Sunday, December 31, 2006

Farewell 2006

Because no other blogger in the world will be doing a wrap up of the year just finishing...

I have to say that, despite my current bout of nasty fatigue having the potential to negatively colour my feelings, 2006 was a really positive year for me. I made at least one new friend, strengthened other friendships, found the cause (and some of the solution) to years of nausea, walked heaps, blogged plenty (almost twice as much as 2005), regained my enthusiasm for work (which had endured 18 months of doldrums), lost 10 kilos and even travelled to far-flung Melbourne.

The trick for me now is to not see that as being the end of the line, but as a launching pad. There is still so much for me to do to feel comfortable with who I am, to increase the positive contribution that I make, to actually feel like I'm not just squandering some vast well of potential by not acting on any of it.

Will I be writing a post 12 months from now where I bemoan missed opportunities, or will I be celebrating great success in meeting my still nebulous goals? You'll just have to keep reading to find out :) Thanks for joining me on the oft-dull journey so far!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The dark side

On the other side of the customer service coin, or somewhere in the middle, I bought a new DVD burner on my way home yesterday and the sales guy, although friendly, was a bit too keen to dazzle me with his detailed knowledge of not only the item I was buying, but also computers in general. Since I at no stage had a chance to get a word in, he had no real way of knowing what my expertise level was, and didn't seem too worried about whether I comprehended his techo spiel. Perhaps I'm too obvious an IT geek?

Nonetheless, I now have a fully functional DVD writer in place, as opposed to the barely limping one I've been dealing with for over a year. Even better, the drive worked first time, which I haven't been able to say very often in my previous CD, DVD and hard drive self-installs.

I did, somewhat ironically, miss the slightly-dusty-but-still-easily-readable label at the bottom of the case telling me how to take the front off so I could actually remove the existing drive. After that, though, it was plain sailing :)

Lights out

Yesterday, after a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon catching up with K, having lunch and seeing "Happy Feet" with B and The Boy, and avoiding a thorough drenching in the sudden downpour (which arrived while we were in the movie), I got home to find that my lights were out. All my appliances continued to work, and flicking the circuit breaker did nothing.

I called ActewAGL, got straight through to an operator, and something mysterious was done to fix my lights within an hour of the call, before it was even dark outside. So, in an era of poorly thought out automated messages, it's nice to find a bastion of excellent customer service which involves real people solving a problem in a timely way with a minimum of fuss.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Slow learner

A list of the simple, obvious things I've been trying to drum into my head over the past several years in an effort to clean out lots of mental baggage. Am I getting there? Not really, but I remain optimistic that with continued effort I will successfully deculcate myself of any last vestiges of adult thinking :)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

[TV] Bones

If being compelled to watch 22 episodes in 4 days (especially when I worked on 2 of those days) is any indication of quality, then this is a winner. If that's not enough evidence for you, well there's just no pleasing some people... but I'll try and satiate your curiosity.

Emily Deschanel plays Temperance "Bones" Brennan, a major genius in the field of forensic anthropology, who speaks her mind and is usually right. David Boreanaz plays Seeley Booth, an FBI agent who convinces Bones to become his unofficial partner. Hijinks ensue :)

This is the closest you're going to get to the Mulder/Scully camaraderie of The X-Files, with the addition of a host of quality supporting characters, all of whom have interesting back stories that are gradually revealed as the season goes on. There are plenty of comedic touches, genuine tension and drama, tugging of heart strings and one moment that actually made me jump in surprise, which almost never happens. There's action too, but the beauty of it for me is watching smart people come up with answers to problems, instead of rushing around shooting everyone.

Basically, I'd like to believe I'm smart enough to maybe make it into Bones team in a small supporting IT role :)

We want action!

"So Bertie", I hear you ask, "did you actually graph anything for November?" Sadly, the answer is yes. Happily, you now get to see those graphs...

First, an above average walking month:


"Sure Bertie, those columns look great, but what if I want to see them as lines?" I'm glad you asked :)



Finally, with a slight improvement of 0.04 over last month's ADAC (despite partying too hard for my birthday and forgetting all about weights) the overrated action count:

New music

Rather than continue with my lack of posts, here's one of my many easy outs. You know the one , where I list all the new CDs I've bought without actually bothering to say any more about them...

Nothing Safe - Alice In Chains
Mutations - Beck
Blur - Blur
The Datsuns - The Datsuns
Greatest Hits - Devo
I Don't Think I'm Pregnant - Diana Ah Naid
Mallee Boy - John Williamson
Attack - KMFDM
Hau Ruck - KMFDM
Bricks Are Heavy - L7
Public Warning - Lady Sovereign
Hollywood - Little Birdy
Freaked Out And Small - Presidents of the USA
Love Everybody - Presidents of the USA
John Henry - They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants - They Might Be Giants
Here's To The Mourning - Unwritten Law

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stupid new toys!

OK, obviously as soon as I got access to Blogger Beta, I decided I'd change all three of my blogs. It worked OK for two of them, but this one had been so heavily modified that it's going to take me some time to restore the 3 columns and other niceties I'd put so much work into.

I could just go back to the old one, but I'm practising only moving forward :) A chance to learn a whole new set of syntax, specific to Blogger layouts...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Much easier than thinking

Stealing material from B, here are my much less interesting answers...

Four jobs I've had:

Research assistant at CSIRO
Maths tutor
Coder extraordinaire
Team leader

Four Movies I could Watch Over and Over:

Terminator 2
Bad Eggs
The New Guy
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Four places I have lived:

Canberra
Canberra
Canberra
Canberra

Four TV Shows That I Love:

Veronica Mars
Angel
Arrested Development
The X-Files

Four places I have been for a vacation:

Byron Bay
Melbourne
Tomakin
Around Australia

Four websites I Visit Daily:

I don't actually go to websites much, thanks to the wonders of RSS feeds, but here are some blogs I lurk at...
Slow Leadership
Management Craft
Positive Sharing
Joel On Software

Four Favourite Foods:

Tuna and rice
Chicken schnitzel with mushroom sauce
Spaghetti bolognaise
My Dad's chips

Four places I would rather be:

Location-wise, I'm pretty happy right here
More metaphorically, with friends

Four friends blogs I read every day:

Krafty Kuka
Dreaming All The Time
Hello, Here's Me!
Two Fruits

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Destination: Mystery! (Part 3)

Day 5



Caught a train to Em's and spent the afternoon chatting with her, and having a lively debate on politics and world affairs with her grandmother. Enjoyed a few forkfuls of mixed vegetable fried rice for dinner, my most substantial eating for a week (I'd forgotten how awesome food could taste!).

Day 6
Walked uphill into the CBD to meet Jen and AM for lunch, at a lovely little eatery called "Wheat" (the irony of this, given my gluten-free past, was not lost on me as I struggled through part of a tasty chicken salad). Tick catching up with my 3 Melbourne friends, my trip was now complete!

Had a brief chat with Em on the phone, distracting her from all the work she was stuck late at work trying to get done, then spent the evening in front of not much on TV and some more fried rice.

Day 7



Wandered the Crown Casino Complex and Federation Square, taking a sunnier set of photos to complement the overcast ones from earlier in the week, while trying to work out at least one touristy thing to do. An hour of walking later, I stepped into the Immigration Museum, which was just round the corner from my hotel, and spent an enlightening 3 hours looking at everything on offer.

On my way back to the hotel, a young guy asked me for directions to Lonsdale St, and I confidently pointed him in the right direction (confirming, when back in my room, that my confidence was warranted). Almost a local in one week!

My final night in Melbourne was made perfect by an actual restaurant meal with Em and, as I saw her off at the train station, my thoughts turned to my imminent return home.

Day 8
Woke up at 5.30 having had 3 hours sleep and, after killing some time trying to stomach my breakfast, headed into a windy, cold Melbourne morning. The beginning of my trek home! My plane was delayed by half an hour, which was exactly what I didn't need, but I had the whole back row of the plane to myself and a little shut-eye let me enjoy the view as we closed in on Canberra. 13 degrees in Melbourne became 31 in Canberra, but the most important thing as my Dad dropped me off home was that I survived (and even enjoyed!) a week away for only the second time in the past 3 years.

Will I be rushing headlong into a new life as an intra/international jetsetter? Well, no, because it was frankly exhausting to fight my poor health the whole week, and it'll take me some time to store up enough energy to launch myself at my next challenge.

The more important question, though, is: Did I enjoy my holiday? To that I can say a resounding Yes. Thanks largely to the efforts of awesome friends like Em and Jen, who spent time with me despite their own busy schedules, I feel that I squeezed every last moment of fun out of my Melbourne week.

Bertie, what was the point of that story? ... I like stories :)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Destination: Excitement! (Part 2)

Day 3
No sleep = Not feeling good. Note to self: Don't stay next to a main street without double-glazed windows next time.

Failed in my attempts to catch up with my ABS pals, but wandered the CBD anyway, in a glorious quest for another salad sandwich. Quite the gourmand, huh?

Tried to nap, but sleep continued to elude me, so I threw caution to the wind and headed to St. Kilda with Em for an extravagant sushi dinner (well, a single piece of vegetable sushi...). Before I knew it, 10pm had rolled around, and it was time for me to leave Em to the excitement(/crowd/smoke/noise) of the Gotye concert while I headed back to bed, finally catching some sleep thanks to the wonders of ear plugs.

Day 4



Yay! Sleep! Still staying very light on the food, but strolled the Yarra waterfront, busily snapping photos for the first time since I arrived. Coincidentally, this was the only overcast day of the entire week, thus my later set to show how much brighter the sights were during the rest of my visit.



Met up with Em to see the outstanding Earth From Above exhibition and do more riverbank wandering (leading to my favourite photo of the trip).



Stay tuned for Part 3 where I catch a train, a plane and see some automobiles!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A century of "change"

A quote I saw at the Immigration Museum really jumped out at me, prompting me to think that our current Government's immigration policy and fear of "others" is really no different to that espoused by our first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton over a century ago:
"The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to the equality of the Englishman and the Chinaman. There is a deep-set difference, and we see no prospect and no promise of its ever being effaced. Nothing in their world can put these two races upon a equality."
Of course today's prejudice is less bluntly stated. Earlier Australian governments attempted to hide the racism of the White Australia policy behind the Dictation Test which draws an easy parallel with the proposed "Values" test proposed by current "leaders" (including the Labour opposition).

There are plenty of people who would easily pass such a test who I don't consider to be "Australian" in the positive sense of the word at all, our current Prime Minister for example, who has never been about the "fair go" that he bandies about so smugly.

Instead of establishing meaningful demographic policies (e.g. in the search for a sustainable, balanced population), we get ridiculous initiatives like the "baby bonus". Maybe I'm naive, but there seem to be an awful lot of people clamouring to move here already, who either have necessary skills or are willing to develop them. Unfortunately for potential immigrants, our education system overall is constantly being downgraded as a priority, and the avenues for developing skills such as spoken English are insufficient. Chances of gaining citizenship under such an arbitrarily focused test are minimal, except for those whose background most closely mirrors the current economic and political power players. While we're at it, we might as well use the IQ test instead, for all its validity as a measure of Australian-ness, or of a person's innate value.

Destination: Adventure! (Part 1)

(aka visiting Melbourne for a week)

T minus 2 days
If I had to choose the worst time for a return of my nausea, 36 hours before a flight to Melbourne would be right up there. And so it was destined to be! Prescription for self: Rice cakes and baby food, hot water bottle and peppermint tea, and many Newsradio episodes to keep me distracted.

T minus 1 day
More of the same, with a few teaspoons of plain mashed potato for variety.

Lift-off!
I usually enjoy flying, but almost no food and sleep in the past 2 days meant I was feeling terrible by the time I finally made it to Melbourne. Luckily I had Jen there to meet me, and her cheer (and long history of driving a pale me home from work) took the edge off my nausea long enough to make it to the Hotel Enterprize and lie down. Thanks Jen!

Em came to visit after finishing work for the day, and was treated to my alternating green/grey hue and nibbling of rice cake morsels. I'm a super host! But by the time Em left I was feeling almost human again, and much more positive about my recovery chances. Thanks Em!


(note the extent of my bedside snacks - baby food, water and lemonade)

Day 2


Visited the Crown Complex for some much-needed food - a basic salad sandwich - and then spent the rest of the day in bed watching cricket and concentrating on keeping my food down. How jealous are you of my trip so far?

Luckily my planning consisted entirely of getting to see Em and Jen, which I already achieved yesterday, so even 5 more days of bedridden-ness would count as a success. Gotta concentrate on the positives :)

What will Day 3 bring? To be continued...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Return

I made it back home, somewhat relieved, after a week in Melbourne. Getting to spend plenty of time with Em was fantastic, while my poor health made the overall journey much harder work than it might have been. I'm now in recovering-ready-for-work-next-week-mode, having at least given my brain a break from such prosaic concerns. I didn't even suffer from internet withdrawal!

Proper stories to follow, some of which may integrate my latest photos, but if you want to get a visual taste of my trip right now, just head to Melbourne 2006.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Blur

Watching the live Blur concert on jtv XL last night, I noticed for the first time a strong Bowie flavour to Damon Albarn's vocals. Having just re-listened to Parklife (the only Blur album I own), I'm reassured that it doesn't come through as forcefully, so maybe I'm not as oblivious as I first thought.

What I did realise is that I definitely need to grab some more Blur. I've always been firmly on the Blur side of "Blur vs Oasis", and love both Gorillaz albums, so this is another in my series of musical no-brainers.

Monday, November 13, 2006

[CD] Broke - (hed) p.e.

The third album from (hed) p.e., released in 2000, is a great, head-banging listen.

More at the Korn end of "rap/metal" than the Limp Bizkit end. Touches such as guest vocals on Feel Good by Serj Tankian (System Of A Down), help avoid the sameness that many albums in this genre suffer from, including when the intensity lets up slightly to inject a little funk into the mix.

Not really for the Gotye lovers, but enjoyable stress-release music for a try-hard metal fan.

[CD] When Your Heart Stops Beating - (+44)

The debut album of (+44), the child of Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker (two-thirds of blink-182) is an interesting (but not too dramatic) shift in direction.

Lyrically, it heads further along the path of the final blink album (more serious, less jokey), and musically adds a significant electronic undercurrent which wasn't present in blink's work. Mark's duet with female vocalist Carol Heller on Make You Smile makes it clear you're not just listening to retreads of old material.

If you love blink-182's entire back catalogue, as I do, this should push all the right buttons. Otherwise, I don't think this'll convert you.

[DVD] Grey's Anatomy - Season 1

I rarely bow to peer pressure, but the insistence of Jo, kuka and Em that I give this medi-drama a try was too much. And, as is sometimes the case, my friends were right to nag me :)

It's funnier than I'd been led to believe, which was crucial to my enjoyment. The relationship stuff was involving, rather than painful and nauseating. It makes me glad not to be a surgeon, while being relieved that some people are. And every episode was personally affecting, in a "how would I handle that?" way. Only 9 episodes in S1, so I've yet to see whether a full stretch of shows in Season 2 will maintain the quality (and my interest).

Friday, November 10, 2006

Yay for music!

I've spent the past week trying to do some CD shopping and finally managed to squeeze out some time at lunch today so, thanks completely to Kam and Liv, here are my latest musical additions:

Political Prisoners (EP) - Insurge
Untouchables - Korn
Greatest Hits - Eurythmics
Timeless - De La Soul
Silent Alarm - Bloc Party
Broke - (hed) p.e.
No Touch Red - Bodyjar
Freibentos - Pangaea
Elva - Unwritten Law
The Downward Spiral - Nine Inch Nails
What Are Rock Stars Doing Today - Magic Dirt
Beautifulgarbage - Garbage

For anyone counting, that's 155 new tracks of rock, punk and a dash of hip-hop to keep me company on my travels. I did try to buy more Avril Lavigne or Lindsay Lohan, purely for the look of disgust on K's face, but no such luck...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Insomnia

This is a just a little bleary-eyed post to vent my frustration at not being able to sleep. I've managed 12 hours sleep since Thu 7am (which was more than 90 hours ago for anyone counting), never more than 2 hours at a time.

I got to sleep at midnight, after an awesome day out with friends (to celebrate the triple threat birthday of K, Shak and I) then woke up at 2am and, after no more sleep was forthcoming, decided to get up and do something, rather then stew in my own sleepless juices.

Thanks to kuka and Em for blogging and thus giving me something to read :)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A plethora of graphs

Given the way-out-of-proportion positive reaction to my last set, here's a whole bunch more blog-padding charts.

Firstly, graphic proof of my dominating October walking performance:



Next, look how much action I got last month! (Thanks to kuka and her tempting Pure Blonde ways for making the 31st negative ;) Nonetheless, an ADAC of 2.19



And, finally, my return to weights is progressing nicely:

Sunday, October 29, 2006

PB

18 walks this month and a new personal record! I was tempted to slack off yesterday, and take my chances that I'd walk a couple of times before Wed, but braved the cold winds (wearing a jumper and jacket, after being in shorts and T-shirt 3 evenings previous).

The record's made sweeter by the fact that I only walked once in the first 6 days of the month, while searching for some motivation, so I've only missed 6 days since then, half of which have been my Thursday off.

Is that enough walking stats for everyone?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Now that's irony

On Media Watch during the week, which was covering the possible impact of new ABC guidelines on impartiality, I heard this hilarious quote from Alan Jones (well known radio imbecile):
"I can't give any credibility whatsoever to anything Media Watch say. They are an outfit with unbelievable agendas and have lost any sense of credibility in the wider world of the media."
I'd say pot... kettle... but there's really only one indefensible side to the statement. Self-delusion can be funny after all.

Rudebox

I've had a (admittedly cursory) listen to Robbie Williams' latest - "Rudebox" - and agree with kuka that Bongo Bong And Je Ne T'aime Plus is the best track on the album, the only one making it to my illustrious "Top Rated" playlist (for 4 and 5 star ratings). For the rest, the hard edge of some of the lyrics are weakened by the lack of any drive in the electronic backing. I expect even my pop to be more rock, I guess. And the repetitive swearing in the hidden track seems, to someone who enjoys blink-182's Happy Holidays, You Bastard and What Went Wrong, gratuitous without the redeeming humour I usually associate with RW.

So, basically, I continue to enjoy Robbie's attitude more than the majority of his music. I can't dismiss anyone who so clearly enjoys what he's doing :) And when he gets it right, it's classic pop, such as earlier releases like Me and My Monkey, Hot Fudge, Rock DJ and Let Love Be Your Energy.

I give it 6 Take That reunions out of 10 :)

25

More new music that I've been listening to, largely triggered by another podcast covering independent bands with female lead vocalists:

Krill - a 5 piece from Sydney, with a token guy guitarist. Just an awesome rock/electronic sound.

Jaed - young Melbourne punk band.

Beangrowers - from Malta, with a lot of Chrissie Amphlett in the vocals.

You can check any of their stuff out either as streamed tracks on the various linked sites, or previews in iTunes.

Friday, October 20, 2006

What a view!

This afternoon the first noticeable step in the demolishing of Cameron Offices occurred, as evidenced by this series of photos, as taken from my window. I spent my first 6 working years in that building (well, actually a few wings along). I can't say I'll miss it, but it had at least been blocking some of that dreaded sunlight which will now come flooding in... aaargh! It burns!!!







Going... going...


Gone!
IMG_0408.JPG

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Trundler

This is now officially my best start to a walking month - 9 walks total, helped by walking 8 of the last 10 days. (My ADAC is even up to 2.00!)

Helping to keep me company as I attempt to break my March record of 17 are some new music-related podcasts:

The Sounds In My Head - generally softer stuff, with just some back announce and a little bit of backround on the songs/artists. No artsy/fartsy analysis of themes, just the facts. One I just listened to had a couple of tracks from the movie Happy Endings sung by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who has an amazing voice (in addition to her obvious acting chops).

The Bang Music Hour - lots of excellent, driving rock music with minimal talk.

Eclectic Mix - focuses on a single artist each week, none of whom I've heard of, let alone heard, before.

Add to this the hilarious Hi My Name Is Mark, put out by Mark Hoppus from blink-182, which helped get me through my nasty illness of last month with its mix of great new punk tracks and lowbrow comedy. If I can just get the latest damn episode to download...

Hey presto!

In a masterstroke of misdirection, I ended up with a totally different double play. The second movie? Dodgeball. The link? Ten Bertie points for the correct answer! (1,000 Bertie points redeemable for a free can of Coke).

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Micro-wave goodbye

Not the best start to the day, as the act of pressing Start on my microwave (to cook my morning porridge) was met with a resounding phttt and the death of my nuke-machine. So I got to spend my morning traipsing into Fyshwick to buy a replacement (which was at least a good chance to hang with my Dad). After that, though, all has been good.

I've spent time listening to some new music podcasts, as well as re-watching The New Guy for the umpteenth time, and finding it just as laughtastic as ever. I'm tossing up whether I'm going to make tonight:
  • a Zooey Deschanel double with either Elf or HHGTTG,

  • an Eliza Dushku double with Soul Survivors,

  • a DJ Qualls double with Road Trip, or

  • an Eddie Griffin double with Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.
What a cruel dilemma! Or is it a quadlemma? I bet you can't wait to find out how this one turns out!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Virtual tour

I realised the other day that some of the people who read this blog have never actually visited my house, despite being regaled with envy-inducing stories of it being paid off, 5 bedrooms squandered on a lonely single guy. So here's a brief tour (and not one of those tarted up misleading ones which Liv pointed out).

First, a rough plan, as drawn by my sister, which gives an overview of how it all fits together.



The lounge room in which I spend time reclining in front of my DVD collection.



The kitchen and adjoining bar, which for years saw no culinary adventure greater than heating up of tuna and rice.





My "sun room", which is starting to turn into a furnace already, and the computer room which opens out from it, meaning that I'll be driven to the relative cool of the front of my house momentarily.





So now when you envision me (and I know you always envision me) composing another enthralling blog post, making a bowl of cereal or just relaxing in front of my latest DVD acquisition, your mental picture will be sullied by the grim reality which is my house enlivened by the radiant wonder which is my house :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Adbusters

Well, the Apocalypse is on its way now, as SBS goes the way of the unwatchable commercial stations, filling Mythbusters with in-show advertising. I can understand why, since a 'tween-show ad block doesn't actually reach viewers - hello, toilet break! - and it's hardly insufferable in practice, thanks to my hard-drive recorder. However, I feel morally obliged to complain about ads, if only in principle.

Praise the ABC, last bastion of free uninterrupted viewing!

[TV] Time Team

I've been watching Time Team (Tuesdays at 6pm on ABC) for the past few months, and it's one of the few shows on my must watch schedule. Why?

Well, for one thing, I feel like I'm actually learning something just by tuning in each week. I chip in with words like tesserae, as evidence of Roman occupation, before it's spelled out for me, and am even starting to get a feel for the timing of Bronze Age -> Iron Age -> Roman Occupation. I was never into human history much when I was younger, although I did love prehistory, but have found in recent years that I've been missing out on some really interesting stories because of dismissing it as a topic to dwell on, in preference to the "hard" sciences. All that said, though, I think the main reason is that I love seeing the enthusiasm of everyone involved in the show. They clearly love what they do, and a number have been involved for a decade (which I only just discovered when finding the link above). It's the same reason I enjoy DVD outtakes/bloopers and commentaries. They make it obvious that these people are doing exactly what they want with their lives.

Now that could easily be depressing, with my persistent, recurring uncertainty and aimlessness, but I actually find it energising, knowing that it's possible to find that Holy Grail of happiness. It's a little part of my attempt to find joy in the things I do right now, even if I'm not sure they're part of my ideal future. And it lets me know that I shouldn't settle for so-so, but can (and should) continue to push myself, without making myself miserable with dissatisfaction along the way.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Graphic content

I had hoped to avoid the need for scanning these, since there are 128 pics on 8 unwieldy, large sheets but, since B requested them so insultingly, I figured I'd go to the trouble of showing some of my $'s at work.

What are they actually showing? I'll leave it up to the biologist to explain... Sadly I couldn't find the gallstone, but hopefully these are interesting/gruesome enough to satisfy those foolish enough to ponder about my insides.





Watch out, Radioactive Man!

14 hours with nothing but a muesli bar, half a litre of what I assume was barium sulfate solution and an injection of another contrast material, along with stacks of X-rays and a $900 bill. That sums up my morning, so what do I have to tell? Basically, all appears to be well with my insides and back except for a "4mm diameter gallstone in the gallbladder neck". Sounds like fun, huh? I'll hopefully visit my doctor soon to see how I need to treat it, and it'll be back to "normal" for me.

Before you go rushing our for your own CT scan, after I've sold it so compellingly, keep this little factoid in mind:
The effective radiation dose from this procedure is about 10 mSv, which is about the same as the average person receives from background radiation in three years.
I'm not sure that's as reassuring as the website I read it on intended, but just one of the downsides to being in a machine which speaks with calming Enterprise-style tones to "Breathe in. Hold. Now breathe normally."

I must admit the disruption to my eating routine hasn't left me feeling too great, but I still went for an evening walk around 4.30 and, although it was more of a struggle than usual, I felt better for a little while afterwards. Plus the sense of accomplishment helps me feel less like an invalid, when I see that gallstones are much more common in obese people over 60 :)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Ignorant beatniks

Is it cross promotion if I link to another of my own blogs?

Ever wondered what I'd look like as a muppet? (a bit too much like Bert methinks). How 'bout a quick sketch of the fancy case for my Battlestar Galactica DVDs? Or even a random comic face?

Nothing very exciting, but another small step along the path to more consistently drawing.

Where does the time go?

By popular demand, a continuation of my series of pointless charts...

First, a new look at my walking progress, showing my September lameness (2nd last column). As well as having the first 11 days written off entirely by bedridden-ness, I was simply bored with the whole walking thing. I'll do much better this month, as the weather (and hopefully my health) improve, giving me renewed enthusiasm.


Next come a couple of pictures illustrating my new "Action-O-Meter" (TM) scale of judging whether I'm doing anything.





I'll leave it to the reader to work out what it all means, and how I can have a negative action count (as lazy as I am that seems a bit extreme!). Since I know you're interested, my average daily action count (ADAC) for August was 1.82, dropping to a sad and sorry 1.21 in September. Stay tuned for more ADAC updates! King of the nerds!!! (And before you ask, drawing graphs doesn't add to my ADAC, so my actionosity is dropping as I write this...).

Time to grow a ponytail...

Triggered by the master quizzer herself...




Which Star Wars Character (Episodes 1-6) Are You?




You are Obi-Wan Kenobi! You are almost as good as Yoda, but not quite! You are extremely brilliant and an accomplished fighter, plus you look good while kicking ass! When you get older you will be very distinguished looking!
Take this quiz!








Quizilla |
Join

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Mendelevium snaps

Typically for me, I woke up at 6am this morning with no pain and feeling pretty good... no, wait a minute, that's not typical at all... Of course that now means total uncertainty over my need for a CT scan next week, as I'm a bit dubious about miraculous recoveries (although currently grateful).

Anyway, I wasn't going to let that unaccustomed health go to waste, so went for my first proper hour-long walk in weeks, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I did realise that listening to comedy podcasts while wandering supermarket aisles is a good way of having people look at me strangely, as I attempted to stifle laughter.

Upon my triumphant return home, I watched Star Wars: A New Hope, the original theatrical version with 2.0 sound and grainy film stock now on DVD, and realised that it remains an awesome movie, having aged much better than me. Unlike the legions of fanboys who turned their homemade lightsabers in George Lucas' direction when he tinkered with the originals, I didn't have a real problem with the new versions, other than the fact that the old ones weren't available. Now that's solved, and everyone who managed to wait 10 years before owning the original trilogy can rest easy.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Arrested Development quiz

Just to show that kuka's not the only one who can fill in quizzes... I have no idea what the numbers mean, since I got 30/30 right, but what the hell, not everyone can be a statistician (not even me!).

You scored 96 Bluthism!

Incredible!! You even spotted my trick question pitfalls! You are without a doubt the biggest Arrested Development master who has ever walked the earth!

My test tracked 1 variable - How you compared to other people your age and gender: You scored higher than 99% on Bluthism

Link: The Arrested Development Test written by HibachiTheHutt

Whoops shebang

Actually, my last fortnight wasn't totally uneventful. I had a visit from Liv on Monday, which was muy excellente; the aforementioned work goodness, where I'm finally starting to feel like I can make a positive difference, after being unmotivated for a couple of years; and the biggest news is that I'll be travelling to Melbourne for a week at the end of November.

"Big deal!" you say disparagingly, comparative jetsetter that you no doubt are, but this is total-way-hella-cool news for me, having travelled away from Canberra only once in the past 30 months (Road Trip 2005). My flights and accommodation are all booked, I have a few friends to hang out with while I'm there, and the rest will be making things up as I go. (Although if you have advice on must-sees/dos for Melbourne in late Spring, feel free to suggest). Only 47 days to wait!

Nothing happening blues

Two weeks with nothing I felt like writing about, so I'm resorting to my ever-present fallback of new health problems...

Basically I've been having some serious back and stomach pain for the past few weeks, and eventually decided it wasn't one of the many things I know to be wrong with me, so I ventured to the doctor. Turns out I was right to check, since the treatment I've been trying the past few days to rule out just a back problem has been ineffective, meaning on Monday I have to book a lumbar/abdominal CT scan, to rule out (or confirm) a problem with my pancreas.

As briefly entertaining as it was to quote The Simpsons with an "Ow! My pancreas!" line, I was seriously hoping that it was just a minor back thing which required some rest and stretching... but that would have been far too simple for my stupid body.

Luckily, work has been excellent and energising in recent weeks, and so I haven't been tempted to stay in bed feeling sorry for myself. I said a number of times while ill with persistent nausea that I would much prefer old, faithful pain, as I could cope with that. I got what I wished for...

So, in summary, mostly happy with a dose of frustration thrown in.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

[DVD] Battlestar Galactica 2.0

After re-watching all of (the new) Doctor Who (Series 1) and thoroughly enjoying the mix of humour, drama, accents and whiz-bang effects, it took me a few episodes to get back into Galactica-mode.

At the end of the first season, they'd started to inject a little levity into the scripts but this is a return to dark and gritty, humankind in peril stuff. Which, after I acclimatised, became very compelling and I definitely got caught up in the story. Not always comfortable viewing, and therefore not likely to appear on my watch-again list (I like my "drama" interspersed with craziness/comedy, ala Scrubs, X-Files, Threshold, etc.).

If you dug S1, this second installment will certainly not disappoint. Awesome space battle scenes alone (with a more "real" CGI style I'll always associate with Firefly) made it impressive to watch, and the acting is consistently powerful, making me care what happens to the characters. Throw in guest appearances by Michelle Forbes and Dean Stockwell, and you've got a nice little package.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

[Movie] Nacho Libre

If you like dodgy accents, creative salad arrangement, spandex and the weirdest training montage you'll ever see, then this movie is for you.

A little of Jack Black's trademark song styling, extensive use of the word "crazy" and impressive fight choreography add up to a non-stop thrill ride of spills and chills... or, more accurately, a consistently laugh-inducing, warm and fuzzy 90 minutes well spent.

(Thanks for the invite B!)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Curly metal device



I'm not going to be quite as foolish as Liv in talking up the arrival of Spring, since after that post we had gale force winds and plenty of showers for over a week (lucky I was in bed most of the time anyway). So, instead, I will let the new additions to my Walking photoset speak for themselves.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Health watch

A full day of work, followed by a 40 minute walk as soon as I got home, and I'm actually feeling good. Well, my leg muscles are a bit rubbery, but I suspect that's because I haven't walked more than a few minutes at a time in the last 16 days. I can only assume that all the hard walking and good eating earlier this year (plus all the good comment vibes) have helped me bounce back waaaaay better from my post-viral fatigue. I'm actually stunned, in a good way! Considering how totally drained I felt yesterday, I expected to feel at least a little tired today, but I seem pretty close to normal. Yippee, time for a day off!

Monday, September 11, 2006

The rebuilding begins!

I returned to work today and managed a busy 9-4, really getting the feeling that I am needed and I do have a contribution to make, which is something I often find myself struggling to believe. Maybe the only thing stopping me from loving my job is actually recommitting myself to it, getting properly involved in things, rather than handing everything off to others. While I feel thoroughly exhausted right now, and will have to wait to see how I "back up" for another full day tomorrow, I'm actually feeling pretty positive. So, rather than analyse that feeling too much, I'm going to go watch some more Simpsons episodes (since my arms feel like lead and so anything more strenuous will have to wait).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Wotsikmewotch

A slew of DVDs have been keeping me company the past week, and here's a little summary:

Earth 2 - The Complete Series
From IMDB: "Colonists, crash-landed on an alien planet, begin the long trek to their originally designated landing place, facing both alien and human threats."
12 years old, but still extremely entertaining. Despite its sci-fi premise, it really is more about the characters and how they handle the situation the find themselves in. Touching, humorous and often thought-provoking.

Arrested Development - Season 3
Sadly this is the final season, but it went out with a bang. Every episode hilarious and I'm going to have to rewatch just to catch the many jokes I missed while laughing. It was definitely worth the wait. If you haven't seen the first 2 seasons, watch them first, because the number of callbacks to earlier jokes might actually make this series unwatchable for newbies.

Veronica Mars - Season 2
Although I'd already seen the first 15 (of 22) episodes, they were equally enjoyable second time around, and I was consistently stunned by how much story was packed into each 40 minute show. Lots of red-herrings, humour, pop-culture references and a climax that resolved big questions while opening plenty more for the 3rd season (starting October 3 in the US)to resolve. Not a painful cliffhanger ending, though, which was appreciated, and showed some faith that viewers will return for the quality of the show, not because they're tormented by a lack of answers.

Currently being watched: Fresh Prince of Bel Air (S2) and The Simpsons (S8)
Next on the list: Doctor Who (S1) and Threshold (The Complete Series)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Biding my time

Since I'm out of sick leave without a certificate I actually relented and went to the doctor this morning, to find that I have a mild respiratory tract infection. No antibiotic solution, though, so it's just a wait and see approach. In the meantime, I have a whole certified week off, to laze around watching DVDs (good), napping (tolerable) and occasionally coughing my head off (bad). I'm hoping to very gradually return to some exercise over that time, as my knees and back haven't liked the lack of movement, but judging by how poorly my lungs took to a slow 5 minute sunshine shamble at lunchtime I'd say I won't be rushing into any hour-long sessions too soon.

One other piece of good news is that my blood pressure is down to 110/70, which means that I'm probably not as stressed as I sometimes think I am, and that the exercise has made a significant difference (my BP reading had been something like 140/95 last year, which is right in the high pressure zone). That measurement alone will hopefully allow me to relax, in what may possibly be irony, or maybe just some kind of sensible mental feedback mechanism.

So (1) I'm afraid that weekend plans aren't really on my radar (sorry Em!) and (2) a certain J needs her own blog, when the comment is longer than the original post :)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Craptastic

A sickness break from blogging, with no particular end in sight. After foolishly raving about all sorts of positive things, and how good my exercise habits were, etc. I've been sent crashing back to reality with a cold/flu/virus which has kept me from any real work or walking for the past 8 days. I'm supposed to somehow survive a 3 day training course starting tomorrow at 9, when I actually feel worse than I did last Monday, my first sick day since I started on my wonder pills. Since I can't use caffeine, and cold/flu medicine seems entirely ineffective, I remain doubtful of being an enthusiastic participant.

So, as is usual for me when I get sick again, after a whole 3 months of comparative health, I lose my confidence that this kind of chronic illness crap will ever end, that my life is going anywhere, that I know what the hell I want to be doing, blah-de-blah-blah. Some of my pessimism surfaces from a lack of activity, and the distancing effect that being confined to bed has, but the fact that negativity sits so close to the surface just makes me think I'm usually just fooling myself that I'm cheerful, and as soon as I get fatigued and have no energy for self-deception the truth comes out.

And that's why: (1) I call this the World Wide Whinge, and (2) why I shouldn't post when I'm feeling sorry for myself. Nothing is ever as bad as I make it sound (quite how useful a talent that is, I don't know) and I'm sure that once I can do more than move from bed to lounge and back without needing a nap I'll be my faux-positive self again. Hoor-koff-koff-ay!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bored yet?

Looking at all the fancy new templates being used by my friends has finally prompted me to live up to a long-ago statement that I would ease up on the orange and "pretty up" my blog a bit. I've finally succumbed to the lure of widgets, either slowing down page loading for the sake of gimmickry OR creating a cutting-edge new look which appeals and excites (depends on your point of view :)

In any case, I've set it up so the main links and content get loaded first, so the new toys don't get in the way of my entertaining writing... And if they don't work, it's not my fault.

I hope y'all like it!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Life gets in the way

I've been having too much fun to blog the past couple of weeks, but a lonely lazy Friday night gives me time for an update on goings on in the excitement-fest that is Ber-T's world:

S-Club's 30th on the 5th was heaps o' fun, and because of the Shenani-dogs I even talked to people who weren't wearing orange! I ate way too much junk food, amazed youngsters with my long public service career and my Sunday walk was taken care of as I left the party at 1am to get home a little before 2, meaning a sleep-in and day of laziness were my reward.

(Wed the 9th) It's iPod time! I managed a half hour walk in winds strong enough to nearly tear my beanie from my velcro-stubbled head, before deciding that, new toy or not, I was going back home.

(Friday the 11th) I left work and headed to Civic rather than home, with no actual plans (Em would be proud) except the vague hope of seeing some friends. I tried visiting K but he'd already gone to the pub, so I propped up his business by purchasing a handful of comics, and organised impromptu drinks with B and The Boy. A pint of conversation later I returned to Impact, this time meeting K, who looked frantically around for escape before resigning himself to an OK Corral dinner and a second King O's pint with me. He ran screaming for an imaginary bus, which he assured me was his via a shouted over-shoulder goodbye, around 10 and I rode my own flexibus home with a smile borne of a satisfying week.

(Wed 16) A rare catch up with Redhead Kingpin (the first time since Fishy's wedding), then an awesome chat over tea/coffee with Liv, before meeting up with B for Thai dinner (vegetarian massumun, at least that's how the menu spelt it, but I remain skeptical) and it was off home to once again relish the joy that is hanging with friends.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Vegetarian

Since my health has been going so well, and I'm enjoying what that feels like, I'm trying out a vegetarian diet. As much as anything, it's to force myself to eat more vegetables, as my tuna and rice habit made me lazy in my food preparation, settling for tinned and processed goods.

So far, over 10 days with no meat, I'm still feeling really good. Coping fine with full work weeks, partying till 2am on Saturday in the cold, and my regular walks. Compared to my gluten-free diet, it's actually a breeze.

I've known for a long time what I need to do to be healthy, but have simply fooled myself into thinking I don't have time, or energy, or whatever, to do those things. Walking is one, getting rid of Coke is another (10 weeks and counting without a drop of cool, black gold). I've had almost no red meat for 2 years anyway, so cutting out chicken and tuna was the next step to try, and not much of a burden (so far).

So even if I don't stick with "cold turkey" (reverse no-pun not intended), I should at least have supplemented my diet with appropriate amounts of veges, and will eat less meat.

Oh for some patience!

Aaargh! Got home at 5.30 to find that my iPod was available from noon at my local post office, but since it closes at 5.30 I have to wait till 9am tomorrow to grab it :( Still, should make for a fun day off, playing with my new toy :)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

July - month of walking

As this handy graph shows, I managed my second best month, despite being washed out a number of times, it being very cold, and me wanting so much to return to being lazy.

I've even managed my best ever start to a month by walking this evening after getting home from work.

New toys

Toy #1 - LG Digital Video Recorder
160GB hard drive, twin HD tuners, timeshift, etc. Why would I fork out lots of cash for a new device to tape the nothing that is on TV? Why? ... I've made a huge mistake...

Toy #2 - 60GB Video iPod
Finally sick of issues with my much-abused three year old MP3 walkman, I've succumbed to the lure of the pretty black item below. It should be in my hands early next week.


Pretty :) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

12!

I'd actually forgotten what feeling healthy was like. Until this morning.

Yesterday I worked 9 hours, busy the whole time (finally!) and really enjoying myself. Got home at 6.30, spent the evening re-watching Arrested Development (still as awesome as the first time I saw it) and ended up asleep just before midnight, content with a positive day, although unsure how the unaccustomed working would affect me, tiredness-wise.

This morning I woke at 5.45, remembering I needed to send an email to one of my new staff telling him what I want him working on next. So I got up at 6.30, briefly connected to the work network to fire off the email while I ate my breakfast, then headed out for an 80 minute walk (my stepping stones still being flooded over). I got home feeling full of energy and also finding that my latest shipment of DVDs are ready for me to collect from the post office, 2.5 weeks early.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Rainy days...

My walking had been going really well this month, thanks to my fancy graph motivating me. I've already walked 11 times, beating all of June and only 3 walks away from my 2nd best month ever. Sadly, the forecast is for rain all week, which may hurt my plans. We'll see.

In related health news, I weighed myself on Saturday (for the first time since May) finding that I'm down to 95 kg, the first time I've dropped under 96 since I became a Shenanigan in 2001. So even though I've been eating a lot, including tasty assorted cream biscuits, Milo, and a huge huge serve of chicken omelette from OK Corral, my very moderate exercise is still making progress. My buzzwords of moderation and maintainability in my diet are paying off!


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Great day

It didn't start too promisingly, but rather than dwell on that I thought I'd list out some of the awesomeness that was my afternoon:
  • Watching Pirates 2 with my sisters. The movie had some excellent moments, although pacing was a bit too slow. Hard to live up to expectations after the fun of the first, though.
  • Coffee with Liv, hitting some of the deeper discussion topics that I rarely venture into with others.
  • OK Corral dinner with B, sharing the Arrested Development love..
  • Plus, the cherry on top of this Wednesday sundae, my Belco connecting bus was 5 minutes late, just enough to allow me to make it and avoid a 30 minute interchange wait. So now I'm home and very happy! Hurrah!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More music

Gotta love Cash 'em in - thanks to them (and $150) I have a stack of new CDs

Sunday, July 16, 2006

[Music] Will Smith

A new music journal post, espousing how much I like the Fresh Prince's work.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Music for the masses

Because trying to post stuff on 3 different blogs isn't quite enough for me, I decided to make use of my last.fm journal to record my entire CD collection.

Posting to my journal has the convenience of linking (almost) automatically to artist pages which give anyone interested in following the links more info.

Much like my DVD collection, I hope there are surprises in my music choices, as well as a healthy slab of obvious choices.

Monday, July 10, 2006

One less app

I've been using SharpReader to monitor my RSS feeds for as long as I've been blogging, largely for its simplicity. I've tried several replacements and always gone back to basics. But the latest (0.7.1) release of Flock has finally given me a reason to change.

As the screen shot below shows, I can group my various feeds and get a summary of the latest stuff on a single page. I can check the content of any of these groups in more detail, or drill down to an individual feed, very easily. And I don't have to leave the convenience of a Firefox-based browser. Its one down side is that it checks for feed updates every half hour, and there's no way to change the setting. Not a problem for me with a 12GB quota, but very irresponsible as feed monitoring goes.

Add to that integrated blogging, and Flickr photo posting, and I'm a convert. The blog post tool isn't nearly as powerful as w.bloggar, but for most of my purposes it does the job, and even saves a local copy of each post automatically.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

More walking

Because I know everyone loves charts, here's a graphical representation of my steady decline in walking since I started back in March. If there's one thing which will kick my lazy butt into gear it's looking at some lines...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

[TV] Battlestar Galactica 1.0

Another late-on-the-bandwagon moment for me, yesterday I watched the entire first season of (the new) Battlestar Galactica.

Luckily, it was as excellent as everyone had been telling me (I would hardly have been able to watch 13 episodes straight otherwise). The special effects had the same "reality" used to great effect in Firefly (one of the many things I loved about that show). The conflict within and between characters was always interesting and in the last few episodes I felt there was more confidence in using humour, introducing a few little looks and key pauses to let the comedy come through as a counterpoint to the life or death struggle against the Cylons.

Katee Sackhoff keeps the "Starbuck" character thoroughly enjoyable, adding complexity to the fun stereotype which Dirk Benedict first brought to life. Actually, I think the whole show is evidence of taking what was good about the original series and giving it extra layers. More tension between father and son Adama, less cartoonish villainy in Baltar and more down to earth treatment of the mythic elements of the story.

Season 2 comes out on DVD in Australia August 16 (before the full set is available in the US, surprisingly), so I know what else is on the shopping list.

[TV] Scrubs

Having now watched the first 2 seasons, I can't believe it took me so long to catch on to Scrubs. The writing and performances are perfect and the pacing spot-on. The craziness of the lifestyle being portrayed and the pervasive fantasy scenes are balanced extremely well with touching moments, grounding the characters just enough without cutting back on the almost non-stop laughs.

Like most of my current favourite comedies, this is sans-laugh-track, giving me the freedom to laugh when I feel it's warranted, rather than being frustrated at the strange laugh timing of an artificial audience. When watching How I Met Your Mother and My Name Is Earl on Thursday night, I noticed very clearly how resistant I was to finding the first funny, due to major canned-laugh overuse, while Earl was immediately enjoyable.

P.S. Thanks to Kev for the Scrubs recommendation, saying "I reckon it is awesome" rather than "You have to see this show", thus allowing me to actually enjoy it, and to S-Club for lending me the DVDs.

Every which way

I had a whole lot of blogging planned when I got home from my walk last Sunday afternoon, but real life took over.

After spending all week trying (and failing) to recover from a persistent cold, I had to miss out on farewell drinks for a Melbourne-bound friend on Saturday night. Still not feeling much better Sunday morning, I forced myself ready for my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary celebration. I was so glad I did. After they renewed their vows in front of three generations of family in a simple, touching ceremony, we all headed out for a leisurely, laugh-filled lunch.

Since I'd eaten way too much banquet, I left for a walk as soon as I got home, and on the way ran into a friend I hadn't seen for 3 years, who (I found out) only lives 15 minutes walk away. After a quick catch up, I returned to my walk, feeling really positive and upbeat and looking forward to finally starting in my team leader role on Monday. That cheer was cut short when I returned home to the news that my grandmother had been rushed to hospital, having suffered a stroke. Less than two days later, she passed away in her sleep.

I've been spoilt in my life so far, rarely having to deal with the grief of losing loved ones. To be honest it still doesn't seem quite real that Nanna is gone. I can easily picture her smile, and recall the feeling I always got when seeing her that I had made her day brighter by simply being around.

I'm at a loss for more words.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

[Movie] Cars

For someone who has no interest in cars, has a short attention span, and is easily irritated by people of all ages, it was a pleasant surprise that I loved "Cars" the movie.

The animation was spectacular, the characters were well defined stereotypes, and there were plenty of laughs (not just for the plethora of kiddies who shared the cinema). At 135 minutes long, I was expecting it to drag* at some stage, but I think the pacing was really good, and the lack of fidgeting in the tykes indicated the bright colours and loud noises were captivating them too :)

Or maybe I just like hanging with B, and wouldn't really care what movie we saw ;)

* definitely no pun intended...

The end of an era

Last night, the final episode of X-Files Season 9 ended with an "I made this" and I was able to rest the rest of the completist. 2 months and almost 200 episodes after my mammoth viewing experience began, what have I learned?

Firstly, simple maths tells me I've spent 10% of the last 8 weeks watching Mulder and Scully (around 140 hours). So lesson 1 is that I'm wasting my life...

Secondly, The X-Files is an awesome show, and remained so throughout its whole run, despite what less-easily-pleased-than-me people might try to tell you.

Thirdly... did I mention I'm wasting my life?

So, where to from here? How can I possibly fill the X-hole in my life? Suggestions welcome :)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Getting there

4 episodes into Season 8 of The X-Files, and I'm starting to pine for a little variety. Micallef's all done with, and there're months till Arrested Development and Simpsons Season 8 show up (new additions to my Veronica Mars order). This is what happens when I let my life revolve around DVDs...

Luckily, thanks to K (and my money), I now have the next two volumes of Fables to enjoy, so it's early to bed for some reading...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Spicy chilli tuna

Let me tell you that's a nasty thing to eat by accident (or at all). I'm not a big fan of hot food anyway, but this was just hot with no redeeming flavour. In order for this debacle to happen, the following preconditions are needed:
  • shopping without my glasses,

  • label colour almost identical to tomato and onion flavour,

  • having eaten around a thousand tuna and rice meals the past few years, so paying no attention at all to the stirring together of ingredients,
  • missing the fact there was a whole chilli mixed in with the rice.
Sadly I had to throw all but the first two mouthfuls out, but it was an excuse to have a beer to ease the burn.

Not even tuna and rice is safe anymore! Thankfully the spaghetti bolognaise, baked bean toasted sandwiches, chicken schnitzels and turkey sandwiches which have been added to my menu overwhelm a single culinary disaster :) Now I'm hungry...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Walking update

I haven't written for ages about my exercisin', so here're some brief stats on my hour long walks:

Walks in March - 17
Walks in April - 12
Walks in May - 12

While I'm not entirely satisfied with the frequency of walking the past couple of months, it's certainly better than the zero walks I'd done before March. Plus there are plenty of lunchtime walks and walks to the shops for groceries which I don't count.

My weight has remained fairly stable, even with the temptations opened up by now being able to eat anything I want. There's still plenty of work left for me to do before I reach my health goals, but I'm more confident all the time that I will continue the small steps I need.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The week so far

After complaining about boredom at work for some time (about 18 months), it reached (another) breaking point for me on Monday. From the moment I woke up, I was resigned to writing code, and throughout the day I hardly spoke to anyone. I became more frustrated as the day went on, and by 3.30 decided I was wasting my time even being at work. So I packed up my laptop and headed home early, immediately heading out to the gym to do weights. Thankfully, exercise did the trick, and all the stress I had allowed to build up dissipated, allowing me an enjoyable evening of TV watching (including an excellent episode of Mythbusters) and 2 hours of refactoring the crap code I'd written during the day, ending up with something I was much happier with. So I went to bed feeling pretty good, discarding my sulky work day as an anomaly and ready to throw myself at more tasks the next day.

I awoke refreshed and positive, and that better attitude was reflected in a much improved work day. At least some of my time was spent away from my computer, discussing things with people and having another tunnel light shone in my direction, with the promise of a real team leader role again. Basically, since I moved to my current section I've felt that it's 1 or 2 managers "heavy" and I've been in a position on the outside, not wanting to steal work/opportunities from anyone else while remaining dissatisfied with my day to day job (I love to play the martyr :). Now 3 of the 5 managers in our section are moving to other areas, giving me more room to create the role I want without stepping on toes. (Tentative) yay!

In X-Files news, I'm now 2 episodes into Season 7, with the promise of the comedic gold of X-Cops, First Person Shooter and Hollywood A.D. The arrival of three seasons of The Micallef Program has slowed down my X-watching, but not by much.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

New DVDs on the way

For those "friends" who've already established they only like me for my DVDs :) , no wait |:( ,here's an update on additions to my collection:

Arrived this week: The Micallef P(r)ogram(me) Series 1-3
Will arrive end of July: Newsradio - Season 4, The Pretender - Season 4, The Breakfast Club
Will arrive end of August: Veronica Mars - Season 2, (the new) Doctor Who - Season 1, Threshold - The Complete Series

Still waiting on a release date for Arrested Sevelopment - Season 3...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

[Movie] Mission: Impossible III

Lots of big explosions, cool stunts, some funny lines and great gadgets. These all added up to a very entertaining ride for a committed Impossibleite like myself.

This was only the second movie I've seen at the cinema this year, and after 4 ads vs 1 movie trailer, I was wondering why I forked out over $15 to be force-fed crap. Luckily they threw in a few more trailers, including X3 (yeah, baby!), and my ad-rage was narrowly averted...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Veronica Mars picked up for 3rd season

More detail here but basically it means there'll be at least 13 more episodes. Yay! Since I've still only seen the first 4 eps of season 2, that means there's plenty more VM goodness for me to enjoy.

Sadly, Arrested Development's 3rd season will be its last, although all accounts have it going out still on a high.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hahahahaha!!!

Oh my God! I can't stop laughing! I just got home to 21, that's right 21, "hello... hello..." calls on my answering machine! Major, all time record, and freaking hilarious! And I didn't call screen a single one. 15 of them were while I was at work anyway, and not one even mentioned my name or left a meaningful message. That has totally made my day!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The buck stops ... over there

The second of 3 rants, written on the same night in an attempt to get some sleep. Imagine what I'd be like if I actually watched/read/listened to any news!

There are continuing displays of a shameful lack of personal accountability in a number of our most senior public officials, the AWB scandal just being the latest of these. This affair alone shows that our "leaders" are either:

(a) utterly incompetent, remaining intentionally unaware of matters within their scope of responsibility, or
(b) unapologetically dishonest, uttering lies with arrogance and impunity.

Certainly scapegoats will be found, individuals who may be partly to blame or may just be victims of attempting to manoeuvre the webs of deceit which continue to grow outwards from the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

Poor leadership

A rant I vented into my notebook a fortnight ago, typed up verbatim here. Don't expect anything well researched, or balanced, it's purely an unleashing of bile on Howard and cronies.

Personal freedoms continue to be eroded, the media sustains a feeding frenzy of stereotypes and irrational fears, and individuals poorly suited to managing a small team of people on a low priority project continue to run rampant, turning the forces at their disposal into nothing more than tools of self-aggrandisement.

The dictatorial mindset so clear in our current government is reinforced by targeted removal of avenues for dissent. Attempts to marginalise employee co-operatives (e.g. unions), "anti-terror" laws stifling free speech, reduced availability of education to the financially disadvantaged (strengthening support for the status quo, limiting diversity in positions of power which are almost universally education based).

X-tremely distracted

Watching seasons 2-4 of The X-Files in 3 weeks will mess with your perception of time, thus the long gap between postings. I've been reminded just what an awesome show X-Files remains, even 13 years after it first aired. I also discovered just how often Scully says "Oh my God!" (every time anything freaky happens, which is almost every episode) and "Mulder, where are you going?" (every time Mulder ditches her, which is almost every episode). While not particularly reusable as catchphrases, they certainly add to my enjoyment, as a pay off for watching every show. Plus it makes me glad I don't work with anyone nearly as flaky as Mulder :) Quality guest appearances by actors like Brad Dourif, Giovanni Ribisi and Jack Black, Terry O'Quinn (Lost), Tony Shalhoub (Monk), and Peter Boyle (all within the first 50 episodes) plus two different characters played by the cranky old guy Relic from The Beachcombers! Roll on the final 5 seasons, and I'll see you all in a month or so!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Baldies of the world unite!

As if the below result would surprise anyone that knows me...



Always in control, you are a great leader, delegator, and diplomat. These qualities attract people to you, and this sometimes annoys you.

Aloof, introspective, and philosophical; you enjoy quiet time in solitude.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

[TV] Deep Space Nine

This morning I finished watching the seventh (and final) season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, my favourite of all the Trek installments. I enjoyed it even more than when I originally watched all the episodes either on TV or on VHS tapes my sister bought, when it looked like WIN would never get through the whole lot. The fact that DS9 was always darker in tone (about half of it had a quadrant-wide war going on) and had so many diverse, fully fleshed-out characters made it seem more real a future than the other "boldly going" flavours. It was about imperfect people working together to better themselves and their world, rather than an already perfect civilisation encountering others who weren't quite so civilised. Each season better than the previous one, I'm glad this is the one Star Trek series I own on DVD.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I'm cured!

Well, not quite. There's apparently no cure for what ails me and my stomach, but there is the next best thing - a magic purple pill! After only two days of taking it I've felt markedly better, not needing my dose of Mylanta every few hours to take the edge off the pain. Apparently, I can even drink caffeine and alcohol while using it, without slowing my recovery. In a couple of months all the damage done by years of my "itis" remaining untreated will be healed, and I'll only need a maintenance dose of medication (for the rest of my life) after that. Yippee!

Friday, April 28, 2006

More comedy gold

I've enjoyed Spicks and Specks ever since it first appeared on ABC TV last year, but this year has added Alan Brough's blog, a very entertaining set of (usually weekly) musings on music-related topics. Last week Alan covered the unfair assumption that rock music culture is based around drugs, and this week he gives a glimpse into his own music playing history. The final paragraph goes:
We never did a gig but did record one EP. The engineer and producer of this bit of musical history was one of our teachers Brother Kevin. He gave us a bit of advice that I’ll never forget: ‘Stop now, you are just awful’.
We were and we did.
Well said Brother Kev.
Definitely worth reading.

Happy birthday Liv!

And just think, you'll never be as old as me. It's like some illogical fountain of youth :)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Laughter is the best walking partner

Well, probably not, but for sad, lonely individuals like myself, who have only a cool-free MP3 player for company (sob!), no better accompaniment could exist for having an hour-long walk seem like no more than a few minutes. My first 2 years of Uni, I listened to Martin Molloy religiously each afternoon, getting my comedy fix by switching between the music that I wanted to hear (on my analog audio tape) and the comedy talkfest. The switching was important because commercial radio has never been the home for music I want to hear, and if you haven't heard me rant about ads recently it means you haven't spoken to me.

Now podcasts have brought me the ultimate product: many of my favourite comedians, who host radio shows which don't broadcast to Canberra (well, they might, but they'd be on commercial radio and hence unlistenable-to), now have their "best bits" neatly cut together into packages of pure hilarity, downloadable for free and ready for my aforementioned walks. I've been listening to Hamish and Andy and Merrick and Rosso for a while, but now there are also shows from Mick Molloy, Tony Martin and Shaun Micallef to add to my schedule, enough to keep me going for my whole week of walking!

What an age we live in :)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gluten here to stay?

I got a letter from my specialist giving me the all clear as far as coeliac goes, meaning the past few days I've reintroduced weet-bix as my breakfast cereal. And, so far, no real ill effects. I may even have a sandwich (gasp!) later in the week.

In theory, I should now be able to eat almost normally, except maybe for milk products. I have to wait until I have more info about the treatment for the problem I do have before I can risk any Coke or beer to celebrate, but things are definitely looking up on the diet front! While I won't actually feel any better until I get some actual medication, at least I can eat things which aren't tuna and rice without having to worry that they'll make me feel worse. Hurrah!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The sweet smell of victory


After not watching any live basketball for a couple of years, it was awesome to be there when Australia's women basketballers beat the USA, for the first time in in 7 years. Thanks to Liv for arranging everything!

In other news, I've finally succumbed to vanilla Blogger comments, so I'll be notified when anyone writes something, rather than padding my own blog stats checking to see if anyone likes me :)

Monday, April 10, 2006

An excellent day

The bad news that my doctor is away for the next 2 weeks, meaning I have to wait at least that long to find out whether I can start eating normally again, could easily have spoilt my day (and probably would have a few months ago). But my newfound, exercising, positive mindset instead had me calling Liv to arrange lunch and heading in to Civic to shop at the altar of comicdom that is Impact Comics. So I not only got to complain to K - which I love to do, as I see his interest rapidly wane :) - but also to have a longer chat with Liv, which was long overdue. That would have been more than enough on its own to make for a good day, but I had success with shopping too, getting 2 new books to read, 2 new graphic novels and a few cheap DVDs, all of which can form part of my keep-busy strategy for my holidays. Now that's what a holi-day should be like!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Fun and games

My day so far has been quite amusing, in unexpected ways.

Firstly, I just got back from my first walk since Monday. What I discovered at the supermarket mid-point of my walk was that, just as I was about to pay for my groceries, I hadn't brought my wallet. Luckily I'd just eaten lunch, or hunger might have made that less than amusing, but I take it as simply another way of ensuring I do more walking :)

Secondly, when I checked my letterbox on returning home I found (along with the usual ton of junk mail) an old-fashioned, snail mail, chain letter scam. I didn't think they still existed! I certainly hadn't received one since primary school. This one assures me that the sending of 200 letters, along with posting a $10 note (which I thought was illegal, but is apparently just "risky" according to Australia Post) will net me over $77,000!!! Interesting to see the effect of inflation, as the original e-version specifies $1 :)

Well, duh...

You Are Coke

A true original and classic, you represent the best of everything you can offer.

Stay away from:Dr Pepper

That's a relief

B finally sucked me in with all her online quizzes. As anyone who's known me for a decade realises, I used to pride myself on my scariness, which is now all but dead. But, as the pic below shows, I still have a little bit left...

You Are a Little Scary

You've got a nice edge to you. Use it.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Ouch!


My cartoon stomach! Posted by Picasa

It may be a little hard to read, but the main thing the initial exam showed is that I have erosive gastritis, which is as fun as it sounds. On its own, that would be able to explain all my symptoms. It's entirely treatable, which is the best news, so now I just have to hope that the biopsies don't show any evidence of coeliac-icity, or anything else, and I should be able to get away with some tablets, little or no Coke/alcohol and possibly eating as normal.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More waiting

I would have posted this sooner, but I was so tired I went to bed at 7 and have just woken up, knowing that I'll struggle to get to sleep again after a 4 hour nap.

After over a month of waiting, I've finally had my gastroscopy, which was even easier than I'd expected. 12 hours with no food and water wasn't quite as tough as I'd feared, although not made easier by only 6 hours sleep in 3 days beforehand. The procedure itself was non-existent for me, since one moment I was talking to the doctor and the next I was waking up in recovery. I really need to get me some of that sedative! I even got a couple of little photos and a little hand-drawn diagram of the visible issues with my stomach (reassuring in some respects that there's something wrong, although any treatment needs to wait till pathology results).

I was only very slightly groggy by the time I got home, watched a little TV and was able to eat my normal dinner. My stomach is still a bit sensitive, and so I won't be rushing back to Coke drinking in the next few days. My only issue is having to wait another 2 weeks to get full results, which will tell me whether I can start having gluten again (or not) as well as, hopefully, what else I can do to finally make a full recovery.

So the bulk of my holidays will remain a tuna and rice zone, with no clear path forward still, but at least still moving in the right direction.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Today's solar lesson

I just subscribed to NASA's weekly podcasts, and learned that:
  • sunspots were first seen by Chinese astronomers around 28 BC,

  • this year marks a solar minimum (which happens every 11 years) meaning no sunspots for most of the year.
In Year 12 I did a physics experiment involving working out the speed of the sun's rotation, which relies entirely on sunspot measurements. It was really cool to actually draw several pictures of the sunspots (projected onto paper via binoculars) then, through careful measurements (and way more equations than I really needed to use) coming up with an answer very close to the value calculated by real scientists. Would have been a huge anti-climax trying it this year!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Half a brain

I've run out of comedy podcasts to listen to, due to all the walking I've been doing, and so converted to The Science Show a few days back. And I'm loving it. Between the ages of 5 and 17, I loved so many science-y things, particularly astronomy, dinosaurs, nuclear physics and maths. Then I found religion (Antioch) and left my scientific wonder behind.

That last bit isn't actually true at all :)

Through Antioch I made a whole heap of new friends, who I spent every waking hour (i.e. 22 hours a day) with, leaving little spare time to read/listen. My life became more about people than concepts and things (which hasn't been a bad thing). Then uni almost entirely killed my interest in learning the fun parts of science, drowning me in differential equations and mathematical proofs. I happily discarded organised religion again, while keeping my friends, but now focused on finishing my assignments, getting projects done, and learning only what's relevant to my day to day work.

What I've discovered the past few weeks is that my love of science is certainly not dead, and hearing about why "intelligent design" is a load of crap, a 10th planet in our solar system (take 7), the anthropic universe, and growing tomatoes on Mars has been awesome. Along with reading (and thoroughly enjoying) Simon Singh's latest book, The Big Bang, it's great to have something in my spare time other than watching comedy DVDs. Something which actually makes my brain work!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Medical update

I just realised that I hadn't posted about my specialist visit (probably because I've talked to so many people about it since) but basically the upshot of it is that I'll be getting a gastroscopy on April 5, at 2.15pm. An afternoon appointment which would be fine if I didn't have to fast for at least 8 hours beforehand. No food or water for 8 hours during the day? Hmmm...

Considering that going more than a few hours without a snack currently makes me extremely nauseous (even during the night), I'm not really looking forward to recovering from that fast. Luckily I'm on holidays as of April 1, giving me more flexibility in my sleeping, so I'm planning to stay awake as long as possible in the wee hours of April 5 and sleep most of the time until the appointment.

And then, magically, I'll know what's wrong with me :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Splendiferous

After my craptacular start to the day, it's ended up being awesome. Spending the afternoon with B always jumps up the fun quota, I bought some new shoes (making 3 new pairs in 6 days) and still managed to fit in my evening walk. Add to that ber-T's Bag o' songs 01 which I've been listening to over the past few weeks, and I'm super-cheerful. I'm still feeling almost constantly sick, but it seems that I've finally learned to keep on living even with nausea, the same way I learned to deal with fatigue, crappy knees and baldness.

The stuff that dreams are made of

There are some sounds which are a pleasure to wake up to at 8.30am on a day off. A light rain tinkling on the window, a favourite song, Eliza Dushku saying good morning... What did I get today? My neighbour having their driveway urgently painted. How bad could that be, you ask? What it actually sounds like is a diesel generator running a power drill running a car with no muffler! And it's been going for more than half an hour already!! For a painted FREAKING DRIVEWAY!!!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Hard work

I've gone for my hour long evening walk on 5 of the last 6 nights (and 9 of the last 14), which I had imagined would have me feeling fit and hearty. It has seemed to help my mood stay on a more even keel, along with the (fool's?) gold promise of some kind of diagnosis of what the hell's wrong with me. Sadly, I still don't have a time for my gastroscoping. I have to wait till Friday just for a consultation with the specialist, and I'll hopefully get a timeframe for the actual test then. In the meantime, I continue with my tuna and rice, try to stay positive, and drag myself through my work days, exhausted despite sleeping well and having some interesting work to do right now and really enjoying my team, which will start breaking up in 3 weeks (when I start my holiday).

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Power on!

I got a letter a fortnight ago warning me my power would be off all day today. Not really a problem, since I had to work anyway. What makes it noteworthy (at least in my thrill-a-minute life) is that the power came back on the instant I walked through the door when I got home. I heard the trill of my answering machine powering on, and the hum of my fridge restarting, and it made me smile, knowing at least 2 good things happened to me today (the other was a work visit from my former 2IC and her new baby).

Monday, February 27, 2006

Tests = nothing

Well I finally went back to the doctor to find out what my blood tests showed, and the answer was a resounding... nothing. My blood and all the things running around in it are fine. Which would be great if I didn't still feel sick. So the next step in the evolving process of working out what's wrong with me (other than the many obvious things :) is to get a camera tube shoved down my throat. Maybe this time I'll get an answer...

The next dietary step I've been considering is going vegetarian. I haven't had any red meat for over 18 months anyway, and very rarely eat chicken, so it would only involve cutting out the third of my meals each day which is tuna. I'll wait to see what the gastroenterologist finds first, but if he finds nothing "mechanically" wrong I'm running out of things to remove from my diet. Animal protein is harder to digest, and so the vege option has advantages anyway, but if I'm not adding back in some gluten-based products at the same time I cut out tuna it's pretty restrictive.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ricky Gervais podcast

Sunday-Tuesday evenings this week, my hour long walk was made infinitely more enjoyable by listening to this hilarious piece of British comedy as I walked. If you enjoy The Office, I think there's a good chance this will speak to you.

Basically, it's Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant (co-creator of The Office) and Karl Pilkingon, rabbiting on about nothing in particular. While Monkey News is obviously a segment they've been running into the ground long before this podcast series started, Karl's Diary made me laugh harder than I have in years. If my diary had been 1% as interesting to me, I would not have let it die a natural (if overdue) death last year. Recounting my days events and thoughts purely for my own benefit lost its appeal soon after this blog began.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

[Book] The Green Hills of Earth

Originally published in 1955, this collection of short stories from Robert Heinlein is waaay dated. I only got through the first two stories, the second of which ended with the following:
"Pemberton came out of the booth whistling. Good girl, Phyllis. Staunch. He wondered why he had ever doubted her."
which perfectly sums up the antiquated gender balance of the preceding 35 pages. That was enough for me to cut my losses and not read any further (and I don't set aside books lightly).

Saturday, February 11, 2006

More walking



I'd gone 6 days without any more evening walks, and was really missing them, so tonight I finally got back to walking. This time I took some photos, the start of a Walking set which will hopefully grow as I vary my path.

I'm 2 days into a self-enforced 6 day break from work, because my fatigue has just been too frustrating, and even short work days have exhausted me. Ironically, given my tiredness, I haven't been able to sleep, which hasn't done my health any favours. So my hope is that a slightly extended break will give me the energy reserves I need to power (rather than limp) through the remaining weeks till my April off. Certainly trying to push through the fatigue by continuing with normal work hours wasn't getting me anywhere. Yesterday morning I went for 7.30am blood tests (I had to fast for them, so wanted to get them done as early as possible, removing the barrier to breakfast). Hopefully the results of the tests will show something which I can work on to improve my health. There has to be more than just my dietary problems going on, 'cause it's been 4 weeks since I had some bread with yeast and if that was all that was wrong I would have been better within a week.