Thursday, December 29, 2005
I'm still in Southern Illinois with a slow internet connection, but those of you with a faster ISP you might try checking out the festivities in New York online this year. Who knows, maybe they'll have fewer commercials than on the TV.
And if I don't get in any more posts (I don't plan on it) Happy New Year!!
Friday, December 23, 2005
It's capable of generating 1200 lbs of thrust, virtually garaunteeing that if that unwanted someone gets on this contraption, they'll either dissapear completly or end up waving from the back of an ambulance.
Then Plato unto Aristotle, "Thank you, I prefer the bottle."
And now for something completly different.
The last guest has just left and I'm taking a break from picking up the place to share just a few glimpses of the evening. Sadly, during the shank of the party when everyone was sitting at the table and in the living room socializing I wasn't thinking about the camera (too busy enjoying myself) So the shots skip straight from the food to the sleepy, slap happy phase of the party.
I had to document this, simply because I so rarely have this much food out at one time. I even made the cake from scratch.
That was taken before anyone arrived, from there we skipped to the sleepy/bored part of the party where Steve and Eva started messing around with cameras.
Then Bo and Anna got in on the act.
Somehow Eva and I got caught on camera while performing a favorite number from The Eagles. (What can I say, I was in the mood to hear "Desperado")
Our game of "catchphrase" broke up as D, Darwin, and Jess were captivated searching an Illinois map for previously unknown (to us) cities. Bo, looking slightly dejected over the demise of his party game, memorizes the catchphrase terms for future reference.
Shortly thereafter we all had to say our goodbyes. Thanks for coming everyone. And for those who didn't make it, hope to see you soon!
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
The latest virus to make the news is, as usual, reliant upon people who haven't updated in a while. So patch up now unless you want to meet Dasher.
Holiday parties aren't the only places to catch viruses!
Sunday, December 18, 2005
(Scrappy, please tell me this kind of thing isn't commonplace down there.)
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Today it looks like I'll be pretty busy. I have to turn in the car, finish some holiday shopping, get food for Thursday (I have a bachelor's kitchen, there's hardly any food in it), and get the place looking presentable for guests.
Meanwhile, I'm sure most of the regulars from U of I have now finished finals, so congratulations on surviving another semester. Kick back and enjoy yourself this weekend!
"Well... the only thing I can think of is this... my wife made me some asparagus about four months ago with this stuff on it... Hollandaise sauce she called it... and doctor, I'm talking' DELICIOUS! I've never tasted anything like it, and ever since then I've been putting it on everything...meat, fish, toast, vegetables... you name it!"
"That's probably it," replied the dentist. "Hollandaise sauce is made with lemon juice, which is acidic and highly corrosive. It seems as though I'll have to install a new plate, but made out of chrome this time."
"Why chrome?" the man asked."Well, everyone knows that there's no plate like chrome for the Hollandaise!"
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Tomorrow I'll be going to work for a while then hopefully driving BACK to Chicago. Oh yeah, there may be "some snow" on the way back too. Don't you love my timing?
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
"Because," he said, "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Oh well, I can still chuckle at the antics of other people trying to drive in the snow.
Monday, December 12, 2005
However, while I've always thought of legos as good for building cars, boats, planes and other similar such things. What I never thought about was using them in a slightly more err... artistic (?) manner.
Note: Badwidth overload?
Escher's Relativity! Go check it out!
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Does anyone remember the family guy episode where they painted the station wagon to look like the General Lee? This is even better
Not one, but TWO cars that are almost laughable on their own, but are head shakingly sad when you slap the stars and bars on the roof.
I like the dodge charger as much as any red-blooded American male, and I can see how having a charger decked out in General Lee colors would be fun, but c'mon guys!! The wierdest thing, is that if I can run onto two of these cars while casually looking at e-bay, this can't be just an isolated thing.
I don't care how much you like the dukes, save some face and go get a dull paint job guys.
Of course if the same thing can be said about all legumes and soy products I'm surprised it hasn't in some way impacted the population of many asian societies. Still...makes you wonder.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
A student in Ukraine reportedly had to be freed by rescuers on after dropping his mobile phone down a toilet and getting his arm stuck trying to retrieve it.
For some reason, they didn't say if he ever got the phone back.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Some guy hit my fender the other day, and I said unto him 'Be fruitful, and multiply.' But not in those words.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
A lady called up and said she had been waiting for three days for her computer to “resume Windows” (pronounced “res-u-may Windows”).
Customer: “It’s been sayin’ res-u-may Windows for three days. Now what should I do?”
Tech Support: “Have you tried to reboot the computer?”
Customer: “Yeah, it keeps on res-u-may-in’.”
Tech Support: “When you reboot do you see the [company] logo?”
Customer: “Yeah, it’s always there on the TV screen.”
Fifteen minutes later, I figured out that this woman thinks the logo I’m talking about is the monitor brand name on the frame of the monitor, and she has been “rebooting” by turning the monitor off and on again.
I finally got her to reboot properly (a miracle in itself), and then:
Customer: “It says, ‘Last try of hibernatin’ is no good, try again, mash yes or no.’”
Tech Support: “Is that exactly what it says?”
Customer: “Yeah, should I mash ‘yes’ or ‘no’?”
Tech Support: “Click on ‘yes,’ please.”
Customer: “I don’t know how to do that. Should I mash it?”
Tech Support: “Yes, [gritting teeth] mash ‘yes.’”
Customer: “Why does it keep on a-doin’ that? Tryin’ to hibernate and all — does it get tired if I use it too much?”
Tech Support: “Well, actually…if it keeps trying to hibernate, that must mean that it is way to cold in the room that you have it in. I suggest that you turn up the heater. That should help.”
Customer: “Really? What if that doesn’t work? Then what should I do?”
Tech Support: “Turn off the computer and–”
Customer: “By mashing the button right?”
Tech Support: “–uh, yeah, mash the button…then unplug it from the wall and wrap it in a few warm blankets for a few days. That always seems to help mine.”
Customer: “Thanks! You’ve been so helpful! I’ll go turn up the heat right now!”
Now if you'll pardon me, it's a bit cool in here and I need to go get the electric blanket for my computer.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Sadly, this isn't the first mishap these guys have had. With service like that I wouldn't be surprised if they lost their license. Oh well. The demolition business is always boom and bust
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
It looks like I'm pretty well unpacked and settled in. It's nice to be back, but I really did enjoy myself on this trip, especially in Australia. All that's left of the trip is some unexchanged money and some souveniers. And memories of course!
The good news is that I'm going back to Australia again very soon (from what I hear, it could be as soon as the first week of January!!)
Monday, December 05, 2005
A computer nerd powers on the computer, and while booting, runs through to the coffee pot and gets the coffee started. While the coffee is starting to brew, he runs back and begins the load of the editor/compiler/whatever.
He then dashes back to the coffee pot and replaces the pot with his mug (you can recognize his mug, the glaze has been etched off the inside), and fidgets or hits a few more keys while the mug is filling with that first, high-impact slug. He probably drinks the entire thing before beginning work, because it's hard to edit a file before the screen comes into focus.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. .
The helmets amplify frequency bands that coincide with those allocated to the US government between 1.2 Ghz and 1.4 Ghz. . . It requires no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the current helmet craze is likely to have been propagated by the Government, possibly with the involvement of the FCC.
I really don't know who is more amusing, the people who wear these helmets or the guys at MIT investigating them.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Siemens' domestic appliances division has come up with the ultimate invention for the lazy bachelor (or other domestically challenged individual) who happens to have $1700 dollars begging to be spent.
Introducing the "Dressman Shirt Iron!" This little beauty does anything an old fashioned iron could and more! (But not much more) It's fully adjustable to different shirt sizes, and has 12 different programmable options for different fabrics. I don't know why you need 12 different options as I can only think of about 4 major types of fabrics that are used in shirts.
The thing that really struck me about this, is that someone with my (limited) needlecraft skills and a little determination could easily buy some army surplus parachute material, build some kind of support stand, and hook it all up to a hairdryer. It wouldn't look as fancy, and wouldn't have the bells and whistles, but would do the same thing for 1/10th of the price.
Or we could all just go back to using those "old fashioned" things called ironing boards instead.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
- The Rev EB Evans
Letter to Frederick Handley Page
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
I don't seem to have that problem in IE, but Firefox makes it look kinda warped.
Time to upgrade I think.
Update: Upgraded to firefox 1.5 and everything's back to normal. Maybe it was just a fluke.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
AA 7214 and AA 154 which should put me into O'Hare at about 3:30 PM November 30.
It'll feel good to be on US soil again. Unfortunately it won't feel so good being in the US weather. I'm wearing shorts and t-shirts here, but I know in Chicago I would be freezing my butt off in these clothes.
Of course I'll most likely go into work on Thursday and Friday, but that won't be hard work compared to what I've been doing most of these last three weeks. Yes, I know I've been posting non-work related stuff, but really since I left Chicago there have only been about 3 days when I didn't go to work. I got out and enjoyed myself a little on those days. I actually planned to have some more non-work related days, and even went out on little sight-seeing trips only to get back and find out I had to go to work and work late that night.
But that's over for the moment. I'm back to working normal hours for a couple days and then I'll take a nice weekend (maybe a long one) to relax. After that, who knows. At least I've got plenty of days off around Christmas this year.
This is the symbol of Singapore: the lion headed fish. If memory serves, this goes back to the early British explorers who (mistakenly) thought they had seen a lion here. In fact, Singapore, when loosely translated, is called "lion's city." (again, all information is subject to the failure of the author's memory)
The Esplanade Theatre center on the waterfront is a lovely (though certainly not cuddly) looking building. There are frequent performances of various genre's held here. Sadly I couldn't get any tickets to interesting events on short notice.
I wanted to get a few shots that captured the grandeur of the Singapore skyline, but have encountered some difficulties. It's best to be at least 15 stories up (not a problem) have at least a 180 degree view facing towards the business district (not quite as easy) and have a REALLY WIDE ANGLE lens. I couldn't get the last bit of that. So I'm taking the cheater's way out and stealing a picture from elsewhere.
It's pretty incredible.
Monday, November 28, 2005
What really gets me is that I must pay extra for internet access, and it isn't even that fast either. That alone gives your average holiday inn a leg up in my book. I can't even say that I care much for all the ornamentation in the room either. When you're only staying in a place for a few days, it doesn't make a bit of difference if the desktop is real oak or just printed.
Things I have noticed about Singapore:
Every country has some kind of national pass-time. Here, it's shopping. My hotel is on Orchard Avenue which is absolutely lined with shops that are almost identical to any you will find in an upscale neighborhood in America. The prices are at least the same as what you might see in America, in many cases higher. That doesn't seem to stop people from shopping. The streets here are as crowded as Las Vegas here. Walking could be a real competitive sport here, because going "upstream" requires a lot of dodging and weaving or just pushing through people. I'm a pretty big (tall) guy here, and yet walking a straight line on any sidewalk requires bracing one's shoulder against the oncoming traffic.
You can shop for electronics here, but if you pay the sticker price you are getting ripped off. You pretty much have to ask what the price is, say "I'll take it for ___" and then walk away unless you get a counter-offer.
Cars are incredibly expensive here. Not because of the car itself, but because of the licensing. It costs some 60k per year to license a car. Naturally only the rich actually drive cars here, so lots of people are left to find other modes of transportation. The rail and bus systems are very good, and the taxi's are EVERYWHERE!!! At times, you can't wave at someone on the street without flagging one down.
This place is clean, almost unbelievably so. The only exception is Little India. Even that is not dirty so much as un-tidy.
The British split this place up into various communities during the colonial days. They seemed to think that people could not get along. The result is a Chinatown, Little India, and Malaysian region with very different cultural flavors. And of course, on top of it all is the very western looking capitalist segment which seems to control most of the island.
In any American factory, if you say "Finish this slogan '_______ first!'" then the answer would be "Safety." But I just walked into a factory here and one of the first things I saw was "Quality is our first priority." Not to say that there aren't safety measures, it's just clear, from the people and the mottos, that safety takes a back seat to quality and production.
There's a significant division in the labor force here. In the factory where I've been working you have the basic floor workers who are mostly foreign, don't speak much, if any, English and wear blue work shirts all day. The management employees are more likely to speak English, and are easily identified by their white shirts. (some of these have come from the ranks of the floor workers, and they can still hold their own, turning wrenches and running the machines) And then the office staff dresses as casually or formally as they like and sits in the air-con rooms most of the day.
I must admit, I'd prefer the rural atmosphere of Ballarat to this. It seems to be busy here at all hours where in Ballarat I could take a 10PM stroll and just see a few people still in the cafes and shops and some store-keepers locking up. It was quite pleasant really. This is just too busy for my tastes. Good news is, it looks like I'll be back in Ballarat sometime next year (early next year if my guess is right.)
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Australia has more of a European style cafe culture than I'm used to. While I'm out getting breakfast (at an terribly late hour) there are people sitting by themselves, quietly drinking coffee, reading the paper or watching traffic. There's certainly no "hurry up and order and pay your tab so you can get out of here" attitude that you see in most non-college towns in America.
Speaking of cafes, the food here is excellent. Everywhere I go the food is freshly prepared in the kitchen, by a real cook. It's a shame it's so hard to get real food made from scratch in the states, but I guess people are accustomed to frozen, mass produced food and there's little chance of going back.
There's virtually no tipping here. Usually food includes a service fee, and I'm told the minimum wage is typically considered to be adequate. Although it's nice to not bother figuring a tip, I have yet to see any waiters or waitresses really hustle to serve you, but that may just be the result of the more relaxed dining style here.
The hotel has only 5 channels on the TV. I mentioned this to some of the locals and their opinion is that the proliferation of channels in America has lead to hundreds more bad TV shows that get filtered out here since airtime is at a premium. Of course I think it's just nice to just click through 4 or 5 channels and then go outside because there's nothing good on.
Ford sells cars here that have a 4.0 liter STRAIGHT SIX under the hood! I want one of those engines in my car!!! I suppose the EPA might have something to say about me bringing one of them into the country. Darn.
When you're crossing the West Gate Bridge at night you realize, Melbourne is HUGE! The lights stretch on for as far as I can see.
Some highways here have variable speed limits depending upon the traffic (and presumably the conditions) They're marked with LED signs that flash various speeds. People really obey these too, in fact almost nobody speeds here.
I'd like to know how in the heck a pub in Brisbane managed to get ahold of a keg of "Old Speckled Hen" because, I've been told that this (typically unpasturized) beer is only available in a small section of England, and there's no way that an unpasturized beer would be shipped (quite literally) to the other side of the globe and still taste good.
It was a really pretty drive there and back. When you're close to the coast the landscape is rather lush (it gets all the moisture and leaves none for the inland regions) making it look almost tropical. It doesn't look that different than driving down highway 1 in California. The really striking difference is the smell. The ocean smell isn't that strong, but along most of the Great Ocean Road you can roll down the windows and get a lovely dose of eucalyptus scent from all the gum trees. What a marvelous time.
Of course as soon as I was back at the hotel I found out I had to go back to the plant and work for an extra 5 or 6 hours solving problems that cropped up in my absence. Such is life.
Here's one from the machine shop where it looks as though they are restoring (among other things) an old slide valve steam engine.
There were several operational steam engines. This one was running the equipment in the wheel-wright's shop. Unfortunately it wasn't under it's own power (it was probably for maintenance reasons) but was being turned by an electric motor hidden away from the public. Still, it looked nice enough, and if I hadn't noticed the electrical humming and lack of exhaust steam, I might not have cared.
This isn't a bad place, but it's not quite as nice as Ballarat or Melbourne. This has more of a big city feel (less green space) than the other places I have been. It's quite pretty crossing the river at night, but it has almost a Star-Wars feel to it because you're surrounded by such massive amounts of construction (in numbers and size)
More posts this afternoon if I have more time to get to the computer.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Of course there's another sort of risk that comes mostly from other people, it's the "while you're in the neighborhood" effect, or in this case the "while you're in that hemisphere" effect. There's talk of a meeting in Tokyo. If that's combined with the delays I'm expecting in the Singapore segment of the trip, it could be a while before I come back. No worries though! I figure all I have waiting for me in Chicago right now is an empty apartment, and I can't say that I'm too eager to leave. I have yet to meet an ugly woman in Ballarat, so I'd have to be nuts to really want to leave.
Before the trip to Queensland though, maybe I should say another word or three about my time in Ballarat. It's a pleasant place with plenty to do (when you have the time) To get an idea, go to www.ballarat.com and look at all of the attractions, and activities. I've barely scratched the surface of that list and already I'm sold on this town.
Of course one of the big attractions for me was the history of the town. This was originally a boom town of the gold mining era (mid 1800s) and was the center of a significant, albeit brief, revolt against British authority.
To keep this bit of history alive, they've created a living history village (which is quite large) with all sorts of shops, machinery, artifacts from the gold rush era.
This was only one of roughly three main thoroughfares through the living history village. Every building had something and someone on the inside. There were even functional steam engines running shops full of machines using old belt and lineshaft power supplies.
Really quite incredible if you ask me.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
I got a chance to visit a wildlife park (really almost a petting zoo) and while this may seem like an activity for little kids, it was actually a nice chance to become acquainted with Australian wildlife without threat to one's well being.
Ballarat's wildlife park is fairly large with a nice assortment of animals. They have several Koalas which you can pet and cuddle under supervision (they're usually very calm but can hurt you if they're feeling threatened.) They're incredibly soft, giving them the look and feel of some kind of stuffed toy.
From cute to almost repulsive...The tazmanian devil (largest surviving marsupial) looks to me like some kind of 'possum on steroids. I tried to get a good picture of it, but it wouldn't hold still. It just kept running around looking for food, gobbling, and then retreating to the darkness of it's den. No table manners and certainly not soft and cuddly.
Moving right along, I got a glimpse of some of the longest living creatures on the planet. No petting here, but somehow I'm not too disappointed.
And what else would you see in Australia, but Kangaroos!! They were quite friendly (they should be, they've been fattened up on food from all of the tourists) and they essentially roamed the grounds getting petted and fed by one person after another.
They mostly acted rather lazy, but the ones who were hungry would walk right up to anyone and let you pet them and feed them (mostly grains) without any hesitation.
Pretty fun, and there's more to come!
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Now for the things I hadn’t mentioned earlier. My host, (very nice fellow) took us around Melbourne for a bit before heading on to Ballarat. It was cloudy out, but the tour of the city was still quite pleasant. There’s a large park region in the middle of the city that’s kept to give people some “green space” amid the urban landscape. Of course the city skyline is actually quite pretty by itself.
Before we left, we took a tour of the Melbourne Cricket Grounds. I felt like a bit of a rube as I know practically nothing about playing cricket, but it was fascinating just seeing MCG.
I didn’t get to see it in all of it’s green glory (they were laying a rubber track for games later on) but they will actually be laying grass all the way to the edge of the stadium (even over the track) for certain events.
Then it was off to the hotel for a shower and some dinner.
Boy was I glad to see that bed!
More photos and stories when I get the chance. (and I’ve got some good ones too)
Saturday, November 12, 2005
The trip has gone well except for a delayed flight, a missed connection, an extra connection, and a lost bag (with my clothes). Actually the hotel is quite nice and our host has been very gracious. I've got some photos, but it's almost bedtime here and I MUST get my body adjusted to this time zone.
Friday, November 11, 2005
IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.