Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas in Australia

A Pre-Christmas Ramble

Christmas in Australia is, well, unique.
For a start, we pretend it's cold, when it very obviously is not.

Each year we all sweat our way through every kind of roast meat you can think of, with roast potatoes, pumpkin, hot corn, peas, carrots, cheesy cauliflower and broccoli, piping hot gravy then finish up with a steaming hot bowl of Christmas pudding with heart warming custard.
Yep, it's hot outside and we're pretending not to notice.

But what makes Australia unique when it comes to Christmas traditions is not the actual day of December 25, but what comes the following day; Boxing Day, or more importantly, The Boxing Day Test Match.

The Boxing Day Test is not a competition between you and your spouse/significant other to see who can put empty boxes on both their hands and get all that built-up pre-Christmas angst out of your system by punching each other until someone loses consciousness, the Boxing Day Test is a Cricket Match.

"Cricke-wa?" I hear you say.

I could explain what Cricket is for hours and it still won't make sense, so let's just go with some of the basics.

Cricket is made up of two teams of 11, with some poor sod being called the 12th Man who only gets to play if someone gets injured, but he still has to dress up for the occasion. His job is to hand out the drinks to the other 11 players when not looking incredibly bored in the stands.

One team bats - you have two guys at each end of the pitch who run up and down it until they go out by either:
1. Having the ball hit their wickets directly (the three sticks at each end of the pitch with bails on top) while being bowled at with a very red, very hard ball,
2. They don't make it back behind the line (called a crease) before the opposition knocks off the bail of their wickets,
3. You put your body in front of the wickets to stop the ball from hitting them (sometimes intentionally, other times not),
4. Or you hit a ball and the opposition catches it.

Once 10 of the 11 of your team go out (because you can't play with one person unless it's Backyard Cricket) you swap over and you now go out and chase around the red ball while the opposition tries not to go out.

Did that make ANY sense at all?

Generally come cricket time in Australia it's the hottest time of the year. A perfect time to have 11 guys standing out in the pelting sun with no shade wearing long pants, collared shirt and oft a neat little woollen knit vest, all in the shade of cream. Perfect colour for sliding along grass and rubbing a red ball on your pants.
Here's one of our Aussie Cricketers and also body double for Jason Momoa, Andrew Symonds.
Google him, he must have been pipped at the post for the part of Ronon Dex.

So not only do you have long pants, socks, shoes and shirt, you also have a helmet, leg pads, gloves and other such protection in sweaty regions to go with your 40 degree day with no shade.

Did I mention this game goes for 5 days?
Not just a few hours a day for 5 days, but from around 11am to somewhere around 7pm, for 5 days. There's no stop watches to decide when to finish the day. All comes down to how many overs have been bowled (I'm not going to explain how that works) and the amount of light left. Very vague in this "every second counts" society we now live in, but hey, it's cricket.

To give you the complete picture, imagine the beating down sun with no shade, standing in attire suitable for Winter in England, chasing a red ball around a field for 8 hours a day until someone either wins or you just run out of time. Yes, after 5 days there can still be no result.

Right now, the cricketers are puffing their chests out with pride as to the extreme conditions in which they play this game, but guys, I'd like to point one thing out, you run like a bunch of girls at the first sign of rain!

Oppressive heat; no worries.
Excessive clothing in oppressive heat; bring it on.
Excessive clothing in oppressive heat while having someone run at you and bowl a hard red ball at you as fast as possible with only a piece of wood to defend yourself; yep, it's a manly game...
Precipitation; are you kidding man?!

The Boxing Day Test is played at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) in Melbourne - hence the imaginative name.But as an Australian living in Melbourne, what does the Boxing Day Test mean?

It means that your Boxing Day will be spent doing one, two or even all three of the following:
1. Invite everyone over to your place for a BBQ to watch the game which no one really watches except when you hear "Got him!"

2. Go to someone else's house for a BBQ and watch the game without really watching it because you are catching up on the past year of people's lives that you haven't seen since last Boxing Day.

3. Head off to the MCG and be one of the 100,000 other people who have decided to sit in a hot plastic seat, without shade, quite often wearing a hollowed out watermelon as a hat and hoping that the last bit of wetness that fell on you during the Mexican Wave was water.

Which of the 3 options above you decide to do usually depends on the heat factor and which of your friends possesses an MCG membership, pool, spa or child's wading pool with a good view of the TV and/or bar fridge.

If you are a tourist to Australia at this time of year I can highly recommend any of the three options above. The crowd and atmosphere at the MCG on the first day of the test match is fantastic, but it's always great to catch up with a small group of friends as well.

Whatever you decide to do, it's always a great way to wind down from the chaos that Christmas has become and share some stories and drinks with those you only get to see on Boxing Day.

Cheers! Enjoy everyone!

Monday, December 8, 2008

International Creepy Crawly Survey

This is going to be a bit of a ramble to give you some back story, but I'm hoping to get some feedback from those living in other parts of the world and also locals to see if they have seen similar changes.

Growing up in Melbourne, Australia in the 80's meant hot, hot Summers, thunderstorms, lady bugs, earwigs, blue tongue lizards, skinks, kangaroos on the school oval, dust storms and bush fires.

It's interesting how as you grow up you don't notice certain parts of your childhood disappearing. Yes, I remember when Greatest American Hero and MacGyver went off air, but I didn't notice the lady bugs disappear, that is until this year.

The only reason I noticed that they disappeared is because they've re-appeared!

About 2 months ago Hubby called out for me to "Come and check this out!".

He had on a leaf two lady bugs mating. So either it was a gentleman bug and a lady bug or the bugs have gone all new age.

We hadn't seen lady bugs since we were 8 or 9 years of age. I was going to get footage of the two, but felt that it was a breach of their privacy and just felt kind of wrong so we left them to be and thought no more of the matter.

In case there is a lost in translation issue, here's a dinky little picture of a lady bug courtesy of Wikipedia.Look familiar?

Thinking our mating bugs was a one off it was not thought of again.
Until I found another lady bug on my windscreen, then on the lemon tree, the deck chair, they're everywhere! I asked my Mum if she had noticed them at her house. Turns out she had noticed them around again too.

Following the discovery of the cute bug plague, one day I heard a rustling noise at the front door. I went to inspect and found this guy...

For those of you that haven't seen one of these guys before, it's a blue tongued lizard. Extremely pre-historic looking, but they are gentle giants, until they latch onto your finger.

This one would have been a foot and a half long and a real chubber! He had a bit of a wander around, teased the dogs at the front door then went back into his hole. I've been lucky to see one blue tongue lizard every couple of years for the last 15 years.

Back in the mid-80's we would continually be rescuing them from the backyard in Summer and releasing them back into the bush. I've seen 2 more since this guy.. and no they weren't the same one.

So, strange re-appearnace Number 2 - blue tongue lizards.

Next on my list - grasses.
It's at about now you are wondering if I have a life?

I always had budgies growing up. Budgies, or budgerigars, are a native bird that love to eat grasses with seeds. They grew in abundance in our backyard in the 80's. The seeds, not the budgies.

Budgies... not be mistaken for

budgie smugglers..

This year, our back and front yard has been taken over by these same grasses I haven't seen since I last owned a budgie. And wouldn't you know it, they itch!

Strange re-appearance Number 4 - Earwigs.Earwigs always look like something that has crawled out of the primordial goo. And this one looks like it could crawl off the page. Eeek! Don't spray your screen please.

Also to add to the list, but you are probably bored out your brains by now are dragon flies, millipedes, butterflies and trees are flowering that don't usually flower.

The only other insect I'm waiting to see again are these ones...

I'm sure you will be holding your breath to hear an update if I find them re-appearing. Oh sarcasm font, how I seek thee.

With hardly any rain this year and all of these little beasties making a re-appearance, does it mean to expect bushfires and dust storms this Summer as well? Only time will tell.

For those not from Australia, a lot of our native flora requires fire to release their seeds from the pods and germinate. So as catastrophic as fire is, it is natural and required in this land. That means it is also cyclical and should be expected.

Unfortunately we live in a suburb that doesn't like you disturbing any fallen logs or cut down trees so we are in an extremely dangerous area for bush fires. On one hand we get told to be "fire ready" and to clear any debris, but if we attempt to move fallen debris we get fined. **shakes head**

So now I ask you, have you noticed anything re-appearing after a long absence in your neck of the woods?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Signs on Koh Samui

What's a ware and how do I be one?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

True Beauty...

Isn't she just gorgeous?

This is one of the most beautiful photos I've seen in some time.
At the risk of alienating a huge portion of web surfers, I don't like "I Haz Cheezeburger" or such sites. Yeah, some of them are funny, but there's also a lot of cruel and scary people out there with pets and a wardrobe! It may have been the Dachshund I saw dressed up in a military uniform, with a belt of bullets draped around its neck, shotgun and American Flag in the background that turned me off it. And yes, these people are allowed to breed and vote.

What I love about this photo, aside from some teasing work and Cedel on her hair, she is just being an orangutan.

Those eyes make me want to reach through my monitor and give her a biiiig squeezee hug.

Click on the photo to make it larger and look at the vulnerability in her body language. The clenched little foot at the back, crossing her arm over in a protective manner, how can people hurt these creatures?

If anyone knows the source of the photo, could you please let me know so I can note it here. Thanks.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joseph Mallozzi - This Is Your Blog's Life.

Today, Vancouver Time, is Joseph Mallozzi's Birthday **cough43rdcough**

So in the great tradition of, well I really don't know, this event calls for a special episode of This Is Your Life... blog style.

For the long time readers of Joe's blog, this will be a journey reliving some of the entries and people that have frequented his blog. For the newer readers, this will give you a quick run-down of the past 23 months of blog entries so you don't go and do what many of us did and caught up on every blog entry, reading white text on black background for days on end and finding yourself inexplicably walking into walls.

Where It All Began...
November 2006

On November 21, 2006 while on an expedition through Hong Kong and Tokyo, Joseph Mallozzi decided to start a travel diary. Like most of us bloggers, initially his entries didn't attract much attention with his first entry attracting a mere 2 comments.

Astonishingly, on November 29, 2006 there were no comments at all to his almost daily entry!

However, unlike the rest of us who are still lucky to get 2 comments, Joe's blog started to build in popularity. Yes, by December 1, 2006 with the word out he had started up his blog, the comments grew to 3.

During November and December of 2006 readers were transported to Asia as Joe gave his culinary reviews during his travels. Well, personally I wasn't. At this point Joseph Mallozzi was the guy in the credits of Stargate who had lots of "l's" and "z's" in his name. But for the now growing fan base of his blog, they were treated to his dining tales of eating milt (the sperm-containing secretion of the testes of fishes) and the food poisoning event when Joe ate snake... at an airport. Someone must have been saying "I told you so" on that one.

December of 2006 also saw the introduction of items that would become part of the DNA of Joe's blog. We met Jelly for the first time after dental surgery, casual references to book recommendations, a little bit of Stargate news plus more food reviews (and thus hungry readers).

On December 31 we were introduced to the first version of the Stargate spoiler poem which attracted the largest number of responses to date, 20. And let's not forget that during the festive season we received the Joseph Mallozzi guide to parenting which I think we could all learn from.

2007... The Formative Years
The spoiler poem had made it to GateWorld as a link so the visitor count was increasing. Depending on your viewpoint of GateWorld, you could see this as a positive or a negative...

January saw the prelude to what we would know in the future as "Lulu". Joe and Fondy headed off to meet some little French Bulldogs to see if one would make a cute addition to the family. To quote you Joe, " Ultimately, however, I don’t think we’re ready for a new addition to the household". Hmmmm? Lose a bet?

And while the blog entries were still mostly culinary and general going's on in nature, the comments were Stargate related and thus the mailbag as we know it was formed.

It was during February of 2007 that a new aspect of Joe's blog came to be; the posting of Stargate artwork. While mostly informative, there were occassions that misleading artwork was post to get fans in a tizz, and to have Joe letting out a big "Mw-mwa-mwahahahahaha" as fandom got their knickers in a knot taking some of the artwork literally, rather than thinking that it could be from a dream sequence or AU episode... which it generally was... and then Joe had to post a retraction before fans starting jumping from the tallest building they could find. Just admit you have fun doing that Joe?

The comment numbers had reached to their 50's by this point so the news was getting around that you could post anonymously and harrass the Executive Producer of Stargate.

Once the word was out that you could not only post anonymously and harrass the Executive Producer of Stargate Atlantis, but he would answer your questions, then the comments doubled in the space of a month.

During this time we learnt about the Fondy conspiracy to cash-in on Joe's life insurance:

"Back on March 17, 2007, I revealed three highly suspicious incidents that could have ended very badly for me - and, coincidentally, my wife insisted were mere oversights on her part.
1. I got the okay from her to drink from a water bottle - that happened to contain oxy clean.
2. She closed the never-ever-closed glass door to our solarium and then didn’t answer the phone early one morning, causing me to jump up and rush over to answer it - and right into the plate glass solarium door.
3. She set the blender back into its cradle but minus its base so that when I poured milk in, the contents seeped out the bottom and onto the counter. The blender was plugged in at the time."

And what it takes to get noticed during an audition:
"On March 31, 2007, I mentioned an audition in which “an aspirant referred to herself as “the daughter of the Oreo”.” We almost lost it."

During April the blog had it's first ever chocolate party. An annual ritual we would soon become familiar with. Back in those days we saw Joe Flanigan make an appearance photographically every now and then and the "gang" were still a three and not the four as we know them now.

In June of 2007, Aloysius P. Hazzencockle became involved in the heartbreaking plight of Ali Abbas. Poor Ali was on deaths door, with lots of money to give away and so Aloysius kindly offered to build an orphanage in Ali's honour.
Some of the names up for considerationwere:

Ali agreed that Ali In The Family would be suitable.

Many more guest spammers would come to visit Joe's blog, including Cookie Monster, Agent Wexler and the man destined to have his own straight to DVD movie, Baron Destructo.

With comments now up around the 100's per daily entry, what better way to bring more people across than award prizes! Woohoo!
In June of 2007, PG-15 was the 250,000th visitor and received his special prize... flocking... or Stargate DVD's, I can't remember which now.

And not that this has any relevance, but how cute are these Pug Puppy pics that were posted??
And these ones...anyhoo...

July of 2007 was a big month for the Mallozzi family. 3 kids were about to become 4. Furry ones that is. We had all got to know Jelly, Bubba and Maximus so how would they feel about Kobe joining the family? Not that bad really, because he was passed over for Lulu.

September of 2007 would see Joe's blog history. The Book of the Month Club was formed. What started as a "So, anyone want to read some books?" idea, has now become a Book of the Month and Half Club with almost every author chosen for the month now visiting to participate in a Q&A with fellow readers.

Another prize was up for grabs for the 750,000th visitor to Joe's blog. The first person to post after the 750,000th visitor would win.. **drum roll**.. a virtual dinner with Joe. Emily was the lucky winner and is still virtually full from the great dinner at virtual Fuel.

In December of 2007 I happened to stumble across Joe's blog while researching a story line from Stargate. I was not a part of fandom, I didn't even know there were other people out there talking about the show! So on December 10, I plucked up the courage to post a comment, and then BANG! Joe doesn't post again.

"He's post everyday for a long time now, what have I done?", "Was what I asked so offensive?", "Hang on, I didn't ask anything...".
All thoughts that were running through this Commenting Virgin's mind.

Turns out Blogger had shut Joe's blog down. And so the amusement began...
Racking in at an incredible 580 comments, the next 3 days were spent devising a resuce plan which would take us to the moon and save Joe from the evil clutches of Baron Destructo. Yeah, I know, crazy. And somehow the spork became the weapon of choice (???)

If you're interested here is the team from back then:
Blogger ptarmigan said...
"To all members of BITEME and co.
Okay, time to regroup. Here’s my understanding of the status of current assignments – in no particular order. (Updates are appreciated as my head is still throbbing.)
AMZ & Narelle from AUS: Will figure out what “tomorrow's upside-down midnight” translates into in Atlantis Standard

AV Eddy: in charge of ARGs and all sound effects

Pauline: Ransom Keeper (any accountants out there? I think we may need an auditor.)
Yasmin: Kick and Slap Committee leader (with the help of PG15)
Cathie: Hair
Peek: Searching through all packages to LAME HQ with the help of Fluffy the alligator Susan the Tartan Turtle: Dog Whisperer – (Careful there – they’ve been growling)
Dovil: Special Forces Coordinator

Lt.Col.ErrandBoy: Refreshments (You’ve been helping Shawna w/ the SF Bake Sale right?)

Jr. Mint: Bake Sale Clean Up
Neep, Annie, Toni, Brenna, Charles Schneider & Uber: SPORK MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT

Morgia and Anais: Interpreters and PG15s protectors when he attempts to handle ransom transactions

Edward4th: Sage Advice (not to be a pain, but we could use a little at this point - Marsha_R has been a voice of reason lately, maybe she could help with that *grins*)

Moe Jacuzzi: Mr. M’s personal escort once found…

Mel the Marvelous: Mastermind who suggested a rescue in the first place…

Kdvb1: Profiler and Team Choir Director

Alipeeps, Gracy & hachi: Ace Spellers – very important as the kidnappers are probably asking our beloved JM to read all correspondence to them, and, well, misspells in front of a professional writer would just be embarrassing! (Alipeeps is also in charge of the SJM campaign banners. Are you doing okay with the multitasking?)

Scarym and K8T: Logistic Support

Elizabeth: In Charge of Mr. M’s Water Color Distribution
Logic Sequence: Moral Officer

Grapesofwrath: Heading up the SUA (Secret Universal Alliance)

Anon, good nurse: Forensic Computer Specialist – tasked to ID all RepliComputers at Blogger
Joshua Meyers: Visiting all BC rehabilitation centers looking for AWOL Rescue Team members (We’ve just gotta get Joe back on Blogger soon!)
Firefly827347: BITEME Team Psychiatrist (And is excused from tonight’s action to take yet another final exam.)

Jade and jumperpilot: Transportation Coordination –Do we have an Aurora class vessel yet? Royal_Nonsuch: Chaplin
Leese Perrie: Proir Lookout

Waybeyondsoccermom: Literary Liaison (As mentioned before, we ARE trying to rescue a professional writer!)

Valerie: Poetry Department
Dr Amyfro & ThornyRose: In charge of medical verification of Joe’s identity once found. (We really don’t want to bring back a RepliJoe, now do we?) Must also be ready for any further spork wounds. BTW thanks for the yummy chocolate!
Limar13 & Replicator
Bill: Anti-time-loop Technician (Joe seems to fall into these time loops a lot, so we need you up front okay?)

Linz: We need you to make sure that PG15 doesn’t eat the flocking and visa versa!
42 and Narelle:Lunar IT Department

Ranger One will round up the chimps at the Blogger Help Department and put things in order there.
Peek and Fluffy may be able to help once they are done with the parcels.

Ptarmigan: rising star apprentice to Dr. Q. Meddlesome Woman
*checks latest updates* We really need that auditor for Pauline! I’m sure I’ve missed some of our team, so pipe up with the updates please: Name and position please.

From what I can recall, of the $1 billion ransom we managed to raise around $12 plus some buttons and a dry cleaning receipt.

Back then I didn't know who ANY of these people were. It's amazing how you get to know a group of people over a year that you've never met in person.

Upon the return of the blog four days later (and a notable increase of intakes at Rehab Centres) we were given the reason for the blog getting shut down, and it appears we were all to blame.

Joseph Mallozzi wrote on December 13, 2007:
"BUT, according to the blogger folks (who will heretofore be referred to as “the blokes” or, conversely, “the floggers”), spamming is the issue here.
“Blogger’s spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog,”they say.
Characteristics of a blog? What characteristics? Well, according to blogger, spam blogs “can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text”.
Irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text! Holy shit! If that’s all it takes to raise the red flag, I’m surprised they didn’t shut me down sooner!

Blogger breaks it down (and I feel increasingly guilty) - “Spam blogs cause various problems, beyond simply wasting a few seconds of your time when you happen to come across one.”
Dovil: “Oh hell. Here we go with the friggin’ oxtail risotto again!”

“They can clog up search engines, making it difficult to find real content on the subjects that interest you.”

Cheeky Lil Devil: “Why can’t I find any entries about Shep getting beaten up in one of those Japanese mud bath spas?!”

“They may scrape content from other sites on the web, using other people’s writing to make it look as though they have useful information of their own.”

PG-15: “Hey, wait a minute! This Cookie Monster response is lifted almost word for word from Senator Joe Biden’s 1988 Democratic primary speech.

“And if an automated system is creating spam posts at an extremely high rate, it can impact the speed and quality of the service for other, legitimate users.”
Jenny Robin: “Our computers are running slow! It has to be Mallozzi!”

So here I sit, blogging for no one (or hopefully everyone eventually) wondering whether an alternate blog host might be a better way to go given that this particular hiccup has cost me three days and counting. Anyone have any suggestions? I’ve looked into wordpress but can’t figure out how to upload images. I could set up my own website, but I have a feeling that would prove incredibly complicated. Far more complicated than, say… subletting Robert Picardo’s blog?

Hey, Bob, how about it?

I’ll promise to tidy up when I’m done!

After this incident, the switch to Wordpress occurred which the blog has called home for the last 11 months.

The final day of 2007 saw another spoiler poem to tease fans for the upcoming Season of Stargate Atlantis.

As we farewelled 2007 and Blogger, with Wordpress came the removal of Anonymous commenters and the blog seemed to have a calmer feel about it... until the Keller-bashers, Bring-back-Weirers and SGU-panners figured they would just post under fake names.

One of the highlights of 2008 was the amazing prize up for the 1,000,000th blog visit. As with the previous event, you had to be the first poster after the 1,000,000 visitor. Sometimes the little detail about being the first poster AFTER the 1,000,000th visitor is ignored and random posting began in the hope that they were the 1,000,000th commenter. Not quite right, but points for effort.

But, what was up for grabs? The prize; you will be immortalised in an episode of Stargate Atlantis.
I think the following passage from Dovil sums it up:
"Best. Prize. Ever!

I’m officially changing my name by deed poll to Lady Regina Gertrude McTwaddleson on the one in a gazillion chance I win.

I hope you mean the person’s actual name and not their internet handle though, because if someone has to yell for Major WeirSheppardLovers4Eva, it may seem…odd.

Oh god, has anyone won yet?
The suspense is killing me!
Which nicely links to…
…obviously I didn’t want to burden you with the fact that I’m really an adorable 12 year old orphan, but now that I’m in the last days of terminal urchin puppy cancer, I *cough, cough* just wanted to say thank you not only for being such a great blogger, but also for being such a devastatingly handsome man and all round wonderful human being.

*cough, splutter, hack*

Is…is that my name I hear on the show giving me reason to live and bringing a spark back to my huge childlike pleading eyes, or is that the sound of the baby jesus calling me to a dimming light? So very weak…

But did she win, nope! Anne Teldy (as we have come to know her) was the well-deserving winner and the episode Whispers will forever carry her namesake.

This prize netted over 635 comments on one post.
It even beat the entry where we all received the devasting news of the cancellation of Atlantis.

As people comment, it creates great mailbag fodder.

Some mailbag entries of note include:
1. The Kellerific mailbag
2. A smackdown mailbag incorporating Joe's viewpoint on freedom of speech which also in turn relates to Keller-haters.
Here's a taste...
"Evolution Anyone writes: “You all have no shame…again Atlantis is going to copy, scene for scene, an SG-1 episode? I let out a gasp when I saw the “alien autopsy” pics from First Contact/Lost Tribe.”

Answer: Oh, I hear ya. Another alien autopsy! It’s like we do one of those every second episode. And, wait, it gets worse! If you can believe it, there’s also a scene where the team exchanges weaponsfire with some aliens (shades of SG-1!) and even a scene in which two characters talk as they walk around (freakin’ ripped off from Louis Le Prince’s 1888 Roundhay Garden Scene). Gasp!

Kath writes: “Its a shame that this has turned into a sniping match now and because some fans dared to voice their opinions that a lot of focus seemed to be going to a new addition of the cast then automatically we are deemed haters.”

Answer: You know, it never ceases to amaze me how certain fans can be so free and vocal with their own criticisms and yet so incredibly thin-skinned when someone criticizes their infantile behavior.

Rather than simply “daring to voice their opinion”, some fans, who clearly lack the capacity to express their thoughts in any sort of intelligent manner, choose to be insulting or launch personal attacks. Of course, on the rare occasions when they are called on it, they seek to defend themselves under the guise that they are protecting their right to free speech. I’m afraid I’m going to have to call bullshit on that.

If you don’t like a character or the writing then, sure, feel free to post your opinion. But if you’re so childish and devoid of any intellect that the only way you can get your point across is by being disparaging people, then expect to be on the receiving end of a firm smackdown.

FYI, this all started two days ago because some fan, clearly upset by the fact that Jewel had received a Gemini-nomination, intimated that the only possible way she could have received said nomination was by facing no competition from her fellow cast members. This fan wondered whether Jewel was the only one submitted for nomination. I sarcastically responded that, in fact, she was. And when the rest of the anti-Keller crew started their foot stomping, I responded in an equally sarcastic manner. For the record, other cast members were submitted for consideration but only Jewel ended up with a nomination. If you’ve got a problem with that and suspect the Gemini selection committee of “being in love with Jewel” or playing favorites, then I suggest you take it up with them."

Let that be a lesson in mailbag smackdown.

In 2008 we have seen Lulu grow, Atlantis enter into it's 5th and final season, fan dinners, BOTM&1/2 develop, Fuel triple its patronage, the introduction of Weird Food Purchase of the Day and read as people go through loss and others celebrate.

Now at around 6500 hits per day, according to some website that told me, this blog is now worth some money if Joe decides to cash in on some commercial arrangements!

So Joe, from your blog readers, regulars and lurkers we say "Happy Birthday" and This Is Your Blog's Life.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Value of Debate in Tibetan Buddhism

As part of your studies if you wish to become a Tibetan Buddhist Monk, you must become skilful in the art of debate.

In Tibetan Buddhism, when you enter a debate you must reach a conclusion and then use logic and your analytical skills to win the argument.

The idea of these debates amongst the monks is to master epistemology. They must question their knowledge and how they have reached their conclusions. This means they do not blindly follow scripture or teachings, but must understand.

How I wish more religions imposed such self-analysis onto their teachers and followers.

The Dalai Lama has been so since the age of 3. He makes no claims of being a special child. He felt jealousy of his siblings who lived a slightly more normal life, he still talks of sadness in his early years of being separated from his Mother while he concentrated on his studies, and when he speaks of the people who he knew he was leaving behind when he left Tibet, and a special mention goes to his dog, you can see the pain. He never considers himself above anyone else.

With the background in epistemology from a young age you can see how it has been part of what has made him such a forward thinking and also an evolving spiritual figurehead. He asks, why?

Knowing this of the Dalai Lama, when I heard that he is wanting to study neuroscience it did make me smile. It is very him. Buddhist Monks have the ability to block out pain and control other areas of their brain through meditation. He now wants to know the science behind how this happens. Why does science and religion have to be mutually exclusive? So rather than taking a pious stance and not questioning why they have this ability, he sees that there must be a reason and wants to understand why.

I once more tip my hat to His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.
May your peaceful ways lead you back home.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What's Got My Goat...

Beware, this is a rant full of opinion.

Normally, I would consider myself to
be a glass half full kind of person.
I have, however, just come out the end of a four day migraine so my glass is completely empty, has been sitting in the hot sun for 2 weeks and ants are crawling in it.

Migraines really mess with my attitude and my will to live. So over the last four days when I've been thankful for the strict gun laws in Australia, these are things that have really got my goat:
1. The loss of a life at the hands of a moron
2. Banks3. Greedy Execs
4. The cruel act of taunting a suicidal teenager
5. The cancellation of Stargate Atlantis
6. Democracy shemocracy
7. The Media
8. And on a personal note, people that have bad headaches or would like a day off who say they have a migraine

**Stands on soapbox, clears throat, commences rant**

1. The loss of a life at the hands of a moron
The other night a young athlete who was in Melbourne to compete in the Uni athletics was walking out of his hotel and killed by a Learner driver who blew 0.165 and crashed his car while travelling in excess of 150kmph in a 60kmph zone. He now claims that he ONLY had four drinks while out at a party (ahem, you are a learner - Rule Number 1 in the handbook - 0.0 should be your BAC), that his eyes were tired and closed when it happened (open and working eyes is a good quality to have in a learner driver), a cat jumped out in front of his car when he opened his eyes (keep digging that hole buddy) and it didn't feel like he was going that fast.

Really, what can you say to that? Does anyone accept responsibility for their own actions these days? You. Screwed. Up. Mr. You cannot undo what has happened but you need to slap yourself across the face (or allow me to if you aren't too sure about doing it yourself) and accept responsibility for this. Because of your careless and selfish actions this kid who was doing something with his life has been killed. I'm always an advocate for forgiveness but I will completely understand how his family may never be able to forgive this driver.

2. Banks
So you may have noticed the world economy is in a bit of a mess. I know that each time the interest rates go up our bank happily raises them not just by the amount The Reserve Bank has, but slips in an extra 0.05% for good measure. There's nothing like a punch to the face followed by an unforeseen jab in the kidneys.
So when it was announced that rates would most likely be cut by a half of one percent I was pretty excited. Then the banks with their smiling execs announce that due to increases in the cost of lending they won't be passing on that full amount.

Can I please have your kind of struggling.

3. Greedy Execs
While I'm not based in the US, I'm feeling rather peeved on behalf of the American people.
So the US Government will now be injecting $700 billion into their economy to bail out failing organisations. It needed to be done, but should it be the tax payer having to burden this?

I'm a director of a company. When we opened the company we signed the document claiming responsibility for it. So when I see these execs with their multi-million dollar salaries and smug faces I want to know why they aren't putting their hand up to throw some cash back in. Here's the thing with owning a business, when things are going great, you benefit, when things aren't going so great, you feel it. You have to take the good with the bad. In the past it was called "Saving for a rainy day", but in this want, want, want, now, now, now society, this never seems to happen anymore.

So while the poor pensioner and her cat are eating frozen spinach for dinner, these guys are out cruising around in their boats.

Oh what I would do for The Powers That Be to restore their souls and understand the effect of their actions. Or if you are like me, I really hope that karma bites them on the arse.
4. The cruel act of taunting a suicidal teenager
A 17 year old boy was threatening to jump from a building. During the time he stood on that ledge, people from the crowd were jeering him to jump. Phrases such as "Get on with it!" were being yelled out to him.

He jumped.
He died.

People from the crowd ran to take photos of his crumpled body.

When I read and hear of behaviour like this, it reminds me of the movie The Fifth Element. While it isn't the best example of quality movie making, there is a naive creature who is responsible for saving mankind, but after learning about us, she can't see why we should be saved.

I'm not so sure about the definition of Humanity anymore.
5. The cancellation of Stargate Atlantis
After 10 Seasons of Stargate SG1 and 5 Seasons of Stargate Atlantis, that part of the franchise as a weekly TV show is ending.
Joseph Mallozzi posted his "could've been" list of Season 6 episodes for Stargate Atlantiis the other day and they are great ideas!
I often get asked why I like shows such as Stargate, particularly when I also get enjoyment out of watching America's Next Top Model. It's like oil and water.

There are many reasons why, but there is one particular reason that makes me smile, we have abandoned our borders on this little blue planet and we work together to save mankind, mostly. All of a sudden we have seen the much bigger picture.

It is a show of "What if?"'s. I enjoy my new episode every week where it makes me think. I watch a hyperspace window open up and think "hmmm, imagine" and then try and fathom the physics behind how we could make that reality. I look at a race who's technology is completely organic, "think of what we could do if we knew how to do that". Then there's Zero point energy - a clean and unlimited source of energy. So much possibility. But my hour per week is disappearing and it's back to reality where we have a society that will assault an 82 year old war veteran for 50 cents.

Fortunately Joe Mallozzi also offers up a book club as part of his blog and it is through his suggestions and those of other members of the blog that I have been able to get some great new reading material to keep the brain matter exercised.. yes, I know, for the small amount I have.

This book club has given me an outlet for relaxation and for non-computer thoughts. It's great and I can't thank Joe enough for taking the time to offer up the suggestions and also going to the effort of having the authors visit to answer our questions.
6. Democracy Shemocracy
I'm not a party goer anymore, but I do appreciate people's right to do so. We were all at that age once. But I guess the big problem is that a lot of society want others to respect their rights, but they won't respect the rights of others. To quote a line from Frasier, "A gripping tale of a narcissistic opera singer. I called it 'Mememememe'"

So our State Government is nicely ignoring some of the real problems that are causing the bad behaviour on the street and are just going to outlaw everything instead. Very short-sighted approach. You want something to be cool, ban it.

We currently have a 2am curfew in place in Melbourne's clubs and pubs. In order to curb some of the violence the State Government has made it illegal for you to be able to switch clubs/pubs after 2am. Nice going guys. Now you don't want to be ANYWHERE near a pub/club at 2am while everyone is trying to get a cab, talke/bribe their way into getting admittance and getting into fights.

Now in their infinite wisdom they are wanting to ban:
1. The sale of jugs of beer
2. Shots
3. Shouts


The shout is an old Australian tradition. When you haven't seen your friends for a long time and you head out to a local pub to sit in the beer garden, enjoy the sunshine, have a chat and a few bevies, you start the shout. It's a way of saying, "Thanks for coming and it's good to see you". Shouts are also just a courteous way of only one person going to the bar rather than all of you so those not going to the bar can continue the conversation. These politicians must have never been out with a few women, we don't like taking breaks in conversation!

And I still don't see how banning these three things will change behaviour.
When I was a bit younger, we went out a lot. I worked hard, I studied hard, I rehearsed hard. We would go out. And yes, we would sometimes drink too much. But we didn't get into fights or find ourselves in the middle of them either. If you knocked over someone's drink, you would apologise profusely ("Sorry Mate" usually did it) and offer to buy them a replacement. Of late, people have been stabbed for such a little incident. So I ask why? Why do we no longer have respect for others?

7. The Media
Since returning from Thailand I cannot turn on 3AW after 8.30am.
Thailand gave me some inner peace and quiet for a bit.
Ross and John in the morning - I love you guys.
But after that, I have to switch it off. It is not good for my blood pressure to be yelling at a radio that very clearly cannot hear what I'm saying.
I don't trust the media. They are owned by private enterprise which have their own motivations and agenda. As a successful business person, why buy a newspaper when it doesn't make money? One reason, it's for the power of information. So everything I hear in the media I take with a grain of salt, despite being contradicting by quoting various media outlets in this blog entry.

Yesterday I accidentally left the radio on after 8.30am and Neil Mitchell started. He was harping on about how the Indonesian Government needs to shut up the Bali bombers. Well here's the thing, if you guys weren't there with cameras and recorders then they would be silenced.
If someone has an opinion and no one is there to hear it, did it ever exist?
Neil Mitchell claimed that it would be censorship if they didn't report it, but then if the Indonesian Government didn't let them speak, wouldn't that also be censorship? Where does it start and where does it end? And who decides?

And finally...
8. People that have bad headaches who say they have a migraine
I've been a migraine sufferer for the best part of 18 years. Thankfully I don't get them as often as I used to. It's gone from once a week to around once every 6 months.

For me, there are two types of migraine:
Migraine Type 1.I lose my vision in my right eye so I know it's coming. When the vision comes back the excrutiating pain begins that is indescribable. I want to jam my hand in a vice because I'd rather feel the pain of broken bones than the pain in my head. Once the pain subsides, then the vomitting starts. It's a good 8 hours of torture. I lose around 3kg per migraine. And I have the hangover from it for at least 2 days after. During that time I cannot form sentences to speak or write. It all just comes out as a mess.

Migraine Type 2.
My vision gets spots but doesn't completely go. I start drinking a LOT of water. If I can get to bed and take a migraine tablet I do. I wake up. My head feels sore and I can't think straight. Everything hurts. If I bend over, sneeze, hear a loud noise, my brain feels like it is going to projectile out of the top of my skull. I can't keep food in my stomach and I'm not a pleasant person to be around. This can go on for days. It's like a full blown migraine playing out in the background. Average weight loss for this migraine, about 2kgs.

This could be the latest craze in diets!

Migraine Type 2 is what I was suffering from for four days.

So when I hear that someone has used the excuse of "Oh, I have a migraine" and you notice their hair has some new highlights when they return to work the next day, I get rather cranky.

And when someone says flippantly, "Oh, I have a migraine". I stare at them and am tempted to say "Liar".

Anyone that suffers from migraines knows how painful and horrible they are, and those that use them as an excuse to get their hair done or have a sicky just be lucky you don't get them because you wouldn't be using them as an excuse.

Well, that is officially the longest rant I have ever written and my soapbox is looking a little worn.
I apologise if I have insulted anyone with my opinion, but afterall it is an opinion.

If any of the mathematics is wrong in this blog entry that's because I went to the Russell Crowe School of Adding and Multiplying.

So with that, I'm going to rest on the couch and enjoy the fact that for the first day this week, I don't feel too bad.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back to Thailand for some Wooosaaaa-a

Even if you can't be bothered reading this post, coz it's a longen, can I suggest to just have a scroll through and click on some of the photos.

We've been back a month now from our trip and the headaches, sore eyes and stiff joints are starting to return. When I begin to feel as though I never went on a holiday I close my eyes, think of a few of the places we went to, take a deep breath and feel much better. **sigh**

So, I thought I would bring you some images of a few of the most beautiful places in Thailand.
Here's one to start with; Phi Phi Leh Cove.

I hope that random photo was nice enough to have you continue to scroll.

When looking at these photos you also need to remember that the water is 30 degrees celcius and the air temp is around 35 degrees. It's just perfect.

The reaction to some of our photos from the trip have been "I had no idea Thailand was so beautiful" and when you explain the names of the places you see them nodding but really not having any idea of where you are talking about. By looking at these pics and seeing the names, hopefully it might inspire you to spend some time in this beautiful place and actually understand what we were talking about.

Before we start - The Tsunami of 2004
As a side note, all of the places I will be mentioning were devastated in the 2004 tsunami. What I love about Thai people is they don't ask for pity. The tsunami is never mentioned to get you to purchase something (except for one company which will have their own blog entry due to their immoral business dealings - and they aren't even Thai!) and all that they ask from you is to return to their country.

It isn't until you are standing on the islands and still see remnants of the tsunami around that it really hits you, and how incredibly frightening it must have been. Hubby and I stood on the beach at Tonsai Bay, looked around and both said "Where would you run?".

Here is Tonsai Bay now.An 8 metre wave hit from both sides of the island. See what we mean by "Where would you run?" If you were on the beach on the left, you run and you'd end up at the beach on the right. Up the limestone cliffs is your best bet.

Now that I have managed to completely depress you, let's get back to the islands as they are now. Before I do that I think it is about time for another map.

Please use the map if you begin to get a little disorientated.

The Phi Phi Islands are around a 45 minute speed boat trip from either Krabi (South West direction) or Phuket (South East direction).
Refer to my first post on Thailand to work out where Krabi and Phuket are.
Refer to my first post on Thailand to work out where Thailand is.

On our list of places to visit on our day trip were:
- Viking Cave
- Koh Phi Phi Leh Cove
- Loh Sa Mah Bay
- Maya Bay
- Monkey Bay
- Tonsai Bay (Koh Phi Phi Island)
- Hin Klang Reef
- Bamboo Island

Have all of that memorised?
By the way, Koh (or Ko) in Thai means island. Just in case you are wondering why everything seems to have Koh in its name.

First stop. Viking Cave.

The Geography Lesson
Firstly, people live in this cave.
Viking Cave is located on the east side of the northern peninsula of Koh Phi Phi Leh.
I can assure you that Viking Cave is Viking free, but the cave has numerous cave paintings of vessels, resembling Viking longboats. There are paintings of elephants and also of various boats: European, Arab and Chinese sailing ships, baroques, motorboats, and steamships. It has been proposed that the paintings were drawn by pirates, who paused in the cave on their travels. Although, I would like to know which group of travellers (aside from time travellers) were using motorboats during the days of pirates.
The cave is revered by the local people. They come here to collect the swift's nests, used to make Bird's Nest Soup (and I thought it was a figurative "Bird's Nest" in the soup all this time). A birds nest company has the concession for the cave, and they must be asked if you want to visit the cave.

Stop Two. Phi Phi Leh Cove.
We have SO many amazing photos from this Cove. So instead here's a little bit of footage.
The water goes from extremely shallow (and we were there during high tide) and then it just drops away to around 30 feet deep. The quiet, the warmth, the peace. Ah, the serenity.

Having used up about a 1/3 of our memory card on Phi Phi Leh Cove we headed off to do some snorkelling.

Stop Three. Loh Sa Mah Bay
A great little snorkelling location, although I would have loved to get some scuba gear on here. In my excitement to be underwater sometimes I forget I'm snorkelling and not scuba diving, this means a very quick learning curve and lots of choking and coughing.
We visited the Phi Phi Islands during monsoon season. This means that the water isn't as clear or calm as it is during the calmer months. Hard to imagine?

We have the Olympus Waterproof and Shockproof Camera so here's a shot of some of the residents of Loh Sa Mah Bay.

Unfortunately it was Day 1 of us having this camera so it was set to underwater mode for the entire day. But still, we can't complain, it was great having the durable camera. And may I add, freaked out some of the people on our tour when I dived off the front of the boat camera in hand. One of those priceless moments.

Stop Four. Maya Bay
You have to go to Maya Bay to fathom Maya Bay.
It is most famous for being the setting of Hollywood movie "The Beach".
I'll let the photos do the talking. This is the warmest, softest (sounds bizarre I know) water I have ever swam in.
And here's some footage taken by Hubby of me in my new Happy Place.

A little story about our time at Ma
ya Bay.
We woke up on our last day in Krabi to some overcast, potentially stormy weather. We wanted to get to the islands before we headed off to Phuket but we had also heard that it was a bit of a disappointment on an overcast day.

After our usual breakfast feast we headed into Ao Nang and at the last minute decided to not care about the weather and head out on the tour. We managed to get onto a speed boat tour for 950 BAHT each. That's about $30 AU.

The tour organisers raced to pick us up in town to make it to the boat before it headed off.
Apparently during that time we had missed some vital information.

While at Maya Bay there were around 8 other boats. Another identical to ours. We were watching a boat that looked like ours, even took a photo of it.

See, isn't it pretty?
So as the tourists started to clear out we were thankful that we finally got some room to swim. Then "our" boat started to board. Hmmm, the crew aren't looking familiar.
We see another boat steaming into Maya Bay. Yep, it was our boat realising that we'd been left behind.
Not. Happy. Jan. would be the best way to describe the mood of the tour operator.
Wow did we get a serving. Well, as much of a serving as you can receive from a Thai. He was just worried and completely polite about it all.

So apparently the important information we missed was:
1. The number of your boat is Number 99. Remember Number 99. Everyone repeat, Number 99. We were watching Number 11.
2. Get back to the boat at 2pm. OK everyone, 2pm. Everybody repeat, 2pm. We didn't have a watch and didn't know we had to back at 2pm.

So for the remainder of the day were we good little tourists and practically hung off the anchor.

And check out the little guy we found attached to Hubby's back. Is it just me or is he smiling?
"Haw, haw, did I scare you, you tourist?". I don't know why the crab has a French accent, he just does.
One quick stop at Monkey Bay before grabbing some lunch at Koh Phi Phi.
We didn't get out at Monkey Bay, but it was another lovely spot.
It's called Monkey Bay for obvious reasons. There are lots of monkeys. Just in case it wasn't that obvious.

Stop Six. Lunch at Tonsei Bay.
As I mentioned before this island was wiped out in the tsunami. When you look at before and after photos you can see how much of it is still to be rebuilt.
They put on a huge buffet spread which was sensational and then we sat on the beach right next to our boat, Number 99. Yes, Number 99. Let's repeat that, Number 99.
It. Was. Hot.
The camera was flashing low on batteries at this point so we started to ration our photos.

Tonsai Bay was the first place we had come across where you had to hire the sunchairs, so we opted to just sit in the water.

Here's the friendly tsunami warning to run for dem hills.

Stop Seven. Hin Klang Reef.
The boat stopped in the middle of the ocean and the tour operator said to jump off the boat. Surely he couldn't still be that angry at us?
Turns out there is a reef in between two islands.
The reef was great, but what was starting to become more interesting was the very, very, very, very dark storm clouds heading our way.

Stop Eight. Bamboo Island.
Before we were allowed to disembark, the tour operator made a point of saying to us, "Now, you forget to come back, we not come back for you. There is camp site here, so we not come back. Ok?" I don't think he meant it in a threatening tone, he seemed more concerned that he almost lost two tourists, and wasn't going to let us forget it.

Wow. This would be the most beautiful island I have ever been to. Hubby and I had our wedding photos taken on Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands. It is touted as one of the most photographed beaches in the world. We both agreed, sorry Whitehaven, Bamboo Island kicks your sandy little butt.
There was only one problem with Bamboo Island, it was so bright that the camera couldn't handle it on occasions. Just photos of bright white! Lucky for the impending storm...

Now, about that storm.
If there is one thing I have learnt in my travels, it's always to watch the locals.
If the locals don't look worried, you don't need to be worried.
We were watching the tour guides sitting under a tree having a joke and a laugh (probably about the Aussies that got left behind at Maya Bay) so we went about admiring the beautiful island.

The storm clouds were now around us.
Check the locals...
They still seemed ok.
More thunder...
More lightning...
Check the locals, oh oh, they look worried.

"Everyone to the boat NOW!!!"
And that is when our camera ran out of batteries.
This was the last photo we took.

The tour guide started racing around the beach asking everyone to get onto the boat.
Oh how we would have loved to have photos of everyone getting soaked.
Due to four tourists who could not be found we sat on the boat, which really was wearing us for protection from the storm, and got drenched.
Everyone on the boat was laughing as there was nothing else you could do.
Once the worst part of the storm passed we headed back to Krabi, got dropped off at our resort, gave the boat crew a nice tip for coming back for us and headed straight to the beach bar to reflect on the new places we had just visited.

All I can say is I'm so glad we decided to not care about the weather and took the trip.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What's eating the McDonald's Cup?

Having a blog entry on this subject does make me think that I need to take up a cause; world peace, famine, save the whales. Don't get me wrong, I'm a supporter of helping all of those causes, but there's some issues we need to overcome that are out of my hands before it can happen.

Peace - going to be tough until at least one God appears or the LHC proves a lack thereof.

Famine/Malaria/HIV/Third World Poverty - end those and then what do we do with the extra billion odd people on the planet? We struggle to have enough resources for the ones we already have. We need to work out how we can sustain the extra people first without further detriment to the planet.

Save the Whales - How hard can it be to just not kill them anymore? **coughJapancough** Anyone that has read Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy would also feel the same way about dolphins. In addition, included in this list should be seals, polar bears, grizzly bears, orangutans, panda bears, giant squids (yes you heard me, giant squids), tigers, lions, sharks, crocodiles, elephants, cheetahs - you know what, just leave the wild animals and their habitat alone. We have a lot to learn from them.

See section on Famine/Malaria/HIV/Third World Poverty which means you can't support both. Solve Famine/Malaria/HIV/Third World Poverty = bad news for the animals. Where else are you going to put the extra people, their houses, the power plants to run them, the crops to feed them? Wipe out more habitat. It's a lose/lose situation.

So I sponsor WSPA in the hope that I can at least help to stop stupid humans from being unbelievably cruel to animals. It was the only plight that didn't send my head into a spin.

This started as an entry about McDonald's. "Hypocrite, you eat McDonalds!!" I hear a few of you/or no one say after mentioning to be good to animals and not damage the planet further.

So what is eating the McDonald's cup?

This may be localised to Australia, but has anyone else noticed that if you leave a McDonald's cup with Coke around for an extended period of time, such as overnight, that the bottom gets eaten out and next thing you know you are using half a box of tissues trying to suck up the coke from the cup holder in your car?

I worked at McDonald's as a youngen for 5 years. On occassions I saw many a Macca's cup sit around for quite some time with no obvious leakage or eating away at the waxy coating. So it had me thinking, has the quality of the cup decreased or has the Coke become more deadly?

Previously Coke was more notoriously known for being able to eat through teeth, a T-bone steak, coins, just to name a few but it seems that Mythbusters put a stop to those old wives tales.

Now that it is eating through my McDonald's cup perhaps this needs to be re-opened for debate. And did Mythbusters think to test the K-Way version of Coke? If the mix of Coke syrup to Soda Water is not correct, does it then posses cup eating properties?

Maybe I should write into them and ask?

There are some other factors that may require some looking into:
1. Does a constant temperature vs a fluctuating temperature in the car effect the composition of the cup material?
2. Does this happen with Fanta?
3. Does the volume of liquid remaining in the cup have a direct correlation to the time it takes to reach that weakness point?
4. I only buy a Small size, but is the same happening for Medium and Large?

I need to start thinking about more important things.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Kaboom or Cooool?

I've been watching with interest the latest happenings at CERN.
Call it a selfish interest, as I would like to know if I should start living it up over the next week or so before we either get sucked into a black hole or the fabric of the universe is torn apart.
You know, those little everyday things you worry about.

I was extremely surprised when the experiments at CERN were brought up over a Father's Day lunch yesterday, this was starting to make the everyday headlines. Like all conversations when my family get around the table, the debate began..

"There's only a small chance anything will go wrong" was the argument from the others at the table.
My argument: "And the world is full of people who have been proven wrong. Sometimes repeatedly. Have you been watching Bush's Presidency?".

Others: "Mathematically speaking they are saying if they do succeed the black hole will exist for the tiniest amount of time"
My argument: "What if someone forgot to carry the one?!!"

Others: "The test is being conducted 100m underground"
My argument: "A few BILLION kilometres past Pluto I think is a more suitable location to be testing this. I hear the Pegasus Galaxy is lovely at this time of year."

So while I played Devil's Advocate over the dining table, I'm actually sitting on the fence with this one.

It fascinates me so I want to see this succeed. At the same time, I've read enough Sci Fi books to know that things like this can go wrong and we don't really have the tested and proven mathematics yet to fully understand the consequences. And let's face it, it's a pretty harsh learning curve.
Computer: "I'm sorry, but your formula was incomplete or not compatible. Report this error to Microsoft?".
Scientist: "Ah, crap"
World: "Kaboom!"

If they do succeed and manage to recreate the few moments after the big bang, there will be much rejoicing and high-fiving (along with the subsequent eye injuries) amongst the scientific community, but what will the impact be on religion?

As time goes by and science continues to make new discoveries, the foundation of some religions is being chipped away at gradually. I have no religious roots so I'm not going through any deep philosophical turmoil, but I can see how some will.

If the big bang is proven and can be recreated, does this mean that evolution needs to be accepted as fact? So, no Adam and Eve? What happens if people start to doubt the concept of heaven and hell? No consequences of actions? Will this experiment cause there to be a new interpretation of the texts such as what is occurring with Pope Benedict now accepting the possibility of life on other planets?

I'm a karma person so I always believe in consequences of actions no matter what dimension this device may send me to, but for those who believe a higher being is watching their every move in order to make a judgement as to which direction to send them come their day, this will be interesting.

Anyway, enough of the serious stuff.

I stumbled across some amazing photos of the LHC coming together over the last couple of years (thanks to, but to be honest, some of them haven't been filling me with confidence.

You plan on recreating the start of the universe and this is the biggest fire truck you can find?!

I keep reading how everything associated with the LHC is about being exact. If that is the case, can someone please get this man a welding mask that has some eyeholes in it.

Hypothetically speaking... Do you think everyone gets standy-uppy hair when they get close to this thing?

Click on this image to see the true scale of the facility.

So no matter what the outcome, this is going to be interesting...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Great Moments in Karmic History

I would like to start a new segment for this blog. Not that anyone reads it, so I'm sure it will end with this one entry, but what the hey.

Have you ever had an experience where you thought, "Well that's Karma for you?".
Whether it is the man that gets eaten by a crocodile after he was tormenting it for an hour with a dead chicken attached to his fishing rod, or that evil person who is laughing at an old lady having fallen over and then gets hit by a car as they are crossing the road, there are some moments that seems the universe is dishing out some karmic justice.

So I would like to share a karmic moment in history.

You might have to stay with me for a bit on this one while I give you some back story.
So this would have occurred around day 12 of our trip, but day 2 in Koh Samui.
While in Koh Samui, Hubby and I had our little spot that we sat.

Grass to keep you cool, close to the pool and beach. Perfect.

With this location always being high in demand, it would require an 8am start on the beach. The resort was full of very focussed, very committed tanners... except for us.

We set down our belongings and decided that some time in the ocean was a good way to start the hour of 8am.

I walked around the outside of the deck chair and the corner of the solid timber deck chair found that nice soft bit between the top of your lower leg and your knee cap. You know the one. The only place in your leg that is really, really sensitive. When you combine solid timber with something not solid, man it hurt!

I had the silent scream while clutching knee going on and Hubby was not only laughing but then giving me the lecture on "Well, it's not like it jumped out at you. We have been here for a couple of days." While I regained my composure Hubby skipped off to the beach. Wow, was this going to leave a nasty bruise.

A few hours later Hubby comes over to me trying to disguise a limp. I notice his knee bleeding.
"What happened?"
"What happened?" Sometimes asking twice works.
"Yeah, I'd like to believe you, but your bleeding knee makes me suspicious. What happened?"
"I walked into the corner of the deck chair".

If I was a much better person I would have just stayed quiet and showed my concern. But no, I decided to laugh, give him back the sentences he gave me and pointed out to not mess with Karma.

At least he ended up laughing with me while mumbling "I knew I shouldn't have picked on you before".

We talk about thinking of the consequences of your actions and never take joy out of someone else's misfortune. I thought it was a good practical lesson in this. Hopefully my laughing and fun making in the name of giving a lesson in karma makes us square... I really hope!

So while it isn't any great amazing story of karma which involved flying monkeys and getting rich, I thought the lesson learnt made it definitely A Great Moment In Karmic History.

So, anyone else have one?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Introductory lesson on our trip to Thailand...

Well, we're back. And amazingly in one piece. A few cuts, slices, stake through the neck and the occasional monkey bite, but that's for another entry.

We had some great adventures during our time in Thailand so I hope to bring them to you over the course of, well over however long it takes me to write them up.

Firstly I would like to give a brief summary of what the plan was. I hope to also be able to assist people who are looking at travelling to Thailand with some information on where to go, what to watch out for and where you can save money.

So here goes.

An Introduction to Thailand For Dummies - written by one.

Thailand is located in South East Asia. That was pretty easy.
To give you a global perspective for those geographically challenged (myself included with regions such as Asia)...

To give you an idea of where it is within Asia...

Once in Thailand there are a number of locations which you can decide to perch your butt for a holiday. Generally most tourists either head to the islands of Phuket or Koh Samui.
We decided to take in Krabi, Phuket and Koh Samui. Hey, if you've already taken the 9 hour flight to get there you might as well check out as much as you can.

In Summary the round trip was:
1. Flew into Bangkok
2. Caught a connecting flight to Krabi
3. Caught a taxi-with-a-death-wish to Ao Nang
4. Boat to our resort
5. Speed boat to travel around the Phi Phi Islands
6. Boat back to Ao Nang
7. Taxi-who-wanted-to-see-his-family-again to Phuket
8. Flew from Phuket to Koh Samui
9. Flew from Koh Samui to Bangkok
10. I'm putting the walk around Bangkok airport as a journey, just because it was
11. Flew out from Bangkok to Melbourne

And if those places sounded like another language to you (funnily enough) here's a dinky little map to help explain.

A courtesy note of thanks to companies that are nice enough to put maps on the web.

So you may ask, why Thailand? Isn't it hot enough in Australia?

First of all, it is a fallacy that it is always hot in Australia. Sure, if you are lucky enough to live in the more Northern parts of this country you are blessed with warmer weather most of the year. But as I sit here typing with fingers who are wondering what they ever did to me to deserve this kind of cold I can confirm that living in the Southern parts of Australia means it gets rather chilly.

Plus, there was always something calling me to Thailand. I wasn't sure if it was my upbringing which could be loosely described as a Buddhist lifestyle, or whether it was just a desire to be warm for an extended period of time while everyone else was cold, but something was calling me.

Something had also been threatening to drag, sorry, calling my husband too. Well not really, but he was up for a trip to a hot place with nice beaches.

When explaining to my husband what each location was like, this is how it was summarised (and being able to have a visual aid for this would help a lot):
Krabi - It's the place you go when you want to chill out and travel out to some of the other islands (particularly Phi Phi) which are even more chilled. My visual way of explaining this was to cross my hands behind my head, pretend I'm lying on a beach and give a big sigh.

The Phi Phi Islands
Phuket - the town of excess. Shopping to the excess, partying to the excess and sleazy old men to the excess **shudder**. I would do a little disco dance for him to give a visual representation of Phuket as my sleazy old man impression I didn't think would sell the location to him.
The sights of Phuket - It's like a mini Vegas in Asia.

Koh Samui - It's more the "I'm over the going out until all hours of the night, but ain't dead yet" part of Thailand. My visual description was to mix the relaxation charade followed by a more subdued disco dance.

Not to be put off by my previous monkey encounter, this little gibbon in Koh Samui was heart-warming.
I hear his Mum isn't so nice though.

Did that make it any clearer, or have I just managed to confuse the issue?

When we go away on holidays we like it to be a holiday. I've tried to embrace the inner backpacker within me, but I just can't do it. I don't know if it is because I went straight to work after High School and chose to study at night rather than do full time uni, but while the idea of only spending $25 per night for accommodation is appealing, I'm not big on sharing bunks, or for that fact sleeping in bunks at all.

We stayed in 5 star all the way, but I would like to note that at the price of 3 star, just by doing a little bit of shopping around. Using the resources of, Asia Web Direct and Trip Advisor I was able to get an idea of what the going rate was for particular locations and also using Trip Advisor you get the true picture of what the accommodation was really like.

All up, I saved us $3000 by booking accommodation ourselves. That money was the difference between us going on the trip and staying home.

So with our 16 days roughly planned we set off.

Did I mention Hubby lost his passport the night before we left? ....