2006 Saga Hot Air Ballooning thingo. Ace job Sean, now onwards and upwards to the worlds.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A lesson learnt

This is not a profound tail, but it does end in a death so pay attention. Do you know those little water saver crystals ? No, well they are a little iddy bitty grain of stuff that looks like the silica gel you get in the box with your new electronics or leather goods (think shoes Jen) which when wet expand to huge proportions seemingly stuffing away whole dams worth of water just in a few crystals. With the rain fall in Sydney somewhat less than the Gobi we are all being advised to save water, shower under a drip, wash our veggies in sand and forget about washing our cars. So, after recently planting a few hardy natives in the back yard I had a few crystals left over which I threw into the bromeliads (almost certainly Aechmea gamosepala or Aechmea gamosepala var. nivea) that cling to a tree fern outside our door.

Well and good..
.. well no, see, it rained and rained and drizzled and rained and the little iddy bitty crystals swelled up and got heavy and ripped the bromeliads from their moorings. Oh well Something will grow back into the hole.
This has been a public service announcement.

America has voted

America has voted. We don't get to vote in US elections tho considering the influence that the US has over the rest of the world, perhaps we should.
Regardless, I am pleased by the results. Rumsfeld has fallen on his sword and the Bush administration, whilst still in power will at least be held accountable. Not at all a terrible scenario. The right in Australia wriggles but has more humility in the US. I've work to do, so check back later and I'll put up a pick or two of mum's visit.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Head in the clouds

One of my bestest friends, a man that I love* and the man I am most jealous of in this life once again has his head in the clouds bobbing around in the sky.

Quite literally.

Let me explain,

Sean is the only person that I know who lives his dreams, who plays and dabbles for a living. Admittedly, playtime is more than tempered by the realities of running a business and he is a workaholic or rather a playaholic who has had more 4AM wakeups that a chicken house full of roosters, but play it is. See, Sean builds and flies hot air balloons for a living. His dad (who is also awesome) started the business whish is now a family affair. It is not enough that Sean and his parents run a successful small business and have made significant advances in Hot Air Balloon design, inventing new controllable vents and quiet but blisteringly hot burners but Sean is also a shit-hot pilot. He is one of the best, who battles it out in the skies around the world in a wicker basket dangling beneath 15 tons of hot air suspended by a few slim wires, whilst surrounded by the massive gas bottles that keep entropy at bay. He consistently manages top ranked positions and, with a handful of other Aussies is a real threat on the world grand prix.
Where is he now??? – This a very good question and one that I often ask. Whilst it would not be unlikely to find Sean in Europe, or floating over the Masai Mara, or selling encyclopaedia DVD’s in the Australian outback, or even perhaps flying the worlds largest set of underpants across Melbourne. Currently Sean is in Saga Japan, competing in the Pacific Championships which are a warm up to the final round of the World Hot Air Balloon Championships which will be held in Tochigi, Motegi Japan in October.

I’m pinching this (copyrighted) pick from his blog, which you should read. If you’re a yank and just want to hear a sexy Australian accent or you want to see an exiting landing in what is usually an elegant sport do make sure you check out his youtube posts.

Sean, Wendy, Phil, Tem - if you read this, good luck and have a fantastic competition.

*in a manly standing around the BBQ drinkin’ beer kind a way

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Smell of Smoke

I can smell wet ashy bush fire smoke. Smells close. I can't see it, but I can smell it inside, outside, around.

I reported it to the local fireies who just dropped by.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Pictures of clouds


I'm a manager.
I think that means that I'm not supposed to stuff up the little things - like paper work.
On that front I've never had much luck - or rather never had the perseverance and level of care to get the attention to the fickle detail right. Which led to the following email from the Executive Officer in the section of the uni I work in:

"I've had a look at the leave forms and apart from sighing heavily, the alternative would appear to be banning you from ever filling in another one.
However that would just be encouraging you, so can you let me know when you'll be free and I'll come up and visit you in the hope of getting this sorted out nicely?

Many thanks

Head hung quietly in shame I await form filling 101 reeducation... again.