Friday, January 27, 2006

Is this font sans serif?

In the spirit of helpfulness, community (oh and being bored at work) I decided to help Mz Speedy by banging "Viking Font" into google.

I present to you... a viking font

I'm still not quite sure how it will help with the shirt... maybe Slepnir can drink from it?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Damn you dial-up internet

I haven't been lazy, honest, it's just all been too hard with dial-up internet! I have some great photos to post of Harry and LMH working hard, but I can't get them to load. I'll have to find somewhere convenient with broadband and burn them onto a CD etc etc so it could take a while. Just as a tantalising taste of what's in store I have pictures of-

Harry and LMH preparing the ground for some lemon trees
Throwing bombs (clods of dirt) at each other from their trenches (pier holes)
Wearing fetching red and purple numbers...

All bribes should be directed to my e-mail address. That's either to get me to post or not to post. BTW, lovely as the pashmina is (and I feel very Elle in it) it's not enough of a bribe to stop me posting the red and purple shot. The people have a right to know...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Swiss Guard- Ain't Got Nothing

I saw on the news that the Swiss Guard have been tromping around in enormous trousers for 500 years. Yay for them, but what have they got to show for it.
Horrible colour sense and still guarding some freaking undead guy.

Whereas the Lemmings, who may have been a tad inspired by the above are not colour challanged, spunky, allowed to smile and well... all round awesome really.

We also fill out a pair of enormous trousers quite nicely, methinks

Monday, January 23, 2006

A little statistics to brighten up your Monday...

The Short Story: some gun loon on one of the lists I'm on started dispensing non sequiturs about free countries. Now even I, Don Quijote-esque tilter-at-windmills that I am, know better than to try to have a logical argument with a True Believer, so I let it pass... sorta. It got me wondering about what the real facts were, so I went and did some research which I carefully didn't post on said list; some of you lot might find it interesting though. Say I fairly un-arbitrarily pick a state in Australia with gun control - New South Wales - and a state in the US without it - California:

NSW (12 months to Sept 2005)
Population: 6,731,295
Robbery with a Firearm: 470 (6.98 per 100,000)
Homicide: 71 (1.05 per 100,000)

CA (2004)
Population: 36,590,814
Robbery with a Firearm: 20,609 (56.32 per 100,000)
Homicide: 2,394 (6.54 per 100,000)
Homicide with a Firearm: 1,730 (4.73 per 100,000)
Homicide without a Firearm: 664 (1.81 per 100,000)

This does not prove that legalised firearms increase murder or robbery, though some - myself included - might think it was useful enough evidence to suspect a connection. But there are heaps of other factors involved, including the fact that CA has a much higher population density than NSW. I suspect you'd also find a high proportion of such crimes in both cases happen in inner-city slums, and LA has got it all over Sydney for inner-city slums. Whatever. What it does mean is that overall NSW is a heckofa lot safer place to live than California. You blame whatever reasons you like; we got it good.

What Is ForBattlers?

Ten Top Trivia Tips about ForBattlers!

  1. If you put a drop of liquor on ForBattlers, they will go mad and sting themself to death.
  2. If you break ForBattlers, you will get seven years of bad luck.
  3. ForBattlers are picked, sorted and packed entirely in the field.
  4. Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are ForBattlers.
  5. Native Americans never actually ate ForBattlers; killing such a timid prey was thought to indicate laziness!
  6. ForBattlers were named after ForBattlers the taxi driver in Frank Capra's 'It's a Wonderful Life'.
  7. The horns of ForBattlers are made entirely from hair.
  8. It's bad luck to put ForBattlers on a bed.
  9. ForBattlers invented the wheel in the fourth millennium BC.
  10. In 1982 Time Magazine named ForBattlers its 'Man of the Year'.
I am interested in - do tell me about

Nabbed from Duckie

Friday, January 20, 2006

Canadian Indignation and Rant.

A good rant about US posturing towards Iran with reference to the lessons not learned in Iraq. Some good strategic thinking to eg sinking an oil tanker at the narrow point of the Straits of Hormuz to block all navel traffic and thus oil exports.

Viva la Moose-guys

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My stupid computer has gone into the shop. Waiting for my pay to go in so I can go shopping for Tamworth provisions. This is how I'm killing time at a internet cafe.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Canyoning - Topsy's Tale

Ok, lets face it. I just wasn’t fit enough or experienced enough for the trip. I made a point of mentioning the fact that I was kind of overweight and didn’t exercise enough. I also had no idea as to what I was getting myself in for.

Still, it was an awesome trip and despite the fact there were times near the end when I thought I was going to die, I wouldn’t trade the memory for anything!

I was pretty much OK till the end of the canyon. The abseils down the black hole of Calcutta and the canyon immediately after was the real highlight for me.

The canyon at that point is extraordinarily beautiful. The walls rise up perhaps 100 m (I’m guessing here) to reveal a thin ribbon of sunshine bordered by emerald ferns. Were the canyon travels in the right direction to let enough sun in the ferns cling to the walls. It’s the kind of scenery that makes you think of dinosaurs or Peter Jackson’s King Kong.

Ah, abseiling! The last time I abseiled it was with Scouts when was 16. That was 22 years ago. That was also down the flat, dry, concrete face of a climbing centre. On the walk in to the canyon Scruffy and Nik had us all abseil down a short cliff just to check we could all do it without freaking out. That was OK. It was also a dry, flat cliff face.

The three abseils down the black hole were on cliffs that were sheeted in water and cut with concave channels. Surprisingly, that was totally cool! Abseiling down beside, and sometimes in the waterfalls, was just awesome!

I have to admit that I suffered from a severe misconception as to what reaching the end of the canyon meant. I thought the at the canyon would open out into a beautiful valley with little hobbit houses and getting back would be a leisurely stroll up grassy hills. How totally WRONG!

We got to the ‘end’ of the canyon and all I could see was cliff. When I enquired into where the hobbits were Nik pointed at a narrow channel that seemed to go up at about 45 degrees in large steps. Oh fuck!

This is where things mostly started to go wrong for me. On the climb out there were numerous occasions where I looked at the next step in the rock and thought ’I can’t climb that’ followed by ‘I don’t have any choice, I have to try’. I surprised myself on many occasion by what I could achieve and there was always someone there to give me a leg up when the going was just too tough.

I was totally exhausted. Scrambling up the canyoning started to turn into agony for my overweight, unfit body. Every step became a nightmare. It got to the point where I had to stop after every step and take some time to gather the will to take another one.

My muscles started cramping. Nik reckoned it was likely due to salt loss through sweat. I sucked down some vegemite from a tube of the stuff he had. I don’t think anything tasted so good in my life and it did seem to help stop the cramping.

Then, to help matters, it got dark. I think I need to point out that because I was going so slowly I reckon I delayed the team by anything up to 3 or 4 hours over the 13-hour trip. If it weren’t for that delay they would have made it out in daylight.

At some point someone put a headlight on me so I could see my footing better because I was stumbling a lot. It’s odd, with the light on I could only see the ground at my feet but that made carrying on easier. Since all I could see was my feet I could just concentrate on taking one step after another and forget looking up and seeing the interminable distance ahead.

When we reached the fire trail it was all OK again. I was still fucked, and there was still a ways to go but I knew I’d made it out. The journey for me seemed to end at that point.

But for all that a good deal of the trip was horribly unpleasant for me, and I ache all over, my memory of the trip is that I had a great time. My muscles will stop aching in a couple of days and I’ll mostly only remember the cool stuff.

Scruffy and Nik did a great job getting me through it. Sorry to have been such a burden.

Next time I’ll be better prepared.

What price Beauty?

I'll tell ya what price; pain.

We went canyoning this weekend, and it was fantastic. Nik and Scruffy organised everything and made sure we weren't being completely daft with the ropes, and they took us to a place called Claustral Canyon up on Bells Line of Road. The canyon is absolutely stunning. Twisted facets of sandstone dripping with ferns and aglow with back-lit moss, with rushing waterfalls and inky pools running down throgh the middle. Mist-wrapped peaks, and yabbies the size of my forearm. Glow-worms. The whole treatment; classic Blue Mountains of the sort that I suspect most people, local or otherwise, rarely get to see. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Did I mention the pain? Due to an unfortunate oversight in planning, they built this beautiful big canyon at the bottom of a large hole in the ground. To get there, you climb down some steep hills, and once there you follow the water sliding off of waterfalls and over some sizeable scrambles heading consistently and almost relentlessly DOWN. Your car, alas, is still parked exactly where you left it 6 hours previously, and the end bit is almost entirely devoid of escalators. The climb back out was, in its own way, challenging, scenic and interesting, but alas my recent regime of heavy training for geek-stardom appears to have been emphasizing different muscle groups - more of the mouse-clicking, beer-lifting sets; less of the dragging my ass bodily up a vertical wall sets. I am still nearly speechless from the beauty... and nearly motionless for other more purely mechanical reasons.

Photo courtesy of Gareth; more here.

Arrgh! My thighs, my thighs, I tell you!

I'm broken. Utterly shattered! And so's my wife.

Yesterday, we (and various other For Battlers) went on our first canyoning experience. It was totally huge but I think we overdid it a little. I think there are muscles in my body that aren't sore but they are hard to find. And I've got some great bruises on my shins and knees.

Nik and Scruffy led us through Caustral Canyon. The team of Lemmings (figuratively and literally) were me, Mr Tops, SJ, Anti Ob, Coz with Tony coming along as the redundant yank.... (That actually sounds a bit cruel when I put it like that - The story goes - Nik said, to test the depth of a jump into pool you throw a yank in... We already had one but Nik thought we should have some redundany in the system just in case....)

The highlight of the day was definately the 'Black Hole of Calcutta', which consisted of 3 abseils, each through a small hole in the rock, down waterfalls and ending in the water (or on a tiny ledge if you were extra cunning). That was huge fun.

But when you looked up and saw the cliffs towering above you, shrouded in mist from the water with the sunlight tinged green as it filtered down from the fern covered gully so far above your head.... that was totally awsome!

There are photos - Scruffy had a waterproof camera. Hopefully we will see them soon. Plenty of amazing stuff happened and the views were fabulous. The jumping in puddles was great fun! I loved the abseilling (which I last did 15 years ago). The swims were cool, both figuratively and literally (but the last one was freezing! - but the view while floating on my back was again awesome... Three huge boulders were sitting on the gap with more green tinged sunlight)

The adventure was a lot of work. I will be paying for it for at least the next week! Thank you to Nik and Scruffy for organising it and having all the gear we needed. And thanks to the whole team for getting us home again. (The problem with going down the canyon is that you have to get back up again... )

Friday, January 13, 2006

No Restraint - Experimental Coffee

Found a really good coffee bar in North Sydney recently (thanks Chris!) and that prompted Chris and I to embark on a little experiment I've been meaning to do for awhile. I read somewhere about "cafe ristretto" which is supposed to be a short pull from the espresso machine, but in actual fact usually just gets you funny looks before your espresso in most cafes. Then a new cafe opened downstairs in my building that has on its price list "espresso", "doppio" and doubles of either. So having discovered this other coffee bar where the barista actually seemed to have a clue, we each ordered one of each (espresso, doppio, and ristretto) and then chatted with the dude while we tasted them next to each other.

Espresso is the stuff you're used to: you put a single shot of the good stuff, finely ground and well-tamped, into the single-pour fitting of the machine (with 9 bar of pressure and at 88C - I'm not making this up, and it is actually important!) and pour for 22 seconds. It is yummy, but slightly bitter.

Doppio is supposedly just another word for a double espresso: you use a double dose of coffee and the double-pour fitting - just like you were making two espressos at once - and run them into the same cup. Ideally, this should really be the same stuff but twice as much. Tasting mostly bore this out, though I think the crema comes out different when you pour them both at once. (This doesn't seem to match what the cafe downstairs does, which _may_ explain why they have doppio and double espresso on the menu. Or it may just mean they have no idea. I've never ordered a double doppio, so your guess is as good as mine.)

Ristretto is a single shot of coffee, in the single-pour fitting, but poured for half as long (so its very small.) Literally "restrained" in Italian. Supposedly this gets more of the flavourful oils that come out early in the pour and less of the bitter flavours - including the caffeine - that come out later. I can't speak for how much caffeine it has, but its definitely a richer, sweeter flavour; very nice.

Some other, less interesting, ways of making your coffee bigger:

Cafe Americano: An espresso with hot water poured in it (Bah! Stupid Americans!)
Espresso Lungo: An espresso poured for longer; supposedly somewhat bitter.
Mega-mug of Turkish coffee: don't go here unless you're ShawnMrSnerg.

(Oh, and I've just had four shots of espresso with lunch; I can see through time.)

Fooor Baaaatttle!

The Nominations for this year's Australian Blog Awards have been listed. Hazman's post Socratic Debate For The New Generation is shortlisted for 'Best Post On An Australian Blog' and ForBattle! under 'Best Australian Collaborative Blog'. Scrolling through the lists are some familiar names yay!

The best thing about the Nominations?
So many links to click. Work? HA!

Why Science is so darn useful

Cyclops kittens, paper pink elephants, exploding whales, and now ... fluoro pigs. Really, I ask you...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Check out these great earrings made by my friend Richard. I have a pair of the silver birds.
Dead cute, and the earrings aren't bad either.
Posted also at A Cunning Plan

It Has Begun

Humanity. Gaze into the eye of your inevitable ruination.

Grab your pulse modulated phasers, emergency supply of Snickers, faithful retainers and head for the hills!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mental Health Disaster!!!


My work are bastards.

The have blocked access to blogger from the corporate network.


When I got here I discovered that ebay and yahoogroups had already been blocked. Why do they now suddenly have to block a site I can't live without!!!

Now what am I meant to do with my day! I'll be forced to work and then I'll be forced to ask for more work each day. Dull, dull, dull.

I do enjoy a good coding challenge..... I need to find a job where I get one :(

Oh well. At least there is the home network...

I'll say it one more time.... Bastards.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

don't PISS ME OFF! no, really, this makes me incredibly cranky.

I am not a chest-thumper or a flag-waver.

my idea of being patriotic involves trying to support Australian industries, products, and businesses. that is the best way of helping not only our economy, but people, wage and living standards, and The Australian Way of Life Goddammit(TM). who gives a rat's about the national anthem or the flag? they're nice enough (well, maybe you could take out the Union Jack, but that's another post), but there are other fish to fry.

so this... oooh this sort of thing gets me all fired up.

San Miguel recently bought National Foods and Berri Juices. Nat Foods make Pura, Big M, Farmer's Union, South Cape (all those yummy cheeses), Yoplait, Yogo and Fruche, among others. go and have a look at their website. Berri, those website has now merged with Nat Foods, make Berri, Just Juice, Daily Juice, Prima, Sunny Boy, Zooper Dooper and Mr Juicy amongst their major brands.

whilst doing some research on San Miguel, I also found out that they own the King Island Dairy brand.

what???? nofuckthat!

South Cape AND King Island. when you combine that with everything that
Lactos - a French company which owns Mersey Valley, Tasmanian Heritage, and Australian Gold amongst others - has snaffled over the years, it doesn't leave much, does it?

San Miguel is a Phillipines-based company. in turn, it's major stakeholder is Kirin, the Japanese brewers who also own just under half of Toohey's brewer Lion Nathan. remember them? they're the ones who were trying to take over Coopers.

and don't get me started on the foreign takeover of the Australian wine industry. I'll pop my cork, and not in a good way. let's just say that a lot of the stuff you think is Australian, isn't. Lion Nathan, for instance, have their finger in the pie.

this is something I take terribly to heart, and something which makes me feel both angry and depressed. what's the point in having a big fat jolly &^$%*&$-ing deficit if all of the beautiful things we produce are actually putting the profits into foreign multi-nats?

I suggest you all go down to your local supermarket and buy an Ausbuy Guide. it's a brochure that you'll find either near the checkout, or with the magazines near the 12-Items-or-Less aisle. it's very interesting and/or depressing, listing all the Australian-owned companies, what was Australian but has been taken over, and what has always been an overseas brand. this includes things as diverse as funeral parlours, wine, and stationery.

years ago Ausbuy used to be a bit too nationalistic and, errrr... right-wingish... for me, but that changed quite some time ago. if you really want more info, go to their website and think about joining them - it's not much for a yearly subscription to their magazine and you receive updated Ausbuy Guides as they are released.

look, I'm not perfect - I occasionally drink Diet Coke, and eat Italian-made panettone, or Swiss choccie - but you know what? that's an informed decision, and it's not the norm, and I try not to. I try and find a locally-owned alternative (eg, K-mart's version of diet cola is great, Ital makes beautiful panettone, and Haighs and Ernest Hillier are fabulous choccie makers).

to find out that the milk and cheese I usually buy is owned by a bloody multi-nat brewer is not an informed choice. and it pisses me off.

I'll shut up now, and disappear in a Cloud of Righteousness.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Destroying all your NewYearResolutions(TM)

Right, for the non-(pregnant breast-feeding Buddist) people out there, I submit this to your credit cards.

Today's wine email from GetWinesDirect (

From just $4.95 a bottle.10 DAYS ONLY.
We have a select range of products available from just $4.95 a bottlethrough until close of trade SUNDAY 15th January. This is strictlyavailable as a first in first served basis and we expect a most of theseitems will be sold out in the next few days.

Margaret River Reds from just $5.95
Graceburn Yarra Reds for just $6.95
Half Price Hardy's for just $5.95
Andrew Harris Wines from just $6.95
Clairault Swagmans Reds for just $6.95
Red Hill for just $6.95
Half Price DeBortoli from just $5.95
Pierre DeVille Sparkly for just $6.95
Rosabrook for just $6.95
Half Price McGuigan from just $5.95
and many many more.....

Hm, yes there is a reason why i have 6 cases of wine in my hall. $20-30 wine for under $10? *chortle* Happy Hunting everyone!