Tuesday, October 28, 2003


The subject of blogs as an assignment has been a treat - immersed in blogs in the name of work. I still have no idea as to why I am blogging, lest it be to feel the surge of a tide.
The diversity of blogs is quite thrilling, the names, the individuals. I fall in love with some of them, so beautifully do they express themselves or depict their worlds. Some are a bit odd. Some are a little juvenile - but what can one expect of the young?
I note a growing syndrome of employers discovering and resenting their employees' blogs. One sacking and several censorships from above.
And that, of course, is the risk taken in blogging about the minutae of one's life.
One can hardly publicly criticise the hand that feeds.
Every employee has gripes about their workplace as, I daresay, every employer has snipes at employees. But it should never be for the public record.
That, I suppose, is why I will never make a good blogger. As a professional, I am wary of what may and may not be written. This medium is publishing...once one presses the post and publish button and one's words are live, they are in the public arena and thus subject to the laws of whichever land.
Bloggers must beware.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Daylight saved - where to keep it

Fiddling with the clocks is a small price to pay for an hour more of light after work. I am so sick of those people who argue against daylight saving. Why does anyone even allow them a voice! The added hour will confuse the cows about milking time??? The curtains will fade?

Back in the US where they put their clocks back for the winter, Howard Dean is generating more headlines, I read. I am reading it all over the place...voraciously. I love the plague of news sources which delivers the daily information overload.
And Kucinich is upset. And Clark is finding himself backed into corners about his financial associates of yore. Oh, it is all so meaty. And there are how many days to go to the NH primary? 92?

Friday, October 24, 2003

From a distance

Just being 13,000 miles away (or whatever the number is...I hate numbers) does not hamper me from keeping abreast of the Primaries. How could it? The newsletters zap into the email and I check on the NH Politics website most days - often feeling extremely peeved that I can't be there. Howard Dean is going to the Keene Pumpkin Festival. Oh, how I'd love to share in that event - the rituals of those vivid orange autumn orbs combined with the ritual of politics.

I've put a Dean for America bumper sticker on my car. No one knows what it is. No one here has heard of most of the candidates - yet.

Meanwhile, Bush has been in Australia - with his seventeen support jets and his entourage of security. The Australian media is extremely peeved at the preference given to American media. They are excluded from events because the Whitehouse arrangement is for CNN, Fox etc to have first coverage. It does nothing for the American image.

It is very hard to be pro-American outside America. Thankyou George Bush!

I did not manage to keep up with the Parliamentary address and the interjections by the Greens, or the protests and arrests - saw a few grabs on the TV news as I speed-cooked dinner. I bet those images did not hit Fox. But of course, since the Australian media was restricted in covering the President, they had plenty of time to cover the anti-President activities. What irony.

But, while it's all been going on in Canberra, I've been immersed the complexities of the feature of the moment - and, oh so impatient to get it finished and to move on to the next thing, which is Blogs. What serendipity - a chance to surf blogs in the name of work.

But first, I must run away to the sea.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

A man with new computers

I get a lot of feedback from readers of my weekly Internet column, but this is a first.

Letter: I read with interest your articles but find it impossible to access
most of them. The details are not clear enough today I tried both the
Humming Bird & the Fit for an astronaut & never found either of them. the
same thing happened last week. I have both a new top of range laptop P.C/
Acer & a E-mac Apple machine both are brand new please make your details

My Answer:
I am unsure as to what "details" are proving problematical. Do you mean the
Perhaps, Ken, you would find it easier to go in through The Advertiser's
website where you can hotlink to the sites without having to copy them down.


Net Adventures is on the menu bar.


His Response:

You havent addressed the problem most readers of the Advertiser are
having . I have since spoken to 5 people & their reply is why waste your
time with difficult web addresses. If I dont receive a simple explanation I
will take it up on behalf of our readers & shareholders of News Ltd.
Yours Faithfully

My Answer:
Gee, Ken. I don't create the websites. I simply find them. It would be a pity only to run websites because their URLs are easy. I make an arduous effort to find sites which are varied, interesting, challenging and topical.
Until such day as the web creates an easier form of navigation, we are stuck with www and various extensions such as / and ~, _ etc.
That is why we have the column online - where you can simply hotlink to the web addresses and not have to copy them down. A "hotlink" is a URL you simply mouse click and are automatically taken to the site.
I am surprised at your poll of Advertiser readers. I have been doing this column since 1997 and you are the first person who ever wrote to complain about the structure of URLs.
By way of a simple explanation, I can only point out that the Internet was devised by computer geeks and they have a convoluted way of doing things. It was only a few years ago that we PC users had to key in complex DOS commands to get computers to get anywhere. It was their technology and their language. We just had to try to learn it. Nowadays things are easier - but beneath it all, the language is the same.
By all means, take your complaint to the Shareholders. You never know. If there is a mass revolution against the language of web addresses, the industry may devote research funds to finding a shortcut.


As if.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Spring sickness

Argh. People are sick all around me. Close to me. Wherever I go, whatever I do, I am in proximity to someone with the dreaded spring bug. They are sick as cats - heads and throats and chest and sinus. They all complain heartily. My friends, my workmates, those at the school reunion...and even the State Premier with whom I shared several hours of close proximity last night judging Celebrity Theatre Sports. He was woeful with the misery of it all - but soldiering on and, of course, spreading the misery. Typical politician?
Every day I wait to waken with the ghastly symptoms. Please let me get my immediate workload out of the way before I succumb!!

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Old School Days

School re-unions. How strange they are. Gathering in the old school grounds today, a perfect warm spring day. I was a little apprehensive - but so was everyone else, it eventuates. The years rolling on - who would we be? I had expected a bunch of bourgeois matrons. Well, I suppose some of them were. But what, in essence, they were, were lovely, civilized women all of whom had shared a very good education. That education is all many of us have in common - for we have not sought each other out over the years. Well, each perhaps has that select few of saved schoolfriends. I, for example, went with the two with whom I have cared most to keep contact - and hoped that perhaps a couple of others of whom I had thought maybe would turn up. It was hard to recognise people at first. One needed the name tags. But after the initial identification, the old faces emerged and suddenly we were the same girls.
And for a couple of talkative hours, time took a delightful warp.

Culture shock and adjustment

Always is it thus when returning from an extended time in the US. At first, the euphoria, the joy of being reunited with friends and colleagues - and with the deliciously amenable lifestyle. Then there is the slump as one depressingly confronts the missing things. Oh, how I miss the Boston Globe.

I have been feeling decidedly ploppy most of this week. But last night, rather unexpectedly, came the tonic - the Blaze Gala Awards night. This is Adelaide's gay and lesbian community (transgender, bi etc etc etc) and their version of an academy awards for outstanding givers and achievers. I am working on a feature entitled "Gay Adelaide - then and now", which is scheduled to run in the Saturday magazine to co-ordinate with the opening of the Feast Festival of Gay and Lesbian arts. The old gay Adelaide, the days of illegality, secrecy and brave activists is not a problem. It is history. The "now" has been puzzling me and I have been seeking out the young movers and shakers and not really finding them. I thought the Gala Awards would showcase them and I could then pick them off for the feature. I was in for a surprise.
Arriving at the National Wine Centre, I thought that I must be in the wrong place. It was all men in suits. I proceeded in to find Scott, the Blaze editor and his team standing in the most elegantly prepared banquet room. And as the throng assembled, it continued to be handsome men in expensive suits with women in sleek cocktail gowns or designer ensembles. Had it not been for the towering drag queens, also very elegantly dressed, one would never have known it was a gay event.
And thus did I realise that the "now" of the gay scene is mainstream. The gay world is a comfortable, confident, established community. It does not need to be outrageous. Instead, it is just plain elegant.

It leaves the straights for dead.
The queer eye for the queer guy is five star.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Sunday bloody Sunday

What a glorious, perfect spring day. Huge blue skies. Warm but not hot. Bottlebrushes in strident red bloom. Pacific Blue singing its bright blueness to happy bees.
But the bright light shows up the dust. Adelaide is a dusty city - on the edge of the desert and all. Dust is a fact of life. So the joys of spring sun come burdened with the urge to clean.
So there has been a strenuous burst of cleaning to weary the limbs. Which would not be so bad if the bloody shops were bloody open. Sunday trading has not yet arrived. A couple more weeks, they say.

Of course the people are out and about and would be shopping, if they could. Instead they pack the sidewalk cafes creating a scene of massed decadence. Which is not bad, really.

But I had to drive into the city to get the bits and pieces I needed. Grrr.

Culture Shock

The vast expedition. Turning oneself into neutral gear, impassive, patient and philosophic to endure the hell that is travel. That somewhere nowhere of transit. All other consciousness is put on hold. There is no other world. There is no other. Just the impersonal.
Transit lounges are purgatory and travel is hell.
Well, perhaps not for the pampered rich. But for the rest of us it is restrictive binding of tight seating, toy food and dead air, trapped in a flying metal cylinder.
Even economy has been economised. A few years ago Qantas kept the fearful insomniac traveller distracted with movie marathons - recent movies run one after another for 14 hours straight. Now they have put tiny screens on the backs of seats and introduced channels with programs. The movie choice was predominantly blokey and violent. The television choices were small and dreary. I watched a David Attenborough episode on seabirds twice - because it was the only thing that interested me.
With the seat in front laid back to its full extent from the getgo, I could not move my legs or get out of the seat, let alone reach my things on the floor. They play a video demonstration of in-fllight anti-DVT exercises to people who can't move.

Now, from autumn, I am in spring. It is much the same, really. Sunny or cloudy days vaguely cool. Nippy nights. But here there are the new-greens of rebirth among the deciduous trees - and the rainbow lorikeets dip and dangle in the garden trees feasting on I know not what.

Work was a warmly welcoming place and I realised, not for the first time, how blessed I am in colleagues. But it took a day and a half to open the mail - which had cascaded over the crate I left for it, and had amassed in dauting piles all over my desk. As for email, there was so much that Systems had closed my mailbox. Ironically, most of the mail consisted of their messages telling me that my mailbox was full - several hundred such messages.
Of course it only takes half a dozen large PDF attachments to overload the mailbox - and one can never teach those over-zealous PR people that their show-off high-image fancy PDFs only impress their clients. To recipients they are just a burden.

I thought I had beaten jetlag. I pushed myself straight onto the clock and bubbled through the first new downunder day. I woke like a bird on the second and bubbled off to work. Then, suddenly, late morning, when it was bedtime in the US, I turned into a zombie. I felt as if I had been hit over the head by a "stupid bat. This was most inconvenient since I was scheduled to give a speech at lunchtime. In a spaced-out state, I tottered to the art gallery where I found I was to speak in the darkened exhibition room containing the surrealism exhibition. The darkness was seductive. I felt all the more somnulent. A very pleasant crowd of people assembled, all with that sincere and expectant expression that audiences seem to assume. The organisers hooked me up to a body mike and I was on. Oddly, jetlag turns out to be a good condition in which to give speeches. I threw my carefully-prepared notes away because it all seemed too hard, and I extemporised. I suppose I "talked" as opposed to "gave a speech". And it was all very easy. I had a lovely time.

Walking back through the city, everything looked extremely beautiful. The Mall was sunny and crowded and the flower and fruit stalls were rampant with vivid color. People looked relaxed and happy. I kept running into people I knew - which seemed strange after the sense of anonymity I have in the US.

I went to the Boost Juice shop and ordered a liver cleanser with a double shot of wheatgrass which I sucked down ravenously. Oh, how I have missed those juices in the US. Just as I have missed our coffee. And milk in coffee. And proper cream. And, perhaps, the laid-back atmosphere of this culture.

And, I realised with mild suprise, I had also missed the Asian faces. It suddenly struck me what a large proportion of our population is Asian. No Latinos. A few blacks. But lots and lots and lots of Asians. And, in the spirit of this country, they don't call themselves "Asian-Australians". They're Aussies. And they are very much one of the things which make this a smart and lucky country.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Time flying

Every parting is another death. End is end is end.
I am loath to leave my nest in NH - but the time's up, kiddo. Back to the antipodes and work. No blogging there. The firewall is complete. But the information overload makes such luxuries out of the question, anyway.
I've been watching my colleagues coming and going from the office 12,000 miles away - or is it more. A security firm has erected a stunning surveillance camera in the street giving live streaming on images one may control - and zoom to a surprisingly good closeup. Watching people in the street one suddenly realises how many things they do with their hands as they walk about. One is not aware of it as a fellow pedestrian. But now it has become quite a study.
Of course there are questions about this people-watching for, after all, it is also called spying. And I wonder how long it will be before we complain about the invasion of privacy. Then again, walking in a public place? We could hardly call that private. So I will go on watching - er, well, come to think of it, I will soon start participating. For it is beneath that same lens that I will be going about my daily business, and the world will be able to see when I nip out for a coffee or a quick ciggie. As if they'd care.

I've been reading up on Wes Clark, since I have not had a chance to see him in the flesh - and won't. His interviews produce very personable responses, but mainly sophistry, methinks. I am not yet swayed.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

The revelation of Montreal

Through the Fall colors of Vermont and over the border into Canada - and suddenly from the lush Green mountains one is on expansive flatlands of ripe corn. From English, all is French. From myriad patriotic flags on house after house, suddenly there are none.

And then that French city - which has all that is good about France with much friendlier people all of whom are happy to speak English and not pressure one into struggling into a linguistic rustbucket. A very civilized and emancipated city. And the food was sublime. How have I gone all these years of travelling without happening upon this glorious place?

Dean makes Leno

What a coup for the Dean camp that Howard Dean scored a guest spot on Jay Leno. First Catherine Zeta-Jones and then the presidential candidate. Nice one. With a spot of filmed in-the-street spoofing. Dean acquitted himself extremely well - and it was good to see him smiling for a change. This omens well.