Civilised People

You know, over the last few days I’ve been thinking that there are a number of simple skills that any truly civilised and cultured western person should really have. Just in order to be truly civilised and cultured. So, in leiu of anything else to write about I thought I’d share the list so far…

Swiming – We are land mammals inhabiting a planet that is 60% covered in water. The ability to cope with said water without drowning is essential. When you add in the fact that we have numerous adaptions that seem intended for a semi-aquatic lifestyle (we’re virtually hairless compared to other mammals, we have big prominent noses to use as snorkels, etc), being able to swim is just common sense. The only excuse is to be living in a desert or on the tundra where’s there’s nowhere to learn.

Cutlery – There are two main types of cutlery in the world. Knives, forks and spoons on one hand, and chopsticks in the other (I challenge anyone to find cutlery that can’t be fitted into either of those categories). A civilised person should be just as adept and comfortable with chopsticks as with knives and forks. It’s not that hard!

Waltzing – The waltz is the most basic of western formal dances, and it behooves any civilised person to be able to at least manage it. It’s pretty damn simple too, as long as you can count. Now sure, I would never recommend learning it the way I did, but if there’s any silver lining to that particular horror it’s that I would be able to handle myself in a formal dancing situation. If I was ever forced into one that is.

CPR – Cardio Pulmonary Resucitation. A simple procedure that can mean the difference between life and death. And that’s the point it’s so simple. If every supposedly civilised person knew it, the death rate from cardiac arrest would plummet.

So, that’s my list so far. Naturally I have all of these skills, and hence consider myself to be truly civilised.

And consider myself to have an overly swollen head too 🙂

Dagnabit!!

I’m pretty annoyed. In fact I’d go do far as to say I’m actively pissed off.

First of all I stayed up to watch The Mummy last night. Pretty darn good, in fact one of the funniest films I’ve seen in quite a while. And it has that guy from Stargate in it. Whatsisface, Sha’re’s father, ya ken well who ah mean. Anyway I enjoyed the movie, but could seriously do with some more sleep.

But that’s minor. The real kicker was in the shower when I was washing my face, and my hands came away covered in bright red blood. I HAD A BLOOD NOSE!!!!

OK, what’s so bad about that? I am 26 years old, and before today have never had a blood nose. Never. Or at least not as far back as I can remember.

I’ve been proud of this record for years. For instance in 1987 when I got into a fight with the bully at my primary school (elementary school for Americans and other aliens), the first thing I though of as he pounded away at my head was “Oh no, I’m going to lose my record” (as it happened I managed to preserve it by screaming for help and running like hell). But now it’s all come to nought!

Now, sure this was a pretty pathetic thing to be proud of, but it was all I had. AND NOW IT’S ALL GONE!! ALL GONE!! OH WOE IS ME!!

So now I’m gonna have to come up with another record. Suggestions cheerfully accepted.

Development Status Report IV – Adrian’s Revenge

Two entries in two days. Amazing isn’t it? I blame the chocolate.

Anyway I’ve made some much needed changes to the Wyrmlog. First of all the Previous and Subsequent Rant links now actually work. Which they haven’t done for months as it turns out. Rather embarrassing all things considered. But they’re fixed now.

Secondly there’s now another box down at the lower left that lists the last 15 entries in a nice clickable format. This makes reading said past entries a lot easier, and will probably motivate me to make entries more often as it shows up just what a lazy bastard I am (only 15 entries since November 2001. Ack!)

The next step is to hack up the quotes files into nice, easily digestible chunks, as the current one is 100 odd k and accounts for most of the download time when you first load up. As a matter of fact the actual chopping up is done, it’s just coding to get the program to select one. I’ll probably do that next weekend.

As if you really care 🙂

So, I’m off to have lunch now. Hmmmm.

Later – OK, I did it today instead. So there.

Lunch was good.

Funtastico!

Well the weekend is once again upon us here in the antipodes, and increasingly it seems like the only time I actually have the time to make entries in this thing. Or if not time, energy. Most days I’m not even switching on the computer when I get home from work, I’m so wiped. You wouldn’t think sitting in a chair coding all day could be so exhausting. Of course the truly heroic quantities of Easter-related chocolate I’m consuming are probably playing havoc with my sugar metabolism, which could have a lot to do with it.

So, what did I get up to this week? The highlight would have to be Wednesday night when I went out to dinner with Becca and Dom. We ended up at Funtastico in Subiaco, a long, thin restaurant built in what used to be a long thin shopping arcade next to the Subiaco Markets. Or rather I ended up there, because they were stranded getting Becca’s car serviced by a bunch of incompetent hillbillies down in Melville. They said to have the car in at 10:00, and it would be ready by 2:30. As it turned out they didn’t get away until about 5:30 (there was “paperwork” apparently, and they didn’t actually start working on the vehicle until about 3:00), exactly the time that they were supposed to be meeting me.

So, I sat at the table for the next hour sipping ice water and being pestered by the staff who kept asking me if I wanted anything. What I wanted was for them to leave me alone (it’s strange that when you actually get good service you find it so irritating). But they turned up eventually.

Advice for people eating at Funtastico Number 1: If you’re calling to leave a message saying you’re running late and an old Italian man answers, hang up. Unless you’re looking for a girl in a short skirt.

So we had a very enjoyable evening devising ways to firebomb the car service center, and eating various Italian dishes. And sipping ice water, which the staff continued to swoop in and replenish whenever the glasses dropped even an inch below their rims.

The state of my stomach the next day wasn’t quite as enjoyable though.

Advice for people eating at Funtastico Number 2: Don’t order the prawns.

After our main courses we sat around for a good hour hoping to be able to fit in some desert. However the pizza we’d had for an entr

Senatus Populusque Romae

Ah Easter! The time of year when we celebrate the death and resurrection of one Yehoshua ben Yosuf* by giving each other a fattening, brown, alkaloid laced paste† (known by the Aztec words for “bitter water”‡) moulded into the form of bird ova and rodents. What a strange, strange people we truly are.

So what, all are probably wondering, happened to my promise of more frequent updates? Well my time this long weekend has been spent locked away in the Geek Cave, feverishly typing out the conclusion of Part 2 of “The Pathetic Circle of the Dance Class Damned” over in the Tales. I have also put a big dent into Part 3, which (with a bit of luck) should be up in only a few months. In addition, I’ve gone through the rest of the Tales and not only corrected the horribly inept and antiquated CSS (they now look pretty much as I actually intended them to from the start), but made numerous spelling corrections, and even added a few extra bits and pieces here and there. So if you were looking for an excuse to reread the Tales from the start, now might be the time.

In other news I was rather surprised, nay, flabbergasted to notice a brand new bit of graffiti down at the local railway station the other day. It wasn’t the presence of the tag that blew me away, the local delinquents have some kind of sophisticated roster system running to keep the station nicely decorated, with new tags appearing within ten minutes of the Westrail maintenance workers coming and painting over the old ones. It was what it said…

SPQR

SPQR, standing for Senatus Populusque Romae (The Senate and People of Rome) was of course the insignia of the ancient Roman Empire. So it was rather suprising, if not disconcerting to see it roughly spray painted across the wall just behind the Multirider machine. My contemplation of this strange anomaly on the train ride to work led me to a number of possible conslusions…

1: A tagger somehow managed to read a history book (or more likely watched Gladiator), and decided SPQR would make a unique and interesting tag

2: A crew of taggers somehow managed to read a history book (or watched Gladiator), and have decided to model themselves after an ancient Roman Legion, dressing in armour and togas, carrying swords and spray painting SPQR everywhere

3: An actual Roman Legion or Cohort was caught in some kind of time storm, pulled through to modern Australia, and on finding a spray can and figuring out how it worked, decided to claim the railway station for the Emperor

4: It was a particularly inept spray painting of the (typically badly spelled) tag “SPORE”

I have to admit the last is the most likely, albiet the most boring. In any case I’ll be challenging any likely looking types down at the station with “Quo vadis?”, and keeping an eye out for any golden eagle standards lying around the place.

Of course, given that the Eagles just won the Western Derby, I’ll probably find hundreds.

Historical research is fraught with such perils.

——————————————

* The Greeks, who couldn’t leave well enough alone, decided to call him Jesus for some reason

† In the southern hemisphere Easter occurs at the end of summer, so if you leave chocolate out of the fridge for more than a few minutes, it very rapidly reveal itself to be a paste.

‡ “xoco latl” in case you were wondering

——————————————

Farewell Naveen

It has been a rather long time between entries, but I have a valid, although anything but good, excuse for this. In the early hours of Sunday the tenth of March Naveen Yawanarajah, one of my bosses, the guy who programmed the iNews system this weblog runs upon and an all round really great guy, died of a sudden heart attack. He was only 32. So things have been pretty tough going for the last two weeks both professionally and personally, and I haven’t been up to writing much.

I’m not going to write a vast long entry about this, because frankly I don’t feel like writing about it, and I don’t think anyone would really want to read it. However I feel I owe it to the guy to mention a few facts, so bear with me.

Naveen was born with four holes in his heart due to his mother contracting rubella during her pregnancy. At school he developed a passion for and talent with computers, and as a teenager wrote the first commercial software ever produced in Malaysia. In time he came to Perth and studied for a degree in computer science, despite his health problems, which included a trip to Melbourne for highly complex and experimental heart surgery. This actually went horribly wrong, and his heart stopped for a full 32 minutes on the table. Normally the surgeon would have declared death after such a period and given up, but he and the whole operating team had been so impressed by Naveen’s remarkable personality that they put the extra work in to bring him back. Even so it was painful months of recovery, although he never let this hold him back and with the support and encouragement of his family and friends he was even back to DJing comparatively soon afterwards, despite the fact that at times it was even a struggle to walk.

In 1996 he founded Gateway to Perth with Dale, and wrote an entire e-commerce system, GTP iCommerce, from scratch, when no-one else in Western Australia was even considering a locally based e-commerce enterprise. Over the years this system expanded to incorporate contact management, website maintenance and affiliate systems, and the company expanded from a partnership to a Propriety Limited, under the business name GTP iCommerce.

In the last month Naveen had applied for and been accepted into the Curtin PhD program, planning to develop and write a thesis on an online robotics control protocol. He was very excited about this, and once it was developed he planned to release it into the public domain, in his own words to “give something back” to the computing world. He’d given plenty back to the computing world already, but unfortunately his robotics work will now never happen.

Overall Naveen was an amazing person with an incredibly friendly and outgoing personality, and great sense of humour. In the two years that I worked with him I can honestly never remember seeing him in a bad mood even once. The sheer quality and quantity of work that he did for GTP means that we’ll able to carry on and thrive without him, but he was the true heart of the company, and we all miss him like hell.

See ya man.

(31st May 2002 – I must thank Naveen’s good friend Natalie, who contacted me to correct some mistakes in my account of his life. She also commented…

Just one more thing – you wrote that Naveen had a heart problem but he didn’t. He had a heart condition. I am sure you will agree that Naveen’s condition never stopped him from doing anything. I think he achieved more in his 32 years than many do in their whole life.

I couldn’t agree more)

But onto happier matters.

On Friday night my brother Andrew finally *g* got around to holding a birthday dinner for me. This turned out to be a great night, and I would like to sincerely thank him,Travis, Katie, Lyndah, Elisabet, Kevin, Clare and Emma for organising/attending and putting up with me 🙂 I also got some totally kick arse presents which were totally unnecessary but very appreciated, scratch lottery tickets, magnetic frogs, and an original Ra figurine from Stargate the movie, which has apparently been sitting on the shelf down at Valhalla since 1994.

The whole night went very well, the food was supplied in such copious amounts that numerous references to Babette’s Feast were made, and even the mushroom sauce for thevol-au-vaunts turned out all right after the third attempt. Extra points must go to Lyndah for managing the entire meal despite having eaten before coming. Also for the magnetic frogs, building towers of which proved a source of much entertainment when the evening started to wind down (and also for repeated amusing use of the phrase “cat’s arse”).

Thanks must go to especially to Clare for her many flattering comments about the Tales. Her comments were so flattering in fact that the upcoming Easter long weekend will probably see at least another chapter going up. And also much thanks for (when appointed buyer for the Clare/Kevin/Elisabet/Eric gift committee) going for the Ra model rather than the poster of the big breasted fantasy chick in armour. Even if that’s what you really wanted to get 🙂

So all and all a good night. Even if I did sit out the climatic tea-towel fight:)

In other news I got a rather puzzling email the other day, asking what “my site” is about, and if you get money for joining. I am not sure if this is a genuine request for information, or a rather devious spam, and hence have not yet replied and probably won’t. In any case, let me clearly state here that there is no way to join Wyrmworld, or the Tales of the Geek Underclass (although I am considering an email subscription service to send out update announcements and occasional extra goodies), and if there is any way to make money out of them I have yet to discover it.T-Shirts anyone? 🙂

That’s all I’ve got to say today. Updates should be more regular from now on.

PS: Yey! Ghostbusters DVD! Thanks Helen:-D

Fireworks!

The fireworks factory blew up on Wednesday.

I’m not kidding.

I was surprised though. I didn’t even know there was a fireworks factory in the city. I don’t think anyone else knew either, until it suddenly went up in a catastrophic explosion at about 9:00 in the morning. Sadly I was in a bus on the way to work a good 25km away at the time, so didn’t get to hear it, but the folks (about 15km away) did, which just goes to show what a large quantity of explosive all going up at the same time can accomplish sound-wise.

I did get to see the smoke though, it billowed in and surrounded the office at about 10:00, apparently having formed a long plume across the city that decided to touch down in Nedlands. This isn’t too surprising, on a cross section from Nedlands to the factory (in Carmel) the city is somewhat bowl shaped, with the factory up on the Darling Escarpment, and the office on the plateau to the west of the CBD. So given the prevalent easterlies at this time of year the smoke from anything burning in the hills will probably end up floating around the carpark. But it was still unexpected at the time.

Rather remarkably no-one was killed, or even injured by the explosion. There were only two employees at the factory at the time, and once it became clear that that little fire they accidently started was getting out of hand they did the sensible thing and ran like hell. The Carmel area is fairly sparsely populated and the authorities took control and evacuated everyone pretty quickly, so although there were fireworks shooting off in all directions, and numerous bushfires, no one was hurt. There’s been a lot of property damage though, not least smashed windows from the force of the initial blast. So we can resonably expect the fireworks company to have their arses sued off.

I’m watching Rage while writing this, and cannot help but notice how unbelievably awful both the song and video clip My Sacrifice by Creed are. The song is a drawn out, wailing bit of wuss rock with the lead singer moaning on and on in vaugue metaphors about how hard it is to be him (mind you with a haircut like that maybe he has a right to). The music is reminiscent of Live’s better work, but with all the stuff that makes Live’s better work actually better removed, leaving just a banal and pedestrian plodding soft-rock dirge. And it goes on forever.

The video clip is just the worst mishmash of pretentious and ponderous imagery I’ve ever seen. Blind old men, innocent young children, flooded cities with rowboats, wild animals, mermen, schoolbuses full of candles, and topping it all off a hurricane that throws cars and garbage around the street in some kind of symbol of the anguish and heartache of being a rich and succesful wuss rock band. And all of it in slow motion! The lead singer even reaches down and pulls himself out of the water, could you come up with a bigger cliche? It’s enough to make you puke.

On the other hand I quite like Alanis’s new song. I considered myself seriously over her music, but this new one, Hands Clean isn’t bad. And the video is OK too. Mind you, Under Rug Swept is one of the stupidest album, titles I’ve heard in quite some time.

Finally I cannot let it pass that the last Goon, the great Spike Milligan passed away earlier this week. Rather than try to write some kind of lengthy and boring obituary harping on about his undoubted genius, I figured I’d just quote one of my favourite of his poems…

Things that go ‘bump!’ in the night,
Should not really give one a fright,
It’s the hole in each ear,
That lets in the fear,
That and the absence of light,

(And I say we’re lost!)

I’m 26. Oh wow.

I am 26. I turned 26 last Thursday. This sucks.

Why does it suck you ask? Because it means I’m no longer young. Well of course I’m still young, I’m only 26 for crying out loud, but I’m not young young anymore. I am now well into my mid 20’s and racing towards my late 20’s. Before I have time to blink I’ll be 30, damnit.

I don’t want to be thirty!

The whole world seems intent on reminding me that I’m getting older. JJJ for instance has a whole bunch of competitions running at the moment for “young people”. Which they define as people between the ages of 16 and 25. OK, I’d never have actually entered any of these competitions, but the fact that I could have (until last week) was somehow reassuring. And now I can’t. Prohibited by the inexorable march of time, and ABC regulations. It’s enough to make you go out and buy a walking stick. And one of those squashy cloth caps.

So if anyone has a novel way to slow down time (short of accelerating the entire solar system to the speed of light while I stand around and wait) I’d very much like to hear from you (purveyors of wonder herbs, drugs, human growth hormone, immortality rings and hunza bread need not apply).

In more cheerful news Helen now has a weblog. It looks like an evil robot. And talks about F1 a lot. So go and check it out 🙂

I’ve also added some useful (ha!) phrases to the Beginner’s Guide to Surfarian, including pick up lines and how to complain about a horse. So check that out too.

That is all.

Development Status Report: Boxed Set

Marilyn Manson has covered Tainted Love. It’s the end of the world.

But in other news I managed to fix the problems the system had with the Windows Latin-1 Extended Character set. All on company time too, one of the advantages of actually being, if not a developer, then certainly a code tinkerer for the people who’s website management tool you’ve perverted for your own personal use. So I (and all other iNews users) can now type ƒ † ‡ ‰ Å  ‹ Œ • – — ™ Å¡ › œ and Ÿ with impunity.

Of course I am the only person ever likely to use said characters, but hey, it’s a feature, or an extension to the system, or something, and that has to be a good thing.

Doesn’t it?

Sh’ Issues

And just in case anyone was wondering, the question marks should be s’s with a little reverse circumflex above them. That’s what I put in, but JSP doesn’t seem to like them. Damn.

OK, I think I’ve fixed it. So long as you’re using a relatively recent browser, and I never try to edit that entry ever again. Talk about technology working at odds with itself. sheeze!