Sunday, February 15, 2009

When not enough lycra is way too much!

Is it the new year's resolutions to get fit, or the GFC (Global Economic Crisis, not the Geelong Football Club) that has increased the number of bicyclists in the last few months?

Sadly, a number of people who work in my building have decided that cycling to work is a good thing. For them maybe, but not for there colleagues.

The sight of lycra stretched just that bit too much over a rear end is not a pleasant sight. Nor is the whiff of a body that has just given but a cursory nod to the office shower facility before donning 'suitable for work' gear. Let alone the co-worker who thinks that their cycling gear is a fashion statement - so no shower or clothers change occurs.

What does one do? While appauding their efforts in both fittness and carbon emission savings, I fear both eyesight and nostrals of colleagues are suffering a global crisis all of their own!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Just who is expoiiting the children?

The media throng mobbed outside the St Kilda Park Primary School is the most "revolting" thing about the current brouhaha over Bill Henson's photographic work.

The concern for the welfare of the children who modelled for Bill Henson doesn't seem to extend to how the media attention is affecting them.

Leslie Cannold's article presents the issue better than I ever could.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Will the real Labor Party please stand up!

I can't begin to express how under-whelmed I am with the current Federal Election campaign. Regardless of all the minor parties and independents, it really is only a two horse race - the LP (Liberal Party) or the ALP (Another Liberal Party, formerly the Australian Labor Party) - thanks to our preferential voting system.

I look at the policies of the ALP and desperately seek the differences to the present government that may make them worthy of my vote. I see them watering down their industrial relations policies; their lack of true support for a strong, free and secular public education system; their support for the erosion of the rights of indigenous people; pulp mills... The list goes on.

I despair at those who can't see beyond "tax cuts" and other bribes aimed at their wallets and the politicians of all persuasions who feed the greed. Is there anyone who still believes in the notion of the common good, enlightened self-interest or communal responsibility?

And why do I keep getting asked if I'm voting for Rudd or Howard? I'm not in either of their electorates. Kevin07 and screaming teens? Please.

I read, and I watch, and I wait for that glimmer of something, anything...

It's certainly time for a real alternative.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations."

Dear Oscar Wilde,

How wrong could you be!

Recently, as part of Mademoiselle Dodo's birthday celebrations I decided to invite the extended family out to dinner.

I have attempted to take the family out of their home-cooked environment on a number of occasions, and all have been disasters at various levels. At one superior Italian restaurant my brother-in-law asked for "proper" bread when served focaccia and my mother stood up and started to clear the table when the wait staff did not appear immediately to do so. At others there have the complaints about small serves, the suspicious looks at unfamiliar food, the heated arguments about the bill and other events fortunately too painful for me to remember.

The one dinning out experience my family participated in regularly while I was growing up was the annual "feast" at the all you can eat smorgasbord restaurant located in the Dandenong Ranges where you queued and jostled for food while being serenaded by yodelling and repeat renditions of the chicken dance. While as a child I thought this was fun, I now enjoy a more diverse culinary experience.

Armed with the knowledge gained from previous failures I chose a restaurant that has recently opened to good reviews. It was Hungarian, so there would be no problems with unfamiliar food. It was local, so there should be no problems with access. It was reasonably priced, so there should be no complaints about the cost. The menu was diverse enough to cater to most tastes. Surely I had hit a winner. And those of the family who dine out regularly thought so too.

Maybe this time my family's prided belief in speaking "the truth" would be supressed by good manners.

After three hours of criticisms of the menu, complaints about the slowness of service (my family can eat a three course dinner in 20 minutes flat) and loud comparisons to the home-cooked versions of the various dishes, I admitted defeat.

And as to forgiving my family? Well Oscar Wilde, what do you think?

Monday, June 04, 2007

The world of internet access

Well I'm back after a wonderful trip with Mr Dodo through Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Austria and Hungary, and a quick stop in Singapore.

As I decided against taking a laptop, I had to access the internet via various services along the way. It was an interesting exercise.

Some hotels provided free internet for guests, some charged a fee, the highest being £3 (AUD$7.20) for half an hour in Slough, UK. Public libraries were another great source, thought again charges for access varied from free for a maximum of half and hour per day (Paisley, UK), 100 huft (AUD .65c) for an hour in Visegrad, Hungary, to £1 (AUD$2.39) for half an hour in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Many airports also offered internet access from free (Changi, Singapore) to £1 for 10 minutes (Heathrow, London). I only used an internet cafe once - in Biarritz, in the south of France. It was 1€ (AUD$1.63) for half an hour.

Not only did prices vary greatly, but so did the conditions of use. Some places required you to sign declarations that you would not use the service to do anything illegal etc. Some just wanted proof if identity, while others didn't even ask for your name before you were allowed to log on. This variation did not seem to be governed by country laws as different locations in the same country would have different access rules.

All systems I accessed were high speed, and just as well, because not only did I need to work out the French, German and Hungarian text within browsers, but also the varying keyboards - something I hadn't thought about at all!

Australian Keyboard (QWERTY):


Austrian Keyboard (QWERTZ):


French Keyboard (AZERTY):


Hungarian Keyboard (QWERTZ):


UK/Irish Keyboard (QWERTY):


[More information on keyboard layouts around the world at the Wikipedia site]

The differences may appear minor, but when you are used to a particular keyboard type, and you are trying to maximise your online time, the differences can be hugely frustrating. I had to ask for help in faltering German because I had never accessed a keyboard that had keys with three options. But having discovered the "Alt Gr" key wasn't the end of my woes. Finding the "y" key, the ever moving "?" key, and various other symbols were also a challenge when you are trying to rush through a few emails. You don't realise how many times you use certain keys until you can't find them.

WiFi access is practically everywhere. I think next time I'll take the lap top!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Does my bum look big in Europe?

Mr Dodo and I are in the final stages of planning a much-needed and long-awaited European holiday - Mr Dodo for the first time.

I though as we were spending a bit of time in France in may not be a bad idea to brush up on our French. This started Mr Dodo on a perverse mission to learn how to say "Does my bum look big in this?" in as many European languages as possible. [Is he trying to tell me something?]

Mademoiselle Dodo, who sadly has her father's sense of humour, is encouraging him. Groan!

But then maybe it will keep him too busy to cause other mischief.

"Nagy a fenekem eben?" covers it so to speak, in Hungarian.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Resolving in the new year

I haven’t made a new year’s resolution for a long time. They are after all the procrastinator's nightmare. Or their dream come true. Depends on how you look at it.

But I started this blog with all the best intentions and after four months I’ve barely posted. I have written heaps, but I never quite finish. Once I start to write, do a little research, write a little more, the urge to finish and post just vanishes.

Is there a procrastinators anonymous? I could do with a good 12 step program.

Some of the things I have not posted on in the last four months include:

# Wiki your way to wisdom – Wikipedia vs “authoritative” sources of information

# Celsius 233 : Librarians, censorship and sedition in Australia.
Some links:
Next they came for the librarians ... crikey.com.au
Book ban Green Left Online
Uni terror books shelved due to prosecution fear The Age
Melbourne Uni to challenge terrorism laws ABC Lateline

# Political parties as religions in Australia – has ecumenism worked too well? [This one was turning into a thesis]

# Flog the blog!
The A&NZ Award of the 2006 Weblog Awards was given to a commercial (Fairfax) blog – All men are Liars [I won’t give the link. I don't think it needs more promotion].
Increasingly good indie blog writers are being lured to write paid blogs by media organisations, e.g. the author of The Road to Surfdom (see Crikey), not to mention the proliferation of paid ads on blogs.
Are these an indication that the blog will go the way of the web in general? Which lead to...

#All that glitters in the spider's web - what happened to the "gift culture" of the World Wide Web?

I still hold hope for the other dozen or so topics I've thought long and hard about. Just maybe you'll read more from me this year!