Monday, February 27, 2006

How to get your older sister to shut up.

My five year old was getting annoyed with his persistently annoying older sister, who was interrupting him while he was reading. "Stop Erupting Me!" He shouted.

Derek Hill

Derek was a major snob and lover of the good life, but an interesting caring godfather. My dad got to know him at the British School in Rome, where he had a years scholarship. I was christened at St Columbs in Donegal. The house is now a national museum. The following is extracted from one of the art capitalists, writing to encourage purchase of his work.

Renowned for his society portraits and arresting scenes of Co. Donegal and Tory Island, Derek Hill’s contribution to 20th century Irish Art is without dispute. His long and varied career saw him embrace stage design, appointed art director of the British School in Rome, write books on Islamic architecture and orchestrate major public exhibitions such as the Landseer show at the Royal Academy in 1961.

Hill remained so personally attached to many of his paintings that he was often loath to let them go, no matter how high the price offered. Born in Southampton, Hill (1916-2000) left school aged 16, at first pursuing a career in stage design but later rejecting this for painting. In time, he established himself as a successful portrait artist of the British establishment and fashionable society, including such notable sitters as H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, Lord Mountbatten, Cecil Beaton and Noel Coward.

Landscape painting, however, remained his first love and in 1954 he bought St Colombs – a house in Churchill, Co. Donegal. Living in the northwest of Ireland fired his imagination, as did his 'discovery' in 1956 of Tory Island, off the Donegal coast, and it was here that his landscape painting truly came into its own. Hill purchased a hut on the island and for the next 30 years, produced some of his most evocative works.

The seclusion of Tory suited Hill. He was a man who enjoyed his own company and it was arguably this factor and his measured acceptance of it, that contributed to his ability to draw on the starkness and loneliness of such places to develop his craft and produce his most striking work. Later, when Hill travelled the world – visiting Turkey, Yemen and Afghanistan – his observations recall the light, colour and structure observed on this weather-beaten island.

Hill painted H.R.H. The Prince of Wales on a several occasions, initially painting the Prince for Trinity, his former college at Cambridge. Hill once commented on his hope that his portraits conveyed the Prince’s “warm, sensitive and understanding humanity: a concern and interest in whatever he undertakes”.

I remember watching him paint a noteable and it was interesting to see him fixate on the furniture. The poor guy was probably paying a lot for the portrait and the chest of drawers were getting most of his artistic juices.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Horrid News

It can be very challenging to filter and interpret unpleasant news items on the television, for our children. They are often interested and inquisitive. Last week when the Mildura tragedy was being presented, our 5 year old was curious about it when he saw all the sadness in the funerals. When we explained what had happened, he asked "Was the car sorry?"

Come Hither to Australia All and Sundry Pleeeeeeze!

Despite all the hooha about the advert, I watched it and found it to be non Paul Hogan/Steve Irwinish and quite appealing. I just think that the distance is the biggest hurdle for most of the far away markets. The advert is very visual and I would want to come if I wasn't here already. The "Where the Bloody Hell are You?" comes from a very appealing young lady. I think most people would concentrate on her rather than what she was saying.

Tell me that in a different way

Honest John has so many admirers in the blog community.

No Snow in Adelaide

We never have snow in Adelaide. I wish my kids could have some snow to make a snowman. I used to love rolling big snowballs in the land of wet snow. The closest they get to snow is Snow Dome, where we go ice skating. Only three days later we heard from the relatives that they had had a huge snow dump, keeping them at home for three days. I miss that. At the same time as the snow, it was 35 degrees in Adelaide. My son even asked Granny in Scotland what snow was?

Wrong Feet

My five year old is defying statistical probability with putting the wrong feet into his shoes. It defies logic that he would have it wrong so often. He is happy either way.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Gentle George and Jovial John

It is just so easy when you have the moral high ground. I think more the pot calling the kettle black. Thanks to Leunig in the Age.

Telstra Suks

I am sick of the Ozzie corporate bizniz model. Pick one, maybe two big players and support them. Make them so big that little guys cannot compete and then try to sell them to the public as eminent domain. It is interesting to see US vultures having to work through this culture. The end result is consumers loose out. Thanks to Bruce Petty for the nice illustration.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Fall of the British Empire

With the onset of killer pandemic media scares, the English Authorities are taking steps to preserve the monarchy. The last major flu pandemic of 1918, killed millions. Better make sure that it doesn't knock off a few black ravens. The Tower of London, home to ravens for 900 years, does not want to take a risk and allow the resident Ravens to succumb to the HN41 strain. King Charles II decreed in the 17th century that there must always be six ravens at the Tower. According to those who know, if the birds desert the fortress, its central White Tower will crumble and the Kingdom of England (and all who sail in her) will fall. As a Scot, I have no problem with this and I personally doubt that it will take bird flu to undermine the monarchy. Rather, the current King in Waiting the noted Dissident and his Mare, will do that themselves. Roll on an Australian Republic. when they become the main squeezes.

Intelligent Design is Stupid

According to the Guardian, a growing number of science students are challenging the theory of evolution and arguing that Darwin was wrong. Some are being failed in university exams because they quote sayings from the Bible or Qur'an as scientific fact. In the United States there is growing pressure to teach creationism or "intelligent design" in science classes, despite legal rulings against it.
"There is an insidious and growing problem," said Professor Jones, of University College London. "It's a step back from rationality. They (the creationists) don't have a problem with science, they have a problem with argument. And irrationality is a very infectious disease as we see from the United States."
Our education system should provide access to the knowledge and understanding gained through the scientific method of experiment and observation, such as the theory of evolution through natural selection, and should withstand attempts to withhold or misrepresent this knowledge in order to promote particular beliefs, religious or otherwise.

I just think that religion cloaked as science needs to be exposed for what it is, bunk. Good luck to the scientist's who have to do the job.

There she blows

My son, who as usual, had gone shopping with me and waited until we were back in the car before announcing that he needed to go to the toilet. He stood to demonstrate that he could wait a little longer, but that he was full up to here as he held his finger a centimetre from the top of his penis. Great intuitive understanding of human physiology.

Not feeling too good

My daughter was sick and home from school today, recovering from decorating the sheets last night. Lucky daddy got home half an hour after the action. She was talking to her mum, who was at work later in the day about how she was feeling. "I was psychotic today". Yes we all have our bad days (even 7 year olds).

You are how old????

We got on to this when my daughter asked how old she was. We were able to calculate to the second how old we all were. She is approximately 229,738,196 seconds old and I am approximately 1,462,493,119 seconds old. We also worked out what day we were born.


Monday's child is fair of face,

Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go.
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child born on the Sabbath Day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay.

I was born on Monday, my partner on Tuesday, my son on Friday and my daughter on Sunday. Yes we sort of knew that anyway, however there is something reassuring in having a computer program confirm it. It must be true.The descriptions are pretty accurate, especially mine.

We want real food

We've all experienced tasteless organic produce before: bananas that hardly registered on the taste buds; apples with all the sweetness and flavour of household soap, tomatoes that tasted like cardboard....Many industrialised countries, including the UK, once had fertile soil which has been systematically stripped of its crucial minerals by industrial farming, leaving our fruit and vegetables tasteless and a nation in chronic ill health, says Graham Harvey (www.wewantrealfood.co.uk).

It was 19th-century sugar refiners such as Abram Lyle, of Lyle's Golden Syrup, who made it possible to put a sweet taste in junk foods. Before they started turning out their deadly white crystals, sweetness had long been associated with strength and vitality.

In nature, sweetness is often linked to rich sources of essential trace elements, including zinc, magnesium, copper and boron. Sweet-tasting natural foods such as ripe fruits, berries and honey contain minerals as well as sugars. For early man - the hunter-gatherer - there was an evolutionary advantage in developing a sweet tooth. It was a means of selecting the ripest fruits, which would be at their most nutritious.

But fresh foods no longer taste sweet. Many are deliberately harvested while under-ripe, to lessen damage in transport and to extend shelf-life. In addition, they have been robbed of many of the trace elements they once contained, although this is disputed by some food scientists. A revolution in the way the foods are grown has taken away the very nutrients that once promoted good health. Our staple foods have been "dumbed down". As a result, Britain - like other industrial countries - is suffering a tidal wave of sickness.

Degenerative conditions, such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and asthma, are reaching epidemic proportions. One in three of us will be struck down with cancer at some stage in our lives. Mental illness, everything from depression to dementia, is also rife.

Could food really be responsible for the health catastrophe that has overtaken the western world? It seems scarcely credible. Yet the fact remains that our basic foods have been changed. They are now subtly different from those eaten by human beings through all of history.

Britain is 50 years into a mass experiment in human nutrition. We all eat basic foods that have been stripped of the antioxidants, trace elements and essential fatty acids that once promoted good health. Is it any wonder that our body-maintenance systems are breaking down in middle age or earlier? Sounds familiar? Read on

Happy News from Yanquiland

A Florida man is accused of beating his housemate to death with a sledgehammer and a claw hammer in a row over toilet paper. The 56 year old man told police he and the 58 year old man, were fighting because there was no loo roll in their home. He said he began beating him with the hammers after the other man pulled out a rifle. Detectives said the man was so badly beaten that he had to be identified by his fingerprints. Only in America.

The Three Monkeys

From The Australian. Apparently Everyone in Canberra knew about kickbacks. What a surprise! Honest John this morning was saying on the radio that just because a DFAT cable was circulated to the good and great in Canberra, including his office, did not mean that everybody knew. The semantics get sharper and the noose tightens (hopefully). At the same time the Canadians just got their first wheat contract.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Amr Diab

Currently listening to The Very Best of Amr Diab. You can listen here. If you like Middle Eastern Music, you will like this. Take a look at that tie though. He is an authentic Egyptian legend, according to the sleeve notes. I had never heard of him and just picked out a CD at random from the library. Great lyrics "Are these two moons or your eyes? My heart asks about you.........I swear I melted and drowned in her eyes.....and my eyes mirror my longing..eyes full of love and on and on and on. Just as well it is in Arabic, I might throw up.

Fairly Odd Parents Theme Song Lyrics

This is one of the kids favourite ABC Kids Cartoons en ce moment. I like the theme tune. Up there with George and Martha.

Fairly Odd Parents Theme Song
:Timmy is an average kid, That no one understands. Mom and Dad and Vicky, Always giving him commands.Vicky: Bed, twerp! The doom and gloom up in his room, Is broken instantly. By his magic little fish, They grant his every wish, 'Cause in reality ... They are his OddParents, Fairly OddParents!Wanda: Wands and wings! Cosmo: Floaty crowny things! (Chomp!)OddParents, Fairly OddParents! Really mod, pea pod, Buff bod, hot rod!Timmy: Obtuse, rubber goose, green moose, guava juice, giant snake, birthday cake, large fries, chocolate shake! OddParents, Fairly OddParents! It flips your lid, When you are the kid, With Fairly OddParents!Vicky: Yeah right! (Cosmo and Wanda transform Vicky's head into random matter)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Yuch!! It's got seeds and nuts

My son has a hard time with any kind of "healthy" bread. When he is presented with the offending article, he turns up his nose and advises that it has seeds and/or nuts and returns the plate. Yucky white bread only please.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Piano Lessons

My daughter has just started piano lessons after almost three years of having fun with our electronic keyboard. I remember piano lessons as boring and tedious. I learned to play Mary had a Little Lamb and then stopped. I am so happy that she loves it so much. Even early on, the competitive factors come to play, however, with the kids in her class comparing the teachers grades after lesson two. They just can't help it. He was quite shocked at the competitiveness and plans to use more generic grading. We are very relaxed about it all. It makes me angry that Dr Nelson bribed the States to put in graded report cards in return for Commonwealth funds. Can you imagine reception kids being given an E for reading or writing. Kids are so different and what they do not need is to have their self esteem squished early in their education careers. Plenty of time for that later.

Stress Management

My wife and her team were reviewing corporate stress management protocols in the office. Helpfully, for those in distress, there was a long list of potential stress management strategies. Included in the bulleted strategies was multi killing (instead of multi skilling). I am sure that would be the ultimate stress relief (for about a minute). Imagine if you could dispose of all those annoying colleagues in one fell swoop. When she posed the question to her boss, he came back that she had to make sure that she could still get her teams work done and that she would have to clean up. Not really recommended, but worth pondering. Perhaps this is the corporate alternative to downsizing and layoffs.

Green Porridge

I had no idea that there were so many types of Green Porridge. My Blog Title came from my brother, who fed some extremely hungover and tired Grouse Beaters, Green Porridge first thing in the morning after their last night shindig and a few hours sleep.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Captain Capitalism

Coming from a Superhero Worship Household, we have a new Superhero to explore. Captain Capitalism is saving the world from Intergalactic Communism and propping up the Consumer Economy. Funny cartoons and other related stuff. For people like me with poor money habits, the cartoon about the kid being forced to give up his piggy bank contents to prop up the local newsagent and the big business preserving world order, behind the comics, is a bit too close to the bone. All very tongue in cheek.

Atmospherique Amour Pollution Alert en Amerique

For the Anniversary of the Roman Fertility Festival of Lupercalia, the predecesser of Valentines Day, originally celebrated on 15 February, in honour of the gods Lupercus and Faunus, a warning about pending love pollution. Danger Australia next.

Run Danna Run

Danna Vale's argument is exactly the same one that the Singapore Government (majority Chinese) use. They offer incentives for more children and discourage abortion to address the threat of the significantly larger birth rate of Muslims. The fear tactics are designed to ensure that their majority continues. Woooo Scary Muslims coming Danna. Don't go out at night or the Boogy Monster will get you. Alternative views here.

Spotty and Donkey

Watching Shrek and his relationship with Donkey with the kids, made me realise that I have a very similar relationship with our dog, Spotty. He is alternatively fun, annoying, frustrating, stupid, exasperating, funny, loyal, irritating, non judgemental, patient, free spirited, gooby, athletic..... I particularly noted the part of the film when he slinks, ears down, tail down out of Shrek's house after being tossed out. Spotty does this every night, when asked politely to leave the comfort of inside life for a bleak night in his comfy kennel.

Ta Ta Mr IncrEddiebull

No more Eddie on the box. Hooray!!!! Also a very clever post on the new Channel Nine Logo

Monday, February 13, 2006

Crash Bang Wallop Pop Compute

Apparently ENIAC, the first working electronic digital computer and the dinosaur of the current lightweight superfast models, is 60 years old this week. By today's standards for electronic computers the ENIAC was a grotesque monster. Its thirty separate units, plus power supply and forced-air cooling, were over 30 meters long and weighed over thirty tons. Its 19,000 vacuum tubes, 1,500 relays, and hundreds of thousands of resistors, capacitors, and inductors consumed almost 200 kilowatts of electrical power. All this for a price of less than 500,000 dollars. It has since been chopped up and put on display in various museums as a prehistoric (by digital standards) electronic display. This was no ordinary desktop Booting it up required a large team to set it up and operate it as it calculated trajectories for missiles. All the programmes had to be hard wired every time they changed the programme. It makes my current frustrations with my somewhat slow computer seem very trivial.