Friday, September 29, 2006

The Fountain

Aotea Square

After the graduation

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Aotea Square

Town Hall

Town Hall

Town Hall

Lunch at The Bluestone Room

Nick's cricket trophies from last summer; they ended up in someones car after their final celebration and have just come back!

Nick's graduation

Nick's graduation was on Tuesday. I dropped him off in town early to do the processional walk and then zoomed off home to grab a shower and throw half my wardrobe on the floor. It's hard not to feel underdressed next to someone weraing a $1000 suit and regalia :) He looked fantastic. We went out to lunch and then managed to track his parents down amidst the milling throng filling Aotea Square. The ceremony, like most graduation ceremonies, was long and meant clapping far too much (it gets kind of uncomfortable after an hour). It was so awesome to see him up on stage. Congratulations babe :)

We killed time before dinner seeing John Tucker Must Die - go see it as a Tuesday afternoon comedy filler; it's silly and generic but very funny. Don't pay weekend prices for it though!

His parents took his family [and me] out to dinner at Mikano's. It's a bizarre contrast; it's this hugely expensive restaurant that aimed to be situated down by the waterfront, and it is, sort of, but it's effectively in the cargo docks with the police helicopters and launches down below it as well (which was kind of cool as we got to see the 'copter take off). It's one of the highly reccommended restaurants in the Entertainment Guide but not somewhere we'd have gone by ourselves. The entrees alone were around $20~! It was kind of intimidating looking at the menu... It was a lovely place though, fantastic food and great wine, and I really like his family. It was a good night :)

Zero-g surgery

I'm sure that I was having a discussion about something like this with Anna and Benn on the weekend; good to hear that the doctors are also taking into account the awkwardness of blood leaking out in zero-g...

Doctors remove tumour in first zero-g surgery

15:32 27 September 2006 news service
New Scientist Space and AFP

French doctors carried out the world's first ever operation on a human in zero gravity on Wednesday, using a specially adapted aircraft to simulate conditions in space.
During a 3-hour flight from Bordeaux in southwest France, the team of surgeons and anaesthetists successfully removed a benign tumour from the forearm of a 46-year-old volunteer.
The experiment was part of a programme backed by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop techniques for performing robotic surgery aboard the International Space Station or at a future Moon base.
"We weren't trying to perform technical feats but to carry out a feasibility test," said team leader Dominique Martin after the flight. "Now we know that a human being can be operated on in space without too many difficulties."
The custom-designed Airbus 300 aircraft – dubbed Zero-G – performed a series of parabolic swoops, creating about 20 seconds of weightlessness at the top of each curve. The process was repeated 32 times.
Lunar surgeries
Strapped inside a custom-made operating block, three surgeons and two anaesthetists worked during these brief bursts, using magnets to hold their instruments in place around the patient's stretcher.
The patient, Philippe Sanchot, told reporters the operation was "really no big deal", although he said he was lifted "two or three centimetres" off the operating table each time zero gravity kicked in. "There were no surprises because we had rehearsed this over and over."
Martin said the experiment had confirmed that their equipment was suitable for use on board the International Space Station.
"Operating in space is not going to pose a problem – except perhaps for vascular surgery," he said. "We deliberately chose an operation that could be interrupted and where there was no large-scale bleeding, because it only involved surface tissues."
"If we'd had two hours of zero gravity at a stretch, we could have removed an appendix," Martin said.
A similar experiment was carried out in October 2003 but the operation then was to mend a 0.5-millimetre-wide artery in a rat's tail.
The next phase of the programme is to carry out a remote-controlled operation using a robot whose commands are sent from the ground via satellite. This experiment should take place within a year, Martin said.
Anaesthetist Laurent de Coninck said that zero-gravity surgery offered huge promise for space exploration, although at first it would be limited to treating simple injuries.
World space agencies hope that by 2020 a permanently inhabited base can be established on the Moon to conduct research, exploit lunar resources and learn to live off the lunar land. Such a base would also test technologies for voyages to Mars.

Say it ain't so Jackson!!

The rumours that Peter Jackson's next film was going to be on Halo have been floating around since King Kong finished production. We'd hoped that it was just a cruel rumour, that he wouldn't really sell out his creative genius to create something on a level with DOOM (which was funny but most definitely laughable b-grade) but it seems that the evil rumours were true...

Director Jackson signs Xbox deal
By Darren Waters Technology editor, BBC News website, Barcelona

King Kong director Peter Jackson has agreed a deal with Microsoft to create what he describes as a "new form of interactive entertainment".
The Oscar-winning film-maker said he would be creating a series based on the Halo video game franchise.
"Technology is at a point where we can blend a lot of film storytelling with interactive entertainment," he said.
The series will appear on the Xbox 360 games console and Xbox Live, the machine's online service.
Mr Jackson, who is also producing a movie based on Halo, said the series would not be for hard core gamers.
The surprise announcement was made at the X06 event in Barcelona, at which Microsoft unveiled its line-up of games for the coming 12 months.
Xbox boss Peter Moore also unveiled a HD-DVD, high definition player, for the console, which will be released in Europe in mid November, costing 199 euros (£129).
"We are right on the threshold of a new way of telling stories," said Mr Jackson.
But he admitted his team was at the start of the process and still had to "work out how to do it".
Mr Jackson, who also directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy, will set up an interactive arm of his firm, Wingnut, and will work with Halo creators Bungie Studios to develop the series.
Microsoft also unveiled a further Halo spin-off, called Halo Wars, a real time strategy game based on the popular franchise to be made by Ensemble Studios.

Soccer and more car thefts

Red team one the top division last round and the prize money took all of the teams out for dinner with more pub food then we actually managed to get through! We moseyed on down to the Y and watched the first team play before heading down to the court for ours. We won again and won our division [C grade]!!! It's fantastic how much the team has improved and we're all in again for the next round. One of the teams had their opposition default so we got to play again :) I even got to play goalkeep for the first time since it was just a friendly match. I wasn't as good as the boys but I didn't suck too badly, I managed to stop more than half of them :P

But then we went outside and discovered that eight of the cars had been smashed into and searched. All sorts of stuff had been taken, thankfully we'd returned Nick's dad's golfclubs to him earlier that afternoon; his grandma's ring, which he'd just discovered in the car a few hours earlier, got taken though, rat bastards. The main police station is just down the rad and we ended up there with another couple to lay a report. I doubt they'll do much though, just add it to the statistics. Which means that the car window has to be replaced, expensive, and now we're faced with the problem of where to park...

Catching up....

This weekend definitely did not go according to plan... Well, now it's Thursday and I haven't been able to post since our internet connection has been dodgy at best, so I suppose that I should specify that last weekend did not go according to my best intentions. I have about 9,000+ words due in the next two weeks for my final Stage III papers. I've done the research and brainstorming on two of them and loosely decided which essay question I plan to write on for the third. I'd spent the Friday doing ten hours or so of research on the Sankgreal and had kept the weekend nice and free so that I could at least get a crappy first draft written and see some words on paper. Then I get a text from my ex saying that he's just flown into the country for the weekend and can we catch up; I hadn't seen him in a year so of course I said yes. At the same time that I'm texting a reply to him, another text comes through from one of my really good mates asking if I could pick him up from the airport Saturday night and a few minutes later one of my girlfriends is asking if I want to join her and her partner for dinner and a movie saturday night! So Saturday ended up being the presentation (yay Fiji) followed by lunch with Biscuit. It was really nice to catch up; I've missed him a lot lately - hanging out and clowning round and spending the afternoon gaming. I still have to manage to kick his ass on Soul Calibre :P So it was good, and slightly weird and I said I'd see him later that night at his bro's 21st.

Since I only had a few hours to kill, I ended up hanging out with Anna talking shite for the rest of the afternoon. And watching Harold and Kumar go to Whitecastle, damn that was funny. > Airport, dinner, shadowrun planning<
The 21st was funny, there were some truly fantastic photos of Krak as a kid and the macho tetosterone beer tent with his mates chanting at him while he did his yard glass was truly a sight to behold him. Especially since they were then trying to see how many times they could get him to throw up before they brought out the cake. His poor girlfriend was standing by looking dressed up, pretty and slightly shocked as she held his shirt and then tried to find a towel. I could sympathise.

So not a bad day really except... I'd wandered in there with a bag on my back and a big coat on my arm and ended up deciding it would be more comfortable to put them back in the car. Lighted carpark, security guard only a few meters from my car, and I've got a covered boot. There was noone else around when I went out, so I opened the boot and put my bag in there with the coat over it; I also made sure the guard saw me doing so as I wanted to make sure he kept an eye on it.
Twenty minutes later or so we discover that my bag was gone. They'd forced the left lock slightly, ignored the car and hadn't searched it or anything, gone straight to the boot, taken the bag and left everything else that was in there. Oh, and the security guard was nowhere in sight. He claimed that he'd gone to buy some ciggies but one of the guests mentioned he'd had a full pack not long ago as he'd been offered one. Apparently there were some guys drinking out in the park, but that was a long way from the cars and the only person I'd been able to spot when I went to my car was the guard.
I was absolutely distraught. We searched the park, the bins, the river bank (and Nick went back the next morning) but we couldn't find it. It doesn't make sense that they wouldn't just grab the wallet and dump the rest - or dump all of it since there was only about $10 in coins in there.
Sunday ended up being a complete write off - in terms of my essay. I was way upset and it's been hugely time comsuming trying to replace everything. I spent Sunday, all of my time between classes Monday, and Wednesday afternoon having to drive/run etc... all over the place to order cards, pick up cards, buy a new handbag, a wallet, all of my makeup. All up, it's cost about $250 to replace everything, it's going to be another 1-2 weeks before most of the cards arrive and some of my membership cards I just couldn't afford to replace. I'm so pissed off and broke. Which sucks. I was lucky actually that I had enough immediate moolah to cover the losses but the reason for that was that my only pair of sneakers and only pair of jeans are falling apart and need to be replaced in the next few weeks, and I can't work for the next three to five weeks as uni wraps up :(

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Accor Holiday Club

You know how you're walking through the mall and there's the competition (that always seems to be there) where you could win a car/cruise etc.... Well, we were walked past it a few months ago and I decided to enter us. We haven't won a car (so far) but we got a letter inviting us to come in to a presentation. We finally had time on Saturday and got up painfully early to get ready and drive out to Greenlane.
The presentation was well tailored, if a bit obvious in its ploys, and essentially boiled down to this. We were offered the chance to buy into the parent company of a number of hotel chains plus their reciprocal arrangement with hotel chains outside of the Pacific. For a lump sum (and a yearly maintenance fee) you received membership points each year (increasing as the fee does) and can cash these in for hotel stays. The points rollover each year and membership is indefinite. If you die then you can pass it on in your will, as can your kids etc...
Now, by the time its passed through the hands of a few generations then the yearly sum seems quite reasonable and the lump sum is forgotten - the lump sum by the way was about $26,000 for two to four weeks accommodation. You also had the option of booking the rooms and then selling them to someone else.
They had some really nice places but by the time everything was factored in, like the interest on the weekly fee if you used their payment plan, it ended up costing $40,000 over the first ten years. Then you have to factor in a mortgage to pay at some point in those ten years and kids. Then with kids you can't get a studio anymore, you have to get 2 bedroom and go in school holidays - which means that you pay the premier rate and use far more points.
We thanked them kindly for their time and turned them down (as we'd expected to) and walked out with our free hotel voucher (the incentive for showing up) so now we get 4 nights free accom. in a four or five star hotel in Fiji next year :)

Iraq & Bush

Bush to declassify report
Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:34pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Bemoaning an election-year leak, President George W. Bush on Tuesday said he would declassify a secret terrorism document that included a judgment the Iraq war had spread Islamic extremism.
At a news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Bush said political opponents had disclosed only select parts of the National Intelligence Estimate, a U.S. global report on terrorism, and he decided to make the document public so "you read it for yourself."
"Somebody has taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes," Bush said.
The report, disclosed over the weekend, said the analysis by the 16 U.S. spy agencies completed in April concluded the Iraq war had spread Islamic radicalism and made the overall terrorism problem worse.
Democrats seized on it to criticize the Republican administration over the increasingly unpopular war, a key issue just weeks before the November 7 elections when control of both houses of the U.S. Congress is at stake.
Bush is intent on portraying his party as stronger on national security than Democrats and better able to protect Americans.
A public version of the intelligence document could be made available this week, officials said.

Top Gear

BBC to postpone next Top Gear series
25 September 2006

LONDON: The BBC is to indefinitely postpone the new series of Top Gear until presenter Richard Hammond has recovered from the brain injuries he suffered in a high-speed crash.

The next series had been due to begin on October 8.

"We would not think of finalising plans for the next series without discussing it with everyone involved," the BBC said in a statement. "When it is suitable, the team will do this and we will announce a new transmission date."

Hammond, 36, was moved from a high dependency ward to a side-room on a general ward at Leeds General Infirmary at the weekend.

"He is continuing to do well," a hospital spokesman told Reuters on Sunday.

Hammond was seriously injured last week when he crashed a jet-powered dragster as he accelerated towards 482.kmh in a feature being filmed for the BBC show.

With the accident being jointly investigated by police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Top Gear Producer Andy Wilman threatened to quit if the BBC made any attempt to tone down the programme's emphasis on speed and extreme stunts.

Hammond's co-host Jeremy Clarkson also rejected criticism of Top Gear's format.

"Next week I intend to be down on the track driving faster than ever," Clarkson told The Observer. "It's what we do."

Meanwhile, Hammond well-wishers have donated over £134,000 ($NZ390,785) to a charity for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, which air-lifted the Top Gear presenter to hospital after the crash.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Accor Holiday Club

You know how you're walking through the mall and there's the competition (that always seems to be there) where you could win a car/cruise etc.... Well, we were walked past it a few months ago and I decided to enter us. We haven't won a car (so far) but we got a lettstDay=26

Friday, September 22, 2006

Top Gear's Richard (the young one) in critical conditon

Top Gear
The 36-year-old was taken by air ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary's neurological unit on Wednesday.
A hospital spokesman said: "He has seen some improvement overnight, but remains in a serious but stable condition."
Mr Hammond had been in a dragster-style car capable of reaching speeds of about 300mph at Elvington airfield near York.
The hospital said his wife was at his bedside and, at the request of his family, no more information would be released.
The crash will be investigated by the Health and Safety Executive and the BBC.
The BBC said in a statement: "We are looking into all the factors of this accident and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage until we know the full situation."

The dragster car he was driving was believed to have been travelling at about 300mph when it crashed.
Motoring expert Adam Rayner, of Fast Car magazine, said that at those speeds the driver would experience forces similar to those endured by fighter pilots.
"These cars accelerate at 6G - the force is breathtaking and stopping is a real difficulty," he said.
Former firefighter Dave Ogden, who runs private firm Event Fire Services, was one of the first people at the scene of the crash.
He said: "We were down there with Top Gear who were filming him trying to break the British land speed record.
"On the previous run, the car had just gone over 300mph but I am not sure if it had broken the record.
"They had just done one more run and were planning to finish when it veered off to the right.
"One of the parachutes had deployed but it went on to the grass and spun over and over before coming to a rest about 100 yards from us."
He said his crew and an ambulance that was already on the airfield rushed over and found the car upside down and "dug in" to the grass.
Mr Ogden said he felt for a pulse and heard Mr Hammond breathing before the emergency crews worked together to turn the car the right way up and then cut him free.
He added: "He was regaining consciousness at that point and said he had some lower back pain. But he was drifting in and out of consciousness a little bit."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Which Monty Python's Quest For the Holy Grail character are you?

Quizilla: You are a famous historian. While making a documentary about King Arthur and the quest for the Holy Grail, you were unexpectedly slain by a random knight [better not have been a French one! Bloody English...].

[Nick is: You are the French knights. A crazy bunch with outrageous accents, you enjoy hurling strange insults at others and throwing various items at whoever may be outside the castle.]

>> I'm researching my essay on the consideration of violence in The Quest for the Holy Grail, c. 1225, and there are surprisingly few journal articles on the text in the databases that I've searched through AU access. The few general texts on the articles have been interesting to read but, as is ever the problem when researching something intensely specific, none of them particularly pertain to what I'm researching. Thankfully, one of the benefits of English over History is that they are far usually far more concerned with our interpretation than our balanced discussion of the wider academic arguments and where we fit on the current spectrum of opinions. I have a general idea of what I want to write, after all the basic premise is simple - violence is bad m'kay, unless perhaps when slaughtering heathens and infidels. The relevance of the text in relation to the Crusades and the violence at home is obvious, as is the monkish focus on honouring God rather than self. I like the fact that the author addresses the obvious contradiction at work when Galahad, who until then had shown mercy whenever possible, spends time in terrible pain angsting about the fact that he's actually killed the bad guys instead of giving them a chance to repent. Luckily (!) there just happens to be a monk handy who comes along and explains that murderous, rapist Christian men should be spared as after all they deserve another chance at achieving the grace of God, however, the same deeds if committed by infidels means that they're evil and deserve to be beheaded. It's fantastic how there's always a wise, comforting monk available whenever you need one in this Cistercian world =)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights;
Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty's best,
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I see their antique pen would have expressed
Even such a beauty as you master now.
So all their praises are but prophecies
Of this our time, all you prefiguring,
And, for they looked but with divining eyes,
They had not skill enough your worth to sing:
For we, which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.

- Shakespeare's Sonnets (106)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In other news...

I got asked for I.D. again today when I went to buy a bottle of wine with my groceries. It feels weird being old enough now that I should consider it a compliment... Actually, it was hilarious the last time I bought wine from the bottleshop in town. The woman's jaw actually dropped when she glanced at my driver's license and she apologized in embarrassment saying that she had thought I was maybe as old as 19!

Nick's turned another year older, reaching a mighty 26; it was kind of hard for his family to tease him since his older sister was there and it kept getting deflected onto her instead :P

I still feel decrepit from the flu, achey and exhausted but my chest is feeling a lot better. I'm not coughing so much and it no longer quite feels like there's a clenched fist in the centre of my chest making it hard to breathe. I'll be heartily glad when it's gone. Dad's still sick at the moment and one of my lecturer's is coming down with something too...

We won our soccer game again on Sunday :) It's fantastic, we were bottom of the tables in the last round and now we're at the top! We've won the last two games and the team's definitely much tighter =)

Where less is more...

When I was a first year student, the larger word limits seemed harder than a smaller ones. Now I embrace them and having to write 1000 word essays is a royal pain in the ass. My Nazi History paper is internally assessed and our final essay is essentially worth 70%. 20% of that was due Monday morning - an annotated bibliography justifying each of our sources, some other stuff, and a 500 word essay that summarized what our 3000 word essay was going to be about. Easy I thought, so after two weeks of researching almost every day, and being ill to boot, I took the day off and luxuriated in having my room all to myself. I stretched out on my bed and lost myself in the book that I was reading. After all, how hard could it be.... Having to justify each of my sources, in only two - three sentences (and different sentences for each source,mind) ended up taking me hours. Trying to write 500 words in a faculty that hates generalizations and requires evidence for any statements given turned out to be incredibly difficult. I kept topping 400 words and realizing that I still hadn't covered the second part of my essay. In the end I finished at 5am.... The next day was painful.

Skinny Models banned at fashion show

Skinny models wearing thin in fashion shocker
Tue Sep 12, 2006 11:44am ET

By Andrew Hay
MADRID (Reuters) - The world's first ban on overly thin models at a top-level fashion show in Madrid has caused outrage among modeling agencies and raised the prospect of restrictions at other venues.
Madrid's fashion week has turned away underweight models after protests that girls and young women were trying to copy their rail-thin looks and developing eating disorders.
Organizers say they want to project an image of beauty and health, rather than a waif-like, or heroin chic look.
But Cathy Gould, of New York's Elite modeling agency, said the fashion industry was being used as a scapegoat for illnesses like anorexia and bulimia.
"I think its outrageous, I understand they want to set this tone of healthy beautiful women, but what about discrimination against the model and what about the freedom of the designer," said Gould, Elite's North America director, adding that the move could harm careers of naturally "gazelle-like" models.
Madrid's regional government, which sponsors the show and imposed restrictions, said it did not blame designers and models for anorexia. It said the fashion industry had a responsibility to portray healthy body images.
"Fashion is a mirror and many teenagers imitate what they see on the catwalk," said regional official Concha Guerra.
The mayor of Milan, Italy, Letizia Moratti, told an Italian newspaper this week she would seek a similar ban for her city's show unless it could find a solution to "sick" looking models.
The Madrid show is using the body mass index or BMI -- based on weight and height -- to measure models. It has turned away 30 percent of women who took part in the previous event. Medics will be on hand at the September 18-22 show to check models. "

Good on them, to say that eating disorders aren't at least partially inspired by fashion and images in the media is bollocks. I accept that there are a number of women who are naturally very skinny but most don't have the kind of heroin chic looks favoured on a number of runways.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.
- William James

Friday, September 08, 2006

What we'll do for oil....

Louisiana man drilling for oil in his 'front yard'
Thu Sep 7, 2006 8:29am ET
By Bruce Nichols

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Oil prices are so high, that oilman Steve Jordan is drilling a well next to his home near Lake Charles, Louisiana, he said on Wednesday.
Jordan, 52, said the well will stretch 8,500 feet (2,591 metres) under his house and swimming pool and below the adjacent Calcasieu River.
He hopes to strike oil in about 10 days on a prospect that wouldn't have been worth drilling when prices were lower, he said.
"I'm not trying to prove anything," Jordan said in a telephone interview. "I'm trying to make money."
The Independent Petroleum Association of America, which Jordan belongs to, is publicizing the project.
Jordan argued Americans should permit more U.S. oil drilling to achieve energy independence. They fight it "and then try to blame U.S. oil companies for the price of energy being so high," he said.
Oil closed at $67.50 a barrel on the futures market Wednesday.
Jordan acknowledged his homestead isn't like most. The 8,000-square-foot house sits on a 63-acre (25.50-hectare) lot that accommodates a trucking operation and an oil barge terminal on the river.
The drilling rig, 200 yards (meters) from his front door, will drill for what Jordan hopes will be 200,000 to 300,000 barrels of Light Louisiana Sweet and maybe some natural gas.
It will cost about $2 million to drill the well, but he hopes to earn profits several times that.
It's not a sure thing, he said, recalling a $900,000 "dry hole" he drilled not far away. It yielded only 130 barrels before petering out. Still, it's worth a try, he said.
"It's good for everyone to try to recoup these small -- I'm not going to say marginal -- reserves," he said.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pride and Prejudice

I love Pride and Prejudice, it is my favourite of Jane Austen's work and the BBC mini-series with Colin Firth captured it beautifully. I stumbled upon this today - Pride & Prejudice done Harry Potter style and laughed my way through it =)

Steve Irwin dies - Crikey!

I was never particularly fond of Steve as a celebrity. He just plain rubbed me the wrong way and I found him intensely irritating. However, I was still shocked, if not sursprised, to read yesterday that he had finally carked it and, sure enough, it was in the line of duty (so to speak).

"Crocodile Hunter" Irwin dies
Mon Sep 4, 2006 7:17am ET
By Paul Tait

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Steve Irwin, the quirky Australian naturalist who won worldwide acclaim as TV's khaki-clad "Crocodile Hunter", was killed by a stingray barb through the heart while filming a new documentary on Monday.
Irwin, 44, tangled with some of the world's most dangerous animals but he died in an extremely rare attack by a normally placid sea creature while he was diving on a reef off Port Douglas in northern Queensland.
"He came over the top of a stingray and the stingray's barb went up and went into his chest and put a hole into his heart," Irwin's shocked manager John Stainton told reporters in Cairns, south of Port Douglas.
A helicopter rushed paramedics to nearby Low Isles where Irwin was taken for treatment, but he was dead before they arrived, emergency officials said.
"It became clear fairly soon that he had non-survivable injuries," Dr. Ed O'Loughlin, who treated Irwin, told Nine Network television.
"He had a penetrating injury to the left front of his chest. He had lost his pulse and wasn't breathing," he said.
Irwin's death was likely only the third recorded fatal stingray attack in Australia, experts said. They said stingray venom was agonizingly painful but not lethal, although the barb was capable of causing horrific injuries like a knife or bayonet.
"It's not the going in, it's the coming out," Australian Venom Research Unit deputy director Dr Bryan Fry told Reuters.
"They have these deep serrations which tear and render the flesh as it comes out," he said.

Known around the world for his catchphrase "Crikey" during close encounters with wild animals, Irwin made almost 50 documentaries which appeared on the cable TV channel Animal Planet. He became a virtual global industry generating books, interactive games and even toy action figures...
He grew up near crocodiles, trapping and removing them from populated areas and releasing them in his parent's park. He took over the park in 1991 and renamed it the "Australia Zoo".
Irwin became famous for his seemingly death-defying skill with wild animals, including crocodiles and snakes.
He met his U.S.-born wife Terri at the zoo and the footage of their honeymoon -- which they spent trapping crocodiles -- formed the basis of his first "Crocodile Hunter" documentary.
Later shows had a worldwide audience of 200 million, or 10 times the population of Australia.
They had two children, Bindi Sue and Robert Clarence.
Irwin triggered outrage in 2004 by holding his then one-month-old son while feeding a snapping crocodile at his zoo.
He was also criticized for allegedly disturbing whales, seals and penguins while filming in Antarctica.
Irwin boasted that he had never been bitten by a venomous snake or seriously bitten by a crocodile, although admitted his worst injuries had been inflicted by parrots.
"I don't know what it is with parrots but they always bite me," Irwin once said. "A cockatoo once tried to rip the end of my nose off. I don't know what they've got against me."


The problem with articles on climate change is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find unbiased research these days. Of course everything is biased in some way, it's almost inevitable that scientist will have something in mind that they are hoping to prove or disprove and that their own thoughts/perceptions/expectations will in some way effect the way that they steer their research and the way that they interpret the results. However, what is also increasingly common is that research is no longer funded by universities or governments simply because it's the thing to do (certainly it is in CivIII if you want to 'keep up with the Joneses' so to speak) but has become increasingly commercialized and increasingly funded by large corporations. It wouldn't be so bad if Harry's Healthy Teddy Bear Corp. was funding research on global warming, so long as they weren't a shell company being used as a front by someone else and were indeed doing it out of the goodness of their heart. However, when one of the giant oil companies is doing it and the research comes out saying that everything is fine one starts to wonder.... The same way that a lot of GE research has seemed to be funded by one side or the other by 'interested' parties. It's interesting to keep track of new developments in the global warming debate but ever so hard to keep track of funding sources and just what biases may or may not have influenced their work.
On the other hand, good to hear that California is forgng ahead and introducing laws to restrict emissions despite America's national lack of interest in the Kyoto agreement.

Climate Change

Deep ice tells long climate story
By Jonathan Amos Science reporter, BBC News, Norwich

Carbon dioxide levels are substantially higher now than at anytime in the last 800,000 years, the latest study of ice drilled out of Antarctica confirms.
The in-depth analysis of air bubbles trapped in a 3.2km-long core of frozen snow shows current greenhouse gas concentrations are unprecedented.
The East Antarctic core is the longest, deepest ice column yet extracted.
Project scientists say its contents indicate humans could be bringing about dangerous climate changes.
"My point would be that there's nothing in the ice core that gives us any cause for comfort," said Dr Eric Wolff from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
"There's nothing that suggests that the Earth will take care of the increase in carbon dioxide. The ice core suggests that the increase in carbon dioxide will definitely give us a climate change that will be dangerous," he told BBC News.
The Antarctic researcher was speaking here at the British Association's (BA) Science Festival.

Slice of history
The ice core comes from a region of the White Continent known as Dome Concordia (Dome C). It has been drilled out by the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (Epica), a 10-country consortium.
The column's value to science is the tiny pockets of ancient air that were locked into its millennia of accumulating snowflakes.
Each slice of this now compacted snow records a moment in Earth history, giving researchers a direct measure of past environmental conditions.
Not only can scientists see past concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane - the two principal human-produced gases now blamed for global warming - in the slices, they can also gauge past temperatures from the samples, too.
This is done by analysing the presence of different types, or isotopes, of hydrogen atom that are found preferentially in precipitating water (snow) when temperatures are relatively warm.

'Scary' rate
Initial results from the Epica core were published in 2004 and 2005, detailing the events back to 440,000 years and 650,000 years respectively. Scientists have now gone the full way through the column, back another 150,000 years.
The picture is the same: carbon dioxide and temperature rise and fall in step.
"Ice cores reveal the Earth's natural climate rhythm over the last 800,000 years. When carbon dioxide changed there was always an accompanying climate change. Over the last 200 years human activity has increased carbon dioxide to well outside the natural range," explained Dr Wolff.
The "scary thing", he added, was the rate of change now occurring in CO2 concentrations. In the core, the fastest increase seen was of the order of 30 parts per million (ppm) by volume over a period of roughly 1,000 years.
"The last 30 ppm of increase has occurred in just 17 years. We really are in the situation where we don't have an analogue in our records," he said.

Natural buffer
The plan now is to try to extend the ice-core record even further back in time. Scientists think another location, near to a place known as Dome A (Dome Argus), could allow them to sample atmospheric gases up to a million and a half years ago.
Some of the increases in carbon dioxide will be alleviated by natural "sinks" on the land and in the oceans, such as the countless planktonic organisms that effectively pull carbon out of the atmosphere as they build skeletons and shell coverings.
But Dr Corinne Le Quéré, of the University of East Anglia and BAS, warned the festival that these sinks may become less efficient over time.
We could not rely on them to keep on buffering our emissions, she said.
"For example, we don't know what the effect will be of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems. There is potential for deterioration," she explained.
More CO2 absorbed by the oceans will raise their pH, and a number of recent studies have concluded that this increase in acidity will eventually disrupt the ability of marine micro-organisms to use the calcium carbonate in the water to produce their hard parts.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Nick objected to me taking his picture and decided to go for his Dark Sith impression instead...

The 5 minutes I crawled out of bed to go outside...

Benn & Anna

Blood Monkey Combat! [remind me what you guy's named your movie?]



Anna =)

Scott's Point

Scott's Point

Bailey's Cottage

Anna kindly organised a weekend away up at Bailey's Cottage at Scott Point (near Snells Beach). It was really nice and the ranger and cleaner were both really friendly. Check out time is at 10.30 if anyone else is coming that day so it's worth checking in advance as it's much nicer to laze around until mid-afternoon (which we were fortunate enough to be able to do). It was far better equipped than I thought it would be, based on their website and the girl on the other end of the phone, as it turned out to have a big heater, blankets, cleaning products etc... The only think it didn't have was a frying pan (they had a wok instead) so honey made us potcakes instead of pancakes - they were really yummy though! I'm afraid that I was horribly rude and fell dramatically sick the morning of the day we were supposed to go up there. By the time Nick had taken me to see a doctor (thanks Gen!) and we'd stopped by the supermarket to grab painkillers etc... we got up there pretty late. I spent the first night coughing myself awake, unable to sleep, and ended up sneaking into the lounge to study! The whole weekend was coughing, sneezing, choking - I started blacking out at one point until I finally coughed up the equivalent of a furball that was blocking the passage down to my lungs (I'll spare you the details but while I was far noisier than the cat ever was, I definitely had the same pathetic look as him). I hate being sick. I hate being in so much pain that it makes me cry. And I definitely hate all the icky hacking, sneezy etc... noises that come with being sick that end up being inflicted on everyone else. My apologies guys! It was nice being able to lie there in misery and see the sea out the window though :)
Yay! Time for more antibiotics and painkillers. I'm going to crawl back into bed for a liedown and then hopefully post up some pictures from the trip in a little while.
I got lots of silly ones of Nick posing for me, and plenty of shots of blankets or the table as he'd pose and then duck because the camera has a few seconds delay before it actually goes off. Since I kind of need him to take care of me I may have the sense not to publish those =)

Dinner for Two and a bottle of Wine for 5 cents

It's one of those titles that sounds too good to be true and that's certainly what I thought when I saw the title in this month's Ponsonby News. Chapel Bistro & Bar in Ponsonby are offering the following: an entree platter, any two main meals off their menu, and a bottle of wine in exchange for a single 2004 five cent coin per pair of diners. The offer is available until November 1st. From their point of view its good publicity - I'd never hear of them before - and they may make some of the money back if the collector's phase holds for the coins. Certainly the initial rush of hugely inflated sales seems to have gone and while some are still asking for as much as $2000 for the soon to be retired coins, they don't seem to have struggled any higher than $70 recently on TradeMe. Chapel is on the pricey side and the meal is easily worth $100; so even if you've already handed all your change over to the bank for new coins, it's still worth possibly buying one of the old coins (for a stupid amount of money considering they used to sit around in pockets, ash trays and old tins) and spending the rest of the money you've save on cocktails.
O! learn to read what silent love hath writ:
To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.

Shakespeare's Sonnet XXIII 13-14