January 31, 2007 by  
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It’s three weeks till the Oscars, and at least one of the movies nominated has been a pleasant surprise.

My favourite movie of the year, Little Miss Sunshine, picked up four nominations including Best Picture. It’s a high achievement for a relatively small film. Their nominations were:

  • Actor in a Supporting Role – Alan Arkin (the heroin-addicted grandfather)
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – Abigail Breslin (the optimistic pageant-bound daughter)
  • Best Picture
  • Writing (Original Screenplay)

Dreamgirls is guaranteed to win at least one Oscar, the Music (Song) award, having three out of the five nominations. The other two nominations in that category are Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and Cars, so it’s more like a 75% chance of winning.

Eddie Murphy could also get an Oscar for his supporting role in Dreamgirls. I sympathise with all the actors who, after years and years of ‘serious’ work and possibly a few best actor or best supporting actor nominations along the way, will cry into their champagne as a comedian walks away with the prize after his first non-comedic effort.

Frilled Shark

January 30, 2007 by  
Filed under News, Videos

You may have seen in the news recently the prehistoric-looking ‘frilled’ shark caught in Japan. They transported it to the dolphin pen of a local marine park and took some footage, but unfortunately it was dead within a few hours.

You can read more, or view the short video here. This YouTube video is in Japanese, but you can view an English one by Reuters here. Unfortunately they have no option to embed the movie, on the blog, so you have to actually follow the link.

Australian Open 07

January 29, 2007 by  
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The Australian Open is over for 2007. The biggest surprise for me was Serena Williams monstering Maria Sharapova on the way to winning her first major title in a while.

Much less of a surprise was Roger Federer’s expected win, taking him to his 10th grand slam title, closing in on Pete Sampras’ record of 12.

Fernando Gonzales played a good final, and had two set points on his own serve in the first set, only to end up losing it in a tie break. Federer took the next two fairly comfortably for the win, but had it not been for so many unforced errors by Gonzales, he could have really had a go at Federer. The way Gonzales played in the last week was phenomenal, but you only rarely saw some of that perfect placement that saw him railroad his last few top-ranked opponents.

Federer won the title having not lost a single set the whole tournament, a feat not achieved in a grand slam tournament since Bjorn Borg 27 years ago. This isn’t exactly going out on a limb, but I’ll say Federer is going to be the greatest tennis player of all time. Based on his playing ability I think he already is the greatest, but he’ll soon officially be the best if you’re only going by record wins and other statistics.


January 26, 2007 by  
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Happy Australia Day everyone.

French Maid

January 23, 2007 by  
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Oh settle down people, it’s not a french maid! It’s me, doing some housework.

Yes, I do housework since I’m home most of the day with naught to do. Although given the state of things as they were when this video was taken in December you wouldn’t know it.

The sound and picture quality aren’t great on my six-year-old camera, but it does the job.


January 22, 2007 by  
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Apple recently announced the much-anticipated iPhone. It’s a camera-phone, an iPod, possibly a PDA, and wireless internet device.

One of the biggest considered drawbacks right now is the battery life, not to mention the possibility of locked-in two-year contracts with a phone provider. It may give you 16 hours of music, but only 5 hours of battery life when actually being used as a phone. While it is a rechargeable battery it’s not a replaceable one, except by Apple, so good luck with phone contact for however many days or weeks Apple keeps your phone after you send it in for a new battery.

Read all about it, and see the pictures, at iLounge.

The vagaries of sporting affiliation

January 22, 2007 by  
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The Australian Open Tennis is still continuing, despite no more Australians remaining to take part.

Is this fair? Well, I suspect they would have called the whole event off except for the consideration that we still have one pseudo-Aussie to cheer for.

Kim Clijsters.

But she’s Belgian! Ah yes, but she dated Lleyton Hewitt for a time. I was wondering, seeing Clijsters play, what it was that led Australians to cheer her on.

Australians cheer for little Lleyton because he’s our only hope. Once a World Number One with spirit, he still finds it possible to fight his way out of two wet paper bags but I doubt he’d manage a third. But we urge him on because, despite the fact he may be a bit of toolbox, he’s still an Australian one.

But Kimmy, as I affectionately call her, still maintains Australian support. Why?

“Because she went out with Lleyton Hewitt,” is the obvious answer, but it isn’t mine.

I cheer for Clijsters because she broke up with Hewitt. As Lleyton languishes, and Kimmy conquers, each sublime stroke and volley is salt rubbed in his underachieving wound.

“Oooo, nice shot Kimmy. Who’s on top of their game now? That’s right, you!”

A Week in Paradise

January 22, 2007 by  
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It hasn’t really been Paradise this week, but neither has it been an Inferno.

In fact, it’s been much cooler than an inferno, with our air conditioner finally getting installed! The guy came on Monday, I helped him install it and had cool comfort that night. He came back Tuesday to ‘finish’ the job, but he’s not happy with how it looks. I couldn’t care less, it’s there and it’s working, that’s all I need.

Unfortunately he wants us to pay him. Our lease said the owner would purchase an air conditioner, and we would install it. To us that meant getting my brother-in-law and a friend of his who have installed several air conditioners to do it for free. When the owner’s tradesman/cousin said he would install it I thought that meant, ‘as part of my service to you since it’s almost a quarter of the way through the lease that this air conditioner was supposed to be a part of’.

But no, once we were done, with my help the entire time both days he was here, he’s asking for payment. When I told him we would have otherwise done it ourselves at no cost, he said he’d get back to me, billing some to the owner and some to us “given the rent situation”. Cool.

I started rugby training last Monday night at Norths in Brisbane. I had to eat late since we didn’t finish with the air conditioner until almost 5.30, and so my four years without fitness work paid dividends come sprints at 7.30. That is, my body rejected in protest the small amount of food I had eaten earlier. Wednesday night was a much more relaxed affair, with only some lineout and scrummaging work before a relatively easy 3km run to finish the night. Returning again Thursday night, training wasn’t as bad, but I had to pull over for 15 minutes on the way home because I thought I was about to throw up out the window while I was driving.

So while last week may have been the lower reaches of purgatory, I had expected this week to be a further descent. I’m working Tuesday and Thursday nights from 9pm to 5am, with Thursday’s shift following rugby training. Unfortunately, since training on Monday and Wednesday has been cancelled, Thursday is likely to be brutal.

And why has training been cancelled? Because the club makes more money from the touch football competition than it does from the rugby team. So the rugby team vacates the playing field. A strange scenario if you’re looking to field a well-trained team when the season actually starts.

At least this week is not as was expected: go straight to work till midnight from Monday’s training. Work 9-5am Tuesday night. Go straight to work till midnight from Wednesday’s training. Go straight to work till 5am from Thursday’s training.

It’s yet to be seen how we’ll cope.

Football Theater

January 22, 2007 by  
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In football news, Liverpool got up over Chelsea on the weekend. Take that you overpaid stooges! That brings the Reds to within five points of second-placed Chelsea on the Premier League ladder. Arsenal, one point behind Liverpool, also beat league leaders Manchester United, making for a good weekend of top four action.

In Australia, the Queensland Roar failed to make the finals after drawing 1-1 with Sydney on Saturday night. While finishing fifth isn’t so bad, they really did disappoint this year, outplaying most of their opponents but exercising some kind of fanatical incompetence when presented with an abundance of scoring opportunities. With former Australian head coach Frank Farina at the helm, perhaps they can look forward to some improvement next season.

And in the world of metrosexuality, David Beckham has been lured to play in the United States for $US250 million over five years. The Real Madrid president basically said Beckham was going to the LA Galaxy because nobody else wanted him. I tend to agree. He’s been dropped from the England team and he hasn’t exactly been starring for Real Madrid. He’s going to the US because he’s not the great player he once was. That he can go there to retire on almost $US1 million a week is a better deal than he could have ever hoped to find anywhere else.

Holler for Hillary

January 22, 2007 by  
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As expected, Hillary Clinton has also thrown her hat into the Democratic candidate’s ring for the presidency.

It looks like things could get ugly though, with rumours that Clinton’s camp is going to try and discredit Obama in a really nasty way.

Here is Hillary’s announcement video. She’s all about having a conversation with you.

Barracking for Barack

January 19, 2007 by  
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Barack Obama has virtually decided to run for president of the United States. I say virtually because until February 10th, when he will make an official announcement of intent, he’s formed an ‘exploratory committee’. Presumably it’s to see if he wants to run a campaign, but the chances of that happening are fairly high.

The fun bit is that if a Democrat is elected president, they are almost certain to be either America’s first black or female president, since Hilary Clinton is the only other likely contender.

Obama’s big strategy seems to be a little too, how shall we say, optimistic?

Today our leader’s in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common-sense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can’t tackle the big problems that demand solutions. That’s what we have to change first, we have to change our politics.

Good luck. I thought ‘bitter’ and ‘partisan’ was what politics was about, not to mention money and influence. Of course rival politicians aren’t going to work together for the common good. It’s a sign of weakness to agree with your opposition’s positive measure, as it’s often claimed to be an obvious lack of policies or initiative of your own. Nobody’s brave enough to say, “I think you should all listen intently to this brilliant idea my rival has”.

Fix politics. I’ll have to remember that for the second edition of my book, Standing by the Wishing Well. The best-selling first edition featured that wish popularly know as ‘the beauty pageant’: world peace. It’s available at all good book stores and self-help centers.

If you want to watch it, this is the video of Barack Obama’s announcement.


January 12, 2007 by  
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Blogging has been particular slack to start off the New Year, but that’s because I’ve been keeping myself extremely busy – and away from the computer.

That’s not entirely true, I’ve been on the computer, only without internet access at home. The free student dial-up allocation of 150mb never lasts through the month, but I managed to blow it out of the water in a record-breaking three days this time.

Now I almost feel like I’m caught up on everything I need to do! I’ve enrolled in what should be the last five classes of my university life, which I’ll show at the bottom of the post.

I’ve organised our unit so efficiently that everything – except one rogue filing box – has an allocated spot. It’s a whole new world without obstacles, where every room in the house can be traversed effortlessly. Not a hop, skip or a jump to be seen. I was going to say it was an unnatural environment and that I was out of my comfort zone, but I think it may only be the latter of those statements that is false. It is unnatural, but something I’ve found myself disturbingly comfortable with. The organisation may have whet the appetite of an obsessive compulsive personality lurking within.

As part of that cleanup I borrowed my parent’s vacuum cleaner, the merits of which have been discussed before. My brother managed to break it before moving south at Christmas, but a new belt only set me back $9 and a few minutes to fit it. On returning the vacuum cleaner I also managed to fix my parent’s in-sinkerator with the very technical know-how that is the ‘reset’ button. Need a handyman to do those ridiculously simple jobs around the house? I’m your guy.

We signed a new lease in November last year (previously discussed in detail), the terms of which included getting an air-conditioner and replacing the carpet with an as-yet-undecided alternative. Today, only two months later and after much nagging of the real estate agent, the property owner’s cousin came by to measure for the flooring and the air conditioner. I buttered him up with some plunger coffee and a bit of conversation, and we might even have some AC by next week. Bonus!

Next week I’ll start going to rugby training for the first time in almost four years. I haven’t played rugby because I’ve continually decided against committing myself to training twice a week, but I can’t resist any longer. My body is tired after one night back on night-fill at Coles, so it will be interesting to see how I cope with fitness work, but I’m looking forward to getting back into it. It’s probably a result of my complaining for the last three years that I’d rather be playing rugby, but my wife’s Christmas present to me was Queensland Red’s membership for the both of us this year. With their first game in just three weeks, we’ll be there for all the action. Without the injured Chris Latham they’ll have an even harder time winning than they have in the recent past

That looks like a fairly comprehensive run down of what’s been going on, so that just leaves my list of classes for this year.

Christmas shakedown

January 3, 2007 by  
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The dust hasn’t quite settled on the Christmas period for us. Before leaving for 10 days at my in-laws, we collected some presents from my parent’s house on Christmas Eve.

The presents we got then were numerous and great, but now we’ll have a few more from other family members to open when we go over for dinner Thursday night. After that, I think Christmas will be done and dusted.

As it is, several DVDs received as presents, including the first four series of Scrubs (12 disks), amounts to a grand total of 3136 minutes of viewing time. That’s 52 hours and 16 minutes of eye-shattering television watching. Not sure exactly how we’ll manage it, but so far we’ve made it through half of Season 1 of Scrubs, and an hour of Champagne Comedy.

You, Robot

January 3, 2007 by  
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Always with the robots.

We hear about the magnificent advances we’ll have in the near future, and everyone wheels out “the robot“, ol’ faithful.

New generations of service robots will not be very intelligent but will provide cheap help for a range of tasks such as packing, cleaning, checking and basic assistance.

Polish that chestnut, lads! Of course, robots making our lives easier has been on the cusp of realisation for the last 60 years if you believe the hype. Realistically, the scenes from AI and I Robot are a long way off, not to mention Bicentennial Man. The first robot programmed to think and talk like Robin Williams will indeed signal the end of civilisation as we know it.

While those lifelike robots might forever be consigned to the realms of science fiction, we haven’t even managed to come up with something as useful as Number 5 from Short Circuit, who was particularly unattractive.

But all those disappointments and shattered dreams end THIS year, Doctor? 2007, who woulda thunk it.

Well, then it really is only a matter of time before Robots could demand legal rights. Einstein certainly would have.


January 1, 2007 by  
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Hello, 2007.

Happy New Year!

Any resolutions? I have a few, including the age-old ‘work harder at university’. But for now, ring in the new year with festivities!