Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Side garden greenery

When I got home from my holiday, I was shocked at how much the side garden had grown. And it was so green (especially in comparison to the dead, brown countryside). I won't need to buy anywhere near as much fresh stuff, as everything is growing so wondrously!

Currently there are tomato plants flowering, sunflowers budding, celery, cucumber, spring onion, huge variety of herbs, turnips, beets, snowpeas, butter beans, carrots, sweet corn flowering, eggplant, rhubarb, capsicum, jalapeno, lemon tree and strawberries (not flowering yet). The left hand bed is only just sprouting (planted it just before I left), and has more of the same, as well as pumpkin, honeydew melon, zucchini and salad greens. Oh yes, and everywhere there are the requisite weeds (and flowers)!

US GM corn

It looks like the US is 'watering down' it's non-GM corn with the StarLink GM variety. Trace amounts were discovered for the second time in a couple of years in a shipment of corn to Japan. When it was discovered last time, a new testing procedure was put in place and US corn export amounts plummeted. Who knows what will happen this time.

More Tolkien

A new book by JRR Tolkien has been found in a box of papers in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. The manuscript contained a translation and interpretation of Beowulf by JRR Tolkien and will be published sometime next year. It is expected to be a best-seller, if anything, just due to the name of the author.

Monday, December 30, 2002

The Lays of Beleriand

The Lays of Beleriand, history of middle-earth, volume 3 JRR Tolkien

This was actually easy to read, and quite hard to put down. Especially when I had reached the Lay of Luthien, the poetic rhythm just kept me reading. It's also interesting from the point of relating the poem's creation to that of the prose, noting similarities, changes. CS Lewis contributes a very different style in his criticism of the lay, included at the end of the book. Sadly, most if not all are unfinished. I would have loved to read the end of the Lay of Luthien.

The Circle and the Cross

The Circle and the Cross - book one of the Wanderers Caiseal Mor

I had no expectations for this book, though I love celtic lore and wisdom, and had finally got around to buying and reading it. I was very pleasantly suprised. Although even a younger person could read this (sometimes phrases seemed simply worded, though that could be more so after reading Tolkien poesy), the story was engrossing. It was set back at the time of the Roman Church invasion of Eirinn (Ireland), and followed how the druids, warriors, the other christian order and kings dealt with it. From what I could tell, the geography and naming seemed to be historic (if not accurate). It did paint a bleak picture of the future of that island. I need to find the second book now...

Back

Obviously we are back.. a little early, seeing as my health is still not good. I'll post photos and descriptions sometime later, when the photos have been downloaded, and I have time to write some stuff to go with them. It was fun, but the thing that struck me most - the countryside looked dead, no green anywhere. It was quite distressing. Oh yeah, and the kangaroos were back in their cow fatigues, though I spotted them once!

Endometriosis: Natural and Medical Solutions

Endometriosis: Natural and Medical Solutions Kaz Cooke & Ruth Trickey

I was inspired to get this book having read the section on endometriosis in 'Women's Problems' by the same authors. I didn't learn that much that I didn't know, but I have some more pointers for altering my diet (mainly focusing on anti-cramp minerals and deficient vitamins). This is a very good, no-nonsense, no medical-lingo description of the disease and various solutions that you might try (though it stressed under supervision a little too much - you need a very broad minded doctor to agree to help with diet to control endo). I think I'll be passing it on to my family, seeing as they really have no understanding (perhaps they don't want to), of the disease I will be suffering for life and it's effects. They think I'll just get better over time, or after the next operation, or by taking a tonic (yeah right!)

Recommended as an introduction to endometriosis, and searching for alternative and complementary treatment options.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Merry Christmas

We are going away over Christmas, for which we are definitely not prepared for. It snuck up on us too quick, with weather, and my health, and various other problems all whittling away the time. At least CSE1303 summer notes, pracs, tutes are all written, I only have left to teach the stuff, write the mid-semester test and exam, (only, says she).

Bernie gave me a digital camera for Christmas, so I will be able to get photos of my holiday up when I get back, rather than never getting around to scanning hard copies in, on a non-existent scanner. It's a little clunky, but because of it, I will have a hard time getting my fingers in the photos! Now to decide what I will be wearing... always difficult.. Have a good Christmas all, and I'll be posting photos when I get back ;>

Friday, December 20, 2002

Assassins

An old movie, that I had planned to watch in the cinema but as usual, never got around to doing so. I enjoyed it, the music was completely non-memorable, the acting was fairly weak, but it was fun to see Antonio Banderas play a little crazily. Bear in mind I am fairly dosed with pain killers which can warp my judgement (thus re-watching Tomb Raider - I want my bungee ballet setup!).

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Pain...

Despite varying pain levels (getting up to about a 7/10 in the evening) I've been managing to do stuff during the day. Admittedly it's still early in the week, so it's not too bad yet, and it's fairly manageable with Mersyndol Forte. Yesterday I actually was able to do a belly-dance exercise routine, albeit gently, and not suffer too badly from it. Today is a bit worse though, the pain is constant at a higher level, and I have house-cleaning, sewing and washing to do before I go away on Saturday. So far I've avoided using Tramal, sticking to Mersyndol Forte, heat packs (on 30-odd degrees, that isn't pleasant) and staying fairly sedentary. If the pain goes up much more at a constant level, I think I'll have to use it. The Mersyndol was already making me very dizzy last night, when coupled with tiredness.

Enigma

This was one of the movies that I wanted to see in the cinema and never got around to it. Knowing some of the history of Bletchley Park from having read The Codebook by Simon Singh, this movie didn't add much info in that area. It was advertised as being the story of Turing, but the only similarity I could discern, was that the main character, Tom was a mathematician. It was interesting seeing Kate Winslet in a different role to what I was used to. The story was interesting, I didn't like the pop music of that era due to association with bad stuff, and it was fairly well acted all round. I don't think I missed much by not seeing it in the cinema.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Breakthrough Bleeding

It was bound to happen at some stage, but why now!! I'm going away on Saturday, and won't have stopped till about Monday. I haven't bled for about 8-9 months now. The pain is pretty bad (and haven't started properly yet) and I'm very scared that I'll have to resort to the Tramal pain killers which had huge side effects (the worst being insomnia that lasted about 6 months, and incredible dizziness and nausea when I was taking it). I think I'll stick to Mersyndol Forte and Panadeine Forte for the time being, I don't need to be suffering insomnia while teaching second semester. I'm hoping that cutting out dairy and doing regular exercise will actually help the pain levels. *bah* It's not fair...

Tigers, better than police

A tiger has stopped crime in Selishtan Dol, a Bulgarian holiday destination. I'm not sure it would be that much cheaper to keep as the owners report Raja eats fruit, 8 eggs and 3 kilos of meat a day, and lives with cats, dogs, sheep, hens, a pig and a cow.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

New US sensitivity

With the release of the second Lord of the Rings film, the Two Towers, a protest group has claimed the movie is deliberately being titled the Two Towers to capitalise on the Sept 11th tradgedy, New Line Cinema's and Peter Jackson's actions are classed as 'hate speech'. The organisation also claims that the tragedy gave US citizens a greater sensitivity that had been lacking for a long time in that country.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Workshops

I have enrolled in several CeLTS workshops in 2003, and hopefully when I complete honours will be able to do the Higher Education Diploma. I will be missing two related workshops due to teaching commitments, so I hope they re-run them. The workshops are:
  • Practicalities for Beginning Teachers (PBT) (10-11 Feb 2003)
  • Small group teaching and Non-English Speaking Background Students (9-12pm 20 Feb 2003)
  • Developing assessment tasks using inclusive language (9-12pm 21 Feb)
  • Assessing the written work of international students (9-12pm 4 April)

Urban Grooves Lounge Cafe

99 Grimshaw Street, Greensborough, 3088

average price - $11 - 14 for a main meal, $8 - 10 for entre/salad/side, $3 for tea/coffee

an eclectic mix of food

Although they put cheese on my meal when expressly asked for dairy-free, the main chef saw and whisked the dish away, apologised and told the waitresses off (they garnished the pasta). The dish I had was penne calabrese, one of the few that did not have dairy, and was very delicious. It was fairly noisy and an informal atmosphere, which got to me after a while, but the service was good and the food extremely yummy. The menu has a huge variety of mainly italian/greek dishes, one asian dish and a variety of wines, beer and drinks. I am told that their milkshakes are quite good aswell. It was however, a 40 minute drive from where I live.

K-PAX

A very well made movie, with refreshingly different music. You could guess what the ending was going to be, but getting there was still enjoyable to a point. It struck a little too close to home at times to be completely comfortable watching it. It was well acted, though the doctor seemed fairly wooden at times, but even that is consistent with the psychiatrists I have known. Impressively good movie, it's rare that you find a 'human commentary' film that feels as if it could be a real story, a good one to watch.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Fish Parcels

I've decided that cooking in parcels is neat, you just construct them and chuck them in the oven for half an hour and forget about them. Then you just take them out, open them up and eat...

white fish fillet (perch, blue grenadier, ling)

zucchini - sliced thinly lengthways

1 spring onion

1 sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

salt, pepper

2 lemon slices

dash of olive oil

dash of some kind of stock (vegetable or fish works well)

Cut a large square of baking paper, place the zucchini strips on it, then the fish, then the herbs and chopped spring onion. Season with salt and pepper, put lemon slices on top. Drizzle with olive oil and a little stock. Tie into a parcel with kitchen string, bake in a 200C oven for 20-30 minutes, until fish falls apart.

Chicken soup

Everyone has their own chicken soup recipe.. mine varies every time, and this time is based on my wonderful home-grown turnips found today ;>

root vegetables, cubed (turnips, swedes, carrots, parsnips)

potatoes, cubed

zucchini, cubed

onion, diced

cooked chicken, shredded

cooked diced bacon

chicken stock (enough to cook however much is in the saucepan)

fresh herbs

salt & pepper

garlic

Put all together in a very large saucepan and cook slowly for 2 hours. Season with herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic to taste when liquid is warmed. You could also add instead of potato, pasta, or a soup mix of lentils and beans, celery, tomato, capsicum.. really anything you have left around that needs using up. Of course, it tastes much better with fresh home grown veggies ;>

The Scorpion King

The Scorpion King was meant to be in the same vein as the Mummy and the Mummy Returns. It didn't quite live up to the clever wittiness and sometimes funny slapstick. It seemed to draw inspiration more from D&D scenarios and Conan adventures than from it's predecessors. However, it was a funny and entertaining movie. I'm glad I didn't see it in the cinema though. Something unusual happened - there was a red ant crawling up the wall after the movie, and there were red ants in the movie. I had never seen a red ant anywhere in this area before...

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Rice Milk

I've decided that rice milk really isn't my thing. It's white coloured water that is slightly oily (there is an oily film on top of my tea!). In tea, you can't taste it - it tastes like I'm drinking black tea, and this morning, water on cereal (need I say more?). However, it is a nice drink by itself, if you like a slightly sweet watery drink. Overall though - blech... back to soy milk for me.. (goats milk still to try).

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Dead feet

Whatever you do, if both of your arches in your foot are dead, don't go for long without wearing insteps. Especially if you have dud ankles aswell. Just wearing my sneakers at the gym on the treadmill is enough to really hurt my foot. I am still recovering from going right over on my ankle five weeks ago, but now the pain is along the outside of my foot and up my calf. It get worse whenever I don't wear my arches, but unfortunately my sneakers can't fit them! I guess there is still a while to go before this heals.

Majesty - the Kingdom Sim

I have just been playing this game since I got home from work. I managed to get right through the beginner missions (5 of them), then hit the advanced ones - which are a lot tougher. It's a neat game, full of D&D characters and plots, but as an unusual sim, it took a little getting used to. Your aim is to recruit 'heroes' of various forms into your realm to help destroy monsters and solve puzzles. You can't make any of your subjects/heroes do anything directly - you need to offer rewards and increase the desirability of your kingdom by upgrading existing buildings and building new ones, especially gardens and a tournament ground. Some quests are time limited, some have numerous solutions. A neat game, playability is a little less as the interface is not intuitive and quite different from the other sims I play. The music is non-intrusive (and not annoying). One question: why do advisers/storytellers of 'fantasy' lands have a strong Sean Connery Scottish accent!? (This one, strangely enough, is actually done quite well).

Sunday, December 8, 2002

Arabic Groove

Arabic Groove - Various Putumayo World Music Most of these tracks are quite danceable (belly dancing of course), and seem to be more carefully 'cleaned up' or processed than most belly dancing or folk music from the region that is available easily from retail stores here in Melbourne. There is one track on there that has inspired me to find more from the artist - Natacha Atlas. (Don't bother looking at Borders Knox for any of this type - their range is abysmal, this CD was bought from Borders Chadstone).

Why Paint Cats

Why Paint Cats: The Ethics of Feline Aesthetics Burton Silver and Heather Busch

This book is incredible, thanks Paul! It has amazing photos of painted cats, with explanations of why the owners chose to paint them. Some for reasons of religion, others to match the cat to their hair. The one I like the best is the two toned cat - a brilliant blue with tips in fluorescent red, on a long haired cat. Even in natural light it glows! The last photo (see below) is a winner. There are some completely over the top and disgusting painted cats, but some are tasteful, funny or very subtle (as in the one where only it's whiskers were painted). A great book, though not for all tastes.

Friday, December 6, 2002

Finished printable courseware

Finally I have finished the print versions of the courseware (lecture notes, prac notes, tute notes). PPT has this really annoying habit of not showing underscores, even if you insert them as a symbol (underscore), or underline them, or even cut and paste from Word where the underscore is visible. Thus the lecture notes are a little inconsistent when using the lines #ifndef blah_h, #define blah_h. I've decided to include the summary lecture in the notes this year - I have also taken out the code for the hash table (converted it to an algorithm). I haven't changed the content too much, the main change that I still want to do for semester 2 next year is to change to a different (less confusing?) version of quicksort. If you are interested, the courseware for summer semester already has all this work available. I've still yet to do some summaries (as Debbie has done for Part B), but the main grunt is done. Test and exam and marking guides still to be written, and I haven't heard yet whether Malaysia is running it concurrently again (I dearly hope not!)

Thursday, December 5, 2002

Stressful teaching stuff

I have worked out that I am earning the equivalent of 15 hours of tutoring a week, and I am doing 20 or more hours of a lecturing job per week. Either the tutors are getting paid too well (which is obviously not the case) or I am getting paid crap. Admittedly my salary isn't based on teaching semesters, but is continuous, but during the semester I spend about 30 hours per week on it (part time position). Education, IT and research are the three areas where unpaid overtime is the highest, guess I'm in the wrong field - IT educational research! On a mildly related note, the deluge of students complaining about their failed marks has started (results came out today).

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Favourite Fantasy Story

My Favourite Fantasy Story Edited by Martin H. Greenberg (Daw Books 2000)

I wasn't impressed with this collection, despite the stories being chosen as those that inspired well known current fantasy authors. Some were very good, one was terrible and extremely long (I would not have included it in a short story compilation), most were average to 'skip-it'. Something to borrow if you are interested in seeing who/what inspires current authors, but I wouldn't buy it.

Monday, December 2, 2002

Harry Potter : The Chamber of Secrets

This was quite dark in comparison with the first movie. It was interesting meeting the new characters/actors, and quite astounding to see the best Hamlet portray such a fop as Lockhart. I liked how the main characters grew more, and loved Dobby and the phoenix. I think that is the one bird (or maybe an owl or a hawk) that I would consider having as a pet (as long as they were fine with cats!) A warning for any and all arachnophobia, be prepared for your nightmares. I felt that the spider sequence was ripped straight out of my dreams (that I have on average at least 3 times a month) and plonked in full colour and sound (exactly as I dream it), on the screen. That will be the only factor causing me not to watch the movie again. Maybe if that is 1 or 2 sequences on the DVD that can just be skipped. I was ok with the larger ones, just not the carpet of spiders. For some reason I thought the music was even more derivative of Williams' older works, but I'm glad there were other people involved in the recording and mixing as it took the repetitive edge off. Stick around for the very end!

Knox City (Village and Borders)

Encouraged by my Aunt's remarks that the new Borders at Knox City was much larger than the Jam Factory I was very much looking forward to spending my birthday voucher there. I was horribly disappointed. The store is small and does not have much of a selection of anything I was looking for! (belly dancing music, Tolkien art books, sci fi, celtic music) I would recommend the Chadstone store for size and the Jam Factory for range, and leave Knox totally alone.

We saw Harry Potter in Gold Class (Village Knox) today (as can be seen by the review), and I was very pleased with the screen and the sound. Both seemed superior to Century City Walk (maybe it's just getting old?) However, they needed more people serving and ushering - we waited over 10 minutes to place our order, despite getting there 15 minutes early we entered the theatre just before the trailers started, after the ads. And their overall service speed (bringing food in during the movie) was terrible. But on a happily surprising note - their portion sizes seem to be much larger than CC Walk. Overall I will probably be frequenting Knox over CC Walk based on screen/sound/food (not service or distance from home).