Monday, November 28, 2005

What I've Learnt About Being Pregnant

Just over halfway now. Actually, closer to two-thirds of the way there. Just when I think I've finally gotten used to being pregnant, I discover my belly button's begun to bottom out and it's freak-out city all over again.

Still prone to tearing up at the least (and oddest) provocation, but fortunately able to keep from free-falling into uncontrollable mood spin. Rationality will prevail, damnit!

Have been advised by my mother not to do any painting, hammering, or other fix-it jobs around the home, for fear of harming or disfiguring the baby. On a similar note, a Hindu friend has recommended I not read the Mahabharata, even though the reading of sacred texts usually promotes positive forces, the Mahabharata is an exception for expectant mothers and their unborn ones. All because of one little story contained within it.

I cannot now make any sort of journey without first knowing where the toilets are.

Must snack. Constantly. And I've just about had it with dried fruit, cheese, and yoghurt bars. I'm not craving anything, but right about now, Belgian chocolate and Chinese salted plums would be a welcome change.

Am finally running out of clothes to cover that so-called "transitional" phase, when you're too big for your regular clothes, but not big enough for full-on maternity wear. Am not looking forward to the next, inevitable, wardrobe change. If you think women's hair-dressers are exorbitantly over-priced, you haven't been in a maternity dress shop. Owch.

And yes, I can finally feel Bubzilla squirming around in there from time to time. Where do they get the idea about "butterflies in the stomach"? It feels more like someone blowing bubbles, or something sucking at the inside wall of your abdomen. It's weird.

Maybe I've had it easy, but this whole pregnancy thing is just wonderfully weird.

Friday, November 25, 2005

ASU Storm Western Power

As of 5 minutes ago.

Variety Week

The World's Ugliest Dog has died.

George Best is dying.

The Amazing Race was filming in Freo and Rottnest on Wednesday, and Channel 7 (which screens the show) didn't know a thing about it. Heh.

Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning, a Finnish Star Trek spoof feature, has just become the highest-rating Finnish film ever. And yes, it's very silly. Them funky Finns.

David Hicks could yet be saved by the British.

But it doesn't look like anyone will be able to save Nguyen Van Tuong, despite best intentions.

This week also I learnt about a FOURTH person whose mother has just died in the past couple of weeks, so it's all a bit spooky and sad.

But Bubzilla's going swimmingly. What a world he's got to look forward to.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

City Spotting

Each sentence below conceals a world capital, spelled out in consecutive letters. How many can you spot?

Example: TV execs announced their September line up. (Berlin, Germany)

  1. Captain Nemo scowled.
  2. It was a doorman I lacked.
  3. We gave the rosebud a pesticide.
  4. Lt. Columbo got all mixed up.
  5. With less violence, the film can be R-rated.
  6. Here is the pheasant I agonised about shooting.
  7. The tarp over our pumpkins has an opening in it.
  8. The Red Cross will call on donors for money.
  9. Don't yank a rabbit by its ears.
  10. Population is swelling to new heights.
  11. You must strip olives of their skin.
  12. Peace activists boycott a war conference.
  13. Would you consider Eric a pet owner?
  14. Kicking stones can hurt your toes.
  15. We returned three bushels in kind.
I particularly like no. 5. Very apt.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Sign of our Times

Addict: So, what you got?
Dealer: Some Leslie, some Corby and some Bali 9. What you after?

Monday, November 21, 2005

ToxicPurity's Top 20 Geeky Things

Okay, in response to Skribe's Top 20 Geeky Novels, and with no thought whatsoever, this is my list, in no especial order, of what I consider the top 20 Geeky Books/Films/TV/Whatsits Of All Time:

  1. Monty Python - any/all
  2. Douglas Adam's Hitchiker's Guide radio/TV/novels/towel...etc
  3. The Rubik's Cube
  4. 2000AD comics (pre-colour, before DC and Marvel poached all their best talent)
  5. 60s epic SF Films With Something To Say (Planet of the Apes, Alphaville, 2001: A Space Odyssey)
  6. Star Wars IV: A New Hope (Han shoots first, damnit!)
  7. J.R.R.Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (without whom the entire fantasy genre would not exist and to whom all subsequent fantasy authors and gaming entites owe their livelihoods)
  8. William Gibson's Neuromancer (when SF became cool)
  9. Alan Moore's & Dave Gibbon's Watchmen (when the comic book became the graphic novel ie. serious literature)
  10. Neil Gaiman's Sandman series (when comics became cool)
  11. Thunderbirds
  12. The Prisoner (there was, and never will be, anything like this again)
  13. pre-CGI-era film special effects (all hail the immortal hand of Ray Harryhausen)
  14. Ultraman (and basically anything the Japanese mass-produced for kiddy TV really)
  15. BBC SF TV (from Quatermass to Dr Who to Blake's 7 to Red Dwarf)
  16. Superfriends (and other cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera, without which Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law wouldn't be half as much fun)
  17. Star Trek (the original)
  18. Computers (both imagined and actual, the more blinking lights the better)
  19. Robots (this should be a Top 20 list all by itself)
  20. Dinosaurs (mythical monsters that really existed? Sure geeky)
The thing is, what is "geeky"? Is it something like "cool-nerdy"? It seems to imply a combination of weird attractions and specialised interests and an appreciation of obscure knowledge. Can't think of any geeky music, though.

Top 20 Geek Novels

So someone did a survey and came up with the top 20 geek novels. I have to say I'm underwhelmed by their choices, so here are mine:

  1. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkein
  2. Startide Rising* - David Brin
  3. Neuromancer* - William Gibson
  4. Watchmen - Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
  5. The Stainless Steel Rat* - Harry Harrison
  6. Nine Princes in Amber* - Roger Zelazny
  7. Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
  8. Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
  9. Starship Troopers - Robert A. Heinlein
  10. Quarantine - Greg Egan
  11. Ringworld - Larry Niven
  12. Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny
  13. Dune - Frank Herbert
  14. The Eyre Affair* - Jasper Fforde
  15. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy* - Douglas Adams
  16. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke
  17. Magician* - Raymond E. Feist
  18. Pawn of Prophecy* - David Eddings
  19. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe* - C.S. Lewis
  20. The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett
These are not my favourite books - I hate Pratchett, for instance - but they are imho the top 20 novels for geeks.

* - first book in a notable series

Saturday, November 19, 2005

So, Michelle Leslie's Free

What can we learn from Michelle Leslie's experience, as compared to, say, Schapelle Corby's or Van Nguyen's?

When caught with prohibited substances upon one's person, it's better to be an admitted occasional user than an addict, and that either are way better than being seen as a drug trafficker.

It's better to be caught at a party than at an airport, particularly if your initial defence rests on convincing the judge that those weren't your drugs in the first place and you don't know how they got there.

If you must get caught, have a very small amount of the drugs upon you, and make sure you're arrested alongside the sons of prominent politicians.

After your wrongful arrest, appear contrite or at least embarassed, demonstrate that you are really a decent and religiously-minded young person who's made a dreadfully silly mistake, and don't cause a scene.

Hire a professional and experienced legal team, and make sure your support personel don't raise a ruckus. No foreign government or justice department likes having their authority questioned, and they will not be swayed by emotional blackmail and public demonstrations overseas, no matter how many signatures you collect.

Oh, and it probably helps to be photogenic, with a glamourous career, haver some sort of close family tie to an Australian sporting identity, and know how to hang out at the sort of parties the children of prominent foreign politicians hang out at.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Destination: Germany - Who Should We Thank?

If you had to credit just one person for the Socceroos' victory last night, it would be:

  • John Aloisi
  • Mark Schwarzer
  • Harry Kewell
  • Marco Bresciano
  • Guus Hiddink
  • Frank Lowy
  • Johnny Warren
  • John Safran
(Thanks to Jessp for reminding us about Safran's contribution to World Cup qualifying success.)

If there were any doubts...

...that Lucas hasn't sold out, then doubt no longer.

An Open Letter

This is a note to the faceless men and women that overthrew a despotic and incompetent administration: thank you. Thank you for having the foresight and strength of will to battle against the odds. Thank you for making the wrong things right. Thank you for achieving the goals that you set. There is no truer vindication for your toiling than the three hours last night where our nation stopped, held its breath and then partied hard. Thank you. Well done. See you in Germany.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Saturday, November 12, 2005


You know you've gone too far when the creators of the USA PATRIOT Act are on your case about in violating people's rights.
Anonymous Coward - talking about the criticism of Sony

Friday, November 11, 2005


Number of WA commercial tv stations: 8
Number of WA commercial tv stations broadcasting in digital: 4
Number of fixed line phone carrier networks in Australia: 38
Number of GSM mobile carrier networks: 3
Number of 3G mobile carrier networks: 1
Percentage of Australian population DSL-enabled: 75%
Number of broadband internet services: 2.18 million
Percentage of population that has a mobile phone: 90%
Number of payphones 2003-2004: 64,803
Number of payphones 2004-2005: 61,735
Number of SMSs sent in 2004-2005: 6.74 billion
Total retail revenue for mobiles in 2004-2005: $9.1 billion
Percentage of all spam in Australia originating in Australia: 1%
Actions taken under the Spam Act: 15

-- At A Glance, Australian Communications and Media Authority
- November 2005

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I Went To King Edward And All I Got Was A Showbag.

Had my first appointment at King Edward Memorial (why is a hospital dedicated to women named after King Eddy?) and came home, eventually, with a schedule for future appointments, and a showbag!

The lovely pastel pink showbag includes:

  • 2 glossy baby magazines
  • 2 government information booklets
  • 14 catalogues and advertising pamphlets
  • 5 product samples
  • 1 pregnancy information booklet (rec. retail $3.95
  • 1 Baby On Board sign for your car

You get all this before your midwife unloads a further 8 health and parenting care pamphlets, a pregnancy journal, and a medical file just for the pregnancy.

There may have been more. After two hours of information overload and an armful of future appointments that must be organised, on top of the appointments (and more pamphlets) for the health study I volunteered for in a fit of public-spiritedness, I'm a little strung out, and wondering where the hell all this stuff is going to be put.

Oh, and Bubzilla's fine. Has a raging heartrate of 144 bpm. Go, Bubzilla!

I'm not telling if I did

Tuesday, November 08, 2005



Forget the arrest of terror suspects. Forget the riots in France. What the world really wants to know is why do women wear brown swimsuits? What are they thinking? Are they concerned about fecal staining? And who honestly believes that deep-vein-thrombosis-red and dog-poo-brown works well as a combination in any piece of clothing let alone a piece of swimwear? Is it to scare off any unwanted advances? Or do they just not have a clue that wearing a bikini whose colour scheme resembles the puce-version of a chessboard just isn't exactly - well - flattering? It just boggles the mind.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Freeway Gridlocked - Again

There must be something about that strip of the Freeway between the Narrows and the South Perth off-ramp that just attracts accidents, idiots, and catastrophic failures of antiquated waterworks.

You wouldn't think a jack-knifed truck blocking south-bound Freeway just after the South Perth off-ramp would delay someone heading to the city via the Causeway, but no. Going the opposite way, and changing buses in Como, was actually the faster way into the city. Whee.

And what with all the works happening around the north end of the Narrows, and the sudden proliferation of roundabouts (and other traffic-"calming" structures) in South Perth, it's amazing people get anywhere at all in relative sanity.

Still not convinced there isn't some sort of jinx or trouble-magnet on that section of Freeway, though.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

50 Things To Eat Before You Die

The BBC's just published the results of a poll they ran a year ago to find out what the top 50 foods people should have had a taste of at least once in their lifetime. Click on the individual items for a bit more info. Thanks to Grug.

The list:

1. Fresh fish
2. Lobster
3. Steak
4. Thai food
5. Chinese food
6. Ice cream
7. Pizza
8. Crab
9. Curry
10. Prawns
11. Moreton Bay Bugs
12. Clam chowder
13. Barbecues
14. Pancakes
15. Pasta
16. Mussels
17. Cheesecake
18. Lamb
19. Cream tea
20. Alligator*
21. Oysters
22. Kangaroo
23. Chocolate
24. Sandwiches
25. Greek food
26. Burgers
27. Mexican food
28. Squid
29. American diner breakfast
30. Salmon
31. Venison
32. Guinea pig
33. Shark
34. Sushi
35. Paella
36. Barramundi
37. Reindeer
38. Kebab
39. Scallops
40. Australian meat pie
41. Mango
42. Durian fruit
43. Octopus
44. Ribs
45. Roast beef
46. Tapas
47. Jerk chicken/pork
48. Haggis
49. Caviar
50. Cornish pasty

* Like Grug and Skribe, I've had crocodile, not alligator.

Is it just me, or does this list seem a little... vanilla? And inconsistent? You've got individual foods like durians, and even different parts of an animal listed as seperate food types, alongside entire cuisines like Chinese or Thai. Must be a British thing - they think Australian is exotic.


I don't get this whole Rosa Parks thing. When I was ten years old I refused to give up my bus seat for a white man and all I got was a spanking.

Patenting Storylines

Authors beware: the US Patent Office has just published the first "patent application to claim a fictional storyline" by an Andrew Knight, and will be publishing another two of his patented storylines in the coming weeks. Knight originally filed his claims 18 months ago.

Note we're not talking about an actual written novel, or screenplay, or any form in which the storyline has been fully dramatised, presented, or realised in any shape. The patent covers the idea for the story itself.

Dubbed "The Zombie Stare", Knight's first patented storyline goes something like this: high school guy prays to remain unconscious until he receives his MIT admissions letter, wakes up 30 years later because the letter's been lost in the mail, but discovers that as far as everybody else could see, he was still living life as normal. He sets out to regain his last 30 years of lost life experience.

Now you know. Come up with any plotline even vaguely similar, in prose, film, comic, music video clip, bank commercial... etc, and you will be sued by Knight for infringing on his patent.

Or, you could let Knight help you patent your story ideas. Because as everyone knows, it's not the published book or movie that counts, it's not what you do with the story idea that matters in the slightest - why, you could hire any hack to flesh out the necessary details.

No. The only things that matter are the ideas themselves. They're oh so rare and unique, aren't they. Why haven't they been protected by copyright before? Hmm...

* Farm boy dreams of adventure, goes on quest to rescue a princess and defeat an evil empire.

* Young girl somehow crosses over into a bizarre otherworld, meets strange characters, overcomes obstacles by her wit and the help of her companions, and returns home.

* Lonely little boy finds stray creature who becomes his best friend and they have unbelievable adventures together. Creature is lost/hurt/killed. Boy is heartbroken. Creature is somehow restored to boy. Cue happy ending.

* Group of college kids find themselves at abandoned site (with innocent childhood connotations - farmhouse, campsite, amusement park...) Unbeknownst to them, location comes with resident serial killer with inventive modus operandi.

* Small-time loser witnesses murder and goes into hiding in the most outrageous disguise possible to escape discovery, and must then play out the role they are disguised as. Ironically, it is as their alter-ego that they finally achieve success.

Et cetera.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Handbook For Bloggers & Cyber-Dissidents

With Howard doing his damned best to rewrite the laws on industrial relations and national security to the detriment of Australian society and culture, this seems as good a time as any to highlight the Handbook For Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents recently put together by Reporters Without Borders.

The Handbook covers a range of topics from blogging ethics to how to blog anonymously, and provides tips on ensuring privacy and technical ways of getting around censorship.

Fairly basic stuff for the most part, but still a useful guide to keep handy or to recommend to anyone needing to blog safely and securely.

Remember that every day, someone is being jailed because they blog, or having their blogs shut down or blocked by their government.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Watermelon Carvings

I forgot to post an obligatory pumpkin carving story for Hallowe'en, so here's one on watermelon carving instead.

I initially thought these were photo-shopped, but a quick google revealed the astounding fact that this (and plenty more) are the work of one man with way too much time on his hands.

Do they get eaten afterwards, or what?

World Usability Day

That's tomorrow, 3rd November.

Plenty of time to take a look around you and think about the products and services you use, and how much grief they give you. Or not. It's been observed that people are generally oblivious to good design and ease-of-use, but when faced with the opposite...

May the gods invent a Hell just for Microsoft, easy-to-open cheese packs that don't, and bloody flimsy takeaway plastic cutlery.

Anyway, official website here. Nothing planned in Perth that I can see. Maybe Perth needs to work on World Accessibility Day. Extended shopping hours, hey?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pane or Rice

Back in 1999 TP and I travelled to Singapore to visit her relatives. While there TP's aunts took us out to a restaurant in one of the five-star hotels called Paolo's and Ping's. It was an Italian-Chinese retaurant, which was great given that they are my favourite foods - me being Italian and TP being Chinese that's not terribly surprising.

Anyway, we examined the menus - there were two (one for Italian and one for Chinese) and I settled on the Osso Buco, which is a dish I adore and I regularly cook it at home. As it had been nearly a month since I had cooked anything - Singapore is a place where you eat out most of the time - I was getting a little home-sick and chose some comfort food. If you don't know what Osso Buco is then briefly it is a thick veal shank in a tomato ragu slowly cooked in the oven (never on the stove top as some French heathens have been known to do) for several hours. Note the several hours. Most restaurants prepare them beforeheand, pop them in the freezer and microwave them when ordered. Osso Buco - as with most ragu - tastes better a day or two after it has been prepared.

We made light conversation and then dinner arrived. I dived into my Osso Buco with glee. Unfortunately, I almost broke the knife. This was no veal shank cooked to perfection which is supposed to fall off the bone. With this it was difficult telling where the bone ended and the meat began. I suspect it was a fully mature cow or maybe buffalo or bullock - if it was bovine at all. It was hard, intractible and inedible and I quickly sent it back to the kitchen.

Singaporeans pride themselves on their food and my sending food back to the kitchen caused a great deal of consternation amongst the restaurant staff. They were very apologetic and then after consulting with the chef the maitre'd himself came over to utter the immortal words:

The chef says he will just fry you up another one. It should take about ten minutes.
I sat at my table and watched as the chef did exactly that, poured ragu over it to heat up and then plated it up. As you might expect the second steak was no better than the first.

Ever since I've had a deep phobia about restaurants offering specifically both Italian and Chinese cuisine. TP knows this and likes to taunt me. So surprise, surprise today she comes in from the letterbox carrying a menu from just such a restaurant. I bet she wants to try it out. Fortunately Osso Buco isn't on offer.