Wednesday, November 05, 2014


So we're back in the USA for a visit.  Flying into and out of New York City just because we'd been meaning to make it back here for a while.  We just have a day here -- today -- on the front end so we just bopped around midtown, shopping and such, for most of the day.  We're staying in a hotel that backs onto the Empire State Building which is pretty cool.  I could write a long post here about New York but I want to talk about something else.

The differences between our home and adopted countries remains a continual source of interest.  After twelve years away it's mostly subtle things that come to our attention, or things that we've always noticed but never fully internalized, and sometimes it's complimentary to one country, sometimes the other.  The theme of this trip seems to be how much Americans overshare their personal lives, and how they all seem to have pet opinions that everyone must surely be interested in.  These are distinctly unAustralian traits.

On the leg of this trip where we flew from LA to NYC, the people in the row behind us had a loud conversation for much of the trip, which we had no real choice about eavesdropping on.  In the middle was a beleaguered Russian immigrant who was going to be working as a translator.  On either side of her were two New Yorkers who regaled her with their life stories, in exquisite detail.  The guy (Barry) especially -- I know so much about his life right now that I could do an identity theft on him, no doubt.  This went on for at least an hour.  The Russian woman was only giving polite, modest answers; we can't help but wonder what her opinion of Americans is from this.

Then at dinner tonight at Grimaldi's, we were forced to eavesdrop again.  At the next table a young software developer regaled his date with an unending monologue about his opinions about everything; opinions he clearly held in high regard.  She didn't get more than five seconds of uninterrupted dialogue for the whole hour.  We wanted to punch him by the end.

Obviously you can't generalize about a whole culture from a few isolated incidents, but these things certainly match America's reputation, and we've almost certainly been guilty of them ourselves.  And of course a few negative traits do not define a country; we're having a great time here amongst "our people" and have also seen a lot of small kindnesses.

Friday, September 19, 2014

New office

[Taps microphone] Is this thing on?

More a test of who's still following, so drop a comment if you're reading...

Anyway, my company has moved offices, and I've been loving it, despite being on support for the first week.  My explorer gene has kicked in; I'm never more happy than when I have a new area to explore.

Here's a shot of the area right in front of our new place.  Panoramic shots don't seem to fly as Facebook pictures, or on Imgur; I think no one can be bothered to actually zoom in.  But still, I've added a few annotations...

Wednesday, January 08, 2014


Hey family -- remember this commercial?  The jingle popped into my head after... four decades?  That's good jingle.  So I decided to Google it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Hamish made quick friends with this dog the other day.  They chased the ball non-stop for twenty minutes and finally took a break.  They were thick as thieves at this point.

Frosty morning

It's been seriously cold this week with no real relief in sight.  Our house does not heat terribly well so we are left to bundle up and shiver.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Trying to cure some olives that we picked off the tree in the backyard again this year.

Photogenic dog

Maybe we are biased, but we think Hamish is a good looking dog.

Veggies a la Mark

Recipe for Veggies a la Mark

Chop squash, zucchini, okra, water chestnuts, green chili (optional: baby corns, broccoli, cauliflower).  Fry on one side in vegetable oil.  Flip everything, season to taste, add chopped Chinese cabbage or chard, and a spoonful of ground red chili, and maybe a splash of stir fry sauce or rice wine vinegar, and fry for another minute.

I do this a couple of times a week these days.  Delicious.

Monday, May 06, 2013


An side effect of the genealogy research I've done over the last year or two is an effort to document various things about my own life.  Not because I think it will be important or even mildly interesting to future generations, but just for my own satisfaction.  So I've been keeping (privately) a number of lists of things that stick out in my memory, or more accurately that I want to keep there.  Some examples:

  • Concerts I've attended
  • Comedians I've seen
  • Lectures I've seen
  • Plays I was in, in high school
  • Addresses I've lived at
  • Countries/cities I've visited
  • Airports I've flown through without visiting the city
  • Where I was when I first heard about various news events

At any rate I've just come across a site called BoardGameGeek that has an impressive catalog of just about every game you can think of, spanning back decades.  So I decided to see if I could find a few that stand out from my childhood to keep as another list.

One in particular I could only remember the barest details of.  It was a baseball game, and was already an old game when I was very young.  All I could remember was that the pitcher would select a pitch via a little slider, and the batter would decide whether to swing or not via his own slider.  The equations were good pitch+swing = hit, good pitch+no swing = strike, bad pitch + swing = strike, bad pitch + no swing = ball.  So I looked over all the baseball games in their database and finally found it behind the last link in the list.  You can see the sliders in the "Images" section.  It actually debuted in 1949!  (Edit: there's actually a version of it made in the 60's that's the more likely candidate.)

I also found this messy and slightly hazardous game that I used to have.  Hard to imagine a kids' game these days that features a heater that heats up a metal washer.  I'm glad the internet can still surprise you after so many years.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Trip hazard

Hamish likes to crash out on the shower mat when you're in the shower.


Tried my hand at baking for the first time ever, and this red velvet cake was the result.  It wasn't perfect, but not too bad for a first effort.