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Fri, 27 Jun 2008

Doors? Who needs them - 14:33
Maybe we really will have to use chainsaws to get in. Last week and this week the main entrance doors on the building I work in have been playing up. For example last week I was walking out and they seemed to be opening normally, so I kept walking, they then suddenly stopped and closed a little bit, I whacked one shoulder into them fairly hard, if I had hit the other shoulder that hard it may have been damaged again. For some reason uni security decided they would be better left fully open and turned off during the day yesterday, however they then had to come along and clamp/bolt them shut yesterday at 5pm.

This morning after 9:30am they still had not come back and unbolted the front entrance doors. After all, who needs doors really? We could just break a window and climb in and out of the building that way. Or maybe we really should let our selves in with a chainsaw. Okay sure there are other doors, however it still amuses me that the main doors are broken. Of course this also reminds me of the quote from the first Back to the Future movie. Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads. We can rework it to "Doors? Where we work we don't need doors."

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Thu, 26 Jun 2008

Some furniture to accessorise the laptop - 15:23

The beanbag to use with this laptop (fullsize)
Contrary to what may be guessed at by the t-shirt I am wearing in this photo, I am not trying to make my office just like those on the t-shirt. This new bean bag is going home, however it really does suit the laptop fairly well doesn't it?

I wonder what the people in Civic thought of me today watching me walk back to uni from target carrying four 100 litre bags of polystyrene beans on a very windy day. Mikal was somewhat annoyed with me that I did not give him a heads up so he could come and laugh at me doing the walk here. He did however help me fill the bag and take the photo, activities that were in his words either annoying or strangely satisfying at times.

The bean bag is a Jumbo sized denim bag purchased from Blob Beanbags, it seems well made, the zip can be pushed up inside a little sleeve so kids can not easily open the bag, also I purchased a liner with it so it is easy to take the beans out and clean the bag. Rather comfortable really, maybe I should actually get one for my office.

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Tue, 24 Jun 2008

Dinner conversation tidbits - 13:23
Last night, out at a post Geoquest dinner with a bunch of ARNutters and others I was almost rolling on the floor laughing at one of the conversations going on. A discussion among three of the people at the table about different rectal flushes in stock and how to use them was indeed most unusual dinner conversation, it is fortunate the three people in question are a doctor, a nurse and a pharmacist all of whom work at the hospital. If you did not know what they did in their day jobs and you overheard the conversation eyebrows may have been raised...

It was most amusing when Matt and Amanda came back to the table from getting drinks, sat down and upon hearing this conversation thought they had come into it at a bad time, I had to tell them that on the whole there was probably no good time to enter the conversation. Funny though it all was.

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Sat, 21 Jun 2008

Serious carrying capacity - 13:06
On my 4 current working bikes I tend not to have a pannier rack mounted. Largely because I use the road bike and main mtb as race/training bikes and the fixie road bike has no rack screws and would not be suited to carrying panniers. The single speed however has rack mounts, and though it seems silly having a rack on my single speed mtb I have not bothered putting together the components and frame I have mostly ready for a touring bike yet. However I decided I wanted to use my panniers a bit once more for my shopping and other stuff.

Until I can get the last few parts and time to build the touring bike up the single speed seemed the obvious choice. Usually when I do my shopping I just take along a 35 litre backpack or similar and hope I can fit everything. I just mounted my pannier rack, both my panniers and a rack top bag onto my single speed, there is some fairly serious carrying capacity on that bike now. (see the photo)

Sure the capacity of this bike even with a ruck sack on my back is dwarfed by a bob trailer style arrangement and is made to seem puny when compared to the Dutch Cargo Bicycles such as those sold by a friend of mine in Victoria (follow the link). However I have yet to purchase either, although the Cargo Bicycles are sort of tempting, possibly due to how rare they are on Australian roads. Still the carrying capacity of two panniers and a rack top bag should enable me to carry a bit more home easily from the markets and shops (meaning I can do both in one trip and not do two trips)

Time now to ride to some shops and buy some items I need, than past uni to visit the co-op bookshop to buy a birthday preswent for Sam and Ben's daughter Max who is celebrating turning 6, also need to grab a projector from work to use at a dinner for BGCC tonight for a paddling slideshow on in the background.

Serious load carrying capacity with 2 panniers and a rack top bag (Full Size)

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Fri, 20 Jun 2008

When you have to suppress your geek side - 12:14
So I had a piece of computer hardware someone had dropped off in my office that they wanted to know if it was working, they had failed to get it working (it had shown some failures in windows and did not come online again) in windows. So I said I would have a quick look in Linux and see if it is something that could be worked around or fixed up or if it was a real problem with the hardware. After a quick look I decided it was failed hardware and thus the item in question is dead.

The geek suppression thing comes along as they guy who had dropped it off is named Jim. Thus I had to stop myself ringing him up and uttering the line "It's dead Jim".

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Almost the silent serenity of falling snow - 10:52
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in my warm office looking out at the grey over cast skies with rain threatening to fall and wondering if I really wanted to go kayaking that evening. However as I had arranged to do the session I headed over to the boat shed to hop on the water anyway, the rain that fell on me as I rode over did not improve the outlook, however the lake appeared glassy and still which helped.

Once we actually got onto the water and paddling it was actually a beautiful evening for kayaking, glassy smooth water, warm due to being overcast and a lovely night to be in the middle of the lake paddling around. Near the end of the session some light rain started to fall and I heard the most amazing sound. I could hear the soft patter of rain falling on the lake water, a really quiet clinky sort of noise with silence all around me otherwise. I encouraged the 4 others out kayaking with me to shut up and listen for a second as it was really lovely moment. It reminded me of being out in the snow with windless heavy snow falling down around you, mostly silent and closed off from the world and yet the movement and feel of the falling snow covering up the old snow.

We were pretty lucky to finish paddling then as the rain just started to get heavier at that point. After putting boats away I rode back to Danielle's place to borrow a set of AYUP lights from her for a few weeks to try them out. I have been thinking of upgrading lights for a while, after using vistas and my Silva L1 for so long. The AYUP kit is pretty damn impressive. I put the lights on my mtb handle bars and good helmet last night ready for the mtb ride this morning.

Of course when I rolled up to ANU for the ride this morning it was raining and guaranteed to be muddy, however 3 other people rocked up to go mountain biking, so we headed out and had a bit of fun riding in the rain. The lights really do a great job, I had no problem seeing the track or where I was going and did not need to concentrate any where near as much (I have only been using my Silva L1 to ride with for a while now). I will try the lights on the road bike next week a bit in the mornings, however from this one use of the borrowed lights I am fairly sure I will buy myself a set. Thanks to AYUP and Danielle for the loaner set. I also have a running head band to try with them so I can see how they go on the Tuesday night run next week.

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Sun, 15 Jun 2008

Geoquest 2008 - Support crew role for me - 22:57
So I did not compete in geoquest this year, and thus do not have an almost 10,000 word story about how it went. I was there though as support for Danielle's team 4TC. So I took photos (what you mean I should stop standing around taking photos and actually help the team, pish what a silly notion...)

Photos from the experience are at the normal sort of place. Geoquest 2008 - Supporting 4TC with a fair few Tangerine photos in there also.

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Yummy new dinner - 22:34
Just so I do not forget this dish I thought I had better record it here. Tonight for dinner I fried together onion, garlic, eggplant, tomato, 4 bean mix (can) and spinach with chinese five spices, mild paprika, cinnamon and pepper added. In the microwave I heated some sweet potato in some water with brown sugar and then added some sweet potato to the fried mix and the rest mashed up. Put the mix of stuff into a baking dish, spread the sweet potato on top, poured sesame seeds over the top and dribbled olive oil over it all then placed in the oven for half an hour at 190c and then grilled on high for a few minutes at the end. Damn that was one heck of a yummy meal, I decided on doing this while I was wandering around the markets buying fruit and veg today. Ate a yummy salad with it all, most enjoyable.

Next time I think, for a bit more bulk, and for the colour variety, I will do some potatos mashed and in the mix as well so I can swirl the orange and white colours together on top.

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Fri, 13 Jun 2008

Interest in data from an email spike - 13:56
A few minutes ago in my work email I saw an email appear from the ACT NTEU division. The surprising thing about this email was they attached a 47 MB file to the email (they really should have put a link to it and said it was a large download). Sure if you are at work the size does not take long to download, however it is rather bone-headed for any members to be given an email that size at any other location. (once expanded with the attachment encoding it becomes a fair bit larger anyway).

I can not find the department NTEU person to learn if there are any numbers on how many staff on campus are actually union members, nor can I get hold of the campus wide email system admin people so I can not predict how much this hit storage and network load on the email systems campus wide. I could do some analysis on the department email server, though I am not sure if that would provide much insight. As I suspect there are a fairly large number of union members on campus and they all will have received this email as it is valid email and will have come in through the spam filters.

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Wed, 11 Jun 2008

Lake Safety - 18:47
A lot of my paddling through winter is done on Lake Burley Griffin at night here in Canberra. My AR friends and I want to be safe and visible out on the water for obvious reasons. However there is a rule the water police sometimes enforce that you should not use red flashing (or red constant on) lights to on your body or boat. This is somewhat annoying as flashing LED safety lights for cycling are very cheap and easily available. Many of us resort to using flashing white with our head torches, or simply ignore the rule and wear a few flashing red lights anyway.

Julie sensibly has some proper suction cap attached safety lights she bought for this purpose, last year I used flashing orange road safety beacons sold by jaycar, however these were not easy to mount, not water resistant (and thus obviously not water proof) and seemed a bit cheap. Last year on Dans Data I saw a review for battery powered glow sticks known as Krill lights. Although they do not come in pink at the time I decided they would be really good safety lights for my boats while out paddling.

Today as I am getting back into night paddling again at last I finally received a pair of krill sticks. I got a 180 degree AA stick to put in front of me and face forward so as not to leave the glow in my field of vision directly and a 360 degree stick to sit at the back of the boat. I can tie them on at each end and sit them upright on velcro so they should stay in place reasonably well and still be quick to swap to another boat or remove.

The photos below probably shows fairly well the difference and the nice blue glow.

Blue Glow from Krill Lights (Full Size)

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Tue, 10 Jun 2008

A good AR transition tip - 16:24
This weekend I was up at Geoquest, however rather than competing I was a support crew for Danielle's team 4TC who came 5th in the race this year almost an hour behind Dave and Julie's team Tangerine in 4th place. Results are on the Leaderboard and I took photos I will probably upload in a while.

Anyway one thing that I thought benefited me a lot being a support crew was being able to watch and analyse the transitions of other people and teams and see ways to do it well. On 4TC Liam was extremely fast and motivated through transitions. He also kept very careful track of the time spent in transitions, one tip I took away that I think would be important to use myself is to have some audible alarm going off during transitions at some time interval so you are aware of how much time is slipping away from you not moving in a transition.

Liam would get his watch to beep every two minutes or something so even when busy getting their shit together the team would all be able to hear how much time was passing. This I think would really help show you the need to get moving and get out of transitions fast. Especially if you could tell your watch to use a different beep (maybe louder or more annoying) as the minutes pass.

There are a few other things I noticed about effective use of time and support crew resources that I think would be worth writing down so I do not forget them.

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Wed, 04 Jun 2008

I am the leader of the land! Who da Man? - 11:25
Anyone else who has seen Keating the Musical is possibly laughing right now after that title. The show is of course a musical based around the political life of Paul Keating until he lost power in 1996. The mere concept of a musical based on modern Australian politics sounds entertaining enough to me, however being a fan of Keating's style (G'Day Scumbags) it made this almost necessary viewing. Jane has seen it twice, as of last night Mum has now seen it twice also.

What can I say, it was a heck of a lot of fun. The band (guitars, drums, sax, etc) playing all the music was at times a bit too loud over powering the singers. The performers were really spot on with their characterisations and the songs all worked remarkably well. Jokes to be spotted in the lyrics all the way, some great political commentary (especially in the last slow song of the evening) and a highly entertaining evening out. I saw it last night and still have many of the songs ricocheting around in my head. Unfortunately the season here in Canberra is short this time (until Sunday) (this is the second visit) however it is touring regional centres and ending up in Sydney. If you get the chance I think it should be seen.

Interestingly your political leanings are unlikely to affect your enjoyment, Jane's boyfriend went along and has more right tendencies than the rest of us and yet he loved it and thought it poked fun at the ALP, however Jane, Mum and I all loved it and yet saw it poking fun at the Liberal Party.

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Tue, 03 Jun 2008

Harlan the documentary - 15:26
This is so freaking cool I doubt I will calm down until I get the chance to see this documentary. I followed a link from Neil Gaiman today to a Harlan Ellison interview. This interview is about a Harlan Ellison documentary, Dreams with Sharp teeth - A Film about Harlan Ellison. I had not heard about this film before, but now I absolutely have to see it. Harlan Ellison has been my favourite author for at least 15 years now, probably longer, the man is an absolutely amazing writer.

There is a trailer and some other content on the site, however I have not yet worked out where I can find more details about the documentary or if it is touring the world. Searching Amazon for the title I only get books. It appears to have only been released recently though. It screened at SXSW and there is a good review from that online and there is also an imdb page. I hope to find out more and see the whole thing sometime. Rock on Harlan.

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Sun, 01 Jun 2008

Not all bumper stickers suck - 10:54
This afternoon I pulled up at some lights behind a car that had two bumper stickers I actually sort of liked on the car. Sure my car has a CORC sticker, however that is really just a logo. On the whole I tend to dislike bumper stickers as they tend to be boring/banal and uninteresting. Sure I am still looking forward to seeing someone with a Baby In Boot sticker or sign. However until that time I can stay entertained by the occasional amusing sticker.

The car I saw today had a sticker saying "Weird Load" which I really liked. It played on the wide load signs you see, however it also has a sort of Hunter S Thompson feel to the slogan and to some extent a Weird Al feel. Anyway it made me smile, and thus look closely at what the other sticker they had said. "Engines By Scotty, 0 to Warp 7 in no time" or words to that effect. Which will amuse the inner trekkie in many of us.

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