Thursday, December 29, 2005

Lame attempt at a post

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


I won't be able to post much for the next week. Where I'm going, surfing the internet can be a very good way to catch up on your latest book or knit a pullover. I'll be back after New Year's Day.

Gift idea

Here's a gift idea for someone you'd like to hurt.

The "Flybar!"

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.

Cool huh?!


Said Aristotle unto Plato, "Have another sweet potato."
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

Random thought

You know you've been traveling a little too much when you get Christmas card signed "your friends at the Holiday Inn"

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Oh dear

I had heard that Sesame street had gone downhill just a bit, but I didn't think it was this bad.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

J. R. R. Tolkien

Public Service Announcement

I've noticed that several of you are running Windows 2000 and I thought I should mention that if you haven't patched your copy of windows in the last few months you should go do that right now.

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!

Last one before Christmas

Sunday, December 18, 2005

One way to lose your job

Apparently folks in Wisconsin are a bit loose with their money these days, and it's not just because of the holiday season.

Wise Forgetful old owl

I've heard of a partidge in a pear tree, but I've never heard of THIS before.

"Owl discovered in Christmas tree found with marijuana in system"
Aww, isn't that cute, they named him "Cheech."

(Scrappy, please tell me this kind of thing isn't commonplace down there.)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sweet Home Chicago!

OK, so I don't really care much about being in Chicago, but I do like being home. I had a lengthy drive yesterday from Canton Ohio back here which alternated between sunny blue skies and blinding snow.

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!

Joke with an oblique reference to Christmas (3)

This guy goes into his dentist's office, because of pain in his mouth. After a brief examination, the dentist exclaims, "Holy Smoke! That plate I installed in your mouth about six months ago has nearly completely corroded! What on earth have you been eating?"

"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

Personal update

As it turns out, the snow in Chicago wasn't as bad as I (and many others) expected. Chances are I could have just taken the flight after a delay. But...being a bit jumpy about the weather, my boss and I got a car and charged across Indiana and Ohio, making a trip of about 350 miles.

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

Joke with an oblique reference to Christmas (2)

A group of chess enthusiasts had checked into a hotel, and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why", the asked as they moved off.

"Because," he said, "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I shouldn't laugh

I'm planning to fly out of O'Hare tomorrow for a quick trip to Ohio. But what I'm EXPECTING is to get to O'Hare, wait for two hours being told that my flight is delayed, then get a rental and try to drive instead. If that's the case then I'll probably end up driving straight through the snowstorm again.

Oh well, I can still chuckle at the antics of other people trying to drive in the snow.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Open invitation

I've invited most of my friends in the Chicago area to a little get-together at my place on Thursday the 22nd. If I've forgotten anyone, or if you're just reading this and would like to join in, drop me a line.

Toys for the engineer or artist

As a little kid I always enjoyed playing with lego blocks. I would spend hours assembly what I considered to be mechanical masterpieces only to tear them apart again and build something else. I know many other engineers have had similar experiences as kids.

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

Joke with an oblique reference to Christmas

"Whats the difference between a Shotshell and a Cartridge?"
A Shotshell goes in a Shotgun.....
A Cartridge goes in a peartree!! Duh (Willie from Incomplete hunter 3)

Just some good ol' boys

I thought I was being a bit silly when I posted this about the 4wd Lincoln on e-bay. But I've just noticed something that's even sillier (and a bit pathetic.)

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.

Tragedy has struck!

May we have a moment of silence please for those who have fallen.

What's for dinner?

Somehow I never have cared much for tofu. If this is true, then I have another reason not to like it.

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

Crappy reception

I though this was a joke when I first heard it. It sounds like the kindof thing that used to be done to freshmen as a prank (Have you seen the blue goldfish yet?) But apparently it is serious.

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

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

Here's one for everyone who is skidding around in the the snow trying to avoid other cars (or if you're in Chicago like me, trying to avoid 737s)

Some guy hit my fender the other day, and I said unto him 'Be fruitful, and multiply.' But not in those words.

Woody Allen

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tech support

When you call tech support for any computer related company you'll usually hear a message saying that your call is being recorded for "quality purposes." Here's an example why.

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 I've fielded plenty of computer problems, but never felt mean enough to say anything like that. Of course usually the people who call me aren't that clueless (usually.) But if a person has to take too many of these calls in one day I can see where this might become necessary for one's own sanity.

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.

Let it snow!

from "American Greetings"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Uhm, I said, kaboom. No, really.

Here's a look at what happens when careful planning (and a few sticks of dynamite) just isn't enough.

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

Today's statement of the obvious

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Reminders of a great time

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

The morning routine

What is a computer nerd?

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.

Monday attitude

Back to work everyone.

(and I've got my Monday attitude set on high!)

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

Happiness depends upon ourselves.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hats off.

OK everyone, you can take your foil hats off now. Some fellows at MIT went to the effort of explaining why they won't help protect you from government mind control devices. (with a touch of humor of course)

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

Just when I thought I'd heard it all

There are inventions which improve the quality of life in society, and there are inventions which eliminate inconvenient parts of our lives. Then there are inventions that are highly amusing.

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


I don't know who is responsible for initially discovering polypropylene or who first thought to use it to make underwear, but they have won my eternal gratitude.

14 F??!! Now that's just silly!!

(I'll shut up about the weather in a couple weeks when I've adjusted.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

It takes an engineer to undertake the training of an engineer and not, as often happens, a theoretical engineer who is clever on a blackboard with mathematical formulae but useless as far as production is concerned.
- The Rev EB Evans
Letter to Frederick Handley Page

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What the...

OK, calling all Firefox users (and I know you're out there) Did my page template just go crazy and put my picture and links on the left instead of the right?

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.

You know you're a nerd when...

I know there are only a few regular readers who might get this, but what the heck.

(In short, I'm home in Chicago)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Big ol' jet airliner!

In my hands I hold the tickets to freedom.

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.

Back where I began

*Daybreak over the Pacific, taken on the way to Australia earlier this month.

Wrapping it all up

I've managed to do a little sight-seeing in Singapore between busy times at work, so as usual, here are a couple photos.

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

Straddling the Equator

As I write this, I'm sitting in an air conditioned room on the 16th floor (Privilege Club) of the Orchard Parade Hotel. Don't feel too envious though, I didn't choose to be here (local company rep. Did the booking) and aside from the free drinks in the evening (of which I do not partake) and the free breakfast in the morning (which isn't that great) there isn't that much of an advantage to being here. The private lounge on the top floor is rather nice though.

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

Almost there!

It looks as though this trip might be over soon. If I have time tonight I'll write an update, but otherwise I'll see everyone back in the states (maybe as early as the end of this week.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Parting shot

I'm off to Singapore tonight. I'm doing the same type of thing there as I was here, only I'll be working mostly with people who speak no English.

(Why the heck didn't I ever get Yi or Bo to teach me a little Chinese?)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Random thoughts from Australia

I had always been told that toilets flush the opposite way once you cross the equator. I was looking forward to checking this, but the advent of low water consumption toilets has thus far thwarted any attempt. These toilets need significant water pressure to work, and therefore they use jets which happen to force the water in the same direction as you would see in the states. I have been observed water swirling down a drain, a counter clockwise rotation does appear to dominate. Guess I'll have to be content with that.

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.

Check that off the list

This trip has been incredibly busy, but it's not all work and no play. On Sunday I did have a chance to drive down to the coast. Aside from a thrilling (and somewhat scary) drive, I managed to check "visit the Southern Ocean" off of my list.

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.


I forgot to post the last couple of pictures from sovereign Hill (the living history village in Ballarat.)

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.

Another update

I'm in Brisbane right now. That wasn't part of the original plan for this trip, but as they say "No plan survives first contact."

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

No worries, mate!

It was not originally a scheduled part of this trip, but by the time most of you read this I will be on a plane going to Queensland (as opposed to Victoria where I am now) It's always a risk when traveling on business that you will discover you need to do but didn't plan on. That's what's happened here.

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 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.

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

I prefer tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity.

- Cicero

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Experiencing the wild life

I cannot escape the fact that this is definitely a business related trip. There's been a considerable amount of work (much of it stressful) and I've had to do hours upon hours of troubleshooting for a very finicky piece of machinery. Still I've been enjoying myself; and not just because I've done some of my best troubleshooting to date.

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.
Cute eh?

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

Australia part 1

Greetings folks! I mentioned earlier some troubles getting to Australia. Really, all of the problems stemmed from delays getting out of O’Hare (American Airlines, if you must know) Thanks to that delay I couldn’t make my connection to Melbourne at LA. Fortunately, Qantas has some really helpful people who got me onto the proper continent and then flew me over to Melbourne. Of course the sudden change made it impossible for my luggage to follow. But, true to their word, my luggage arrived just one day later and was delivered to my hotel room with no hassles.

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


I am in Australia now, Ballarat to be more specific.

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

Lest we forget...

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.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
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.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Warning

I know I won't be around to watch the place, but I ought to post a warning anyway.

Oh, someone will be checking on the place while I'm gone, and she claims to be a good shot. Somehow that makes me feel better.