Mao was hit by a car this morning and died soon-after. It doesn’t feel real; My heart is waiting for her to come home. She was a difficult cat, but it seemed like she was finally happy. We will miss her deeply.
Month: May 2010
Perth Street Art Registry
This map is to record the locations, information and images of major street/urban/graffiti art around metro Perth.
The map acts as a guide for anyone who wants to get out and explore this fantastic public art around the city.
Much of this art has been created voluntarily by youth local to each area, who donate their time, effort and talent to improve their community.
If you would like to add something to the map please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo, address, year painted and description.
Map & sample:
View Perth Street Art Registry in a larger map
Map created by The Butcher Shop. Featured work (above) by Kid Zoom.
Half of 25% of me
I had a weird waking dream this morning.
Heidi was getting up to go to the markets. She asked if I wanted to go. I said that I was really tired; I just wanted to sleep. She said “That’s fine. You sleep. I just need to take half of 25% of you”.
I didn’t understand what that meant…
Heidi pulled my left arm out from under the covers and started massaging my forearm, slowly moving from the elbow down to my hand. One of the wrinkles in my palm opened up and Heidi pushed a small version of me out from it, causing me to shrink by 25%.
Heidi then looked at the smaller version of me; it looked up at her. Then she quickly and purposefully “karate-chopped” it into two even smaller versions of me. She picked them up and put then into the pockets of her dressing gown. They stood looking up at her with their arms hanging out.
“All right” she said, “I’m off.”
I woke up thinking: “You said you wanted half of 25%. Shouldn’t I keep one here?”
I singed my hair while cooking Beef Bourguignon. A fireball of burning alcohol gas took off a fair amount of hair from my hands and from my fringe. Despite the obvious downsides, it was pretty cool. (Hopefully I don’t have to cut my hair.)
Pro-tip: When cooking meat in red wine, be sure to burn-off the alcohol before putting a sealed lid on the pot.
When I was working at The University of Sydney, we used the term “Funny Money” to refer to the funds and entitlements negotiated between various departments and research groups. The rest of this post is speculation about what that term means. (It doesn’t reflect actual operations at the university.)
I gathered that although the university was one entity (with an overall budget and financial administration), the various departments had their own fixed allocations and had to “pay” each other for services. On top of that, various research groups were semi-commercialised, and sought to charge university departments (for services) much like they would invoice commercial entities. It almost sounds logical in theory (all are equal under a standard capitalist model), but it sometimes felt fairly incongruous with what appeared to occur in practise.
I have the impression that a big problem at most universities has to do with the utilisation and availability of resources. Expensive scientific, medical, and computer equipment needs to be maximally used in order to offset (and justify) the initial outlay and operating costs. Moreover, all that equipment is there for a reason, and underutilisation may often mean that something simply isn’t getting done. Maybe research is being stifled due to lack of access, or computations are taking longer than they ought (because desktop computers are being used rather than supercomputers).
Anyhow, bringing us back to Funny Money. Services departments may find that they can charge a certain (high) rate to commercial entities or departments with bigger budgets, but those rates may put their services out of reach of other departments or smaller research groups. A university may introduce service obligations in order to ensure that resources are available (and maybe pay a basic stipend to service departments to cover these costs). That can take time and foreword planning and may not align well with requirements. So interim (or alternative) measures may be for departments to just get on with it and engage in informal (or formal) agreements and trade.
Items traded may include a wide range of non-financial things: use of rooms and facilities; IT services; teaching support; research students; curriculum adjustment; staff transfers; etc. A whole wealth of things. A whole alternative economy of goods and services. All feeding back into and distorting the capitalist model that a university might strive to impose upon its departments and research groups. So what does “real” money mean to a university staff member or student? Funding is mostly controlled by central administration, but real value may be predominantly determined by demand, resources, and (unregulated) agreements between various groups (with vested interests).
I’m sure that the same sort of thing goes on in the public service and large corporations, but it wasn’t until recently that I began to really appreciate its prevalence in wider society. Who can really explain the ins and outs of the current global economic mess in terms of sound theoretical models? I feel that the only conclusion is this: All money is Funny Money.
Happy (belated) Birthday, Maru!
3 years old yesterday. Still the most awesome cat on the Internet.
First go at Sculptris (digital sculpting)
Sculptris is a digital sculpting program that has been getting a lot of attention since this video was posted on the Internet.
After 15-20 minutes messing around, I ended up with this:
(Click image for larger version.)
It’s very snappy and easy to use. I can see myself investing more time into learning it; I want to try out some of the more advanced features.
Conclusion: Try it out!
The sad state of Australian politics
I always thought that the purpose of a democratic political system was to give people choice. Unfortunately, that choice is grossly compromised when the two major parties are, in practise, eerily similar.
Here’s a quick check-list of party characteristics:
- No plans for any significant action in response to climate change
- Supports centralised Internet filtering with a secret blacklist
- Unwilling to pursue meaningful tax reform
- Supports mandatory detention and stricter immigration control
- Supports distortion of the real estate market to produce high housing prices
- Against the introduction of an R18+ rating for videogames
- Against equal marriage rights for all Australians
- Against free tertiary education
- Supports private health insurance
- Supports private primary, secondary, and tertiary education
- Supported invasion of Iraq and military action in Afghanistan
- Supported government funding of school chaplains
- Led by a devout Christian man (interesting, but not substantial)
Here are a few questions worth researching and considering:
- Who privatised: Qantas, the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, as well as many state electricity, gas, transport, and healthcare providers?
- Who introduced: HECS, Negative Gearing, the Capital Gains Tax exemption for one’s primary residence, the First Home Owners Grant, the First Home Owners Grant Boost?
I find the situation immensely disappointing. Particularly given that there are apparently substantial philosophical differences between the parties. (Why are these rarely reflected in their actions and legislation?)
Maybe things would be different if the parties each had leaders (and politicians) who were more true to their party’s core values, willing to stand their ground, and capable of implementing corresponding initiatives.
Sock buying recommendations
From a recent email:
YOU MUST BUY SOXNLOX SOCKS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL CHEMIST (although I can’t remember which brand of chemist).
3 pairs for $10. My sister put me onto them. They are the best evar. Make in Korea, so you know that they are good.
Actually, there is a “where to buy” map on their website:
Ahem… yeah… so they’re pretty good and stuff… take ages to dry though since they are so… ur… voluptuous.
Here’s a screengrab of the brand identity section of their website:
So now you know. You’re welcome.
Recent travel write-up
Here are some photos and notes from my most recent travels around Melbourne, Bangkok, and Singapore.
House-sitting in Melbourne was interesting. It felt more like we were living there (rather than visiting) and I got a pretty good feeling for what I liked and disliked. In summary:
- Liked: Food. Chinatown. Footscray. Walkability. Urban art. Visiting family.
- Disliked: Public transport. Police “crackdowns”.
We pretty much trained and walked everywhere. I ate nothing but Sichuan for a few days. Taking the morning train was horrendous! The first day we didn’t get on the first train because it was full (and late). The second day, they stopped and evacuated the train because someone passed out. Despite this, transport is expensive! $3.70 for a 2 hour ticket!?
Apparently J-walking is a major problem. While rushing to make an appointment (due to late trains) we ran across the road while the “red man” was flashing. A cop called us over and issued $58 fines (one each) while noting “Western Australia? I imagine that you have traffic lights over there.” I should have noted that we live in Albany and there are no traffic lights here (only roundabouts)… or not.
I was in Bangkok for my brother’s wedding. I won’t post many pictures from the event (it’s up to him what he wants to post on the Internet), but I will say that it was beautiful despite the amazing heat (44 degrees Celcius!).
We initially stayed at the Grand Tower Inn Sathorn since that’s where everyone else seemed to be staying. It was a charming hotel with a distinctly Thai feel (fairy lights, friendly staff, random gaudy decorations) but there was only one non-smoking room. After the wedding we moved to a Wotif mystery hotel… which was amazing.
Heidi has worked out (by matching descriptions) that the mystery hotel was Maduzi (Thai for “come have look at this”). The suites were huge and each featured (amongst other things):
- An entry way with illy coffee machine
- A full-length bed that was also wider than it was long
- Full-height windows along one wall
- An infinity edge bath that fills with water from the ceiling
- A printer-fax and wireless Internet access for complementary use
So that was pretty special. I’d stay there again… and so should you! Tourism has (obviously) taken a very hard hit with the recent protests in Bangkok, and a lot of small businesses (eg. clothing stores) will need support in order to stay in business when things calm down.
My impressions of Singapore may be slightly skewed because:
- We’d just stayed at one of best boutique hotels ever
- We were both kinda sick, probably having caught a cold during the wedding
- We were looking forwarding to returning home (to fresh home-cooked food and our cats)
Anyhow, here is my summary:
- Liked: I didn’t look too out of place (there were a lot of mixed-race people). Food. Singapore Slings. Red Dot Design Museum. Singlish. Public transport.
- Disliked: Expensive hotels (compared to Thailand). Pushy people in touristy areas (Night Safari). Very commercially oriented. Humidity. Being sick.
I can understand the commercialism in Singapore (no natural resources, so they have to rely on human resources and the financial services industry) but by this point in the trip consumerism was frustrating me. It feels like no matter where you go (in the world), people are preoccupied with eating, drinking, and shopping. I enjoy eating, and I partake in drinking on occasion, but I don’t get shopping for stuff as a pass-time.
I guess that we could’ve done other things if we had planned ahead (eg. taking cooking classes in Thailand in 2009 was a great experience)… and despite my apparent dislike of shopping, I did pick up a few DS games while in Singapore (Picross 3D and WarioWare DIY; Picross is great, but I haven’t tried WarioWare yet).
There were some interesting things in Singapore though. Such as an escalator in a park so that people didn’t have to walk up a hill. There are obviously nice people too; Heidi lost her wallet at the Night Safari, but was later contacted via Facebook by someone who had found it (and was sending it to us forthwith and post-haste).