Friday, December 16, 2011

Vale Fronti

aka Slugface, Fatboy, Lardarse, Trigger, Fang.
9/9/1995 - 15/12/11
A cat of infinite noises.

Mother - Nutmeg (Yseult's cat)
Father - random Kirribilli tom
Brother - Basil (also Yseult's cat)
Step-sister - Muscat

He was a fearless kitten. Muscat was so unimpressed to suddenly have a little brother and hissed at him for about a month. Fronti just ignored her.

When he was tiny Fronti could clear a room with his farts. That was when we discovered he was lactose intolerant. The farts stopped when the milk stopped.

He was also incredibly noisy for such a tiny creature. We used to have the cats sleep on the bed with us. Muscat would sleep near our heads but Fronti could only sleep at our feet. The noise of his purring would keep us awake otherwise. We thought the noise would decrease as his got older but we were very wrong.

At about six months old he was chased up a tree by a neighbours dogs. I had to call the fire brigade to get him down. I took photos of the event but the record was lost when the camera was stolen shortly afterwards. He happily rode on the fireman's shoulders down to my arms. I think the firemen were happy to have something to do at 6am in the morning.

We was a great catcher of mice, rats and birds. I didn't witness it but I was told that Fronti would sit in the backyard and taunt the magpies into swooping him. Fronti would leap up to try and catch them when they did. Fronti also loved it when Stig would give him fish heads to eat. Fronti would take them to the 'Fronti killing ground' and happily crunch them down.

At his largest, Fronti was almost 12kgs. But he was a cat with a large wheel base and while he puddled well he would never be considered obese.

At about seven years old Fronti developed a bladder problem which had him on special food for the rest of his life. This same condition killed his brother. Despite a few acute times, the condition was managed. At the beginning of this year Fronti suffered an injury to the edge of his eye which needed treatment. When he was a kitten he caused the injury to Muscat's eye which is still quite obvious as the cloud on her eye. In 2009, Fronti was diagnosed with a thyroid condition which had him injected with technicium and radioactive iodine to destroy the hyperactive bits of thyroid. Shortly after, he had a benign lump removed from his side. He has been an expensive kitty costing us probably about $7000 over his lifetime, but it's been worth it.

His most recent illness progressed much faster than I expected. Last week I noticed he had stopped eating, his meow was muffed and he seem to have a sniffle. The vet did a battery of tests which ruled out most common problems. We don't know exactly what killed him but it was likely some sort of tumour in the liver or kidney. Basically he died because he was old and the parts started failing. If we had caught the lung infection in time it was likely he wouldn't last much longer past it. It does explain the big cough he had during winter. I just thought it was an extra large furball but in hindsight it was probably the early chest infection.

Fronti was huge and cuddly and noisy. He was often the butt of many jokes and he was loved for it. He was greedy and lazy and warm and soft. We was also very gentle and usually obedient. He had a long and happy life for a cat.

Edit - I forgot to mention Fronti's drug days when he was heavily into the catnip. Those days he would head out before breakfast and lick the dew off the catnip and usually eat leaf or two. He would spend most of the day curled up around his precious plant. The poor old catnip plant was almost pruned to bonsai status.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Paean to American Roadside Cuisine

Americans can be a bit schizophrenic about food.

Here's what I mean by that:

There is a type of cooking here known as "Texas BBQ". Not all Texas BBQ is alike, of course, but if you pick one at random you'll most likely find someplace where they lovingly prepare a meal along these lines:

1) Get yourself a nice cut of beef brisket.
2) Marinate in a specially crafted blend of spices.
3) BBQ.
4) Fork shred, so as to more easily embed flavour, without destroying the texture.
5) Gently smoke the meat for quite some time in a specialised smoker, over a variety of woods.
6) Heat to luke warm, put a big ole scoop on a sugar-infused lump of sponge rubber masquerading as a hamburger bun, along side a jumbo-sized serve of nothin, and sell.

VrrrrrrrrrRP! What?!? Run that last one by me again? You get something that looks like this:

And the meat is delicious! But after all that care preparing it, they might as well fire it down your throat out of a cannon for all the trouble they go with serving it. You can _almost_ admire the purity of it - we're about the meat and nothing but the meat! - but not so much as you actually want to eat one of these styrofoam-encapsulated blobs a second time.

Well just up the road from us is a place where occasionally is parked a trailer emblazoned "Big John's Texas BBQ". For all I know he makes a great sandwich - I've never had the heart to try one, after too many lukewarm lump experiences. But he makes spectacularly good meat. I'm not just saying that because the guy behind the counter has a Texan accent, and he's big (he may even be named John too.) I'm saying that because he's an artist. He paints pictures on my palette with protein and spice. A Michaelangelo of Meat. I've had it a couple of times for various reasons without ever actually ordering a sandwich, and its always delicious. And he sells it in bulk.

So rather than risk another hamburger bun fiasco, the other weekend I bought a pound of brisket off him. I spent the morning making fresh french bread, and timed everything else to be finished just as the bread came out of the oven. I grilled some onions with some fire-roasted Hatch chilies until they got all caramelised and yummy. I heated the meat to mouth-scorchingly hot - quickly, so as not to dry it out - and melted some good sharp cheddar over it. I served it on the aforementioned fresh french with some avocado, some black pepper, some of Big John's own vinegar-ey spicey sauce that he kindly packed for me to go, also hot. Garnish with crisp romaine lettuce and fresh tomato straight out of the fridge, for that nice temperature contrast and crunch.

It was fantastic. It was so good I went back and made another one and ate it too. I could barely move afterwards. My whole Saturday morning was consumed (sic) by lunch. I took a picture (which doesn't really do it justice, and in fact looks a bit oogly to me now; trust me, it was magnificent):

If they served these I'd happily pay $20 for one. So why the extravagant care over the meat followed by nothing else? I dunno; just American schitzo cuisine I guess... but it really is fine fine meat.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cover the Earth

Been wondering where all those Cthulu-worshipping cultists have been hiding out? Wonder no more! Just check out this sign from our local paint store:

Still don't know what I'm talking about? (Why does this surprise you?) Look closer:

If that's not the motto of a doomsday cult or a Bond villain, I don't know what is.

(I ride past this store every day, and I keep meaning to take a photo of their sign, which I love. Finally got to it today...)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

An Open Letter to SuddenLink, our ISP

Hello Suddenlink,

Welcome to the neighborhood! When you took over from our old ISP a couple of months back, we had a few rough weeks with connectivity, no doubt while you assimilated new hardware into your systems. But your techs listened patiently while I explained in detail what was wrong with your DHCP servers, and eventually you seem to have got that sorted out; our internet is stable again, and faster than it was before, so bravo. Noone blames you for a bit of teething problems. And when you arbitrarily decided to move me, without informing me, from the terms of my old contract - that I had with your predecessors, since I have never entered _any_ formal relationship with your company - to one which costs roughly twice as much per month, you at least had the good grace to back down when I called you on it. True, it was after I'd been transferred 3 times and left on hold for an hour listening to to some unholy hybrid of a televangelist, a used-car-salesman, and a lost Wiggle deliver high-intensity sales pitch at me while apparently speeding out of his head on your hold loop, but the lady who eventually helped me was very friendly and understanding of any nervous tics I had developed, so I can let bygones go.

So I just wanted to say thanks ever-so-much for the kind offer that you included with that bill. I must have missed it at first glance, occupied as I was with the bottom line, but you're really too generous to offer to guarantee the rates for my internet service not just for 25 years, as your ad originally stated, but for life, as was carefully pasted over the top in what I've no doubt one of your marketing folks thought looked like an impulsive and artless scrawl.

Guaranteed for Life! In an industry nigh-archetypical in the speed at which its product becomes obsolete! Wow! 25 years from now you won't charge me a single penny more for the internet service that I'm getting today! If only my parents had signed up for such a deal when I was in high school, we could be connecting to CompuServe on a 1400 baud modem today!*

Suddenlink Marketing Department, I'd like to introduce you to Suddenlink Technical Development. Its high time you met; they may not be unassailably brilliant at what they do, but they at least know what the product is that you guys are selling. You apparently don't.

- rob.

*Note: For those of you not old enough to remember 1400 baud modems, this would be roughly equivalent to having your 80-year-old Slovenian neighbor shout descriptions of web pages at you in broken English through her kitchen window. In a thunderstorm. While dub musicians hold a spontaneous street party for teenaged dolphins out front. Bandwidth-wise, its got nothing on overcooked pasta.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Day of the Turkey approaches

Prepare yourselves.

No-one knows the hour of it's coming. Mainly because the cooking time can be annoying to work out.

Saturday November 26th.

Our place.

More details and RSVP-ing stuff as plans come to hand.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Kid's clothes for next festival

Hi all,

I had an idea so I thought I'd run it up the flagpole and see how it goes. My child is going to need more clothes for next festival because he has grown out of some things and I'm guessing everyone else will too, at least to some extent.

Last festival, there was a spontaneous pink day, and during the Lemming day, it was said that it made it easier to track kids from our campsite through the quest because they were all in the same colour.

So, how about creating another set of kids frocks in the same fabric again. It doesn't need to be the same style for everyone, but choose a colour that everyone will use and we suggest a day to wear each colour.

I don't particularly mind which colour or which days. I'm sure we will need at least one red frock because we like red. We don't mind pink either, but I think some of the boys might object. Apart from that, I have no plans.

Does it sound like a worthwhile plan?

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Your Friday Deviant Statistic

(Well all right, _my_ Friday. I don't know what day it is where _you_ are...)

Rode past a couple of kids on my bike this morning, and one of them was saying "Jinx!" like we used to do whenever two people said the same word at the same time. I think it was supposed to be bad luck or something; I forget. Anyways, it made we wonder how often that happens:

Assume that "started in the same second" is close enough to "at the same time."
Best estimate to average number of words spoken in a day that I could find with references: 7,500.
Percentage of words (written, but we'll assume roughly equal distributions) that are on the top 25 most frequently used words list: 33%
Number of times per day, on average, you say one of the top 25 words: 2,500
Number of times per day, on average, you say _each_ of those words: 100
Number of seconds in a day: 86,400
Odds that someone is saying a specific one of those words in a given second: 100 / 86,400 =~ 0.0012, or about one in a thousand, give or take.
So 2,500 times a day I say one of those 25 words, and each time there is a one in a thousand chance that you're saying the word at the same time. Just counting those, we should "jinx" each other 2.5 times a day.

That's with two of us. There are approximately 328 million native English speakers in the word, so even discounting the non-native speakers, and the non-top-25 words (and the fact that those statistics are from 2006) the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of the fact that someone somewhere is jinxing you every single time one of those words passes your lips, 2,500 times a day. That'd be a lot of bad luck, but I've just arbitrarily (but y'know, no less arbitrary than the original superstition) decided that its actually _good_ luck, so thats a relief.

"Jinx!" (But then, you just said that, didn't you?)

Friday, August 05, 2011

Reggie Watts F--- S--- Stack

So this video is Not Safe For Work, or for any small listeners prone to repeating what they hear.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011


This game, is cool.*


(*Warning: the management takes no responsibility for your definition of "cool" being different from that of a complete and utter geek.)

Its a puzzle game, and it happens to nicely embed a number of basic concepts of computer programming. Those of you whom I have cornered at a cocktail party and bored nigh-unto-death about my doctoral thesis may recognise this as a topic near and dear to my heart; these guys did it much more elegantly than I did. I'm not actually sure they were _trying_ to make a game that taught programming concepts - they don't beat you over the head with it, certainly - but the concepts just sort of naturally fall out of the puzzles. The game doesn't teach them to you; you teach them to yourself just in order to play the game better. Perfect melding of content and game.

But here's the thing: the whole point of embedding something educational into a game (still assuming they did it on purpose) is to take something that the player might not find interesting, and drop it in a context that _is_ interesting, so the player will want to learn. What context did they use to make programming interesting? Industrial chemistry. Seriously. I mean, I like blowing stuff up as much as the next guy, but even I would never go so far as to say that making and breaking bonds between atoms was glamorous. It fits the material well, but it seems like it kind of misses the point.

Anyways, you can quite easily ignore that its about chemistry; its just a puzzle where you rearrange patterns on one side and make them look like patterns on the other. I suspect those among you who are already programmers won't be able to resist it; finding _an_ answer is often not that hard, but can you find an elegant one? One that solves the problem in fewer cycles (runs faster?) Or one that uses fewer elements (lines of code?) I'm not sure how much fun non-coders will find it - I'd be interested to know. Its not that you wouldn't be able to do it, its just that its the parallels to coding that keep _me_ coming back to it - its certainly not the chemistry.

Yes, its a computer game, and no, you don't get to blow anything up. Unless you build the right chemicals, I suppose. But if you're in the mood for a clever puzzle game, it might be worth a look. (It has a free demo, and the full game is $15 downloaded from their site.)

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Mucus... its not working out. I think we need to see other people. I don't love you anymore. Its not me, its you. Fuck off, will you! And get your shit out of my lungs!

(Had that damn Tripod song stuck in my head for a week...)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


old skool Savage Chickens

Also, check out this selection the next time you need some stress relief at work

Friday, May 20, 2011

Be Prepared

Get A Kit,    Make A Plan, Be Prepared.

I'm so glad the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention are taking the Rapture into consideration. Found via DV on Facebook through this article on the ABC.

Together with Regretsy, I'd say they have the situation pretty much covered. Now I just have to figure the time zones out so I can enjoy.