Saturday, December 30, 2006

Going... going... (going...) gone.

Heidelberg, September 23 2006.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


It wasn't too bad actually. We went to my brothers place this year and had a seafood themed dinner. The main dishes of Snapper and Salmon were cooked on the barbecue by my brother out in the rain. The Snapper was also accompanied by a delicious chili sauce. Also had with our meal were baked potato's wrapped in prosciutto, a salad with shredded roast chicken, mango and iceberg lettuce, a tomato salad with red onion and balsamic vinegar dressing, and a cold "cut" platter (sounds too American to me, but that's what it was called).

After lunch we settled down for a while before opening our presents. The kids, who seem to already have everything, seem to have acquired even more stuff now. The adults didn't fare (or is it fair?) too badly either, some surprises were had.

After playing with our presents for a while it was about 4pm already and time for dessert. Once again it was my mum's pudding. Delicious as usual. Somehow while making the pudding last year she ended up with enough mixture for two puddings so we ate last years extra which had spent a year in the fridge. It probably could have done with a few shots of brandy throughout the year, but it was still yum in it's bath of brandy custard. Dessert was accompanied by a fruit and cheese platter with watermelon and chocolate coated cherries amongst other treats.

The rest of the afternoon and evening involved more playing with presents. No one even thought about eating. At about 8pm it was decided we would all watch the movie Cars, which Santa had left in one of the kids stockings. If you haven't seen cars I recommend you do, as there are a lot of funny little references that the kids don't necessarily pick up. I'd like to see it again.

Finally left after 10 pm, and were home in time to watch Boston Legal before going to bed.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cool Change

This is the change passing overhead last night, the cloud formation in the front was pretty spectacular so I decided to take a photo. I can't believe I climbed onto the roof to take this, I could have been struck by lightning!

"whatever you do, don't get hit by lightning" - Marty McFly

BTW the buildings you can see on the ridgeline in the background are at Doncaster, the one on the right is an apartment building, while the one on the left is the office tower at Westfield Shopping town. Both buildings have spectacular views of the city, and my house apparently.

It was a relief to get some decent rainfall after a hot smokey (the Firefox spell checker wants smoky, I think smokey looks better) week. In all we got 8.6 mm at our nearest weather station, not as much as I would have hoped for. No doubt the cooler conditions which are expected to persist for the next few days will help the fire in the east of the state.

Earlier in the day the tree across the road lost a very large branch during a strong sind gust. It landed in the fork of a branch lower down the tree and was hanging over the powerlines. At about 9 PM a cherry picker pulled up and the crew set about landing the branch safely. First they secured it to the fork it was caught in, then cut a bit off the bottom and then a bit off the top to stop it becoming a top heavy. I assume this went on until it was all on the ground, but because it was too cold I went inside and missed the rest.

I did happen to see a branch fall out of the same tree a year or so ago. I was sitting in the lounge room and heard a large cracking and creaking sound out side. By the time I rushed to the window the branch was bouncing off the powerlines, I watched it come down to the ground taking out one of the neighbour's phone and Foxtel cables in the process. Luckily there weren't any cars parked in the driveway it half landed in.

Present Day

Due to Monday being annual present day*, I spent the better part of the afternoon finishing off my shopping. I was a lean green present buying machine, everything just clicked into place and I managed to procure all intended gifts. One item did prove to be tricky, the recipient of this item (was on their wish list) had said they couldn't find it anywhere, but I managed to find it at a specialist music retailer in Hardware Lane in Melbourne (Actually in Hardware Street one block up from Hardware Lane, opposite Pug Mahoney's Irish Pub). As you can tell I'm really quite pleased with myself. Now all I have to do is wrap it all, the part I hate.

* I think it's originally some sort of religious holiday, either something to do with the winter solstice or some chick having an affair and telling quite a big lie to quell her husbands suspicions. I think a donkey may be involved somewhere as well...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Open Office

It's just like Word (and the rest of MS Office), only free*. It runs well now, since I put in more ram. Now that it doesn't take a week to load up or stutter while I type, I might consider using it instead of Word. Not that I really do much typing. Oh and I like the T9-esque guessing game it has going as I type...

*Most people never actually buy MS Word. I did once, thinking back I can't recall why, I already had the disks. Floppy disks that is, about 6 of them. Then again Office these days comes on CDs or DVDs, I'd hate to think how many CDs are needed.

This post was composed in Open Office

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Enter the world of tommorow...

Oh yeah!

I've been thinking about getting a digital STB(set top box) for a while now. Even though I know there really aren't any incentives in this country to do so yet, I thought what the heck. So on Friday after work I made my way to the nearest Dick Smith Powerhouse and bought one of these. Of course I also got talked into extra cables and a switch box thing to save fiddling with cables behind our "old" TV (it only has one set of component inputs on the rear) whenever we want to watch a DVD or video.

All I can say is wow! The reception is crystal clear, the sound is fantastic and there is no interference or ghosting. It's more or less like watching a DVD. I was worried that our rabbit ears antenna would seriously hamper the digital signal, I was wrong. All the channels have 90% + signal strength except for SBS which is around 80%. I'm impressed.

The only problem however is the crappy approach to digital TV that this country has taken. Why do I want 5 identical versions each of channels 7 and 10? I want different programming on each channel. SBS and the ABC do each have a second channel with different programing SBS 2 and ABC 2, however each would seem to have little that interests me. The former being foreign language news programs and latter seemingly endless repeats of Stateline and cricket games from 40 years ago. What would really sell digital TV in Australis is a system similar to the UK's Freeview (check out the list of channels) or even the similarly named New Zealand version FreeView. Only then will digital TV be worthwhile. Either that or do what Alex Encel suggests and give away STBs...