Saturday, September 30, 2006


It would appear that giant insects are attacking Germany.

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Writing time: 1 minute
Time since last post: 5 minutes
Current media: none

Friday, September 29, 2006

First real day

Today was my first real day of work. I got to the office OK, and the people seem nice. There is a very angry Australian there, but the rest seem normal.

My day was pretty easy, I got a free lesson to start with and I only had one or two people in each lesson. Most of the lessons were higher level students, but there was one low level student. The higher level students don't need to have me simplify my words as much, although I still need to work on that.

So far, things seem to be going OK.

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Writing time: 2 minutes
Time since last post: 1 day
Current media: none

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thorpedo Water

This is a little old but I've been busy over the last few days, so a few posts are going to follow this one quite quickly.

Last Friday when I was wondering around Toyanaka looking for the city office to register as an alien I got a little thirsty and decided to get a bottle of water from one of the many, many vending machines around the place. So while I was pondering my choices, I noticed on of the bottles was labeled "Thorpedo" and had a picture of Ian Thorpe on it. So, I decided to support my countryman and bought the drink.

Now I was thinking that this was just some bottled water, so I was unpleasantly surprised when instead of nice pure water it tasted like some horrible, really flat lemonade. This was not what I wanted.

I'm curious if Ian Thorpe has actually even tasted this drink, and is not just letting them use his name and picture for money without a care for what it's used for. I mean, this stuff really tastes foul.

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Writing time: 15 minutes
Time since last post: 4 days
Current media: The Daily Show

Sunday, September 24, 2006

More Engrish

I saw this one at a book store that has a moderate english selection. In the science fiction part, they had some Star Treck books. This is pretty amazing as the Star Trek books with the correct spelling were right there for them to check the spelling.

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Writing time: 2 minutes
Time since last post: 2 minutes
Current media: Battlestar Galactica season 2 soundtrack

Hair cut

At the going away party that was held Saturday before last (the 16th) I got my head shaved. Nova had said I had to have a haircut before I started working for them, and for quite some time, I had said that when I finally did get a haircut, it would be all the way. So I stuck to what I had said and got my head shaved. I got one of my housemates to do it, as he had shaved his head a few times before. The following are some of the photos with commentary, and then some thoughts on the matter.

The first cut is always the deepest.

work in progress

The ponytail

After getting a hairdresser to neaten things up.

OK, so there wasn't much commentary.

Since then it has grown back faster than I thought it would (although it may just be that when your hair is only a few millimetres long another millimetre looks like a lot). It'll be a while before I need to comb it or anything, but it no longer feels like a bald head. It also looks a lot darker than it did while it was long, but will probably look brown again when it gets longer.

One bit of advice, and this is with all due respect to Justin, make sure the person shaving your head doesn't get in to the drinks before the head shaving.

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Writing time: 35 minutes
Time since last post: 3 days
Current media: Battlestar Galactica season 2 soundtrack

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Engrish Ahoy

So far while in Japan I've picked up a few instances of Engrish. The first was at the airport where there was an ad for "fine groumet food". Today while wondering around Osaka, I saw an optometrist offering "freams, lens, and cleaning fluid". More will be reported as I encounter them.

Edit: 10:23 22/9/06 I just bothered typing up the third example I remembered a while ago. One the toilet each day after the cleaner has been in my room the toilet has a strip of paper telling me the toilet has been sanitarized.

Edit: 20:30 23/9/06 At the train station I had the choice of getting a single trip ticket or buying a commutation ticket.

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Writing time: 5 minutes
Time since last post: 1 day
Current media: nothing much

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Coup in Thailand

As mentioned previously, earlier today there was a coup in Thailand. The following is a sort of response to this and some thoughts on the events leading up to it.

First up, I've been periodically keeping an eye on the news in Thailand thanks to wikinews, which has a relatively high amount of news from countries which other news sources tend to neglect like Thailand. Thus I have been following the story of Prime Minister Thaksin and his governments fall into disfavour.

The situation has it's roots in Thaksin's apparent use of his power as Prime Minister for his personal and family gain. Thaksin and his family were major shareholders in one of Thailand's big telecommunications companies, and just before they sold out to a foreign company the tax law was changed so that the profit they made from the sale was much larger than it would have been before the change. This is the most blatant of Thaksin's acts and the one that brought a great amount of pressure on his government.

To try and defuse the situation, Thaksin decided to call an early election, hoping to get a new mandate from the people to continue to lead the Thai government. Unfortunately for him, the two main opposition parties boycotted the election because they believed it would be run unfairly by Thaksin. Thus even though Thaksin's party ran unopposed in a large number of electorates, they did not get a large proportion of the vote. Lots of people didn't vote. In Thailand, voters have the choice of voting for none of the candidates, and where a candidate doesn't get a certain share of the total vote, they won't be elected even if they have the most votes (I can't remember if this only applies to electorates with only one candidate). This happened in a number of electorates, leaving Thaksin in a bind as to form a new government requires a meeting of the full parliament, which at the time didn't exist because some electorates didn't have an elected representative.

Since then, the Thai courts have decided that the election was invalid and that a new one, with the opposition parties involved was to be held in around October.

This brings us pretty much up to today, where this morning the head of the military sent some tanks (14 according to the wikipedia article) in to Bangkok to surround the main government offices and take captive the deputy prime minister. Thaksin was out of the country (at a UN meeting) and will doubtless be staying away for some time.

The military leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin issued a statement to the Thai population after he had siezed control (you can read it thanks to the BBC), stating that the military control was only intended to be temporary and power will be returned to the democratic process as soon as possible. The same statement also prohibited gatherings of more than 5 people, and a few other things.

This is about the twenty-third attempted coup (I think about twelve of those were succesful) Thailand has had since the 1930s, which is a pretty high number. Most countries have had zero, and only a few have busted into double digits. Predictably, foreign responses have been negative, saying that democratic rule should be restores as soon as possible. News coverage has varied. I've been watching CNNj (the only english channel on the tv in my hotel) and the fact they've concentrated on is the subsequent drop in the value of the Thai Baht and the impact on the Thai economy. The BBC has had a more political view of the matter. There are also a few blogs from locals on events (here, here, and here).

The one factor I haven't mentioned yet, and will probably have a big effect on the outcome is the Thai king. He is apparently close with the general in charge of all this, and is a significant if indirect player in Thai politics. I think the stronger he is for a return to democracy, the quicker it will happen.

Now for some opinion. Military coups are bad. Very bad. Military rule has historically been bad for the country, bad for the people, but good for the few in charge. A military should be controlled by the people, and only used for the benefit of the people. Depriving the people of their liberty and elected government is not doing this. Also, constitutional change should not be done at the point of a gun. Independence sure, but once a country is established, violence should not be needed to enact such changes.

Also, most of the complaints have been against Thaksin and his government, and not against the current system of government, so there seems no justification for the way they have wiped the Thai political system clean (parliament, senate, high court, etc).

One reassuring point is that so far there has been no violence involved in the coup.

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Writing time: 2 hours 15 minutes (includes research time)
Time since last post: 0 days
Current media: Stargate SG-1

In the Land of the Rising Sun

I have arrrived in Japan, and am typing at Osaka Kanzai International Airport (KIX). The flights went ok, a few hassles along the way but nothing impossible to overcome. Now I'm just waiting for the people from the company to pick me up.

I've just found out that there has been a coup in Thailand, where my sister is currently living. While it seems to have gone peacefuly so far, I am a bit worried.

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Writing time: 5 minutes
Time since last post: 2 days
Current media: none

Monday, September 18, 2006

Change in counting

Looking at the last two posts I noticed I used a different method of counting the days to go. Hence the lack of consistency in the title posts.

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Writing time: 1 minutes
Time since last post: 5 minutes

1 Day To Go

Tomorrow I fly to Japan. I've moved all my stuff over to my uncle's place, and today I'm cleaning the room, leaving it in a decent condition for whoever moves in.

On Saturday night I had a going away party. It wasn't huge, but a few friends came over and a generally goodtime was had. The big event was the cutting of my hair. Word of advice to everyone. Limit the alcohol consumption of the barber-to-be.

I'm a bit more daunted by this move than previous ones. It's not the distance, the not knowing anyone on the other end of the move. It's the not being sure of what I'm doing. Every other time I've moved there's been a certainty of purpose that's missing this time.

In any case, I'm going. What will happen, happens. I'll save as much as I can, enjoy the travelling after and then decide on what I want to do after that.

My initial thinking for after that was 1 more year of study to become a high school teacher, but through a podcast I listen to about a masters degree in Science and the Public at a university in the US, which sounds quite interesting, but funding it and my living expenses while there would need to be worked out.

Well, cleaning awaits.
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Writing time: 40 minutes
Time since last post: 2 days
Current media: Six Feet Under - Season 3

Saturday, September 16, 2006

4 days to go

In 4 days I'm going to be moving to Japan. I'm not sure I'm one hundred percent ready for it. I know hardly any of the language. I'm not sure if I want to do it.

Well, it's a year at most. I've found out a few friends from university are also heading over to Japan soon, so I'll be able to see some people I know while I'm over there. That makes it a bit less daunting. I've also learnt that it's easy to get work teaching English, so if I find I don't like the company, it shouldn't be too hard to find work with another company, although accommodation would become an issue.

I think I'm mostly prepared to move my stuff to my uncles. Most things are packed up. Some clothes will probably get put in garbage bags for storage. I don't see much left to pack to store, but I think I need to rethink my packing to travel with.

I got Mum's laptop this evening, and have put on a few programs that I'll use a lot. iTunes, Firefox, Launchy, and a few others.

I also wrote up a will today. I used a will kit, and it's not very complicated. My sister gets everything. No flowers at the non-religious commemoration ceremony, and if my estate can afford it, my ashes are to be sent into outer space.

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Writing time: 1 hour 13 minutes (less time spent getting witnesses for my will, talking with housemates, etc)
Time since last post: 1 day
Current media: Six Feet Under - Season 3

Friday, September 15, 2006

Adventures in eBay

As part of my packing up and moving process, I'm getting rid of some stuff. Mostly it's stuff that I packed into a box last time, and have not touched since then. Some has just been thrown out, some I've given to housemates and friends. Some I've tried to sell on eBay.

This has had mixed success. Two out of four items sold, one for the starting price and one for $1.50 over the starting price. I had thought I was being generous with the postage charges I specified when setting up the auctions. Unfortunately, one of my buyers was in Western Australia, and when comibing postage and packaging, I actually came out about 3 dollars down. Fortunately I was ahead on the other item that sold, so I'm not out of pocket overall. Next time I won't fix postage until I know where I'll have to send it.

I also now have to pay the listing fees, which now that I've found where they're listed, shouldn't be troublesome.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Some notes on labels

With the whole consolidation of labels and other issues relating therein The following is a description of what most labels actually mean

Stuff: Things happening in my life. What I'm doing.
Thoughts: What I think about things.
Politics: Things involving governments at all levels
Work: Things regarding employment, and the search of
News: About things in the news. Usually goes with thoughts.
Death: Death
Rant: like thoughts, but a bit more angry
Romance: Usually introspection on the lack of romance in my life
Tech: Technology related things, computer games, podcasts, hardware, etc
Family: Things involving family
Rambling: like thoughts, put with less purpose and direction
Fiction: Fictional writing
Government: musing on the nature of government

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Writing time: 15 minutes
Time since last post: 0 days
Current media: Six Feet Under - Season 2

Blogger Labels

Yesterday I noticed that next to the dashboard on Blogger there was an option to convert my blog over to the Blogger 2.0 beta. Naturally, I couldn't resist. The chance to have a whole bunch of new features to play with and bits to toy around with is always going to get my attention.

One thing that got my interest was labels. A way to categorise posts. So I went through and added labels to a bunch of posts. These were mostly based on the technorati tags I had used on the entries. At the end of this first stage of labeling things, I wasn't entirely happy. For a start there were a bunch of labels that were only used once, the list looked really long, some of the labels were really just duplicates or subsets of others. So initially I tried to look to see if there were some setting I could set so that it would only show labels with a few posts. But such a setting doesn't exist. So I then looked at the html version of the template with the widgets expanded. It was a bit odd, but with some help files it's reasonably clear. So I tried putting a condition in that it would only display the labels with a count of more than 2. I try that and the labels disappear. A bit more playing around I find out that equals and not equals work, but greater than won't and a less than sign is just not on. So I just put in a few nested conditions with a few not equals going up to the limit I wanted, and now the only labels showing are those with at least two posts. In hindsight I don't really need the condition saying only show the labels with a non-zero count.

Anyway, this is mainly so that if someone else is trying the same thing they find it a bit easier than I did.

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Writing time: 30 minutes
Time since last post: 1 day
Current media: Six Feet Under - Season 2

Something that's been bugging me for a while

There is a staff member at the Subway at Inala that has really big sideburns. And she's a woman.

Call me old fashioned, crazy, or whatever, but women should not have sideburns.

That is all.

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Writing time: 5 minutes
Time since last post: 1 day
Current media: Bullshit!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Irresponsible Pharmacy

Last week I was at the chemist picking up some medicine, and while I was waiting for the store person to find the right box on the shelves, I saw something weird on the counter. It was a display stand for something called Original Hopi Earcandles. It was a tube of some sort of cloth, apparently impregnated with some sort of herbs and other things, which you stick one end in your ear, light the other end, and it does something. It spends a lot of time on the history of such things and how they are made. Then near the end it starts to make claims about what it actually does. This is all couched in weasel words. to quote "Earcandles may be beneficial in the temporary relief of the symptoms of". Note the may there. They then warn you not to use it if you have a perforated ear drum. I'm sure most people with perforated ear drum are aware enough not to stick anything in their ear.

The next bit is where they admit they're full of it. This is straight from the brochure
The Hopi EARcandle is not a medication. The indications are supported by the experience over many years of doctors and naturopathic practitioners. They do not constitute a guarantee of medical efficacy and if symptoms persist please consult your physician

Not a guarantee of medical efficacy. So in other words, they're not sure enough to really claim it does anything. They're not even sure enough to do some real testing to back up their experience.

It's also not great that later in the brochure they include a plug for a Dream Your Inner Healing cd.

To quote Penn & Teller, it's Bullshit!

The thing that really gets me is that this is being sold at a chemist. If some stupid hippy joint was selling this stuff, I wouldn't be surprised and would expect nothing less. But a chemist has a certain obligation to the community. This obligation arises due to the trust the community places in a chemist. They are the purveyors of medicine and other health products like ventilators, splints, bandages and more than I can think of. For a chemist to sell such quackery breaches the trust the community has with the chemist. It also gives undue respectability to the earcandles. And money to the unscrupulous who make such rubbish.

Chemists have an important role in society, and they should not sully this by selling garbage just so they can get a little more cash.

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Writing time: 24 minutes
Time since last post: 3 days
Current media: Farscape - Different Destinations

Saturday, September 09, 2006

22 words, 61 syllables

I'm putting this up here just because I'd like to be able to find it online sometimes.

The prolongated application of polysyllabic vocabulary infallibly exercises a deleterious effect on the fecundity of the expression rendering the ultimate tendency apocryphal