The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

Cop an eye-full of that!

I’ve been having a jolly spiffing fun time the last few days. What started as a bloodshot and slightly sore eye on Tuesday night had developed to a throbbing, painful and very unpleasant time by Wednesday morning. A trip to the local GP was in order.

The conclusion from this was that I had an ulcer on the eye – or more technically, a Corneal Ulcer. The causes are many and varied – anything from trauma (ie a scratch) to a bacterial, viral, or fungal (urgh!) infection. Corneal ulcers are one of the leading causes of blindness in the developing world.

The GP’s concern meant I’ve been off work for 3 days, spent most of 2 days bored out of my brain with one eye covered, had a swab taken to check for a viral infection – the most common being Herpes – in other words, a cold-sore on the eye. Which it did not turn out to be, but if it had been then an emergency trip to a specialist was in the planning. I’ve been going back to get it checked each day.

Fortunately. it’s been getting smaller each day, and by Sunday I should be off the eye ointment. Which is another exciting thing. Eye ointment. Whoever came up with the idea of that stuff? Truly hideous… why not drops? Of course, putting eye ointment in by oneself makes for an exciting time, usually resulting in great gobs of the stuff spread over half the face. And another thing – all the internal ducts and stuff are connected. After squirting eye ointment in, it runs through and you get the joy and bliss of tasting it for next 1/2 hour.

Not something I can recommend. If you get a choice, steer clear of eye ulcers.

Today at the Financial Crisis Party

Yesterday, the party was a blast.

Gee we had fun.

The Chinese were behind the bar serving drinks, and every time we went back the prices got lower and lower. (Sometimes the beer was watered, and I shudder to think of the melamine that ended up in the whiskey, but hey, that’s market economies, right?)

The beer miners were in a corner, whooping it up. Mr Rio Tin-tin, and his pal Mr B. By-the-ton were gloating about how every last skerrick of beer they dug up could be sold  to the Chinese behind the bar, at higher and higher prices. The wanna-be beer miner, Mr Wood, was in on the act as well. His game was to rush around behind the big beer miners, dig a few holes, find some murky ground water and pass it off as beer. The Chinese wouldn’t notice, would they?

The bankers were in another corner, figuring out schemese where they could sell the beer before it was dug up. Then they got some really bright ideas and decided they could sell the empty bottles to some guys outside the party wanting to get in, only the empty bottles were disguised as full ones. A couple of fancy names helped. You should have heard the roar of laughter when “Beer Default Swaps” was suggested! And “Securitised Beer Obligations” had them going so hard they were crying.

The speculators were in another corner, egging on the beer miners and the bankers. The miners and bankers thought their enterprises were so good they formed corporations and sold shares to the speculators, who ignored what the businesses actually did. They traded the shares between themselves and pushed the prices higher and higher – much to the amusement of the miners who pissed themselves laughing.

The great unwashed wanted the music turned up louder, and demanded a few mirror balls, dancing girls, and Kylie Minogue. Somebody was sent out at midnight to try and find them all. They failed, but came back with a ute-load of corporate regulators who joined the mad scramble at the bar, demanding drinks.

Thinks got really ugly when some of the miners and most of the bankers decided to make the whole operation more “efficient” by dispensing with the bottles and glasses, and just sticking their heads directly under the draught beer tap. When questioned they said “PISS OFF, ITS BONUS TIME AND WE DESERVE THIS. YOUR TURN LATER.”

Then some neighbour called the cops.

The bankers gathered in a circle, grabbed all their money, looked really really serious and said “go away, you can’t have any of this, its OURS”. The bankers pushed half their group out, saying “sorry you lot, nice knowing you, we had a blast”, and those left agreed among themselves the speculators were a bunch of bastards for ending the party.

The speculators stopped trading the miners stocks. Lack of demand and basic economics meant that the miners stock prices promptly fell. The speculators then turned on each other and started a huge fight. After the blood, snot, and hair had been flung in all directions they stalked off in a huff and blamed the bankers for ending the party.

The miners stood around looking dazed, told Mr Wood to piss off and get serious, and decided to try and screw the Chinese behind the bar one more time anyhow, figuring that hey – the party isn’t over yet, right? Right?

The Chinese behind the bar looked at the turmoil, decided nobody was buying beer anymore, and it was time to shut up shop. When the flow of beer stopped, EVERYBODY then blamed the Chinese for ending the party.

The corporate regulators blinked in the bright lights, and did the finger pointing act: both hands pointing in opposite directions: “It was his fault. I didn’t stop the party. I wasn’t REALLY asleep in the corner, it just looked that way. I was monitoring the beer consumption REALLY CAREFULLY. Really.”

And Joe Public, outside, finally looked at those beer bottles they’d been buying off the bankers and realised they were empty.

“Dudded!” they screamed. “Those bastards have sold us empties. We believed all that stuff about them being as good as a real one in spite of funny names… like a Collateralised Securitised Beer Swap Obligation… everybody knew that was just a full bottle.”

And the bankers shook their heads NO wisely, but wouldn’t give anybody their money back. “No”, they said, “You see, we need that money for ourselves. And besides, you DID read the product disclosure statement, didn’t you? 150 pages should have been sufficient for you to know what you bought. Caveat Emptor, and all that.”

The police rounded every body up, and then decided that a special bail-out beer package was needed. A hair-of-the-dog. Easily paid from the special reserve they had been taking earlier in the evening in the form of a beer-tax. What goes around comes around, right?

Joe Public wanted to use his beer allowance to drink half, and pay half back to the bankers to service his loans. The miners were still off drunk, in some land of delusions, the speculators were passed out under a table and not interested. And the bankers said “Sure. We need a bail out. After all, we have to get OUR beer bonus from somewhere”.

AND NOW KIDDIES… you know why the world is in the hung-over, bleary-eyed mess it is today.

Straya Day comin up

Right all youse bogans, i hopes youse been payin good attenshun to all them adverts from mr rudd an the guvinmen. Cos its awstraya day comin up and we hafta have a barbie and burn chops. Cos the govermin adverts say so. And kev is da man.

I really don’t get all the horrible fake nationalist jingoism thats sprung up about Australia Day. And I doubly dislike some dipstick in the government spending my tax dollars on advertisements exhorting me to more nationalist crap. Excessive, frequent, and obvious nationalism has something rather unpleasant, even abhorrent about it. Perhaps it’s too close to American behaviour, or perhaps it’s just that strong nationalism has so often led to wars.

Bah Humbug to Straya Day.

Though this does remind me, about 20 years ago when I worked for the Guvmint doing very secret things… back in the days when envelopes from any government agency still bore “O.H.M.S.” (*)… I was one of a few lucky ones who went off to field trial some equipment I’d been helping to design and build.

We spent about 10 (or 14… can’t remember) days deep in the Flinders Ranges at this time of year. Every day was very, very hot – typical in-shade temperatures in the middle of the day were around the 40 to 45 degree mark.

Anyhow, we would leave each day for the work site, typically about 6, or maybe 6:30 am with an hours drive to arrive, work through until about 6pm, and drive back to the Wilpena motel.

This continued through weekends, after a week we knew all the staff at the motel and had eaten every single item on the dining room menu. Some of the other people staying there got curious, about this bunch of blokes who would be off at the crack of dawn each day, and back in the evening. Some little Irish fellow asked what we were doing, and quick as a flash one of the other guys replied “taking soil samples to locate ground water”. He went away satisfied, though this was about as far from the truth as you could get.

The long days continued through Australia Day, though we did make an exception: We took breakfast outside, sat around a table, and about 7 am sang, very loudly “Happy Birthday to You” (being Happy Birthday Awstraya). Then we nicked off for the day, back out to work again.


(*) O.H.M.S. is not some kind of government tribute to Georg Ohm, after whom the unit of electrical resistance is named, and who in turn gave  us Ohms Law – the foundation on which much of Electrical, Electronic, and Communication engineering is based. (Though James Clerk Maxwell is probably better credited with the ultimate foundation for all of electrical and electronic engineering, but that’s another story entirely.)

No, O.H.M.S. stood for “On Her Majesties Service”. (And now you can see where the James Bond title of many years ago sprang from – a logical extension, “On Her Majesties Secret Service”.)

Barely a Quantum and not much Solace

We went to see “Quantum of Solace” a few days ago.

What a disappointment.

Where do I start?

Where is the wit and humour? No jokes, no puns, no witty one-liners. 

Where was Q and the gadget factory? The only gadgets here were the phone (OK, it was pretty cool), and the table-surface-info-screen thingy used by M’s rent-a-geek. So somebody finally found a use for the “table-surface user interface. Wheeee!

This film had loads of action. So much damn action that I got lost in it. The good and bad guys all looked much alike, and half the time the minor players were on screen for such a short time that it was impossible to remember what they looked like or who they were, or whose side they were on.

Daniel Craig spent the whole time giving one of his 3 trade-marked looks: Insolent, Insulted, or Injured. That last one was easy to tell because of blood. The other two are hard to tell apart. He’s wooden. Can we have a real Bond, now, please?

The film is 106 minutes, and should have been 10 to 15 minutes longer. The must be hundreds of feet of film sitting on the cutting room floor. Either that or we have a “directors cut” in the wings.

Things that were cut were important: like a warning going off in the aeroplane: we get a brief shot of a warning lamp flashing but no time at all to read the text around it. We need to know! Does this mean low fuel, too low, bad guy behind you? It’s important!!

The locations were scattered all over the world, and we had brief introductions to each location with a 1950’s style text appearing “Bolivia”, “Moscow” and so on. But how did he get there? And in half the cases, why the heck was he there at all? It was not even clear why some of the locations were important.

I’m going to have to watch Casino Royale again, and then this, again. After 2 or maybe 3 viewings, it might begin to make sense. Perhaps I’ll wait for that Directors Cut.

2 out of 5.

And a score of 1 out of 5 for Hoyts Tea Tree Plaza, who could not figure out how to keep the theatre lights OFF for the duration of the film. Bringing the house lights up 1/2 an hour from the end is not a good idea. Flicking them on and off, and bringing the cleaning lights up is even worse. All cinemas struggle to get more than 3 out of 5 from me – lousy seating, poor cleaning, and way-expensive ice-creams do not aid their cause. At least keep the bloody lights turned off during the screening!

I see, I see

Today I defrosted the freezer.

The chaps have been looking forward to this day for the last week, becuase they get the “snow”.

Oldest son helped out, but as soon as there were two plastic bowls of icey frost, he was off like a shot. He, youngest son, and the son from next door spent the next 3/4 hour running after each other hurling ice.

Defrosting the freezer: costs nothing but your time, and provides the kids with an hour of zero-cost entertainment.


In other exciting news, I reviewed (very briefly) the regualar comment spam that I get bombarded with here. There are quite a few spammers trying to get nibbles (!) on sites for Paris Hilton nude.


Paris Hilton is quite unattractive. Especially the dead-eyed look.


Rick Wagoner

Has nobody else noticed the irony?

The CEO of General Motors (now advancing with begging bowl outstretched to the US government) is Rick Wagoner.


This morning I’ve been to the last of the Saturday morning school cricket matches for this year.

Today’s match was at a school which shall remain nameless, in the very-deep northern suburbs.

Looking around, I noticed that the school swimming pool, so carefully fenced to a height of 2 metres, has been filled in. The changing rooms sit there, abandoned, with pigeons cooing from the rafters. The school is a strange mix of transportable wooden buildings from about 1950, and a few more modern brick buildings – from the 1960’s. That’s modern. There are windows that have been broken and boarded up, grass grows through cracks in the paving.

The one thing, the only thing, going for this school is the oval. Which is not an oval, because its a long rectangle. But it’s green, and they have a group of parents and kids out who are having a crack at playing cricket.

This school, and this neighbourhood, is a shithole. Lowest of the low working class, permanently poor. At least a few of them are getting out and trying.

And while sitting there and watching, I’m reading the paper. With an article in it about how parents are suffering because private school fees have gone up so much more than inflation.

This comes after a week where the Federal government have had a big fuss about accountability of private schools who receive over $20 BILLION of federal taxpayers money.

And contrast this with a few months ago when, done southish with friends, we went for a walk to a nearby school to kick a ball around. This was a private school, but we used the grounds anyhow (stuff em, my bloody taxes are paying for some of it). I felt literally sick – the amount of new building work being done (a new computer complex AND gymnasium) is obscene.

Those who want private schools to be unaccountable for their funding sources, and those who defend the right of private schools to get government money, should take a look. Take a good look, at the private schools with the endless building and improvement programs. Include in those the “independent” schools – usually religious, who have likewise grown like mad in the last decade. And take a look in the working class areas at the public schools. Walk around through the grounds of both. Do it on the same day.

We have, through deliberate government action, created a two-tier education system. It was done in the name of equity. That equity has failed miserably.

Something’s wrong, folks. And nobody is brave enought to fix it. All they want to do is whine about how hard it is to pay the private fees. Boo f$#@ing hoo.

B-B-B-Brass M-M-M-Monkeys

Saturday mornings are cricket mornings.

The chaps are both mad keen criketers (chap #1 more so than chap #2), which means that for the last umpteen years, starting sometime around when dinosaurs roamed the earth, we’ve been up EARLIER THAN NORMAL WEEKDAYS to head out for the school cricket match.

This morning the radio announced at 7am that it was 8 degrees in little old Adelaide. This on the 22nd November when it’s supposed to be warmer weather.

I took a few precations and threw in a big scarf thing to wrap around the neck, and thank goodness I did.

I’ve just come back from spending 3 hours sitting in  the wind and getting rained on. When we got home it was 9.5 degrees.

I was rugged up in the usual shirt + jeans, then a jumper, my very-warm explorers jacket, a scarf, and then I found a picnic blanket in the car and wrapped that around myself as well. And was still very very cold.

On getting home I just happened to accidentally eat a piece of chocolate that was sitting in the kitchen. I was so !@#$ cold it wouldn’t melt in my mouth! The only time a piece has ever lasted 15 minutes. Ever.

At least I was better prepared for the cold than this guy, who tried to repeat his experience of Mount  Wellington last year, the day before Christmas. Today he had on only shorts and a T-shirt. At least it didn’t snow.


The view from our kitchen sink. Who can complain about washing up when you can look at this?

Nyah nyah!!

While we were away travelling, I received another summons for Jury Duty.

Seeing as I last did my community service in late 2006, and you can be excused if you did it within the last 3 years, I wrote to the Sheriff asking for such excuse.

She Who Must Be Obeyed looked at all the paperwork, found an enclosed statutory declaration and tore strips off me: “You are supposed to fill out this and send it back”.

I quietly told her that the booklet says “write to the Sheriff” not “send stat dec to Sheriff”, so write to the sherrif I done. Besides, a stat dec is a pain – you have to find a Justice of the Peace to witness it, yada yada.

A few days later, a letter came back from the Sheriff to say I was excused.

Nyah nyah nyaaaa nyah nyah!!!!!

Me? Childish? Never!

Holy Crap!

There is something very disconcerting about pointing percy at the porcelain, only to find that the porcelain is piddling back at you. Does this indicate a major biological malfunction, or is something more down-to-earth going on? Seeing as this is not the first time, the simple explanation wins.

Several months ago the other loo had a leak: the rubber thingy that couples that toilet cistern to the pan had perished. Instead of being flushed with pride, the pressing of the button led more to a case of minor leakage. On the floor. Naturally, we blamed the cat, then the chaps. Eventually reality dawned. A simple visit to the local hardware store was in order, we bought rubber thingies for all loos on the grounds that they are all the same age, so one done in, all done in.

There’s nothing I love more than a bit of crapatorial maintenance. So the obvious loo was repaired late one night amidst much mumbling, grumbling, and damaged fingers. Being just a little on the lazy side, the last rubber thingy was shoved to one side and happily forgotten. Until today, when nature called for both me and Mr Loo.

Fitting these suckers requires wedging yourself into the confined space between the wall and dunny pan, peeling back the rubber bits, and removing a bent pipe. Easy! It is fairly easy, actually. Pulling things apart is always easier than getting them back together. But being old and perished, the rubber is falling apart and wet. Black water falls out over you, the wall and the floor. Oh, and did I mention that rubber smells? Not nice. Putting the new thing onto the big lump of pipe is fairly straightforward, but getting the pipe back and all coupled up is damn near impossible. You need to avoid shoving your face into the crapper, whilst trying to see what does not fit, and why, whilst using the triple jointed fingers of midget and wrapping your arms around the pan. By the sixth or seventh attempt, all pretence at avoiding cuddling the loo is over. Give the damn thing a big squeeze, reach around, pull lumps of rubber into place, curse wildly. Success! Then a wash-down.

Such are the joys and entertainments of a weekend morning.


I had a couple of comments about this post, saying to the effect of “Whats the big deal about Barbarellas Sandwich shop. Just a building. Whoopy-doo.”

“Barbarella” was a film made in 1968, starring Jane Fonda.

With taglines like:

Who seduces an angel? Who strips in space? Who conveys love by hand? Who gives up the pill? Who takes sex to outer space? Who’s the girl of the 21st century? Who nearly dies of pleasure?

See Barbarella do her thing!

The space age adventuress whose sex-ploits are among the most bizarre ever seen.

Who can save the universe?

And Jane Fonda looking like this

And this:
Barbarella Desktop Wallpaper 1024 x 768

NOW PERHAPS WHY YOU SEE HOW IT IS THAT THE PHOTO TOOK MY FANCY – for being a teeny weeny bit off the mark!

Tis very Adelaide

Today I went out on a limb. Did something a bit brave and unusual.

It’s this blogging thing, see. It has the attraction of anonymity. Just a name on a web page, which means those who are interested can read, and those who aren’t can avoid. And, naturally, those who object can simply naff orf.

ANYHOW… using the pretext of chocolate, today, Wilma the Walrus and I went and met Kath.

Adelaide, being Adelaide suffers a couple of afflictions. One being the daily Murdock aka The Anaesthetiser, the other being that everybody is either related, or known to somebody who is your uncle, cousin, brother, or neighbour. In this case, Kath lives opposite Wilma’s big sister. (Sigh). Very Adelaide.

So, dragging the story out, we dropped the chaps at Bonython Park for a friends birthday and then headed off to an appointment with Adelaide’s very own chocolate critic and reviewer. A couple of kilos of chocolate bought in Europe and unavailable here was the excuse needed to break down the barriers of anonymity. A bottle of Fox Creek Vixen seemed an appropriate way to start proceedings.

Three hilarious hours, one bottle of sparkling red, a couple of coffees, and two chocolate reviews later it was time to buzz off, see Wilma’s sister, look a photos, gasbag about the holiday – with lunch from La Casa Del Pane on Magill Rd. The best italian foccacia you can get!

Finally, we collected the sunburnt chaps and headed home.

On the chocolate front: We can’t get the Lindt Williams Pear in Australia (yet) – all the more reason to try that one. Similarly, the Cote D’Or Noir Sesame was something we only saw in France and Germany, and it does not seem to be available in other countries. Being an unusual combination, this was naturally also worthy of detailed scrutiny. Reviews should be appearing soon on chocablog. But what do I think of them:

The Williams Pear: a lightish milk chocolate, not too sweet (hooray). The filling is a pear liquor: sharp, tangy, not overly pearish. (Put american accent on): Fahn, fahn, mahty fahn.

The Noir Sesame was an absolute standout sensation. The dark chocolate has sesame seeds through it, but the sesame flavour is not overpowering. It’s not as though somebody upended the sesame oil bottle. Instead, its a really nice flavour combination. It just works, we were all a little surprised at how well. Maybe the sesame seeds had been toasted a little, they give a nice crunch. Damn good. Bring it here!

And finally: Adelaide, being Adelaide has one last trick up it’s sleeve. We still have mounted police. No, not on a pedestal. And no, clean minds only please. As in riding horses on patrol. The horses are the Police Greys, and they live in the parklands right next to the main carpark for the Bonython Park. When the horses aren’t working they are grazing amongst a grove of hundred-odd year old olive trees, and any fool can pat them or hop the 3-wire fence and photograph them. Some things are still simple, and free.


Two videos worth watching- this will take about an hour out of your day: Why you should not speak to police officers. And following from that talk, the reply by the police officer.

This is all presented by Americans, and based on US law. But in Australia there is still a right to remain silent, so the same principle applies.

All those mystery novels and detective shows on TV… some of the games played are closer to the truth than you might first think. Some of what the police officer has to say are confirmed by my previous Jury Duty 18 months or so ago.

Lesson: if interviewed, don’t say anything. At. All.


I was driving Dads Taxi out the pick up the chaps from Table Tennis this evening. Couldn’t bear the Olympics commentary, so skipped a few radio stations. Landed on AM, ABC, 791. They have a show on Friday nights called Music Deli, which just happened to be playing an Arlo Guthrie concert that was sometime in the last year or so, probably in Sydney.

Suddenly, for the first time, I heard some but not all of “Alice’s Restaurant”… Glued to the radio while waiting for the guys, and on the way home, then rushed inside to fiddle a radio and get the tail end. So I managed to get a total of about 40-45 minutes of what was probably an hour or two. It’s supposed to appear on the ABC web site some time.

He’s an engaging performer who links a concert with stories and anecdotes, something that always makes what’s being presented a bit more appealing. Since it finished, a quick check shows that Mr YouTube can  dish up all manner of gems.

So for those who want to wallow in a bit of PROTEST GENRE…

Alice’s Restaurant is fun… you need to set aside 18 minutes – apparently he has been known to spin this out to 45 minutes at times :)

City of New Orleans rings a bunch of bells from somewhere back in the dim dark 1980’s – or earlier.

And don’t miss Whoopy Ti, with the muppets from 1979!

Ahh…. muppets… something for another post some time. Fortunately YouTube has vast amounts of it, you can get a fix now and again.


Many years ago, when Wilma the Walrus and I had done with slaughtering dinosaurs in the back garden (that’s an indication of how long ago – and how long our children think it must have been), we went on a big overseas holiday.

Part of this involved a bus tour around bits of Europe. As you do.

Along the way we had to take a ferry across the English Channel. We were both seasick, but eventually found some seats roughly in the middle where the constant upping and downing from the swell was a bit reduced, and dozed off.

Now you know how it is when you have a nap in the day… noises become part of the dreams. I was dreaming of a giant fly, buzzing around, Bzzzz…  Brrrrr…. Grrrr…. Bzzzz…. Eventually I woke up enough to realise this was actually a rather large American chap, about 60 or so years old, about 10 metres away, and talking. Well… droning.

My first thought was to be thankful we would soon arrive and be away from that guy.

Imagine then, my reaction to find he was on the same bus tour and we had him, sitting down the back of the bus, droning on, for the next 2 weeks.

I never found his name, but I christened him ‘Mort’. He looked like a Mort.

Mort would sit down the back, always in the same seat, and doze during the days when he was not droning on and boring somebody to death. When he wasn’t droning or boring, his most common utterance was “Is it tahm ta eat?”

Naturally there were a bunch of Aussies as well, all slightly ratbag, as is the way. I was talking to some of them and called this guy ‘Mort’ in conversation. “Who’s Mort?”, they asked. I pointed him out. I never explained that Mort was my name for him.

(you can see where this is going)

Some time later, I overheard one of them talking to him: “No, Mort, the Roman ruins are over there…” or something like that. Mort looked confused…. who was this Mort guy this other mad aussie was referring to?

Wally rapidly did the exit-stage-left.

Business today

This about sums up the way our current free markets and regulators work.


Pop over to the captain for some pics of the damage to the Qantas 747 with the exploding oxygen bottle.

Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Front door / back door

Today whilst wandering around the hacienda, clearing up some of the mess from the truck smash of a few weeks ago, I was ruminating (as you do when feeding a couple of cubic metres of tree through a mulcher) about conventions for going to other peoples houses.

When I was a kid, if it was somebody you knew, you always went to the back door. The back was usually the kitchen door and close to the occupied living areas. You never ever went to the front door. The front door usually led into a lounge room or similar, a special place for visitors that was kept clean and tidy, certainly not somewhere for kids to go and mess it up. For somebody you didn’t know, the front door was of course the way to go. Even when gates started to appear you could always open them, and it was still easy and normal to make an appearance at the back door.

These days, gates are far more common and usually locked. Back yards and back doors are considered private. With a few rare exceptions, I wouldn’t dream of arriving at most peoples houses and going to the back door. Perhaps going around the back carries an implied need to be invited. As well, modern house designs seem less amenable to easily popping around to a back door anyhow. But it seems a social norm has changed over the last 20 or 30 years. Not sure if this is a change for the better or not.


A couple of months ago, the SWMBO and I spent a happycrappy Saturday morning trying to find me a new pair of shoes.

This all came about because Rivers dropped one of their catalogues through the junk-mail-inbox, and I finally decided to give them a go. So orf to Rivers.

Now I don’t know if every Rivers store is like the one close to us – a “clearance” store. But in this store there are no staff, apart from the one on the checkout taking yer money. Everything is rack-em-and-stack-em to the ceiling. The shoes were all over the place, just finding a PAIR was difficult. The weird thing was, I was eventually able to find a pair where the right fitted fine, but do you think I could get the left shoe on? Not a hope. The lack of a PERSON to help out, the self-promoting advertising on endless loop, and not finding anything to fit… not a good start. Slightly pissed orf, chaps.

From there, we found another place flogging shoes, another “discount” operation. This place had commercial radio – SA-FM or something like that blasting loud enough to shake my ribcage. Talk about inane chatter. No wonder I don’t listen to commercial radio. 20 minutes of that and if I still had the will to live, I’d be taking pleasure in poking my eyes out with a fork.

Eventually, born of desperation and a desire not to come home empty-handed, I found a pair of plain black business shoes. Dammit though, the right fits fine, but the left….

I’ve never had this trouble before, and the old shoes fit just fine.

There must be something about modern shoe makers, left shoes are all a size smaller. Some strange conspiracy to mess with the minds of us shoe-wearing public.

Dr Horrible

This is a scream:

Dr Horribles Sing-along Blog.

I can’t say any more. :)

Why can’t I use a CF lamp in a refrigorator?

I’ve had a question from a Jeremy, who asks after reading THIS POST:

“I have a question about CF globes and why we cant use them in our refrigerators? Is there a danger of the Mercury leeching-out?”

Answer: There are 3 reasons:

Firstly, CF lamps have a warm up time, this is usually about 2 to 5 minutes. Until warmed up, the light output of a CF lamp is dramatically lower than after it has warmed up. Because typically a refrigerator will be opened for a few minutes at most, the CF lamp will always be running during the warm-up time. So you just won’t get much light.

Second, CF lamps work better when run for long periods of time. Lighting a hallway – fine. Switching on and off frequently like for example in a toilet, bathroom, etc. Not so good. Lots of switching reduces the operating life of the lamp. A fridge is a good example of a lamp that is going to be switched on and off a lot.

Third, really a re-iteration of the warm-up time thing but with a bit more of a technical twist:

CF lamps work like all fluorescent lamps, which is that the electrical energy creates a plasma inside the tube, and the plasma gives off ultra-violet light. Normally this won’t do you a lot of good, but it turns out that by coating the inside of the tube with the right kind of phosphor, the UV light is absorbed by the phosphor, and it in turn emits visible light. The exact wavelength (colour) of the visible light depends on the phosphor used.

Now the emitted light from the plasma is very poor and pretty useless unless you add a tiny bit of mercury, and it’s actually the mercury as a vapour, in the plasma, that causes the UV light to be produced which tickles the phosphor which gets excited and makes the visible light.

BUT…. there are two OTHER characteristics of a fluroescent lamp: Firstly, the mercury HAS to be a vapour and at room temperature it is usually solid. So the warm-up time is actually a strong function of the time for the mercury to vaporise. And then, the optimal emission of light from a CF lamp occurs when the WALL temperature of the lamp (ie the tube) is about 50 degrees C. Lower or higher and the light output is reduced.

Now, when you stick your CF lamp in a fridge you have those two effects working against you: The lamp is off and cold, so turning it on will have a longer warm up time. The warm-up time I mention in (1) above is typical from room temperature. A fridge will be at about 0 to maybe 4 degrees C. So you have to raise the temperature of the lamp by an extra 15 to 20 degrees, and this takes time. So the warm up time is longer because it will take longer for the mercury to vaporise. And secondly, your chances of getting optimal light output (where you get most bang for your buck) are a whole lot lower because the inside of a fridge is jolly cold, so its harder to get the tube up to 50 degrees of thereabouts.

Of course, the longer you leave the fridge door open, the more light will come from the CF tube, but this rather defeats the purpose of having a fridge.

[If you ever have the good fortune to work on the design of some systems for extreme cold, you find that the fluorescent lamps have a small heater wire wrapped around the tube to warm it up by passing an electic current though that wire. They also have sophisiticated control and measuring systems to activate that heater.]

Bless you my son for thou art rude

Black box

Thank you Jeremy. There are some things in your blog which I think are just a bit beyond the pale. But it is yours after all.

But this one is a gem: Beyond the myths about the Black Box Flight Data Recorder. Well worth spending the 1/2 hour or so to read.

Pertinant for me in some ways because I worked for a time for one of the government defence labs, the cousin to A.R.L. Got to know the beuracracy well :)

No, no, no, Mr Jones (warning: Spoilers)

Went with a small group from SWMBO’s work the other day to see the latest Indiana Jones movie.

Aside from the usual thrills, spills, and adventure, this one was silly.

Here’s a list of the really apparent sillinesses, in a very rough order of silliness, except when the orders not in order cos it gets in the way of a good rant:

  1. Mr Jones DID NOT need to meet ET. That was SILLY.
  2. And If Mr Jones DID meet ET, Mr ET DID NOT need to have a bloody great big flying SAUCER ! That was SILLY.
  3. Mr Jones was finding ET brains in a giant US military warehouse full of valuable stuff, in the desert, near where an atomic bomb is being let off. It’s so dangerous that the area is closed off (fair enough) BUT WHY HAVE A WAREHOUSE THERE FULL OF VALUABLE STUFF ?? A WAREHOUSE OF VALUABLE STUFF IN THE FALL-OUT ZONE OF AN A-BOMB IS SILLY.
  4. Mr Jones FALLs through a whole bunch of stuff and lands on a rocket motor sitting on a test track. When fired, the rocket test rig runs on rails out of the building and roars off outside. WHY would anybody do an indoor start and an outdoor finish for a rocket motor test? SILLY. Rocket motors are tested TETHERED to the group with huge great hooks.
  5. But equally, how could he fall from ground level, down, into stuff, and still end up at ground level? That was SILLY.
  6. Then the control panels for the rocket motor test had big countdown timers made from red LEDs. The film was set in 1957. The LED had not been invented. They should have used Nixie Tubes. Using LEDs was SILLY and OFFENSIVE because it was simply historically inaccurate.
  7. The lead lined refrigerator was SILLY.
  8. The flight in the lead line refrigerator was REALLY SILLY though we could all see that one coming.
  9. Falling down the waterfalls and surviving the fall… that was SILLY.
  10. The monster ants picking the evil dude up and carrying him away, that was so SILLY I was laughing out loud at it.

All in all, I spose it was OK, but this time, Mr Lucas and Mr Speilberg really have excelled themselves in silliness. All the other Indiana Jones films have been implausible, but this one takes the cake for totally reckless silly implausibility.


For SILLINESS: 9 / 10 (on a scale of higher = more silly)

For an Adventure Ripping Yarn: 7 / 10 (on a scale of higher = a better yarn)

Some other others were better.

Street Lights… not

We must be some kind of crap poor second cousins where I live.

Tonight when heading out for dinner with Mum & Dad we counted 7 street lights not working, all within 1km or less of our house.

Some of them have been busted for quite a long time.

So on the way home we armed ourselves with pencil and paper, and VERY SUSPICIOUSLY crawled down the roads, casing the joints, noting down all the locations.

I’ve just logged 7 reports of broken street lights on the ETSA Utilities web site.

I’ll either get a civic service medal, or reported to the police for being a public nuisance.

I wonder how long it will take for them to be repaired. AGES I HOPE. ETSA utilities claim they will pay $20 per day to the first person to report, if they don’t repair within 5 days. We’ll see :)

Walking at Waterfall Gully

Today we did something “different”. After an early start, leaping out of bed at 9:30am (hey, this is Sunday, the day made for sleeping in), we hoofed it to Waterfall Gully for a bit of a walk.

Oldest son was itching for walking: “c’mon, c’mon”. He was bitterly disappointed to find that the walk from the car part to the first falls was a mere 200 metres:

First Falls

After messing with his brain a bit, we took the path to the top of the first falls, and from there headed up. He was dead keen to do the 3.4 km walk to the top of Mount Lofty but we dissuaded him, and instead took the 1.5 km track to Eagle-On-The-Hill.

Along the way, I had to leap into the creek for some messing about with the new camera. I really like the effect you can get with running water and a SLOW shutter speed. In this case, about 1/10th second makes the water all swirly:

There IS water in the creek

A quick stop along the way at Second Falls:

Second Falls

Then, up, up and more up:

Onward and upward

As you climb, the view out over the city gets better and better. But I really liked the view over the valley to the far hillside with the white trunks of the trees visible:

White trunks

Finally, after about an hour, we made it to the top (with a very boring photo of the OLD main road at Eagle on the Hill, which is not worth putting here). At the top we were somewhat surprised to actually find the obligatory drop-bear:

Drop-bear at the top

From here, the same trip downhill all the way was a mere 25 minutes!

An hour’s sleep after getting home helps in recovering. The ability to walk should come back in 3-4 days…


Once upon a time, a long time ago, my father-in-law took me (back in the courting days), along with a few others, down one of the mine tunnels on his property in the Adelaide Hills.

Then came a long story: back in the 1970’s he’d been out one day and found this long-haired bushy bearded chap wandering around in one of his paddocks. After a bit of “what the heck are you doing”, this guy turned out to be from the SA Dept. of Mines. He was investigating the old mine workings in the area, and was particularly interested in the Scott’s Creek Silver Rush.

So the father-in-law brought him back to the house, fed him lunch, showed him around, gave the guy the OK to dig out some of the old mine entrances and investigate. Which he did.

Later, he wrote a huge report and out of gratitude he gave a copy to my father-in-law. This was over 30 years ago, and the copy of the report is still kept by the family.

It was made on one of those old 1970’s wet process photocopiers, the pages are now getting speckled and starting to fade.

No doubt there are other copies buried somewhere in the archives of some successor govt department.

But in the interests of local history, the Dump family have just finished scanning and digitising all 120-odd pages. It’s all been through an OCR process so that the text is completely recovered, minor typos have been corrected, but it is otherwise generally presented and formatted in all its original manual-typewriter glory – with one big difference. The original was line-and-a-half spaced, this time the text is single-spaced. (That’s why the page count is lower).

For the history buffs, its HERE. (Beware: about 10 MB).

It’s fascinating to see how much money was sunk (literally) into the development of these mines. In most cases, everything invested was lost. There was more money to be made in growing spuds.

What age?

Today the oldest came home from school with a big letter & form about the kiddies applying for a Tax File Number. He’s nearly 15, by the way.

It seems that they are going to be taught about The Importance Of Tax File Numbers, and such like.

Further, they can register for a tax file number (which, in Australia, you keep for life). The registration process is somewhat more relaxed than required by a normal Joe Citizen.

But all this raises the issue of our Governments having their cake and eating it too:

  • You can get a tax file number at any age, so the government can track you as a good little citizen: You are good enough to lodge a tax return every year.
  • But you can’t drink alcoholic thingies until you are 18 years old.
  • You can’t operate a bank account or sign a contract until you are 18. Before then you are not considered to be a “natural person”.
  • But you can get married at 16 with parents consent, and 18 otherwise.
  • And you can drive a car from age 16!

Why, oh, why, is there no uniformity in any of this?

Why can you drive a car if you can’t sign a contract to buy it, or insure it?

Why can you have a tax file number and lodge a tax return when you don’t exist as a person in the eyes of the law?

And how can juniors be employed?

Ah! With parental consent!

But this is all crazy, if not good enough to do one thing, surely a person should be not good enough to do the others!

Madness all around us! Yet another example.

The geek songbook – part 1

With a few wee technical troubles at work, I’ve been contributing to the intellectual discussion by more poetry. Then I decided that the BLUES were the go.

Turns out writing anything much as a blues tune is a snap. Just put yourself in the mind of some big soulful black American, grab a bunch of cliches, and go.

Completely off topic of the work technical troubles, this one just came to me. Any under the age of about 40 won’t have a clue what any of this is about.

Oh ah got the blues…
the IBM acronymn blues…

See mah DASD has stopped a spinnin
Mah IPL wont load
Mah VTAMs gone to hell n back
And ah dont know what to do

Ah got the blues
The IBM acronymn blues

Mah TSO won’t login
Mah SPF’s in smoke
Ah can’t get past the CMS
And mah MVS aint stoked

Ah got the blues
The IBM acronymn blues

See now mah JCL has hit the fan
Mah CICS aint kickin ass
Mah IMS cant index
Aaaaaaaaand the COBOLs in the pan

Ah got the bluessssssssssssss
The Iiii Bbbbbbbb Mmmmmmmm acronymn bluesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

Now if this is what I can do in 5 minutes at lunch break, just imagine what I can do given 1/2 an hour !

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