Monthly Archives: February 2006

countdown to Blog Hui

link to Blog HuiThe countdown to Blog Hui is now well underway. It’s time to register, to tell your friends to register, and to get ready to hear some of the sharpest people blogging today anywhere in the world. A range of exceptionally interesting content is being assembled, and I’m amazed at the width and depth of peoples’ cosideration and thought. Very impressive.

The effort to pull these disparate people, questions, ideas and answers into one room for two days is monumental, and I think next time I look at doing something like this giving up my day job would seem like a rather attractive idea. But, we’re getting there and the opportunity to hear and meet the speakers will be very, very rewarding.

ahh, do you want fries with that?

McDonalds, Palmerston North.

A woman changing a baby’s nappy, baby lying on the floor in the dining area.

Imagine having your arse wiped – in public –

in McDonalds.

In Palmerston North.

songs for the road

When I was at high school we used to sing from a song book most mornings. Then there was a heady moment when my school got the first overhead projector I’d ever seen. Later, when I worked in the school I found it and made it go again – it had less of a bulb, and more of a tube sort of bulb, which I can recall cost as much as a luxury island plus resorts in Hawaii. My school didn’t want islands, they wanted bulbs.

Anyway, we used to sing. I must say I didn’t mind it, even if then, and now, I was a crap singer. The senior boys somehow managed to make singing an manly kind of activity so we all joined in. It was a coed school and so the senior girls weren’t given to being out done by mere boys. And then there was the deputy principal, a man who rejoiced in the surname Smellie. Imagine being a school teacher called Mr Smellie. And you thought your life was tough. Doug Smellie was a number of things to a number of people but I think every former pupil who knew him would agree on one thing. Man, that guy could sing. He could out sing the massed voices of 1,000 kids. Not bad. Not bad at all.

The other day, unbidden, a song from back then slipped into my mind. You know, as songs do. I could just remember the last line of the verses. I could remember the tune – listen to it from is ‘Monks Gate’, a traditional Sussex melody arranged by none other than Ralph Vaughn Williams, in 1904. What’s interesting to me is when I saw the words at cyberhymnal I could almost immediately remember them – it must’ve stuck in the recesses of my mind.

Imagine – remembering some of the words from John Bunyan’s, Pilgrim’s Progress, from 1684. Told you I was at school ages ago. There’s another version where someone were tuned the words, but I prefer them straight from Bunyan’s word processor. Apparently Bunyan wrote the words during his 12-year prison sentence for refusing to conform to the official state chuch. I’ve yet to confirm if that’s correct, or maybe just more internet flab. To be continued…

Meanwhile, click on the music link above and give singing the words a burst. I find the words have something to offer across the ages from when I was at school, but also from the 1600’s. In this case Bunyan’s probably speaking of a religious pilgrim, John Wayne was speaking of you cowboys, and I think anyone on the path to further knowledge is a true pilgrim today.

Seeking knowledge and truth is as demanding as it ever was, let’s have a hymn to got with, whether we’re religious or not, a good song for the road never goes astray.

Who would true valour see
Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.

Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He’ll with a giant fight,
He will have a right
To be a pilgrim.

Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit,
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away,
He’ll fear not what men say,
He’ll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.


dawn chorus

Ah – to be in Island Bay, at dawn… Can that sound be the squeals of ecstasy from copulating whales? Flying birds?

Image of Nic McGowan and Rachael Tempest from the DominionPostNo, it was Synth Birds of Dawn, a theremin concert by composer – performer Nic McGowan.

Basically, the noise of the shrieking and whining was almost deafening and most unpleasant, and that was from the local citizens. I imagine Nic’s work was interesting and stimulating – a kind of acoustic rapping the Wellington coastline – you know – like Christo wrapping the New South Wales coastline.

And sadly, you missed it? Well, using advanced technologies you can now play with a flash-powered theremin in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Here’s a Japanese digital version to play with. Turn your speakers up very loud and enjoy.

Wiki says: The theremin or thereminvox (originally pronounced /tay-ray-meen/ but often anglicized as /there-uh-min/) is one of the earliest fully electronic musical instruments. Invented in 1919 by Russian Lev Sergeivitch Termen (also Termin, later gallicized to Léon Theremin, /lé-on tay-ray-meen/), the theremin is unique in that it requires no physical contact in order to produce music and was, in fact, the first musical instrument designed to be played without being touched…

Aging headbangers, you’ve heard a theremin solo on Led Zep’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’. “So THAT’S what that was!”

Nic, you keep going son, you’ve upset the locals in a suburb; time now to set your sights on bigger targets.

good lord, I’m bored

Hello Ladies.
Welcome to my blog. The reason you’re here is you’ve probably found this link in Google, or possibly MSN, and you’ve clicked through to have a read. Interesting how I know this stuff, my blog machine captures the information and shares it with me. I like to see what you’ve been looking for so I can think about it and respond. I like that kind of thing.

Here’s what I’ve done since 17:00 this evening when I finished work. I walked to the library and convinced the bored guy at the counter to take the cd I borrowed and to return it for me so I wouldn’t set off the alarms with the library books in my briefcase. They’re books I got out today for my wife. I walked about 10 blocks and met my wife at the dentist. I drove us home after her appointment, and made her a coffee. I had a great conversation with a speaker in the upcoming blog conference. I climbed the ladder and put stuff away in the high closet. I put stuff away in our bedroom. I took the ladder back downstairs and put it in the garage. I put the toolbox back in the garage. I emptied and reloaded the dishwasher. I watered some of the houseplants. I put a load of laundry on. I walked three blocks and emptied the post office box. I watered the garden, and all the outdoors potted plants. I had some dinner made by my wife. I replied to five emails, wrote three. Sat on the couch with my wife and watched some tv, and tried to not go to sleep – tv – now THAT’S boring. Agreed to repair a broken video tape. Wrote this blog posting. And now I’m about to go to bed, it’s still today. I’ll read for about 30 minutes into tomorrow. That’s 7.5 hours from when I stopped my job, and that’ll give me 6 hours sleep before it’s wake up and head off to the office.

It’s better when the dog is away. But bored? Bored is when you don’t have to do anything for your self – when everything is taken care of for you. And yeah, sounds really good to me.


a very big yes to the survival of the heart

Today, my valentine’s day gift from a ’secret’ admirer is the most amazingly wonderful compilation – A History – The Penguin Cafe Orchestra. If you click on the link you can hear some of the wonderful tracks on the cds in this boxed set. Start with ‘Beanfields’. If you know us at all well, you’ll recognise that track. It’s just exceptional music.

This is how Amazon describes it: UK compilation represents the most comprehensive collection of the unique rock act’s material available to date. 60 digitally remastered tracks including two previously unreleased tracks, ‘Yodel 2′ & ‘In The Back Of A Taxi’. The 4 discs are housed in a deluxe hardback book-style format (approx. 5.5 x 10 inches). Includes 48 pages of notes, color photographs & discography.

Accurate but hardly evocative. What Simon Jeffes described his music is: “a very big yes to the survival of the heart in a time when the heart is under attack from the forces of coldness, darkness and repression.”

I’ve learned Simon and his band of random musicians were on the edges of some of my other favorite musicians. Brian Eno. Pink Floyd. They opened for Kraftwerk. They recorded at Peter Gabriel’s studio. Terence, I don’t know if you ever discovered these penguins, but you would’ve loved them.

And as for my secret admirer – well, what a day when the heart has been under attack. Love the gift, love the music, love you.


hard boiled eggs

Take some eggs at room temperature. Punch holes in the roundy end (not the pointy end) of the egg, and place them in boiling water. Leave for ten minutes. If you used eggs from the fridge add a couple more minutes. You can’t overcook them (within sensible margins, of course). If you want to know more about the hole punch thing, check out how to cook soft boiled eggs.

Here’s some tips and other marginalia –
There’s no need to salt the water – you’re making hard boiled eggs, not soup.

If your eggs float to the extent that they don’t at least lightly touch the bottom of the pan they are probably best thrown out. Cracked eggs (unless you just cracked it) are the same – if the egg was cracked in the supermarket it should stay there – it’s possibly got an infection or taint which, if you ate it, would turn you into a supermarket clerk. Do you want this?

If you take the eggs straight out of the hot water and chill them in cold water they won’t end up with the olivey-green line around the yolk. If you leave the eggs in the hot water to cool at their own pace the green will arrive. It’s harmless, it just looks wierd to some people…

When the eggs are cold you can tell the difference between boiled eggs and raw eggs by spinning them on a flat surface. Cooked eggs will spin, raw eggs will not.

Tea Leaf Eggs: After four minutes, you can take the eggs out of the water, and gently crack the shells with a spoon, and replace them back in a strong brew of dark tea (3 tablespoons – the big serve at the table ones; not the ones you eat with, they’re dessert spoons); soya sauce (2 teaspoons), and a star anise (those star shaped herby do-dads from Chinese stores). Gently boil them for another 10 minutes, turning the eggs to make sure they get evenly covered. Take off the heat and leave them to soak for another 5 minutes. Remove, cool and shell the eggs. They come out with an interesting flavour, and an amazingly beautiful marbled effect. Serve cold.

Best easter eggs: Coming up to easter – for those of us allergic to chocolate – I always make dyed eggs. I get the eggs of my dreams (i.e. any old chook egg will do) with holes punched in the roundy end, some big unpeeled onions, and rubber bands. Peel the dry husky part off the onions, and wrap them around the eggs. Easier said than done – patience and a gentle touch is the go. Hold the skins in place with rubber bands. Yes, a good layer is best, and 3-4 rubber bands per egg is about right. Boil the eggs for 10 minutes (as per usual hard boiled egg), carefully pull them out and take the bands and onion peels off. A quick rinse, and then wipe the egg shells with a paper towel and a smudge of butter to make the shells shine. You can serve the eggs hot (they’re hard boiled, so soldier toast is a bit futile), or serve them cold. The onion peels colour the shells beautifully, and don’t worry, the onion flavour doesn’t go into the egg.


happy birthday, charles!

portrait of Charles Darwin from www.victorianweb.orgCHARLES ROBERT DARWIN
February 12, 1809 to April 19, 1882

The Evolution of a Global Celebration
Darwin’s 200th Birthday will occur on February 12, 2009; it will also be the 150th Anniversary of the publication of his famous book On The Origin of Species. So, together we have time to evolve a truly International Celebration to show our appreciation for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity.

Of particular interest to me is the accounts and descriptions of Darwin’s informal education. As someone who didn’t really enjoy school I find Darwin’s response heartening in the extreme.

More information at the Darwin Day Celebration site. I believe even closet intelligent designers are welcome. You can download free zipped copy of On the Origin of Species. There are other web sites about Darwin and his victorian context.


Today I realised I’m making little notes and writing little snippets on my list of things to do pad. It’s not that my life is becoming more organised – really, anything but, however little accumlated marginalia is arriving…interestingly, and as an aside, today is the first day where volume has passed 1,000 hits – 1,290 to be obsessive.

Tanks roll into Tiananmen Square, December 1989 (AP) from the BBCGetting back to the marginalia – becoming now self referential, I should be noting it on my pda, or voicing it into my phone. Instead I take my trusty and now beloved pencil, and carefully write down the note. There’s a lot to be said for the tactile response of pencil on paper.

Right, off to update web sites. That’s web sites, not websites. Went to pick up my thesis today – spelling mistake courtesy of the binders – website – on the front cover. I did a mini freak out, but said it was ok. When I got home I had to ring back and say, no, I don’t want a spelling mistake on the front page of my thesis. It’s web site. Not website. Like building site. Not buildingsite. Like bomb site, not bombsite. What’s next? Weatherreport? Hamandeggs?


Marginalia is defending the right to use English in the free world, with or without images of prophets, profits, tanks or thanks.