Thursday 30 June 2005
Posted by kim @ 7:29pm
From one extreme to the next:
Evacuations as waters rise
Flood waters could breach levee
Gold Coast rain outdoes '74
Thousands evacuated in flooding
Hundreds evacuated in floods
Deluge brings widespread flooding
Flood waters force evacuation
Fears of huge storms flooding back
More Queensland rain expected
Drought areas set for rain
Country areas deluged with rain
Thursday 23 June 2005
Posted by kim @ 7:21pm
Here are a few articles for any astrogeeks out there:
Hubble spies lord of the stellar rings
Alien asteroid belt detected around Sun-like star
Dusty discs girdle distant solar systems
Violent jet detected spewing from brown dwarf
Space station gets HAL-like computer
Titan may boast methane lakes after all
Most Earth-like exoplanet yet is discovered
Thursday 23 June 2005
A modest proposal
Posted by kim @ 7:09pm
Iain just handed me this article, saying "I think you'll be amused by this". And I am. So amused that I want to share it with everyone :) so here it is:
A modest proposal: Let's eat Japanese scientists
By Emma Tom
MEMBERS of Japan's pro-whale hunting lobby aren't a popular bunch. Their critics just can't seem to get a grip on the fact that luncheon meat is a perfectly acceptable byproduct of scientific research.
In 1.5 weeks, the International Whaling Commission will meet in South Korea, where Japan will argue that it be allowed to double its minke whale massacre and add endangered humpback and fin whales to its sushi trains ... sorry, legitimate scientific laboratories.
Given the likelihood of a vote in Japan's favour, it's high time anti-whaling countries such as Australia made more of an effort to understand Japanese whalers' methods and motivations, perhaps by taking a page out of the pro-whale hunting lobby's cookbook and conducting a program of limited research slaughter.
The modest proposal is that knowledge-hungry Australian scientists would be able to hunt and kill several hundred Japanese whale scientists per year to obtain important information such as how old they are, where they live and how their loins taste when marinated, barbecued and served with a feisty shiraz.
It will be a controversial move, but killing Japanese pro-whalers and dissecting them into tasty bite-sized pieces is the only way to help solve enduring mysteries about this enigmatic species. Such as how they think it's possible to nourish a local custom by eating its core ingredient into extinction. Or why they continue ignoring academic research questioning the notion that whaling has deep cultural roots in Japan in the first place.
(Keiko Hirata from the California State University is just one scholar who claims whale meat was eaten by large numbers of Japanese only in the dark decade after World War II.)
Of course once these tests have been conducted, all derivatives of the research should be eaten immediately to avoid waste. One possibility would be to follow the lead of the nattily titled Women's Forum for Fish, which met in Tokyo last weekend to discuss scrummy Free Willy recipes such as whale blood soup.
"Eating a whale is the same thing as killing and eating a cow," said one orca-eater from the forum (which was sponsored by the pro-whaler lobby).
The big problem with this argument is that there are about 1.5 billion cows in the world compared with fewer than 800,000 minke whales. Japan's pro-whalers, on the other hand, are growing in strength and numbers and will have no trouble sustaining the odd slaying.
They'll make great school snacks a la whale meat, which was recently re-introduced in 280 Japanese educational institutions after a 20-year absence. As with the whale lunch special, fillets of pro-whalers are bound to come up an absolute treat coated in breadcrumbs and fried with a little garlic and ginger.
There may be a backlash once the press starts running photos of dying Japanese scientists flopping around in pools of blood with harpoons hanging out of their spinal columns and grenades exploding inside their brains and so on.
Whingeing, dolphin-yoga types will probably start tacking "Save the Whalers" stickers to their bumper bars and calling for whaler sanctuaries.
They may argue hunting humans is wrong because our high intelligence puts us in a category different from other species made of meat. They may even suggest our scientific program is just a backdoor attempt to kick-start commercial cannibalism. But fortunately the pro-whale hunting lobby has shown logic is no longer necessary when defending self-centred and short-sighted action from international censure.
"So what if it's possible to study human behaviour by non-lethal means?" we'll say. "So what if our methods are rejected by every serious research community in the universe? The only way to investigate the merits of carnage-based research is to engage in a protracted bloodbath. Now stand back or you'll get desiccated liver all over your nice, white extinction statistics."
Obviously we're not recommending that all Japanese pro-whalers be butchered and eaten. But there does need to be a balance between the rights of these lobbyists to exist and the rights of those of us who have an overwhelming urge to aim large, pointy objects in their general direction.
Hehehehe here here!!
Tuesday 15 June 2005
Posted by kim @ 7:58am
Two things have happened recently that I need to get down. The most recent is the most exciting so I'll tell you about that one first.
Last Sunday, the one just gone, was the annual Mini Muster. All the Mini Owner's Clubs were there, including ones from as far away as Victoria. Being the Mini nut that I am, I went of course, and took heaps of photos, as you do :) Iain couldn't come straight away because he had to work, but he dropped me off on the way with the entention of coming along later. I ended up meeting up with his parents, who I had a suspicion would be there (they like old cars - they own the MG I've talked previously about, it was just down the road from their place, and for $3 entry fee, why wouldn't you?), to have a wander around. The were hundreds of minis there, old ones, new ones (tho mostly old ones), one's that had been modified, one's that hadn't, nice shiney ones that obviously had a proud owner doteing over it, ones that had had a bath but thats about it. It was great :D Mini heaven. Several were even for sale and I joked about 'Do we need a new project car yet?' but all the one's we'd seen for sale had already been done up, perfect paint jobs, great interior, running brilliantly; there was no work to be done on them. Boring. And prices ranged from $8,000 right through to $22,500. That last one is probably the owner trying to get back what he/she spent to get it upto standard again, I'd say. And then we saw one that struck our (my) fancy. A little light-grey one, in original condition - ie the paint work had a few minor dings and scraps in it (the passenger side door had had someone open their door into it as some point - no dint or anything but the paint had been scrapped off and been patched over) (plus the fact that it hadn't had a bath or a cut-and-polish anytime recently), the seat covers had a few cracks in the vinyl, the engine bay was all grotty and it had a bit of oil leaking from somewhere. It was perfect. And going for $5,500 or nearest offer. And it had all of the papers - and I mean *all* of them - right back from the Bill of Sale in 1964 (in pounds), all the Service receipts from then to now (some in pounds then converting to dollars), right up to the Roadworthy that had been done last week in preparation for sale. It was literally the cliche 'one old lady driver'. I was literally the second driver it had ever had and there was the proof. It was actually the 'old lady's niece that was selling the car on her behalf because she had been going to sell it for $600 and the niece had said 'no way, we can get much more then that'. I almost died when Margaret (the niece) told us this and said 'SOLD!' immediately, jokingly of course. We said that we'd have a think about it and might contact her the following day for a test drive (Monday being Queen's B'day holiday). Then the in-laws decided that they were going to go have a look at the Swap Meet then head home, so I gave Iain a call to come pick me up. He immediately said on the phone, jokingly, 'I hope you didn't buy any' ... there was silence on my end of the phone, then I said 'nooo', 'Kimberley!' was the response, then I said 'not yet', 'what do you mean not *yet*?! Kimberley!', this needed some quick talking on my behalf so I said 'Its a little grey one, needs a bit of work, only $5,500 ono, and we need a new project car soon anyway ..'. There was a sigh on the other end of the phone, 'I'll come have a look'. So he did. He agreed that we should give it a test drive, and as Margaret was just about to head home, we organised to do it that afternoon. So at 2 o'clock we headed over there. After passing the cursory licence check, Iain went first, because I wanted to hear the engine and gear changing, and because frankly I was a bit scared of driving a manual after having driven automatics since getting my licence. Then it was my turn. I didn't go too badly - a bit rough on the gear changing, but the gear swing (how far you have to move the gear stick been first and second gears) is about 18inches or so, and that will take some getting used to as it is. Other than that, it ran absolutely perfectly. We expected that the CVs might be a bit worn and clank a bit when going around corners, given how old the car is, that the gearing might be a bit rough, that the engine might be a bit tired, that there'd probably be a few shakes and rattles, etc .. but there was nothing; it ran absolutely perfectly. So after a few quick deliberations with Iain (Margaret had gone insde to grab the papers for us to have a quick look over) we decided that it was definately worth $5,000, but we'd start negotiations at $4,500 and work our way up. That was the intention anyway, until Margaret accepted the first offer. We organised to bank transfer the money straight into her account, she said she'd go get the rego papers from her aunt that afternoon and give us a call so we could come pick them up so I could get the rego transferred to my name this week and pick the car up next weekend. But when she rang us that afternoon she said that her aunt couldn't find the rego receipt so she'd organised to have another copy sent to her, but it would take upto a week. We said that was still ok, I was going to transfer the money across this week anyway, and we could still pick the car up on the weekend, I'd just have to do the rego transfer next week instead. So thats what we're doing: I transferred the money across yesterday, gave her a quick call to let her know, she's acknowledged that its there, all we have to do now is wait for the rego papers to arrive and organise a time to pick it up on the weekend.
So I have a new car. And not just any car, a mini :D
For anyone reading this, you might think, 'wow, that was quick' or 'geez that's an impulse buyer if ever I saw one', but for those who know me, they'll know that I've been saving up, ever since I got full-time employment, for a few things, one of which was an old-style mini. So it wasn't really *that* quick, it could easily have been predicted (Iain had said, half-jokingly, half seriously, to me that morning when he dropped me off 'No minis! Don't buy any minis!'); I'd just been looking for the right one. And this one was as good as it was going to get - pretty much perfect working order, just a bit of a clean up needed, and I'll probably change the oil next weekend, but thats about it. And cheap :D
Iain made sure, of course, that that price wouldn't be taking too much out of our house deposit (the major thing that we're saving up for) but I could assure him that it wasn't - telling him what the current balance was, that after taking out this $4,500 I still had a few grand over our minimum agreed-house-deposit-sum, so that put his mind at rest a lot more.
Of course we went straight around to my parents' place to tell them, and it just so happened that my sister and nan were there as well, so they all found out at the same time. Everyone was happy for me, because they all know that I've been wanting one for a while. Dad said 'oh no, not another crazy mini driver' and probably thought I was a bit nuts - he likes the old VWs rather then minis - but when he asked 'so why a mini?', I said, jokingly 'because I can touch the pedals!' :P He laughed. (I'm the shortest in the family - dad's 6foot-something, so I just about fit under his arm - and I've always had to move the seat forward in any car I've gotten into so I can touch the pedals, so me saying that just cracked him up.)
So yeah, I am now the proud owner of a 1964 Mini :D
Second topic: the weekend before this one just gone was the Qld Rally for 2005 (the night of the 3rd to the afternoon of the 5th). We stayed up there for all of it this time and took stacks of photos. The weather was just as gorgeous as it was last year, and not as much dust either (they wet down the track between races), which was both good and bad (mostly good): good because faces, hair, eyes and cameras weren't as prone to getting covered in dust, but the dust also made for some good pics last year. Here are a few of the better ones that I took:
This one is from Friday night. The car wasn't actually moving *that* fast, my camera just took a while to take the photo.
These two were taken at one of the hairpin turns - this one after having come down a gently-sloping straight alongside a cow paddock, heading down into the forest.
The 'rooster tail' (dust cloud that forms out the back of the car as it takes off again after slowing down momentarily) of one of the Subarus on another sharp corner.
One of my 'ghost car' pics from Saturday night (ghost car because the shutter speed is set low enough that it makes the car appear as only a shadow as it speeds past, with the headlights (or taillights depending on angle) showing up brightest).
Three shots taken at The Jump. You can't say these cars don't have enough clearance :P (yes, that is air you see under those tires :) ). (For those interested, you can see the photos that Iain took here - its the Coates Hire one (the major sponser this year).)
But my favourite pic-of-the-day was this one:
Not a car at all, but a barn we drove past on the way home (I saw it on the way up and had my camera at the ready for when we passed it going home). Not a bad shot for having been taken from inside a moving car.
Think thats enough for now :) For those wanting to see more pics of souped up cars speeding around a dirt-gravel track, see here.
Wednesday 8 June 2005
Can you say "Ghost in the Shell" everyone?
Posted by kim @ 6:02pm
Can you say "Ghost in the Shell" everyone?
Friday 3 June 2005
The swamping has ceased
Posted by kim @ 3:54pm
By 3:00 I'd only managed to download and save about 80 of the invoices from that supplier, at which point the lady from the ATO had gotten the message that Co-worker1 had left on her voice mail and rang back. Co-worker1 confirmed that yes, we did indeed have that many invoices and she quickly changed her tack, saying that just the top 5-10 of each type, debtors and creditors would be satisfactory. So thats what we're doing. Not nearly as fun, but I can assure you, the fun was quickly wearing off having to use the very pain-in-the-arse system that supplies the invoices from that supplier.
The swamping has begun
Posted by kim @ 12:51pm
Following on from my entry last night, I am presently downloading, saving and printing out all of the invoices for that particular supplier that I mentioned, of which there are 661, and Co-worker1 is printing out the debtors invoices, of which there are 2000+. Before doing so Co-worker1 did try to contact the lady at the ATO to make absolutely sure that she still wanted them faxed, pointing out that there are well over 2000 invoices ... but she's not answering her phone ... so she'll probably come back to a massive pile of papers under the fax machine.
Thursday 2 June 2005
Posted by kim @ 7:09pm
Today at work we got a phone call from a lady at the Australian Tax Office (ATO) asking for us to forward her our invoices for the last 3 months - apparently our rebate for this quarter is going to be quite large so she needs proof/justification that we deserve it. Reasonable enough. We agreed and said that we would courier out the invoices tomorrow. She said 'No, just fax them please, we don't want the originals'. We just looked at each other in bafflement; clearly she has no idea what its like working in a retail store, the amount of invoices that we get. My co-worker warned her that she could be standing by the fax for a while, that she'd better make sure she had plenty of paper and was she absolutely sure she wanted them faxed. 'Yes, yes, faxed will be fine'. Our response was a shrug and 'Ok'. She was warned. Clearly she has *no* idea what she's gotten herself into. Oh well, she asked for it.
As an example/explanation, just the invoices for just one of our suppliers for just one month is about .. (measuring space between fingers) .. 4-5inches thick (easily 500+ invoices). Just one month. For just one supplier. She wants the invoices from *all* suppliers (of which we have about 100 or so), for the last *3* months, as well as *all* retail sales (of which we would easily make 100+ invoices a day).
She has no idea what she's gotten herself into.