Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What my boys got up to last Sunday

The Crankmaster J is learning stuff! The best thing, I think, about being a parent is watching them work stuff out and seeing the connections being made.

Last sunday night we were reading books before bed and we found a picture of a frog. I started singing 'Galumph went the little green frog'. I can't help myself. J immediately stood up and walked out of the room...

He went into the dining room and started crashing about with his blocks.

And returned with his frog block!

Now I'm sure that I've probably sung Galumph while waving this block about before. But I also know other stupid frog songs and sing those with this block too. When did this association of block and song happen? How often have I sung that song? I've no idea. But it's really totally cool that he wants to demonstrate his understanding.

I'm very chuffed with this new development and I'm eager to see more.

Now I did mention boys and so far have mentioned only one.

After baby bedtime, Mr Tops was bored and went to fly his helicopter in the park.... You know, the one with the hypogastric joggle.

Some time later he returns... No helicopter - it's stuck high in a pine tree. What would you do? Of course! Take out a bow and some arrows into the very public park in the middle of the night. I made him take a phone so he could call me when he got taken away by the police. And he took the worst bow, in case it all got confiscated - the 20pd yellow fiberglass one I found in the neighbour's bin one midsummer afternoon....

Apparently he didn't get the helicopter out of the tree.... Some random passerby fired the shot that got it out. So he took them for a beer and gave them an arrow that got broken during the retrieval process..... probably as proof that it all happened at all! I mean it's not everyday that one meets someone in a dark park firing arrows into a tree!

Or will this start a trend.......

Shameless Shamus

Shamus, who brought us DM of the Rings, now brings us the sordid tale of a man who tried to extract fact from a snake oil salesman... and lived!

Furthermore, he claims to have discovered either a) the secret to weight loss and sexual attraction, or b) the secret to popularity on the net. I forget which, but I can see how they'd be mutually exclusive. I'm linking this as part of an empirical scientriffic test to prove whichever it was. Or wasn't. You can trust me; I'm wearing a white lab coat! (Also, I'm suing.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Makin Nectar

My uncle Clay Daulton, who runs a cattle ranch out in California, "hires" out his fields during the winter to a beekeeper, who needs a place to store his hives until spring, when the almond orchards up the road will pay him to bring his pollenators round. Of course, Clay doesn't get paid in money, he gets paid in honey. Lots of it. So when we dropped round over Christmas, we took a couple of cases off his hands. And like any good Lemming, I'm making alcohol out of it.

Never done mead before so I looked up a few recipes on the net. A historical one from 1669 struck me as fairly simple, though some of the others with citrus in them sounded good, and I dont even know what agrimony _is_. The website also mentioned that you should be careful not to use chlorinated tapwater, as the yeast grows slower on honey and can be more delicate, so the chlorine can put it off its game. Hmmm. where oh where are we going to find a source of unchlorinated water? Oh yeah:

Thus was born the idea for Daulton Ranch Snowmelt Mead. First the snow:

Add a little citrus, for zest:

Stir well:

And for some reason, dropping it back to room temp to pitch the yeast didnt take nearly as long as usual...

We'll let ya know how it comes out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My doctor says I have to forget everything I ever knew, in case thats whats causing the headaches...

Sorry guys, but I seriously need to vent, and you were lucky enough to be downwind...

My notebook is farked up again (Hewlett-Packard Pavilion, if anyone out there is taking notes on what not to buy.) There are a good half-a-dozen signs which point to its being a hardware fault (my second, on this machine which is just turning 1 year old) not the least of which is that horrible sound like a ping-pong ball being dropped on a tile floor, which exact sound was made by both of the last two hard drive failures I have witnessed. But you know you're about to have to run the tech support gauntlet, so you go through all the things that you know the guy is going to ask you to try even though they make very little sense, and you write up all the results clearly emphasizing all of the clues that point to a hardware fault, and you send it to HP Support.

Now the guy I'm corresponding with has been polite, and more importantly fast, and he even managed to suggest a couple of things that made a sort of sense to check (or would have, if it wasn't so obviously a hardware fault) which I hadn't thought of. So I tried them, and they didn't work, and the next thing on the poor unfortunate man's decision-tree of things hes allowed to tell the customer was:


Thank you for writing back.

To confirm whether the issue is related to hardware or software, I recommend you to perform the complete format of Hard Drive and Reinstall Windows XP Operating System.

Note: Please backup your Important data.

Right. Reformat the hard drive just to _check_ if that might be the problem. Unfortunately for him, I'd been given this little bit of advice from HP Support before. My reply:

Hi Jack

This is the second time I've got that particular piece of advice from HP support, so I know it must be company doctrine, so I'm not blaming you.

But seriously, that must be just about the stupidest piece of advice I think I've ever heard of. And I worked in tech support for awhile, so I've seen some winners. Reformat the hard drive, not because you've in any way determined its necessary, but just to check and see if the problem is hardware related? Sure, I'll just rip all the data off the machine, go through hours of backup, reinstall, and restore, which will inevitably foul up somewhere and cause me to have to spend even more hours re-installing software, just so you can say "well, it wasn't that; guess that strange noise coming from your hard drive was the problem after all" and then I get to do all the tedious restore _again_ on the new drive you eventually send me. Sounds like great fun; I'll send you a bill at my hourly rate.

I've got a better idea, which I hope you'll pass along to whoever wrote the idiotic manual that you are no doubt being forced to follow. How about you either come up with some software to test the hard drive, or else you let me send it to your hardware guys for them to test? Because we've got half a dozen signs pointing to a hardware fault here (the second hardware fault I've had in this just-turned-one-year-old machine, I might add) and this machine is my livelihood, and I'd really rather not screw around for another couple of days before you get to the bit where you admit its broken and fix it.

Thanks for your help,

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Don't annoy concrete

Harry said he recognised Stig's legs in this.

Yes, it really is...

I wanted to put this up but Spyd got posting first...

image from Getup.

and she is so right. he is The Man.

Kevin, you are indeed, The Man.

Get The Meat Pies Ready

We booked our tickets home. Woot!
We arrived early morning Monday 17th March and head back Wed 9th April.
Excited? We are!

So not that we are International beggars or anything...but if anyone has lounges for sleep, camping/clothes/tankards for Rowany Festival, the odd car to borrow, and a couple of bottles of Chardy just laying around we would love youse all the more.

Will try to get down to Melbourne for a few days, if its at all possible.
Planning on getting some sort of Mobile phone so we can actually be contacted.
If anyone wants anything small, lightweight but still exciting from Yanksville, let us know. We may have a squidge of room.

Seeyas Soon

Friday, February 08, 2008

They have these rings you see..and dinosaurs from outer space

Oh the wonderful world of childhood cartoons.
Miz Speedy came around for ninner last night and we got onto the subject of Romper Room

and when it ended in Australia (does anyone know?) which led us to here

which the led to us watching various bits on Youtube

We also added in side searches for Jem (Jem is my name, no-one else is the same, Jem is my name!) and Josie and the Pussycats from Outerspace

This also amused us..oh the classic lyrics, oh the animation, oh the concepts.

Oh and the title refers to this classic

And I nearly forgot to include Lady Lovely Locks (why, oh why didn't we get this in Australia)

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My Hypogastric Joggle

Ten years ago, or thereabouts, I tried to build a micro helicopter after being inspired by a New Scientist article. After numerous attempts, I failed : (

Ten years later and you can now buy 15cm long RC helicopters for $17.50 online. Ah, the march of technology.

I've bought a few of these now and they're heaps of fun to fly. The latest in my collection is the Mosquito micro helicopter. I haven't flown it yet but I thought I had to share something from the manual that is written in that appalling Chinglish.

Googling 'hypogastric joggle' merely gives references to this manual so I still haven't a clue what a 'hypogastric joggle' is.

Anyway, I guess I'll figure it out after flying the heli a few times : )

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Who Ate All the Piiies!

We did!

Is it wrong that Coz and I both came out of Sweeney Todd and all we could think about was how much we wanted a meat pie? (Well, at least thats what she _tells_ me the drool was about...) I choose to see it as a sign of how much we miss Australia, and not a latent desire to experiment with cannibalism...

But whatever; we made these pies. And ate them. And they were good.

Monday, February 04, 2008

erm. ....

Say you were designing an information booklet for a contraceptive device. What picture would you chose for the cover?

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that this might NOT be what you had in mind.

(or I'm getting a baby just like that real soon now)

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Coz has been doing an excellent job organising photos and telling a bit about our trip to France; I should really chime in and talk about the cave paintings and the cheese and the churches and the cheese and the castles and the wine and cheese... but this is not that post. This one - this one right here - is for the engineers.

During the course of our wandrings through cultureville we managed to find strange little bits of medieval engineering - some of which are hauntingly familiar. We took photos, which I put here. A couple of teasers:

A pocket sundial, apparently stolen from Tops and sent back in time.

A clockwork spitjack, with winding monkey.

A rather tasty organ gun.

Trebs. Real ones, what chuck 100-pound rocks instead of tennis balls.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled cheese.