General updates 2011: Apr/May

Latest adventures and interesting links. This one’s rather long, to make up for last time.

Easter followup:

The Easter week that I spent with my parents feels like an eternity ago now; see my previous posts for pictures of the bonfires, lambs, easter eggs, etc that provided the entertainment while I was there. I also helped Mum and Dad out by varnishing a towel rail and assembling an Ikea stepladder for a bathroom they’ve recently had renovated (everything was useable when I was there, but there was not yet any electricity).

More excitingly, I’ve finally got the mulberries that I picked from my parents’ tree last December! These were kept in little snap-lock bags and stored in the freezer, waiting for an opportunity to be driven over to my place. But each time my parents visited they either forgot, or weren’t coming direct (and didn’t want to risk them unfreezing). Anyway, I’ve got them now and they are very nice. I love mulberries. Need more ice cream.

Dad drove me back to town, and a little drama occured near the end of the journey. From a mobile phone call, Dad learned that an air conditioner in a geology laboratory on an oil rig in the tropics had broken down, and he was responsible for contacting the right people to have it replaced. Also, we got the runaround looking in hardware stores for a part that Mum needed on the farm. Happy endings all round, but it was a bit of an adventure.

The next morning, Dad and I had morning tea with my uncle, aunt and daughter-of-cousin. I enjoyed talking with Mikayla, who is growing up. Later we (Dad & I) went to see the Walking with Dinosaurs stage show, which was even more enjoyable than the honeycombe mudcake I had beforehand. Perhaps the most memorable scene was the moment with the pterosaur above, raptors below, and an aerial video of mountains in the background, but there are plenty of memorable moments to choose from. (Standard quibble: no feathers on the raptors.)

Speaking of dinosaurs:

I would like to welcome @Fossilcrox to Adelaide. That’s the Twitter handle of Paul Willis, palaeontologist and one of Australia’s best-known science journalists. He’s best known for his contributions to Catalyst (and its predecessor, Quantum), but has recently moved to Adelaide to become director of the Royal Institute. I hear that Paul enjoys meeting his fans, and I’m hopeful of getting my turn soonish. Will be watching for opportunities through his Twitter feed (e.g. public speaking events, etc).

Also in dinosaur-related news, I stumbled upon a web page about a book I remember having as a child (The World of Dinosaurs by Michael Tweedy). It’s amazing how well the illustrations bring back memories. I think I threw it out when I realised how outdated it was — after all, it belongs to an era when sauropods were drawn with their tails dragging behind them. With hindsight I should have kept it, of course, but as a child I wanted all my science books to be accurate. (I left a comment on the site, but I think the moderation queue is actually a black hole.)

Computer upgrade:

I’m planning to upgrade my computer in the near future, and in preparation have been sorting through old files and emails, making sure everything is in good order. I think a little maintenance before an upgrade is well worth the effort, as it means less hassle afterwards when I’ll be getting my head around Windows 7. Later on I’ll compile a checklist of settings, installed programs, and other information.

My current computer is a Windows XP machine bought in 2004, with 40GB of RAM and 256MB of memory. Once upon a time that was impressive, but nowadays it’s barely adequete for daily tasks. For example, I am definitely tired of watching Windows sit there for ages increasing the size of my virtual memory file.

Certain readers will be pleased to know that after the upgrade, I plan to get Skype.

During the maintenence process, I’ve uncovered some half-forgotten files that might inspire future blog posts. Here’s a photograph of how my kitchen looked before it was renovated in 2008. (Compare with the after photograph. And of course, I’ve had cork floors installed since then, too.) Also, here’s a tongue-twister I invented for a children’s party in 2005: Yellow lizards leave yummy lollies lying along ledges. Can you say it?

On the downside, some old emails are about memories I’d prefer not to relive, but they have to be faced.

This morning I awoke from a bad dream at 6:00am. It was about a twisted malware version of Windows Update, and obviously triggered by my preparations for upgrading my computer. I haven’t woken from a bad dream in decades. This one invoked panic, not terror, so it can’t be compared to the nightmares I had as a child.

Blog maintenance:

Speaking of maintenance, I’ve updated old blog posts so that audio files now play inside the blog (previously you had to follow a link). Some examples here and here. For more examples, try searching the blog for ‘mp3′.


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